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Yuji Naka

Rodea: The Sky Soldier might be a bumpy ride

Jun 25 // Kyle MacGregor
Rodea: The Sky Soldier was initially conceived as a Wii game, but it came too late in the day for a system nearing the end of its life cycle. It needed to be reworked as a Wii U and 3DS title. The thing is, the Wii is a special console, and Rodea was developed with its unique attributes in mind. Motion controls are a tad different than standard inputs, and the transition between the two seems to have left an indelible imprint on Rodea's design. Taking to the skies in this aerial action game doesn't come as second nature. With the press of a button, Rodea lifts into the air and hovers for a moment as you aim where you want him to go. He can't fly indefinitely, though, and will fall to his death unless you find another object for him to bounce off within an allotted time frame. It seems like the type of interface that would work seamlessly with the Wii's IR pointer, but on Wii U GamePad, I found myself flying off at odd angles, often coming frustratingly close to objectives that seemed just out of reach. Perhaps it's the sort of thing that comes with practice, but in a brief demo on the E3 show floor, I only got a glimpse at what sort of joys Rodea might have to offer.  Though it never felt intuitive, there were flashes when I managed to soar through the air with some semblance of precision. And in those fleeting moments I could really feel Yuji Naka's (Sonic Adventure, NiGHTS into Dreams) fingerprints all over the game, as I bounded from one floating isle to the next, collecting rings in this ethereal obstacle course. More than anything, my time with Rodea: The Sky Soldier made me oddly happy the Wii U version is coming tethered with a copy of the game on Wii. I'm not sure how much easier it will be to pilot on its original platform, but it feels like that's how it was intended to be experienced. Either that or flight isn't a skill easily mastered in a few mere minutes.
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Awkward aeronautics
My first flight with Rodea: The Sky Soldier wasn't a smooth one. But perhaps that's to be expected of a title that's seen such a turbulent development history. The project went dark shortly after its initial announcement in 2010, then underwent a change of platforms -- something that seems all too apparent after a few minutes with the final product.

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Rodea release date

Rodea: The Sky Soldier lands on 3DS, Wii U, and even Wii in late September


A little bit NiGHTS into Dreams, a little bit Sonic
Apr 02
// Jordan Devore
In my mind, Rodea: The Sky Soldier has two things going for it. First, "Rodea" sounds like something that would get into a brawl with Godzilla, and I'm all about that. Second, this Wii U and 3DS title is centered on a sky kin...
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Yuji Naka makes a whale photographing game


Whale, whale, whale
Jan 03
// Dale North
Prope, the studio founded by Sonic the Hedgehog main programmer Yuji Naka, has just released a whale photographing game called Real Whales. Yep. This iOS and Android release lets you visit locations all over the world in you...
Rodea the Sky Soldier photo
Rodea the Sky Soldier

Yay! Yuji Naka's Rodea the Sky Soldier still exists!


3DS version is reportedly 70% complete
Jul 27
// Tony Ponce
Oh, wow! Never thought I'd hear about this guy again! What a pleasant surprise! About two and a half years back, Yuji Naka's Prope studio announced a new Wii / 3DS title called Rodea the Sky Soldier, which looked like a much...

Phantasy Star photo
Phantasy Star

Phantasy Star celebrates 25 years with a symphony


Sega will honor the series with the Sympathy concert
Mar 16
// Audun Sorlie
Looks like Sega is back to being awesome again. On March 30th they will be holding a very special one night symphonic tribute to the Phantasy Star series, promising special guests and music pieces from nearly all major Phanta...

