Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away suddenly yesterday as a result of a bile duct growth. He was 55.

In his time at Nintendo he worked as a programmer on classic games like Balloon Fight and Earthbound before climbing the corporate ladder, first as the president of HAL Laboratories in 1993 and then as president of Nintendo in 2002.

As gamers everywhere mourn his loss, fellow Nintendo executives and game developers have begun to release statements remembering their boss, mentor and friend.

In a statement to IGN, Super Mario and Legend of Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto had this to say about Iwata's passing:

"I am truly surprised and saddened by this unexpected news. The entire development team at Nintendo will remain committed to our development policy which Mr. Iwata and we have been constructing together and to yield the development results which Mr. Iwata would appreciate."

Nintendo's regional presidents also released statements. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, who just last month was pictured alongside Iwata in Nintendo's E3 Nintendo Direct skit, released this statement:

"Mr. Iwata is gone, but it will be years before his impact on both Nintendo and the full video game industry will be fully appreciated. He was a strong leader for our company, and his attributes were clear to most everyone: Intelligence, creativity, curiosity and sense of humor. But for those of us fortunate enough to work closely with him, what will be remembered most were his mentorship and, especially, his friendship. He was a wonderful man. He always challenged us to push forward... to try the new... to upset paradigms-and most of all, to engage, excite and endear our fans. That work will continue uninterrupted."

Nintendo of Europe president Satoru Shibata echoed Fils-Aime's words, speaking on Iwata's role as a visionary always pushing the company forward:

"Nintendo of Europe is today mourning the passing of Mr Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's Global President. It is difficult to put into words the sadness we feel at this time. Mr Iwata was a strong leader, a unique figure in the gaming industry and an important part of Nintendo's history. He was a visionary in every sense of the word and we will miss him dearly. Just as Mr Iwata challenged us to always push forward, we will ensure his legacy lives on through our ongoing work to always surprise and delight our fans. At this time our thoughts are with his family."

Iwata's successor has not yet been named. Until a new president is found, Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda, general manager of Nintendo's integrated research and development division, will run the company.

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