Nasir Gebelli

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Nasir Gebelli, c. 1990.

Nasir Gebelli‏‎ (Persian: ناصر جبلی‎) is an Iranian-American video game programmer. He is best known for programming several famous role-playing video games, and first-person shooters on 1980s home consoles.

Gebelli was born in Iran in 1957, but his parents moved to the USA in the late 1970s. He was inspired to take up computer programming because of his interest in video games. This led to him developing games on the Apple II, which allowed him to start working for Sirius Software while still in college. He quickly churned out several games, most of which were clones of existing action games, before leaving Sirius to start his own company, Gebelli Software, but a few poorly received games, and the crash of 1983 caused him to close his company.

After taking a break from programming to travel the world, Gebelli was informed about the growing popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System by Doug Carlston, owner of Brøderbund, who introduced him to Masafumi Miyamoto of Square. Miyamoto was sufficiently impressed and hired Gebelli, even though he couldn't speak Japanese, and he went to work developing games with unique aspects like 3D effects and a first-person runner. Gebelli became mildly famous after he programmed Final Fantasy. His last game for Square was Secret of Mana, release in 1993, before he retired and used the royalties from the games to travel around the world.


I didn't become aware of Nasir Gebelli‏‎ until after he had retired, but I was playing his games while he was still working. Having almost no access to an Apple II growing up, I never played any of his early games, but I don't think I missed out on much since they're mostly rehashes of arcade titles, just with interesting programming tricks. Even after his hiatus, his early work at Square was more arcade ripoffs with neat gimmicks. It wasn't until Gebelli‏‎ teamed up with Hironobu Sakaguchi to make Final Fantasy that his talents as a programmer were put to good use. In my opinion, Gebelli‏‎'s crowning achievement was his final game, Secret of Mana. It was a technically complicated game that runs beautifully.


Released Title Role
1980-??-?? Both Barrels Programmer
1980-??-?? Star Cruiser Entire game
1980-??-?? Phantoms Five Programmer
1980-??-?? Cyber Strike Programmer
1981-??-?? Gorgon Programmer
1981-??-?? Space Eggs Entire game
1981-??-?? Pulsar II Programmer
1981-??-?? Autobahn Programmer
1982-??-?? Horizon V Programmer, designer
1982-??-?? Firebird Entire game
1982-??-?? Zenith Programmer, designer
1982-??-?? Eggs-It Entire game
1982-??-?? Neptune Entire game
1983-??-?? ScubaVenture Entire game
1983-??-?? Mouser Entire game
1987-03-12 3-D WorldRunner Programmer, designer
1987-08-07 Rad Racer Programmer
1987-12-07 JJ: Tobidase Daisakusen Part 2 Programmer
1987-12-18 Final Fantasy Programmer
1988-12-17 Final Fantasy II Programmer
1990-04-27 Final Fantasy III Programmer
1993-08-06 Secret of Mana Programmer




Interview by John Romero.


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