Legendary Sega creative Rieko Kodama has passed away at 58

Sometimes credited as 'Phoenix Rie,' Kodama had a heavy hand in the development of some of Sega's biggest hits, such as Sonic and Phantasy Star.

Image via Agencies

A major talent in the gaming industry passed away recently, but many may not have known until now. Rieko Kodama was a leading creative force at Sega, having contributed greatly to some of the companies biggest franchises. However, it would seem that Kodama passed away in May 2022, earlier this year. Kodama was 58 years old.

Rieko Kodama’s passing was first noticed in the credits of the Sega Genesis Mini 2, which released very recently. In the staff roll credits for the device, “In memory of Rieko Kodama” was included. This led players to speculate on whether Kodama had died or if it was just a strange turn of phrase. Unfortunately, Sega staff such as creative producer Yosuke Okunari acknowledged and confirmed that Kodama had indeed passed away. Former Sonic Team lead Yuji Naka would go on to share that Kodama’s passing was actually back in May 9, 2022, and her family and friends kept arrangements and announcements private following her passing.

Yuji Naka's tweet about Rieko Kodama's passing.
Former Sonic Team lead Yuji Naka shared his condolences and best wishes in regards to Rieko Kodama's passing.
Source: Twitter

Rieko Kodama was a fairly prolific force within Sega’s major history and franchise successes. Much of her best work was related to Phantasy Star. Kodama helped create the visual style of Phantasy Star and Phantasy Star 2. She would then go on to direct Phantasy Star 4. Additionally, she was one of a handful of creative forces that pushed for the development and release of Skies of Arcadia. As shared by Yuji Naka, Rieko also played a major role in helping him create early Sonic the Hedgehog games.

It feels safe to say there are large portions of Sega’s illustrious history that wouldn’t be the same with Kodama. Shacknews wishes Rieko Kodama’s family and friends the best and celebrates her contributions to gaming as we know it.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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