Review: The History of Sonic The Hedgehog

Feb 27 // Tony Ponce
The History of Sonic The HedgehogEditor: Pix'n Love PublishingPublisher: UDON EntertainmentReleased: January 1, 2013MSRP: $49.99 Sonic The Hedgehog. The "The" is supposed to be capitalized. According to former SEGA of America head of marketing Al Nilsen, Sonic "was not just a hedgehog, but THE hedgehog" and that the three-letter article was essentially the speedster's middle name. Sonic's rise to fame is filled with many such wonderful bits of trivia, compiled from various print sources, interviews, websites, and documentaries over the past 20 years. A lot of the info is readily available knowledge, but you are still likely to trip over an obscure factoid now and then. The book itself is your archetypal coffee-table tome -- a thick hardcover binding that measures an almost square 9.25" X 8.5". Greeting you on the front is a classic-era Sonic, encircled by an iconic gold ring, while the reverse side plays host to Sonic's modern incarnation. Not that I really care one way or another who gets what spot on the cover, but I'm sure many of you will pleased that ol' daddy long legs was shunted to the rear. Flipping through the pages, however, you'll notice that the text and images have been laid out in a way that treats each two-page spread as a single "widescreen" page. This gives the book a much more expansive feel, and considering that Sonic's claim to fame is racing across wide open spaces, the design is quite appropriate. Oh, and there's a 16-bit sprite flip animation in the bottom-right corner. No biggie, but those always add an amusing touch. As mentioned already, The History of Sonic is split into three major parts: a written account of the Blue Blur's career, a listing of nearly every Sonic series game, and character bios and artwork. Inserted at the very end is a tiny section devoted to Sonic's cameo appearances in SEGA-developed software -- oddly enough, Sonic's very first appearance in a videogame was not in the original Sonic The Hedgehog but rather in the arcade racer Rad Mobile as a rear-view mirror tchotchke! Sonic's history is tied directly to that of his parent company, thus the book first explores the founding and early years of Service Games, known today as SEGA. We are also reacquainted with Sonic's predecessor, Alex Kidd, who failed to be the Mario-killer SEGA hoped for. Sonic is actually quite the anomaly when you think about it. Other attempts to best a popular videogame franchise -- so-called Zelda-killers, Halo-killers, and the like -- tend not to live up to the hype. In Sonic's case, he was carefully and meticulously constructed to be the "anti-Mario" in every way, but the planets aligned and he almost single-handedly helped SEGA pull a large chunk of market share away from Nintendo. Another thing that fascinates me about Sonic's conception is how, much like in other games from the early '90s and prior, many key design decisions were made based on the capabilities of the hardware. Sonic rolls into a ball so that jumping and attacking could be accomplished by a single button. Sonic is dark blue because his former sky blue color scheme caused him to be camouflaged when standing in front of similarly colored backgrounds. And Sonic has very prominent spikes because they offered the illusion of speed. The SEGA hardware years give way to the company's current role as a third-party developer, and Sonic's continued developments are detailed up through his team-up with Mario in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series, bringing this tale around full circle. Capping off the history is a trio of interviews with Yuji Naka, programmer on the first Sonic The Hedgehog and the most famous Sonic Team member of all; Naoto Oshima, graphic designer who actually gave birth to Sonic; and Takashi Iizuka, series artistic director since Sonic Adventure. The history does an excellent job of walking us through Sonic's game career, but I'm nonetheless disappointed that there was next to no discussion of his ventures in other media. A major reason for Sonic's popularity in the '90s was his omnipresence -- from Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to cans of spaghetti -- so it seems odd that his four cartoon shows, one Japanese direct-to-video animation, and the Archie and Fleetway Sonic comics would only be mentioned in passing. Not going behind the scenes on those projects feels like a missed opportunity. The games list section, which covers all the franchise installments from the original Sonic The Hedgehog in 1991 through Sonic Generations in 2011, is broken down further into 2D era, 3D era, handheld excursions, and spin-offs. Major titles are naturally given more real estate than, say, the Sonic Café series of cell phone time-wasters, but every entry is accompanied by screens and box art, release information, brief synopses of the games and their market impact, and extra trivia you can use to impress your friends. For example, Sonic can throw Hadoukens in Sonic Chaos on Game Gear. I did not know that! Though even the strangest of Sonic's outings are covered, there is a small handful of curious omissions. I'm specifically talking about the compilations like Sonic Jam on Saturn -- the game.com version gets an entry, however. In Sonic Jam's case, its "Sonic World" environment served as the prototype for Sonic Adventure, so you can't say it didn't play a major role in the grand scheme. I also would have loved concept art for cut levels and other cutting-room-floor materials, such as the four axed zones in Sonic The Hedgehog 2. And if you were hoping for a straight answer on the whole Michael Jackson-Sonic 3 music connection, keep looking elsewhere. The character section is the most straightforward of them all, providing short biographies for most of the key players as well as their various art designs. Only characters that have had prominent roles in the post-Sonic Adventure era are present, so be sure to pour a 40 for forgotten third-stringers like Mighty the Armadillo, Ray the Squirrel, Nack the Weasel, Bean the Dynamite, and Bark the Polar Bear. A scant six pages are dedicated to artwork of Badniks and bosses, which makes this the laziest portion of the whole book. Only 11 games are represented, and only two or three enemy designs are presented for each, which makes the entire section about as comprehensive as any one of the friggin' Genesis game manuals! But The History of Sonic is so rich in lore and insight that it more than makes up for my gripes. I don't even mind the numerous typographical errors or humorously paradoxical character stats -- Knuckles is noted as the same height as Sonic (3 feet, 4 inches), yet on the very next page, there's a chart that clearly states Knuckles is taller. There is a delightfully optimistic tone throughout the book, even while discussing the less-than-stellar chapters in the Sonic saga -- I'm looking at you, Sonic 2006! I find that to be quite reflective of the Sonic fanbase, but in a good way. We know the series isn't the most consistent in quality, but ol' Mr. Needlemouse was once on top of the world, so there's no reason why he can't make a comeback as long as the passion remains. The History of Sonic The Hedgehog is must-read for the diehards and lapsed fans. We may be unsure of where Sonic is heading, but I think we can all admire his storied journey.
History of Sonic review photo
Blue streak... speeds by...
Despite the Sonic series' many missteps over the past decade, I remain a huge fan. I remember the first time I played Sonic The Hedgehog at my cousins' house into the wee hours of the night. I remember long school field trips...

