Nintendo Designer Takaya Imamura Retires After 32 Years Of Service

Responsible for crafting a ton of beloved characters from franchise like Star Fox, F-Zero, and more.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 01/21/2021 01:14 Comment on this     ShareThis

If you’d ever thought to seek out who to blame thank for the creation of Tingle in The Legend of Zelda series, you would have discovered the name Takaya Imamura awaiting you. The prolific designer has had a hand in the creation of numerous characters and games from various Nintendo franchises over the years. With F-Zero on SNES, Imamura offered the notion to make the vehicles hover after he realized his animations for wheeled vehicles couldn’t be handled by the hardware, a move that transitioned the game into a sci-fi racer. Later he brought to life, working alongside Shigeru Miyamoto, the Star Fox and Star Wolf teams during the development of Star Fox for SNES. Miyamoto’s directions were to make the cast anthropomorphic animals, but it was Imamura’s decision to model them to look like members of the development team. For fun, here’s a list of some of the characters and their respective inspirations:


Imamura drawing of Team Star Wolf circa 1994.


  • Fox McCloud—Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Falco Lombardi—Tsuyoshi Watanabe
  • Peppy Hare—Katsuya Eguchi
  • Slippy Toad—Yoichi Yamada

Imamura’s most infamous work is arguably the conceptualization of map-hawker Tingle (and the ever-present moon that hovers overhead throughout Majora’s Mask). The designs are iconic (each for… different reasons) and will forever be ingrained in the minds of Zelda fans the world over. After 32 years of work, however, Imamura’s tenure with Nintendo has come to an end. Here’s the announcement of his retirement from the company posted on his Facebook page:

Here’s a rough translation of what he had to say:

Last day at work
Empty office and selfie (T ^ T)
When I think that I will never enter here again
I’m still sad.
Thanks for 32 years!

While it’s sad to see Imamura go, he crafted quite the legacy for himself thanks to decades of amazing work. Happy trails, Imamura-san—we wish you the best!

Source: Takaya Imamura Facebook Page

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