Yuji Naka

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Yuji Naka
Yuji Naka' - Magic - Monaco - 2015-03-21- P1030036 (cropped).jpg
Naka in 2015
Born (1965-09-17) September 17, 1965 (age 53)
Other namesYU2
Occupation Game designer, producer, programmer
Years active1984–present
Employer Square Enix
Notable work
Sonic the Hedgehog series

Yuji Naka(中 裕司,Naka Yūji, born September 17, 1965) is a Japanese video game programmer, designer, and producer best known as the former head of Sonic Team, where he was the lead programmer of the original Sonic the Hedgehog series of games on the Sega Genesis. In 2006, he founded Prope, an independent game company. In January 2018, he joined Square Enix.

A game programmer is a software engineer, programmer, or computer scientist who primarily develops codebases for video games or related software, such as game development tools. Game programming has many specialized disciplines, all of which fall under the umbrella term of "game programmer". A game programmer should not be confused with a game designer, who works on game design.

A video game producer is the person in charge of overseeing development of a video game.

Sega CS Research and Development No. 2, commonly abbreviated as Sega CS2 R&D and better known as Sonic Team, is a video game development division of the Japanese company Sega. Sonic Team is best known for the long-running Sonic the Hedgehog series and games such as Nights into Dreams and Phantasy Star Online.

Contents

Career

Naka learned how to program by replicating and debugging video game code printed in magazines. The experience prompted him to study assemblers and practice writing code during his school classes. [1] After graduating high school, Naka decided to skip university and stay in his home town. [2]

University Academic institution for further education

A university is an institution of higher education and research which awards academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and postgraduate education.

Around 1983, Naka saw that Sega was looking for programming assistants and decided to apply. [3] After a brief interview, [3] he began working for Sega in April 1984. [4] His first task was designing maps and checking floppy disks for a game titled Road Runner for the SF-7000. Naka cannot remember if the game was ever released. [4] His first major project was a game called Girl's Garden , which he and Hiroshi Kawaguchi created together as part of their training process. [3] Their boss was impressed and decided to publish the game, and it earned them notice among their peers and Japanese gamers. [1] Naka's abilities as a programmer were further demonstrated in 1987 for his work on Phantasy Star for the Master System, where he was responsible for the impressive pseudo-3D animation effects present in the game's first-person dungeons.

<i>Girls Garden</i> 1984 action game

Girl's Garden is an action video game and dating sim developed and published by Sega for the SG-1000 console in 1984 or 1985. The game follows a girl as she gathers flowers to win the love of a boy. It was the debut work of Sega programmers Yuji Naka and Hiroshi Kawaguchi. Naka went on to co-create the Sonic the Hedgehog series and Kawaguchi would later compose music for popular Sega arcade games. Girl's Garden is remembered as a simple, and technically impressive game for the SG-1000, and one of the first notable dating sims. Some reviews criticized the conduct of the game's relationship aspects.

Hiroshi Kawaguchi is a Japanese video game music composer and keyboardist who works for Sega. He is among the oldest of the Sega sound team members, and one of the few from the 1980s still active today. He joined Sega in 1984 as a programmer, but quit the job and became a composer the following year.

<i>Phantasy Star</i> (video game) 1987 role-playing video game

Phantasy Star is a role-playing video game (RPG) developed by Sega and released for the Master System in 1987. One of the earliest Japanese RPGs for consoles, Phantasy Star tells the story of Alis on her journey to defeat the evil ruler of her star system, King Lassic, after her brother dies at his hands. She traverses between planets, gathering a party of fighters and collecting the items she needs to avenge her brother's death and return peace to the star system. The gameplay features traditional Japanese RPG elements including random encounters and experience points. All the characters have predefined personalities and abilities, a unique element compared to the customizable characters of other RPGs of the era.

His true breakthrough, however, came in 1991 when he programmed the original Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Genesis, with Naoto Ohshima designing the characters and Hirokazu Yasuhara creating the stages. The origins of Sonic can be traced farther back to a tech demo created by Naka, who had developed an algorithm that allowed a sprite to move smoothly on a curve by determining its position with a dot matrix. Naka's original prototype was a platform game that involved a fast-moving character rolling in a ball through a long winding tube, and this concept was subsequently fleshed out with Oshima's character design and levels conceived by Yasuhara. [5] Following Sonic The Hedgehog's release, Naka moved to Sega's U.S. branch, Sega Technical Institute, where he worked with famed American designer Mark Cerny on the follow-up in conjunction with the original team back in Japan, now known as "Sonic Team". This partnership between the Eastern and Western teams continued through the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles , though the bulk of the development duties shifted back to Sonic Team in Japan for those titles, which Naka had also returned to by that time.

