Controversial developer and Grasshopper Manufacture frontman Goichi Suda tweeted earlier today that his former boss and mentor Masato Masuda had passed away at the age of 48.
"He was 48 years old, still young," wrote Suda. "I genuinely pray for his happiness in the next world. He was one of the greatest creators of video games and he was my direct teacher. Thank you for giving us our favorite Fire Pro Wrestling. You are the god of it."
Masuda was best known, as Suda says, for creating the long-running Fire Pro Wrestling series, which Suda also worked on as a scenario writer in the early '90s. Masuda developed the original Pro Wrestling game for NES -- the originator of the meme phrase "a winner is you" -- in 1986, largely single-handedly, and remained in control of the series for many years after the studio he worked at, TRY, became Human Entertainment and rebranded it Fire Pro Wrestling in 1989.
The series has seen 28 mainline titles and a number of spinoffs to date across a variety of different platforms, though many installments remained confined to Japan. The series was noteworthy for its large roster of characters drawn from different wrestling circuits around the world, albeit with changed names, and also for its strategic, timing-based grapple combat system. Its character creation system also proved to be particularly influential -- so much so that a detailed character editor is now an expected feature in many sports games, not just those based around wrestling.
Human Entertainment folded in 2000 and development of the series was subsequently taken on by Spike. Former Human developers ended up at a variety of companies including Spike, Nude Maker and, indeed, Suda's own company Grasshopper Manufacture.