Yuji Naka Retires (probably)

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Gryson, Jun 5, 2021.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This whole tangent is hilarious to me because a friend of mine I've known for about ten years on Twitter pretty much shares the same opinion and absolutely hates Naka. He was reveling so hard when Balan failed and has no idea why people even like him despite everything.


    Rather interesting how there can be such polarizing opinions about one man; not that I ever believe Naka was loved by everyone, but I was under the impression he was as respected of an individual as Miyamoto in the general gaming community, so seeing so much venom thrown his way has been uh....eye-opening.


    I'm starting to feel like anything and anyone associated with Sonic is just cursed, anyone else feel that way?
     
  2. Sparks

    Sparks

    Member
    3,044
    32
    28
    Sondro Gomez / Kyle & Lucy
    It's moments like this why I haven't changed my forum avatar in what I'll estimate to be nearly 10 years.
     
  3. Gryson

    Gryson

    Member
    173
    102
    43
    The thing about the Naka hate is that it all stems from the same few vague references:

    1) Naka didn't let the Sonic X-Treme developers use the NiGHTS engine (actually, it was a level editor)!

    2) Naka was too strict and hard-to-work-with during the development of Sonic 2/3!

    3) Naka said something about someone 20 years ago in a magazine interview which may or may not have been translated accurately!

    There are probably a few more points there, but really, it's just too interesting how people can get so worked up and decide someone is a vile human being because of a few things like that.

    And... I don't really see anything wrong with what he's said/done?

    He brought about a lot of great changes at Sega in terms of how developers were treated, especially in regards to salary and credit, after his protest / quitting following Sonic 1's release.

    He also made Sonic 2 great by being strict with the development - let's not forget SOA wanted to do things like use its own questionable music.

    And that Sonic Xtreme thing? Let's be honest - by that point, the game was a disaster, level editor or no. I can understand Naka's frustration at his work being taken without his permission--just as he's trying to get NiGHTS released--to be used for a doomed project that would directly compete with his own. Remember that Naka would start working on a Saturn Sonic game after NiGHTS, although the project was shifted to the Dreamcast and the work done on the Saturn released as Sonic Jam.

    The guy was a major part of what made Sega / Sonic so great. Try to see the through the xenophobic-tinged third-hand info and judge him based on his own words and deeds.
     
    • Like Like x 11
    • Agree Agree x 8
    • List
  4. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Member
    1,382
    322
    63
    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    I'm reserving judgment on that point because we haven't heard the tracks ourselves. We don't know if our opinions would align with Naka's. For example, you could show me the greatest country song ever and I'd still hate it because I don't like country.

    Not going into the rest because I have no stake in this argument.
     
  5. Gryson

    Gryson

    Member
    173
    102
    43
    Does it matter? Not sure that Naka and the entire rest of the team not liking the SOA music would make them assholes who deserve karmic retribution or whatever. The point is, whenever you get a creator who is protective of their work, they'll fight to keep it in line with what they think is best and they'll step on a lot of toes doing it.
     
  6. Blue Spikeball

    Blue Spikeball

    Member
    1,136
    311
    63
    Actually going by Yamaguchi's words, the SoA soundtrack saw opposition from various members of the dev team, not Naka in particular (his name didn't even come up).
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • List
  7. Jackass guy turned off notifications just so no one could counter him- what a wuss.

    And I'm really not one to call people names, but holy fuck, my 10 year old brother is more mature than that.
     
    • Like Like x 9
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  8. Sid Starkiller

    Sid Starkiller

    Member
    1,382
    322
    63
    Virginia, USA
    Paying off student loans
    ...please see the bolded/italicized/underlined section of the above quote.
    Fair enough. Still curious what the tracks were, though.
     
  9. The KKM

    The KKM

    Welcome to the nExt level Member
    2,179
    29
    28
    Portugal
    IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog comic books
    "Naka is a fucking horrible xenophobe for being a stupid japanese who didn't let American localisers grab the engine he made without even asking if they could and shitting on it to try and salvage a stupid SoA project, I'll also base myself on 20 year old barely translated interviews to add that he hates American developments etc" is less a statement about Naka being a xenophobe (you meant racist btw) and more about your attitude towards "how dare this uppity japanese ask for credit for his work"
     
    • Like Like x 11
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • List
  10. Chibisteven

    Chibisteven

    Member
    1,312
    18
    18
    US
    Why oh why? Why even shit on Naka? I have a lot of respect for him. What the fuck happened to this thread? Good god.
     
