The first time I met Seabass in Leipzig in 2006 I thought, is this the man behind my bad grades in secondary school? (I was staying up until the early mornings to play a borrowed throughout the night ISS). I didn't really look for answers and just assumed that it was Seabass who had created the whole series from the beginning.
During the bad times (PES 08, 09 and to a degree PES 2010), I started to look back at the older titles and I started to question Konami for not using the old things that worked so brilliantly before in their new games. The reason is still quite unknown, but I personally link it to individual creativity of each of the producers. Repeating somebody else’s work might look bad from a Japanese view when presenting a new brand like PES for example.
The producer of Konamis first football title that arrived in Europe was Mr. Katsuya Nagae who produced Jikkyou World Soccer: Perfect Eleven (International Superstar Soccer). Nagaes earlier work includes titles like Vampire Killer (European version of Castlevania with another character and story), Animaniacs (from the famous cartoon series), Lethal Enforces (a game where you aim and shoot with a pistol) and the not so famous in Europe, but incredibly popular in Japan, Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyu (Live Powerful Pro Baseball) franchise. The latter together with International Superstar Soccer are games which he helped create from scratch and thus he can be called the creator of these games.
Unfortunately, this first producer of Konamis incredibly popular football series, passed away in 2008, at the shy age of 47. His games more than often received high scores in the press and I'm sure he is very missed in the Japanese gaming industry. The gaming industry is a rather young one and deaths are not at all common yet.
One of the few articles I found that describes him says "He was not in contact with the latest trends in game development but he had this inner fire to guide young people who were attracted by the industry". I suppose this quote is in line with the articles publication date in 2008, because Mr Nagae knew exactly what was needed in the early and mid 90's, he knew what we wanted as football fans, and it is him we should thank when we look ahead at future iterations of the popular series. He created many of the things that we have and want back in the game, the scenario mode, the continuous play, the close to life look on the players (symbolized with different hair styles in ISS), the coin toss, the arrows for form and last but not least, that magical feeling of scoring a goal, where you feel that you are rewarded for hard work, a pulsating sensation through your whole body. Many of the people he worked with on ISS and ISS Deluxe (Perfect Eleven & Fighting Eleven) helped develop the coming successful football titles at Konami. It would be interesting to hear today’s man in charge, Seabass, talk a bit about him, if they ever met.
Thanks for all this Mr Nagae, may you rest in peace.