<i>Sonic the Hedgehog</i> (1991 video game) 1991 video game

Sonic the Hedgehog, also referred to as Sonic 1, is a platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis console. It was released in North America in June 1991, and in PAL regions and Japan the following month. The game features an anthropomorphic hedgehog named Sonic in a quest to defeat Doctor Robotnik, a scientist who has imprisoned animals in robots and stolen the powerful Chaos Emeralds. The gameplay involves collecting rings as a form of health and a simple control scheme, with jumping and attacking controlled by a single button.

Sega Genesis Fourth-generation home video game console and fourth developed by Sega

The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive in regions outside of North America, is a 16-bit home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, followed by North America as the Genesis in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tectoy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.

Naoto Ohshima Japanese video game artist

Naoto Ohshima is a Japanese artist and video game designer best known for designing the Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr. Eggman characters from Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Although Yuji Naka created the original tech demo around which Sonic's gameplay was based, the character in his prototype was a ball that lacked any specific features. Sonic Team considered numerous potential animal mascots before deciding on Ohshima's design, with an armadillo or hedgehog being the top choices because their spikes worked well with the concept of rolling into enemies.

After the release of Sonic & Knuckles , Naka was moved up to the role of producer at Sega Enterprises in Japan. During his tenure in that position, he oversaw titles including Nights into Dreams... and Burning Rangers for Sega Saturn; Sonic Adventure and Phantasy Star Online for Dreamcast; Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg for Nintendo GameCube; and the "EyeToy" game Sega Superstars for PlayStation 2.

<i>Sonic & Knuckles</i> platform video game originally released for the Sega Genesis

Sonic & Knuckles is a 1994 platform game developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis. An installment in the main Sonic the Hedgehog series, it is the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 3, released earlier that year. The story follows Sonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles the Echidna in their quests to save Angel Island; Sonic tries to prevent Dr. Robotnik from relaunching his orbital weapon, the Death Egg, while Knuckles scuffles with Robotnik's minion, EggRobo.

<i>Burning Rangers</i> 1998 Sega Saturn video game by Sonic Team

Burning Rangers is an action video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Sega Saturn. It was released in Japan in February 1998, and later that year in North America in May and in Europe in June. Burning Rangers is set in a futuristic society in which fire is the remaining danger. Players control one of an elite group of firefighters, the Burning Rangers, who extinguish fires and rescue civilians in burning buildings. Most of the tasks the players complete are centred around collecting energy crystals to transport civilians to safety. In lieu of an in-game map, Burning Rangers features a voice navigation system which directs players through corridors.

Sega Saturn Video game console

The Sega Saturn is a 32-bit fifth-generation home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe. The successor to the successful Sega Genesis, the Saturn has a dual-CPU architecture and eight processors. Its games are in CD-ROM format, and its game library contains several arcade ports as well as original games.

On March 16, 2006, Naka announced that he intended to create his own game studio, Prope, and that he would be leaving Sega to do so. [6] Naka stated that he considered it a benefit to be able to create games other than Sonic the Hedgehog titles. [7] Following Naoto Ohshima's and Hirokazu Yasuhara's departure by 2002, Naka was the final member of the original creative core that created Sonic the Hedgehog to leave Sega. He joined Square Enix in January 2018. [8]

Prope Ltd. is an independent video game development studio of famed programmer Yuji Naka.

Hirokazu Yasuhara Japanese video game designer

Hirokazu Yasuhara is a Japanese video game designer. He is best known for designing the gameplay and stages of the initial Sonic the Hedgehog video games for Sega Genesis in the 1990s, based on technical demos and engines programmed by Yuji Naka. Yasuhara stayed with Sega until the late 1990s. He then joined Naughty Dog, working on the Jak and Daxter series and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, collaborating again with former Sega employee Mark Cerny. He was the senior design director at Namco Bandai Games America. In April 2012, Yasuhara joined Nintendo where he accepted a position at the Nintendo Software Technology division. In 2016 he joined Unity Technologies.

