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Yuji Naka Wanted to Work at Nintendo

A twist to the 90’s console wars!
yuji naka

Imagine: the creator of Sonic working at Nintendo! Actually, it almost happened: according to a 2001 interview translation by Shmupulations, Mr. Naka left Sega after the original Sonic‘s completion following a salary dispute, and decided to drop by Nintendo’s offices in Kyoto. Unfortunately, an unexpected obstacle crushed his dreams: a scary security guard who came out to inspect the parking lot. Spooked by his vigilance, Naka backed out and went back home to Osaka. Imagine what may’ve happened had that guard not been there…? (By the way, he currently works for Square-Enix)

As noted in the interview, however, great things still awaited Naka’s future: Mark Cerny of Crash Bandicoot fame invited him to Sega’s American branch, and after Sonic the Hedgehog turned out to be an instant success, he went right to work on the sequels. As it turns out, he initially asked Sega of America not to work on any future Sonic games, but he ended up making them anyway; as he claims in the interview, Sonic is something of a child to him.

The rest of the interview, as well as the other developer conversations in the link provided, is certainly worth reading: Naka further elaborates on Tails’ design, the tonal “bad boy” direction in Sonic Adventure, Dragon Ball influences on Sonic 3, and yes, even his thoughts on the infamous Sonic Underground cartoon.

What do you think of Yuji Naka’s near-Nintendo encounter? Let us know in the comments below!

Anthony Pelone
Eating, breathing and living video games on a daily basis, Anthony is particularly fond of the Nintendo variety, but is by no means a console warrior. Somewhere in the midst of his obsession with cat pictures, he finds the time to pen about his favorite hobby. Having previously written for over three sites, Anthony remains dedicated to spreading the gospel of EarthBound.

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