Futuregamez Interview with Yuji Naka

Interview Data:

  • Interview Date: 30 November 1999
  • Interview Topics: Sonic Team, Dreamcast, Sonic Adventure 1
  • Interview Source: Futuregamez external.png

Yuji Naka Talks Sonic Team

The one thing that everyone wanted to hear when the Dreamcast was announced was that Sonic would return. Indeed Sonic Team did return to Sega's blue mascot and the rest is history. Sonic Adventure has become the biggest game on the Dreamcast to date. But Sonic Team are heading in different directions now. Chu Chu Rocket is and internet puzzle game while Phantasy Star Online is potentially one of the systems biggest RPG's. An opportunity to chat to the man responsible for bringing these games to life could never be passed up.

First of all Yuji, I have to congratulate you on a wonderful career with Sega/Sonic Team. Can you tell us what your role at Sonic Team is at the moment?
I am a producer.

How many people work at Sonic Team?
That is quite confidential.

What are you thoughts on the Dreamcast hardware?
I hope that everybody gets it (the Dreamcast) and enjoys our games at home.

Is there any component you would like to have seen improved in the system?
I think the current spec is enough.

Sonic Team has a knack for brilliant gameplay in the games. Why do you think your games are so successful?
Because we always hope in our hearts that every user enjoys our games. A lot of thought goes into each game from Sonic Team.

What is you opinion on both the Playstation 2 and Nintendo Dolphin?
I am not interested in them. I think that Dreamcast is the No.1 console.


Sonic Adventure was your first title on the Dreamcast. Just how far do you think the title pushes the system?
I worked very hard on the game and think that it uses as much hardware performance as possible.

Sonic Adventure was completed just in time for last Christmas in Japan. Were there any parts you had to leave out due to time constraints?
There were no lowered specs in this game.

How hard was it to move Sonic from a 2D platform series to the Dreamcast and make it a 3D world?
I think you can understand how difficult it was if you try the game. It was surprisingly hard. But when I see Sonic running around a 3D world at high speed, I really feel glad that I tried it.

With sales of 500,000 units in Japan and well over 300,000 in America has the game met your expectations?
I think the Dreamcast will do much more better from now in the US. It is just the beginning. It is pretty good in Japan.

Did you spend a lot of time upgrading Sonic Adventure from the Japanese version to the International version?
It took about 3 or 4 months. To localize the language (text) was quite tough work.

Would you like to do Sonic Adventure 2 at some stage?
If the Sonic Adventure was supported by many fans and everybody says that they want to see it, maybe I can.


Well I couldn't leave this subject alone. Of course the big announcement at the Tokyo Game Show was Phantasy Star Online. Can you give us any hints to the storyline in the game?
We have just started development of the game. Please understand there is little I can talk about at this moment.

Does the game continue on from previous versions or is it separate?
It is not a sequel (to the previous games in the series) but I want to make so that fans from the previous games can enjoy it too.

How long has the game been in development for now?
Development has just started.

When will PSO be released?
We are planning to release next year but the details are not decided yet.

Phantasy Star Online will incorporate a lot of online play. Can you give us some details about the number of players and how it will work?
These are still to be decided.

You have recently announced several new games from Sonic Team can you explain what each of them is? (apart from PSO of course)
Those games are Sonic International, Chu Chu Rocket! and an arcade game, Samba de Amigo.

The one which got a great response from the Tokyo Game Show was Chu Chu Rocket. Do you think this game be released outside Japan and if so do you think it will sell well?
The concepts, rules and how to control are very easy and simple. Also it is inexpensive (2800yen approximately $27) so I think it can appeal to everybody, a wide range of users. I created this game because I wanted as many people as possible to enjoy it. I hope this happens in the US too.

What made you decide to move away from platform games, which you have concentrated on in the past?
It has been 15 years since I joined Sega and I've wanted to do an arcade game since then. I finally made it come true!

What is happening with Nights 2? Everyone expected the title to be one of the 4 announced recently in Japan but it wasn't. Is it in development?
Everybody was thinking that way! This is a kind of surprise!

Is there any game that sticks in your mind as a favorite to develop?
I prefer all genres.

Is there any type of game which you would like to develop in future (racing/sports/fighting)?
Maybe racing games. But now I am trying to develop all kind of genre so maybe I should try simulation. (laugh)

What are your thoughts on violence in video games? America is facing a moral dilemma with the number of shootings there and several companies are being sued for the content in their games? Do you try to avoid blood/killings in games where possible?
Yes, of course. Since my games are for children, I won't do anything that will have a bad effect for kids.

Finally what is your favorite food?
I like meat. I also like Japanese food but I do not like Natto.

Q: Currently Sonic Adventure's release date is loosely set as "end of this year." Does this mean Sonic Adventure isn't a launch title for Dreamcast?
Naka: We are working on the game with the intention of it being a launch title, but because of the nature of developing a video game, it's hard to say if it will be on time. That's why it is set at this time as being released by the "end of this year."
Irimajiri: Currently seven to eight titles are expected to be launch titles. Sonic Adventure is definitely one of them. As for the other launch titles, those will be announced at the Sega New Challenge Conference which will be held sometime in October.

Q: It seems that the developing games for DC isn't an easy ride. By any chance, will this lead to a delay of the system's launch?
Irimajiri: That question is actually a sore spot. We are using a brand new chip set for the Dreamcast in certain parts. If the yielding percentage of these chips aren't good as we expected, it may delay the launch. But if there is a delay, it will be very small.

Q: PC games nowadays utilize better and better technology and they get better day by day. How will you maintain a DC advantage over PC games?
Irimajiri: Current high end PCs with high end graphics boards provide performance near to what the Dreamcast can do and it may match it sometime next year. But that's a case of looking at the very high-end. If you think about the lower to mid-range, Dreamcast will be ahead for three to four years. After that, there's the possibility of upgrading its features just like PCs. When this is the case, we will be sure to keep backward compatibility in mind.

Q: Currently how much has been spent to develop Sonic Adventure?
Naka: We are working on the game with about 100 people. So it's definitely bigger than previous Sonic games. But I'm sure it won't be costly as Square's.
Irimajiri: We are hoping on million sales for this game. So it will be paid back.

Thank you very much for you timeā€¦.
David Warner ~ Dreamcast Australia

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did in conducting it. If you have any comments or questions E-mail me at : ua.moc.pohsniw|motnahp#ua.moc.pohsniw|motnahp


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