sonic -

Have you ever wondered why Sonic the Hedgehog can't swim? No, neither had we - but that didn't stop us from stumbling across the answer during a brief-yet-bizarre interview with Yuji Naka. For those of you who don't know, Naka-san is one of the three men credited with creating the blue 'hog in the early Nineties; he's also the brains behind the excellent Let's Tap, a game we're previewing later this week.

In any case, we had a brief chat with Naka-san at a SEGA event earlier this month, around about the time that half of the UK was shut down due to snow. During our conversation, the veteran developer revealed that Sonic's design was partially influenced by his love for Lemmings. By which we mean the classic puzzle game, rather than the rodent.

The conversation started when we asked Naka-san if Japanese developers were more creative than their Western counterparts:

"Naka-san doesn't think that Japanese developers are better at coming up with new ideas as such," explained our translator. "There are a lot of amazing games being developed in the West - so Japanese developers need to push the boat out."

"A lot of original old-school games came from the West - one of his favourites being Lemmings - so he says it's really not the case that one group is better than the others. But does think that Miyamoto-san is amazing."

Naturally, we followed this up by asking what he liked about the Lemmings games.

"He thinks it might just be a personal thing, but having all these hundreds of different characters moving around with varied movements - he finds that amazing. He was fascinated by it back then, and he doesn't feel like something that surpasses that has been developed yet. He'd love to [make something].

"He also finds Lemmings a good reference point in terms of character development. Their characteristics were based on the actual animal, even this idea of the mass suicide... although that's just a myth.

"He assumed that hedgehogs can't swim, so that's why he made it that Sonic can't swim. But then recently he saw a photograph in Germany of a hedgehog swimming, so that isn't quite accurate!

"Apparently hedgehogs can swim, but they can't climb out of water. This picture he saw was a guidance thing showing that you should help the hedgehog back up onto a branch, so he can get out. And he [Naka] was thinking, 'Oh, nobody is helping Sonic!'"

At this point in the interview, Naka-san noticed that one of our fellow journalists was in possession of a Google Phone. The writer, Mr Naka and the translator then engaged in an energetic conversation in Japanese... while we sat and twiddled our thumbs.

Still that's another gaming mystery solved. Perhaps one day we'll discover why Mario eats mushrooms and stamps on tortoises.

Oh, and before any clever clogs posts a comment: we've not forgotten about the Labyrinth and Aquatic Ruins Zones - but in those levels he doesn't swim, he runs through the water. So there.

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User Comments

gbmaster22's Avatar


sonic mario olimpic games swimming !!!!
Posted 22:45 on 19 July 2009
Anonymous's Avatar
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but he can run on the water
Posted 12:54 on 02 March 2009
Bloodstorm's Avatar


Dont you mean Sega CD, Sonic CD was the final game to actually "WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!" me.
Posted 01:00 on 24 February 2009
Lain's Avatar
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Hahaha. That's kind of a cute story to me for some reason...
Posted 23:25 on 23 February 2009
S. Bains's Avatar
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S. Bains

why doesn't Sega port Dreamcast games to PS3 - with a retro Dreamcast games with Trophy Support?
Posted 19:40 on 23 February 2009
lol's Avatar
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lol, sonic rush was good, plus n'2 was, all the handheld ones basically
Posted 16:30 on 23 February 2009
Doc1985's Avatar


Did anybody ask him why every single Sonic game theyve brought out since the mega drive has been utter crap?
Posted 15:51 on 23 February 2009

Game Stats

Release Date: 23/03/2007
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Action
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 18,243 31
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