Nintendo Power Game Watch Interview with Yuji Naka

Interview Data:

  • Interview Date: 02 December 2002 (approximate date)
  • Interview Topics: PSO, Gamecube
  • Interview Source: Nintendo Power at Sonic HQ external.png

Courtesy of Nintendo Power-Game Watch:

GW(Game Watch): What would you like gamers to experience with Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II, online and offline?
YN(Yuji Naka): PSO is a game we designed for people who had never played an online RPG together, or gone on adventures together before. Those are things we'd really like people to enjoy, both online and offline. With Phantasy Star I & II, we wanted people both online and offline to band together and work toward a common goal. Most online games tend to be very competitive, where players are basically beating each other up. If you have a competitive game where one person is very advanced and another person is playing for the first time, it's no fun at all for either person. With a cooperative game like PSO, even if there's a huge difference in skill level, players of all skill levels can still have fun together.

GW: Phantasy Star began as a traditional RPG series. What motivated you to create PSO as an online action adventure?
YN: Initially, we began experimentation with network gaming as part of the evolution of gaming. We went from 2-D to 3-D, then from 3-D to online. We started first with experimentation of the online functions of network gaming. Once we had some prototypes in place, we said, "Hey this could work with the Phantasy Star univers." So, it basically went online and then Phantasy Star-not really the other way around.

GW: The Dreamcast version of PSO was designed for a 56K modem only. Will the Nintendo Gamecube version support both the modem and broadband adapter? If so, will the experience be any different online for either type of connection?
YN: Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II supports both the Nintendo Gamecube Broadband Adapter and Modem Adapter. The game experience is not affected on a noticeable level by the speed of each player's connection.

GW: Will there be any time/date specific events in Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II?
YN:Yes, there will be events for major holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween and for the seasons. If it's something that happens in most cultures around the world, then there will be an event for it in Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II.

GW: The Dreamcast Version of PSO had its fair share of online cheaters and hackers. What has been done to cut down on such problems in the Nintendo Gamecube version?
YN: Well we can't really go into the exact details, of course, but we've taken all the experience of what happened with the Dreamcast version of PSO and have spent a lot of time trying to make it more secure for a fun gaming experience.

GW: Communication has always played a large part in PSO. Without a keyboard accessory licensed at this time, how will games be able to communicate with each other.
YN: Players can communicate through preprogrammed chat commands and expressions that they can access with the (GCN) controller.

GW: PSO is famous for featuring cameos of well-known Sega icons and characters. Are there going to be any new cameos in the GCN version?
YN: There's an enormous number of new items and MAGs, so there may be some more Sega-character cameo appearances in the future.

GW: Is there any chance that we'll see a Nintendo Gamecube or Game Boy Advance MAG in Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II?
YN: Well, the Sega hardware is obviously still available as special MAGs. Unfortunately, there's no other hardware in PSO Episode I & II.

GW: How will gamers be able to access Game Boy Advance-specific features, like the highly anticipated Nights minigame?
YN: The Nights minigame is something that becomes available to you when you you complete a special quest that will be accessed online.

GW: How will the Game Boy Advance title, Phantasy Star Collection, interact with Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II?
YN: They actually will not interact with each other. They are two completely separate games. A game called Phantasy Star Online Card Battle that we're working on now will share the same lobby as Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II.

GW: What is the connecting story between PSO Episode I & II?
YN: Well, I don't really want to reveal too much. In addition to the main story line, there are quests that you can complete to find out even more of the story line. As players complete the twenty-some downloadable quests, they will learn more about the world of PSO.

GW: Will players be able to download information online (like new quests and items) onto their Memory Card for use offline?
YN: Yes. We're calling those Downloadable Quests.

GW: How will players who speak different languages communicate with each other in Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II?
YN: Basically, the game has hundreds of preset expressions and phrases. Phantasy Star Online will automatically translate them into the language a player has his or her Nintendo Gamecube set to. If you type text in manually, it will not be translated. When you select a set English phrase, however, and are playing with someone from Japan, the phrase will appear on that person's screen in Japanese.

GW: Are there any plans for Phantasy Star 5, or any other online games from Sega?
YN: Well, to an extent that will depend on how well Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II goes over. These days, sequels are not really made until the developers see how well the first one sells.

GW: Will we ever see the Phantasy Star universe used for another game genre, such as strategy or fighting games?
YN: Well, I don't know. There are some members of SONICTEAM who would love to make a Phantasy Star strategy game. The possibility definitely exists in the future, but again, it depends on what the reaction is to Phantasy Star Online.

GW: When you're not busy making games, Naka-san, which games do you like to unwind with?
YN: I've recently been playing Mario Sunshine, but I don't think I really play games to relax. I think a lot of the games that are out there today are games that you really have to set yourself up to sit down and play for a while. There are games out there intended to be something that you can pick up and play to relax, but not a whole lot of them are selling very well.

GW: Which classic game series (yours or someone else's) would you like to see make a comeback on the Nintendo Gamecube?
YN: I really can't think of any, honestly.

GW: Do you ever play online with regular gamers to get a fell for how people play?
YN: Yes, I do play PSO once in a while without using my real name. Even if I do go on with my real name, a lot of times, people don't believe me anyway. Then things just get really complicated.

GW: Have people ever tried any tricks in PSO, or experienced anything with PSO that you weren't expecting?
YN: We've actually had several couples meet online through PSO, from across the world, and get married in real life. There was also a group of people who met in PSO and went on adventures in the game together, then decided to go climb Mt. McKinley. That was pretty surprising. They met online in PSO and wanted to bring a PSO flag on the climb with them. They called up SONICTEAM and asked if they could use a PSO flag-so, someone made a flag for them. We got really worried about what would happen if they didn't come back. They made it to the summit and planted the PSO flag at the top, then made it down OK. They sent a picture to the SONICTEAM.

GW: What is your favorite character type?
YN: My favorite character to is a HUnewearl with short, spiky blue hair.

Copied from NP #163, and transcribed by the hands of Ultra Sonic 007


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