March 17, 2014

Castlevania Producer Koji Igarashi Leaves Konami

The future of Castlevania has never looked more uncertain.

Arguably the most essential force driving the series since Symphony of the Night debuted on the original Playstation, developer and producer Koji Igarashi (a.k.a. "Iga") has left publisher Konami. His last official day was March 15th.

It's unclear, at this point, whether this represents good or bad news. Konami still owns the Castlevania franchise, and it's anyone's guess how (or if) future installments will be handled. The series has been outsourced to Mercury Steam since 2010 for the Lords of Shadow reboot, with Iga completely shut out -- a divisive move which left many longtime fans holding their breath for the next "true" Castlevania. While the first LoS game performed well, the following two sequels were not exactly earth-shattering and received mixed reviews. It remains to be seen whether Konami will think it worthwhile to continue investing a large budget in this line. Then again, with Iga no longer to be taken for granted, the publisher may feel more pressure to sleep in the bed they made.

On the other hand, even while Iga was at Konami and at the helm of the series for so long, I have suspected that Iga was heavily restricted, unappreciated, and given an ever-shrinking development budget. The fate of the Castlevania name was already in question, even with his presence. While it was undoubtedly hard to step away from the series, it's probably for the best.

"I've decided to break out on my own to have the freedom to make the kinds of games I really want to make," Iga commented in a recent press statement, "the same kind I think fans of my past games want as well."

At least there's a silver lining. I'm more than eager to see what a more independent Koji Igarashi will be able to come up with. Fans are already predicting the impending announcement of a "spiritual successor" to Castlevania, similar to Keiji Inafune's answer to Mega Man in Mighty No. 9. I say bring it on!

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