The SNK vet­eran and Street Fighter IV de­signer on three decades fight­ing the good fight


As a keen young an­i­ma­tor ea­ger to join the game in­dus­try, but re­luc­tant to leave his home city of Osaka, Ya­suyuki Oda’s op­tions were lim­ited – if you can call it that – to Cap­com, Kon­ami and SNK. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from art col­lege and while still work­ing part-time in a su­per­mar­ket, Oda se­cured an in­ter­view at SNK, whose games he knew from the ar­cades, where he’d spend much of his free time play­ing Ikari War­riors.

He took with him a bulging folder of char­ac­ter de­signs and an­i­ma­tion stills and, when he was led into the in­ter­view room, found him­self sat at a ta­ble across from Seigo Ito, di­rec­tor of the Fa­tal Fury series. Af­ter an­swer­ing Ito’s ques­tions, Oda was passed an en­ve­lope con­tain­ing a small amount of money, in­tended to cover his travel costs, a stan­dard prac­tice in Ja­pan at the time but one that was un­known to the twenty-year-old. “I fig­ured they’d just liked me and de­cided to give me some money,” he later re­called. Oda walked out of SNK’s of­fices and promptly headed for the ar­cades, in or­der to spend his un­ex­pected bonus.

It was a fit­ting start to a ca­reer of which much has been spent in and around ar­cades. As the pro­ducer of SNK’s Game Divi­sion Stu­dio 1, Oda has been re­spon­si­ble for some of the best-re­garded fight­ing games of all time. Af­ter a brief stint at Dimps, where he was in­stru­men­tal in the de­sign of Street Fighter IV, in 2014 Oda re­turned to the com­pany where he made his name to re­boot Street Fighter’s great ri­val, King Of Fight­ers.

Fa­tal Fury’s boss Wolf­gang Krauser em­ploys a unique style of fight­ing that fuses the Ger­man mar­tial art Kampfrin­gen with the an­cient Greek style of Pankra­tion. His style was sup­pos­edly in­spired by the 1970s Ja­panese comic-book char­ac­ter Tiger Mask

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