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Veteran Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi leaves Konami

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

Koji Igarashi, longtime producer and shepherd of Konami's Castlevania series, left the company this weekend after more than 20 years at the Tokyo-based game maker.

Igarashi — often called Iga — says he's leaving Konami to start his own small game development studio where he plans to make new games that appeal to his fans.

"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 Polygon. "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!"

His last day at Konami was March 15.

Igarashi served as producer on more than a dozen Castlevania titles. His first, as assistant director and programmer, was Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. He was credited with pushing Konami's action platformer in a more adventure-driven direction, transforming the series into the 2D "Metroidvania" style that defined Castlevania from 1997 to 2010 — prior to Mercury Steam taking lead on the Lords of Shadow series. Igarashi also produced 3D spin-off games, like Wii fighting game Castlevania: Judgment and action game Castlevania: Lament of Innocence.

Iga joined Konami in 1990 as a programmer, working on PC Engine titles such as vertical-scrolling shooter Detana!! Twinbee and dating simulation Tokemeki Memorial. He later produced non-Castlevania titles, including Nano Breaker, Otomedius Excellent and Kinect game Leedmees.

At this week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Igarashi will present a talk, "There and Back Again: Koji Igarashi's Metroidvania Tale." The panel promises "an exploration of his experiences and methodology in creating some of the most popular and influential games in the genre over the last 15 years."

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