Takashi Tezuka: The Gaming Mastermind Behind the Success of Nintendo 

Takashi Tezuka

Takashi Tezuka is a Japanese video game designer, producer of Nintendo EPD and an Executive Officer working for Nintendo. He attended Osaka University of the Arts and joined Nintendo in 1984 and was involved with some of the most popular and pivotal franchises Nintendo produced such as The Legend of Zelda and Mario. Another noteworthy accomplishment is that he was involved in the creation process of the Mario character Yoshi! 

The Work and Process of Tezuka’s Game Design

From the years 1984 to the present, Tezuka has worked, in a variety of roles, on a total of 58 games. He’s worked as a producer, supervisor, director, designer and writer. However, when he initially came into the gaming industry he didn’t have any knowledge of the industry, let alone even Pac Man! But in his beginning period at Nintendo, one of his first major projects was as Assistant Director for a game called Devil Man, which was a similar style maze game. He worked on many notable titles and as he continued to work with Shigeru Miyamoto, who became a producer at Nintendo EAD, Tezuka kept on a directorial role on Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels and Super Mario Bros. 3. In his work as a designer and producer, he drew an immense amount of inspiration from his daily life and surrounding. For example, the qualities of Boo from Super Mario Bros. 3 were influenced by his wife because she was often very shy but then became angry at him one day for spending too much time at work. His design approach was grounded in lightness and also a process based on original drawings. Practically every character or pixel image he draws by hand himself. 

For all of the games Tezuka has worked on in the various roles he’s held, he has an intimate knowledge and framework of all the changing and intricate parts of the greater process of making a game. He explained that back when they were creating Super Mario Bros. a designer would have to imagine each level and sketch it onto graph paper. Then the drawing would be translated by a programmer into a gaming format. This process would happen at least a few times for each level. 

As new technology continued to inform the design practices and processes, Tezuka continually was inspired to reinvent and add additional features with new tools and technology to previous franchises and games. 

Super Mario Takashi Tezuka

A Timeline of Tezuka’s Gaming Legacy 

Devil World 1984

Super Mario Bros 1985

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels 1986

The Legend of Zelda 1986

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link 1987

Super Mario Bros. 3 1988

Super Mario World 1990

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 1991

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening 1993

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island 1995

BS The Legend of Zelda 1995

Super Mario 64 1996

BS The Legend of Zelda: Inishie no Sekiban 1996

Star Fox 64 1997

Yoshi’s Story 1997

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 1998

Mario Golf 1999

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 2000

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages 2001

Luigi’s Mansion 2001

Pikmin 2001

Animal Crossing 2001

Super Mario Sunshine 2002

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker 2002

Mario Kart: Double Dash 2003

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap 2003

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures 2003

Pikmin 2 2004

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door 2004

Yoshi Touch & Go 2005

Animal Crossing: Wild World 2005

New Super Mario Bros. 2006

Yoshi’s Island DS 2006

Wii Music 2008

New Super Mario Bros. Wii 2009

Super Mario Galaxy 2 2010

Super Mario 3D Land 2011

New Super Mario Bros. 2 2012

New Super Mario Bros. U 2012

Animal Crossing: New Leaf 2012

Flipnote Studio 3D 2013

Yoshi’s New Island 2014

Yoshi’s Woolly World 2015

Super Mario Maker 2015

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes 2015

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam 2015

Paper Mario: Color Splash 2016

Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS 2016

Super Mario Run 2016

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2017

Arms 2017

Hey! Pikmin 2017

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions 2017

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey 2018 

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe 2019 

Yoshi’s Crafted World 2019 

Super Mario Maker 2 2019 

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics 2020

Tezuka’s legacy and work at Nintendo has placed him as a pivotal and integral part to the game design and development process. His unique perspective and encompassing perspective of the entire process has allowed him to successful cultivate games that are not only imaginative, but are accessible to a wide range of users at all levels!

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