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Keiji Inafune (稲船 敬二 Inafune Keiji?, born May 8, 1965) was the head of Research & Development and Online Business at Capcom, best known as the illustrator and co-designer of the character Mega Man and producer of Onimusha and Dead Rising video game series. In most game credits, he uses the name "INAFKING". Characters from the Street Fighter and Mega Man series have become some of the most well-known and recognizable video game characters, making Keiji Inafune a large part of Capcom's success. In October 2010, Keiji Inafune retired from Capcom.
In 1987, 22-year old Keiji Inafune joined the corporation of Capcom not long after graduating in search of a job as an illustrator. His first assignment as graphic designer was Street Fighter (1987), which became a very popular fighting game series after the release of Street Fighter II in 1991. At the time, Capcom focused on the expansion of the home video gaming market; particularly the Famicom from Nintendo. Previously, most games released to the system were ports (release of a game to a different system). Now wanting to capitalize on the fledgling Nintendo system, Keiji's superiors directed him to create a new video game character called "Rockman". Capcom's artist and developer teams were still diminutive at that period in time, and so Keiji was directed to be one of the leading artists to the new project.
When it came to the design for the Rockman game (which was later changed to "Mega Man" in America and Europe), Keiji developed all the character art and some of the designs. Akira Kitamura (A.K.), director for the game, created the original static pixel art sprite for Mega Man. This was to ensure that the sprite could be properly seen against the game's backgrounds, and could work in the game. After that, the pixel art was handed over to artist Inafune who created a refined illustration of the character. Inafune refers to this process as "like a reverse character design" as it is the opposite of what typically occurs, where artists create concept art which is then translated into game's graphics. He did however create the designs of Bomb Man and Elec Man, the later being one of his favorites due to being the first character he created. During a special event at TGS 2007, Inafune clarified his role in the creation of Mega Man: "I'm often called the father of Mega Man, but actually, his design was already created when I joined Capcom", he explained. "My mentor (Capcom senior member Akira Kitamura), who was the designer of the original Mega Man, had a basic concept of what Mega Man was supposed to look like. So I only did half of the job in creating him."
Due to the small taskforce, he also constructed the characters into pixel form, as well as designed the game's respective logo, package design, and instruction booklet. As the Famicom was an early gaming system, only 56 colors were available for display, the majority of which were blue-tinted. Keiji noted that this affected the decision to color the character blue (as a result, fans have nicknamed the character the "Blue Bomber"). The designs of Keiji's character was also heavily influenced by Japanese animation he used to watch when he was a child, and he notes that he took observations from other video game characters present at the time, such as Mario.
In development of the game, Keiji incorporated many references to various music genres, such as Rock, which is the source of the Japanese name of "Rockman". Along with this, the team made a gaming system pertaining to the rock-paper-scissors concept, one which the various Mega Man series still revolves around today. The first Rockman/Mega Man game was released in December 1987, after which sales in both countries were competent, but as Keiji later notes, " "While it did sell more than we had expected, the first Rockman wasn't a huge success as far as the numbers go,". Noting this, Capcom superiors dictated that the team begin on a new project called Professional Baseball Murder Mystery, which was only released in Japan.
However, the team felt strongly about the Rockman series, and urged that they be permitted to construct another iteration in order to amend the previous failings of the original and continue in the light of creativity. Capcom allowed the Rockman team to continue, with the prerequisites of completing Professional Baseball Murder Mystery as well. The team did so, completing the project on their own time, and on December 24, 1988, released Rockman 2, with Mega Man 2 being released later in North America in 1989. The project proved to be a huge success, earning more than its previous iteration. Inafune stated in interviews that Mega Man 2 is his favorite Mega Man game, because he feels that he was able to put in one-hundred percent of what he was aiming for. Coincidentally, fans widely consider it to be the best Mega Man game, because of its production values, such as graphics, music, etc. Capcom realized that the Mega Man series was a profitable investment, and many ports were constructed along with regular installments released on a yearly basis.
The next game in the "classic" series was Mega Man 3, released in Japan on September 28, 1990 and later released in North America in November 1990. Inafune considers Mega Man 3 as one of his least favorite Mega Man games. In an interview with Nintendo Power in the October 2007 issue, Inafune explained that he was disappointed with: "...what went into the game and what was behind the release of the game." He also stated that he was forced to put the game out before he thought it was ready and during the game's production, the developers lost the main planner, so Inafune had to take over that job for completing the game. Inafune concluded, "I knew that if we had more time to polish it, we could do a lot of things better, make it a better game, but the company (Capcom) said that we needed to release it. The whole environment behind what went into the production of the game is what I least favored. Numbers one and two - I really wanted to make the games; I was so excited about them. Number three - it just turned very different."
The success of the Famicom began to fade into obscurity in light of its successor, the Super Famicom (SNES), and Keiji set his sights on the development on a new series called "Rockman X", which continued the plot of the original series, but set a darker tone and took place 100 years after the previous storyline. Keiji developed the characters X and Zero, and as before, released yearly installments of the series, beginning with the first game, Rockman X.
