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Yotsui, Kouichi
Kouichi Yotsui and art.png
Kouichi "Isuke" Yotsui, circa 2014


Osaka, Japan


February 7th[1], 1963[2]


Film director, screenwriter, and game designer

Years Active:


"Isuke" (伊助) was the pseudonym Kouichi Yotsui (四井浩一) used while developing the CPS-1 installment of Strider. Yotsui has also been credited as "Teruaki"[3][4], "The Fourth Sally"[5], and "6th Sally"[6], and has worked for the major gaming publishers Capcom, Mitchell, and Enix[4]. He is most famous for designing the aforementioned Strider, and the cult classics Nostalgia 1907[7] and Osman[8]. He is currently a freelance game designer[4] whose latest works include Square Enix's 2011 downloadable title Moon Diver[9] and Mitchell's 2012 puzzle game Tokyo Crash Mobs.

Early Life[]

Kouichi Yotsui lives in Mt. Takao in Tokyo but hails from Osaka, Japan[10]. By his own admission, he was a poor high school student because he preferred to draw instead of study[4]. He enjoyed fantasy illustrations, but upon deciding that still pictures were "useless"[4], attended Osaka University of Arts, where he studied film under Kazuo Miyagawa, Fujiro Morita, and Yoshitaka Yoda[10]. Tutelage under Yoda, by all rights, makes him a veritable Jedi. He shot several 8mm films and one 16mm 60-minute drama as a student, and also worked as one of the lighting technicians on the Japanese horror film The Noisy Requiem (追悼のざわめき), released in 1988.[3][10]

After university, Yotsui owed Imagica the development costs for his 16mm student film[4]. He applied to Capcom after seeing a magazine advertisement saying Capcom paid the highest starting salaries[4]. He made no more films following his hiring on at Capcom.[10]


Capcom (1986-1989)[]

Yotsui worked for Capcom's First Planning Room under Tokuro Fujiwara[4][10]. As a background illustrator, he contributed to Capcom's 1986 game The Speed Rumbler[10], the arcade version of Bionic Commando[10], and Ghouls 'n Ghosts[4], as well as submitting game proposals that ultimately were rejected.[4]

After Yotsui worked for Capcom for two to three years, Akio Sakai joined Capcom as the Head of Development[10]. Sakai suggested collaborating with other companies and set up a project between Capcom and Motomiya Kikaku,[10] a triple-pronged collaboration which would eventually include Capcom's 1989 arcade masterpiece, Strider Hiryu. Capcom placed Yotsui in charge of the arcade version[4][10][11], an appointment he speculates may have either been due to his previous experience with the CPS-1 or possibly his cancelled proposals.[4]

Yotsui's team developed their game with the idea that it was a "competition" with the other two projects (Masahiko Kurokawa's consumer version and Tatsumi Wada's manga), and that theirs was "most important"[4]. Although there was tension over the long hours he demanded from his team, Yotsui felt that if they would just do as he instructed, they would be fine, and was unsurprised when their game ranked first at a game show.[4]

Nevertheless, Yotsui's Strider Hiryu ran behind schedule[4]. Yotsui believes it underperformed in the sales department[10], noting that rumors within Capcom attributed its poor sales to that delay[4]. He left Capcom not long afterward. In an interview several years later, Yotsui confided when asked about the popularity of Strider that he "never felt that Strider became successful", but that he always felt that he and his team were "in the middle of creating a very interesting game".[12]

Takeru (1990-1991)[]

Two Capcom employees, Akira Kitamura and Shinichi Yoshimoto (designers of Mega Man/Mega Man 2 and Ghouls 'n Ghosts, respectively), left the company to start their own, Takeru[13]. Desiring greater creative freedom than arcade machines allowed, Yotsui joined them[4]. He had it in mind to create an adventure game, but hadn't decided what hardware to develop it for. The CEO of Sur de Wave, Takeru's publisher, talked Yotsui into developing it on the X68000.[4]

This adventure game turned out to be 1991's Nostalgia 1907, a period piece fueled by Yotsui's own personal instincts and interests, "American spy novels and comic books", and the 1974 British disaster film Juggernaut[4]. The game's climactic bomb-defusing sequence is noteworthy for being its most oft-remembered scene[4][14], for triggering its most memorable music[4], and for being "borrowed" by Hideo Kojima in Policenauts.[14]

Nostalgia 1907 was later ported to the Sega CD, FM Towns, and PC-98[13]. Sur de Wave's financial situation became unstable shortly afterward. As the development costs of Nostalgia 1907 were partially responsible, Yotsui left Takeru for Mitchell Corporation.[4][13]

Mitchell Corporation (1992-1996)[]

Several Takeru employees left for Mitchell[13]. Several of these were from Capcom[15]. Yotsui was in good company. Perhaps trying to recover from two flops in a row, Yotsui attempted a more commercial game for his first at Mitchell: 1992's The Karate Tournament[5]. Despite its innovations, including realistic sparring and in-engine motion blur[16], Yotsui calls The Karate Tournament "completely ingratiation to the market" due to the arcade dominance of Street Fighter II in that era.[4]

Yotsui followed The Karate Tournament with a more lighthearted effort, 1993's Lady Killer[6], an adult-themed tile-based puzzle game[17]. This apparently, and somewhat surprisingly, also did not do well.

