TNL: Sega has been doing extremely well in arcades recently. Has Sonic Team ever given thought to working on an arcade game?
Naka: Well, actually, we have done quite a few arcade games already, like Samba de Amigo. We have also released Puyo Puyo Fever on the Naomi recently, and our properties have appeared in a lot of other Sega arcade games, like Sonic Fighters. I have thought about maybe doing more arcade work in the future when we've completed our current projects.
TNL: Ah yes, that's right. So does Sonic Team fully own the rights to Puyo Puyo now that Compile is gone?
Naka: Well, actually, Sega as a whole owns the rights to Puyo Puyo, and has done so for about the past five years or so. We had the rights long before Compile ceased to exist. We've just been the ones in charge of revamping and remarketing it, in the forms of games like Minna de Puyo Puyo and now Puyo Puyo Fever.
We actually came up with a clever marketing scheme for the release of Puyo Puyo Fever. It [was] released in Japan on 2/4/2004. Pu is an alternative word for the number 2 and yo is the number 4, so that translates to 2/4 or 24. So the release dates are really tied into the word "Puyo."
TNL: Last year saw the release of a lot of excellent games. What titles impressed you the most?
Naka: Wow. That's tough. Hmmm . . . I suppose GTA3 needs to be mentioned, but I think the Shin Sangoku Musou [Dynasty Warriors] series deserves special mention as well. Although its basis is Chinese history, it's got great gameplay and character appeal, so much so that it has managed to do quite well in all the major console markets: Japan, USA, Europe, and Korea. Koei's really got something going there.
TNL: What game so far this generation do you think has had the biggest effect on the industry as a whole?
Naka: Again, probably GTA3 in the West and Shin Sangoku Musou in Asia. You're starting to see a lot of developers on all sides of the globe looking at those games for examples of good game concepts and what appeals to those specific markets.