Mighty No. 9 creator and Mega Man character designer Keiji Inafune will be a guest at Waku Waku +NYC this August 29-30 in New York City. For this blog, however, I wanted to speak about Inafune from a more personal perspective, as someone who’s loved his games over the years, and who admires Inafune because of everything he stands for in the games industry.
I’m a long-time Mega Man fan. Since age 4 I’ve created Mega Man boss characters for fun and dreamed of them appearing in actual games. A couple of years ago I even received from a kind friend a Mega Man t-shirt with Inafune’s autograph. This might make me a little biased when it comes to Inafune, but once you hear his story I think you’ll agree that video games need more people like him.
Keiji Inafune first began working at Capcom in 1987 at age 22. While his first assignment was as a character designer for the original Street Fighter, he was eventually assigned to help design the character “Rockman” (eventually known in the US as “Mega Man”). The original Rockman sold moderately well, but when his bosses told him to work on other projects, Inafune and the rest of the Rockman team felt so strongly about the project that they were willing to create a sequel on their own free time while finishing their other projects. Rockman 2 (Mega Man 2 elsewhere) became a mega-hit (no pun intended), and, in a series famed for its addictive platformer gameplay, is considered by many to be the best game in the entire Mega Man franchise.
Inafune eventually became head of Research and Development and Global Head of Production at Capcom, while creating games such as Dead Rising and Onimusha. During this time, he challenged Japanese game designers to be more innovative and encouraged them to learn from non-Japanese developers, embracing video games as an international art. Inafune had rose through the ranks, and could now comfortably stay with Capcom for the rest of his days; a position anyone would envy.
Then, in 2010, Inafune left Capcom to take on a new challenge.
While beginning anew as one of the most celebrated game creators of all time is different from being a plucky young up-start in that you have the leverage of your own reputation, in some ways it’s an even greater risk than when you’re new. Ask Maruyama Masao, the founder of the anime studio MADHouse who left to form the new company MAPPA. Ask anyone who embarks on a new career in their 40s, 50s, and beyond. Inafune’s move took serious guts, as did his willingness to criticize the Japanese games industry, and it all stems from the same place: a genuine desire to create new and interesting video games.
Mighty No. 9 was a risk. Inafune and his new company, Comcept, went on Kickstarter, something unheard of from such a major figure in games, and said that they wanted to make a game that’s both faithful to the old platformer genre but also willing to innovate and break with tradition to make the best game possible. Inafune called upon his fans to help bring Mighty No. 9 to life, and they responded in force. In just over 24 hours, the $900,000 funding goal was reached, to which I myself also contributed. At the end of the campaign, they had raised an astounding $4 million. Inafune believed in those who love video games just as much as he believed in the games themselves, and this spirit above all else is what makes me ecstatic to have him as a guest at our convention.
Whether you’re anticipating Mighty No. 9, a devout fan of Mega Man, or just someone who loves video games, you owe it to yourself to see Inafune at Waku Waku +NYC.
-Carl, aka Mighty No. 9545