Sega’s Toshihiro Nagoshi Reminisces About Sega’s Third-Party Shift And Work With Nintendo

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In an interview with Sega Chief Creative Officer Toshihiro Nagoshi, he reminisced about Sega leaving the console hardware business and going third party, as well as the first periods of working together with Nintendo. [Thanks, Famitsu!]


Here are the highlights:

On Super Monkey Ball:

What did you make of [the announcement that Sega was leaving the console hardware industry], Nagoshi-san?

Toshihiro Nagoshi, Sega CCO: “Back then I was working on arcade games, and wasn’t really in the thick of Dreamcast development, so I only thought it was a bit of shame, but not really that strongly. However, when I thought, “Hey, Sega’s becoming a pure software developer”, I began to be interested in console games. I realized that we were now able to make games for other company’s hardware. And so, we immediately went to Nintendo.”


That was quick. (laughs)

Nagoshi: “They were like, “Are you making a racing game? A fighting game?”, but I decided on making Super Monkey Ball.”


Why didn’t you make a game in a genre you specialized in?

Nagoshi: “When thinking of where to begin playing our hand, I prioritized making a family game rather than something more specialized. I mean, it was Nintendo hardware… In that sense, you could say that I didn’t really get that we were now making games with Sega’s name on the line. (laughs)”


Well, why not? (laughs)

Nagoshi: “Personally, I wanted to gain experience by making Super Monkey Ball. But then it didn’t sell locally. I thought, “Now we’ve done it”, but then it took off overseas. Still, honestly I don’t know why it sold well. In the midst of that, Sega’s president called and praised me, saying, “You really took the overseas market into account!”, and of course, I said yes. (laughs)”


On Nintendo and Sega’s differences:

Nagoshi: “Afterwards, we worked even closely with Nintendo, such as porting Virtua Striker and making F-Zero GX. At that time, we were contracted to develop F-Zero series, and we were lucky to be able to learn from Nintendo’s game creation philosophy. With things like Mario Club, and the differences between Sega and Nintendo’s ways of making games.”


Are they that different?

Nagoshi: “Completely different. Thanks to that I was able to see what Sega was missing, and also see Sega’s good points. Although if you had to ask which one’s the right answer, I’d have to say that there’s no correct answer. As expected, both companies had their own culture.”


To go into detail, what was so amazing about Nintendo?

Nagoshi: “Their way of thinking towards holisticness and versatility was rock-solid. They didn’t really care about “whether things had a convenient excuse” or not. Being inclusive for everyone was something already assumed from the start, and this was something that was set in stone. Furthermore, this sort of thinking was found practiced by everyone from the top brass to the newcomers. It wasn’t just something said by the higher-ups and never practiced. Their unity is amazing. I thought, “If they have this way of thinking, no wonder Sega wasn’t able to beat them on hardware.””


So it was like, “As expected of Nintendo”.

Nagoshi: “Compared to Nintendo, Sega is a more “flashy” company. But because we’re more “flashy”,  we’re able to go at ideas with a more lighthearted attitude. If we didn’t have this sort of attitude, I don’t think I would have been able to keep working here. Perhaps if I had joined Nintendo, I would have left this industry long ago.” (laugh)

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Alistair Wong
Very avid gamer with writing tendencies. Fan of Rockman and Pokémon and lots more!