|Born||February 23, 1959|
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
|Occupation||Video game designer|
The Tower of Druaga
Masanobu Endō (遠藤 雅伸 Endō Masanobu, born February 23, 1959 in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan) is a game designer, president of Game Studio and Mobile & Game Studio, and the director of Digital Games Research Association Japan. He formerly worked for Namco, where he created arcade games and is best known for Xevious and The Tower of Druaga, which were important titles in the scrolling shooter and action role-playing game genres, respectively.
In 1981, Endō joined Namco. During his time with the company, in 1982 he created the wildly popular shoot 'em up game Xevious, single-handedly designing, programming and drawing the graphics for the game. Later he produced The Tower of Druaga and Grobda, both released in 1984. Xevious set the template for vertical scrolling shooters, while The Tower of Druaga laid the foundations for action role-playing games.
After that he became independent, founding his own company called the Game Studio, where he continued to produce games in the Babylonian Castle Saga such as The Return of Ishtar, The Quest of Ki, and The Destiny of Gilgamesh (aka The Blue Crystal Rod). In addition, he produced Family Circuit and Tenkaichi Bushi Keru Nagūru for Namco, Kidō Senshi Z-Gundam: Hot Scramble for Bandai and Airs Adventure on the Sega Saturn.
Furthermore, he entered the mobile phone game market at an early stage, creating titles such as Sangokushi Nendaiki, Kētai Shachō, Unō Paradise, Beach Volley Girl Shizuku among others.
On the internet
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In March 2001, several messages relating information only an insider would know about Xevious were posted on the retrogaming forum on 2channel by the alias Evezoo END. The administrator of 2channel, Hiroyuki Nishimura, confirmed the identity of the poster as Endō and presented him with a special handle name he could use to post messages with. Since March 29, 2001, Endō has posted on 2channel as 遠藤雅伸 ★ in threads about himself.
Endō has also contributed to the retrogaming forum by drawing the banner image for it, which was taken into use on May 15, 2001.
In the recent years, he supervised the production of the anime The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk and the MMORPG The Tower of Druaga: The Recovery of BABYLIM. When the final episode of the anime was broadcast on GyaO Jockey, he appeared on TV as a guest commentator with the name 遠藤雅伸★, explaining that it was his on-screen character. The program set a new record in TV ratings.
Endō has his own character by the same name in the aforementioned MMORPG, modeled after his appearance when he was younger, and he also works as the shopkeeper of the item shop ボッタクル商店 (lit. "ripoff shop"). However, a lot of users complain that the game is replete with bugs and has bad gameplay balance, and that as the supervisor, Endō should take responsibility for the problems.
Appearances in the media
- Endō has appeared on Japanese TV starting with the release of the game soundtrack CD album Video Game Music in 1984. He appeared in the talk show YOU on NHK Educational TV in 1985, exemplifying the upcoming generation of technologically minded young Japanese people.
- He appears in the TV commercials for Kidō Senshi Z-Gundam: Hot Scramble. He was already well known for The Tower of Druaga, and he was introduced as the foremost pioneer of game design. Endō himself says that he also wanted to bring other game designers to the public eye, even going to Kyoto to try to convince Shigeru Miyamoto to appear in public.
- In the NTV program Waratte Koraete!, he quipped that the Nagoya style is common knowledge in Space Invaders.
- He appeared in the December 9, 2006 episode of the NHK debate show Nippon no Korekara, although only to say kami kōrin (神降臨, lit. god has descended). The voice actor Yurika Ochiai, who sat in the next row, later wrote in her blog that after the show, Endō talked lengths about The Idolmaster. Furthermore, he appeared in the March 21, 2009 episode of Nippon no Korekara as a representative of game designers.
- He was interviewed in the gaming TV show GameCenter CX. In the interview he explains how the world of Xevious was conceived, why there are 60 floors in The Tower of Druaga and why slime came to be one of the weakest characters in Japanese gaming history. In the nine-hour live broadcast on December 24, 2007, he gave Shinya Arino helpful tips on how to pass the 98th level in The Quest of Ki which he was stuck in.
- In a game production project in the March 8, 2007 episode of TV Game Generation 〜 the 8 bit soul 〜, Endō acted as an advisor, pointing out problems in the game design. He also revealed that the stories about the development of Xevious were simply cooked up for marketing purposes, and exhorted other game makers to come clean about their secrets as well.
- He appears in the next episode preview in the seventh episode of the anime The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk.
- Not limiting himself to television appearances, he has also appeared in game publishing company D3 Publisher's promotional videos. In a skit set in a school setting, he played the part of the teacher and adlibbed "Call me Masanobu Endō!" using the kanji name 是美臼 which would normally be read zebiusu (Xevious).
- Appearing in the February 23, 2008 episode of ToroStation in the PlayStation 3 online software Mainichi Issho, he recounted his experiences with the anime director Yoshiyuki Tomino.
- In the April 10, 2009 edition of the Weekly Famitsū, Endō talks about engaging with his fans on the internet, saying "I'm writing my blog with the same assumption as (I posted on) a certain BBS, i.e. that people will create informative pages based on it. However, Wikipedia is full of lies. I guess it's because it has anonymity, people think they can do whatever they want."