  11. The thread went from "Yuji Naka Retires (probably)" to "In defense of Yuji Naka" in 2 posts. :eng99:
     
  12. Gestalt

    Gestalt

    Sphinx in Chains Member
    In general, Sega drama is best dealt with at Sega, not on someone's Twitter feed. I hate what Twitter did to the fanbase. Lol It'd be cool if this app was for free.
     
  13. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

    Arriving four years late. Member
    5,043
    202
    43
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    I'm not especially a fan of Yuji Naka but I don't hate him either (my wife and I took a photo with him when we had the opportunity); I just want to say that I think a lot of the hate comes from the constant attribution of Sonic's creation solely to him, when he's probably the third-most important person involved (behind Oshima and Yasuhara). I think a lot of people are understandably upset that those two don't get the recognition Naka gets when they deserve as much, if not more.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  14. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    your robot's a no-bot Wiki Sysop
    6,479
    647
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    wiki wild wild west
    It was a collaborative effort (a "Sonic Team" as you will), but there is always going to be merit in calling Yuji Naka the "father of Sonic". Naka took a few sketeches and made it into a video game; he was there from the beginning and involved in the direct sequels. I've always felt it was Yasuhara who made it a good game (you can feel his presence missing from later entries in a strange way), but it's a difficult role to convey to the general public.

    I think it's more of a case that Yuji Naka was in America during the development of Sonic 2, and so Sega Visions (and whatever other magazines) could actually go and talk to the guy and say "here's the man who made Sonic". Oshima was in Japan, and staff over there were still being forced to use pseudonyms in credits (to ensure they weren't poached by other companies? I forget the reasoning). You had to wait until Sonic CD to learn who "Bigisland" was, but that was a year after the far more mainstream Sonic 2 and nobody cared at that point.

    Most of the NiGHTS interviews I've seen were always treating Naka and Oshima as a pair. I'm not quite sure of the story leading up to Sonic Team becoming a genuine division of Sega with Yuji Naka at the helm, but you can assume word spread and Sega were wanting some sort of Miyamoto figure to front the marketing or something. Or maybe he got promoted for making a series of very well received video games. Who knows.


    In a perfect world everyone in the team would be brought up on stage and congratulated for their work, but realisitically, it's 1992, we don't know how to report video games properly yet, most of these people don't speak English and a simpler narrative helps marketing.

    Nintendo were at a bit of an advantage with this sort of thing, because Miyamoto created characters and directed teams and it was less of a collaborative effort in terms of core design. Also he had both Mario and Zelda under his belt and had a proven track record of making Nintendo a lot of money.
     
    • Like Like x 8
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  15. Ayu Tsukimiya

    Ayu Tsukimiya

    UGUU~ Member
    552
    10
    18
    I think it's likely he *did* have an ego back in the day, with "did" being a keyword. He was pretty young at the time and it's unfair to assume he hasn't changed at all over the years. Can't speak on the xenophobia accusations, but there's a good chance it was a byproduct of the "SOJ vs SOA" mentality plaguing the company at the time rather than an actual, generalized hatred of people from other countries. (Although at the same time, I don't think it's right to totally dismiss any experiences SOA devs had with him.)

    God, I fucking hate the "one amazing man created this series all by himself!" Walt Disney shit the industry tried to sell back then.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  16. Chris-M

    Chris-M

    Member
    18
    1
    3
    Personally, I respect Naka as a game developer but he's a human and, of course, I think he's made mistakes before.

    I think his biggest flaw is that he's stubborn and wants things to be done his way. This is why he had problems with the american staff and american work culture (ie: not staying long hours and overworking like its common in japanese work culture) during the development of Sonic 2 at STI, plus the limited time and scope of the project didn't help no matter how much Cerny tried to bridge the gap.

    Also he didn't like the changes SoA did to adapt Sonic to the tastes of the american public (then again Sonic won those design contests at Sega because it was on development, but Ohshima did make sure Sonic would have an impact in America by going to NYC and showing his characters to people on the street, and they preferred Mr. Hedgehog).
    He also helped sabotage the development of Sonic X-treme in the middle of SoA - SEL(SoJ) war because he didn't like what STI was doing with Sonic. Part of me thinks that he was bitter that Sonic never reached popularity in Japan like he did overseas and I always thought that Sonic Adventure was made primarily for the japanese public and it imposes the japanese canon over the american as a result, even tho SA2 does adapt in Robotnik as Eggman's surname through Maria and Gerald. I can't figure out why he listened to those american kids, who allegedly requested him to give Sonic a gun, and spun that into a core mechanic of Shadow's game though.

