the Art of Video Games: Issue 2

In my last post on “the Art of Video Games: Issue 1” we took a look at the fantasy artists that shaped the Final Fantasy series as well as hit RPG games Chrono Trigger & Chrono Cross.  Those games were all special favorites of mine since the RPG genre is where I feel most at home.  Today I thought I would delve into fantasy artists who made classic games that we have all played as children (or adults), those classic games that make you smile and reminiscence about the good old days when time seemed endless.  The golden classics of gaming are ruled by Nintendo titles and out of all those, one character shines above all others- MARIO.

Mario is now a household name which when dropped immediately summons forth visions of a strange looking obese plumber in a red jumpsuit wielding fireballs or flying through the air as a furry trash scavenger, the raccoon.  Other classic titles like Zelda and Metroid will also be elaborated upon and investigation done to local all the artists that made these characters so iconic and a part of our lives.  Where are they today?  What other kinds of works have the participated in?  No worries Luigi, we will answer all of these questions and more including where your dear friend Yoshi resides now that the numerous quests to rescue the princess have ended.


Artist Name: Yōichi Kotabe (小田部 羊一 )
Nom de Plume: None
Famous for: Mario & Link

Yoichi created the classic cartoon drawings of Mario and Link that persist even today.

Yoichi Kotabe was born on September 15, 1936 in Tanpei City, Taiwan. He moved to Japan after the end of World War II.

Kotabe first became interested in animation after watching Momotaro’s Sea Eagle. He learned to draw and do oil paintings from his father, but gave up oils for water color. He learned Japanese-style painting and entered the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.  He was tempted to stay at the university, but Madame White Snake inspired him to apply for a job at Toei Animation. While there, he worked on Hols: Prince of the Sun with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki.  Shortly after, he left Toei Animation with Takahata and Miyazaki. They worked on numerous projects including Pippi Longstocking, Panda! Go, Panda!, 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, and Heidi, Girl of the Alps.

As early as 1990, Kotabe began working for Nintendo as an illustrator. Kotabe has worked on many of Nintendo’s top franchises, including the Mario series, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon. He is also involved with the Pokémon movies and television show.


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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games /, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.