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Thread: Thoughts on Yuji Naka?

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    The Future is Yesterday Hedgehog-in-TrainingESWAT Veteran Leynos's Avatar
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    Sonic Thoughts on Yuji Naka?

    The latest reports have it that Yuji Naka is no longer with Square Enix. It's unclear if he was fired or resigned but it's safe to say it ties in with Balan Wonderworld failing. So once again he is off to whatever is next.

    Yuji Naka has a spotty record and since leaving SEGA it seems he can't quite get his footing back. To be fair the same can be said about many once big names of the 90s/2000s. Even Yu Suzuki. Has Naka lost it? Did he ever truly have it?


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    Social Justice Ninja Master of Shinobi IrishNinja's Avatar
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    havnet played this new one & i know it's universally being panned...i've also not played much of rodea, let's tap etc so i can only speak so much on those.

    but as someone grateful to see the mocking of the "sonic was never good" crowd in recent years, the idea that naka never had it is revisionist at best - didn't he design the incredible first person dungeons of phantasy star 1? sonic levels still deserve praise for the way they encourage/reward exploration, as well as speed in certain stages...and nights still doesn't get its flowers, but i play that one at least every christmas. i still think space harrier is easily the best of the SMS suzuki ports, burning rangers was ahead of its time, and i lost so much time to PSO and chu chu rocket, on and offline. i get that people can be past their prime, especially with smaller studios/resources, but if that man didn't have "it", few can say they ever did.


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    Master of Shinobi Soulis's Avatar
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    He once made one great tech demo that was the reason Sonic exists. Though he was not Sonic's sole creator afaik. So i'm not sure how much of the game is his own creation. Still, that was a big deal since Sonic pretty much helped Sega "beat" Nintendo. But that was then.

    He is a great programmer, i can't argue that. Sonic was an amazing technical achievement in 1991. The sequel even more so.

    But as a director/creative? Way overrated IMO.


    Quote Originally Posted by IrishNinja View Post
    the idea that naka never had it is revisionist at best - didn't he design the incredible first person dungeons of phantasy star 1? sonic levels still deserve praise for the way they encourage/reward exploration, as well as speed in certain stages...
    How much of that was designed by Naka though? Did he do any of the level designs himself? I'm afraid the aspects you praise the most are made by people who nobody knows.

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    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soulis View Post
    He once made one great tech demo that was the reason Sonic exists. Though he was not Sonic's sole creator afaik. So i'm not sure how much of the game is his own creation. Still, that was a big deal since Sonic pretty much helped Sega "beat" Nintendo. But that was then.

    He is a great programmer, i can't argue that. Sonic was an amazing technical achievement in 1991. The sequel even more so.

    But as a director/creative? Way overrated IMO.




    How much of that was designed by Naka though? Did he do any of the level designs himself? I'm afraid the aspects you praise the most are made by people who nobody knows.
    I don't know, the stuff he did as a director/producer at Sega was still pretty good. I think like most people he needs a good team working with him, as well as management above him to encourage his good ideas while curbing his more silly whims. For every good game Sonic Team made in the 90s and early 2000's, we don't know how many truly awful ideas that were pitched and got shot down.

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    Social Justice Ninja Master of Shinobi IrishNinja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soulis View Post
    How much of that was designed by Naka though? Did he do any of the level designs himself? I'm afraid the aspects you praise the most are made by people who nobody knows.
    eh, point taken - carol yas & hirokazu yasuhara likely deserve more credit, and it's fair to say no one person creates a game - but i do think it's fair to point out that we'd not have those masterpieces the way we got them without his vision. also? looking forward to the collection coming up, because 3/S&K are the series' peak and i never get why they're not often recognized as such.


