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Koji Igarashi (Japanese: 五十嵐孝司, Hepburn: Igarashi Kōji) is a Japanese video game producer, programmer, writer and creative director. Often credited as simply Iga, he began his career by joining Konami in 1990 as a programmer.[1] Over the next ten years, he moved into a senior role within company, working on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as a programmer, writer, and assistant director. He later served as the lead producer on the Castlevania series, starting with Castlevania Chronicles in 1999 and ending with Castlevania: Harmony of Despair in 2011. During his time with Konami, he was also involved in other titles, such as Nano Breaker and Tokimeki Memorial. In 2014, Igarashi left Konami to later become the co-founder of Artplay, where he is currently working on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night.

Koji Igarashi
KojiIgarashi.jpg
Igarashi in 2007
Native name 五十嵐孝司
Born (1968-03-17) 17 March 1968 (age 49)
Japan
Other names IGA
Occupation Video game producer, video game writer
Known for

He is often seen wearing a cowboy hat and a brandishing a leather whip which he brings along with him at media appearances, such as Electronic Entertainment Expo.[2]

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Koji Igarashi was born in the Fukushima Prefecture on 17 March 1968.[3] His father was a lumberjack and the young Igarashi had an interest in becoming a carpenter and later to be an artist.[3] As a teenager, he would explore the nearby Komine Castle with a camcorder.[3] His first experience with video games was Atari's tennis game Pong at age 10, and an arcade game Crazy Climber two years later led him to want to design games himself.[3] He taught himself the computer program languages BASIC and then assembly language, and would design amateur games himself.[3] While in the university, he received a job offer from the company Grafika, which he had to turn down as he did not wish to work there. He accepted the next job offer, which was at Konami.[3]

CareerEdit

KonamiEdit

Right after graduating from college, Igarashi began working at Konami.[4] His first project was working as a programmer for a simulation game for the Educational Software department.[5] The game would be a business simulation, and the team took inspiration from the Fire Emblem series, but after 12 months the game was cancelled.[3] He then moved to the Consumer division and worked on enemy programming for the PC Engine version of Detana!! Twinbee.[6][5] He then worked as a programmer and was tasked with writing the story for Tokimeki Memorial, a dating sim for the PC Engine's Super CD-ROM² System.[5] His girlfriend at the time, later wife, was an employee at Konami working on Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. She gave him advice on how to write the story to Tokimeki Memorial, and he would play Rondo of Blood during breaks.[3] Igarashi informed his boss that he had no desire to work on a sequel to Tokimeki Memorial, and requested a departmental transfer. The strong sales of the game prompted his boss to agree, and Igarashi asked to join the Castlevania development team.[7]

Igarashi began working on a Castlevania game set for the Sega 32X. However, the game was cancelled as Konami shifted its focus away from the unsuccessful 32X and towards the PlayStation.[8] Igarashi's next project was the PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, where he worked on scenario writing and programming.[9][10] Halfway through the game's production, director Toru Hagihara received a company promotion, which promoted Igarashi to assistant director to complete the game.[11][12] The game was well received critically, later serving as an influence on the "Metroidvania" genre, though it did not translate into strong sales.[9] After the release of Symphony of the Night, Igarashi was director and programmer for the 2000 PlayStation role playing game, Elder Gate.[citation needed]

Following that, Igarashi served as the producer for Castlevania Chronicles, which was a PlayStation port of a 1993 Sharp X68000 game.[5] From there, he was the producer and writer for Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, the second Castlevania title for the Game Boy Advance. The goal was to attempt to create a game similar to Symphony.[13] This included bringing back artist Ayami Kojima as character designer, who had previously worked on Symphony of the Night.[14] Igarashi felt that the previous title, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, was too dark on the Game Boy Advance's screen, so he felt the need to make the game brighter.[13]

In March 2007, writer Warren Ellis announced that he was working on a straight to DVD animated film adaption of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse along with Koji Igarashi. Ellis explained how he worked with Igarashi to fit the film into the timeline of the series, including writing a new backstory, and how Igarashi required a full eight re-writes of pre-production material.[15] After languishing in development hell for years, the project, simply titled "Castlevania", was eventually released on Netflix in 2017.