Originally, Zero was meant to be the leading character of the X series, but Capcom executives convinced Inafune to continue with the analogous design from the original game. Ironically Zero became quite popular anyway, obtaining his own game series years later (Mega Man Zero).
Keiji had intended to end the X series' plot at the installment of Rockman X5, and had begun development on the Rockman Zero series, in order to elaborate on the character of Zero. However, he had departed to another studio in cooperation with Inti Creates, and unbeknown to him, another installment (Rockman X6) was created. This set a slight continuity error in Keiji's intention for the plot, but through some changes in the storyline, was alleviated.
During the 32-bit era, Keiji produced the three-dimensional Rockman DASH/Mega Man Legends series after receiving requests from Sony to develop a new 3D Rockman series exclusively for the PlayStation, he concurred. Although, he envisioned high sales and was an ambitious supporter to the development of the game, it wasn't a massive success. For nearly 10 years, it seemed like the series would not ever continue, but a full-fledged sequel for the Nintendo 3DS was in the works garnering much fan praise, before Capcom pulled the plug and cancelled the project without any consideration for the fanbase.
Later projects and beyond
One of Keiji Inafune's recent creations is the popular Rockman.EXE/Mega Man Battle Network series, which is set outside the continuity of the rest of the Mega Man story lines and introduced RPG and strategy elements. According to Inafune, he received the basis for creating the series from observing his son. On April 2, 2005, Inafune was promoted from corporate officer to senior corporate officer, making him the head of Capcom Production Studio 2. Being a corporate officer most of his career he was happy to hear that he was promoted. Keiji also developed another series, called Onimusha, which has spawned various sequels, and focuses on past Japan, Samurai warriors, and magic. Also, Inafune was involved in Inti Creates' creation of the latest Rockman project, Rockman ZX.
Inafune and his team's next creation was Dead Rising for the Xbox 360. Dead Rising, released by Capcom in the U.S. on August 8, 2006, is a zombie-slaying game heavily influenced by George A. Romero's 1978 movie Dawn of the Dead. Dead Rising is the second zombie game Inafune has worked on, the first being Resident Evil 2.
Inafune worked hard on creating the sequel to Dead Rising, titled "Dead Rising 2", which is scheduled for a 2010 release. In addition, he will be making his directorial debut in the movie adaption of his "Dead Rising" game, which is called "Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun".
On April 22, 2010, it was announced that Inafune would be Capcom's Global Head of Production. Inafune stated "I want to end comments that Capcom games made in Europe aren't really Capcom games... basically saying that whether games are created in America or Japan or anywhere in the world, I will be the one overlooking it and so it will have that Capcom flavor that fans know and love." Inafune has voiced various negative views on Japanese game developers, stating that they are behind Western developers in innovation.
On October 29, 2010, Inafune announced on his blog that he will be leaving Capcom at the end of the month with the intention of "starting his life over". He had been with the company for 23 years.
After leaving Capcom
After leaving Capcom Inafune established two new companies: Comcept and Intercept. Established December 1, 2010, Comcept focuses on creating and distributing entertainment media – consumer, online, mobile games, tie-in goods, books, movies and events. Intercept, which was established January 12, 2011, strictly focuses on game development by following three key tenets: "Originality -- Cannot be copied by others"; "Gravity -- Has the power to pull people in"; and "Beyond the Age -- Things that cross era." Early 2011, Comcept joined a company-collaborative effort with Idea Factory and Compile Heart in marketing their latest game Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2. Inafune took part in a Q&A session on the games official site dubbed "Keiji Inafune's Super Dimensional Life Consultation," and appears in the game itself as a summon for the main character Nepgear.
About the creation of Mega Man
During a special event at TGS 2007, Inafune revealed that he was not responsible for the creation of Mega Man himself. "I'm often called the father of Mega Man, but actually, his design was already created when I joined Capcom," he explained. "My mentor [at Capcom], who was the designer of the original Mega Man, had a basic concept of what Mega Man was supposed to look like. So I only did half of the job in creating him. I didn't get to completely design a Mega Man [protagonist] from scratch until Zero (Mega Man X, SNES). Back when the SNES was coming out, I was asked to give Mega Man a redesign, so I created this character. But I realized that this design wouldn't be accepted as Mega Man, so I had another designer create the new Mega Man, and I worked on Zero to release him as the 'other main character' that would steal all the good scenes!"
Inafune has been credited for more than just an illustrator of the Mega Man games; he has also been involved in the production, design, support, and graphics of various other titles.
Note: Keiji Inafune has not been involved directly with some iterations of the Mega Man series (such as Mega Man X6 and Mega Man X: Command Mission).
