An Interview with Yuji Naka Feature - The Next Level

An Interview with Yuji Naka

Sega, Sonic Team, and god-like power.

Article by Hasan Ali Almaci & Heidi Kemps (Email)
June 15th 2004, 06:50AM

TNL: What gave you the idea to set up the gameplay with three controllable characters at once?

Naka: Well, it's the rule of threes, I guess. We have one dark team and three light teams each consisting of three characters and since this was the first time we were pushing a game simultaneously on three different platforms, it made sense.

TNL: Do you think future Sonic games will follow a similar format?

Naka: For us the end-users come first, so it really all depends on how the consumers react to it. If people like it, we'll probably put out more like it.

TNL: This is Sonic Team's first PlayStation 2 game. We've heard many stories of the difficulty the hardware poses for first-time developers. Did everything go smoothly for you?

Naka: It took more time for the PS2 version compared to the other versions, yes, but it was also hard because we were working for two other platforms at the same time. I think that if it was a PS2-only game, we could have really optimized it for the system, but since we had two other consoles to worry about, we had to divide our limited time and resources amongst all systems. However, I think Sonic Heroes still manages to look better than many PS2-only games out there.

TNL: The recent Sonic games have had excellent soundtracks by Jun Senoue and the Wavemaster team. How do you go about working with them?

Naka: Jun Senoue is actually with Sonic Team USA at the moment and has been with us for quite a while now. He communicates with Wavemaster on a regular basis, and they do a lot of support with him and us for the sound and musical aspects of the Sonic games. We do the recordings and things like that here in our own studios.

TNL: Many long time Sonic fans were very happy to see the return of favorite characters from Knuckles Chaotix [Sega 32X]. Do you think the Chaotix crew will show up again in any future titles?

Naka: Hmmm . . . I don't know that much about Chaotix, really. I didn't have all that much to do with that game. [laughs] Well, since we've expanded the platforms the game is put out for, this might be a lot of new players' first experience with Sonic. We wanted to put in a lot of characters from the old Sonic legacy to introduce them to the worlds of Sonic. We also thought that old-school fans would get a kick out of it, too.

TNL: What are your thoughts on the recent Sonic anime series? Are you pleased with how it's turned out?

Naka: Yes. We didn't have any control over previous animated series, such as the ones that aired in the West many years back. This one we had a lot more personal involvement in, story- and design-wise. We knew it would be airing in the U.S. and Europe as well, so we wanted to present a show more in line with the current vision of Sonic that we have. So yes, of course, we like the new one more because we actually have a lot of input on this one compared to the other ones in the past.

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