Yuji Naka interview by Sega.com (June 14, 2003)
From Sonic Retro
Sega.com: Over the past 10 years Sonic has remained one of the industry's most popular mascots. What do you think contributes to Sonic's popularity?
Yuji Naka: I guess he was well received by everyone due to his speed, style and attitude.
Sega.com: Were there any particular problems you had to overcome in creating Sonic?
Yuji Naka: It was difficult to create a character that can please children from all over the world, because we had an idea of the worldwide evolution for Sonic. We concentrated on creating simplicity and the impact of colors.
Yuji Naka: We think up characters from the game system. For example, Knuckles needed to break walls and Tails, to fly in the sky. Cream is a sweet girl who has a Chao as a partner. However, if she attacks the enemy by herself, it can damage her image, so we decided that she takes the offensive using her Chao. By the way, the name Cheese was taken from "Cream Cheese".
Sega.com: How do you and your team usually brainstorm for the creation of Sonic games?
Yuji Naka: We have discussions such as, "I would like the next Sonic to be one that will surprise all" and "How about the game system?," etc., but at this stage, rogue ideas will come out, too, which would never have been imagined from the ordinary Sonic.
Sega.com: You will soon make many people very happy with the release of Sonic Heroes on all platforms. What particular challenges are involved in bringing Sonic to the three different platforms?
Yuji Naka: Considering the release on the three platforms, we would like more people to enjoy the Sonic title. Although there are performance differences among them, we are going to create versions that differ from each other as little as possible. It is because we are working toward the goal that everyone can play the same game -- we would like everyone to be happy, whichever platform they own.
Sega.com: You've mentioned that trends in the movie and videogame industry are particularly interesting to you. Would you ever like to see Sonic on the Big Screen?
Yuji Naka: I definitely want to see him on the Big Screen! The animated TV series "Sonic X" has started in Japan and is scheduled to begin being aired in the USA and Europe around the end of the year. If it is a hit, the movie version may become possible. This is an old story from about 10 years ago, but there were talks of making a Hollywood film of Sonic several times, so I hope it will be realized. I want Sonic to become a sleeper hit.
Sega.com: When Sonic and his friends sit down to eat after a long hard day of chasing Dr. Eggman, what do they like to eat?
Yuji Naka: They probably eat McDonald's® hamburgers, I suppose? And I think they will get a complete line-up of Happy Meal® premiums.
Sega.com: We get a whole lot of letters on this one: Do you think Sonic and Amy Rose will ever get married?
Yuji Naka: There will be hardly be any chance, I bet. Amy will continue to pursue Sonic all the time, but Sonic will not ever get married. I think so, because I cannot picture the image of Sonic that he is married and has his children! Also, I feel it is a more Amy's style to always chase Sonic.
Sega.com: Is Sonic excited about being on all of the platforms in Sonic Heroes? What about it thrills him the most?
Yuji Naka: Of course he is excited, because more people than ever before will enjoy his game. He seems thrilled to be able to run on the various platforms!
Sega.com: What is Sonic's favorite thing to do in his free time?
Yuji Naka: ...I feel certain that he is running somewhere, because he loves running.
Sega.com: Sonic sure is busy -- how many hours of sleep does he need per night?
Yuji Naka: Hmm, I suppose he sleeps the ordinary eight hours a night or so, because unless he sleeps well, lack of sleep will affect his run...
Sega.com: Did Sonic have a hand in changing Dr. Robotnik's name to Dr. Eggman for the United States games? If so, was he trying to make fun of his nemesis?
Yuji Naka: To tell the truth, his name has not changed. Robotnik is his real name and Eggman is a common name taken after his shape. Possibly, it may have been Sonic, who uttered this alias for the first time! I feel, though, Sonic uses this name affectionately, rather than trying to make fun of him.
- Original Interview at Angel Island Interviews.