HAL's president shares very kind words on Iwata, mentions an unreleased SNES game, and explains the company's logo

The president of HAL Laboratory, Satoshi Mitsuhara, recently sat down for an interview with Forbes, and the feature contains all kinds of interesting tidbits. You can find the some snippets below, but make sure to click over and read the full piece.

On Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata was a very straight person. Never tried to cheat or have any kind of intent to do that at all. Even when other people were cheating or doing something underhand, he never used that as a reason to do likewise. At work, he was also a very serious and honest person, that sincerity and honesty made the company very pleasant. He also had a big capacity for things, he could take on a lot. We were very close friends.

One time, when we were extremely busy on MOTHER2 for Super Famicom we often went out together for dinner after work. On our way home from dinner, we used to go to the arcades and play Daytona USA exactly twice. Always twice and leave. I reckoned we did that every week. It was really like work hard and play hard.

On an unreleased SNES game

As soon as Ponkotsu Tank was finished, I moved onto another game. However, this was not the first Kirby game but an unpublished title. This was a Super Famicom or SNES game. Unfortunately, I cannot talk about this game though. I then worked Kirby’s Adventure for Famicom or NES after that.

On the company's logo

Our “Inutamago” logo, with “inu” meaning dog and “tamago” meaning egg, is quite symbolic because the dog is a mammal and doesn't lay eggs. However, it is looking after these eggs, that means you don't really know what is inside those eggs. That implies that whatever comes out of these eggs is completely unknown and utterly surprising. That's where the inspiration for the logo is from, in that HAL Laboratory is a company that will surprise people and creates something unimaginable.

Item in Gravity Rush 2 pays tribute to Satoru Iwata's infamous "Directly To You" gesture

Satoru Iwata was well known for a lot of things, but one of his most famous moments came from his "Directly to you" motion with came from the Nintendo Direct series. This gesture reached far and wide, including Gravity Rush concept artist Takeshi Oga.

When Oga was asked to update a flower design from the first Gravity Rush, he decided to implement Iwata's famous gesture. The flower is used as a way to guide the player, so the pointing motion makes perfect sense. You can see an image of the gesture below, or watch the video at the 21:39 mark to see it in motion.

Nintendo addresses how Iwata's passing impacted Switch development

In another excerpt from Toyo Keizai Online's interview with Nintendo's Shinya Takahashi and Yoshiaki Koizumi, we learn how the passing of Satoru Iwata impacted the development of the Switch.

TKO: In past developments of Nintendo hardware, there were 3 people who managed them: The late president Mr. Satoru Iwata, The father of Mario Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto, and Mr. Genyo Takeda who had been managing hardware for many years. For the development this time [for Switch], did you also have a focus on 3 people?

Takahashi: There are 3 people in the final decision making of the development: Me, Koizumi, and the leader of the Technology Development team Kou Shiota. Even in the past it didn’t mean that the trio of Iwata, Miyamoto, and Takeda developed without hearing opinions from anybody else, as we also got involved properly in the development. In that sense, this development structure does not change from before.

However, this time we have the stance of “We’ll think together with you if needed, but in the end you’ll need to think by yourselves,” so we’re overlooking them as counsellors. I think we’re overlooking them with chagrined faces is a fact though (laughs).

Koizumi: Actually, at the end of every counsel we’d say “Well, it’s okay if you all decide on it” (laughs)

TKO: Mr. Iwata passed away in 2015, and people were worrying that it would also affect the Switch’s development.

Takahashi: That was already an abrupt topic. Anyway we only had the mind to properly do our jobs. But as we have talked about just before, we were the ones who had to make the final decision making, so the development itself didn’t have any major shifts.

Fan creates heartwarming comic for Mr. Iwata on what would have been his 58th birthday

Dear Mr. Iwata
Direct link here

I often think about how great it would be for Iwata to see the success Nintendo is enjoying right now. More importantly, I think about how fantastic it would be if Mr. Iwata were still with us in general. Happy 58th birthday, Mr. Iwata.

Thanks to B31Knight for the heads up.

Lorne Lanning offers apology after Nintendo fans take issue with a comment concerning Satoru Iwata

A few days back, we shared a video interview with Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning concerning the Switch. Mr. Lanning discussed a number of topics, including some of the struggles Nintendo faced with the Wii U. In that video feature, Mr. Lanning made comment that some took offense to.

The biggest problem I see at Nintendo is the thinking. Personally, I think it killed Iwata; that he couldn't move the organisation into a really successful arena.