At the 2008 Tokyo Game Show, Igarashi showcased a teaser was for an upcoming game starring Alucard, which was slated for release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[16][17] Igarashi would later note that despite a lot of time and money had been spent on the project, development had not been going smoothly.[18] In parallel, MercurySteam had produced a prototype that Igarashi notes looked better than his project. Konami decided to cancel Igarashi's project and go with MercurySteam's, which was released as Castlevania: Lords of Shadow in 2010. Igarashi did not have any input by on the title and also did not put forth any future pitches for anymore 2D Castlevania titles.[18]

At the end of 2011, he was moved to the Social division of Konami.[5] There he still produced some games for consoles. In 2011, he was producer for Otomedius Excellent, a side-scrolling shooting game for the Xbox 360, the Kinect game Leedmees and worked to localize the Nintendo DS game Scribblenauts.[18][19] Konami's business model had shifted more towards mobile game development. While there, Igarashi had tried to develop mobile games that played more like console games, but was unable to release any titles.[4] Igarashi felt that his experience with console games led him to be unable to make the leap to social games.[20] He left Konami in March 2014.[5][21]

Out of the Castlevania games he has worked on, Igarashi says that Symphony of the Night is his favorite, and out of the overall series, he cites Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, citing the sound quality and world setting as reasons for liking it the most.[22] His other favorite Castlevania game is Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, because of the change it introduced to the series.[23]

ArtplayEdit

Igarashi attempted and failed to find a publisher funding a new console game.[4] In September 2014, he became a founding member of the company Artplay.[5][24][25][26] A Chinese businessman acts as CEO and Igarashi acts as chief producer.[23] Igarashi had met his business partner while working on mobile games at Konami, but the project did not result in a finished game. Both Igarashi and his partner left their companies, and his partner invited him to join him in making a new mobile game company, but Igarashi initially refused as he did not want to work on mobile games.[23] Artplay has both a Chinese branch and a Japanese brach, and Igarashi works in the Japanese branch.[27][18] The goal of the company is to be both a mobile and console game company, with profits from mobile games leading to development of console games, and the console games will spawn mobile spinoffs.[23] The Artplay website lists 2.3 billion yen in capital.[27]

Drawing inspiration in Keiji Inafune, who had left Capcom to form his own studio and launch his new game Mighty No. 9 via crowd sourcing, Igarashi decided to launch his own Kickstarter campaign for his new project.[4] A month prior to the launch of the kickstarter campaign, Igarashi filmed a pitch at Castello di Amorosa in Northern California with the help of 2 Player Productions.[18] Launched in May 2015, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – a spiritual successor to the Metroidvania style of Castlevania games – had asked for US$500,000, and was funded just hours after its opening.[28] It eventually raised US$5.5 million, making it the most successful video game on the Kickstarter platform until Shenmue III broke this record about two months later.[29][30] Bloodstained is set for release in 2018.[31]

