It seems 2017 continues on the same destructive path as 2016. Last week, the Harry Potter movies' Ollivander and legendary voice actor John Hurt died at the age of 77, and now Masaya Nakamura, the founder of one of the most defining game studios in history, has passed.
You might not recognize the name Masaya Nakamura, but the company he started, Namco, is hard to get avoid if you enjoy #VideoGames. Alongside the likes of Nintendo and Capcom, it grew into one of the world's top video game companies, and is behind best selling franchises like Pac-Man, Tekken, Soulcalibur, Ridge Racer and Time Crisis.
A Visionary Video Game Believer
Nakamura was born in 1925 and founded Namco—then called Nakamura Manufacturing—in 1955. Back then, Nakamura started out making children's rides in Japan, which he did with great success.
Nakamura was a firm believer in the potential of video games and, in the early 70s, he hired software engineers to develop game titles for arcade machines. It was at this time that Nakamura renamed the company to Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company and shortened it to Namco.
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Namco went on to become a real video game giant after buying the Japanese part of Atari in the late 70s. The company's first hit was Galaxian from 1979, a Space Invaders-inspired game, but the real breakthrough came a year later with the release of Pac-Man.
Top Of Their Game For 25 Years
Pac-Man, which needs no further introduction, went on to become the highest-grossing arcade game of all time, and throughout the 80s the game spawned multiple, popular spin-offs such as Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man.
Namco continued to flourish and in the 90s the company invested heavily into handheld gaming devices and the console gaming market. Whereas Namco's competitor, Nintendo, ended up dominating the handheld market with the Game Boy, titles such as Tekken and Ridge Racer gave Namco the edge on the insanely popular PlayStation.
Awarded For His Dedication
In 2002, at the age of 76, Masaya Nakamura stepped down as the company's CEO, and took a ceremonial role in the management of Namco. In 2007, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government for his contribution to the country's industry, and in 2010 he was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame.
Nakamura wasn't a game designer himself, but he was an avid gamer and would play Namco's output feverishly in the days up to a release to make sure they were as good as possible. He died on January 22, and his death was made public on January 30.
Today, Namco has merged with Bandai. The combined Bandai Namco publishes the likes of Dark Souls 3, Ace Combat 7, Tales of Berseria and Ni No Kuni 2.
What's your favorite Namco game?