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My First Game – Working On Rygar Instead Of Becoming A Scholar Of Classics

Yoshifuru Okamoto is a producer with Valhalla Game Studios working on Devil’s Third with Tomonobu Itagaki. Along with his producer duties, he also says he is Itagaki’s drinking buddy and bodyguard. Before all that, however, he was on an academic route on the road to be a scholar of classics or an excavation expert in the world of archeology.

Instead of all that, he decided to take a video game route and the first game he worked on was 2002’s Rygar: The Legendary Adventure for PlayStation 2.

While speaking to him at E3 earlier this year, I derailed the conversation about Devil’s Third to ask him about his work on Rygar and how he feels about God of War.

Was Rygar your first game? How did that come about?

Yoshifuru Okamoto: I originally thought I would become a scholar of classics. I’ve had various interests and at one time I was even interested in excavation techniques that would be able to aid archeologists. I had a moment where I was thinking about whether I wanted to go into games, having been such a big Nintendo fan, or whether I wanted to stay on the academic track for awhile.

I went with games, but I still got a chance to explore some of my interests. For example, in Rygar, you have sort of the excavation of these Greek and Roman artifacts and mythology elements, so I was able to work on that.

During that time we had opportunities to go on a couple research trips and I actually had three trips to Europe during that time. I’d finished the work we needed to do on Rygar. After my three trips to Europe I think my supervisor thought I was doing a little too much on my own and he said, “Okay, I think you need a little more supervision,” and he sent me over to Itagaki’s team [laughs]. At the time, Team Ninja was working on Ninja Gaiden on Xbox.

It bothers me when people talk about God of War that no one mentions Rygar, which came before it, and I feel influenced God of War in many ways. Do you feel the same way?

Yeah, I’ve said that, too [laughs]. But along with that I often say, “Oh man! They did all the things I wanted to do!” in God of War. Who knows – maybe that’s why we decided to make our main character [in Devil’s Third] bald, as well [laughs].

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