Naoto Oshima deserves far more credit for the Sonic the Hedgehog series than he ever got during his employment at SEGA Enterprises. The creator of the Sonic character, he has also directed many games and headed projects at Sonic Team, including NiGHTS Into Dreams with Yuji Naka and Sonic CD. He left SEGA shortly after Sonic Adventure, and his lack of presence showed even in Sonic Adventure 2. Forming Artoon though has been a rocky ride for the guy who wants to be the “Walt Disney” of video games, with the amicable Blinx his first non-SEGA creation following the lacklustre Pinobee and questionable sequels to Yoshi’s Island. It’s been an undeserved fall from grace for the poor guy.
Nintendo Power have an interview with the game designer/creator, and about his history in the video game industry. It’s a real interesting read, and Oshima comes across as a really humble guy, taking on all sorts of roles to get a feel for every aspect of game design. One of the ‘original three’ that most fans really count in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise – the other two being programmer Yuji Naka and level designer Hirokazu Yasuhara – he says that he feels best when he’s designing stuff for games. This is in parallel to Naka’s admission to fancying more of a ‘hands on’ approach to making games, shortly before he left Sonic Team to form his own studio.
Other interesting nuggets include his role in Sonic Spinball – he designed the pinball maps for the game, which regardless of your opinion of the spinoff Mega Drive game are pretty decent maps – his entrusting of Sonic’s modern design to Yuji Uekawa from Sonic Adventure onwards (“I think he did a great job”) and lends more credibility to the theory that Sonic CD and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are practically two odds to the same project (“Naka [was sent] to America [to work on] the Genesis version, which… left me to develop the CD version in Japan”).
Naoto Oshima Interview In Nintendo Power – SSMB (thanks NintendoBrad)