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Thread: Alex Kidd in Miracle World was originally a Dragon Ball game

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    Wildside Expert Txai's Avatar
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    Default Alex Kidd in Miracle World was originally a Dragon Ball game

    From the Untold History of Japanese Developers vol 3:

    Sega were planning on making a Dragon Ball game... I guess this happened long enough ago that it's okay for me to talk about this! The project began as a Dragon Ball title, not as a direct competitor to Super Mario Bros.
    But when we were told we could not use the Dragon Ball licence any more, we were forced to come up with our own ideas instead. For example, when it was Dragon Ball, Goku fought with his Power Pole, but we changed that to a punch attack. It was only after we came up with the plan to restart the project as Alex Kidd in Miracle World that we starting thinking about Mario, and looking for ways in which to differentiate the title from it.

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-Training Centrale's Avatar
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    That's true! The planner's name is Kotaro Hayashida, and he's had a very interesting career. Other games he's designed or been a part of development include PitPot, Zillion, Phantasy Star, Sonic the Hedgehog, Shining in the Darkness, Landstalker, Grandia and more. He really should be more well-known, but seems reluctant to be in the spotlight, so to speak. (The author mentions just getting him to pose for a photograph was difficult.)

    There's all kinds of amazing information in The Untold History of Japanese Developers. I've been thoroughly enjoying reading through each volume!

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    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingRoad Rasher Gryson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Centrale View Post
    That's true! The planner's name is Kotaro Hayashida, and he's had a very interesting career. Other games he's designed or been a part of development include PitPot, Zillion, Phantasy Star, Sonic the Hedgehog, Shining in the Darkness, Landstalker, Grandia and more. He really should be more well-known, but seems reluctant to be in the spotlight, so to speak. (The author mentions just getting him to pose for a photograph was difficult.)

    There's all kinds of amazing information in The Untold History of Japanese Developers. I've been thoroughly enjoying reading through each volume!
    What did Kotaro Hayashida have to do with the development of Landstalker?

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-Training Centrale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    What did Kotaro Hayashida have to do with the development of Landstalker?
    In the interview he's asked about both Landstalker and Shining Force appearing on his resume/portfolio. "You were involved with Landstalker and Shining Force?" And he answers, "I was - I oversaw both. Well, I only had to oversee the production of them. <laughs>"

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    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingRoad Rasher Gryson's Avatar
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    I see. So he was a production manager at Sega. He didn't participate in the creative development of those games, but instead coordinated things such as finances, marketing, and so on with outside studios. It seems like his development career mostly ended in the late 80s (not to downplay his contributions as production manager...).

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-Training Centrale's Avatar
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    Well, in the interview he goes on to say something to the effect that he wasn't happy about some restructuring that was going on at Sega in the mid-90s. And he was a bit too vocal about his unhappiness, which didn't help matters. So he had been shifted over to more administrative roles, and he missed the creative side of things. As a result he left Sega and ended up at Game Arts, where he was more involved in the creative aspects again, and there he worked on Grandia, a couple of Gungriffon titles, and a Bomberman game. At the time of the interview (2013) he had founded a new company called Liber Entertainment, but I'm not sure what they've done.

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert OmegaMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OmegaMax View Post
    That's his site. Strangely, his bio lists "Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive): Planning, Game design" but he's not listed at all in the game credits and I've never heard of his involvement. I wonder what the story is there.

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-Training Centrale's Avatar
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    The author inquires about a statement he made in an interview in the book Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works. In that book, Hayashida stated, "The idea to create Sonic the Hedgehog was also mine. It is my understanding that a lot of the ideas for Sonic were inherited from what might have been further Alex Kidd installments. Back then I was working as head of the department. I let Hirokazu Yasuhara lead with the content specifications, but I created the initial concept. I set the project up to foster a response to Mario. We had to develop a platform game with a striking appearance in order to compete against games like Mario 3. In contrast to Mario we created a world with curved landscapes and gave Sonic a speedy feel."

    So in The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Vol. 3, the author asks about this - "What parts did you create, and what came from Yuji Naka, Naoto Ohshima, and Hirokazu Yasuhara?" and Hayashida states, "I was in charge of product concepts. So the "sense of speed," and "curved design," along with the player character to go with these concepts (a hedgehog), and the parts that made up the game levels (pinball, etc.) Yasuhara worked on game design using those concepts, Ohshima worked on character design, and Naka was in charge of the game's programming."

