We talk to Sonic Team's Yuji Naka about Sonic Mega Collection and Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II.
We caught up with Sonic Team's Yuji Naka recently and had the chance to grill him about the studio's upcoming projects, Sonic Mega Collection and Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II. Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube collects the bulk of the blue hedgehog's exploits from the Genesis games, and Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II presents a new installment of Sonic Team's groundbreaking online console RPG for the Xbox and GameCube. We talked to him about developing both games and about what's in store for both franchises.
Sonic Mega Collection
GameSpot: How did you settle on which Sonic games to include?
Yuji Naka: I wanted to include all the Genesis games. I'd wanted to include Sonic CD, but I couldn't because of space constraints.
GS: Will the game support any kind of connectivity with the Game Boy Advance or e-Reader?
GS: Do those features interest you as a developer?
YN: Yes. We're researching what we can do with them in the future.
GS: How do you think the games hold up over time?
YN: I think they're a good way to teach people about Sonic's history. Although some say it's too much volume. [laughs] One game is big enough for someone to enjoy, but all of them together is a lot.
GS: Which is your favorite Sonic game out of the ones included in the collection?
YN: Probably the original. That was my first one, and it holds a lot of special memories.
GS: Do you have any memories of or interesting stories about working on the various games?
YN: Well not so much about making each of the games. But when we started gathering materials to include in the compilation, we actually had a hard time finding them. It's been 10 years since we made these games, and we really had to dig to find materials because Sega's not that good about keeping history. We really had a sense of accomplishment when we put it all together.
GS: Do you think there was anything else that could have been done with the series in 2D?
YN: Well actually it's easier for you to know what works and what doesn't in 2D. So I'd actually like to make more 2D games, but in terms of the market and people's expectations of graphics technology in a game, the demand is for 3D rather than 2D.
GS: Did you ever think when you were working on the original Sonic game that he would be this popular?
YN: Well I really didn't think so, although I hoped. Every time we made a game we wanted it to sell more than a million copies, but it's hard to expect that such a thing will actually happen.
GS: What have you learned from working on the Sonic games?
YN: Well I think interacting with children has taught me a lot. I talk to the children we bring in to test our games and look at the e-mails and pictures they send. We can't get to every single one, but we all try to look over as many as we can. I think they remind us to keep open minds and to think freely.
GS: What do you think the series has contributed to games and to the platforming genre?
YN: I don't think it contributed that much. I think, in terms of gameplay, we were probably influenced by others.
GS: What are you proudest of about the series?
YN: Well I think the original idea to create this game is something I can be proud of because of the characteristics and the style of the game and because no one has ever really copied what we've done.
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