8 Legendary Japanese Video Game Creators You Need To Know

The entire video game industry owes a lot to the Japanese creators who’s contribution is unparalleled. Like, no, joke, we’re talking about the inception of gaming’s most recognizable video games and characters. Take for instance, the late great Akira Toriyama and his legacy of anime (Dragon Ball), as well as video games (Blue Dragon, Dragon Quest, and Chrono Trigger).

Anyway, so today, we’re dead-set on celebrating the legendary Japanese video game devs/creatives. The ones responsible for so much innovation in the gaming world, and for giving us memorable characters. We’ve seen their work, so now, it’s time to pay our respects to the living legends and genius behind the scenes. Let’s go~

Which Japanese Video Game Creators Hold Legendary Status That You Should Know About

Another reason we’re doing this list today is cause Western game developers are so sterile these days. None have the creative drive or passion that once captivated players. Sure, aside from a few exceptions like CDProjekt RED (Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher) or Arrowhead Studios (Helldivers 2), the majority are too busy walking around eggshells. Or they’re integrating self-serving political activism-heavy narratives into their games. Far be it for them to focus on quality story-telling or depicting good characters.

So, takin’ on this task of throwin’ the spotlight over the cool Japanese video game creators is no easy feat. We’re bound to forget some, and we apologize in advance for that. Having said that, we’ve got 8 slots, today, so most likely we’ll cover the more famous ones. We’ve got a diverse bunch, too, but we ain’t gonna lie, some of our favorites are on here, too.

[8/8]

Tomonobu Itagaki – Creator Of Dead Or Alive, And 3D Ninja Gaiden Games Is A Man Without A Filter

Tomonobu Itagaki is one of the legendary Japanese video game creators.

So, first off, cool shades, and dat’ hairdo, right? Folks, this is one of the legendary Japanese video game creators with a very iconic look, Mr. Tomonobu Itagaki. Mr Itagaki is kinda famous for his outspoken, and often colorful language without a filter. Hey~ look at that we share that in common with the guy! But, he’s also got one heck of an impressive résumé. Mr. Tomonobu Itagaki holds the credit for popularizing the 3D version of the Ninja Gaiden trilogy.

Bold, risque, violent, and utterly satisfying Mr. Tomonobu Itagaki's games mostly deliver.

Yep, in case y’all didn’t know, Ninja Gaiden’s 3D games pioneered hack-and-slash before it became mainstream. The pure visceral and action-heavy gameplay with satisfying and bloody combo chains and variety is on a whole other level.  Also, we’re not gonna lie, the man’s got a keen business mind on top of creativity, too. Cause Tomonoby Itagaki also made the Dead Or Alive series. Ya know~ the boing-boing jiggle physics and risque outfit-centric fighting game?

If it's sellin' who're we to judge?

Hey, if it’s selling, then who’re we to judge, right? The man knows what gamers want, and he intends to deliver. But don’t worry, the man’s only putting those games for a tease, not full-on fantasy fulfillment ya’ dingdongs~ If you want something more spicy we point you toward our list of awesome dating simulator romance games with great stories. But anyway, Mr. Tomonobu Itagaki’s works easily rank him among our favorite legendary Japanese video game creators.

[7/8]

Hideki Kamiya – The Legendary Japanese Video Game Creator Of Action Titles And Iconic Characters

Hideki Kamiya is one of the most legendary video game creators of all time.

Well, then, we’re bringing out the big guns on the list of legendary Japanese video game creators now. Mr. Hideki Kamiya is a man of many talents and he had his fingers in a lot of pies, so to speak. The man’s meteoric rise was a no-brainer with a healthy mix of certified hits and underrated-gems-turned-cult-classics. We’re talkin’ serving as Director of the OG Resident Evil, the OG Devil May Cry, hell, the man created Dante! The fan-favorite badass, wise-cracking, demon-slaying, charismatic video game character, everybody loves.

The many credits of Hideki Kamiya

But Mr. Hideki Kamiya’s works don’t end with those alone. Ever heard of Viewtiful Joe? It’s one of the most wonkiest video game series ever, and fun as hell, too. In fact, it was so great that it’s among the special group that’s got anime based on video games. Then there’s the guy’s work on Okami, one of the most unique games with action-platforming gameplay inspired by the Legend Of Zelda series. Above all else, though, Mr. Hideki Kamiya has contributed to the gaming industry by creating one of the coolest and hottest female heroines in video games

Hideki Kamiya, created Bayonetta. Let that sink in.

