Monday, July 13, 2009

Hironobu Sakaguchi (Figure)

Hironobu Sakaguchi (坂口 博信 Sakaguchi Hironobu?) (born November 25, 1962) is a Japanese game designer, game director and game producer. He is famous around the world as the creator of the Final Fantasy series, and he has had a long career in gaming with over 80 million units of video games sold worldwide. He left Square Enix and founded a studio called Mistwalker in 2004.

Early years
Sakaguchi was born in Hitachi, Ibaraki, Japan. He studied electrical engineering while attending Yokohama National University, but dropped out in 1983 mid-semester with Hiromichi Tanaka.

On leaving the university, Sakaguchi became a part-time employee of Square, a newly formed branch of Denyūsha Electric Company founded by Masafumi Miyamoto. When Square became an independent company in 1986, he became a full-time employee as the Director of Planning and Development. The company's first games were very unsuccessful. Sakaguchi then decided to create his final work in the game industry with the rest of Square's money, and appropriately named it Final Fantasy, which he claimed—given Square's uncertain future at the time—was an ironic gesture. The game was released in Japan for the Nintendo Entertainment System on December 18, 1987. The game was successful across Japan. Under Sakaguchi's watchful eye, Final Fantasy developed into a successful franchise, spanning from stand alone stories to spin-offs to direct sequels. In 1991, following the release of Final Fantasy IV for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, he was honoured with the position of Executive Vice President. The last Final Fantasy game he directed was Final Fantasy V, becoming the producer for future installments of the franchise. In 1995, he became President at Square USA, Inc. His final role as game producer was for Final Fantasy IX. In an interview at the time he described it as his favourite Final Fantasy. He later went on to serve more as an executive producer of the series, as well as many of Square's other games, including Vagrant Story, Parasite Eve and Kingdom Hearts.
Hironobu Sakaguchi became the third person inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame on April 5, 2000. His Hall of Fame status was given to him because of the tremendous number of video games he has sold and created.

Time as film director
A long time proponent of bringing together the story-telling vehicle of film and the interactive elements of games, Sakaguchi took the leap from games to film when he made his debut as film director in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, an animated motion picture based on his world-famous Final Fantasy series. Despite some positive reviews, the movie was the biggest animated box office bomb in cinema history, losing over 120 million dollars.

Resignation from Square
Sakaguchi voluntarily stepped down from his post as an executive vice president at Square. This event also reduced Square's financial capital. Square later merged with its rival, the Enix Corporation, which led to the creation of Square Enix in 2003. In 2004, Sakaguchi founded Mistwalker with the financial backing of Microsoft Game Studios.

Sakaguchi giving a presentation on Blue Dragon at the Tokyo Game Show 2006. convention.

In 2001, Sakaguchi founded Mistwalker, which began operation in 2004. In February 2005, it was announced that Mistwalker would be working with Microsoft Game Studios to create two RPGs for the Xbox 360. Still, the company remains independent from console exclusivity. Sakaguchi released the works Blue Dragon in 2006, and Lost Odyssey in 2007 on the Xbox 360, and ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat on the Nintendo DS. He was developing an action-RPG, titled Cry On, until the project was canceled in December 2008.
Currently he is working on a new "large scale project" on which Sakaguchi comments: "I’m betting a lot on this project." This game was announced in January 2010 to be The Last Story, a co-production with Nintendo for the Wii. It was revealed in an interview on Nintendo's website that Sakaguchi is the director of the Last Story, which marks his first time as director of a game since Final Fantasy V.
In July 2010, Sakaguchi announced on Mistwalker's blog that The Last Story may be the final title of his career. However, this turned out to be a translation error in which he meant that he was working on this as if it was his last game.