The creator of Sonic The Hedgehog denies resurfaced allegations he got an old Sonic game cancelled by refusing to share the NiGHTS engine.
Earlier this week, Yuji Naka shared an old photo to celebrate the anniversary of NiGHTS Into Dreams. It went viral but for entirely wrong reasons, since Naka had blatantly cropped out the game’s co-creator and his former work colleague, Naoto Ohshima, out of the photo.
This seems to have opened the floodgates as Naka has candidly refuted old reports that he got Sonic X-treme cancelled for refusing to share the NiGHTS engine with the development team.
Long-time Sonic The Hedgehog fans will be familiar with this story but, for the uninitiated, Sonic X-treme was meant to be the first fully 3D Sonic game for the short-lived Sega Saturn.
It was in development at Sega’s American division, Sega Technical Institute, and while there were numerous other issues and setbacks that contributed to the game’s cancellation, Naka’s supposed involvement is perhaps the most well-known.
It’s believed that, at one point, the team requested use of the engine for NiGHTS, which was in development at Sonic Team in Japan around the same time.
The then Sega of America CEO Bernie Stolar (who sadly died only a couple weeks ago) agreed, but Naka was so adamant that they not use the engine, he threatened to quit Sega.
In a 2002 interview with fan site Sonic Stadium, producer Mike Wallis said ‘There was a big rivalry between Sega Japan and Sega America, and Yuji Naka hated SOA. So he went [to the head of SOJ at the time] and said ‘Look, I don’t want these guys to have the NiGHTS engine. I do not want them to have the NiGHTS technology. If you give it to them, I quit.’
So, how come Naka is commenting on these claims now? Well, after he unsubtly tweeted about how poorly he was treated during Balan Wonderworld’s development (which he was removed as director from), someone brought up the Sonic X-treme story in response, obviously to highlight Naka’s hypocrisy.
Naka says that anyone who tells the Sonic X-treme story is lying, except he does admit he didn’t want to share the engine with anyone else because ‘The NiGHTS I programmed was coded in full scratch assembly, so there is no way I could share that engine with people who are making it in C because they don’t understand it and the documentation doesn’t exist.’
He follows up with ‘NiGHTS’s program was so special that it’s impossible to use it for anything, and I have never even heard of anyone wanting to use it,’ essentially claiming he was never asked to begin with, though his first comment shows he wouldn’t have shared it if asked anyway.
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