Yep, the one and only, Umbra Witch herself, Bayonetta. Everything about her looks, the allure, the smokin’ design, the strut and pep in her step, the sultry tone, tantalizing gestures, and the flexibility that’ll make your jaw drop, it’s all on Mr. Hideki Kamiya. We really wish Microsoft reach out to him to resurrect Scalebound; it was supposed to be an exclusive action game for Xbox, but it got cancelled Microsoft should remake it without restricting the guy. Seriously, Mr. Hieki Kamiya rightfully deserves his place among the legendary Japanese video game creators.

[6/8]

Hideo Kojima – Mr. Metal Gear Himself, The One And Only

Hideo Kojima is one of the most influential and legendary Japanese video game creators.

This next one is a guy who needs no introduction cause he’s a celebrity among legendary video game creators. Yep, Mr. Hideo Kojima, is the man everyone knows in the gaming circle from fans to executives alike. His journey to stardom has had its peaks and valleys, but the one constant association he’s had with the gaming fandom is through the masterful Metal Gear franchise. The tale of tactical warfare and genre-defining cinematic action and storytelling by Mr. Hideo Kojima is second to none. He’s known for trollin’ a lot, too.

Metal Gear Solid series.

Hideo Kojima has a knack for messin’ with your heads in his games. Remember the 4th wall break from Psychomantis and Oceleot warning of not using auto-fire or he’ll know? It’s these little touches that make Metal Gear Solid games feel so unorthodox. But also because villains have eccentric personalities and gimmicks, too. The gameplay design of Metal Gear Solid has seen solid evolution throughout every entry, and we honestly love that.

Death Stranding.

After departing Konami and making his own studio, Kojima Productions, Hideo Kojima put out another bizarre title, Death Stranding. We gotta be honest with y’all, it was a hard sell, but sell it did, thanks to Hideo Kojima’s branding. It’s just too wonky and weird to even put into words, but many players appreciated it and bought it, and that’s what counts. We’re excited to see what else Mr. Hideo Kojima brings to further cement his legacy among the legendary Japanese video game creators.

[5/8]

Masahiro Sakurai – One Of The Elite Of Legendary Japanese Video Game Creators

Masahiro Sakurai rightfully is one of the legendary Japanese video game creators.

The man, the myth, the legend, Masahiro Sakurai is every Nintendo fan’s favorite game director. The man’s creativity and imaginative portfolio might be limited to one or two franchises, but what he’s accomplished is nothing short of unmatched success. Seriously, ever heard of the fighting game series Nintendo Smash Bros.? Well, Masahiro Sakurai is one of the legendary Japanese video game creators behind it. Including the latest one Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is just perfection.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is just the best.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the fantasy crossover game that you never knew you wanted. Masahiro Sakurai is the one responsible for delivering this gift to all Nintendo gamers. He relentlessly pursued Nintendo to make deals with other creators, and companies and planned the crossover. Whether it’s Solid Snake, Samus Aran, Mario, Link, Cloud, or even Steve (Minecraft), you can have them all, and lots more, too. This is the one game that truly embodies the essence of the phrase everybody’s here.

Related: Nintendo Switch OLED Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Bundle.

Masahiro Sakurai created Kirby!

But if you thought Masahiro Sakurai is a one-trick pony with only workin’ on the Smash Bros. series, think again. You see, Mr. Masahiro Sakurai has also given the Nintendo fanbase another beloved first-party IP in the pink cutesy fuzzball Kirby. Yep, the adorable version of the sin of gluttony watered down for kiddies to enjoy. We jest, of course, because we love Kirby games. These two heavy hitters easily catapult Masahiro Sakurai among the top-tier legendary Japanese video game creators.

[4/8]

Hideaki Itsuno – Devil May Cry, Dragon’s Dogma, And Fighting Game Design Wizard, Nuff Said!

Hideaki Itsuno is definitely among the best legendary Japanese video game creators.

