2001: Sonic Creator Says He Wanted To Make Games That Could Stand Shoulder To Shoulder With Nintendo

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)


  1. Sonic games just need better direction.

    A Sonic game made by Platinum Games could be awesome.

    1. Hell, I’d like anybody to make a sonic game that isn’t B.R.B. Sonic Team hasn’t had a good track record in the 21st century so far.
      (I did like the Adventure games, flawed or not. Colors and Generations were also fantastic.)
      The freedom planet guys should make a sonic game.

  2. Wow this pretty much outlines the beginning of Sonic being in Smash Bros., and I think Sega is finally shoulder to shoulder with Nintendo with the advent of Sonic Boom.

    1. You must exist in a parallel lagging universe. Super Mario galaxy says hello to Sonic.


    2. What’re you talking about? I don’t think Sonic is shoulder to shoulder with Mario in any case. There was a brief moment in the early 2000s where Sonic did stand tall next to Mario, but the quality of his games just kept diminishing from there on, while Mario games consistently delivered great gameplay, fun, and quality.

      1. Stfu sonic has fans just like mario shut your big pue hole Woie Zowie ur opinion aint wirt a shit shut up damn u

          1. Shut yo big fat pie hole goddamit sega is just as good as nintendo at last used to be you doushbag

  3. The very reason people liked Sonic to begin with is because it didn’t emulate Mario. Of course, in the process, it sacrificed so many of the gameplay elements that make the best of the Mario games. A Sonic game couldn’t stand “shoulder to shoulder” to Nintendo’s best without sacrificing so much of what makes it its own entity.

    1. In that statement, it also misses the point of sonic’s games. The idea of sonic is about multiple pathes and finding the best route. Sonic is a game about smart and interesting platforming. The speed was designed to show the power of the genesis, but also to give sonic some flair. That’s why the shameless 90’s animal mascot games failed. Mario’s games are more designed around same concepts of levels, while sonic (at least compared with the 2d games.) Sonic 1 is dated compared to the sequels, but it has to be, because of how good the sequels are (I.E: comparing Mario 1 to Mario 3.)

      I think you shouldn’t dismiss sonic that easy. People liked sonic because he was original, unique, and well designed.

    1. Should we send Adult Link back so as he can give them some Vicks or icy hot to soothe the discomfort. Hahahahahahahahahaha your comment has me in stitches.


    1. That’s because he’s an icon… That’s like saying Mario is overhyped.
      Also you said Sonic was garbage, but had good games? I don’t understand what you’re saying.

  4. The soinc team that made the shining force games original sonic games and landstalker and other classic genesis games is just as good as any nintendo game creator thhete ever was but the original sonic team broke up years ago

    1. Most of the kids on here won’t remember Genesis or Saturn.
      Those were awesome game systems, back then Nintendo and Sega, were like Xbox and PlayStation.

        1. Yeah, but that’s like one game. I can think of other hiccups caused by Miyamoto, but for every mistake, there’s at least 100 great things he’s done. Everyone makes mistakes, I think it would be foolish to expect his decisions to be flawless. Even with that said though, it doesn’t make Sticker Star anymore fun. :(

      1. Miyanato also gave boy pop cycle and Mical Jackson Cd…gameing died in 1995…im the legendary joemana

  5. Well in think that Yuji himself can say that he had been shoulder to shoulder with nintendo… On genesis the original sonic trilogy (four if you count and knuckles as a separate game) was outstanding, he worked on phantasy star I and II which are awesome rpgs and he creates nights the only game that miyamoto once said that he would love to have created that game.
    So sad that the original sonic team isnt around and sega games sucks big piles of shit… I hope that Rodea would be an amazing game!!

  6. Sonic games always tried to change things up mechanic wise for many games instead of trying to polish gameplay many times. Mario games like Sonic had a good start, but mechanics were added and polished throughout Mario’s main series games like having new fun powerups like the super cape and great level design while Sonic tried lots of experimenting later that became hit or miss with certain games.

  7. If Sega COULD make games that were of quality comparable to Nintendo games, then I would buy them all up no questions asked. Sega has some of the best IPs in the world. They are just handled poorly. Even some of their mediocre games are pretty fun.

    Imagine if they could make really great games… we would be in heaven.

  8. It would be interesting to see what the gaming world would be like if Sega still manufactured gaming hardware along with Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony

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