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For both Yokoi and Becker, the flawed brilliance of the Virtual Boy is part of an impressive legacy—daring launch, stunning failure, and all.
On October 4, 1997–just over a year after he left Nintendo–he was involved in a minor traffic accident on a highway 200 miles north of Tokyo.“When it failed, he just withdrew the product quickly, and didn’t try to pin the blame on Mr. But Yamauchi expected people to take responsibility for their mistakes. Yokoi felt this, which is why he tried to make up his failure on the Virtual Boy with another product,” says Makino. Yokoi tendered his resignation on August 16, 1996, after nearly 31 years with Nintendo, and four years after he originally planned to do so.That product would become the Game Boy Pocket, a vastly smaller, lighter, and less power-hungry version of Yokoi’s hit handheld (with a better display to boot). In a country where employees typically remained loyal to a company for their entire working life, his departure shocked the industry.As he and the driver of the car exited the vehicle to inspect the damage, another car sped by and struck Yokoi, killing him. Because the failure of the Virtual Boy, Yokoi’s resignation, and his death all happened in just over two years, the three events came to be linked in people’s minds.By extension, the console almost took the blame for his passing, since one could imagine that he might not have been in that car that day if he had still worked at Nintendo.