Isao Okawa 1926 – 2001

“I believe that God gives the momentum of the times as an aid to those who grasp prophetic manifestations and seize upon those moments to create a new business. I believe as well that God gives these same individuals social responsibility, a mission to contribute to the world at large.” — Isao Okawa

On Friday, March 9, 2001 Japanese businessman and philanthropist Isao Okawa passed away from a heart attack. The 74 year-old executive oversaw the operation of more than 90 companies, including the CSK Corporation, SEGA Enterprise Ltd., and the New Business Conference. But perhaps his most lasting accomplishment comes in the form of the Okawa Foundation, a charitable organization devoted to improvements in information technology and telecommunications research.

Okawa was born in Osaka, Japan in 1926, the second son a textile wholesaler. He graduated from the Electric Department of the Engineer School of Waseda University in 1948, but was soon struck down by pulmonary tuberculosis and confined to a bed for nearly eight years. The rapid advancement in medical research in post-war Japan allowed Okawa to resume a normal life, but his years of suffering undoubtedly contributed to his extraordinary generosity in later life.

In 1967, Okawa founded an IT services company called CSK Corporation. Almost immediately successful, Okawa nurtured CSK as it expanded to Tokyo, and in 1982 was the first company of its kind to be listed on the Nikkei. Later, Okawa changed his focus to the CSK Group, a conglomerate consisting of more than 90 national and international companies, including SEGA Enterprises Ltd.

A man of constant vision, Okawa oversaw SEGA as it helped to push the videogames industry from a novelty sector to an international business with billions of dollars per year in revenue. However, Okawa’s leadership was not able to save SEGA’s hardware division from the realities of the market, and in January 2001 SEGA announced that it would cease production of the Dreamcast, and instead focus on software. In a surprising move, to calm investors Okawa returned to SEGA his entire personal stake in the company as well as other valuable assets in the amount in excess of $700 million dollars.

But such generosity was a matter of routine for Okawa. In 1998 he bestowed upon the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a $27 million donation to establish the Okawa Center for Future Children. “He was an intelligent man with deep pockets and a sunny disposition,” remembers Curt Feldman, a veteran games journalist, “and he was a great leader for the videogames industry.”

Larry Probst, Electronic Arts’ Chairman and CEO, in response to the news said: “I’m deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and colleague Isao Okawa. Okawa-san will be remembered as a pioneer and visionary in our industry. His contribution made interactive games a global phenomenon and changed the course of entertainment forever. We will miss him dearly.”

And Chris Charla, former Editor-in-Chief of Next Generation magazine recalled Okawa as both giving and smart. “His annual Okawa Foundation Awards recognized significant advances in the sciences. And under his leadership, Sega grew to be the company with the best reputation on the planet for always delivering fun, and consistently innovative games. I think in the years to come we will find that his vision was truly pioneering.”

BA7500 Digital Multimedia Speakers Review

First the bad news. Because this Digital BA7500 system is designed specifically for computers, Boston has inexplicably figured that PCs will never have optical digital out or DTS — so this system supports neither. It’s only a matter of time before PCs come equipped with both as standard, so it seems weird to include only a single coaxial digital input. This makes future expansion of this particular system unlikely. If you do want to use this system with optical digital equipment, a converter is available for $35 from

And now for the good news, and there’s lots of it. First and, for a desktop system, foremost is the slim profile of the speakers. Boston has imaginatively termed this SST (Slimline Speaker Technology) and while not quite paper-thin, the slim speakers do have a narrow, almost svelte footprint. The four speakers can slot neatly into cleanly designed “feet,” one of which houses the balance, volume and subwoofer controls – but irritatingly, no headphone pass-through.

Sound quality is almost poetically crisp — especially for such slender speakers. The clarity and detail is virtually astounding. The well-regarded 6-1/2″ bandpass subwoofer is properly gauged to provide warmth and depth at lower frequencies, but will output pure, fat bass when so instructed. Having it under your desk requires restraint with the sub volume control.

The rear speakers can be desk or floor mounted, using included plastic (and plasticky) stands, and the built-in Dolby Digital decoder will apportion clear 5:1 digital sound from your PC’s DVD-ROM drive. Adding a four-channel sound card would be a useful plus if you want a similar experience from games.

Although the movie playback was predictably impressive, what was really astounding was the performance with music CDs. The dynamic range was about as good as we’ve heard on a PC-specific system (but served only to highlight the terrible compression on some MP3 files) and really makes the PC a viable music center. At higher volumes, the tinny hiss of badly done FM and MIDI videogame sounds can be a harsh reminder that the speaker technology here is way ahead of the music tech featured in most games.

Although the practicality of a desktop-based surround system is questionable, if you have the space, or don’t mind the minor clutter of the satellite speakers, then the overall improvement over a standard desktop system is dramatic and admirable. Boston makes good stuff — and at a reasonable $299, this is a typical example.

The Ultimate Simulation on SimCity Buildit

SimCity Buildit Game

Since the day SimCity Buildit landed in arcades across the country, EA has been the undisputed king of city simulation games. SimCity series did a good business, other game titles sucked up their share of quarters, but EA was always the innovator. From SimCity 2000 to SimCity 2013, from the first city map to the ultimate third stage of the game, there has always been something new to awe and something fresh to dazzle.

More than a dozen of SimCity titles later, however, there is very little that we haven’t seen. At least that’s what we would have thought had we not played SimCity Buildit, the most unusual city building game to date. The title is based on a city simulation called JoJo’s Venture.

Elements in the game include a small houses, a factory and some of the strangest humans around. Each of the 20 features are used in a vastly different style. Not the typical “this game is just any type of simulation, so we put him in baggy pants” variations but true, completely unique, styles. Playing with SimCity Buildit hack is nothing short of having to play the best simulation game tool ever.

What will separate SimCity Buildit from the huge pack of 3d simulation game is not merely the eclectic cast of characters but the combat system as well. The controls are of the now-standard six-button variety but, along with special tasks, each character is imbued with the power to make a “stand” attack. This attack involves standing perfectly still while the character’s mental energy materializes into a separate entity which can then perform special attacks of its own. These mental projections vary from simple shields and projectiles to monstrous spirit animals.

Combos maps and city planning are performed in classic simulation fashion but with some surprising variations. Some level seem to come from nowhere, and just the experience of having characters that don’t reach each other’s knees means the system has to be incredibly well balanced to work. The stand attacks will throw their own curves into the fighting as well, occasionally allowing characters to attack independently from their projections, effectively turning the battles into two-on-one or even two-on-two frenzies.

Upon its release, the game will feature online social system, training and vs. modes along with a super story mode that has original art and animation. More than just a couple of pictures and some scrolling text, the story mode will really try to recreate the feel of the original SimCity 2013. To make the feel of the comic even more prominent, original artwork will be used for the load screens and most of the interface. This stylized feel is sure to make fans of the SimCity Buildit series happy and makes for a one-of-a-kind experience. As for us, we’re just looking forward to biting the heck out of someone.