I came into work this morning and sat down at my desk, coffee in hand, and decided to check on some gaming news. The first thing I see makes everything else seem way less important. Masato Masuda, has passed away.
Now to be perfectly honest, 24 hours ago that name meant nothing to me, or at least I didn’t know that it did. I had no idea who Masato Masuda was. I didn’t understand the impact he had had, beginning in my childhood and continuing throughout my gaming life. Turns out, that impact was huge.
You see, I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling almost as long as I’ve been a fan of games. Masato Masuda created Fire Pro Wrestling which is, almost inarguably, the greatest wrestling game series ever. That’s what most of the stuff you’ll read about him will say. And it’s true. I remember it being nearly impossible to talk about any wrestling game on the internet without people bringing up how Fire Pro was leaps and bounds better in most every category. I would always roll my eyes at this and think “Sure it is.” In November 2007, Fire Pro Wrestling Returns was released in North America and I decided to give it a try just to see what all the talk was about. It delivered in a big way. I was hooked. It was the most full-featured, technically solid, flat-out amazing wrestling game I’ve ever played.
I was deeply saddened to know that the creator of such a masterpiece had left us at just 48 years of age. However, in reading more about Masato Masuda, I received an even heavier blow. The genius behind the Fire Pro Wrestling series that was spoken of in reverent internet whispers, had also created the game that dominated even more of my childhood than Mario and crew. That game was Pro Wrestling for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
My friends and I would play Pro Wrestling for hours on end, and I played for countless hours by myself once they went home. Entire weekends were lost to the epic contests between Fighter Hayabusa, Starman, Kin Corn Karn, Giant Panther, The Amazon, King Slender, and the many attempts to dethrone the Great Puma.
I came in to work this morning excited to finish the day and start a weekend that will culminate with watching Wrestlemainia 30 on the new WWE Network app on my PS3, surrounded by friends. Some of those friends were ones that I spent hours with, locked in epic bouts of Pro Wrestling on the NES.
Regardless of how the rest of the weekend goes, whether Wrestlemainia 30 is “One for the Ages” or not, I enjoy it with a greater appreciation of being able to spend time with friends. For now, I’m off to buy Fire Pro Wrestling Returns on the Playstation Store.
Rest in Peace Masato Masuda and thank you. You are forever ranked #1. A winner is you.