Toshihiro Nagoshi – From Racing to Storytelling

Toshihiro Nagoshi

Born in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, Japan on June 17th, 1965, Toshihiro Nagoshi is a Japanese video game producer and designer. He originally had aspirations to be a film producer as he graduated from Tokyo Zokei University with a degree in the field of film production. But as film production turned out to be a different experience than he had hoped for, he turned to the video game industry as a means to express his stories and what he wanted to portray. 

Aside from being the flashy well-dressed man that we see today, he has had a varied history in his journey which got him to be where he is today. Initially joining Sega in 1989, he was initially tasked with being a CG designer under his peer, Yu Suzuki. The first title that he worked on at Sega was Virtua Racing as a chief designer. 

Toshihiro Nagoshi After Virtua Racing

Once work on Virtua Racing was completed, he went on to create his own racing game, the legendary Daytona USA, where he took on the roles of producer, director, and chief designer. That’s quite a bit of hats that one person has to wear for one project if you ask me. Aside from the arcade masterpiece that is Daytona USA, he also created Scud Race and Daytona USA 2 between the years of 1996 and 1998. 

Many of us have fond memories of the game Shenmue, which was released for the Dreamcast system in 1999, but not many people know just how involved Toshihiro Nagoshi was for the game. Aside from lending his knowledge to Shenmue he was also the mastermind behind Super Monkey Ball on the Nintendo Gamecube as the creator and director of the series. He’s even gone as far as stating that he has no idea why the game got as popular as it did.

Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for him, the game possibly would have never come out. After the release of Shenmue, he was appointed the head of a sub-company of Sega called Amusement Vision in 2000 where he continued to flex his muscles in the arcade industry with sequels to SpikeOut as well as Planet Harriers. Amusement Vision was a smaller, less-known subsidiary of Sega but that was all about to change.


As Nagoshi was a brilliant mind in the arcade industry, there was a new partnership on the horizon. A partnership that would change the landscape of the industry as we knew it…Or so we thought. 

After becoming a figurehead on the GameCube with releases such as the first two Super Monkey Ball titles, he worked on the F-Zero franchise as part of a new project co-created by Sega, Nintendo, and Namco called TRIFORCE. Nagoshi and his team worked on porting F-Zero AX to the GameCube as F-Zero GX. 

His work on this was so fast and so efficient that Nintendo contacted him and requested the source code for the game as they have never seen something ported so quickly before and with the budget they were given. They were blown away.

To the Top

After separating the company into many smaller companies, Sega decided that they didn’t want to do that anymore and had major structural changes in 2003. 

It was at this time Nagoshi was chosen to be one of the company’s elite officers. He was also made to be the representing officer for the New Entertainment Division. A handful of years and a few Yakuza titles later, Sega abolishes the New Entertainment Division and appoints Nagoshi as the R&D Creative Officer for Sega of Japan’s Consumer Division. 

If that wasn’t enough, in 2012, they made a public announcement that Nagoshi would become the next Chief Creative Officer for Sega of Japan as well as placed on the company’s board of directors. To even further this role, in 20133 when Sega Sammy purchased then bankrupt Index Corporation, Nagoshi was positioned as one of the board of directors for the reinvigorated Atlus.

Like a Dragon

The Japanese name for the Yakuza series of games is “Ryu ga Gotoku” which translates to “Like a Dragon”. I honestly can’t think of a better fitting term to describe Toshihiro Nagoshi. 

He’s firmly cemented himself as a historical dragon in the video game industry and continues to traverse the industry and keep making hit after hit. 

Not only this, but he seems to be immortal as well. He recently suffered a massive heart attack requiring him to have heart surgery. Being the badass that he is, against doctor’s orders, he made it a point to attend the press conference for his upcoming title Ryu ga Gotoku 7 after just having heart surgery 3 weeks prior to the event. If that doesn’t make him a badass, I don’t think anything will. 

He seems to be in great spirits now and great health as well, so assuming all is well I would expect him to keep creating hits that define generations just as he has in the past.

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