If you’re like me who wasn’t able to visit GDC this year and are hoping to find a way to watch the GDC talk on Sonic the Hedgehog. You’re in luck as GDC has begun uploading this year’s panels, along with the Sonic GDC panel, onto their website the GDC Vault. The video has been made available for free viewing on their website and may even appear on their YouTube channel. Currently the GDC Vault does not allow video embed, so you’ll have to go over to their site by clicking on the image above or one of the many convenient links like this one here.
In case you missed it, Naoto Oshima and Hirokazu Yasuhara hosted a panel talking about their perspective on the creation of the character, what made him stand out as well as the game design and art direction that brought us the Mega Drive/Genesis title. Previously we were only given a glimpse thanks to the efforts of Frank Cifaldi on Twitter. Now we are able to witness more with an edited video that presents the two speakers along with their slides for easy viewing. The Q&A session follows after the panel, plus a bonus speed drawing from both Oshima and Yasuhara.
The GDC Vault is home to plenty of talks that range from game development tactics, to important topics and postmortems of other games. Some panels will require a paid subscription for viewing. You can watch the Sonic panel or other panels from this year’s conference here.
[Source: GDC Vault]
When people tell the short version of the development of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, there are usually two names dropped: Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima. The former, though starting out as a programmer, soon became the figurehead of Sonic Team, his smiling mug plastered all over any material regarding the behind-the-scene events. The latter, of course, being the man who designed the characters including the star. However, there was a third man who, one could argue, shaped the title into the addictive game that people still play to this day. That man’s name is Hirokazu Yasuhara, who was the lead Game Planner of the original Mega Drive quartet, as well as the Director to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. While the designs to the characters were amazing, and there was a solid engine being built around it, the actual layout of the game would have been very, very different had Yasuhara not been there to design those level maps that have been burned into our minds over the last two decades. Who knows how things would have gone if he had flown to the United States when he originally planned instead of being delayed to shape one of the biggest video game franchises of all time?
That is why this news, for anyone who was there during the height of the Mega Drive’s success, is a bit crazy to take in. As of today, reported on Gamasutra and confirmed by his own LinkedIn page, Hirokazu Yasuhara is now employed at Nintendo Software Technology, a subsidiary of Nintendo of America. Best known for their work on the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, nothing has been said of what plans Nintendo has in store for the former Sega employee. Since he’s still in the United States, its very unlikely that he’ll have any role in one of the main Super Mario titles, but still. If you were to tell any 90’s kid that the man responsible for the layout of everything from the Green Hill Zone to Death Egg would one day be working at the house Mario built, would they have believed it?