So, who is Satoru Okada exactly? He was the General Manager of Nintendo Research & Engineering before he retired in 2012. Basically, this man helped to create some of the most iconic devices from Nintendo. He built Gameboy and defined the look and feel of Nintendo DS. In his interview with Retro Gamer Magazine (via Kotaku) he talked extensively about his career and the search for the perfect handheld device.
Initially, no one liked the idea of the DS. Instead, the company managers wanted to build a successor to the Game Boy Advance. When the development of the new handheld console began, there were no plans to add a second screen. The codename of the project was IRIS. The development was going great, but then Satoru Iwata, who at the time just became Nintendo’s President. He came to Okada’s office and said: ‘l talked to Yamauchi-san over the phone and he thinks your console should have two screens… A bit like the multi-screen Game & Watch, you see?’
Everybody (including Iwata) hated this idea. Here’s why:
Back in the Game & Watch days, it was different because a second screen allowed us to double the playing area and the number of graphic elements on display. But with the modern screens, there was no point. We were free to choose the size of our screen, so why bother splitting it into two? Especially considering that it was impossible to look at both screens at the same time. This is why we did not understand his idea.
The team had to redo everything and soon enough they were on their way with project Nitro, which released in 2004 under the name Nintendo DS. The console sold over 150 million units. It’s funny that the most innovative console of its time was actually proposed by Hiroshi Yamauchi – the long-lived president of Nintendo, who had overseen the development of a lot of different consoles, including Nintendo 64, GameCube and Nintendo Entertainment System. We wonder if Hiroshi Yamauchi would have approved the new ‘Nintendo Switch’.