D NO SHOKUTAKU: DIRECTOR’S CUT
Publisher Panasonic Acclaim
Format Sega Saturn
Developer Team Ico
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Developer Team Ico
THE LAST GUARDIAN
Developer SIE Japan Studio
Japan’s best loved and most mysterious director on a career spent carving his own path at his own pace
Back in 1994, Fumito Ueda had a fistfight on a Tokyo rooftop that left him unconscious and with neck pains that, even today, can be roused by a cold wind. A recent graduate from Osaka University of Arts, Ueda was a finalist in a Sony-sponsored competition to find a gifted young artist. Ueda used his winning allowance of $1,000 to build an installation in a vast shopping complex in Yokohama: a small cage filled with soil carefully churned into mounds, as if by a questing mole. Whenever a passer-by approached the cage, Ueda, spying on the scene from a nearby hiding place, would press a button on his remote control and two hidden motors would kick dirt into the onlooker’s face. He wanted to create something that would have more of a lasting impact than a painting. But, surprisingly, it wasn’t this that led to those rooftop fisticuffs.
The scrap was, though, a result of this playfulness, which Ueda hoped to express in the final part of Sony’s competition. The finalists were invited to the company’s headquarters in Ginza, where each candidate had to perform for a panel of executives. Ueda and his partner decided to forego the questions and instead have a pretend street fight. They bought protective helmets and decorated them to look like wild animals. When their turn came, neither man held back. In the ensuing scuffle Ueda was knocked to the ground. He struck his head and passed out.
It is Ueda’s commitment to this early performance, rather than its slapstick violence, that most accurately reveals his character: a willingness to see an idea through, no matter the cost. Ueda’s three major games – Ico, Shadow
Of The Colossus and The Last Guardian – have all made tremendous demands of him and his team. The lessons he has learned have been hard won, then, yet if his career since is any guide, they are all the more valuable for it.
“I’D SLEEP AT MY DESK EVERY NIGHT AND WOULDN’T GO HOME FOR DAYS ON END”
The musician and game designer Kenji Eno, under who Ueda worked at Warp, was also a somewhat maverick director who came from an art-school background