Those offended by the comment feel Mr. Lanning's words were either brash or poorly-chosen, in relation to the passing of Mr. Iwata. Lorne has heard that sentiment, and has offered up the following apology via Twitter.

Yesterday, a number of news outlets reported on a conversation I had while appearing on the GameOverGreggy show in April of this year. I would like to sincerely apologize for the poor choice of words concerning Satoru Iwata. My intention was certainly not to disrespect the great man, who I have long held with utmost admiration and respect and consider a hero in the industry.

My comments on Nintendo's current policies and practices as they pertain to the Switch's ecosystem, these are personal opinions. I state them, not to disparage anyone but to encourage what I believe would be a healthier ecosystem that would benefit all involved...platform holder, developer, publisher and, of course, gamer.

I feel Mr. Lanning's words were just poorly chosen, and he didn't mean any negativity towards Mr. Iwata. With that said, it's still nice to see Lorne take to Twitter to offer up an apology.

Miyamoto remembers Iwata's uncanny ability to motivate people

Coming from Shigeru Miyamoto...

“Iwata had this unique ability to rally people around a vision. Similarly, to then put them into a structure that could make that vision a reality. I always remember his ability to take something, give it shape and then to motivate people. That always impressed me about him.

He was a technologist – a programmer originally. And typically, you go to a programmer and tell them what you, as a designer, want to do. They then tell you all the reasons why they can’t do what you want. Mr Iwata was different. Instead, he would say he was going to figure out how to make it work. He’d always be positive, always try to make the impossible happen. I still remember that to this day."

Sakamoto reflects on Balloon Fight creation, Iwata dev stories and more

The following comes from a Nintendo interview with Yoshio Sakamoto...

- Sakamoto joined the company in 1982
- he was originally hired as a Game & Watch designer
- he made titles like Snoopy, Donkey Kong Circus, and Mario Bombs Away using that panorama screen
- after that, he worked on an arcade game called Vs. Wrecking Crew, headed up by Gunpei Yokoi
- Yokoi believed that if you could draw, you could make a game, which lead Sakamoto to try out drawing & game design
- Sakamoto handled the logo, the title screen, and the drawing of Donkey Kong for Donkey Kong Jr.
- Yokoi said, “How about making a game that feels like you’re floating and has a combat element too?”
- this lead to the creation of Balloon Fight
- SRD was in charge of developing the arcade version and the Famicom version was developed by Mr. Iwata
- Yokoi suggested that bubbles be added to the game, but Sakamoto believed it to be impossible due to the Famicom's rudimentary graphics capabilities
- Yokoi told Sakamoto not to give up on the idea without trying, so Sakamoto set out to make it happen and everything worked out
- Iwata came to Kyoto and worked in a room provided by Nintendo doing while handling Balloon Fight
- Yokoi entered Iwata's room and sat down without saying a word, then he played the game and made a list of suggestions
- Balloon Trip mode was an idea Mr. Yokoi had mentioned and Mr. Iwata made it in three days
- Yokoi played the finished mode and suggested fixes
- this usually required consulting a large bundle of papers, which made making tiny changes quite a task
- Iwata heard Yokoi's request and took just a few minutes to make the changes Yokoi requested, which shocked Yokoi and Sakamoto
- Sakamoto suggested a similar suggestion to the NES Classic Edition 10 years ago
- he wanted to make a Famicom shaped Gameboy Advance that played games on the television
- his idea made it all the way to the mock-up stage, and also a box was created

Did You Know Gaming - Satoru Iwata

Thanks to MarioCheated for the heads up!

Iwata shared various messages with Nintendo employees shortly before passing

The loss of Satoru Iwata stings just as much today as it did when he first passed. The man is sorely missed, and sadly it seems Mr. Iwata knew that his time was coming to an end.

When Iwata left the hospital, he took some time to write various messages to Nintendo's staff. He shared thoughts about his time working, memories that he had of former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi and even some personal stories. Looking back, it seems quite clear that Iwata knew he didn't have much time left, so he wanted to depart with some of his wisdom while he still could.

A gaming historian may have found the first code Iwata ever wrote for Nintendo

What's the big deal about these old Famicom boards? Turns out Nintendo was working on a deal with Atari back in the day to bring out some games on Famicom, but that deal fell through when timing of the Famicom release was delayed. Still, there were multiple Atari-related projects worked on. That includes the arcade classic Joust, which just so happens to be the first game that Iwata ever coded. Believe it or not, it seems like the boards above could be the remnants of that Atari deal. If they're legit, they could indeed be the very first thing Mr. Iwata coded for Nintendo. A pretty amazing find, if you ask me!