Yotsui chose this opportunity to revisit themes from his most well-known game, Strider Hiryu with 1996's Osman[4]. Yotsui's collaborator at Mitchell, Takashi "Utata Kiyoshi" Kogure, had learned much from the innovations demanded by The Karate Tournament[4], which benefited the gameplay in Osman. Osman elevated the gameplay of Strider Hiryu to a new level[4] and bears a noticeable and striking resemblance to its predecessor[4][15]. Despite this, Yotsui remembers being "tired" during its development, calling Osman "self-parody" and intentionally "kind of strange"[4]. It did "alright" in Japan but fared worse overseas[15]. Yotsui attempted to write up a new game proposal, but he never turned it in. He "messed around for about 6 months" afterward, exiting Mitchell when he realized he wanted to make another game and not just write.[4]

Years later, Mitchell's President Roy Ozaki gave an interview to's Chaz Seydoux. When Seydoux asked about this period of Mitchell's history (and Yotsui in particular), Ozaki dismissively mentioned "Capcom misfits" who had "move[d] around", and did not elaborate.[15]

Freelance Years (1997-Present)[]

Three major commercial failures and increasing frustration with corporate video gaming left Yotsui with few remaining career options. He went freelance, submitting game proposals to any publishers who would listen[4]. One of his first works as a freelance game designer was as a map designer in Sega Saturn's 1997 title Willy Wombat. He was hired for this project by Ryuichi Nishizawa of Wonder Boy fame, and the two hit it off right away and became close friends.[18]

Developer Sol picked up two of Yotsui's ideas, both of which would reunite Yotsui with his Capcom colleague Shinichi Yoshimoto[19]. One earned him a "draft" credit on Victor's 1999 PlayStation release, Submarine Hunter Shachi[19][20], which later received an Europe-only release as Submarine Commander. Publisher Enix "took a shine" to another proposal similar to the bomb-defusing sequence from Nostalgia 1907 and paired him with producer Ando Takehiro[4] for their idiosyncratic 1997 PlayStation entry, Suzuki Bakuhatsu (Suzuki Explosion)[19][21]. Yotsui and Takehiro frequently clashed during the development process for Suzuki Bakuhatsu[4], but joined together for a round table interview with Studio Voice to promote it nonetheless[22]. Suzuki debuted at eleventh place on the Japanese and North American charts[23]. While discussing the game years later, Ando stated Suzuki has since gained a small following, and although it didn't reach 1 million sales as he expected, since it recovered its development costs and remained in the minds of fans he considers it a kind of success.[24]

Following Suzuki Bakuhatsu, Ando and Yotsui continued working together in a new project for the PlayStation 2 titled Madstix, a car action game developed as "a racing game with no steering wheel, brakes or acceleration". It featured unique gameplay where turning the right analog stick would drive it recklessly, while turning the left stick would drive it safely, and one has to properly use them to avoid accidents. This also allowed them a free, more cinematic camera work than other racing games. Madstix, however, was cancelled before being announced to the public.[24]

Yotsui also worked as an assistant planner on Square Enix's 2005 Playstation 2 RPG, Drakengard 2[25] and developed the scenario and gameplay for Beyond Entertainment's 2008 Nintendo DS adventure Otoshi Deka.[26]

Kouchi Yotsui, circa 2011

In 2011, Kouichi Yotsui worked as main designer of Square Enix's downloadable action title, Moon Diver (formerly known as Necromachina)[27], which reunited him with Suzuki Bakuhatsu producer Ando Takehiro. He intended it to be a sequel to the action games he made in the past and hopes for a sequel, as he was unable to put "even half of what [he] wanted" into Moon Diver.[28]

In 2012, Yotsui worked as one of the scenario writers in Square Enix's digital adventure book Anata Toshokan, writing the scenario for one of the game's ten chapters[1]. Mitchell Corp. also picked him up to direct the Puzz Loop-inspired bizarre puzzle game Tokyo Crash Mobs for the Nintendo 3DS.