The man of the hour, Mr. Hideaki Itsuno, is a surefire hall of famer already with his top-tier talent and finesse for action games. Seriously, if Hideki Kamiya was the creator of Dante, then Mr. Hideaki Itsuno is the one who shaped the character into what we all love today. Whether it’s his fun-loving personality, his stylish outfits, or his adrenaline-pumping combat skills and OP abilities it’s all on him. Mr. Hideaki Itsuno is responsible for making the stylish action gameplay over-the-top and bonkers, and that’s why he deserves a spot among the legendary Japanese video game creators.

Dante is perfection thanks to Hideaki Itsuno.

All the fun combat-centric Devil May Cry games? Well, Mr. Hideaki Itsuno is the brains behind them, whether it’s the divisive Devil May Cry 2, or the beloved Devil May Cry 3. Hell, even if y’all didn’t enjoy the story of Devil May Cry 4, there’s no denying its gameplay design was spectacular. Then we got the most ambitious one of’em all Devil May Cry V. This one is a master class clinic of action games. Everything seems polished to a tee and the engaging character banter is just the cherry on top.

Dragon's Dogma II is the ultimate action RPG by Hideaki Itsuno.

Now we’re gonna gush over the latest work of Hideaki Itsuno that surely qualifies him as one of the legendary video game creators. Dragon’s Dogma II was a long time coming, and it’s a glorious return to form. Dragon’s Dogma II sets the new standard for open-world exploration and combat in action RPGs. There are even more in-depth mechanics like Debilitations and their cures, or the Dragonsplague that’ll give you a headache. But they’re part of the charm of Dragon’s Dogma II which has already crossed the 2 Million sales mark, so you know it’s popular with players, us included!

Related: Romance In Dragon’s Dogma II? Find The Best Girl In Our Guide.

[3/8]

Shinji Mikami – The Japanese Horror Game Creator With A Legendary Legacy

Shinji Mikami is one of the legendary Japanese horror video game creators.

Another big deal, even among other legendary Japanese video game creators, is Shinji Mikami. This man’s knack for delivering genre-defining game mechanics and design that become the new normal is uncanny. Mr. Shinji Mikami is famous as Mr. Resident Evil, as he’s the one who created the iconic horror franchise. While Alone In The Dark may have been the progenitor of the genre, it was Resident Evil that popularized survival horror as a whole. That’s no small feat because Shinji Mikami’s vision was the reason for Resident Evil’s success. He did it multiple times with different entries.

Dino Crisis.

Aside from that, though, Shinji Mikami’s talents are also responsible for another criminally overlooked video game franchise, Dino Crisis. This one’s even more dread-inducing and is a completely different beast than Resident Evil. Why? Well, ‘cause it involves the terrifying dinosaurs as enemies instead of zombies that ironically have been done to death. Oh, how we wish for this series to return. Ideally, it should be like the video games that deserve remakes like Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, but with Shinji Mikami in charge. Otherwise, it’s gonna be another addition to the worst video game remakes of all time pile.

The Evil Within games are terrifyingly awesome.

Ya’ know what we love about Shinji Mikami the most? He’s versatile and isn’t beyond poking fun at himself, either. He’s got some underrated gems under his belt, like God Hand, which we’d love to see again. But he’s also seen the development of Hi-Fi Rush, one of 2023’s epic gems. However, horror is where Shini Mikami truly shines and cements his place in the upper echelons of Japanese video game creators. Case in point: The Evil Within and its sequel are awesome horror games.

[2/8]

Hidetaka “SWERY” Suehiro – The Lover Of Bizzare And We Love To See His Work

SWERY 65 is one of the most eccentric legendary video game creators.

Welcome to the Twilight Zone, folks. ‘Cause it’s ‘bout to get weird in here with Hidetaka “SWERY” Surhiro. If you don’t know him, don’t worry. Hidetaka “SWERY” Suehiro is less famous than some of the other legendary video game creators, but he’s just as talented, if not more so. Why? Well, we point you toward the quirky video games that he’s made. He truly likes to push the envelope into the truly outlandish archetypes, and we always have a rollicking great time because of it.

Deadly Premonition by Hidetaka "SWERY" Suehiro.

