The popular and renowned UK games publication ’Games TM’ has conducted an interview with none other than Yuji Naka. The interview, and other indications within the 37th October issue, suggests that the interview took place after the German games convention to which Yuji Naka attended.
The interview makes reference to Yuji Naka taking part in a mad flurry of signings, where he ‘scrawled’ his name on various Sonic merchandise. Indeed Yuji Naka can be seen creating such ‘Scrawlings’ on this page of the Sonic website: ‘SONICFANS.DE’.
Strangely Games TM mistook Yuji for the producer of ‘Shadow the Hedgehog’, and Yuji neither confirmed nor denied this role, but he did reinforce the misunderstanding.
Those of you fearing the gun-play dynamic to spread into the franchise like an infection, rest easy with this quote:
Yuji Naka: ‘I would never give Sonic guns – Sonic shouldn’t have weapons, as it doesn’t fit his character.’
Yuji Naka also mentioned that the Sonic XBOX 360 demo that was displayed at the 2005 E3, much like the DS demo displayed back in 2004 at E3, will not be a part of the final next-gen Sonic game.
Yuji Naka interview page 1
Yuji Naka interview page 2
The interview has also been typed up, and is as follows:
HE’S ONE OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN DEVELOPMENT AND RESPONSIBLE FOR ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC VIDEOGAME CHARACTURES EVER. GAMESTM CATCHES UP WITH YUJI NAKA TO FIND OU WHAT HE’S GOT UP HIS SLEEVE…
Of all the people that you get to speak to in this industry, there are only a few that are going to make you feel truly nervous. There are some are some individuals far greater than we could ever dream of being and one of these is Yuji Naka. Unsurprisingly he doesn’t seem too rattled that he’s talking with us. Quite the opposite, in fact. Despite it being close to the end of a day that’s been full of journalist like us, and the fact that he’s just returned from a signing where he’s scrawled his name on his nth copy of Sonic something, he’s calm and confident.
“I started Sega very early on,” he begins. “I went straight from high school 22 years ago and became a programmer. Eventually I started work on Sonic and things became much bigger.”
Ah, Sonic, the character that made Naka a legend. It’s tempting to ask his favourite of the 30-plus titles that have featured the speedy little hedgehog, but we’re fairy sure he’s going to say the first one. We ask anyway, and he doesn’t disappoint. “Of course it’s the first one,” he smile. “That is my first and will always remain my favourite.” However, the answer only servers to fuel our notion that we – as well as a number of videogame fans, no doubt – have been contemplating since we saw the screens of the new title Shadow the Hedgehog. The series has drifted – massively so. You can brush aside various pinball and racing escapades easily enough, but we’re now looking at a well known Sonic character toting guns – a far cry from the series roots of which Naka is so obviously fond. “Shadow is defiantly the game it was intended to be,” insists. “It’s meant to be a completely separate title from the Sonic games. If you look at the action genre, you’ll notice it’s very evolved. There are now fully 3D worlds, you can pick up a weapon and ride any vehicle. The idea is to broaden the Sonic gameplay and to meet the wants of the audience.”
To be fair the evolution of the series has looked to be heading this way for some time. Ever since Sonic ventured into 3D the games have been becoming far broader, but if you’re going to head down this route anyway, why not give Sonic the limelight – surely his recognisable snout would shift far more copies than Shadow? “That’s true,” Naka agrees. “But it’s Sonic. I didn’t want to have Sonic with a gun, so I made it with Shadow. I would never give Sonic guns – Sonic shouldn’t have weapons, as it doesn’t fir his character, but I’ve recently been getting a lot of request from the kids where they say ‘hey, I want to play a Sonic game where I can shoot guns and things’, so I decided to let Shadow do it.”
Although Naka has plenty on his plate now, there are more interesting times ahead for Sega. A merger with Sammy has meant that the company presences in the arcades is on the rise and this years E3 provided an interesting next-gen Sonic demo that was ‘just for show’ according to Naka. But what does Sega have in store for us when the next generation of machines do arrive? “Looking to the future, it’s definitely beyond just improved graphics,” Naka tells us. “It’s all about innovation and how you think through your games. Over the next year you’ll see the direction Sega is going in, but it’s all about innovation verses how real the games end up looking. That’s what developers are caring about – they like developing for the DS because of the new options availably.”
These are mysterious words and the look on Naka’s face certainly hints that no amount of prompting will make him give away his plans. But with Naka so keen on giving the public what they want, we decided to see if he’d do us a favour. One of our favourite Sega games, NiGHTS into Dreams, is long due a sequel; can Naka help us out? “Ha! I would like to see a new NiGHTS game,” he admits. “But that was ten years ago now I have other projects to be getting on with. I certainly have more ideas that I didn’t get into the last game, so maybe in the future.” Here’s hoping…