Square Enix Japanese video game company

Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company known for its Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts role-playing video game franchises, among numerous others. Several of them have sold over 10 million copies worldwide, with the Final Fantasy franchise alone selling 144 million, the Dragon Quest franchise selling 78 million and the Kingdom Hearts franchise selling 30 million. The Square Enix headquarters are in the Shinjuku Eastside Square Building in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The company employs over 4300 employees worldwide.

Naka was awarded on 2016 with the Bizkaia Award at the Fun & Serious Game Festival, which took place at the Spanish city of Bilbao. [9]

Production history

YearGameRole
1984 Girl's Garden Game designer, programmer
1986 Spy vs. Spy (Master System port)Programmer
Black Belt
1987 Phantasy Star
1989 Phantasy Star II
Ghouls 'n Ghosts (Genesis port)
1991 Sonic the Hedgehog
1992 Sonic the Hedgehog 2
1994 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Programmer, producer
Sonic & Knuckles
1996 Nights into Dreams
1998 Burning Rangers Producer
Sonic Adventure
1999 ChuChu Rocket! Director, producer
2000 Samba de Amigo Producer
Phantasy Star Online
2001 Sonic Adventure 2
Sonic Advance
2002 Sonic Advance 2 Director, producer
2003 Sonic Pinball Party Producer
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
Sonic Battle
Sonic Heroes
2004 Sonic Advance 3
Puyo Pop Fever
2005 Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love
Shadow the Hedgehog
Sonic Rush
Puyo Pop Fever 2 General producer
2006 Sonic Riders Executive producer
Phantasy Star Universe
2008 Let's Tap Producer
2009 Ivy the Kiwi?
2011 Fishing Resort
2013 StreetPass Mansion / Monster Manor
2014 Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls Voice acting ("Center-sensei")
2015 Rodea the Sky Soldier (original Wii version)Producer
StreetPass Fishing / Ultimate Angler
2016 StreetPass Chef / Feed Mii
2017Legend of Coin [10]

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<i>Nights into Dreams</i> 1996 action game

Nights into Dreams... is a 1996 action game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Sega Saturn. The story follows teenagers Claris and Elliot, who enter Nightopia, a dream world where all dreams take place. With the help of Nights, an exiled "Nightmaren", they begin a journey to stop the evil ruler Wizeman from destroying Nightopia and consequently the real world. Players control Nights flying through Claris and Elliot's dreams to gather enough energy to defeat Wizeman and save Nightopia. The game is presented in 3D and imposes time limits on every level, in which the player must accumulate points to proceed.

Sonic the Hedgehog (character) fictional character from the Sonic videogame franchise

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<i>Sonic the Hedgehog 3</i> 1994 video game

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is a platform game developed and published by Sega. It is the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) and was released worldwide for the Sega Genesis in 1994. Following the events of Sonic 2, Doctor Robotnik's spaceship, the Death Egg, crash-lands on a mysterious floating island. There, Sonic and Tails must once more retrieve the Chaos Emeralds to stop Death Egg from relaunching, while making rounds with the island's guardian, Knuckles the Echidna. Gameplay is similar to previous entries, with players controlling Sonic and Tails through side-scrolling levels at high speeds while collecting rings and defeating enemies.

<i>Phantasy Star Online</i> 2000 video game

Phantasy Star Online is an online role-playing game (RPG) developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega in 2000 for the Dreamcast. It was the first online RPG for game consoles; players adventure with up to three others over the internet to complete quests, collect items, and fight enemies in real-time action RPG combat. The story is unrelated to previous games in the Phantasy Star series.

<i>Sonic CD</i> 1993 video game

Sonic the Hedgehog CD, commonly referred to as Sonic CD, is a 1993 platform game for the Sega CD. The story follows Sonic the Hedgehog as he attempts to save an extraterrestrial body, Little Planet, from Doctor Robotnik. As a Sonic the Hedgehog series platformer, Sonic runs and jumps through several themed levels while collecting rings and defeating robots. Sonic CD is distinguished from other Sonic games by its time travel feature, a key aspect to the story and gameplay. By traveling through time, players can access different versions of stages featuring alternate layouts, music, and graphics based on the time period.