WorksEdit

Year Title Publisher Role
1992 Detana!! TwinBee Konami Programmer[32]
Gradius II Programmer[33]
1993 Castlevania: Rondo of Blood Special thanks
1994 Tokimeki Memorial Scenario writer, programmer[34]
1997 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Assistant director, programmer, scenario writer[35]
2000 Elder Gate Director, system programmer
2001 Castlevania Chronicles Producer[36]
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon Promotional
2002 Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance Producer, scenario writer
2003 Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow Producer, scenario writer
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence Producer, scenario writer
2004 Nano Breaker Producer
2005 Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow Producer, scenario writer
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Producer, scenario writer
2006 Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin Producer, scenario writer
2007 Castlevania: Order of Shadows Special thanks
Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles Producer, scenario writer
2008 Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia Producer
Castlevania Judgment Producer
Scribblenauts Japanese localization
2009 Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth Producer
Castlevania: The Arcade Special thanks
2010 Castlevania: Harmony of Despair Producer
2011 Otomedius Excellent Producer[37]
Leedmees Producer[38]
2018 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night 505 Games Producer, scenario writer[25]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "5th Bitsummit Speaker's list" (PDF). Bitsummit. 
  2. ^ Webster, Andrew (19 June 2017). "Koji Igarashi can't stay away from demons and vampires". The Verge. Retrieved 23 June 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Parkin, Simon (9 April 2014). "Unfinished symphony: Castlevania's keeper speaks". Eurogamer. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Castlevania's Producer Emerges From the Wreckage of Konami | WIRED". www.wired.com. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Bitsummit". bitsummit.org. Retrieved 14 May 2017. 
  6. ^ Sheffield, Brandon (15 August 2005). "Whip Smart: Konami's Koji Igarashi On Mastering Castlevania". Gamasutra. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Szczepaniak, John. "Before They Were Famouos". Retro Gamer. Imagine Publishing (35): 75. 
  8. ^ "Tales From The Crypt: Castlevania 20th Anniversary Blowout from 1UP.c…". archive.is. 21 July 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "Interview: Castlevania's Dave Cox: 'We considered PS Vita... for us this is more exciting' (Page 3) - ComputerAndVideoGames.com". 23 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2017. 
  10. ^ McFerran, Damien (April 2007). "The Making of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night". Retro Gamer (36). Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "'Castlevania' Producer Koji Igarashi: "I Don't Feel I'm a Big Deal"". Glixel. Retrieved 14 May 2017. 
  12. ^ "'Castlevania' Creator Koji Igarashi: 'I Don't Feel That I'm a Big Deal'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 May 2017. 
  13. ^ a b "TGS 2002: Castlevania Q&A". GameSpot. Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  14. ^ Bozon, Mark (18 January 2007). "IGN: Castlevania: The Retrospective". IGN. Archived from the original on 21 January 2007. 
  15. ^ Alexander, Julia (7 July 2017). "Netflix's new Castlevania series is the most bingeable show at just under 100 minutes". Polygon. Retrieved 7 July 2017. 
  16. ^ Inc., Aetas. "[TGS 2008#026]「悪魔城ドラキュラ」,ハリウッド映画化決定! ゲームの次作はXbox 360とPS3". www.4gamer.net (in Japanese). Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  17. ^ Niizumi, Hirohiko (3 June 2009). "TGS 2008: Castlevania stakes claim on PS3, 360". GameSpot. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  18. ^ a b c d e 1:00pm, 2015 at (11 May 2015). "Koji Igarashi: A day in the life". Polygon. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 
  19. ^ "Mine Yoshizaki And Koji Igarashi On Creating Otomedius Excellent". Siliconera. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 
  20. ^ "What's next for Koji Igarashi, the man who left Castlevania and Konami behind". Polygon. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  21. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (17 March 2014). "Castlevania developer Koji Igarashi leaves Konami". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  22. ^ Knezevic, Kevin (2017-06-23). "Symphony Of The Night Designer IGA Talks Bloodstained's Delay And His Favorite Castlevania". GameSpot. Retrieved 2017-07-25. 
  23. ^ a b c d www.17173.com. "五十岚孝司:恶魔城中最爱月下 个人新作或推手游_网络游戏新闻_17173.com中国游戏第一门户站". news.17173.com. Retrieved 2017-07-27. 
  24. ^ "Korea Games Conference 2014". 4 November 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2017. 
  25. ^ a b LLC, DesignFluxx, (24 May 2016). "Koji Igarashi, Co-Founder and Producer at ArtPlay, Inc., joins AX 2016! - Anime Expo®". Anime Expo®. Retrieved 14 May 2017. 
  26. ^ "Koji Igarashi Tells Us All About Bloodstained's Leading Lady, Miriam". Siliconera. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2017. 
  27. ^ a b "会社情報 – 株式会社ArtPlay". artplay.co.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved 2017-07-27. 
  28. ^ Byford, Sam (11 May 2015). "Koji Igarashi's Castlevania revival hits $1 million on Kickstarter". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  29. ^ Nunneley, Stephanny (18 July 2015). "Shenmue 3 Kickstarter ends with over $6.3 million in funding". VG247. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  30. ^ McWhertor, Michael (12 June 2015). "Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Kickstarter closes with $5.5M in crowdfunding". Polygon. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  31. ^ Andriessen, CJ (8 September 2016). "Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will now release in 2018". Destructoid. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  32. ^ VGMuseum.com: Ending for Detana!! TwinBee. Retrieved on 16 July 2007.
  33. ^ VGMuseum.com: Ending for Gradius II. Retrieved on 16 July 2007.
  34. ^ Tokimeki Memorial credits. Retrieved on 16 July 2007.
  35. ^ Mr. P's Castlevania Realm: Credit list. Retrieved on 18 May 2009.
  36. ^ VGMuseum.com: Ending for Castlevania Chronicles. Retrieved on 28 March 2008.
  37. ^ Wearejustgamers.com Retrieved on 20 June 2015.
  38. ^ "Veteran Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi leaves Konami". Polygon. 17 March 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 

External linksEdit