Namco has announced that its founder Masaya Nakamura died at age of 91. He was also credited for the creation of iconic Pac-Man game and for his contribution in the establishment of the modern Japanese gaming industry.
On Founding Namco
Nakamura founded Namco in 1955 as Nakamura Manufacturing. It was originally in the business of amusement machines for department stores. The company's carnival-style rides were particularly known during World War II. They were installed at the top floors of stores, providing entertainment to Japanese children.
The 1970s saw the company transition to Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company or Namco, as it began to produce arcade games. Its very first outing in this segment involved those that used electromechanical projection technology such as the F-1 race track game launched in 1976.
For this arcade game, gameplay involved pre-rendered animations projected on a screen, and players controlled the visuals using mechanical contraptions. If you would like to see one in action, try watching the Dawn of the Dead film released in 1978. A character was depicted in one of the scenes playing F-1 at a mall.
Nakamura And Japan's Gaming Industry
Nakamura is considered one of the visionaries who saw the potential of the video games. He was one of those who invested on a number of developers who eventually were responsible for titles such as Galaga, Xevious, Dig Dug, and Pole Position. These games underpinned Namco's rise as a gaming company in Japan. Up until the 1980s, most of Namco's games were licensed by Atari.
The company got its massive hit when Toru Iwatani produced Pac-Man under Nakamura's stewardship in the 1980s. The game did not only prove to be a classic hit, but it also became Japan's most important game. One can say that it paved the way for more titles that established the country's gaming industry.
In 1993, Namco acquired Nikkatsu, a film studio considered to be the oldest in the country.
By 2005, it merged with another gaming company Bandai. Games produced after this period include the Dragonball franchise, Naruto Shippuden series, Tekken, and Dark Souls, among others. The company, which is now known as Bandai Namco has also collaborated with other studios such as Nintendo.
The company's U.S. subsidiary immediately took to Twitter to pay its respects.
As a 3P partner Namco has been a big part of Nintendo's history, thanks in large part to Masaya Nakamura. He changed gaming for the better.
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) January 30, 2017
Nakamura passed away last Jan. 22, but Namco's statement was only released Jan. 30. The announcement did not detail the cause of Nakamura's death.
In recognition of Nakamura's achievements, the Japanese government awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun.