Namco founder Masaya Nakamura, one of the people responsible for the building and success of the Japanese gaming industry, passed away at the age of 91. Bandai Namco confirmed the news in a press release.

The statement released today (30 January) made the news public (via Kotaku), but Nakamura in fact died on 22 January 2017 with a small funeral service taking place last week.

Nakamura founded Nakamura Manufacturing in 1955: a company that built amusement park rides. In 1958 it became Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company, which was abbreviated to Namco.

Across the late 70s and 80s, Namco's gaming business enjoyed hits such as Galaga, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Xevious, Galaxian and, of course, Pac-Man –which became a worldwide phenomenon and a cultural icon of the 80s.

Namco's second big wave of hits came in the 90s with games like Ridge Racer, Tekken, Soul Blade (aka Soul Edge) and light-gun games such as Point Blank and Time Crisis which enjoyed success across arcades and PlayStation platforms.

Namco merged with Bandai in 2005, becoming Bandai Namco. The company was known as Namco Bandai in the West until 2014 (for reasons that aren't entirely clear) until the name was reversed to "unify the corporate brand".

In 2007 the Japanese government awarded Nakamura the "Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette" to honour his achievements in business and Namco's impact culturally.

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