Odds are, you haven't a clue who this guy is. But by the pictures alone, you can tell he's as JDM as an S15, so assumptions would lead to a tuner, driver, or drifter, but he's none of those. So, why is he in 2NR? Because unless you've been living under a rock, are Amish, or have been abusing really hard narcotics since 1997, I can guarantee you've been hands on with his product-or at very least, have heard of it. And if you're White or from the East Coast, aside from that wack movie, he's one of the reasons you got into the tuning scene. Still haven't the foggiest? Kazunori Yamauchi designed a little game called Gran Turismo.
That's right, the game that introduced the U.S. to the driving line, the GT-R, tuning vehicles, and made courses like Laguna Seca a household name, is the brainchild of Kazunori-san. His groundbreaking creation evolved into a franchise so successful it sold 50 million units and spawned countless knockoffs. But the creation of Gran Turismo isn't the only reason we're interviewing him; Kazunori is a car guy through and through. He helped Nissan with the development of the new R35 GT-R, designed some very wicked body kits, and even ran a 1:01 at Tsukuba. Video game geek, maybe, but he's way cooler than you.
Where did you get the inspiration for Gran Turismo?
I've always liked cars and I would play video games that had cars, but none of them were what I wanted to play. I was 15 years old and I couldn't drive yet, that's when I started coming up with the idea of GT.
What kind of cars were you into?
The Skyline GT-R, Mazda RX-7...and pretty much all the Japanese sports cars.
How about tuning?
Tuning was something I was very much into. I used to read Options magazine.
What other games did you work on before Gran Turismo?
I worked on one game before, Motor Toon Grand Prix. It was also a racing game.
What do you think made Gran Turismo so successful?
When you make a video game, you can make a rough video game or spend a lot of time and fine-tune it, which is what we did with Gran Turismo. That, in turn, presents a hidden allure to the game players.
How has the game franchise evolved over the years?
Games always evolve with the hardware. When we made the first GT for the PlayStation we couldn't do everything we wanted to. It was impossible. But with Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, the hardware has evolved and we've evolved with the hardware, and a lot of it is obvious when you see the game.
What were some of the hardware limitations that you were able to overcome with the PS3?
One of the major things is, now you can race with as many as 16 cars, instead of the original six. Another, of course, is the high-quality graphics. We don't have to pull any punches when designing the car graphics because now the machine can handle it.
Can you explain GT-TV?
We've been wanting to communicate to our users through video since 2001 and it took this long to actually implement it into the game. GT-TV is a feature that I wanted in GT because when I come home from work I end up going through all the cable channels looking for car programs, but I can never find the ones I want to watch, and to go out and rent or purchase a DVD is too much trouble. So, I wanted a feature in the game where car enthusiasts can watch all the things I would want to watch, all in one place.
In order to access GT-TV do you need to have GT 5 Prologue?
Yes, it is a service within the game. GT-TV will have Top Gear, Best Motoring, Video Option, Super GT, D1 Grand Prix, as well as original programming, in high definition.
Is it going to be free?
Some of it will be, and others will have a small fee.
What are some of your favorite TV programs?
BBC's Top Gear and drifting.
Who's your favorite drifter?
I like Nomuken. He's a funny character.
Did you hear that Blitz is currently building a new R35 GT-R for him to drift?
I remember hearing something about it.