Castlevania Producer Koji Igarashi has left Konami to found his own studio, leaving the future of his beloved series up in the air and adding another to the ranks of Japanese veteran developers departing for the indie scene.
"I've decided to break out on my own to have the freedom to make the kind of games I really want to make—the same kind I think fans of my past games want as well," Igarashi said in a statement to IGN.
"Leaving Konami was a big decision, and not one I took lightly—I've spent my entire career there, made many friends, and had a lot of great opportunities—but I hope all the gamers and fans who have supported me in the past will join me in being excited about what comes next. Wish me luck!"
Konami has yet to comment on the future of Castlevania. Igarashi saw a diminished role in the series over the past few releases with development of the Lords of Shadow side-series being outsourced to Spanish studio MercurySteam, and Konami slapped the more recognizable Hideo Kojima's name on the box instead of his own to boost sales. How anybody can be more recognizable than a guy who loves whips and cowboy hats the way Igarashi does is beyond me, though.
In all fairness, Koji Igarashi had taken the series to some pretty bizarre levels of insanity, a direct opposition to the "bullet points action game" approach MercurySteam took. Some proved successful to niche audiences like Castlevania: Harmony of Despair on PSN and Xbox Live and Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth for WiiWare. Other's proved to be downright loathed, like the Wii Remote fighter Castlevania: Judgement.
Castlevania is currently in a far unrecognizable state from when Igarashi had it running on all fronts from the transformation to CDs with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood to all those wonderful handheld Castlevania games which proved popular enough to get six entries. Only Mario and Final Fantasy can claim to be that adaptable and prolific for so long, but with his style no longer in style, now is a better time than ever for Igarashi to find something and make it on his own.
Best of luck! Maybe he can party it up with Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune like its the 1980s all over again. These departing Japanese developers are all in their 50s and 60s by now, and while they are not getting any younger, the Japanese indie scene is still blooming and in need of guidance of true masters of the craft. Reboil the bubbling blood of youth!
As for Castlevania? It had a good run of nearly 30 years, but regardless of where Konami takes it now, something will always feel like it is missing, like cowboy hats, whips, and impressive moustaches at E3 booths.