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Naka in 2015
|Born||September 17, 1965|
Hirakata, Osaka, Japan
|Occupation||Game designer, producer, programmer|
|Employer|| Sega (1984-2006)|
Square Enix (2018-present)
|Sonic the Hedgehog series|
Yuji Naka (中 裕司, Naka Yūji, born September 17, 1965) is a Japanese video game programmer, designer, and producer who was 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. With Sonic Team, Naka also led development on games including Nights into Dreams (1996), Burning Rangers (1998), Sonic Adventure (1998), and Phantasy Star Online (2000). In 2006, he left Sega to found Prope, an independent game company. In January 2018, he joined Square Enix, where he is directing Balan Wonderworld.
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.After graduating high school, Naka decided to skip university and stay in his home town.
Around 1983, Naka saw that Sega was looking for programming assistants and decided to apply.After a brief interview, he began working for Sega in April 1984. 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. His first major project was a game called Girl's Garden , which he and Hiroshi Kawaguchi created together as part of their training process. Their boss was impressed and decided to publish the game, and it earned them notice among their peers and Japanese gamers. 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.
His true breakthrough, however, came in 1991 when he programmed the original Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Mega Drive, 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.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.
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 games 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.
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.Naka stated that he considered it a benefit to be able to create games other than Sonic the Hedgehog titles. 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. In September 2019 Naka stated on his Twitter account that he was working on an original action game for the company.
Naka was awarded on 2016 with the Bizkaia Award at the Fun & Serious Game Festival, which took place at the Spanish city of Bilbao.
|1984||Girl's Garden||Game designer, programmer|
|1986||Spy vs. Spy (Master System port)||Programmer|
|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|
|1999||ChuChu Rocket!||Director, producer|
|2000||Samba de Amigo||Producer|
|Phantasy Star Online|
|2001||Sonic Adventure 2|
|2002||Sonic Advance 2||Director, producer|
|2003||Sonic Pinball Party||Producer|
|Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg|
|2004||Sonic Advance 3|
|Puyo Pop Fever|
|2005||Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love|
|Shadow the Hedgehog|
|Puyo Pop Fever 2||General producer|
|2006||Sonic Riders||Executive producer|
|Phantasy Star Universe|
|Sega Ages 2500: Vol.24 - Last Bronx: Tokyo Bangaichi||Executive Supervisor|
|Sega Ages 2500: Vol.25 - Gunstar Heroes: Treasure Box|
|Sega Ages 2500: Vol.26 - Dynamite Deka|
|Ivy the Kiwi?|
|2011||Wii Play: Motion|
|2013||StreetPass Mansion / Monster Manor|
|2014||Digimon All-Star Rumble|
|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|
|2017||Legend of Coin||Programmer|
Nights into Dreams is a 1996 action game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Sega Saturn. The story follows teenagers Elliot Edwards and Claris Sinclair, 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 Elliot and Claris'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 Team is a video game developer owned by the Japanese video game company Sega as part of its Sega CS Research and Development No. 2 division. Sonic Team is best known for the long-running Sonic the Hedgehog series and games such as Nights into Dreams and Phantasy Star Online.
Sonic the Hedgehog is the protagonist of the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series released by Sega, as well as numerous spin-off comics, animations, and other media. Sonic is a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog who can run at supersonic speeds and curl into a ball, primarily to attack enemies. In most games, Sonic must race through levels, collecting power-up rings and avoiding obstacles and enemies.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is a 1994 platform game developed and published by Sega. It is part of the Sonic the Hedgehog series and follows Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992). After Doctor Robotnik's spaceship, the Death Egg, crash-lands on a mysterious floating island, Sonic and Tails attempt to retrieve the Chaos Emeralds to stop it from relaunching. Sonic 3 introduces Knuckles the Echidna, the island guardian, who lays traps for Sonic and Tails. Gameplay is similar to previous entries, with players traversing side-scrolling levels at high speeds while collecting rings and defeating enemies.
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.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis home video game 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 Dr. 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.
Sonic the Hedgehog 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 alternative layouts, music, and graphics.
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.
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.
Sonic Jam is a video game compilation developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Sega Saturn. It was released in Japan in June 1997, and in North America and Europe two months later. It contains the four main Sonic the Hedgehog games released on the Sega Genesis: Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992), Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994), and Sonic & Knuckles (1994). It also features a 3D environment, "Sonic World", which doubles as an interactive museum of Sonic the Hedgehog content.
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.
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.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game series and media franchise created and owned by Sega. The franchise follows Sonic, an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog who battles the evil Doctor Eggman, a mad scientist. The main Sonic the Hedgehog games are platformers mostly developed by Sonic Team; other games, developed by various studios, include spin-offs in the racing, fighting, party and sports genres. The franchise also incorporates printed media, animations, a 2020 feature film, and merchandise.
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 games for Sega Genesis, including several Sonic the Hedgehog games, before it was closed at the end of 1996.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a 1992 platform game developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis. 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.
Prope Ltd. is an independent video game development studio of famed programmer Yuji Naka.
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 Sega'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.
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.
Balan Wonderworld is an upcoming platform game developed by Balan Company and published by Square Enix. It is scheduled for release in early 2021 for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. The game is being directed by Yuji Naka with art direction by Naoto Ohshima, co-creators of Sonic the Hedgehog and Nights into Dreams. It is the first game by the studio, formed as a subsidiary of Square Enix under Naka.