The producer of some of Sega's greatest games had been in poor health in recent years.
One of Sega's most prolific developers has died.
Rieko Kodama, who served in a production and directorial role for Sega games from Alex Kidd to 7th Dragon and was best known for producing the pre-online Phantasy Star games and Skies of Arcadia, passed away in May due to an undisclosed illness. It was not officially known until a tribute was discovered in the recently-released Mega Drive Mini II, but was confirmed in a Twitter post by former Treasure staff member Yosuke Okunari (as posted at IGN). Sega declined to make a statement at the time out of respect for the family.
Born in 1963, Kodama joined Sega in 1984 and her debut work was as a character designer for SG-1000 title Champion Boxing (also the debut work for Yu Suzuki). After working on art for Alex Kidd in Miracle World, she went on to create the art for 1987's Phantasy Star. Her work continued through the rest of the series on the Genesis/Mega Drive, and into the 1995/1998 RPG based on the Magic Knight Rayearth anime series for the Saturn. Her later works include Dreamcast / GameCube RPG Skies of Arcadia, the 7th Dragon series including 2016 3DS title 7th Dragon III Code: VFD, and the Sega Ages title on Switch.
Kodama was one of the first major female game developers, especially in Japan; she was once referred to as "the first lady of RPGs" by Nintendo Power. She received the Pioneer Award from the Game Developer's Association, but was unable to travel to the 2019 ceremony due to illness.