game news Sonic: Yuji Naka, the co-creator of the hedgehog, throws his truth about SEGA and it hurts!
In the history of video games, there are many examples of seasoned creators who have very badly digested the sudden transformation of the industry and the obligation, for the studios, to convene gigantic teams in addition to launching new production methods. For some developers, the impact was all the more brutal since they were true stars in their respective companies. This is particularly the case for Yuji Naka, the co-creator of Sonic.
The more the weeks go by, the more painful the reality of driving seems for the Japanese designer. A true programming genius (and the word is weak), Yuji Naka was only 19 years old when he joined SEGA. In 1984, the company is in the process of developing what will become the Master System for us and embarks on a vast recruiting operation. The young man seizes the opportunity and becomes, in a few years, a very important employee. He participates in many games and lays the foundations, with Rieko Kodama (who left us last May), of a certain Phantasy Star. With the arrival of the Mega Drive, the gentleman made a very successful port of Ghouls’n Ghosts and gave to give birth, with Naoto Oshima, to a certain Sonic. In the early ’90s, the kid was a big name at SEGA, but there was a dark side to that. If everyone praises his incredible talent, many criticize his excessive ego.
The problem is that Yuji Naka appropriated Sonic (while Naoto Oshima and other colleagues were also in the story). Considered underpaid and esteemed after the success of Sonic the Hedgehog, it was a miracle that SEGA of America recovered before the parent company put a handkerchief in past disputes. Sincerely, you have been able to speak with SEGA developers on numerous occasions and many have reported that Yuji Naka, due to his temperament and successful career, was not an easy employee/boss to handle. This impression of “omnipotence” thus materialized in several episodes throughout his career. There is in particular the refusal to lend the 3D engine of Nights: Into Dreams to the American team in charge of Sonic X-Treme on Saturn (which will lead to the abandonment of the project and the developers to the brink of depression). We can also talk about the permanent confusion between Yuji Naka and his companions. For example, Kats Sato refused to appear in the credits of Sonic R because he was constantly at odds with his compatriot. Stories like that, there are, unfortunately, many.
Yuji Naka reveals that he was fired by SEGA!
In a Japanese conversion, revealed by Twitter user Dom Auffret, Yuji Naka explains that he did not leave SEGA voluntarily. The latter intended to end his career in this company and simply indicates that he was fired from it!
In the course of a conversation, Yuji Naka indicates that he would have been fired from Sega during the development of Sonic 06 (in which he does not appear in the credits). He came into conflict with Sega, where he thought he would end his career, over a raise for developers. pic.twitter.com/obggIahUlw
– Dom Auffret (@Dom_Auf) November 7, 2022
Clarify your words:
It wasn’t the right time to go, because we were doing Sonic 2006 for Sonic’s 15th anniversary. We were also doing Phantasy Star Universe. At that time, when I dared to talk about the salary of all developers, not me, I was suddenly fired.
Between the lines, we assume that Yuji Naka would have stepped forward to demand a raise and that SEGA gave him his answer by firing him. Therefore, we understand that he was fired from him and that is why, the following year, he founded his Prope studio. For those interested in video game history, Yuji Naka’s Twitter account has gone from revelation to revelation since the programmer was fired from Bandai Namco (before the Balan Wonderworld fiasco). He was so upset that he completely erased his colleague at the time, Naoto Oshima, from a photo. Evidently, falsified documents were presented during the trial (according to Naka) and he hopes to one day publish the proof of these lies.
Again, we only get one side of the story, so take it slow, but it does show that the gaming world can be unforgiving at times. Now one thing is for sure: SEGA just fired Yuji Naka back in 2006 and the urban legend that he left to applause has just collapsed.