Iconclastic game designer Kenji Eno passed away last week.Kenji Eno
, founder of highly idiosyncratic studio WARP
, is most widely known for D
, an interactive film/horror puzzle adventure game following a woman's pursuit of her homicidal father and subsequent unraveling of her own naturally unsettling lineage. The game featured at the time shocking content including cannibalism, something Eno pushed through by switching a slapped together "censored" version of the game with the original just before production.
Eno shortly had a falling out with Sony (during which he punched a Sony representative) after a deal to produce 100,000 copies of Eno's Enemy Zero fell through to only 28,000
, and signed an exclusive contract with competitor Sega to produce games for their Saturn system.
During the production of Enemy Zero
, the now Saturn exclusive thematic followup to D, Eno caught wind of a visit by minimalist composer Michael Nyman to Japan. Being a fan of Nyman's work and needing a soundtrack for his game, Eno allegedly harassed Nyman in his hotel room for six hours until Nyman finally caved and agreed to score the game
. Still not satisfied, Eno pushed Nyman until he'd produced a score
Eno found personally acceptable
Eno's commitment to the Saturn is legendary. Promotion of Enemy Zero took the form of a limited run deluxe edition, delievered personally by Eno himself, packaged in a crate and containing stickers, t-shirts, condoms and sundry other merchandise loot
. Following Enemy Zero, Eno serendipitously discovered that games were enjoyed by a number of visually-disabled persons, and set out to make a game in which the experience of a sighted and blind person are identical, managing a deal with Sega to donate 1,000 Saturns packaged with the game to blind persons. Real Sound: Kaze no Regret
(Wind of Regret) follows the separation and reunion of two lovers over the course of several years, and mechanically takes the form of an interactive radio play.
A sequel to D had originally been planned for Panasonic's ill-fated M2 console
. This version of the game had intended to be a Zeldalike adventure following the original protagonist's son as he explores a Transylvanian castle and bonds with his sinister father. A number of videos
detailing early footage have surfaced.
An actual sequel
materialized some time later for Sega's Dreamcast. Following another version of "digital actress" Laura (the shared protagonist of D and Enemy Zero) after a plane crash in northern Canada, this version takes the form of a light RPG with strong a horror/science fiction influence and wilderness survival elements. The plot is difficult to summarize, Dickian and deeply strange--angels, evolution, impending apocalypse, addiction, reality-warping drugs, God, doppelgangers and simulacra, sentient plants--and climaxes in one of the most memorable endings
in videogame history
After D2, Eno left the industry for a decade, focusing instead on music. 2008 marked his return to the industry in a collaboration
with Kenichi Nishi
(Incredible Crisis, Chibi-Robo
Apart from his work in games, Eno was an accomplished musician in his own right, composing the hauntingly original
scores for D and D2 along with several other games. Eno also produced music outside games, collaborating with The Cinematic Orchestra
and beautifully covering
Sakamoto. Musically, his typical style is electronica influenced
He died of heart failure on February 20, 2013
Japan's Wayward Son
, the 2011 1Up interview (Eno's first in over a decade) is well worth reading in its entirety.