|Fast facts on Yu Suzuki|
|Company(ies): Sega of Japan|
Yu Suzuki (鈴木 裕), AM2's star developer, is one of the most highly-regarded visionaries in the industry. He joined Sega in 1983 as a programmer, and two years later he created Hang-On, the first simulation arcade game. Suzuki has always tried to push the limits of arcade hardware. In the 1980s, he developed Super Scaler technology that manipulated sprites and backgrounds to produce three-dimensional graphics and gameplay for games like Hang-On, OutRun, Space Harrier, After Burner and Power Drift; these games also innovated in terms of gameplay, controls, and cabinet designs, such as the fully interactive Hang-On cabinet where the player sits on and controls a replica motorbike, and moving hydraulic cockpit cabinets with analog fight-stick controls. He was involved in developing the cutting-edge Sega Model 1 arcade board, and developed the first games for it. With the Model 1, Suzuki made his foray into the world of polygons, and the result was Virtua Racing; this F1 racing simulator was completely rendered in 3D, and allowed players to experience the action from four different camera angles.
Suzuki's next Model 1 masterpiece was the acclaimed Virtua Fighter in 1993. It was the very first 3D fighting game, and featured what is considered to be one of the deepest fighting engines ever. Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter helped popularize 3D polygon graphics, with their dynamic camera systems, polygonal human characters, and physics engines, while Virtua Fighter 2 on the Sega Model 2 took it further with texture-mapped characters and motion-capture animation. Virtua Fighter’s impact was such that it is housed in the Smithsonian Institution's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology Innovation. He continued to advance 3D graphics and gameplay, working on the Model 2 and Model 3 systems, along with games for them.
In 1999, Yu Suzuki released Shenmue, the first major original title he directed for a home console. Five years in the making, Shenmue on the Dreamcast featured open-world 3D environments, a sweeping story, multiple gameplay elements, quick-time events, and an unprecedented level of detail. Shenmue marked the start of a new genre, dubbed by Suzuki as FREE, or Full Reactive Eyes Entertainment. The story, graphics, environment, and the innovative system, exceeded those of many previous games. Shenmue was the most expensive game to be developed, with the whole project costing $47-70 million (until it was surpassed by Grand Theft Auto IV, which cost roughly $100 million).
In 2003, Suzuki became the sixth person to be inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame. On April 1, 2009, Suzuki retired from Sega. Since then he now runs his own game company, YS NET Inc. (established November 11, 2008), but still retains a good relationship with Sega. In 2014, The List named him as one of the top ten game designers of all time, for "striving towards realistic 3D gaming".