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Takaya Imamura – The Man Who Named Majora’s Mask And Created Nintendo’s Coolest Characters – Feature

Takaya Imamura Nintendo Characters© Nintendo

On 20th January 2021, Nintendo artist, designer, producer and director Takaya Imamura posted his first ever tweet announcing that he was leaving the company after thirty-two years. Imamura isn’t retiring — he’s only 54 — but his departure signals the end of an impressive Nintendo career spanning the 16-bit era to Switch.

While mascots like Mario and Link might do the heavy lifting in the Nintendo PR department, Imamura has contributed some of fans’ most beloved characters to the Nintendo canon, including Fox McCloud, Captain Falcon and everyone’s favourite thirty-five-year-old fairy wannabe, the Zelda series’ Tingle.

Imamura’s first project, the Mode 7-enhanced SNES racer and launch game F-Zero, provided an immediate challenge when he joined Nintendo in his early twenties back in 1989. He created the vehicles for the game which initially had wheels before the team transitioned to hovering craft and a futuristic setting inspired by Tim Burton’s Batman which ushered in the modern blockbuster comic book movie template during the game’s development.

Once work on the game itself had wrapped, Imamura turned his attention to creating characters for use on the packaging and ad materials. As detailed in an interview discussing F-Zero at the time of the Super NES Classic Mini’s launch, Imamura revealed that Captain Falcon began life as a potential mascot for the SNES console itself:

Originally, he was Captain Something-or-Other, but we started talking about what to do for the F-ZERO packaging, and I tried drawing something in the style of an American comic.

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