A long time Panzer Dragoon Veteran
In the gaming industry, it’s not often anyone stays in one place forever. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and many folks seem to bounce around from company to company every few years. Takashi Iwade bucked that trend, joining Sega in 1994 and remaining there for his entire career.
Two days ago, it became known that after a “sudden illness,” Iwade-san passed away. The news comes from James Mielke, who has a resume pinning him at most major gaming news outlets over the last two decades. Last year, Mielke published a comprehensive Panzer Dragoon Saga retrospective for Polygon.com, putting him in contact with Iwade-san. On learning of Iwade-san’s death, Mielke writes:
When I was researching and conducting interviews for my extensive Panzer Dragoon Saga feature on Polygon.com last year, one of the most helpful and enthusiastic developers I met was Takashi Iwade, one of the lead enemy designers on Panzer Dragoon Saga, and one of the few developers who worked on most of the games in the series. When the Panzer Dragoon Orta team reunited last year for the 15th anniversary of the game, to celebrate its HD rerelease on Xbox One, Iwade-san invited both my wife and I to the gathering, which was a real honor as we were the only outsiders present. He was also the key individual who cheerfully helped me fulfill my nerd dreams and get all of my Panzer Dragoon stuff signed by all of the present team members, signing all of my game covers, and including that amazing Orta-themed Xbox I’ve posted here before.
In my brief time knowing him, he was not only a cheerful and kind person to me, he also helped introduce me to many other team members to interview for my Panzer feature. I am sincerely grateful for this.
Iwade-san, thank you for everything you shared with me in our brief time knowing each other. It has been an honor to know you.
True to Mielke’s words, Iwade-san was one of the last remaining developers of Team Andromeda who had some hand in developing the entire Panzer Dragoon franchise. He designed the logos, CG character models, FMV, and handled art direction of Panzer Dragoon Orta. He also received “Special Thanks” credits in a number of other Sega games, like Astal, Clockwork Knight 2, Jet Set Radio, Sega Rally 2 and even Sonic CD. After Team Andromeda was closed following the release of Panzer Dragoon Saga, Iwade-san moved over to Sega’s Smilebit team before finding himself under the charge of Toshihiro Nagoshi. There, he became their Lead FX Artist on the Yakuza series, undoubtedly responsible for many of the effects employed for the game’s over-the-top “heat moves”. He started with the very first Yakuza on Playstation 2, with his last game being the Yakuza-spinoff Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, released last year.
Not much else is known about Iwade-san, including how old he was, but members of the Panzer Dragoon community and even his fellow coworkers are mourning his loss. From Mielke’s Instagram post about his passing:
Very sad news. The Panzer community is in pain & will forever miss one of its most major ambassadors 😓
Oh no… he was such a kind person. I remember him from my days on Orta. Sad to hear the news 😢
Worked on the same floor as him for years but never talked to him. Regretting that now! Life is way too short and delicate not to say hello.
We offer our condolences to all those suffering from his loss.