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The programmers behind Sonic games?


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I want to make a topic talking about the different lead engineers throughout Sonic's history. Considering Yuji Naka's role in the original Sonic games, the program of the gameplay is probably an important part in Sonic's history. Not to mention the classic physics are so revered.

Yuji Nakanakatano_portada.jpgTetsu Katano


Let's start with the one who started it all - Yuji Naka. He was already an accomplished programmer before Sonic. He already programmed a total of eleven games before he even began working on Sonic. He pulled of things like smooth surfaces on the Mega Drive Ghoust' n Ghoblins, the 3D Dungeons in Phantasy Star, he even made an NES Emulator on the MegaDrive! It's no wonder a guy like him created the today so revered engine that ran on Sonic 1, 2 and 3.

But his stint as a programmer can't last forever, as more new and new programmers were on the hiring block working with him. So he had to choose a successor some day.

This is where Takahiro Hamano came in, who was senior programmer on Sonic 3. He was the main programmer on Sonic Jam, the first Sonic title where Naka was not the programmer. He understood Sonic's physics as Sonic Jam was not emulated - but reprogrammed. He put that knowledge into work for Sonic Advance as well, where he was the Technical Director. He also had the same role for Sonic Advance 2. Sadly we didn't hear anything of him after 2003. He was the 2nd generation of Sonic programmers as he joined in 1987.

The third generation of lead programmers came in with Tetsu Katano, who joined in 1992. The first Sonic title was Sonic Jam, where he worked second in command after Hamano. He was the main programmer for Adventure 1 and 2, as well as Heroes and Secret Rings. There we already have a mixed bag...tough making 3D Sonic is already completly different than 2D. Adventure tried to implement the classic sense of movement in some fashion...however that effort clearly was filtered out through the successive 3D Sonic games. Not only that, the solid sense of movement of Adventures quickly was dismantled by him with Heroes. In fact, I don't think he ever accomplished the heights of programming Adventure way back in 1998. Curiously he did direct the 3DS version of Generations, which felt the closest to Classic Sonic that Sonic Team ever got - perhaps he because he had experience from Sonic Jam? All in all, he did became what one would call the "senior engineer" of Sonic Team, as he did supervise the programming staff of Colors, Generations and Lost World.

But before we go on to the fourth generations of programmers at Sonic Team - we have Makoto Suzuki, who joined during Sonic CD. His work was just audio enginnering however. Infact he did that for Adventure 2! Was he repsonsible for the poor audio mixing of that? It's no wonder that he did lead the programming for Sonic 06 as well as Sonic 4, both where fans agree that Sonic just felt the absolute worst. On the bright side, he lead the programming for Unleashed -  but that did not feel that solid to control as well. 

So who are the front men for Sonic's programming today? We have Yoshitaka Kawabata, who lead programming on Sonic Colors. His history goes back to being a minor programmer on Sonic Team titles like Burning Rangers. Lost World's lead programmer goes back to bing minor programmer on Sonic Adventure 2. And Generations lead programmer, Outa Sano goes back to leading the programming for Shadow the Hedgehog - who was also the senior programmer for the Jet Set Radio games.

All in all, what can we say? Ever since Tetsu Katano took reign, it's been a mixed bag for sure. It is not like he is any better than Takashi Iizuka.

I personally feel like Sega should have better taken care of Takahiko Hamano to make sure 2D Sonic felt right. 


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