COL­LECTED WORKS

FU­MITO UEDA

EDGE - - COLLECTED WORKS - BY SI­MON PARKIN

D NO SHOKUTAKU: DI­REC­TOR’S CUT

Devel­oper Warp

Pub­lisher Pana­sonic Ac­claim

For­mat 3DO

Re­lease 1995

EN­EMY ZERO

Devel­oper Warp

Pub­lisher Sega

For­mat Sega Saturn

Re­lease 1995

ICO

Devel­oper Team Ico

Pub­lisher SCE

For­mat PSOne

Re­lease 2001

SHADOW OF THE COLOS­SUS

Devel­oper Team Ico

Pub­lisher SCE

For­mat PS2

Re­lease 2005

THE LAST GUARDIAN

Devel­oper SIE Ja­pan Stu­dio

Pub­lisher SCI

For­mat PS4

Re­lease 2016

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

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