In 1977, Shigeru Miyamoto was a talented 24-year-old industrial design graduate. But for all his manga sketches and toy creations, he was still without a career. So his father contacted Hiroshi Yamauchi, the president of a small toy company: Nintendo. Founded in 1889, initially as a playing card manufacturer, Nintendo was leaving the toy market to concentrate on video games by the time Miyamoto was appointed as its first artist. After working on some early titles, Miyamoto began designing the first of his many masterpieces, an arcade game centred on a moustachioed character jumping over rolling barrels to save his love interest from a giant ape. Released in 1981, Donkey Kong introduced the world to Mario (then called Jumpman) and the platform genre, both later refined by Miyamoto in Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros. Miyamoto’s addictive, deceptively tough gameplay and an endless stream of beloved characters would turn Nintendo into one of gaming’s leading names through to the next century.
Impress a geek: Miyamoto only designed Donkey Kong after Yamauchi tasked him with converting unsold units of Radar Scope, an arcade shooter which had flopped in North America.