Destructoid's most wanted DS / 3DS games of 2012

Jan 13 // Chad Concelmo
Resident Evil Revelations (3DS)Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomRelease: February 7, 2012 I just recently replayed the undeniable classic Resident Evil 4 and fell in love with the game all over again. And as much as I liked (not loved) Resident Evil 5, after playing RE4, I have been craving a more classic Resident Evil experience. Resident Evil Revelations looks to satiate that need. Set on a creepy boat floating on a creepy sea, the gorgeous, "is that really running on a handheld?" Revelations should be the return to form the classic series desperately needs. I can't wait for the game to scare the bejesus out of me ... all in 3D! Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)Developer: Project SoraPublisher: NintendoRelease: March 23, 2012 I'm not going lie: out of all the games I am excited about in 2012, Kid Icarus: Uprising gives me the most reservations. I obviously love the character and am super stoked for the action-heavy gameplay, but I am very nervous about the controls. In my short time with the game, the controls were very uncomfortable, to say the least. But when a game is delayed (Kid Icarus: Uprising was originally supposed to be released in 2011), sometimes it is for the best. I am cautiously optimistic for this promising, wildly different sequel. It could end up being a surprise hit! Luigi's Mansion 2 (3DS)Developer: Next Level GamesPublisher: NintendoRelease: Q1 2012 The original Luigi's Mansion was such an odd little launch title for the GameCube back in 2001, but that was one of the reasons I fell in love with it. When Nintendo does "odd," the results are always, at the very least, memorable. Now, more than 10 years later, the game is getting an official sequel on the 3DS! Once again starring Mario's tortured, often-forgotten sibling, Luigi's Mansion 2 looks better than the original and promises to feature multiple mansions, more stuff to do, and more ghosts to suck ... into the Poltergust 3000! I played the game at E3 and absolutely fell in love with its crisp visuals and addictive gameplay. I can't wait to play more of Luigi's Mansion 2 when it comes out later this year! Paper Mario (3DS)Developer: Intelligent SystemsPublisher: NintendoRelease: 2012 This is it. Out of all games on all systems, this is the one I am most looking forward to in 2012. I have never been shy about my love for the Paper Mario series. I think it is one of the most charming videogame series of all time, and the original is one of my favorite RPGs ever. Not much is known about Paper Mario for 3DS, but does it really matter? It's a brand new Paper Mario game! That's all I need to know. I am so freaking excited! I am going to play the sh*t out of this game! Honorable Mentions: Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance   Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition (DS)Developer: Game Freak, Tecmo KoeiPublisher: Nintendo, The Pokémon CompanyRelease: March 17, 2012 (JP) I am what you call a "lapsed fan" of the Pokémon series, having only played through the first generation before hanging up my towel. I've also never played any entry in the Nobunaga's Ambition series, nor am I consumer of strategy RPGs. However, take these two properties that would never in a million years eat at the same table then make them eat at the same table, and my interest is piqued. It's such a natural progression, really. For years, we've been exposed to our fair share of historical games that take extensive liberties with the events. Tecmo Koei itself has been pumping out a parade of Dynasty and Samurai Warriors sequels featuring outlandish skills and high-octane rock soundtracks. Sengoku-era warriors chillaxing with the likes of Mewtwo and Jigglypuff is the obvious next step. Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die (3DS, PlayStation Vita)Developer: ChunsoftPublisher: TBARelease: February 16, 2012 (JP) When I first heard about 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, I expected a beefier successor to the escape-the-room Flash games I enjoyed in college. I was blindsided when I popped the cartridge in and discovered a text-heavy visual novel without any respite, not even within the aforementioned puzzle rooms. Not one for excessive narrative, I shouldn't have liked this game. Not only did 999 become my favorite title of 2010, a lot of other people became hooked as well. It performed beyond Aksys' expectations, completely selling out and forcing the company to produce a second run. Good People Die is the sequel to 999; if it's even half as good as the original, I'll be a happy man. Already, the details have gotten me excited, the most interesting bit being the cooperation / betrayal mechanic. The participants are once again shackled with death watches, though they operate differently than in the last adventure. By choosing to help or turn on your partner, you collect points, and if you earn nine points, you can escape. However, points are awarded based on both parties' decisions, so should you choose to cooperate with someone who in turn betrays you, you lose points. If you hit zero, the watch will inject you with lethal poison. Oh boy! Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney (3DS)Developer: Level-5, CapcomPublisher: Level-5Release: 2012 (JP) It's the season of crossovers! The union of Pokémon and Nobunaga's Ambition is (hopefully) like a pairing of foods that you wouldn't think tastes good but does, like sugar cookies filled with potato chip crumbles. Following that logic, Professor Layton and Ace Attorney is like peanut butter and Nutella -- two great tastes that taste even better combined. You know this to be true. How can Phoenix even legally practice law outside of the country? I say that because there is no way that town is just a Renaissance festival passing through California. Then again, Phoenix and Layton aren't supposed to exist in the same century, so I probably shouldn't try to introduce logic to this discussion, despite logic being the cornerstone of both franchises. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS)Developer: indies zeroPublisher: Square EnixRelease: February 16, 2012 (JP) I was writing these little blurbs when I suddenly realized that none of my top picks have a US release date. Sure, it might just be a matter of time before the respective companies make "the call," and the only title I'm almost certain won't be localized can be imported and played on any vanilla DS without any region-locking hassle. Still, I'm upset that publishers in this modern age continue to be slow to respond to fans who show genuine interest in their more alternative catalog. But I digress. Where were we? Ah, Theatrhythm! The character art is deliciously adorable and the gameplay reminds me of Taiko Drum Master and Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. I don't even think it's possible to dislike Final Fantasy music -- at least, I've never met anyone who does. Theatrhythm is most certainly a spin-off I can throw my full support behind. Rodea the Sky Soldier (3DS, Wii)Developer: PropePublisher: Kadokawa ShotenRelease: TBA I doubt many of you even remember this guy. We haven't seen or heard anything solid of Rodea, from Yuji Naka's Prope studios, in almost a year. All we discovered recently was that development completed some months back and that it's up to publisher Kadokawa Shoten to decide the next move. I want to play Rodea not only because I think it could be decent but also because I want to see a massive Prope game that isn't a shallow minigame package. Ivy the Kiwi? was fine, but let's aim a little higher, shall we? I definitely noticed shades of NiGHTS into Dreams... in the original trailer, so I pray I'm not setting my hopes up for a touch of that 90s SEGA magic in the final product. Honorable Mentions: Flipper 2: Flush the Goldfish, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, Mutant Mudds, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword , Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Resident Evil Revelations Additional staff picks for the DS / 3DS: Sean Daisy: Monster Hunter 4, Luigi's Mansion 2, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Jonathan Holmes: Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition, Guild 01, Resident Evil Revelations Andrew Kauz: Tales of the Abyss, Resident Evil Revelations, Kid Icarus: UprisingTara Long: Resident Evil RevelationsJonathan Ross: Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, Professor Layton vs. Ace AttorneyMax Scoville: The Binding of Isaac Josh Tolentino: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2  
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This entire week, we have covered our most anticipated 2012 games for the 360, PS3, Wii, and PC. Now it's time for Tony Ponce and I to enter the hardcore, baby-making world of portables. With the Nintendo DS going out with a ...

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Yuji Naka's new iOS game FlickPig is Supercute


Dec 08
// Dale North
What's Yuji Naka up to these days? After leaving Sega and Sonic Team as Sonic's daddy, he started a studio named Prope. Ivy The Kiwi? is their top title so far. It seems like they're filling in the holes with stupidly cute iO...
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Here's that Rodea the Sky Soldier trailer you wanted


Jan 24
// Jonathan Holmes
I wont let myself get truly excited for a game until I see it in action. Even though Rodea the Sky Soldier looks good in screenshots, and it comes from one of the few developers who has never made a game I didn't like, I sti...

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