Satoru Iwata's Wii reveal at TGS 2005 lead to him being banned from presenting keynotes ever again

A revolution in TGS keynotes

Junpei Furuhata was on the organizational committee for the Tokyo Game Show back in 2005. Back then, the team decided to invite Satoru Iwata to host a keynote at the show. Iwata would be the main keynote for TGS that year, but little did he know it would be the only year he'd get to present.

In an interview for the Iwata-san book, Furuhata details what lead to the TGS team banning Iwata from future keynote speeches. You can check out the full translation, courtesy of NintendoSoup, below.

Back in the day, Nikkei BP was a joint sponsor of (Tokyo Game Show), so I was involved in the management of Tokyo Game Show at that time. It was 2005, and the Nintendo DS was selling well, so we decided to ask late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata to deliver a keynote speech. We wanted Nintendo to talk about the future of video games.

Of course, the first to deliver the keynote speech would be Nintendo, followed by Microsoft. I had to beg both companies to get on board.

As I was the presenter I received the presentation slides before the speech. But during that time, the speakers never rehearsed before the actual speech, as everyone knew the rough state of the video game industry.

And so the keynote speech began. Iwata-san abruptly announced the Wii (codenamed Revolution at that time). The audience gave a round of thunderous applause, and the foreigners whistled in excitement. On the other hand, the Japanese game media journalists literally froze, hahaha.

Although the game industry was aware that Nintendo would release a new game console, nobody expected it to be announced at Tokyo Game Show. But it was him, Iwata-san, that explained the Wii Remote all by himself, while swinging it in the air. It was so impressive that it became a popular topic on the street.

Anyway, he perfectly fooled (hid it away from) all of us all the way till the day of Tokyo Game Show. So when it was the Microsoft’s representative’s turn to speak, he told me, “Iwata-san is cunning”. I said, “Nope, I didn’t know at all. Sorry about that.” Hahaha.

A few moments later, Iwata-san said on the NicoNico broadcast, “Sorry about that, I felt it was the perfect timing”.

From then on, we never asked Iwata-san to deliver a keynote speech again. Actually, we would love to have him speak, but there are people who will cause trouble. Hahaha.

I think Iwata-san was a brave person who could do things without batting an eyelid. He decided everything, he went ahead with his decision, and announced it. It was a huge impact. The late Nintendo President Iwata-san simply explained it on stage, all by himself.

Sakurai recalls not being able to visit Iwata in the hospital before his passing, setting out on a mission to make Smash a success

The final thoughts on Iwata from Sakurai

Today brings us the final excerpt featuring Masahiro Sakurai from the Iwata-san book. Once again, translations are being handled by PushDustIn. Check out the summary of this final chapter below.

Back when Iwata was admitted to the hospital, Sakurai didn't get the chance to visit. This is because Sakurai was swamped with work on Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS' DLC. When Sakurai heard the news of Iwata's passing from Takahashi Shinya, he was at home. The phone rang, and even before he picked up the phone, Sakurai knew something was wrong. He had the same feeling in his heart when he found out his grandparents passed away.

After hearing of Iwata's passing, Sakurai gave himself a mission. He wanted to make sure Smash Bros. became a true success. This personal mission came about when talk of a 'definitive' version of Smash Bros. arose during Smash Wii U/3DS DLC work. This paved the way for Smash Bros. Ultimate, which Sakurai feels completed his mission of making Smash a success.

Wondering what the next mission is for Sakurai? He doesn't know quite yet, and actually feels that the Smash DLC he's working on is outside of his original mission.

Sakurai closes out the interview by looking back fondly on a few more tidbits from Iwata. He says the two used to travel together to Tokyo quite often, and Sakurai would visit Iwata at his hotel to share a meal. During dinner discussions, Iwata would often recommend books for Sakurai to read.

Finally, when Sakurai worked at HAL, Iwata would call him "Sakurai-kun." After Sakurai left, Iwata would call him "Sakurai-san." All in all, Sakurai ended up feeling that Iwata was a very sincere person.

Sakurai recalls moments that made Iwata upset, and Iwata's reaction to Sakurai leaving Nintendo

More Iwata memories from Sakurai

In the third and fourth part of a five-part interview with Masahiro Sakurai, we hear a bit more about Sakurai's interactions with Iwata overall. PushDustIn has translated the juicy tidbits, which you can find summarized below.

Sakurai says the first time he saw Iwata upset was back in the early days of HAL. The company was working on Metal Slader Glory, which took a number of years to develop, and almost bankrupted the company. Things were so dire that HAL was renting out apartments for work, and had to borrow a large sum of money to keep development going. This lead to Iwata being quite upset, but he was upset by the situation itself, and not the people involved.

Sakurai also recalls Iwata getting upset when he became president of Nintendo. There was a process of reorganization going on, and one meeting about technology lead to Iwata being upset with numerous responses from the team. It was these two instances that lead to Sakurai realizing how sincere a person Iwata was.

The second time that Sakurai saw Iwata upset was when he became the president of Nintendo. The company had to be reorganized, and there was a meeting dealing with technology. There wasn't really a response from the meeting which upset Iwata a little.

Finally, Sakurai shares a story about driving with Iwata to Narita Airport in Iwata's newly bought sports car. Iwata bought the car because he figured it was a 'now or never' kind of purchase, and if he didn't buy it he wouldn't be able to drive it.

In another section of the interview, Sakurai looks back on the days of working on Smash Bros. Brawl. You can find those details below.

Sakurai remembers telling Iwata that he was going to go freelance, which might lead to him working on non-Nintendo platforms. This news made Iwata a little sad, understandably. Sakurai actually had another project he wanted to work on at the time, but Iwata ended up wooing Sakurai back to work on Brawl.and Iwata Asks for Brawl.

