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Was Yuji Naka really as horrible as most people claim?


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1 hour ago, Shaddy Zaphod said:

 We've seen plenty of very-significant reasons to criticize Naka, I'm not sure why you have to construct one this flimsy.

Doesn't sound flimsy to me. There were clearly xenophobiic problems going on during Sonic 2's development.

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My only complaint was that if art had to get cut out it always seemed to be the American's on the team who's art got cut. Sometimes this was because the art wasn't working, but on other occasions, I don't believe this was the case. (such as with Hidden Palace, although I never was happy with the far background).

— Craig Stitt, Zone Artist for Sonic the Hedgehog 2[5]

It's a shame. I think that Sonic 2 could have been even better if some of the cut content had made it into the final game.

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I don't know if you noticed, but Sonic 2's content wasn't cut because Americans worked on it. Sonic 2 wouldn't exist without their contributions.

It's also worth noting that a lot of the content that didn't end up being used for the game either didn't look to the quality the rest of the game looked, or was scrapped to streamline the game's development. Sonic 2 once had a good several more zones (and even a whole different story! With time travel!) that they realized they couldn't complete with the other plans they had on them. Most of the zones that got scrapped were directly related to that 'time travel' plot; Sand Shower / "Rock World" snow level being past and future variants of each other, and Wood likely being a past variant of Metropolis.

Meanwhile Hidden Palace, made by Stitt himself, stayed for a very long time in development and was only scrapped when it seems they removed the game progression that led to it in the last few months of development. Naka himself mentioned in later interviews (particularly Japanese ones during the creation of Sonic Jam) that they intended it to stay in the game, but lost the time needed to finish it up, thus leading to the idea being reused in Sonic 3.

Now there could've been bias for his veteran team members from Sonic 1 / the Japanese staff's work when making Sonic 2, but idk if Craig assuming it might be related to that meant it necessarily was. The attitude of "us vs them" was an extremely prevalent headspace within Sega between Japanese and American divisions, as mentioned before. And again, a reminder that Traveler's Tales collabing with ST led to a good business relationship with no issues like this; at least that Jon Burton has brought out publicly.

You have a much better case for the "xenophobic Naka" argument with the Geist Force situation, if you're going to make one anywhere. But it seems a little less like he's got it out for Americans, and more that he's got it out for whoever gets in his way. Unfortunately for SoA, they were usually in his way. So yeah.

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26 minutes ago, Vampfox said:

Doesn't sound flimsy to me. There were clearly xenophobic problems going on during Sonic 2's development.

Okay, well, it is flimsy no matter how it sounds to you. Sorry if projecting victimhood onto others is blocking your ears a bit.

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4 minutes ago, Shaddy Zaphod said:

Okay, well, it is flimsy no matter how it sounds to you. Sorry if projecting victimhood onto others is blocking your ears a bit.

How is it flimsy. I provided proof with that quote that I got from Sonic Retro. If anyone's blocking their ears it's you.

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5 hours ago, Vampfox said:

If STI was not created for the purpose of making main Sonic games than why were they allowed to create Sonic 2?

The only thing I can say is perhaps learn anything about Sonic 2's development before commenting on it, because this is basic stuff that you should probably have some understanding of before you accuse one of the main people involved of racism.

 

Naka and Yasuhara were at STI to train people who were explicitly inexperienced to try to build up STI as the flagship studio of Sega of America. They were not there to make Sonic 2. They were not there explicitly to make anything. The idea came up and was pitched to Sega of Japan; who then told them no before telling them yes two months later (but with the same release time that Naka/Yasuhara/Cerny originally were planning still in place). They were allowed to create Sonic 2 because they were both there. That was not why they were there; and no one should immediately assume Naka was being racist when they were tasked for making a significantly more ambitious sequel he decided to handpick a bunch of experienced developers who wouldn't have a language barrier instead.

 

5 hours ago, Vampfox said:

Also please stop defending xenophobiic people. Xenophobia is wrong period. No need for discussion.

And you're perfectly free to eat my whole ass. I'm going to discuss what I want to discuss, and if I feel that you're projecting someone being racist when you have no idea what you're talking about as a baseline for the discussion in the first place I'm going to say as much.

