Retronauts Episode 341: Gunpei Yokoi, Part 1

Before Mario, before Donkey, there was Gunpei

In the many years of this program we have spent a fair number of dedicated episodes talking about Nintendo games, but this week is different: we're talking about a Nintendo employee who happened to make some of the best-remembered games in the company's history - but only after he started making odd toys in the factory which led the Kyoto playing card company to branch out into other amusement spaces in the first place!

That man was Gunpei Yokoi (1941-1997) and while he absolutely did make a great many games for Nintendo, on this episode you won't hear about them because Jeremy Parish, author Matt Alt, and artist Bill Mudron just had too much fun telling stories about Gunpei's early life and career with Nintendo to the point that an hour had passed before they could get to the Game & Watch. So we're going to have to table the video game half of Yokoi's life to a second episode.

For now, please look forward to this delightful romp as Jeremy does a Mr. Burns impression, Matt Alt talks about Sonny Chiba with a shotgun, and the phrase "Schlitzmobile" is said out loud. Oh, and before I forget: Before Mario is the blog that comes up during this episode as a great source of early Nintendo history, as well as the name Florent Gorges who is a French video game historian. Look him up, his YouTube channel is fascinating (and often subtitled in English).

Description: Jeremy Parish speaks to Bill Mudron and Matt Alt about the work of Nintendo legend Gunpei Yokoi and how his innovative pre-video game creations reflect the post-war culture and industrial boom Japan experienced during the ’60s and ’70s.

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MP3, 36 MB | 1:18:09 Direct download Retronauts on iTunes Retronauts at Libsyn

Artwork for this episode by John Pading and editing thanks go to Greg Leahy.