Official Dreamcast Magazine UK Interview with Yuji Naka

Interview Data:

-typed by Matricul8ed

From Issue 14, December 2000

Sega owes this man, big time. Starting as a lowly programmer on a dating adventure designed to attract girls to games 17 years ago, he's since managed to create some of the biggest-selling and most respected videogames of all time, as well as provide Sega with their corporate mascot - Sonic The Hedgehog. Not bad as he's only just turned 35.

The title on the card says impressively "President & CEO, Sonic Team Ltd", but Yuji Naka hasn't exchanged his gaming overalls and flat-cap for a pinstripe suite just yet. Still working as Producer on all Sonic Team titles, he's very much a hands-on kinda boss.

"I just see myself as one of the team", he told us, noticeably embarrassed at the way he's been elevated to an almost god-like level by some fans. "I don't feel like I'm anything special - I think there are lots of people who are as important as I am"

The game that really gained him cult status was NiGHTS: Into Dreams, Sonic Team's 1996 debut Saturn game and a personal labour of love for Naka, who acted as both producer and lead programmer on the title. "I know a lot of people love it and want us to make a sequel," says Naka, "but for us it's a really important game. Like the way Spielberg likes ET so much he won't remake it, I son't want to make another NiGHTS"
The hearts of thousands of NiGHTS fans can be heard crashing to the floor. "As soon as we realised this, we stopped making it". Umm… stopped making it?

"Yes, we made it up to a certain point. You linear sensors? Well, we made this system where you could remove the cable from the original pad and control NiGHTS like this," Naka explained, enthusiastically looping and twisting a copy of ODM around in front of him. "It was called Air NiGHTS. We made it on Dreamcast for a while as well but we stopped".

Sonic Team have a number of games in development right now, such as the amazing looking Sonic Adventure 2 and Phantasy Star Online, the latest in a series Naka started programming more thean 12 years ago. So don't go writing off those sequels we're gagging for entirely - we may just see that version of Naka's debut yet.
"Gal's Garden is fun even if you play it now!" he chuckled. "The main character is a girl, and there's a guy she likes, so she gives him a flower. Then you have to compete with another girl to get the guy!" Um… sounds great. What about Gal's Garden Online?
"Yeah!" replied Naka, gazing thoughtfully into the distance as though he were genuinely considering the idea. "Cool!"


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