An interview has been published online from way back in 2001 between Sonic creator Yuji Naka and legendary Nintendo developer Shigeru Miyamoto. In the interview Sega developer Yuji Naka states that his intentions weren’t to beat Nintendo, but to make games that could stand shoulder to shoulder with theirs. The interview was conducted by Japanese gaming publication Famitsu right before the Japanese release of Sonic Advance back in December 2001.
Naka: Since the beginning, Sega has been saying “we need to beat Nintendo!” But my intention wasn’t really to “beat” Nintendo, but to make games that could stand shoulder to shoulder with theirs. If you try to make the exact same thing you’ll never win; you’ve got pursue a different path. That was our thinking when we made Sonic… but of course, when Miyamoto showed me new games like Mario 64, I realized we were lagging behind again! Just when I thought we were on par, he goes and puts out an amazing game like that.
Miyamoto: Well, whether you’re leading or trying to play catch up, I think that’s ultimately something that the players decide. We’re not exactly sitting cross-legged in some zen pose either; we’re diligently trying to stay ahead! (laughs) You overtook us in a big way in America, after all.
Naka: But Mario has sold 100 million copies. We can’t compete with that!
Miyamoto: Our thinking about that is the same as Namco’s. In their development process, they always spend a lot of time in the final tune-up phase. They’re very smart about programming there. So, in our own way, we too take a lot of time with game balancing: it’s like, “ok everyone, time for the tune-up!” That thinking derives from a saying we have at Nintendo: “it takes 5 years to build your brand, but only 2 to ruin it.”
Naka: I would love to work with Miyamoto on a game, at least once. I’m really interested in the details of your development process.
Naka: I’d like to see Sonic in a Smash Bros. game someday. (laughs) Actually, I talked about it at Space World with the director of the last Smash Bros. He said “I wish you’d have said something sooner!” (laughs)
Miyamoto: Well, if Sega is ok with it, we can add him anytime. I like that idea! (laughs)