From: Sega Visions August / September 1992)
We recently had opportunity to visit with
Yuji Naka, the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, at
the SEGA Technical insitute in Palo Alto, California.
Naka and the original Sonic team are currently working on
Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the exciting sequel planned
for release later this year.
The combination of Japanese programmers and artists with local
resources make the development of Sonic 2 a truly
exciting American-Japanese joint effort.
We understand you're busy working on Sonic the Hedgehog
2. What can you tell us about it?
For one thing, Sonic 2 is twice the size of Sonic
1. For another, Sonic has to run through more levels...many
more than in Sonic 1. Also, the new Mobius worlds are brighter,
crisper, and much more detailed. However, we think players
will be too busy getting through the game to spend any time
enjoying the scenery. Especially since Sonic will have a new
A new friend?
A fox with two tails. We call him Tails, naturally. He helps
Sonic out of tight spots and can help Sonic defeat enemies.
How many people are working on Sonic 2? How does
this compare with the original Sonic 1?
A total of twelve people are working on Sonic 2. That's 30%
more than worked on the original game. It's basically the
same team as the original, with another programmer and more
designers and artists. The original team had three artists,
two game designers and three sound and music guys.
Who is writing the music?
The bass player from a famous Japanese band called Dream
Come True wrote the original music for the game. The
other two guys worked on the sound effects and on converting
the music to a video game format. The same guys are working
on the music for Sonic 2.
What were some of the things you thought about when you first
created the Sonic character?
At first we used a character that looked like a rabbit with
ears that could extend and pick up objects. As the game got
faster and faster, we needed to come up with a special characteristic
to give our character some power over his enemies. I remembered
a character I had thought about years ago who could roll himself
into a ball and slam into enemies. Hedgehogs can roll themselves
into a ball, so we decided to go from a rabbit to a hedgehog.
S.V: How about the name Sonic?
Because our new character could move really fast on the screen
we were looking for a name that suggested speed. One of the
designers said "Supersonic" and the "Sonic"
S.V: Where did the other
characters in the game come from?
We wanted one of the characters in the game to be egg-shaped,
so we created Robotnik. It was a great character, but since
it couldn't be the main character, we made him the bad guy.
S.V: What were some of your
Ghouls & Ghosts, Phantasy Star I & II
and Super Thunder Bolt (that'll
be Thunderblade - SegaFreak) for the Genesis.
For the Master System I did Phantasy Star I, Space
Harrier, Outrun, Black Belt, Spy
vs Spy, F-16 Fighting Falcon and Great Baseball.
How and when did you get started creating video games?
I joined SEGA in 1984, afer I finished school.
S.V: Were you programming
games in school?
I had a part-time job programming games while I was in school.
I worked on Fujitsu and Sharp computers.
I joined SEGA in Japan and then came to America last year.
S.V: What is your on-going
philosophy about creating video games?
I want to make interesting games. I want to show my dreams
and visions to kids. But most important, I want to create
something that will make the player happy. I want the player
to be surprised and have fun.
S.V: Do you
have any advice for people who want to create video games?
Yes. Play lots of games. Not just play them to win, but think
about them critically and analyze their strenghts and weaknesses,
constantly looking for ways to improve them. They should also
draw on their own experiences for inspiration. Everything
I do in my daily life, I think about how it would into a game.
During our visit
to the SEGA Technical institute, we confirmed what
we had suspected all along -- Sonic 2 is going to be the hottest
title of the year. Period. Here's why: Sonic 2 is bigger,
faster, more challenging and more fun than the original. It
has more levels, with a secret zone that you'll have to work
hard to find and new bonus rounds that you have to get through
to get the Chaos Emeralds. Sonic 2 will be coming out on Genesis,
Game Gear and Sega CD.
The increased capacity of the Sega CD version will allow additional
zones, as well as special bonus rounds between zones. In these
bonus rounds, Sonic takes you on a first person roller coaster
ride, a half pipe maze compete with enemies, traps and dead
ends. You control Sonic as he tries to get through the maze
and you go with him as he takes on those 360 degree loops
and 90 degree turns. And that's just between the zones. All
versions of Sonic 2 will have new zones, new enemies and new
challenges. Wait till you try the new Green Hill Zone, the
new Metropolis Zone or the Chemical Factory. Or Death Egg,
where you get to visit Robotnik's ship.