Who is Kenta Cho ?


Maybe the name is unfamiliar to many of you, but Kenta Cho is the Japanese game creator behind many of the shoot’em ups available on Pandora (and ported by MH-T and mcobit). rRootage, Tumiki Fighters, Titanion, just to name a few. Most of his games source code is available, and I guess you now realize he specializes in shooters. After looking at his productions I started to wonder how he came to do that. What was his story ?

I was able to contact Kenta Cho in order to ask him a few questions. He was very nice and took time to provide the information I used in this article. Many thanks to him.

This is Kenta Cho, on the left!
This is Kenta Cho, on the left!

Kenta Cho started writing games a long time ago. Yeah, long as in longer than 5 years.

Kenta Cho: I made my first game 30 years ago. I was using the Pocket Computer PC-1500, and I made a game using the BASIC language. After that I worked in assembly on the ZX80 and the 8086, as well as Turbo C, Delphi, and D. I have been making games using many different languages.

A7xpg, available on Pandora, with C4A support, too.
A7xpg, available on Pandora, with C4A support, too.

When one looks at the quality of games made by Kenta Cho, one could assume that, on top of these games he released for free, he was working as a professional in the gaming industry. Well, you couldn’t have been more wrong than that!

rRootage. Available on Pandora.

KC: I have always made games as an amateur. Since I started, I liked making small games, as an amateur I can build by myself games in a relaxed, carefree way. 

But.. why shooters?

KC: I was probably influenced by these old great shooting games. Galaga, Gaplus, Xevious, Gradius… I was a fan of each of them and I played them a lot. Making shooting games is also relatively easy. As long as you have a player and some enemies, you already have a game, and then you can play around the scoring system and other gimmicks. It’s fun.

This one is not on Pandora (yet)
This one is not on Pandora (yet)

You’ll notice that a number of his games are programmed in D. The D language is not very common. MH-T from the Pandora boards had to compile a D compiler himself before being able to port any of Kenta Cho’s games. Most game programmers use C++ or C. Actually Kenta Cho prefers D for practical reasons:

KC: C++ is too complicated for me. Before using D I had been using Java for a while, and the garbage collector in D is very similar to the Java implementation. Likewise, there’s not need for header files and this is something I really wanted. To make Windows binaries, D was the most appropriate object-oriented language available. At that time the D language was not very popular, but since I like learning languages I might as well check a relatively unknown, new language, so that’s why I chose D.

So what do you ask an expert at making shooters? The 5 billion dollars question. His favorite shooting game. And the Dreamcast owners in the room will recognize that game.

KC: Ikaruga. I really like the chain bonus system from the previous Radiant Silvergun, and Ikuraga also used on top this color system where you can suck in the enemies’ bullets of a certain color. It was really innovative. Furthermore, it was original. The level design was excellent. I don’t expect we will ever see again that kind of high-level greatness. 

Ikaruga. In all its splendor.
Ikaruga. In all its splendor.

Kenta cho has heard about his games being ported to the Pandora, but he has never seen one. Not sure where he heard about it in the first place, but it felt good to hear that he didn’t ignore that fact. And he was actually rather impressed:

KC: I make games for the PC, and I was really surprised to hear that they can run on a portable computer. I’m really grateful to the person who ported them. I have never seen a Pandora in real, but since the Pandora has an integrated gamepad, it could be fun to play my own games on it. 

Tumiki Fighters, a very original shooter where you can use the enemies you destroy against the other ones.
Tumiki Fighters, a very original shooter where you can use the enemies you destroy against the other ones.

Nowadays a lot of coders dedicate their whole life and blood to make games for phones and tablets. Since shooters are a product of an old generation of games, I was wondering what Kenta Cho thought about that…

KC: I have some interest in making games for mobile systems, but nowadays’ mobile systems are all relying on touch screen technology, and many action games that required gamepads before don’t play so well with these interfaces, so I am kind of hesitating. Especially for shooters, you need a joystick to make very precise movements, and trying to replicate that aspect with touch panels is very difficult. It would be great to see more systems where you can develop freely, with an integrated gamepad.

Yeah, that’s precisely why we are all waiting for a Pandora successor now 🙂 ED, I believe you got the message ?

So that’s it. Many thanks to Kenta Cho again for accepting to answer to Pandoralive’s questions! And the same goes to MH-T and mcobit for porting these excellent shooters to the Pandora platform!

Now I’ll go back to Tumiki Fighters or A7xpg to try to beat the latest highscore…

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7 Comments on "Who is Kenta Cho ?"

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Wow! Thanks a lot for this short but interesting interview! I ever thought of Kenta Cho as Japan’s one great independent SHMUP maker besides ZUN/Team Shanghai Alice.


Awesome! I first came across Kenta Cho’s games a good few years ago, but to me he’s always been a somewhat mysterious figure, so it’s great to have an interview in English.


also agree. i was wondering about D.


maybe someone should send him a Pandora;-)


[…] Gunroar: another excellent shoot’em up by Kenta Cho, ported by MH-T! In this one you control a boat to fight on the waters against other evil boats. It uses both sticks for moving and shooting. Excellent fit for the Pandora. By the way if you like the games from Kenta Cho, don’t forget we had an interview with him a couple of days ago. […]


He has never seen a Pandora in RL?
This absolutely has to be changed!
Especially since he seems to be
approving of its existence. I mean
he says that he is interested in
mobile gaming but doesn’t like
or doesn’t want to get into touchy
stuff. The pandora may suit him,
who knows.