The first of Mr. Hidetaka “SWERY” Suehiro’s titles that truly made us fans of his work is Deadly Premonition. Don’t believe the haters online, but for your own sanity, play the Director’s Cut version of Deadly Premonition. You’ll instantly feel the hook as you see dark and disturbing blend with the comical and absurd. The sheer suspenseful ambiance and horror of Deadly Premonition and the bizarre characters steal the show. It’s an investigative murder mystery, it’s also a tragic love story, and it’s like a serial murder documentary all in one. We love Deadly Premonition to death.

The Good Life is equally as bizzare as Hidetaka "SWERY" Suehiro.

Sure, the sequel, Deadly Premonition 2, is a buggy mess, even we’ll admit that. But just like the original, when the Director’s Cut comes out with all the fixes, we’ll love it, too, we suspect. Anyway, Hidetaka “SWERY” Surehiro also has dabbled in a little life-sim game with laugh-out-loud writing and eye-poppingly questionable mechanics. We’re talkin’ ‘bout The Good Life. People turn into cats and dogs, you’re in debt, and you literally take a piss on button command. Yeah, we told y’all he’s at the apex of the wackiest legendary Japanese video game creators.

[1/8]

Yoko Taro – Gaming’s Most Eccentric Creator With A Penchant For Mindblowing Exposition

Wow, we’re already at the finish line of our list of amazing legendary Japanese video game creators. Now, if “SWERY” was quirky in a comical way, Mr. Yoko Taro is the yin to his yang. Yep, Mr. Yoko Taro dives into the sickening and twisted side of the spectrum. He has this unusual and really strange way of storytelling, where things will often not appear as they seem. The more you play, the more context and baffling revelations will hit you like a freight train. You’ll have a serious case of depression, too.

The Nier series is just plain awesome and heart wrenching.

Mr. Yoko Taro has worked on the Nier series, and both are hard-hitting in terms of their narrative. You’ll first enjoy the gameplay and see things from a different perspective; then, when you beat them, it’ll be a whole new experience every time. Yep, the man’s insanity knows no bounds, as there are multiple endings in his every game. But trust us when we say the journey’s worth it to see all of them. You’ll feel fulfilled while crying like a baby, too. You’ll be hard-pressed to see who the true enemy is: your opponents or the main character. Oh, then there’s the fact that he enjoys the fan art and thirsty memes of 2B; what a swell guy, right?

Drakengard is messed up.

But if ya’ll truly wanna see why Yoko Taro is at the top of the list of legendary Japanese video game creators, well, take a look at the Drakengard series. This franchise is responsible for Nier, as it’s a spin-off of Drakengard. These games tell a tale so messed up and dark that you’ll question your sanity. There are disturbing visuals and outright grotesque horror. You’ll never see the bad ends coming, and the fate of the entire world is left bleak. Yoko Taro doesn’t believe in fairy tales but the dark, neverending nightmares. So, beware of what you’re getting into with his titles.

Final Thoughts On The Legendary Japanese Video Game Creators

Well, that’s a wrap, folks. We know there are definitely other legendary Japanese video game creators out there. But the 8 we picked today were the cream of the crop. Don’t worry, though. We’re gonna do a follow-up with a focus on the devs not on today’s list. That will ensure everyone gets their time under the spotlight. So, how would you all rate today’s selection of who’s who of video game devs? Think the order is out of wack? Well, shoot your opinion in the comments section below, and tell us how y’all would rank them.

Look, it’s not like we don’t appreciate Western game developers and creators. But they’re more complacent and bland in terms of creativity and originality. There are exceptions, like we said earlier, such as Amy Hennig; she’s leading the charge on Marvel 1943: Rise Of Hydra. She’s a national treasure and should be appreciated more. But anyway, back to the Japanese focus, be on the lookout for more lists featuring content from the East. For now, though, we’ll leave you with a list of anime-inspired non-Japanese animated series. You’re welcome~

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Rafi Ahmed
Rafi Ahmed
Retro(and modern) gamer, proud comic geek, anime connoisseur, and opinionated peach without a filter. I'm bringing you hot takes, recommendations, and what-if fantasy scenarios and championing the gamer cause against corporate greed. You're welcome!

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