Sega as a company has always fascinated me. From the hardware race of the ’90s to their extensive catalogue of properties, they’re right up there with Nintendo in a lot of ways. In the latest issue of Edge, Sega’s chief creative officer Toshihiro Nagoshi shared a lot of history from his career. Thanks to Resetera, we’ve got excerpts that tie into Nintendo in various ways, which help shed a little insight on the benefit of taking risks.

The largest portion of given info is for F-Zero GX, aka one of the finest and fastest racing games ever that anyone with a GameCube should experience. Speaking on comparisons between Sega and Nintendo and what it was like working with them, Nagoshi said the following:

Compared to us, in the big picture, we are similar. But in the finer details – their decision-making and timing – things are different, and I learned a lot from them. In short, it’s about objectivity. (…) It’s hard to describe, but when I’d say about some part of the game, “It’s okay like this, isn’t it?” they’d say, “Our company does not allow this kind of thing. Ever.” I didn’t manage to change their minds about anything. Not even once. But that’s why Nintendo has such a solid brand, even after all these years. That is why we lost the hardware war.

I really liked the Super Famicom game, and while we made a few proposals – Metroid for instance, and others – I was most confident in making a driving game because of my experience in the genre, though I’d never make a sci-fi one.

Even though we’d lost the war in the hardware market, I wanted Nintendo to see how great Sega was as a company. We made lots of characters and courses, and we did the best we could for the graphics using the best technology of the time.

Even though we’d tried really hard making games for Sega hardware, they never sold too well, but F-Zero sold over 1.5 M copies worldwide. We realised the only thing we needed to admit was that Sega did not have the ability to sell hardware (laughs). That as a developer (…) we did not need to be pessimistic at all.

After it released, I got a call from Nintendo. They said they wanted to see all the source code for the game, and wanted me to explain how we’d made that game, in that timeframe and with that budget, in detail. They were wondering how we’d done it – they couldn’t figure it out. We were able to achieve something a lot higher than what Nintendo had expected.

The idea of a Sega-made Metroid game, especially if it would’ve potentially supplanted Metroid Prime, could’ve been interesting, to say the least. The sense that Nintendo had to seek out how Sega managed to pull off GX the way they did is also noteworthy, especially with that being the last F-Zero game released, over 15 years ago.

Mr. Nagoshi also had a few words about Super Monkey Ball:

Around that time our CEO kept changing, and the newest one asked me why making games cost so much money. I told him we couldn’t do it any cheaper, but at the same time I was quite upset about it. I decided to make a game with minimum resource, minimum time and minimum budget.

(…) Looking back, that’s no way to work (laughs). But there are some huge fans of this game. When we gave up on making hardware, we knew the Gamecube was coming, and when it would be launched. We didn’t think we had enough time to get a game ready for release day, but (…) Super Monkey Ball came to mind. I think we had ten people on the game, maybe less. We made it just in time somehow.

And finally, the Yakuza series received some discussion with one point standing out in particular:

I’ve never said this before, but while we released this game with Sony, I’d done presentations about it to Microsoft and Nintendo. Back then they said “No we don’t want it.” Now they say, “We want it!” (laughs) They didn’t understand the reason why I created it.

Knowing that the series could’ve potentially come to Nintendo consoles is extra intriguing. While at the time it may have been passed on for content or demographic reasons, the series has gone on to be a consistent high seller in Japan with a growing international appreciation — who knows what the future may hold. I definitely suggest checking out the original Resetera post and the magazine itself for even more information.

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Written by Ricky Berg

When he isn’t writing for Nintendo Wire, Ricky’s anticipating the next Kirby, Fire Emblem, or if the stars ever align, Mother 3 to be released. Till then he’ll have the warm comfort of Super Smash Bros. to keep him going.

Ricky Berg