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Daisuke Ishiwatari :: Biography

Overview Biography Discography Game Projects Interviews

Note: This biography was written exclusively for Square Enix Music Online by Chris. The act of using it without advance written permission is regarded as a copyright infringement. It was last updated on November 6, 2008.

Daisuke Ishiwatari, born in August 14, 1973, is the designer, director, and composer of the Guilty Gear series. Though born in Johannesburg, South Africa, he is of Japanese heritage and returned to Japan during childhood. During his youth, he became obsessed with the band Queen, who were very successful in Japan during the 1980s, and started to learn the electric guitar. He was later introduced to heavy metal and particularly enjoyed the melodic guitar-focused material of Iron Maiden and Guns N' Roses. This inspired him to participate in several bands with friends and develop the 'metalhead' image that has stayed with him since. He was also an avid of gaming at Arcades. It wasn't until 1991's Street Fighter II: The World Warrior and Fatal Fury: King of Fighters that he was introduced to the versus fighting genre he would dedicate his life to. He initially intended to become a graphic designer, having demonstrated considerable artistic imagination as a youngster. However, having maintained an interest in fighting games, Ishiwatari decided to become a video game designer in the mid-90s.

In 1997, Ishiwatari was recruited at SNK and initially worked with a team of developers on The Last Blade (aka Bakumatsu Roman: Gekka no Kenshi). His role was limited to the design of the Yuki Stage and Shikyo Stage, though his experiences on this critically acclaimed game inspired him to developed his own fighting game. To realise his inspiration, he led several other members of SNK to form Team Neo Blood at long-running small game developer Arc System Works at the end of 1997. The resultant Guilty Gear was published by Atlus for the PlayStation in 1998. Ishiwatari ensured the game was remarkable by offering a poignant story of man's fight against machines, gothic aesthetics, an incredible cast (including lead character Sol Badguy that he voice acted), extravagant character designs, challenging gameplay, and of course an unforgettable soundtrack. With help of arranger Yasuharu Takanashi, he filled the game's hard rock soundtrack with memorable guitar-based character themes that complemented his artistic designs. Its gloriously received soundtrack release was enhanced by instrumental performances and the newly composed "Prologue".

Guilty Gear's success inspired a line of spinoff titles. As director, planner, character designer, and composer for 2000's multi-version Guilty Gear X, Ishiwatari oversaw the inclusion of new characters, a story mode, and revolutionary gameplay features. In addition to original tracks, the soundtrack offered fleshed out renditions of iconic melodies from the original game such as Sol's "Keep Yourself Alive", Ky's "Holy Orders (Be Just Or Be Dead)", and Millia's "Writhe In Pain". However, the power of the original version of the game's music was limited by the Arcade software used, so Ishiwatari employed arranger Koichi Seiyama and guitarist Toru Iwao to remake the soundtrack for the Dreamcast and PlayStation versions, released in Guilty Gear X Heavy Rock Tracks. The game's popularity also resulted in a string of new merchanidise being released: three vocal CDs based on the game's music featuring Japanese band Lapis Lazuli; two drama CDs with narration and voice acting by the game's voice actors; and several artbooks containing production artwork and unseen art by Daisuke Ishiwatari.

Ishiwatari had a large role in the greatest commercial success of the series, 2002's Guilty Gear XX. The title upgraded Guilty Gear X with with new characters, new moves, and a few different gameplay mechanics. Koichi Seiyama returned as the arranger for its soundtrack while aiding Ishiwatari with composition duties. Following the release of the game, two poorly received vocal albums, five drama CDs, a live concert CD, and the eight disc Guilty Gear Sound Complete Box were published. New versions of Guilty Gear XX have been released on a yearly basis across various consoles, the latest instalment being 2008's Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus for the PlayStation 2. The Korean #Reload soundtrack was composed by Shin Hae Chul and performed by N.EX.T, preserving the sound of the series while offering stylistic innovations. Attempting to diversify the Guilty Gear series beyond its roots, Ishiwatari focused 2004's multi-platform Guilty Gear Isuka on four player tournament play. Despite the inevitable loss of character themes, its 20 track soundtrack was created in the same style of its predecessors.

In his most radical project to date, Ishiwatari crafted 2007's Guilty Gear 2 Overture into a real-time / action strategy game. This approach caused widespread alienation of Guilty Gear fans and its Xbox 360 exclusivity further contributed to low sales. The soundtrack was released in orchestral and rock volumes for the first time in the series. While arrangers were principally responsible for the soundtrack, Ishiwatari was nevertheless accredited with all the composition. Around the same time, Ishiwatari designed the character Ma Dai for Sangokushi Taisen DS and some card illustrations for Dimension Zero. He also voice acted Freed for Battle Fantasia. In response to the failure of Overture, Arc System Works has developed the 2D fighting game BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger as a potential successor for the Guilty Gear series. Though other employees are handling the production and design, Ishiwatari is the sound director of the hard rock score. Although the series' future is uncertain, the multi-talented Daisuke Ishiwatari has realised his inspirations and captivated many fans with Guilty Gear's games and soundtracks since 1998.