Few, if any, video game developers have had such a significant impact on the gaming industry as Yu Suzuki. Throughout his illustrious career, the Japanese visionary has developed a plethora of innovative and cutting-edge titles, many of which have played pivotal roles in shaping their respective genres. It’s truly an awe-inspiring and thrilling journey, punctuated with countless ingenious ideas and groundbreaking games.
Born in the summer of 1958, Yu Suzuki started working at Sega in his mid-twenties, having first trained as an engineer. Despite this somewhat drastic career change, he quickly made a name for himself with a host of successful arcade games before eventually branching out into the lucrative and growing home console market. It has developed countless classics over the ensuing decades, the best of which can be found below.
Wait was only the second game Yu Suzuki made for Sega, but it’s arguably one of his best known. The fast-paced arcade racing game was among the very first arcade games to use 16-bit graphics thanks to the power of the Super Scaler arcade board, which Suzuki himself helped design.
Many attribute the popularity of Taiken arcade games in the mid to late 1980s to the success of Waitwhich ended up being the top-grossing arcade game in the United States for two consecutive years after its release in 1985. It was later ported to the Sega Master System and received several sequels in the years that followed.
6 after the burner
Inspired by the runaway success of Superior gun in 1986, Suzuki quickly set about designing its own fighter jet game. The title obtained was after the burner, which places players in the cockpit of an F-14 Tomcat. Like many of his previous games, after the burnerThe cabinet was designed entirely around the game itself and used hydraulics to simulate movement.
Thanks to the increased capabilities of the Sega X arcade board, which builds on the foundation laid by the original Super Scaler board, Suzuki was able to implement rotating sprites, making after the burner one of the very first games to feature this feature. Its fast pace and unparalleled realism helped make the game a huge hit, with a following and a host of imitators soon to follow.
5 virtual cop
During his first ten years at Sega, Yu Suzuki served as producer or director on no less than 22 titles, most of which were incredibly successful in arcades around the world. Suzuki’s 23rd game for the company was virtual copwhich once again helped push the boundaries of what many thought was possible in video games.
Granted, it might not look like much by today’s standards, but virtual cop was revolutionary for its time. It was one of the very first action games to use real-time 3D graphics with texture mapping; something that will eventually become the norm for future 3D games. It also had a huge influence on later small arms games, including the likes of time crisis and The house of the dead.
4 out run
In one look, out run might seem like an incredibly simple game, but there’s a whole lot going on under the hood. Along with its then-groundbreaking hardware and graphics, the game also helped pioneer non-linear gameplay, with players able to reach five different destinations depending on the route they chose to take.
Despite only ten months and a small development team at its disposal, Suzuki was once again able to deliver a masterpiece, with out run becoming the highest-grossing arcade game of 1987 and the eighth-highest-grossing of all time. Countless racing game developers have since cited out run as having been one of their biggest inspirations, while the game’s iconic soundtrack also helped popularize the genre of synthwave music.
3 space harrier
Although nowhere near as groundbreaking as some of the other great Yu Suzuki games, space harrier is undoubtedly one of his most enjoyable titles. The third-person rail shooter first hit arcades in 1985 and was only the third title Suzuki had developed for Sega. Despite this perceived lack of experience, it was still one of the most successful arcade games of 1986 and has since been ported to countless other systems.
Rather than putting players inside a vehicle like many of Suzuki’s other arcade classics, space harrier simply provides them with a joystick-controlled jetpack and then lets them go to town. Interestingly, Suzuki originally wanted to develop space harrier as a fighter jet game, but ended up settling for the jet-powered alternative due to hardware limitations at the time.
2 virtual fighter
For many modern gamers, Yu Suzuki’s impact on the gaming landscape might not seem so obvious at first glance. However, when you look a little closer, his influence on the industry is actually quite easy to see, especially when it comes to the fighting game genre. Prior to virtual fighterfighting games were stuck in the second dimension, though that all changed in 1993 thanks to Suzuki and his talented team.
Many consider virtual fighter to be the most influential fighting game of all time, and it’s easy to see why. Admittedly, the blocky graphics haven’t aged very well, but compared to what everyone else was doing in the early 90s, this arcade classic was years ahead of its time. For the sequel, Suzuki would even get a deal to use military-grade CPUs in the game’s arcade cabinets; further cementing the series’ place as the best 3D fighting game series of the early to mid-90s.
1 Shen Mue
There really isn’t much to choose from when comparing virtual fighter and Shen Mue, with both franchises having helped shape and define their respective genres. However, the latter pretty much tops it as it laid much of the foundation for future open-world games. In fact, many elements the series kicked off have yet to become standard, such as adaptive difficulty, real-world weather conditions, and fully voiced NPCs with their own daily schedules.
At the time of its release, Shen Mue was one of the most expensive games ever made and that was very much reflected in its quality. The game’s visuals were state-of-the-art for the time, while the level of detail required to create its Yokosuka setting went well beyond building a typical video game world. Not everyone was a fan of its slow pace, though for the most part, even those who didn’t like the game could still appreciate its unquestionable quality and innovative ideas.
MORE: Crazy facts about the development of Shenmue
Not all FromSoftware games need to be open world as of now
About the Author