Star Fox, F-Zero and Tingle designer leaves Nintendo after 30 years

“As you’d expect, I’ll miss it.”

Veteran designer Takaya Imamura has left Nintendo after more than three decades at the company.

A post on his Facebook page this afternoon (spotted by Kotaku) noted today was his last day at Nintendo.

Over a career spanning six console generations, Imamura worked on some of Nintendo’s biggest franchises such as Donkey Kong and Zelda. His work for the latter included designing the fan-favourite character Tingle, but it’s for his creation of the core Star Fox cast of characters that Imamura is best known.

In a memorable 2017 interview, Imamura recalled how the game was originally going to feature human protagonists until Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto intervened.

“Miyamoto overturned that and suggested making them animals,” he said. “We made the main character a fox because of its association with the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine near the head office, and then for the other characters, we chose from among the types of animals that appear in Japanese folk tales.

“But there’s something I still haven’t talked about. The faces of the characters on Team Star Fox are based on staff members at the time. Fox has a fox-like face like Miyamoto… And the villain Andross is… I shouldn’t say. (laughs)”

Imamura continued to work on the Star Fox series throughout his time at Nintendo, becoming art director of Star Fox 64, then co-producer and sole producer respectively of Star Fox Assault and Star Fox Command.

Imamura’s first credit was a designer on 1990 SNES game F-Zero, another series he continued to work on throughout his Nintendo tenure.

His most recent known project was working on the Star Fox sections Starlink: Battle for Atlas on Nintendo Switch.

“This is my last day going to work,” Imamura wrote today. “I took a selfie with the empty office. I guess I won’t be coming in here anymore. As you’d expect, I’ll miss it.”

There’s no word yet on where he’s headed next.

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