Kenji Sasaki

From Sega Retro

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Kenji Sasaki
Date of birth: 1968-05-04 (age 54)
Employment history:
Namco[1] (1992-05 – 1994-03)
Graphics Technologies[1] (1991 – 1995)
Sega of Japan[1] (1993[2] – 2005-12)
Divisions:
Sega Rosso[1] (2000 – 2003)
Bitster[1] (2006-06 – )
Role(s): Artist, Director, Producer, Executive

Kenji Sasaki (佐々木 建仁) is a Japanese designer, producer, director, and executive. His involvement with Sega dates back to 1991[2], when he was providing outsourced 3DCG production for its AS-1 motion simulator films through his studio Graphics Technologies.[1] He joined the company full-time in 1993 after developing Ridge Racer for Namco.

From April 1994 to December 2005, Sasaki was predominantly involved with many of Sega's arcade racer hits, becoming president of Sega Rosso. Since 2006, he has ran his own development company, Bitster, with partner Kumiko Shoji; the company has seen further involvement with Sega on occasion.[3]

Career

Initially head of computer graphics production company Graphics Technologies, Kenji Sasaki's first work with Sega surrounded the AS-1 motion simulator.[4] With Sega yet to receive the technology to produce them itself, Sasaki provided outsourced 3DCG graphics for its initial ride films.[2] Most notable of these was Michael Jackson in Scramble Training;[4] this was Sasaki's first proper project outside of early doujinshi software,[5] rendering a concept first planned in-house at Sega by Hiroshi Uemura.[6] Following the arrival of 3DCG hardware ordered by Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his creation of a dedicated team for its production at Sega,[7] Sasaki would focus more on one further outsourced film for Genki and his work at rival company Namco, developing the highly successful Ridge Racer.[4]

After the completion of Ridge Racer and its large Full Scale version, Sasaki and several other associated developers moved to Sega full-time starting from April 1994.[4] He swiftly joined Mizuguchi, a fellow 3DCG producer-turned game developer, and created Sega Rally Championship, another highly successful arcade racer.[8] The success of Sega Rally led to its developers breaking off from the AM3 division to create a new dedicated development team, AM Annex, for further titles in the genre,[9] including Sega Rally 2.[10] Sasaki ascended to head position of successor department Sega Software R&D Dept. 5, with Mizuguchi leaving to pursue a different direction at Dept. 9.[11] Dept. 5 would then become Sega Rosso in 2000, Sasaki now acting as the president of his own subsidiary company.[12]

During his time as president of Sega Rosso, he helped branch the relatively small team out into other genres, oversaw the launch of the prolific Arcade Stage series of racing games based on the Initial D manga licence, and developed its identity as a "red" and "hot" diametric opposite to Sega's "cool" and "blue" branding.[13] Rosso would ultimately be merged back into the continuation of AM3, Hitmaker, in the October 2003 reorganization at Sega.[14] Sasaki's later years saw him take a more hands-off approach to development, becoming executive producer on most titles. He left the company in December 2005;[4] Sega Rally 2006, originally intended to be released before his departure to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the series, was the final release to be overseen by him.[2]

After leaving Sega, Sasaki established Bitster, his own independent game development company, and worked with the likes of Bandai Namco and Taito.[4] He returned to Sega once more in recent years to aid development of Sega World Drivers Championship.[4]

Production history

Games

Music

Magazine articles

Main article: Kenji Sasaki/Magazine articles.

Interviews

Photographs

Main article: Photos of Kenji Sasaki

External links

References