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Keiji Inafune

Keiji Inafune

Keiji Inafune (稲船 敬二 Inafune Keiji?, born 8 May 1965) is the head of Research & Development and Online Business and Global Head of Production at Capcom, best known for being the character designer of Mega Man (series) and producer of Onimusha (series) and Dead Rising video game series. In most game credits, he uses the name "INAFKING".


He was born in Kishiwada, Osaka.[1]

Early Projects[]

In 1987, 22-year-old Keiji joined the corporation of Capcom not long after graduating in search of a job as an illustrator. His first assignment as graphic designer was Street Fighter (1987), which became a very popular fighting game series after the release of Street Fighter II in 1992. At the time, Capcom focused on the expansion of the home video gaming market; particularly the Famicom from Nintendo. Previously, most games released to the system were ports (release of a game to a different system). Now wanting to capitalize on the fledgling Nintendo system, Keiji's superiors directed him to create a new video game character called "Rockman." Capcom's artist and developer teams were still diminutive at that period in time, and so Keiji was directed to be one of the leading artists to the new project.

When it came to the design for the Rockman game (which was later changed to "Mega Man" in North America), Keiji developed all the character art and designs. Due to the small task force, he also constructed the characters into pixel form, as well as the game's respective logo, package design, and instruction booklet. As the Famicom was an early gaming system, only 56 colours were available for display, the majority of which were blue-tinted. Keiji noted that this affected the decision to colour the character blue (a result, fans have nicknamed the character "the blue bomber"). The designs of Keiji's character was also heavily influenced by Japanese animation, and he notes that he took observations from other video game characters present at the time, such as Mario.

In development of the game, Keiji incorporated many references to various music genres, such as Rock, which is the source of the Japanese name of "Rockman." Along with this, the team made a gaming system pertaining to the rock-paper-scissors concept, one which the various Mega Man series still revolves around today. The first Rockman/Mega Man game was released in December 1987, after which sales in both countries were competent, but as Keiji later notes, "While it did sell more than we had expected, [Rockman 1] wasn't a huge success as far as the numbers go." Noting this, Capcom superiors dictated that the team begin on a new project called Professional Baseball Murder Mystery, which was only released in Japan.

However, the team felt strongly about the Rockman series, and urged that they be permitted to construct another iteration in order to amend the previous failings of the original and continue in the light of creativity. Capcom allowed the Rockman team to continue, with the prerequisites of completing the port of Legendary Wings for the NES and Professional Baseball Murder Mystery as well. The team did so, completing the project on their own time, and on December 24, 1988, released Rockman 2, with Mega Man 2 being released later in North America in 1989. The project proved to be a huge success, earning more than its previous iteration. Mega Man 2 is Inafune's favorite Mega Man game. Coincidentally, fans widely consider it to be the best Mega Man game, because of its production values, such as graphics and music. Capcom realized that the Mega Man series was a profitable investment, and many ports were constructed along with regular installments released on a yearly basis.

The next game in the "Classic" series was Mega Man 3, released in Japan on September 28, 1990 and later released in North America in November 1990. Inafune considers Mega Man 3 as one of his least favorite Mega Man games. From an interview with Nintendo Power in the October 2007 issue, Inafune explained the reason why is because of "...what went into the game and what was behind the release of the game." He also stated that the team was forced to put the game out before they thought it was ready and during the game's production, the developers lost the main planner, so Inafune had to take over that job for completing the game. Inafune concluded, "I knew that if we had more time to polish it, we could do a lot of things better, make it a better game, but the company (Capcom) said that we needed to release it. The whole environment behind what went into the production of the game is what I least favored. Numbers one and two – I really wanted to make the games; I was so excited about them. Number three – it just turned very different."

The success of the Famicom began to fade into obscurity in light of its successor, the Super Famicom, and Keiji set his sights on the development on a new series called "Rockman X", which continued the plot of the original series, but set a darker tone and took place 100 years after the previous storyline. Keiji developed the characters X, and Zero, and as before, released yearly installments of the series, beginning with the first game, Rockman X.