In 2016, Zero Escape series creator Kotaro Uchikoshi mentioned in interviews that Yotsui was one of two puzzle designers working in the series' third installment, Zero Time Dilemma[29][30]. Uchikoshi explains Yotsui is known for his "unique and out of the box type puzzles" and unorthodox approach[29] (directly mentioning Suzuki Explosion[30]), which stands in contrast with the other puzzle designer's more orthodox methods.[29]

Creative Philosophy[]

Kouichi Yotsui is still a film student at heart, trying his hardest "to express a deep and long-running story" and emphasizing quality over thriftiness[10]. He developed his student film on 16mm instead of 8mm because he wanted to create "something meaningful"[4]. He likes creating both games and films[10], but finds games harder to make[4]. He prefers attempting the harder of two choices when given the chance[10], as it's "hard to become bored of something that's difficult."[4] He finds games "way more interesting" than movies, as they have "the sense of movies, and if you don't make them fun, they won't sell. Since it's a hard job, it makes it interesting."[4] Yotsui likes making games with blade weapons as it forces the player to approach the enemy instead of striking from a distance, and he has also "embraced simplicity" in the years since the release of Strider, claiming that "[t]he game doesn’t have to be extravagant or make sense as long as the game can excite the players and make them say, 'Wow, how fun!'"[31]. He has also stated he finds boring to make something that's already been done before and prefers to create new genres.[24]

His games often run behind schedule, over budget, and make little money[4][10]. Yotsui notes that "[d]oing what I wanted got the company in trouble"[4] and believes gaming publishers shouldn't "hold the regular employees responsible" for commercial flops, although he admits that "considering costs is obviously important."[4] He finds it "impossible" to select his best work to date, as "[a] parent can't pick his favorite child".[10] He also notes, "I've yet to make a game that, once complete, I was able to look back and say that it reached my level of satisfaction."[10] He answered in a similar way when asked about his favorite Strider character, listing characteristics he likes of each enemy (Lago's visual style, the Anti-Gravity Device's abilities, Mecha Pon's charm, Ouroboros' clever functions, Solo's coolness, the Kuniang's beauty and Grandmaster Meio's dignity) and finishing by saying he likes them all.[32]

Isuke is very reserved when talking about the sequels to Strider he had no input in: when asked about Strider 2, he stated that his feelings "aren't important" and that the game was for people to enjoy[10]. When asked about the 2014 Strider, he similarly said that he had "some opinions about it" but that it was not for him to "say what they should do", and that it was created for a different audience[33]. When discussing ports of the original, however, the Mega Drive version is the one that wins his approval.[33]


Year Title Developer Publisher System Role
1986 The Speed Rumbler
Capcom Capcom Arcade Background Artist
1987 Bionic Commando
Capcom Capcom Arcade Background Artist
1988 Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Capcom Capcom Arcade Background Artist
1989 Strider
Capcom Capcom Arcade Designer
1991 Nostalgia 1907
Takeru Sur de Wave X68000 Designer
1992 The Karate Tournament
Mitchell Corporation Mitchell Corporation Arcade Designer
1993 Lady Killer
Mitchell Corporation Mitchell Corporation Arcade Designer
1993 Double Wing
Mitchell Corporation Mitchell Corporation Arcade Special Thanks
1994 Demon Mirage Mahjong
ミラージュ 妖獣麻雀伝
Mitchell Corporation Mitchell Corporation Arcade Designer
1996 Osman
Mitchell Corporation Mitchell Corporation Arcade Designer
1997 Willy Wombat
Westone Hudson Soft Sega Saturn Map Design
1999 Submarine Commander
サブマリンハンター 鯱
Sol Victor PlayStation Draft
2000 Suzuki Bakuhatsu
Sol Enix PlayStation Designer
200X Madstix
PlayStation 2 Designer
2005 Drakengard 2
ドラッグオンドラグーン2 封印の紅、背徳の黒
cavia, inc Square Enix PlayStation 2 Asst. Planner
2008 Otoshi Deka
SUCCESS Beyond Entertainment Nintendo DS Sys. Settings,
2011 Moon Diver
feelplus Square Enix PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
2012 Anata Toshokan
iNiS Corporation Square Enix Smartphones & Tablets Scenario Writer
2012 Tokyo Crash Mobs
Nintendo /
Mitchell Corporation
Nintendo Nintendo 3DS Designer
2016 Zero Time Dilemma
ZERO ESCAPE 刻(とき)のジレンマ
Chime Spike Chunsoft / Aksys Games Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, PC Quest Designer

