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Game designer and musician Kenji Eno dies at 42

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Kenji Eno, musician and video game designer best known for his work on Enemy Zero, the D series and Real Sound: Kaze no Regret, died on Feb. 20 in Japan. He was 42.

Eno's death was reported by the Asahi Shimbun and confirmed in a statement from developer Fyto, where Eno designed WiiWare game You, Me and the Cubes. Cause of death was attributed to heart failure brought on by hypertension, according to an official statement.

Born May 5, 1970, Eno's game development career began on the Famicom, contributing music and planning to games based on Ultraman and Gundam for publisher Interlink. Through his own company, EIM, Eno designed and created music for NES games Panic Restaurant and Casino Kid 2.

Drawn back to game development by the advent of consoles with CD-ROM drives, Eno established Warp Inc., the studio behind horror adventure games D, D2 and Enemy Zero, the latter a punishingly difficult game that featured invisible enemies.

At Warp, Eno also created Real Sound, a mystery adventure game inspired by visually impaired players that had no graphics. Originally for Sega Saturn, Real Sound was later re-released for Dreamcast, adding photographs from Eno as complementary visuals.

Warp's games often included unusual pack-in items, like condoms or seeds, that reflected Eno's eccentricity. He told 1UP in an extensive 2008 interview that he hand-numbered all 10,000 copies of 3DO mini-game collection Short Warp and once flew to the U.S. to hand in a gold master of the game D, secretly submitting an uncensored version of the game to sneak graphically violent scenes through the approval process.

Eno later went on to serve as creative producer of Superwarp, which focused its efforts on networking and music technology, and president of Fyto (From Yellow To Orange), which released You, Me and the Cubes in 2009.

On Fyto's web site, Kenji Eno's bio described him as "The lucky adventurer who freely strides the digital world. In reality, an individual with a super analog mind — recently very emotional and sentimental."

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