From Sega Retro
|Date of birth: 1968-05-04 (age 54)|
|Employment history: |
|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, when he was providing outsourced 3DCG production for its AS-1 motion simulator films through his studio Graphics Technologies. 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.
Initially head of computer graphics production company Graphics Technologies, Kenji Sasaki's first work with Sega surrounded the AS-1 motion simulator. With Sega yet to receive the technology to produce them itself, Sasaki provided outsourced 3DCG graphics for its initial ride films. Most notable of these was Michael Jackson in Scramble Training; this was Sasaki's first proper project outside of early doujinshi software, rendering a concept first planned in-house at Sega by Hiroshi Uemura. Following the arrival of 3DCG hardware ordered by Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his creation of a dedicated team for its production at Sega, Sasaki would focus more on one further outsourced film for Genki and his work at rival company Namco, developing the highly successful Ridge Racer.
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. He swiftly joined Mizuguchi, a fellow 3DCG producer-turned game developer, and created Sega Rally Championship, another highly successful arcade racer. 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, including Sega Rally 2. 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. Dept. 5 would then become Sega Rosso in 2000, Sasaki now acting as the president of his own subsidiary company.
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. Rosso would ultimately be merged back into the continuation of AM3, Hitmaker, in the October 2003 reorganization at Sega. 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; 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.
After leaving Sega, Sasaki established Bitster, his own independent game development company, and worked with the likes of Bandai Namco and Taito. He returned to Sega once more in recent years to aid development of Sega World Drivers Championship.
- Sega Supercoaster (1992) — Graphic Designer
- Michael Jackson in Scramble Training (1993) — Graphic Designer
- Initial D: Arcade Stage (2002) — Executive Producer
- Initial D: Arcade Stage Ver. 2 (2003) — Executive Producer
- Initial D Arcade Stage Ver. 3 (2004) — Executive Producer
- Initial D: Street Stage (2006) — Executive Producer
- Sega Rally 2006 (2006) — Executive Producer
- Sega Rally Championship (Model 2; 1995) — Chief Graphic Designer
- Sega Rally Championship (Model 2; 1995) — Directed by
- Sega Rally Championship (Saturn; 1995) — Special Thanks
- Sega Touring Car Championship (Model 2; 1996) — Chief Graphic Designer
- Sega Touring Car Championship (Model 2; 1996) — Directed by
- Sega Touring Car Championship (Saturn; 1997) — Graphic Adviser
- Sega Rally 2 (Model 3; 1998) — Chief Designer
- Sega Rally 2 (Model 3; 1998) — Directed by
- Star Wars Trilogy Arcade (Model 3; 1998) — Directed by
- Star Wars Trilogy Arcade (Model 3; 1998) — Designers
- Sega Rally 2 (Dreamcast; 1999) — Chief Designer
- Sega Rally 2 (Dreamcast; 1999) — Director
- Sega Rally 2 (Dreamcast; 1999) — Executive Producers
- Star Wars Racer Arcade (Hikaru; 2000) — Directed by
- Star Wars Racer Arcade (Hikaru; 2000) — Produced by
- Star Wars Racer Arcade (Hikaru; 2000) — Designers
- NASCAR Arcade (Hikaru; 2000) — Executive Producer
- Cosmic Smash (Dreamcast; 2001) — Executive Producer
- La Keyboard (NAOMI GD-ROM; 2001) — Special Thanks
- Soul Surfer (NAOMI 2; 2002) — Executive Producer
- Sega Rally Championship (Game Boy Advance; 2002) — Executive Producer
- Sega Rally Championship (Game Boy Advance; 2002) — Designers
- Initial D: Special Stage (PlayStation 2; 2003) — Special Thanks (as 佐々木 建仁)
- Border Down (Dreamcast; 2003) — Special Thanks
- Sega Rally Championship (PlayStation 2; 2006) — Chief Graphic Designer
- Sega Rally Championship (PlayStation 2; 2006) — Directed by
- Main article: Kenji Sasaki/Magazine articles.
- Main article: Photos of Kenji Sasaki
- http://sega.jp/segavoice/vol23/ (Wayback Machine: 2008-10-08 06:09)
- @sasappo on Twitter
- https://news.denfaminicogamer.jp/english/170612/2 (Wayback Machine: 2021-06-05 08:15)
- Sega Saturn Magazine, "April 1995" (JP; 1995-03-08), page 117
- Next Generation, "November 1996" (US; 1996-10-22), page 78
- Next Generation, "March 1998" (US; 1998-02-17), page 79
- Dreamcast Magazine, "1999-36 (1999-11-19,26)" (JP; 1999-11-05), page 15
- Edge, "October 2000" (UK; 2000-09-11), page 70
- File:DCM JP 20000804 2000-26.pdf
- File:IR EN 2003-07-30.pdf, page 3
- File:ThrilloftheFeel CD JP booklet.pdf, page 10