Man, so we all know about some of the big visionaries in the world of gaming. The big names, the guys who have pushed out some of the best videogames of all time, broke new ground and made headway into new, unspoken territories. It’s probably not shocking that you don’t know the name Masato Masuda off of the top of your head, because Masato Masuda had a vision that centered around something strange; professional wrestling. In fact, one of the earliest videogame “memes” of all time would have to be from the game Pro Wrestling on NES; “A Winner is You!”
That was Masato Masuda. Masato Masuda had a strange vision for videogames that meant basically creating the world of professional wrestling videogames. When you look back at the legendary Pro Wrestling for NES (the second pro wrestling game on the NES, behind M.U.S.C.L.E.) you can see shades of what was to come for future wrestling games, what you also see is a labor of love. There were literally two people who worked on Pro Wrestling for NES, with Masuda programming and designing the game on his own and having someone else to work on the graphics. Crazy, right?
The game’s publisher, TRY later became Human Entertainment. History happened when Masuda, while working at Human Entertainment, continued his work on professional wrestling games in creating Fire Pro Wrestling. Fire Pro Wrestling was, at the time, the most complex and in depth professional wrestling game series. He even worked with a young Goichi “Suda51” Suda on some of the earlier Fire Pro Wrestling games. When I talk about Fire Pro Wrestling it is hard to not get nostalgic, I mean, you look back at the features, the moves, the sheer amount of characters and animations, those games were just on a different level.
Over here in the United States we didn’t see a Create-A-Wrestler feature in games until Acclaim’s 1998 WWF War Zone. The insanity is that Fire Pro Wrestling had an “edit” mode back during the early 90’s, back on the Super Nintendo game, Super Fire Pro Wrestling 3. The Fire Pro Wrestling games were just forward-thinking and oozed with nothing but passion for professional wrestling and gaming. Everything about these games, from the earliest ones to the last one — Fire Pro Wrestling R — are made with love and dedication to both videogames and professional wrestling.
Sadly, Suda51 announced last night that Masato Masuda has passed away in Japan at the young age of 48. Masuda will forever be remembered for his contributions to the world of gaming, including being one of the fathers of professional wrestling videogames, which still to this day have rabid, loyal fans.