 

1 hour ago, Vampfox said:

How is it flimsy. I provided proof with that quote that I got from Sonic Retro. If anyone's blocking their ears it's you.

You provided a quote with no context that doesn't even make it to end of itself before starting to get self-doubt on its premise. Hidden Palace was in the game for literally months, was mostly complete (but not really worked on the entire time after being added) and was ultimately cut so late that it's mostly still in the final game and even had music composed for it. That's a lot of effort for something that they never intended to include because of xenophobia.

 

 

 

8 hours ago, VO.SUPER said:

I mean. Yeah, that's just being an employee. Most contracts mandate that whatever you make on company time is not yours

Which Sega has frequently not done their due diligence to do; which is also ignoring that even if the engine wasn't literally his property we've no idea the context that Naka was given in order to make NiGHTS. If he was given carte blanche to make the game he wanted based on his previous success (which is very likely, since Sega of Japan still operated on that sort of system at the time) he may very well have been told something along those lines.

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People are so quick to jump to Naka being xenophobic or racist, when he had a lot of respect for anyone who worked on video games. He did not, however, have respect for corporate meddling, even citing that one of the reasons he left SEGA was because he became the very thing he despised. Yes, he respected Traveller's Tales and STI, but did not respect when SEGA demanded he did something that he did not want to do.

Whether or not he did good things based on that, really depends on how you feel about it.

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7 hours ago, Tornado said:

Which Sega has frequently not done their due diligence to do; which is also ignoring that even if the engine wasn't literally his property we've no idea the context that Naka was given in order to make NiGHTS. If he was given carte blanche to make the game he wanted based on his previous success (which is very likely, since Sega of Japan still operated on that sort of system at the time) he may very well have been told something along those lines.

I guess at that point we'd have to be looking into legal matters which would essentially put us into the Balan situation, but that's information we don't have. So I'll just drop it. 

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7 hours ago, Polkadi~☆ said:

People are so quick to jump to Naka being xenophobic or racist, when he had a lot of respect for anyone who worked on video games. He did not, however, have respect for corporate meddling, even citing that one of the reasons he left SEGA was because he became the very thing he despised. Yes, he respected Traveller's Tales and STI, but did not respect when SEGA demanded he did something that he did not want to do.

Whether or not he did good things based on that, really depends on how you feel about it.

It's not so easy to say that Naka respects anyone who worked on video games, because that's unfortunately not true. lmao

It's more like he respected anyone who was going to help him, or at least wasn't going to stand in his way. He may have not been explicitly a racist/xenophobe, but his history of dickery is well documented. Let's not lose that aspect of him in the discussion, lol.

I don't want the Xtreme discussion to clear his name, heavens no. I just want people to get the facts right.

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Naka infamously once stated in interview that Yasuhara didn’t contribute anything to the development of Sonic games despite being just as integral to the series as Naka and Oshima, if not moreso. Naka despises anyone who he considers to be of lesser skill than him.

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Naka and Oshima have butted heads more than a few times when it came to the art direction of the series and it's lead to more than a few moments of bad blood between them, leading up to the current Balan situation where even Oshima wanted to oust him.

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1 hour ago, Sean said:

Naka infamously once stated in interview that Yasuhara didn’t contribute anything to the development of Sonic games despite being just as integral to the series as Naka and Oshima, if not moreso. Naka despises anyone who he considers to be of lesser skill than him.

IIRC he said this around the early 00s, which was around the time after Yasuhara left Sega and starting to work at Naughty Dog. I think his patriotism to Sega during a time the PS2 crushed the Dreamcast's chances of survival might've added a lot of salt to his view on the guy. lmao

That said, Yasuhara is an interesting case altogether. He kind of ignored anything else Sonic Team was doing in favor of trying to quality control the Sonic spinoffs, before getting burnt out and quitting.

I'm willing to bet there was some sort of bad blood between them over Naka and co wanting to do passion projects versus keeping the Sonic brand in good shape. On one hand, that responsible attitude could've saved the series multiple times over, but I also appreciate letting that team have creative freedom to not do Sonic every day of their lives. It's complicated.

