Originally posted on 20 January 2016
Source: page 24-27

Destiny of a Dragon

Consolidation of Sega subsidiaries. Starting from a crisis

An action game in which you can freely roam about a red light district filled with bewitching neon signs.

The player would take on the protagonist's point of view and walk around the red light district as they liked. They would hear the hustle and bustle of the town. They would look up and see twinkling neon signs, hear the voices of people soliciting customers to enter hostess clubs. They would meet with men from the underworld, and sometimes get caught up in incidents. If there were a game that would allow people to experience this unknown world realistically...

This was the beginning of Nagoshi's idea that would later turn into a huge hit, recording a million sales: Ryu ga Gotoku.

Toshihiro Nagoshi. He is a man who, working in Sega's arcade department, was involved the creation of several masterpieces.

After joining Sega, he served as main designer on Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter. In 1994, he worked as producer for the first time on the racing game Daytona USA, which was a big hit. It received much praise from overseas. Young people were hooked on the exhilaration of being able to control a racing car reproduced in realistic 3D graphics. There were many enthusiastic gamers who shut themselves up in game centres from morning to evening. Besides these, Nagoshi also worked on other much talked about hits such as Monkey Ball and SpikeOut.

It was in 2004 that he began participating in the development of consumer games. That year, Sega had been performing consolidation of its subsidiaries. Nagoshi, who at the time was on the board of directors at subsidiary Amusement Vision, was instated as Sega's R&D (research and development) creative officer. Along with Nagoshi were assembled both staff who had been creating arcade games, and staff who had been developing games intended for consumers. These members, who had lived in totally different worlds, merged to form a single team.

The cause for the mergers was the crisis that the entire gaming industry was in. As home gaming consoles became more high-powered, the cost of developing games for them would rise steeply. Meanwhile, game sales were falling due to the continuously declining numbers of children as a result of the low birth rate. Having retracted itself from the development of game consoles, their earnings from game sales were sluggish. Each of the staff were put into a team that was established in the midst of a gaming industry that never knew what tomorrow would hold. Even still, Nagoshi was simply happy about the new team that had been formed due to the mergers.

The merging of arcade development staff and consumer development staff...

"When two different cultures come together, something interesting will come from it."

Feeling this, Nagoshi's first challenge was getting the members of the team to know each other better.

Taking the team along with him, they would go out for a drink every day. If they were going to talk to each other frankly, a busy town would be best. Ginza, Shinjuku, Roppongi... They would head out into the red light district and drink the night away at nightclubs and hostess clubs. They talked to their heart's content. Some of the young staff looked around the places in wonder, saying that it was their first time visiting such a place. Some people were in a flap, not sure how to talk to the elegant hostesses. This was when they came up with the idea for a new game.

A red light district full of countless clubs and show pubs. Casinos that you would be too afraid to enter even if you wanted to. Suspicious-looking men loitering around town. What if all of these things appeared in a game? Were it set in a virtual world, you would be able to enjoy the red light district for yourself without being afraid. There was nothing else so interesting.

The protagonist would freely move about town, talk to the townspeople, sometimes fight with thugs... So what about the game's genre? An RPG in which you simply choose your actions from commands wouldn't be immersive enough. An action-adventure game in which you would actually run about beating up thugs looked like a better fit. Then what about the protagonist? They could use a detective protecting public order, but it wouldn't be novel enough. If they were going to portray the traps and desires of people who lurk in the darkness of a red light district, they should have someone from a criminal organisation... a yakuza.

Idea after idea was thought up, until they took shape as a single plan.

The protagonist is a yakuza who had once been feared as invincible. Starting with an incident, he becomes embroiled in a huge, shady plot that covers the entire town. Finally, through meetings and partings with those who live in the underworld, he faces his own destiny. Love, empathy, betrayal... It was a plan for a game that would show all kinds of human drama, and the life of an awkward man.

However, when Nagoshi submitted the plan at a company meeting, voices of opposition were raised.

"There's no way a game like that will sell."


① A company that developed the world's first full-body game in the 1980s, and released several game consoles that played a leading role in the golden age of the game centre. Aside from this, they also created countless game machines that modern game centres would be lost without, such as the UFO catcher.

② A company that formerly developed home-use game consoles, but withdrew from the market in 2001. Since then, they have focused their resources on making third-party games.

Arcade games. Games that are created to be played in game centres. Many of these are played by inserting coins.
Consumer games. The opposite of arcade games, these are meant to be played at home. Standard abbreviations are "AC" for arcade and "CS" for consumer.
"Sega AM2, a popular arcade brand"
Formerly Sega's largest development division. It made such famous simulation games in the 1980s as Space Harrier and After Burner. Children of the time flocked passionately to game centres in order to play these games. Nagoshi was mentored by Yu Suzuki in AM2, learning the ins and outs of game development. The company was split up in 2000, and renamed "Sega-AM2" in 2001. It was absorbed back into Sega in 2004.
"The difference between RPG and action-adventure"
RPGs (role-playing games) and action-adventure games are both set in fictional places around which you move your character. However, in RPGs character movements are generally selected from a list of commands like "fight" or "run". Battles in action-adventure games are performed by direct input from the player to the character, like pressing a certain button to punch and another to kick.
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