The one and only Mr. Hironobu Sakaguchi has been pinged for a lifetime achievement award at this year’s Game Developers Choice Awards. You might know him best for his seminal hits Blue Dragon, The Bouncer, Party Wave, and the Hollywood film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, but GDC has decided to recognize him for some small franchise he supposedly created called “Final Fantasy.”
Maybe you’ve heard of it.
Suffice to say, the video game world would be very different without Sakaguchi. There would be no Square Enix, because his first Final Fantasy game saved the company from bankruptcy. The JRPG genre would probably still be ripping off Dragon Quest with each release, and thus stuck in an even bigger rut. Nintendo might still be solely calling the shots in the gaming world without Final Fantasy VII sending Sony’s PlayStation console into orbit.
Aside from Final Fantasy, Sakaguchi is also responsible for plenty of other wonderful cult classics and smaller hits with credits that extend to Romancing SaGa, Chrono Trigger, Bahamut Lagoon, Super Mario RPG, Bushido Blade, Einhander, Parasite Eve, Brave Fencer Musashi, Xenogears, Legend of Mana, Front Mission, Chrono Cross, Vagrant Story and Kingdom Hearts.
Yeah, he’s kind of a big deal, and there are few others who are more worthy of a Lifetime Achievement Award.
In recent years, Sakaguchi has also struggled to get back on top after leaving Square Enix and forming his own studio called Mistwalker. Lost Odyssey on the Xbox 360 and The Last Story on the Wii came the closest to recapturing his magic, but financially, they just didn’t hit the mark publishers were looking for. He finally has a bit of success going for him with his free-to-play mobile strategy RPG Terra Battle, so we hope that it leads to bigger and better heights in his career.
General Manager of all GDC Events Meggan Scavio explains the organization’s decision.
“Over his illustrious and thriving career, Sakaguchi-san has established some of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time, and helped cement the RPG genre in Japan and around the world. But the gaming world owes an even greater debt to Sakaguchi-san and team for making a compelling game narrative as important to game development as its graphics and sound.”
“Final Fantasy helped pave the way for game stories that dealt with death, regret and character development in a mature and significant way, and we’re proud to honor Sakaguchi-san as a true leader in the space, and an inspired game developer.”
The Game Developers Choice Awards is scheduled for Wednesday, March 4 at 6:30 pm, and Sakaguchi will no doubt be on hand to give a speech. Can’t wait to finally hear from him again.