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Yuji Naka

Interview: Done talking about Sonic

Sega legend Yuji Naka recently passed through a bitterly cold London town to pimp out his new game, Let's Tap, which is played without holding the controller. Sounds quirky but it just might work.

So where's the Sonic creator been since leaving the Sega fold in 2006 and starting out on his own? We thought he'd got lost but it seems not. Starting a new company can take a long time...

It's been a while since we've seen you out and about with Sega. Does it feel good to be at a press event again?

Yuji Naka: Prope is very closely linked with Sega and I'm really happy to be able to release a new title from Prope. It's good to have all these people come and see it too.


Why has it taken so long to bring the first Prope game out? We were about to call the police and report you missing...

Naka: Well it's taken a considerable amount of time to set up a new business and to attract new developers and get the right people together. It also took some time to come up with a completely new type of game. There was a process where there were other ideas we had but some didn't make it. It's been a long development process just to get to this point.

Well Let's Tap certainly looks different. Where did the idea come from?

Naka: Originally we were developing an action game and as part of that there was a test being done to find out about the sensitivity of the Wii Remote sensor.

While in talks with a developer I tapped on the Remote and it showed some reading. Through that we realised the Wii Remote was far more sensitive than first thought.

As an example you can be tapping a desk that the Remote is on and it will still pick up the vibrations. The sensitivity of the Remote picking up that vibration was the whole concept for the game.

Is the Wii's new, non-traditional audience the type of customer you're more interested in these days?

Naka: Our approach was 'what can be done with the technology', it wasn't that there was a specific kind of audience in mind. It was more of a case that through the dev process what came about is quite appealing to a broader audience. In hindsight that was ideal. But that wasn't intentional during initial development.

Are you involved at all in Sonic games these days?

Naka: Since leaving Sega in 2006 I haven't been involved in the Sonic development at all. It's all left in the capable hands of the Sonic Team. Prope was set up with the mission that I was going to make a new kind of game. At this event in London, it was the first time I had seen Sonic and The Black Knight for Wii.


Do you get bored being asked the same old questions about Sonic?

Naka: (Laughs) When I created Sonic people always asked me about how I came up with the idea a thousand times so I'm past caring about being asked the same questions these days. It's fine.

Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami recently said that he won't play Resi 5, because he'll "only see the things he would have done differently". Do you have a similar view about new Sonic games?

Naka: Yes, I have the same sentiments about that but perhaps not as strong a statement as that. I don't seek out new Sonic games and I'd rather not interfere with the new Sonic.

Do you miss working alongside new hardware?

Naka: Yes, I really do miss working next to hardware. That was how I worked with games development when I was at Sega. I hope that one day when Prope is really successful then I can branch into hardware (laughs).

Nice suit, by the way

Naka: (Laughs)

Find out What Let's Tap is all about here.