Though you might not know the name Takeshi Miyaji, you’ve most likely felt his influence if you’ve played any modern RPG. Since co-founding Play Arts with his brother in 1985, he has had his hands in a number of popular game series, and despite living a short life, passing away at the age of 45 over the weekend, his contributions to gaming will never be forgotten.
Debuting on the Japanese PC-8801 in 1986 (and later remade with enhanced graphics for the Sega CD), Silpheed had fast, frantic gameplay, dropping players into the cockpit of a polygonal spacecraft and tasking them with the protection of the world. While it failed to reach great commercial success, mostly due to the release of Star Fox for the SNES, it still carries a cult following for vertical shooter fans, and was succeeded by 2007’s Project Sylpheed for the Xbox 360.
In the early ‘90s most RPGs were technically-focused, with mathematical backbone and a digital heart. There was story, but the emphasis was hardly ever on compelling players, instead opting to use the narrative as an excuse to guide them from one town to the next. Lunar: The Silver Star was different. It used the Sega CD’s disc-based system to its fullest, telling an engaging story with a stellar audio and video presentation. The result was a smash hit. Lunar was so successful overseas that it sold on a nearly 1:1 ratio with the Sega CD itself, and gave way to a number of sequels.
Several years after Lunar: The Silver Star (and its sequel, Lunar: Eternal Blue), Takeshi Miyaji worked on a game that would go on to be his most successful and memorable: Grandia. Originally released on Sega Saturn before being brought to the PlayStation several years later, Grandia is considered by many to be one of the strongest RPGs of the era, with an innovative battle system and a strong story. Its two sequels were met with similar acclaim, and fans are still anxiously awaiting information on the continuation of the series.
Though Miyaji may have passed, his legacy still lives on in these and all the other titles he touched.
Aug 1, 2011
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