Art Gallery[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Square Enix (2012). "Scenario Writer Introduction" (in Japanese). Square Enix Market, Anata Toshokan Official Site. Accessed April 24, 2016
  2. Staff (May 1989). "Makers Interview: Backstory" (Japanese). Hi-Score (#), Pg. 84.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Matsui, Yoshihiko (Director). (1988). The Noisy Requiem (追悼のざわめき). [Movie]. Japan: Yokubou. B/W. 150 mins.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 4.37 4.38 Tane, Kiyofume (February 2009). "The Father of Strider Who Made the Game World Explode: Kouichi Yotsui Discography". Gameside (16). Translated by Gaijin Punch for Gamengai. Accessed October 24, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Karate Tournament (in Japanese). (Mitchell Corporation). Arcade. Level/area: End credits. (December 1992).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Lady Killer (in Japanese). (Mitchell Corporation). Arcade. Level/area: End credits. (December 1993).
  7. Takeru. Nostalgia 1907 (in Japanese). (Sur de Wave). X68000. Level/area: End credits. (December 14, 1991).
  8. Osman (in Japanese). (Mitchell Corporation). Arcade. Level/area: End credits. (February 1996).
  9. Spencer. "Strider Designer + Square Enix = Necromachina". Siliconera. Accessed December 17, 2010.
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 10.14 10.15 10.16 10.17 10.18 Scion; Dire 51 (April 24, 2010). "Interview with Kouichi "Isuke" Yotsui". LSCM 4.0. Translated by Gaijin Punch. Accessed October 24, 2010.
  11. Jones, Darran (April 24, 2010). "The Making of... Strider". Retro Gamer (76). pp. 48-53.
  12. Jones, Darran (March 2014). "The Story of Strider". Retro Gamer (126). Pg. 35
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 CRV (August 21, 2009). "Takeru". Game Developer Research Institute. Accessed December 17, 2010.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Kohama, Dai (March 26, 2006). "Nostalgia 1907". Play Magazine Online. Waybacked.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Seydoux, Chaz (January 16, 2006). "shokkingu hitofude". Insert Credit. Waybacked.
  16. Bousegis, Alexis (April 14, 2008). "Chatan Yarakuu Shanku - The Karate Tournament". Accessed December 17, 2010.
  17. Bousegis, Alexis (October 9, 2010). "Lady Killer". Accessed December 17, 2010.
  18. Szczepaniak, John (November 4, 2015) The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Volume 2. Pg. 435. ISBN 1-51-865531-9
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 CRV (June 13, 2010). "Company:Sol (credits)". Game Developer Research Institute. Accessed 17 Dec 2010.
  20. Sol. Submarine Hunter Shachi (in Japanese). (Victor). PlayStation. Level/area: End credits. (November 2, 1999).
  21. Sol. Suzuki Bakuhatsu (in Japanese). (Enix). PlayStation. Level/area: End credits. (July 6, 2000).
  22. 阿見寛 (August 2000), "[鈴木爆発]座談会 内藤啓介×小野英作×田中知之×四井浩一/ [鈴木爆発]", Studio Voice 296.
  23. IGN Staff. "Japanese and North American Sales Figures: 7/02 - 7/09". IGN. Retrieved from Accessed September 16, 2020.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 Yamoto, Shin'ichi (May 22, 2017). "A Phantom Project suddenly appears, "How are favorite games like 'Strider' and 'Suzuki Bakuhatsu' created?" lecture report" (Japanese). Accessed April 5, 2017.
  25. cavia, inc. Drakengard 2 (in Japanese). (Square Enix). PlayStation 2. Level/area: End credits. (June 16, 2005).
  26. SUCCESS. 落シ刑事(デカ)~刑事さん、私がやりました~ (in Japanese). (Beyond Entertainment). Nintendo DS. Level/area: End credits. (September 18, 2008).
  27. feelplus. Moon Diver (in English). (Square Enix). PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. Level/area: End credits. (2010).
  28. Riley, Adam (April 27, 2011). "Kouichi Yotsui on Nintendo 3DS?". Cubed3. Accessed June 24, 2011.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Lopez, Azario (March 21, 2016). "Interview With Zero Escape Series Creator Kotaro Uchikoshi". Accessed April 24, 2016
  30. 30.0 30.1 Kawachi (March 22, 2016). "Interview with Mr. Kotaro Uchikoshi, director and writer of "Zero Escape Time's Dilemma"! [GDC2016 ]". Accessed April 24, 2016
  31. Concepcion, Miguel (May 14, 2011). "Q&A with Kouichi Yotsui on Moon Diver". Examiner. Retrieved from Accessed September 16, 2020.
  32. Jones, Darran (March 2014). "The Story of Strider". Retro Gamer (126). Pg. 36
  33. 33.0 33.1 Robson, Daniel (October 2014). "The Making of...Strider". Edge (271). Pg. 98.

See Also[]

External Links[]