Yuji Naka

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Yuji Naka
Place of birth: Hirakata, Osaka prefecture, Japan
Date of birth: 1965-09-17[1] (age 58)
Employment history:
Role(s): Programmer, Designer, Producer, Executive
Education: Nishinoda Technology Senior High School
Twitter: @nakayuji

Yuji Naka (中 裕司), known by the alias YU2 is a Japanese video game designer, programmer, and former head of Sonic Team. Most known as the co-creator of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, he served as one of Sega's most well-known developers and gained widespread recognition as one of the company's star programmers. Naka departed Sega in 2006 to establish his own game company, the Minato, Tokyo-based Prope.


When Yuji Naka was 17 years old, he decided that he wanted to program video games. He learned how to program by copying and debugging game code published in magazines, and these experiences prompted him to learn how to use assemblers and write his own programs. The electronic music group Yellow Magic Orchestra was also an influence on the young Naka.

Being a large fan of Namco, Yuji Naka aimed to work for them after he graduated from college. However, Namco only accepted work from university graduates, and thus Yuji Naka would not be eligible as he did not want to go to university. He did however score a job at Sega as a programming assistant in 1984.


A 1996 photograph of Yuji Naka and Sonic Team.

His first release was a game for the SG-1000 called Girl's Garden. Yuji Naka's distinction was producing/project managing projects while simultaneously handling the lead programming of them. Examples of this are Space Harrier II and Phantasy Star II. He was at one point considered the top console games programmer at Sega, closely followed by Takahiro Hamano and Masanobu Yamamoto[9][10]. In 1990 he, along with Naoto Oshima and Hirokazu Yasuhara, began to conceive what would become Sonic the Hedgehog, assembling what would later be dubbed Sonic Team, putting his leadership and programming talents into work. Naka would serve as a direct programmer on Sega titles up until NiGHTS into Dreams, when Sonic Team members Tetsu Katano and Takahiro Hamano succeeded him in that regard.

On March 16, 2006 it was announced that Naka would be creating his own independent game studio, with partial financial backing from Sega. Naka left Sega to set up this studio, called Prope.


During his 2018-2021 employment with Square Enix, Prope remained in business with Naka as the only employee.[11] By 2019, Naka's work with Prope was largely administrative tasks he performed during weekends. On December 18, 2021, Naka released the free mobile game Shot2048 through Prope. It was built in Unity and his first time creating a game entirely by himself[12].

Square Enix

In January 2018, Naka joined Square Enix[13]. On July 16, 2020, it was announced that Square Enix had formed the subsidiary developer Balan Company[14]. The new developer would work with internal and external studios to make games that were more atypical for Square Enix. On July 23, 2020, Balan Wonderworld was revealed as a new 3D platformer from Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima[15].

In April 2021, upon the release and commercial failure of Balan Wonderworld, Naka left Square Enix. He posted a fairly vague message concerning his reasons for doing so[16] but stated he may retire.

On April 28, 2022, Naka revealed in a Twitter thread that he had filed a lawsuit against Square Enix[17]. He stated that he was removed as the director of Balan Wonderworld six months before the game's release following disagreements over the game's stability. Naka stated that his protests were ignored. On July 5, 2022, Naka posted another thread about discovering in court documents that coworkers at Square Enix had been talking behind his back. He posted an image of the NiGHTS into Dreams team with Naoto Oshima seemingly blacked out with marker[18].

Insider trading charges

On November 17, 2022, Naka was arrested by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and charged with violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act of 2006.[19][20][21] The Public Prosecutors Office accused him of insider trading; Naka bought 10,000 shares of the developer Aiming before its game Dragon Quest Tact was announced to the public. Two other former Square Enix employees were also arrested, alleged to have bought 162,000 shares between December 2019 and February 2020 for approximately 47.2 million yen.[19][20]

On December 7, Naka was arrested again, accused of having purchased 144.7 million yen of shares of the developer ATeam before their game Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier was announced.[22] He was later indicted on insider trading charges by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office.[23] Naka plead guilty in March 2023.[24] On June 1, prosecutors asked for a sentence of two and a half years in prison and a combined fine of 172.5 million yen.[23]

Production history





Song credits

Main article: Yuji Naka/Song credits.

OutRun (Master System Version)

  • Magical Sound Shower — Arrangement
  • Passing Breeze — Arrangement
  • Splash Wave — Arrangement
  • Last Wave — Arrangement


Some or all of the following content should be mirrored on Sega Retro (or Retro CDN).

Magazine articles

Main article: Yuji Naka/Magazine articles.