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    ESWAT Veteran Team Andromeda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soulis View Post
    How much of that was designed by Naka though? Did he do any of the level designs himself? I'm afraid the aspects you praise the most are made by people who nobody knows.
    You can say that about many games and their lead producers or directors none of whom usually level designers. Do you really think that Cory Barlog made GOW levels for example that Miyamoto designed all Mario levels?
    I've always said Naka-san should never be made head of the Sonic Team and that role should have always gone to Yoji Ishii, Naka-san should have gone to work in SEGA technical dept, but that's way in the past

    I respected his skills as a programmer very much mind, before Sonic many people were saying in the press, that the Snes was going to outshine the Mega Drive once it got more established and it was going to be tough for the MD. Sonic game along and showed unprecedented levels of Mega Drive graphics and speed, that the MD couldn't just match the SNES but outclass it too for platform graphics and his NiGHTS engine was super impressive on the Saturn and the DC and those 3D sections in PS were like magic on the MS back in the day
    But Naka-san is too much of a cry baby to be a team player a lot of time and was never ever at Yu 'GOD' Suzuki levels for me and it seemed to me that he lost his mojo when he was no longer working on SEGA own hardware and I think that is true for a number of SEGA staff, while other's embraced being multi-platform That said I've never been the biggest fan of Nagoshi-san either and he's another one that's said hard to deal with at times

    I don't agree with the outcry over Blam and its sad how many of SEGA big players just haven't been able to work their magic outside of the SEGA group. I'm sure he'll get a role somewhere maybe even back at the Sonic Team or maybe Naka-san will just call it a day.
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    The Gentleman Thief Baloo's Avatar
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    Naka hasnt had a truly great game since Sonic 3 and Knuckles in my opinion. What did people expect? His Petty infighting with Sega over the NiGHTS engine is one of many moves that potentially derailed the entire company. Nights and Burning Rangers, though I played the heck out of both games, are not all that great, though they are creative. I hate the Sonic Adventure series.

    Yu Suzuki I think is more of a visionary because he stuck with what made his games unique and fun, as much as I find Shenmue boring. Outrun translated extremely well to 3D. Sonic needed two fan creators to bring the series back to glory. I think STI and Roger Hector deserve as much credit as Yuji Naka for making Sonic a global brand.
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    Yuji Naka is one of the greatest of all time, but yeah Balan Wonderworld was awful.

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    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingMaster of Shinobi Gryson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baloo View Post
    His Petty infighting with Sega over the NiGHTS engine is one of many moves that potentially derailed the entire company.
    Wow - it's interesting how this story continues to grow ('derailed the entire company'? seriously?).

    He didn't let the Sonic X-Treme team use a level editor. If the completion of your game (after two years of development) depends on someone else's level editor, then you're doing something seriously wrong.

    Mike Wallis:

    "they shipped us a NiGHTS editor, a level-based editor and our designers where familiarizing themselves with that, and after about two-weeks, Yuji Naka who was the designer of NiGHTS, and one of the original SonicTeam, had said "No"."

    They never had access to the X-Treme engine.

    It's seriously amazing that people are so willing to forgive the atrocious development of Sonic X-Treme and place all of the blame on Yuji Naka, who wasn't even involved in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    Wow - it's interesting how this story continues to grow ('derailed the entire company'? seriously?).

    He didn't let the Sonic X-Treme team use a level editor. If the completion of your game (after two years of development) depends on someone else's level editor, then you're doing something seriously wrong.

    Mike Wallis:

    "they shipped us a NiGHTS editor, a level-based editor and our designers where familiarizing themselves with that, and after about two-weeks, Yuji Naka who was the designer of NiGHTS, and one of the original SonicTeam, had said "No"."

    They never had access to the X-Treme engine.

    It's seriously amazing that people are so willing to forgive the atrocious development of Sonic X-Treme and place all of the blame on Yuji Naka, who wasn't even involved in it.
    Yes and he made the right decision by telling them "no". When a project has gone two years with little to show for it, it's time to cut your losses, not start over with yet another engine.

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    The Future is Yesterday Hedgehog-in-TrainingESWAT Veteran Leynos's Avatar
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    Not putting all the blame on Naka here but SEGA gave them 1 dev kit. They had no experience with 3D. Deadlines kept changing. SEGA was just as much at fault as anyone. That said. Shows why one of their biggest competitors since day 1 is still making consoles. Nintendo stepped in on Retro Studios and fixed that mess. Nintendo shares dev tools across the company and is willing to pull any people needed from one place to assist in another. SEGA was just not very well organized. While Naka refused. SEGA didn't supply them with enough dev kits. Put inexperienced people in charge. Some got deathly ill. No one person deserves blame on Xtreme. Just a top-to-the-bottom shit show.

