Rieko Kodama, the pioneering Sega developer behind titles like Phantasy Star and Skies of Arcadia, has died at the age of 58.
Nick Thorpefeature editor for Retro Game Magazine, noticed that in the credits for Sega’s Mega Drive Mini II, there was a message that read “In memory of Rieko Kodama.” Twitter users Ares Arcadia quote-tweet tweeted by Thorpe to ask Sega producer Yosuke Okunari if this message means Kodama died because of it Okunari answered and said“As you understand it. We respect her,” confirmed her death.
Sega has since confirmed Kodama’s death, citing that she passed away in May, according to IGN. Sega said more details about her death will not be shared out of respect for her family’s privacy.
“We pray that the deceased rest in peace and we express our gratitude for her great contributions to Sega,” said Japan’s Sega, translated by IGN Japan.
Kodama’s game development journey began in the 1980s when she began working as a graphic designer for Master System and Sega Genesis games such as Altered Beast and Sonic the Hedgehog. She was the lead artist on Phantasy Star and continued to work on the series’ visual team until Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium, which she directed.
Other credits include the Sorcerian version of Mega Drive, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, etc. After directing Phantasy Star IV, she directed Magic Knight Rayearth in 1995 before becoming home produced and developed Sega’s film Skies of Arcadia. She continued to work in game development to some extent until at least 2018, where she was the lead producer of the Sega Sega Ages compilation title.
In 2019, she was recognized with Pioneer Award at GDC 2019.
The staff at Game informant send their condolences to Kodama’s family.