- Mega Man -- Character Designer
- Mega Man 2 -- Character Design
- Mega Man 3 -- Sub Planning and Character Design
- Mega Man 4 -- Planner, Special Designer
- Mega Man 5 -- Object Designer, Adviser
- Mega Man 6 and Mega Man 7 -- Object Designer
- Mega Man 8 and Mega Man & Bass -- Producer
- Mega Man's Soccer -- Illustration (uncredited)
- Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters -- Special Thanks
- Mega Man: Battle & Chase -- Producer
- Mega Man Powered Up -- Executive Producer
- Mega Man 9 -- Producer and Character Designer (Splash Woman and Plug Man)
- Mega Man 10 -- Producer
- Mega Man X, Mega Man X2 and Mega Man X3 -- Character Design, Illustrations (uncredited)
- Mega Man X4 -- Producer
- Mega Man X5, Mega Man X7, Mega Man X8, Mega Man Xtreme and Mega Man Xtreme 2 -- Special Thanks
- Mega Man Maverick Hunter X -- Executive Producer
Other Rockman Series (Producer)
- Rockman Zero/Mega Man Zero -- Producer
- Rockman DASH/Mega Man Legends -- Producer
- The Misadventures of Tron Bonne -- Game Concept, Producer
- Rockman.EXE/Mega Man Battle Network -- Producer
- Mega Man ZX -- Producer
- Mega Man Star Force -- Producer
- Street Fighter -- Graphic Designer
- Pro Yakyuu? Satsujin Jiken! (Professional Baseball Murder Mystery) -- Graphic Designer
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers -- Graphic Designer
- DuckTales -- Graphic Designer
- Capcom Barcelona '92 -- Graphic Designer
- Breath of Fire -- Character Design, Illustrations
- Capcom Fighting Evolution -- Executive Producer
- Shadow of Rome -- Executive Producer
- Black Cat -- Executive Producer
- Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap -- Producer
- Final Fight: Streetwise -- Very, Very Special Thanks
- Lost Planet: Extreme Condition -- Original Story, Executive Producer
- Resident Evil 2 -- Promotion Producer
- Resident Evil 4 -- Executive Producer (PS2 version)
- Dead Rising -– Producer
- Street Fighter 4 –- Executive Producer
- Bionic Commando (2009) -– Executive Producer
- Super Street Fighter 4 -– Executive Producer
- Dark Void -– Executive Producer
- Lost Planet 2 –- Executive Producer
- Dead Rising 2 -– Executive Producer
- Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective -– Executive Producer
- Asura's Wrath –- Executive Producer
- Phoenix Wright:Ace Attorney/Apollo Justice -- Executive Producer
- Onimusha Warlords and Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny -- Producer
- Onimusha Blade Warriors, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege and Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams -- Executive Producer
- Onimusha -- Writer (2011 film)
- Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun -- Director
Comcept and Intercept Works
- Dr. Momo no Shima
- Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 -- Special guest appearance as a summon character.
- J.J. Rockets
- KAIO: King of Pirates
- Kaitō Nipon Ski
- Mighty No. 9
- Mijinko Puzzle
- Ossan Tamago
- Soul Sacrifice
- Sweet Fuse: At Your Side - Guest appearance as the main character's uncle.
- Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
in Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2
Retrieved from Wikipedia in October 29, 2007.
- MegaMan Network (2004). Interview with Keiji Inafune. Capcom. Retrieved on May 4, 2006.
- MegaMan Neoseeker (2005). Interview with Keiji Inafune 2. Capcom. Retrieved on May 4, 2006.
- Gamespy (2005). Interview with Keiji Inafune 3. Capcom. Retrieved on May 8, 2006.
- Xbox 360 official magazine site (2005). Interview with Keiji Inafune 4. Capcom. Retrieved on May 8, 2006.
- Nintendo Power issue 220 (October 2007). Interview with Keiji Inafune 5.
- ↑ Mega Man: Official Complete Works. Udon Entertainment Corp.. December 23, 2009. p. 6.
- ↑ The Mega Man Network: Keiji Quits
- ↑ Mega Man Official Complete Works
- ↑ Destructoid: Keiji Inafune dropped mad Mega Man secrets on me
- ↑ Games-Radar: Mega Man 9 - exclusive interview with the mind behind the machines
- ↑ GameSpot: TGS '07: Mega Man celebrates 20th anniversary
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Keiji Inafune's G4tv Icons Interview: Part 1
- ↑ English Trailer for Dead Rising Based Movie: Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun
- ↑ "Mega Man Creator To Assure Capcom's Future". Kotaku.com. 2010-04-22. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
- ↑ GoNintendo - "Inafune - Japan is making terrible games, Capcom is barely keeping up"
- ↑ The New York Times - Japanese Playing a New Video Game: Catch-Up
- ↑ 1-Up.com - Not Quite Finished: Keiji Inafune's Bold New Plan for Japan
- ↑ Kotaku.com - "Mega Man's Creator Quits Capcom (Update)"
- ↑ William Case, Norfolk Video Game Industry Examiner (April 1, 2011). "Keiji Inafune opens up Comcept and Intercept". examiner.com. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
- ↑ Anoop Gantayat. "Keiji Inafune and Compile Heart Team Up to Promote Neptune Mk-II". andriasang.com. 2011-14-04.
- ↑ Anoop Gantayat. "Keiji Inafune is in Neptune 2". andriasang.com. 2011-26-04.
- ↑ Hirohiko Niizumi (23 September 2007). "TGS '07: Mega Man celebrates 20th anniversary". GameSpot. CBS Interactive Inc.. Retrieved July 3, 2011.