Originally, Zero was meant to be the leading character of the X series, but Capcom executives convinced Inafune to continue with the analogous design from the original game. Ironically Zero became quite popular anyway, obtaining his own game series years later (Mega Man Zero).

During the 32-bit era, Keiji produced the three-dimensional Rockman DASH/Mega Man Legends series after receiving requests from Sony to develop a new 3D Rockman series exclusively for the PlayStation, he concurred. Although, he envisioned high sales and was an ambitious supporter to the development of the game, it was not a massive success. The series is currently on hiatus and has spawned the fewest sequels and is mostly released in parts.

Originally, Keiji had intended to end the series' plot at the installment of Rockman X5, and had begun development on the Rockman Zero series, in order to elaborate on the character of Zero. However, he had departed to another studio in cooperation with Inti Creates, and unbeknown to him, another installment, Rockman X6, was created. This set a slight continuity error in Keiji's intention for the plot, but through some changes in the storyline, was alleviated.

Later projects and beyond[]

One of Keiji Inafune's recent creations is the popular Rockman.EXE/Megaman Battle Network series, which is set outside the continuity of the rest of the Mega Man story lines and introduced RPG and strategy elements. According to Inafune, he received the basis for creating the series from observing his son. On April 2, 2005, Inafune was promoted from corporate officer to senior corporate officer. Keiji also developed another series, Onimusha, which has spawned various sequels, and focuses on past Japan, Samurai warriors, and magic. Also, Inafune is involved in Inticreates' creation of the latest Rockman project, Rockman ZX.

Inafune and his team's next creation was Dead Rising for the Xbox 360. Dead Rising, released by Capcom in the U.S. on August 8, 2006, is a zombie-slaying game heavily influenced by George A. Romero's 1978 movie Dawn of the Dead. Dead Rising is the second zombie game Inafune has worked on, the first being Resident Evil 2.

Currently, Inafune is working hard on creating the sequel to Dead Rising, titled "Dead Rising 2", which is scheduled for a 2010 release. In addition, he will be making his director debut in the movie adaption of his "Dead Rising" game, which called "Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun".[2]

On April 22, 2010, it was announced that Inafune would be Capcom's Global Head of Production. Inafune stated "I want to end comments that Capcom games made in Europe aren't really Capcom games...basically saying that whether games are created in America or Japan or anywhere in the world, I will be the one overlooking it and so it will have that Capcom flavor that fans know and love."[3]

About the creation of Mega Man[]

During a special event at TGS 2007, Inafune revealed that he wasn't responsible for the creation of Mega Man himself. "I'm often called the father of Mega Man, but actually, his design was already created when I joined Capcom," he explained. "My mentor [at Capcom] (Akira Kitamura), who was the designer of the original Mega Man, had a basic concept of what Mega Man was supposed to look like. So I only did half of the job in creating him. I didn't get to completely design a Mega Man [protagonist] from scratch until Zero (Mega Man X, SNES). Back when the SNES was coming out, I was asked to give Mega Man a redesign, so I created this character. But I realized that this design wouldn't be accepted as Mega Man, so I had another designer create the new Mega Man, and I worked on Zero to release him as the 'other main character' that would steal all the good scenes!"


Rockman/Mega Man[]

Note: Keiji Inafune has not been involved directly with some iterations of the Mega Man series (such as Mega Man X6 and Mega Man X: Command Mission).

Original Rockman/Mega Man series[]

Rockman X/Mega Man X[]

Other Rockman series games (producer)[]

Other Mega Man games[]

Biohazard/Resident Evil[]


Other games[]


  • Dead Rising The Movie – Director


  1. ^ MegaMan Network (2004). "Interview with Keiji Inafune". Capcom. Retrieved on May 4, 2006.
  2. ^ MegaMan Neoseeker (2005). "Interview with Keiji Inafune 2". Capcom. Retrieved on May 4, 2006.
  3. ^ Gamespy (2005). "Interview with Keiji Inafune 3". Capcom. Retrieved on May 8, 2006.
  4. ^ Xbox 360 official magazine site (2005). "Interview with Keiji Inafune 4". Capcom. Retrieved on May 8, 2006.