Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Suzuki Hits The Road

Yu Suzuki is phasing himself out of the entertainment business.

Admittedly, Fumika Suzuki is much cuter, but she's just a model, she didn't design games.

Suzuki was an aspiring guitarist who, according to his own admission, "No matter how much I practised, I never got that much better." He also couldn't pass the entrance exam to dental school. He wound up working at Sega as a programmer, where he created a pair of little games called Space Harrier and Hang On. (Space Harrier will always have a warm spot in my heart. I hadn't played the arcade version, but I had it on my beloved SMS, and it was the first game from the then-new generation of consoles that I couldn't get enough of.) He then came up with Outrun and After Burner, and his reputation was set.

Suzuki continued to climb to prominence with the creation of Virtua Racing. Then he made Virtua Fighter. Pioneering the use of polygonal 3D, it was a purist fighter (other fighters in the arcades at the time were fantasy based combat, like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Killer Instinct) that got people talking. It was the first Japanese video game to be a part of the Smithsonian Institution's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology Innovation. In addition to its sequels, he also started the Virtua Cop franchise.

One of Suzuki's best known achievements, though, is the creation of Shenmue. A different approach to quest games, Shenmue is officially the second highest development budget in the history of video games at $70 mil (it held the record until GTA4 came out, topping out at $100 mil to make). It and its sequel garnered a dedicated, hardcore following, but it was a cult following -- mainstream gamers weren't impressed with the sanguine pacing and pretty much rejected it. Suzuki has been trying to develop a Shenmue MMORPG, but it hasn't really gone anywhere.

Suzuki is "retiring" (Sega's word) from his duties as R&D creative officer for Sega. He is relegating his duties to manager of R&D for Sega's AM Plus studio. I imagine it won't be long before he leaves that behind, as well.

Farewell, Suzuki. You have definitely made your mark on the gaming world. Too bad it couldn't have been for longer.
Tags: video games
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