I'd like to formally announce my departure from Level-5, effective last month. With my work done on the domestic and overseas version of my latest 3DSWare game, it was good timing for me to step down and take a short break in order to recharge for my next project. My deepest thanks to everyone at Level-5 and everyone playing our games for your continued support.
Yasumi Matsuno was born in 1965 in Nigata-ken, Japan. When he was studying in university, his primary interests were Dungeons & Dragons novels and music by Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the kickass glam-rock band Queen. His love of Queen led him to write the "Ogre Battle Saga", an eight-chapter fantasy novel named as an homage to one of Queen's songs.
In the summer of 1989, he joined development studio Quest to fulfill his dreams of becoming a game designer. The first project he worked on was the Famicom action title Conquest of the Crystal Palace. His tenure at Quest also saw the release of games like Dungeon KiD for the Famicom, Battle Ping Pong and Legend for Game Boy, and Magical Chase for the PC-Engine. While it is known that Hiroshi Minagawa directed Magical Chase, the credits for many of Quest's other efforts remain shrouded in mystery.
As a small developer, it was difficult for Quest to gain widespread recognition. That is, until Matsuno spearheaded the project that would be based on his original fantasy idea of the Ogre Battle Saga. Together with Akihiko Yoshida and Hiroshi Minagawa, two of his colleagues at Quest, Matsuno created the Super Famicom strategy game that would forever define Quest, as well as himself: Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen.
While doing research for a sequel, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, Matsuno traveled much of eastern Europe and was deeply impressed by the culture, architecture and religious aspects of the West. This would continue to influence all the scenarios and art design of the games he would work on from then on.
After creating the initial two games in the series, Matsuno left Quest together with his core team in 1995 to join Square. He went on to direct Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story on the PlayStation. He later aided the company in establishing its online service, PlayOnline. When Square and Enix merged in 2003, an internal studio reshuffling placed Matsuno as the head of Product Development Division-4 along with his core team. It was then that the company proceeded to acquire Quest's software development division and the Ogre Battle Saga franchise.
In Fall of 2001 Matsuno and his team began work on Final Fantasy XII for the Playstation 2, while at the same time he oversaw the production of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, developed by the Quest team. The release of Final Fantasy XII was marred by several delays over the course of several years until it finally saw release in 2006, seven years since its first public announcement. It was soon thereafter revealed that one of the reasons for the delays was that Matsuno, under much stress, had fallen very ill and was unable to continue his leading role in development. As a result of his departure, much of the story and characterizations were retooled.
In June 2011, it was announced Matsuno had joined developer Level-5 due to a new level of creative control in content and development they offered him. He has since created Crimson Shroud for the Nintendo 3DS which was released in the compilation title Guild01.
Although his legacy at Quest and Square is undoubtedly cemented with the success of his projects, Matsuno retains a low profile and is reserved and private compared to several of his more outspoken former Square colleagues. As a result, he hasn't achieved the popularity and fame that has come to some of his peers. However, he maintains a deeply respectful if comparatively small fanbase who eagerly await his every move.