Top 10 Lists : The Top 10 Men Behind The Games
Cloud. Link. Mario. Samus. To most, if not all gamers, these names are part of your everyday vocabulary. They are terms that everyone is familiar with, whether you've played the games 100 times or once. They have become legends, and have withstood the test of time to remain as such. But where is the love for the ones that gave birth to these legends? The designers, the producers, the writers obscured by the legacies their games have created; whether they were once known, or never were, gamers today know so little of the genius' behind the most popular video game franchises in the world. It is my hope that after reading this list, these 10 names selected out of a handful of many more will become just as much of a household name as their creations.
#10: John Carmack (Doom)
We'll start off with a non-Japanese name, of which there are only 2 on the list. This man is responsible for the creation of one of the largest selling first-person shooters of all time - Doom. The creation of this landmark game occurred when John Carmack developed a new 3-D game engine in 1992, subsequently named the Doom engine. Since then, Carmack has gone on to produce several sequels to this milestone, and is also responsible for the Quake and Wolfenstein series, both of which did not catch on like Doom, but are worthy of being noted.
The next one on the list is Yuji Horii, best known as the creator of the Dragon Quest series. The game was localized in North America in 1989, but was changed to Dragon Warrior to avoid copyright infringement of the already-existing pen and paper game, DragonQuest. The release of Dragon Quest is regarded as a foundational milestone in the history of the console RPG, and is considered by some fans as the game that paved the way for Final Fantasy's success. Since its creation, there have been 8 sequels and several spin-offs, with more installments on the way for Nintendo's two current generation platforms. (The DS and the Wii). And for a little bit of number crunching, Dragon Quest has sold over 40 million units world wide, second to Final Fantasy (among SquareEnix's titles) which has 68 million units sold worldwide.
The second and last non-Japanese name, this is the man responsible for one of my favorite series of all time: The Prince of Persia. Why isn't he higher on the list, then? Well...as much as the games are among my favorites, I tried to make this list as non-biased as possible, and so I scaled it in terms of popularity. What most do not know about Mechner is that his first game was one by the name of "Karateka," written while he was still an undergraduate at Yale University in 1984 for the computer. Following the mild success of this fighting game, Mechner went on to program, design and direct the first of the many Prince of Persia games in 1989, of which was noted for its fluid animation of human figures at the time. Since then, the series has blossomed and the Prince has grown tremendously from his earlier 2-D, side-scrolling days. The latest installments in "The Sands of Time" trilogy (which include The Sands of Time, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones) portray a very beautiful, cinematic backdrop of a post-war Babylon, and a reckless prince who matures during the course of the 3 games into a courageous, die hard and, as always, stubborn leader. A remake of Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, entitled Prince of Persia: Rival Swords, is in slated for a Nintendo Wii release.
Hailed by many as THE definitive survival horror game, Resident Evil is without a doubt a game that should not be overlooked. Nor should its designer, Capcom's Shinji Mikami. Prior to Resident Evil's conception in 1996 (which was originally titled, and remains so in Japan, as Biohazard), he developed several other games for Capcom, the first of which was titled "Capcom Quiz: Hatena hatena no Daibôken," and was for the Game Boy. His following three titles were all based on Disney movies: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1991, Game Boy), Aladdin (1993, SNES) and Goof Troop (1994, SNES). Following the creation and immediate success of Resident Evil for the Play Station, Mikami went on to direct the sequels and as well as another survival horror game, Dino Crisis. It is also noteworthy to mention that he was the producer of future games such as the first Devil May Cry and Vieutiful Joe.
"Bounty hunter" just sounds like such an awesome profession, does it not? Well it was the genius mind of Yoshio Sakamoto that aided in the creation of the most famous video game bounty hunter of all time in his first "Metroid" game. And it was a girl, to boot. Ain't that a slap in the face for all those male bounty hunters? The first game of the long running series was released in 1986, and now, more than 20 years later, still remains strong as one of the most popular video game series of all time. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is slated for a 2007 release on the Nintendo Wii, utilizing the innovative Wii remote's functions for a truly immersive first-person shooting experience. If it wasn't fun blasting away Ridley or the Space Pirates in the previous games, just wait till you do it in this one. Yoshio's first position was as the designer of the arcade title, Donkey Kong Jr., and he also helped design Kid Icarus which saw the same release year as the first Metroid. (And for the record, Samus could kick Master Chief's ass).