<i>Sonic the Fighters</i> 1996 fighting game

Sonic the Fighters, also known as Sonic Championship on arcade versions outside Japan, is a fighting video game developed by Sega AM2. First released in 1996 in arcades on Sega's Model 2 arcade system, Sonic the Fighters pits players in one-on-one battles with a roster of characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The game was built on top of the 3D fighting engine for Fighting Vipers (1996), an earlier fighting game by Sega AM2, and it serves as the debut 3D game in the Sonic series. The idea for a Sonic the Hedgehog fighting game was hatched when a Sega AM2 programmer was dabbling with a Sonic the Hedgehog 3D model in Fighting Vipers. The smoothness of the character animations convinced Sonic Team to approve of the project and supervise over it.

<i>Sonic Jam</i> 1997 video game compilation for the Sega Saturn

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Nights (character) video game character

Nights is a video game character from the games Nights into Dreams and Nights: Journey of Dreams, developed and published by Sega. Nights is a "Nightmaren" who resides in Nightopia, a dream world where the dreams of all human beings are acted out every night.

Sega Technical Institute video game developer

Sega Technical Institute (STI) was an American development division of Sega. Founded by Atari veteran Mark Cerny in 1991, the studio sought to combine elite Japanese developers, including Sonic Team programmer Yuji Naka and his team, with new American talent. STI developed a number of Sonic the Hedgehog games, as well as other games for the Sega Genesis, before it was closed at the end of 1996.

<i>Sonic the Hedgehog 2</i> 1992 Mega-Drive video game

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a platform game developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis console, released worldwide in November 1992. It is the second main entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and introduced Sonic's sidekick, Miles "Tails" Prower, controllable by a second player. In the story, Sonic and Tails must stop series antagonist Dr. Ivo Robotnik from stealing the Chaos Emeralds to power his space station, the Death Egg.

Doctor Eggman Fictional character from Sonic franchise

Doctor Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik is a fictional character and the main antagonist of Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series. His original character designer was Naoto Ohshima, who created him as part of many design choices for the company's new mascot. After the creation of Sonic the Hedgehog, Ohshima chose to use his previous egg-shaped character to create the antagonist of the 1991 video game Sonic the Hedgehog, making him the archenemy of the series' eponymous main character.

Takao Miyoshi is a former game producer at Sega. Miyoshi joined in 1990 and first worked on the Sega Meganet minigames for the Genesis and then had design roles for Formula One World Championship: Beyond the Limit, Sonic 3D Blast, Burning Rangers and Sonic Adventure. His debut as director was Phantasy Star Online, he then produced for Phantasy Star Universe, succeeding Yuji Naka. Similar to a Sega Meganet game, he produced a smaller scale downloadable called Pole's Big Adventure in 2009. He left Sega afterwards after spending his last years at the company as senior producer, and let Satoshi Sakai succeed him as producer for the Phantasy Star franchise.

References

  1. 1 2 Szczepaniak, John. "Before They Were Famouos". Retro Gamer . Imagine Publishing (35): 74.
  2. Horowitz, Ken (22 June 2005). "Sega Stars: Yuji Naka". Sega-16. Archived from the original on 27 June 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 "The Making of OutRun". NowGamer. 29 April 2016. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  4. 1 2 "名作アルバム - 『ガールズガーデン』". Sega (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 23 March 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  5. GI Staff (August 2003). "Sonic's Architect: GI Interviews Hirokazu Yasuhara". Game Informer . 13 (124): 114–116.
  6. Edge Staff (2006-05-08). "Confirmed: Yuji Naka Leaves Sega". Edge. Archived from the original on 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
  7. "Sonic Creator Left Sega to Avoid Making More Sonic Games". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  8. Phillips, Tom. "Sonic creator Yuji Naka joins Final Fantasy maker Square Enix". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 23 January 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  9. "Yuji Naka , premio honorifico del Fun & Serious Game Festival".
  10. Naka, Yuji. "Yuji Naka / 中 裕司 on Twitter: "[iPhone] PROPE Ltd.started to distribute the game "Legend of Coin" for iOS & Android at 12 December,2017. An epic story like none ever seen before in a coin game.Over 200 monsters to train and summon!"". Archived from the original on 14 February 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2017.