Akira Saito, programmer for Japanese dev M2, passes away

The company best known for its facility with high-quality ports of retro games -- and some great original titles -- has lost one of its star programmers after a battle with cancer.

Today the president of Tokyo-based M2 Co., Ltd., Naoki Horii, has posted a blog (Japanese-language link) on the company's site announcing the passing of programmer Akira Saito (pictured).

Saito, who was best-known for his sound programming, had been developing games with M2 since the Game Boy Advance era. He died after a battle with cancer, according to the blog, which was discovered in his head last year. He was 43 years old.

The post by Horii goes into great depth in its praise for Saito, and particularly his passion and perfectionism for sound programming -- noting that his programming on the well reviewed Sega 3D Classics helped push the publisher to the top of the Metacritic ranking for 2015. 

M2's primary business is, in fact, retro collections such as the Sega 3D Classics series. Saito also contributed his sound programming expertise to several of Nintendo's Virtual Console emulators for Nintendo's Wii, including those for the Sega Master System and Genesis/Mega Drive. However, Saito also programmed sound on original games: Notably, Konami's overlooked ReBirth series for the Wii, which included original Gradius, Contra, and Castlevania games. 

"He lived his life with video games," Horii wrote, noting that while Saito truly loved Sega's games, he would undertake the challenge to program for any console. Saito's name comes up repeatedly for his dedication to the Sega 3D Classics project in the extensive interviews posted at the Sega official blog. 

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