Blog:Nintendo and Iwasaki: Acknowledgment

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Nintendo and Iwasaki: Acknowledgment

by CRV (talk) | Originally posted May 30, 2022

Iwasaki logo

Satoru Okada is the former Nintendo engineer who had a hand in many products including Game & Watch, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS. In 2022, he was interviewed by in a two-part feature that chronicles his extensive career.

After Game & Watch, Okada worked on the Donkey Kong Junior arcade game. He refers to Donkey Kong Junior as a "cleanup" of the first Donkey Kong, which had a lot of inventory left over despite selling well.

To make Donkey Kong Junior, Nintendo would essentially have to recycle the boards and code from Donkey Kong. Unfortunately, they did not have access to the source code to the original game because it was programmed by an outside company, Ikegami Tsushinki (Ikegami). This left Okada in a tough spot: "I didn't know anything about video game programming, so I thought, 'How did they make this?' So I asked three excellent programmers from Iwasaki Giken Kogyo to come and work on it, and we spent the entire Golden Week holiday working on it in Nintendo's offices." And thus they reverse engineered Donkey Kong.

Iwasaki Giken Kogyo (Iwasaki) is a company featured on this site that would continue to have a relationship with Nintendo after the release of Donkey Kong Junior. A footnote in the article explains what Iwasaki was; no new information is given. It is unknown if the writers actually confirmed any of it with Okada or if they just got it off the Internet. For example, they mention that employees of Iwasaki became independent and established Intelligent Systems, the longtime ally of Nintendo behind many of its games and development tools.

"I didn't know anything about the source code, so I used the programming data as is," Okada went on to say. "[Ikegami's] name, the name of the person in charge, and the outside telephone number were included. I could have figured it out by converting it to text and outputting it, but I didn't do that." This would come back to bite Nintendo, as Ikegami would sue for copyright infringement.

But the point of this post is not to talk about that lawsuit; it is to note that this may be the first public acknowledgment of Iwasaki by someone from Nintendo, though Okada has not worked there since 2012. I get the impression the relationship between Iwasaki and Nintendo did not end amicably.

The only reference to Iwasaki I have seen from Nintendo (outside of official documents such as copyright registrations and court cases) is in a 2007 Nintendo Online Magazine report on Intelligent Systems. It contains a list of games by the company, which mentions that the earliest games were "developed by the organization that was the predecessor of" Intelligent Systems.

Post updated May 31, 2022