Sakurai looks back on his first interview with Iwata, and what it was like working alongside him

There's no one quite like Iwata

Not that long ago, the Iwata-san book was released, which chronicled the work and life of Satoru Iwata. Included in that book was an interview with Masahiro Sakurai, and now the first part of that interview has been posted online for free. We have a breakdown of what was said, thanks to PushDustIn.

Sakurai recalls being interviewed by Iwata back when he was just 18 years old. Sakurai looks back on the interview fondly, remembering Iwata's smile, and how closely Iwata paid attention to what was being said. Iwata was apparently taking notes on Sakurai's interview the entire time.

Not surprisingly, Sakurai says that when issues popped up during game development, Iwata was quick to hop in and help set things right. Iwata did this during Melee's creation, and did so without even being asked to come in and help.

Remembering Satoru Iwata on what would have been his 60th birthday


If Satoru Iwata were still alive, he would be celebrating his 60th birthday today. Sadly, he was taken from us far too soon, and the world of Nintendo has been in mourning ever since. While Iwata is still sorely missed, let's use this occasion to celebrate the man and his many accomplishments. I have just one story that sticks with me all these years later

While I never had the chance to interview Mr. Iwata, I did happen upon him at an event. I honestly don't even remember what the event was, but if I had to guess, I'd say it was a GDC many years ago. I desperately wanted to say hello to Mr. Iwata, as did many others. He was being inundated by people, all asking for autographs, pictures, and more. He had a smile on his face the entire time, and was more than happy to fulfill requests.

Instead of adding one more person to the pile, I decided to let Mr. Iwata wade through the sea of people who were hoping to have a moment with him. Right at the end of the mob, Mr. Iwata walked right by me. I looked over at him and let out a simple "hello," to which he waved, smiled back, and responded with an enthusiastic "hi!" before leaving the building. It was just a one-second interaction, but in that moment, I really got to see how genuine Iwata was in everything he did. It's a great memory to have now that he's gone, and one I'll always cherish.

Reggie Fils-Aime recalls his special meeting with Satoru Iwata prior to taking a position at Nintendo

The start of a beautiful friendship

There's no doubt that Reggie and Iwata shared a very special relationship, and it turns out that started before Reggie event landed his gig at Nintendo. In an interview with GameDaily, Reggie Fils-Aime talks about the first time he got to speak with Satoru Iwata.

“I learned so much from, Mr. Iwata and I'll share a story. When I was being recruited for the opportunity to join Nintendo, I asked as part of the process to speak with Mr. Iwata. It was not going to be part of the process and as I learned later, it actually was a bit of a disruption in the process. Imagine from Nintendo's perspective, 'Who's this candidate thinking that he can spend time with our global president. This is not a role that is going to be based in Japan. Why does he want to talk with him?' I mean, you can imagine the types of conversations that must have been happening. But in the end they agreed for me to speak with Mr. Iwata before I would decide whether to accept the role.

It was set up to be a half-hour conversation and it ended up running much longer than that. And it really sets the stage for the type of business and personal relationship we would have. We would talk all the time. He was gracious in sharing his perspective. He was tremendously accommodating in hearing a unique point of view from me, a person who had no history in the video game business other than as a player. But [he valued] my perspective because I brought a consumer sensibility. I brought a Western business sensibility. And the relationship that he and I had for almost 11 years, it was truly special and just, his openness with me and the things that we were able to do truly together, were just magical.”

First three chapters of the Iwata-san book released for free (Japanese)

Many have been holding out hope that Shigesato Itoi's Hobonichi branch would release a localized version of their Iwata-san book.
While there have been some rumblings of movement in that area, something interesting happened today. Hobonichi has released the first three chapters of the book online for free. The only catch is that it's still in Japanese. I'm sure someone will come through a translation soon. For now, you can check out the Japanese version here.

Iwata-San book gets a Japanese promo video

Miss you, Iwata

The Iwata-san book that released a few weeks back has gotten a new Japanese promo video. Last we heard, discussions were going on concerning a localization. Hopefully we get a confirmation of that in the near future, as there are plenty of people the world over who would love to pick this up.

Hobonichi says nothing is definite yet, but talks are going on right now to localize the Iwata-san book into multiple languages

Things are looking good

Fans of Nintendo all over the world have been hoping that Shigesato Itoi and his Hobonichi company would take their book about Satoru Iwata and translate it into other languages. A new update on the official Hobonichi website gives a lot of hope for that actually happening. Check out the full message below.

We are honored to receive many inquiries and requests from our readers regarding the translated version of “Iwata-san.”

Needless to say, it is our wish to spread the words and philosophy of Mr. Satoru Iwata to as many people of the world as we can.

Currently, nothing is definite yet, but we are preparing publication of “Iwata-san” in various languages in consultation with Tuttle-Mori Agency. We will make an official announcement as soon as we finalize the deals at this website and via the official twitter account as below:

We are sorry to keep you waiting. In the meantime, please note that translating this book into any languages for public distribution is a clear violation of copyright and will be subject to criminal charges. We ask for your understanding.

If you are publishers outside of Japan and interested in publishing the translated version of “Iwata-san,” please contact Ms. Manami Tamaoki at Tuttle-Mori Agency: nf@tuttlemori.com

Third portion of the fan-translated Iwata Asks feature now live

The fan translation of the late Satoru Iwata's chat with Square-Enix executive producer Akitoshi Kawazu concerning Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is now live. This portion of the feature dives into Square-Enix's early work on the Game Boy, and how those efforts helped pave the way to Crystal Bearers on Wii. Check out the feature here.


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