Gamespy Interview with Yuji Naka (Page 5)

Interview Data:

  • Interview Date: 30 September 2005
  • Interview Topics: Sonic 1 deleted content
  • Interview Source: GameSpy external.png

GameSpy: You can find some interesting stuff by screwing around with the debug codes, too. Like in Sonic 1, if you put Sonic outside the walls of the special stage and just have him roll around in space, you encounter a weird background with some unused panels.
Naka Ah, yes, those. I'm not surprised. See, we left the debug codes in the games because we thought people would have fun playing around with them. *laugh* But yeah, there was a lot of leftovers and unused stuff in Sonic 1 as well. I remember we made a rabbit enemy. It was lik e… "Rabbit-bus." Or "Rabbit-taxi." You know, sort of like Catbus (from My Neighbor Totoro).

But the biggest thing I remember we had that we didn't use in Sonic 1 was the break-dancing. We had this idea for the sound test. The composer for the game was one of the members of Dreams Come True, a famous Japanese band, so we wanted to do something special for the game's music. See, we wanted to have a separate sound-test screen with an animation of Sonic break-dancing while a "Sonic Band" played the game music. We were working on the images, and had enough space left on the cartridge memory for it, but once again time constraints prevented us from putting it in the program.

So what should we do with that leftover space? I suddenly had an epiphany! It said to me … "SE-GA!" It came from our TV commercials, and that became the game's startup sound. I thought it made a good impression when you heard it, right? Though to fit it in, we had to delete all the break-dancing picture data we had made up to that point. Oshima was heartbroken, since we didn't need his pictures anymore. But seriously, that sound alone took up 1/8 of the 4 megabit ROM! Ah, those were the days…

GameSpy: Thank you very much for your time, Naka-san. We're sure that this interview will make a lot of Sonic fans very happy!

Deleted Interview content

Towards the end of the interview I asked about a subject I'd always been curious about: the obsessive nerds that spend obscene amounts of time hacking Sonic ROMs to dig up unused stuff, and some of the things that were never used.
"Wait, people actually DO that? Well, I don't know of anything REALLY huge that was cut out of the Genesis Sonic games. I mean, besides the Hidden Palace. Actually, there WAS an old ROM we had where the Hidden Palace was in it, but it was stolen and we never found it."
"Well, yeah. That ROM's out there, actually."
"… wait, it is? Tell me more."
"Yeah, I, uh… have it on… this… pc." (I wasn't quite sure what sort of reaction this would get since, y'know, ROMs and emulation are a dark, quasi-legal art.)
"Whoa, you really are a fan, aren't you?"
XD;;; I guess it figures, since Naka's a geek himself… So I booted up Gens, loaded up the ROM, and showed it off to him.
"It's got Genocide City and Wood Zone in it, too…"
"…Holy shit, that IS the real thing! You have a USB memory stick, right? ohmy.gif"

I wound up giving a stolen, somewhat not legal to have on my PC beta of a half-finished Sonic 2 to Yuji Naka via a flash drive. The sheer absurdity of this situation still boggles my mind. Maybe I should have thrown that early Sonic CD on there as well…

But, as it turns out, they had lost all the code they had from around that time, including stuff related to the Hidden Palace Zone (which they chopped primarily due to time restraints). We finally know where this thing came from now: they had taken a beta demo to a toy show in New York, where it was stolen and never found. From there it wound up in the hands of Hong Kong pirates, who distributed it in various fashions, and then it finally was dumped and surfaced upon the web. Yuji knew none of this, and he just seemed happy that he had a copy of the code again. Very interesting stuff. Further conversation ensued, including more talk about stuff cut from Sonic games, but I dunno if [site omitted] would want to put that in there, since it's about old, OLD Sonic games and regarding info only a certain subset of the Sonic-playing population really desires.

[Originally posted by BMF54123 on Aug 26 2005 02:18 AM at Sonic Cult]

Extra: Comments by the interviewer

Why did you ask about HPZ?
Because I'm genuinely interested in this stuff, and knew it would make for great reading in an interview and make lots of fans happy. New Sonic info plus old Sonic info. Can you do much better than that?

Why does Naka sound so casual?
He was very laid back during this interview, quick to respond, and cracking jokes constantly. I've done formal interviews with him in the past, as well, so I think he knows and feels comfortable chatting with me. I hope I get the opportunity to talk to him again sometime soon, because this interview was unbelievably fun. I tried to do the J-E translation in a way that captured the mood of the actual conversation, rather than just rattling off info. I think it reads a lot better that way.

Has Naka seen our pages? Why didn't he know they existed?
He was very curious about them and asked for some links. I forwarded him links to s2b and Secrets of Sonic Team through an SoJ PR person after I got back from Japan. I think that he has most likely seen them by now.

As to why he didn't know these pages existed, he is one of the most important people at Sega, with a lot of responsibilities under his belt. I doubt he goes home at night and says to himself, "Boy, I wonder if people are hacking old Sonic games to find unused graphics! Time to crack out Google!"

I really, really hate to drag you all down, but Sega's got a lot more important things to do than bother with rebuilding Sonic prototypes. As much as I'm sure that sort of thing is very sentimental to Naka (judging from the detail he went into with some of this), there's really no way that investing time/money in it would provide any sort of returns for Sega. They are a business, after all, and if it doesn't make money, it's hard for them to justify working on it. :|
Naka himself is also preoccupied with managing Sega Global Entertainment and basically being one of the Big Three (him, Kataoka, and Nagoshi) in charge of Sega's game stuff. I'm sure he'd love to screw around with this stuff (since he really is a big lovable dork), but he's got a lot more pressing things to concern himself with.
There's also the fact that a lot of old Sega data has been lost over time due to loss/damage of equipment, hard drive crashes, what-have-you. (this is likely why they didn't have the HPZ data.) I highly doubt there's as much raw material lying in the office closets as a lot of people think.

So! Does this clear up any lingering doubts?


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