What a wonderful night to have an article.
How much do you know about the creator of Castlevania, Hitoshi Akamatsu? Although he directed the first three Castlevania games for the NES, he left the industry not long after and didn’t stick around to do too many interviews. Now, some more light is being shed on his work thanks to an article in Issue #62 of the monthly magazine Wireframe. While they weren’t able to get Akamatsu himself for an interview, they did talk to several other former Konami staff members to get some more insight into his work, including the inspiration behind the original Castlevania.
Akatamsu was directly involved with Castlevania’s design, as can be gleaned from conversations with his former co-workers at Konami as well as tweets by Sonna Yuumi - a sub-planner who Akamatsu later mentored at another studio he worked for, Vignt-et-un Systems. Between 2015 and 2019, Yuumi tweeted about his conversations with Akamatsu, regarding Castlevania’s design, which were then translated into English by shmuplations.
According to these tweets, Akamatsu, like many others at Konami, was a big movie buff, and wanted people to feel like they were playing through a classic horror film. This explains the rogues’ gallery of movie villains that appear from the Mummy to Medusa to Dracula himself. Akamatsu also loved Steven Spielberg’s 1981 movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, which explains why the protagonist Simon opted for a whip over a more traditional weapon like a sword.
The article continues to delve into Akamtasu’s career, including his work on other NES games like The Goonies II, and Finalizer - Super Transformation, a vertical arcade shooter which we didn’t know he has worked on until now. He eventually left Konami, and then the industry altogether in the early 2000s.
Akamatsu disappeared for a few years after he made the move to working in one of Konami’s game centres, but after leaving the company he found himself directing games again. In 1997, he was the director on Tsurido: Umitsurihen (loosely translated to The Way of Fishing: Sea Fishing Edition) at Vingt-et-un Systems. This was a studio specializing in fishing sims that publisher OZ Club had partnered with to make an enhanced port of an earlier System Soft PC game for Playstation. Akamatsu worked at Vingt-et-un Systems for the next few years, helping out on the company’s vast library of fishing games. He eventually left the games industry for good in the early 2000s, according to Inoue.
It’s hard to imagine the creator of such an influential and popular series remaining silent for so long, but that’s the way the story goes. If you want to read the full article for more insight into Hitoshi Akamatsu and his fascinating career, you can download the PDF for this issue of Wireframe from their official web site.