Main article: Photos of Yuji Naka

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 http://sega.jp/studio/st.html (Wayback Machine: 2004-04-04 05:02)
  2. https://www.famitsu.com/news/201807/02160203.html (Wayback Machine: 2018-07-02 13:24)
  3. @nakayuji on Twitter (Wayback Machine: 2022-04-28 19:00)
  4. @U1_Toyama on Twitter (archive.today)
  5. Beep! MegaDrive, "January 1995" (JP; 1994-12-08), page 99
  6. Sega Saturn Magazine, "1996-01 (1996-01-12,26)" (JP; 1995-12-22), page 182
  7. Sega Magazine, "1997-02 (1997-02)" (JP; 1997-01-13), page 20
  8. Sega Saturn Magazine, "1998-03 (1998-01-23)" (JP; 1998-01-09), page 62
  9. @SiFi_TZK on Twitter (Wayback Machine: 2023-10-17 06:52)
  10. @SiFi_TZK on Twitter (Wayback Machine: 2022-08-20 05:01)
  11. https://www.siliconera.com/yuji-naka-on-propes-status-downsized-to-one-person-company/ (Wayback Machine: 2021-09-17 22:36)
  12. @nakayuji on Twitter (Ghostarchive)
  13. @nakayuji on Twitter (Ghostarchive)
  14. https://www.gematsu.com/2020/07/square-enix-announces-balan-company-action-game-brand (Wayback Machine: 2020-07-16 13:45)
  15. https://twinfinite.net/2020/07/balan-wonderworld-announced-by-square-enix-and-sonic-creators/ (Wayback Machine: 2020-07-25 02:15)
  16. @nakayuji on Twitter (Ghostarchive)
  17. @nakayuji on Twitter (Ghostarchive)
  18. https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2022/07/yuji-naka-erases-former-co-worker-and-sonic-creator-naoto-ohshima-from-team-photo (Wayback Machine: 2022-07-05 21:40)
  19. 19.0 19.1 https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-11-18/yuji-naka-arrested-insider-trading-sonic-dragon-quest (Wayback Machine: 2022-11-18 17:09)
  20. 20.0 20.1 https://www.fnn.jp/articles/-/446810?display=full (Wayback Machine: 2022-11-18 02:23)
  21. https://variety.com/2022/gaming/news/sonic-the-hedgehog-naka-yuji-arrested-1235436767/ (Wayback Machine: 2022-11-18 11:06)
  22. https://www.eurogamer.net/former-sonic-boss-yuji-naka-re-arrested-as-fresh-insider-trading-allegations-emerge (Wayback Machine: 2022-12-07 12:22)
  23. 23.0 23.1 https://www.videogameschronicle.com/news/yuji-naka-indicted-in-square-enix-insider-trading-case/ (Wayback Machine: 2022-12-27 18:49)
  24. https://www.videogameschronicle.com/news/yuji-naka-has-reportedly-been-sentenced-to-2-5-years-in-prison-for-insider-trading/ (Wayback Machine: 2023-06-01 09:58)
  25. File:UltraGamePlayers US 103.pdf, page 36
  26. File:Phantasy Star SMS credits.pdf
  27. File:Super Thunder Blade MD credits.pdf
  28. File:Phantasy Star II MD credits.pdf
  29. File:Phantasy Star III MD credits.pdf
  30. File:Sonic the Hedgehog MD credits.pdf
  31. File:Sonic the Hedgehog 2 MD credits.pdf
  32. File:SonicSpinball MD US manual.pdf, page 21
  33. 33.0 33.1 File:Sonic the Hedgehog 3 MD credits.pdf
  34. 34.0 34.1 File:Sonic & Knuckles MD credits.pdf
  35. 35.0 35.1 File:NiGHTS into Dreams Saturn credits.pdf
  36. File:Sonic 3D Blast MD credits.pdf
  37. File:Sonic Jam Saturn credits.pdf
  38. 38.0 38.1 File:Sonic R Saturn credits.pdf
  39. File:Sonic 3D Blast Saturn credits.pdf
  40. 40.0 40.1 File:Sonic Pocket Adventure NGPC credits.pdf
  41. File:ChuChu Rocket! GBA credits.pdf
  42. File:Sonic Advance GBA credits.pdf
  43. File:SonicMegaCollection GC US Credits.pdf
  44. File:Sonic Advance 2 GBA credits.pdf
  45. File:Sonic Battle GBA credits.pdf
  46. File:Sonic Advance 3 GBA credits.pdf
  47. File:Puyo Puyo Fever GBA credits.pdf
  48. File:Bleach Advance GBA credits.pdf
  49. File:SonicGenesis GBA US manual.pdf, page 18
  50. File:SegaTunesComixZone Album JP Box Back.jpg
  51. File:VirtualSonic CD US back.jpg
  52. File:SongsWithAttitude CD JP booklet.pdf, page 7
  53. File:SARemix CD JP booklet.pdf, page 9
  54. File:SADLCOST CD JP booklet1.pdf, page 2
  55. File:CutsUnleashed CD JP front.pdf, page 3
  56. File:MDSA2OST poster1.pdf, page 1
  57. File:SA2OST CD US booklet.pdf, page 10
  58. File:TripleThreat CD JP booklet.pdf, page 2
  59. File:CompleteTrinity CD JP booklet.pdf, page 8
  60. File:SonicXOST CD JP booklet.pdf, page 3
  61. File:PSOBBSoundTrack CD JP Box.jpg
  62. File:LostandFound CD JP booklet.pdf, page 6
  63. File:SonicRidersOST CD JP booklet.pdf, page 3