I’m not normally someone to dwell on personnel changes at video game studios, but this isn’t your everyday career change: Ryuta Ueda, who while at Sega served as art director on both Jet Set Radio titles, has announced his return to the company almost a decade after he left.
As VGC spotted, Ueda shared the news on a public Facebook post back in May, where he thanks his colleagues at Yahoo (where he had been working on mobile titles) before revealing that he’s going back to making games at Sega. The last game he worked on there was Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed, which was released in 2012.
Aside from being Art Director on Jet Set Radio and Jet Set Radio Future, Ueda’s other big role was serving as director on the first two Yakuza games, which were released on the PS2 in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The timing of his return is certainly interesting, given the reports that Yakuza series creator Toshihiro Nagoshi is leaving Sega to join Chinese company NetEase.
Some other games Ueda worked on during his first stint at Sega include 2011's Rise of Nightmares, the Panzer Dragoon series (Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Panzer Dragoon Orta), and some Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing games.
There’s no word on what exactly he’s coming back to work on, so for now I’ll just assume it’s related to Yakuza until I hear otherwise. I’m saying that not just because of his experience and Nagoshi’s rumoured departure, but because by 2021 it feels like Sega would rather turn to ash and blow away on the wind than release a new Jet Set Radio game.
(Though at least we’re soon getting something that may as well be a new Jet Set Radio game, which even original composer Hideki Naganuma is working on.)
I think we’re getting Jet Set Radio. Sega is weird like that, especially when they notice fans doing their own version of Sega’s games.