XenGamers Interview with Yuji Naka

Interview Data:

  • Interview Date: 17 July 2002
  • Interview Topics: PSO, Sonic in 3D, NiGHTS, Samba De Amigo
  • Interview Source: Xengamers at Sonic HQ external.png

At E3, the XenGamers staff was given the opportunity to sit down for some questions with Yuji Naka, leader of Sega's legendary Sonic Team. In addition to helping make Sonic the Hedgehog the billion dollar franchise that it is today, Naka-san was also responsible for other Sega greats such as Nights, Burning Rangers, and Samba de Amigo.

XenGamers: How will you deal with multi-platform issues in Phantasy Star Online? Will there be a different design team for each platform.
Naka: We will have separate teams. Also, the Xbox version will have to coincide with the launch of Xbox live. So each release will take a different form.

XenGamers: The backdrops (the spaceship, utopian forest, etc.) are rather wondrous. What is your inspiration for these?
Naka: Well, PSO is a SF/Fantasy RPG. The setting for the game is Gal da Bal Island, on another planet. I wanted to create a sort of resort-like atmosphere for it.

XenGamers: What will be the story for the new versions of PSO?
Naka: I can't talk about the story in detail right now, but I want to follow up with the story that started in the previous game.

XenGamers: Will there be any downloaded content?
Naka: There will be a download feature. There are a lot of as of yet unannounced things in the works that I think will surprise players. I hope the players will enjoy this [aspect of the game].

XenGamers: Nintendo has seemed reluctant to embrace online gaming. Has this had any effect on PSO development for the GameCube?
Naka: No, not at all. Nintendo has a very positive attitude on network gaming. They are paying close attention to new forms of gameplay. I have heard Nintendo is developing network games in-house too. There have been no difficulties in [PSO] development with regards to this, and we have built a very good relationship with Nintendo.

XenGamers: We did not see any Sonic games at E3. Will this series be continued?
Naka: I think we're going to stop the “Sonic Adventure” series at 2 for the time being. We want to do something different for the next title in the series. We are working on a number of Sonic games now, including ports of older titles. We'll be able to announce these in the near future.

XenGamers: Will future Sonic games be platform exclusive (e.g. GameCube only, etc)?
Naka: No, we're not thinking in those terms. There is a good chance that Sonic will appear on a number of platforms.

XenGamers: How would you respond to comments that Sonic moves too fast in a 3D environment for the players to appreciate the scenery?
Naka: The player can slow down or stop and enjoy the scenery if something grabs his/her eye. I think Sonic himself doesn't always run full-tilt. I'm sure if he finds some nice scenery he stops to take it in. I hope players will do the same.

XenGamers: You released some Sonic sports games (such as fishing) for i-Mode cellular phones in Japan. Will you make any Sonic sports titles for the home consoles?
Naka: I get the impression that the Sonic sports games on i-Mode are pretty fun, so they may appear on other platforms. However, we aren't actually developing any at the moment.

XenGamers: Will we ever see another Nights game?
Naka: The GBA Nights game is on display in the E3 Nintendo booth. [Until the GBA version] I hadn't seen Nights in a long time, so it was nice seeing it again. Who knows?

XenGamers: How about a sequel to Samba de Amigo?
Naka: The cost of the peripheral is the big stumbling block here. If we could guarantee at least 100,000 people would buy the game, we'd make another one, but the hardware makes it difficult. I'd really like to do a sequel.


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