1 hour ago, VO.SUPER said:

Naka and Oshima have butted heads more than a few times when it came to the art direction of the series and it's lead to more than a few moments of bad blood between them, leading up to the current Balan situation where even Oshima wanted to oust him.

Where's the source on the first part? We know of the Balan situation (or at least part of it; uncovering everything is ongoing), but I've heard nothing of the former. If this is about Oshima leaving Sonic Team in '99, I'm pretty sure that was just because the writing was on the wall for Sega and he (as well as various other figures at the company) jumped ship before they went down with it.

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13 minutes ago, azoo said:

IIRC he said this around the early 00s, which was around the time after Yasuhara left Sega and starting to work at Naughty Dog. I think his patriotism to Sega during a time the PS2 crushed the Dreamcast's chances of survival might've added a lot of salt to his view on the guy. lmao

That said, Yasuhara is an interesting case altogether. He kind of ignored anything else Sonic Team was doing in favor of trying to quality control the Sonic spinoffs, before getting burnt out and quitting.

I'm willing to bet there was some sort of bad blood between them over Naka and co wanting to do passion projects versus keeping the Sonic brand in good shape. On one hand, that responsible attitude could've saved the series multiple times over, but I also appreciate letting that team have creative freedom to not do Sonic every day of their lives. It's complicated.

Where's the source on the first part? We know of the Balan situation (or at least part of it; uncovering everything is ongoing), but I've heard nothing of the former. If this is about Oshima leaving Sonic Team in '99, I'm pretty sure that was just because the writing was on the wall for Sega and he (as well as various other figures at the company) jumped ship before they went down with it.

I had gotten it from Sonic Retro, but I guess I misremembered how it was worded or it was updated to include the idea it was rumors that they had bad blood. 

Though I didn't know Ohshima's name was removed from the credits of the DX port. But hey, I won't voice my theories why that was. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Are there any accounts of the development of Rodea that provide insight into how he was during his time at Prope? I'm guessing more of the same but with less corporate provocation? 

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What’s known about Rodea is that his team (Prope) got screwed over fiercely.

Kadokawa Games, the company Prope made the game under, let them design the game for Wii, as originally intended. Simultaneously, a version was being made for the 3DS by a team separate from Naka’s. However by the time the game was finishing production (2011-2012) we were moving towards the eighth video game generation, so Kadokawa cancelled the Wii release, delayed the game, and then commissioned a Wii U version.

Unfortunately, making it for the Wii U Gamepad meant a total redesign of the game as it was built for the Wii Remote. So Kadokawa ported the 3DS version (the one Naka and Prope had nothing to do with) to Wii U. As compensation, Kadokawa included the Wii version as a bonus disc for buying Rodea on Wii U, I’m guessing by request/demand of Naka.

Regardless of that the Wii U version not only far eclipsed the Wii version (for obvious reasons considering it was sold primarily as a Wii U game), but it was a vastly inferior game that critically flopped, and both Naka and Prope as a whole were associated with a version of the game they had no involvement in. Which burned all the more when the Wii version that a total of 3 people popped in to play had a much, much warmer reception.

So yeah. Kadokawa fucked them over big time. If you look into that company’s history, you may find they have a knack for that. I remember a few years after this happened there was a massive controversy about how they got rid of the entire staff that made their Kemono Friends franchise and kept making it without them. Don’t remember the details, though.

You see, it’s stories like this that make my feelings on Naka kind of complicated. The guy’s been a huge chode more often than not and has made some at times god-awful design and business decisions. But he’s also partly responsible for some of the best games out there, and has an incredibly unlucky break being fucked over by intense corporate meddling. I don’t necessarily feel bad for the guy (he’s VERY well off it seems), but his story does seem pretty multi-faceted in regards of its ups and downs, with many faults coming as much from himself as it is the people he works under. Same could be said of his successes.

What a colorful career, lmao.

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Naka's early work in Probe is probably some of the most admirable stuff I saw from him. The desire to use his philosophy for so many small scaled games with pretty inventive use of his resources was pretty genuine feeling. Especially since the team he was with was pretty small and intimate. 

It just felt like Naka working to his strengths ala the Master System days. 

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