Interviews// Profile: Toshihiro Nagoshi

Posted 12 May 2010 15:24 by
Toshihiro Nagoshi
Toshihiro Nagoshi
A SEGA veteran since 1989, Toshihiro Nagoshi has been heavily involved in some of the company's most iconic games. Entering as a designer, following graduation from the Tokyo Zokei University, Nagoshi's first work was underneath Yu Suzuki at AM2, where he worked on CG design for Virtua Fighter.

Five years later and Nagoshi directed his first project - Daytona USA. The racing and SEGA faithful among our readers will understand how important this release was when it hit arcades in 1994.

Although his early career has certainly helped to shape SEGA's history - including Scud Race, Spikeout and heading the Amusement Vision studio in the early 2000s to produce Super Monkey Ball and F-Zero GX - today Nagoshi is best known for his urban action series, Ryu ga Gotoku (Yakuza).

Nagoshi worked on the CG design for Virtua Fighter
Nagoshi worked on the CG design for Virtua Fighter
The gritty adventures of former Tojo Clan member (and leader) Kazuma Kiryu have sold over 3.2 million copies worldwide. Ryu ga Gotoku 4: Heir to the Legend was released in March and topped the chart in its first week on sale. This is now one of SEGA's biggest franchises in the region.

Now focusing all of his attention on the PSP-bound Project K spinoff, it's not unfair to say that Nagoshi has a lot on his plate. Before details of this interesting new entry in the series were revealed, SPOnG managed to ask the developer - whose official title is now R&D Creative Officer at SEGA Corporation - about the Yakuza series and his approach to game production in general.

Kazuma Kiryu, Yakuza 3
Kazuma Kiryu, Yakuza 3
SPOnG: The Ryu ga Gotoku (Yakuza) series is well known for its intricate and involved stories. What is your opinion on the role of the story in a video game? Does it have more or less importance than the gameplay itself, for example?

Toshihiro Nagoshi: I think the stories are one of the appeals of the game, but assessments may differ depending on the region where a player lives. Japanese players would consider the story to be a more attractive element because the culture underlying the stories relates closely to their daily lives.

SPOnG: In the West, there has been considerable debate on the adverse effects of violent video games. Do you feel that games with lots of excessive violence can convince a player to also become violent?

Toshihiro Nagoshi: I think the manner of expressing violence is different in each game. For example, Grand Theft Auto allows players to do anything they want, however players cannot resort to violence pre-emptively in Yakuza series. The manner of dealing with the violence in its game system makes a big difference in the meaning.

In addition, the manner in its stories also makes a huge difference. I believe every violent game does not necessarily exert a bad influence.

Yakuza, PS2
Yakuza, PS2
SPOnG: You must have a lot of fun thinking of the intense finishing moves that Kiryu Kazuma can perform. With each new Ryu ga Gotoku game, how difficult is it to create new combat moves that go the extra mile to surprise players?

Toshihiro Nagoshi: It might be more appropriate for the team who actually created the battles to answer this, but I know very well that they had a hard time making the moves. They had watched numerous movies, comics and actual martial arts to get inspiration.

The collected ideas were examined and only amusing ideas were adopted. The work was tough because several moves turned out not to be very amusing after being finished, despite the difficulties in creating them.
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