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    The Gaming Gangsta Master of Shinobi profholt82's Avatar
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    He made some popular Sonic games 25 years ago, was put on a pedestal by many as a result, and has made a mountain of mediocrity since. A similar career trajectory to that of other successful 16-bit console programmers who fizzled out as the hardware became more powerful and complex, and customer tastes changed.

    Also, am I the only one who thought it was Yu Jinaka? (Like Yu Suzuki). I guess I've only heard people say his name, and not seen it written.

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    End of line.. Hero of Algol gamevet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baloo View Post
    Naka hasnt had a truly great game since Sonic 3 and Knuckles in my opinion. What did people expect? His Petty infighting with Sega over the NiGHTS engine is one of many moves that potentially derailed the entire company. Nights and Burning Rangers, though I played the heck out of both games, are not all that great, though they are creative. I hate the Sonic Adventure series.

    Yu Suzuki I think is more of a visionary because he stuck with what made his games unique and fun, as much as I find Shenmue boring. Outrun translated extremely well to 3D. Sonic needed two fan creators to bring the series back to glory. I think STI and Roger Hector deserve as much credit as Yuji Naka for making Sonic a global brand.
    Naka is nothing compared to Yu Suzuki. Yu pretty much put Sega's arcade division at the top for nearly 2 decades.
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    ESWAT Veteran Team Andromeda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gamevet View Post
    Naka is nothing compared to Yu Suzuki. Yu pretty much put Sega's arcade division at the top for nearly 2 decades.
    THIS!!!
    Yu Suzuki put SEGA on the map and his 80's Arcade games made SEGA a powerhouse and brought in tons of cash that allowed them to expand both their consumer and Amusement divisions

    Quote Originally Posted by profholt82 View Post
    He made some popular Sonic games 25 years ago, was put on a pedestal by many as a result, and has made a mountain of mediocrity since. A similar career trajectory to that of other successful 16-bit console programmers who fizzled out as the hardware became more powerful and complex, and customer tastes changed.
    I feel the same about Dave Perry in that he was also an amazing programmer in the 16 bit age but never could recapture than magic or just didn't seem cut out to run a team, Jon Burton on the other could do both to a top standard
    It's sad also what happened with John O'Brien he was a programmer who most prob pushed the Mega Drive more than either Naka-san or Perry but ended up running his own cafe in Ireland, still as long as you are happy I guess





    Quote Originally Posted by axel View Post
    Yes and he made the right decision by telling them "no". When a project has gone two years with little to show for it, it's time to cut your losses, not start over with yet another engine.
    I was interested to read in Retro Gamer a couple of years back with both Job Burton and Kat's Sato confirmed and backed up what SEGA Europe Andy Mee said (way back in the day to mean Machines SEGA) Sonic X was cancelled because the game wasn't very good and didn't reach a decent standard. That shouldn't excuse Naka-san mind, the engine/debug belongs to SEGA and not to Naka-san and it's up to SEGA, how any of its engine made in House in SEGA, was to be used between the teams

    Not that it would make any difference mind, the game was in a mess from start to finish. The same game designed to run on 3 different systems (4 if you included the Mega Drive) using 2 different engines and the team split for the same game? and with nearly 2 years of work didn't even have what anyone could call a completed level with full enemy placements. To think that using the NiGHTS engine and debug unit was going to fix all those issues in less than 6 months is fantasy, never mind I've never seen a so called 'elite' team needed to go running to another developer to use their engine and set up because their own tech doesn't cut it back at those times.
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    I got the impression that his ego far outweighs his ability. Sonic games are well known for being buggy, and always had collision bugs even back in the Genesis days. Sonic 3 had it so bad the manual explicitly called it out that if you get stuck in the wall, it's a diabolical trap by Robotnik that you can only escape by reseting the console.

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