Kenji Eno Dead, Video Game Industry Significantly Less Awesome

A long time ago, as video games measure things, Sega’s Saturn and Sony’s Playstation were competing hard.  Kenji Eno’s company, Warp, was teamed with Acclaim to produce Enemy Zero exclusively for the Playstation, and they’d gotten orders for 100,000 copies of the game.  Sony, for reasons unexplained, printed 28,000 copies.  Warp was a small company and, obviously, this was going to be a huge blow, so Eno was utterly pissed.  He blew off some steam by punching a Sony rep when the game wasn’t available at Bic Camera, one of Japan’s electronics retailers, but that was just the start.

Warp was displaying Enemy Zero at a Sony multi-day press event, and Eno felt it was the perfect time to burn a couple bridges.  Taking the stage, live in front of 200 press agents, Eno ran a video where the vice-president of Sega welcomed him to Sega exclusivity, and then the Sony logo transformed into Saturn’s.  It was a move of epic ballsiness that, honestly, I can’t think of anyone in the game industry pulling today.

Warp’s next game was Real Sound, which could only technically be called a video game due to not actually having any video in it.  One of the conditions for Eno to join Sega was for Sega to donate 1000 Saturns to the blind, each of which came with a copy of Real Sound.  After that came D2 for the Dreamcast, and then he mostly wandered away from the world of gaming, returning only for the WiiWare game You, Me, and the Cubes, plus the Newtonica series on iOS.

Kenji Eno died of heart failure today, far too young at a mere 42.  His gaming heyday was during the time of 3DO, Playstation, and Saturn, but his influence was huge at the time despite the small size of his company.  The end of his career may have focused primarily on music, but he’ll always be remembered for making the 32-bit era far more awesome than it would have been without him.

Seeing as 1Up is joining Kenji Eno in death, here’s a link to a great 10-page interview they had with him back in 2008.