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    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingRoad Rasher Gryson's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    I don’t know, I think he might be a bit insincere in giving himself so much credit for the design of Sonic. It’s not clear from his response: is he saying that he came up with those concepts? Or he was in charge of the people that came up with them? If the former, it contradicts a lot of the more detailed history we’ve gotten from Naka and Ohshima.

    For example, Naka said the following in regards to the “sense of speed”: “…during the porting of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on the Mega Drive, I said to myself: ‘Why not accelerate the scrolling speed to go through the levels more quickly?’ If you ask me why, well actually at the time, I was having a lot of fun playing Super Mario Bros., but I wanted to finish the game more quickly! This is the real starting point that led to the creation of Sonic. If I hadn’t worked on the port of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Sonic would have probably never existed.” (Continue 11/2001, translated in the History of Sonic)

    Ohshima has also mentioned taking his designs for curvy landscapes to Naka, and together they began developing the game as a pair (before Yasuhara was involved).

    It’s also unlikely that Hayashida came up with the hedgehog concept, since the whole mascot contest thing has been well-documented.

    The fact is that he’s never been credited with any of this and has never been mentioned by any of the game’s creators.

    Maybe Naka is referring to him here? “A senior colleague suggested that the next project should be an action game, so Naoto Ohshima and I embarked on Sonic together.” (Collected Works)

    Or perhaps here, in not a very positive light: “While my development team and I were satisfied with the quality of [Sonic], the reception from other people in the company—including the supervisor at the time—was not very positive. That was one of the main reasons I left SEGA of Japan after Sonic 1.” (History of Sonic)

    Hayashida began crediting himself with the design of Sonic when he launched his company, so it very well could be exaggeration designed to generate publicity for his company (and in fact, most of the articles about his company mention the Sonic bit). I don’t doubt he was a manager involved with Sonic, but it would be nice to have some independent confirmation of his role in the development. He just seems a bit too eager to place his name in the credits of games like Sonic and Shining Force (which wasn’t even developed by Sega).

    I guess this post comes off as quite negative about the guy, but there have been quite a lot of people trying to lay claim to credit for various aspects of Sonic in the past, and without evidence it’s hard to know what to think.

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-Training Centrale's Avatar
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    Yeah, I really don't know - you could be right, but I could see it going the other way as well. Japanese developers used to prohibit their staff from putting their real names in the credits of games until the early to mid-90s. Maybe in the past he hasn't been properly credited for things that he was involved in. If that's the case, it is now particularly hard to set the record straight as people take what they've already heard as the definitive truth. I'm not a huge follower of the Sonic series, but I do remember that it was Yuji Naka who initially got all the publicity as the "creator" of Sonic in the 90s. It wasn't until years later that I ever heard of Naoto Ohshima, or learned of Mark Cerny's subsequent involvement, etc.

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    Well, in Japanese publications at least, both Naka and Ohshima were credited as the creators from even before Sonic's release (as Yu2 and Big Island, word-plays on their Japanese names). They've repeated the creation of Sonic in countless interviews in both English and Japanese and have never once (to my knowledge) mentioned Hayashida by name. Sonic does have credits (Naka famously put them in black text on a black background) and Hayashida isn't even 'thanked' (he is listed under the 'thanks' for Shining Force, though).

    But if I'm reading Hayashida's quote correctly, he is claiming credit for pretty much EVERYTHING that was Sonic (speed, curvy landscape, hedgehog character, pinball mechanics). It's just too hard to believe without independent confirmation. Meanwhile, he has good motive to stretch the truth about his involvement to promote his company.

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-Training Centrale's Avatar
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    Hmm, I don't read it in quite the same way. I interpreted it as him saying that he came up with very general concepts - aside from the specificity of the hedgehog character. I expect the truth is somewhere in between what everyone has said. Yuji Naka has had his own motivations to self-promote throughout his career, but as we saw with his company Prope, on his own he didn't come up with particularly popular characters or gameplay concepts. I don't really have a dog in this race, though. The more interviews and the more documentation, the better.

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