Being the second biggest selling franchise in the world (following behind Mario by 38 million units), Pokémon has become legendary in every sense of the word. Though vastly more popular in Japan, where it was first conceived, in the States, Pokémon still remains at large among the video game industry. The father of this monstrous franchise is Satoshi Tajiri, who has been a video game junkie since his early youth, when he, along with two of his friends, formed a games magazine under the name of Game Freak. In the early 1980's, he won a contest sponsored by Sega involving making a video game. He later had his first video game, Quinty, published by Namco for the Nintendo Famicom. When Tajiri moved over to Nintendo, he spent 6 years working on Pokemon, during which time he became friends with Shigeru Miyamoto (of Mario, Donkey Kong and Legend of Zelda fame), who also became Tajiri's mentor. As a tribute to Tajiri and Miyamoto, Ash Ketchum (the anime counterpart of "Red" in the games) is named Satoshi and Gary Oak (the anime counterpart of "Blue" in the English games, and "Green" in the original Japanese version) is named Shigeru in the Japanese version of Pokémon. Hats off to you, good sir, for creating a simple yet extraordinary franchise.
Now we're starting to get down into the meat of the list. The final four names are upon us, and one of them was bound to be behind Final Fantasy. Well, here he is - Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series. Widely regarded as the savior of then-Squaresoft due mainly to the overnight success of Final Fantasy, Sakaguchi co-founded the company with Masafumi Miyamoto in September of 1983. The game was originally released in Japan for the Famicom on December 18, 1987. Final Fantasy developed into a successful franchise under Sakaguchi, which spans from stand alone stories to spin-offs to direct sequels. In 1991, following Final Fantasy IV, he was honored with the position of Executive Vice President. Sakaguchi voluntarily stepped down from his post as an executive vice president at Square. This event also reduced Square's financial capital. Square then merged with Square's rival, Enix Co., Ltd., which led straight into the present day Square Enix in 2003. Sakaguchi then resigned his position at Square, and founded Mistwalker with the financial backing of Microsoft Game Studios. According to the die-hard Final Fantasy fans, the merger of Squaresoft and Enix is considered to be the beginning of the decline of the Final Fantasy reign over the RPG genre. Sakaguchi, you will be missed.
Number 3...here we have possibly the one man responsible for the success of the video game industry in general. Shigeru Miyamoto, the brains behind the legends. He is the creator of the Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Wave Race, and Pikmin video game series for Nintendo game systems. Most notably of those was his first huge success in the original Donkey Kong game, which featured an irate gorilla holding a princess captive and tossing down large barrels at a pudgy, Italian man clad in a red shirt and blue overalls. Originally, this character was named Jump Man. The name was later changed to the iconic "Mario" (which has become Nintendo's official mascot, and has spawned countless games of his own). Following in the success of Mario was the Action/RPG adventure featureing a young boy on an epic quest to save a princess. This tried-and-true story, which rehashes itself in a new shape and form ever so often, has become so popular for its simplicity, its action, and its protagonist - the skilled, though naive youth, Link. The gaming industry owes their success to the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto, who still lends his endless talent to Nintendo after so many years.
It is in my opinion that there is no greater story-teller through the medium of video games than the legendary Hideo Kojima, the source behind the Metal Gear series. No other video game director, producer or writer can create as epic or as thought-provoking a tale as the masterful Kojma. His protagonist, a name that has become synonymous with "awesome," is what every young video game junkie wishes they were like. He's cool, he's calm, he's collected - and he's just about the best in the business. He is Solid Snake, and he is by far the coolest character to grace a video game ever. Spawning sequels and spin-offs on various platforms, it was not until the release of Metal Gear Solid in 1998 for the Play Station that the franchise really took off. And since then, we've seen Snake age, we've seen him endure trial after tribulation, and we've heard the infamous cries of "Snake?!" during every game over sequence. Those that followed Snake's first journey on Outer Heaven until now appreciate the work that director Hideo Kojima puts into this game as a whole. Snake's story is of the most memorable of any video game character, and his legacy is one that will never be forgotten. With the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of The Patriot scheduled for a Playstation 3 release, will we see the end of Solid Snake? Or will this bad mofo pull another trick out of is sleeve. Hideo Kojima, you are a legend. Hail.
Finally...number 1. But wait a second...something's wrong. Maybe some of you have picked up on it, but...Nobuo Uematsu isn't a director, producer OR a writer! He's a music composer. So why does he get the number 1 spot? It is simple, and I will treat it with a simple answer: Nobuo Uematsu...is God. No mere mortal can conceive the music that has blared through the speakers during the Sephiroth battles of Final Fantasy VII; no mere mortal could have conducted the orchestral theme song to Final Fantasy VIII; no mere mortal could have done so much musically for one of the largest franchises in the world, while creating his own prog-rock band which plays several of his songs in concert (The Black Mages). Nobuo Uematsu is no mere mortal. He is above and beyond that. He is what other video game music composers strive to be like. He is the epitome of greatness and all that is blissful to the ears. He is Nobuo Uematsu. He is number 1.
And there you have it...the top 10 men behind the games. The top 10 most influential men behind some of the largest selling franchises in the world. Without any and all of these men, the games we love today might have never come into existence. Praise them, worship them, remember them. They are the ones to which we owe everything.
List by HailToTheGun (02/02/2007)
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