    On the positive side Sonic CD and Chaotix and technically worse than the Genesis/Megadrive titles cause of his lack of presence in those games' development, and he was known at Sega as a programmer who could work miracles. Which compares better with Satoru Iwata on technical skill instead of Shigeru Miyamoto, who is more of a director and producer, yet for some reason he was picked as Sega's Miyamoto when I feel that wasn't his place. And he seemed to know that and wanted to program instead of producing which is why he left Sega. I think the weird overlysimplifyed controls in Balan are proof of the fact that he's not that good of a designer. But then gain even Miyamoto these days is being not as flawless as he once seemed to be with StarFox Zero and and it's control scheme that Platinum and testers complanied about and were ignored.

    Yet I think that without Naka, Sonic would have never been what he is as he's responsible of one of the things that caracterized Sonic in the early 90's, that being it's, advanced for the time, physics engine that people, myself included, love to this day as it made him unique among a sea of platformers. That is not to demerit the team effort that Sonic was and is on the whole, which sadly is often the case with videogames, especially back then.

    One can only wonder what would have happened if he was still at Sonic Team. Maybe it would have been the same in the end, tho probably not.
     
  17. JaxTH

    JaxTH

    Pudding Deity Oldbie
    9,276
    185
    43
    Los Angeles
    Jack shit.
    He didn't?

    Kids asking for shooting in Sonic is how we got Gamma's stages in Sonic Adventure.
     
  18. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    your robot's a no-bot Wiki Sysop
    6,479
    647
    93
    Northumberland, UK
    wiki wild wild west
    Our Sonic X-treme article is completely unreferenced which is... tedious.

    We only have Mike Wallis' account of this but essentially the American team behind X-treme asked Bernie Stolar for the "technology" behind NiGHTS into Dreams. Yuji Naka said no and there was threat that he'd quit were he overruled.

    That's less "xenophobic" as it is "unhelpful". But then I'm not sure about the timings here - NiGHTS might not have been completed. Also this interview keeps calling (I assume) Hayao Nakayama as "Yuri Maguire" so it might not be entirely accurate.

    Now there's talk about Naka not liking Sega of America and preferring Japanese developers over American ones but... well... this is coming from American developers. I don't know - there's rivalry between the two factions and a lot of nuance with translations. There's not much to draw conclusions from and again, these are events that happened 25 years ago - people change. Poke around our many untranslated Japanese Sega Saturn Magazine scans - I'm sure you'll find a differing account of events.

    Here's a shocking thought: video game development requires communication, and if you speak different languages... well.


    Of course, anyone clinging onto the idea that Sonic X-treme would have been the greatest video game ever released... ought to try out some of the prototypes sometime. I can conceive of the final game being less broken, but if I was invested in Sonic back in 1996, I'd probably want the project shelved too.
     
  19. Chris-M

    Chris-M

    Member
    18
    1
    3
    Really, I remember hearing that that's why Shadow was given guns and weapons. Because they fit with Shadow far more than Sonic. I do know Shadow implements (or I should say attemps) the whole branching story thing they had as an idea for SA2.
    I think this may be the case of information in the public consiousness that may not be accurate, but then again Sonic insists that he would never be caught using a gun.
    In any case, where is that said, because I can't find anything on the wiki.

    I think it was less that he was xenophobic and more a case of culture shock and the communication issues result of the language barrier. That's what I meant to say.

    Naka never had any faith in Sonic X-treme, and I don't think that was a wrong assesment. X-treme looked interesting but unfocused and the way it was I don't think it would've been any good either.
     
  20. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

    size of a tangerine Member
    516
    216
    43
    I will never understand this take. Yasuhara was not more important to the creation of Sonic than Naka. He wasn't involved with the creation of the project or the creation of the character. Of the three of them, he was the last to join the team. And I'm not downplaying his contribution to the games, either. Yasuhara was a very talented game planner and his direction for Sonic's level design was fantastic. But his role could have been filled by someone else, for better or for worse, and Sonic the Hedgehog would still exist in some form.

    The entire concept behind what Sonic would become was Naka's. His collaboration with Oshima is what created the Sonic we know today, both the character and the ideas behind the game itself. Naka and Oshima will always be Sonic's "dads" as far as I'm concerned.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.