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SYFY WIRE Sonic the Hedgehog

'Sonic' Team legend Yuji Naka makes his first solo video game, ever

After 37 years, the co-creator of Sonic rings in with his own mobile title.

By Benjamin Bullard
Sonic the Hedgehog and Tails

Heading up the pack for more than two decades of Sonic the Hedgehog might’ve only been the warmup round for longtime Sonic Team leader Yuji Naka. After leaving SEGA and founding his own one-man game studio back in 2006, he’s finally released his own video game — and unlike previous collaborative efforts on games featuring the furry blue fella, he did it all by himself.

Don’t race through your console menus to download it, though, because this one’s strictly a mobile game. The Sonic co-creator and his Prope game studio (which consists solely of Naka himself) have just debuted SHOT2048, which Naka announced in a recent tweet as “a hyper-casual game” for iOS and Android devices.

Given the fact that Naka (along with most game designers) has never previously built a game completely by himself, SHOT2048 rings in as a significantly lighter-weight gaming diversion than the lavish 3D platforming spectacles that Sonic is known for.

Think of it as a numbers-based experience that’s one part chance and one part light strategy: The aim is to make a series of dice rolls that, if you’re skillful (and lucky), eventually create a new dice that’s valued at — you guessed it — 2048. It’s a simple arcade-like setup that puts all the emphasis on an addictive loop of get-it-right gameplay, rather than on speeding through big-budget environments (while talking a little Sonic sass).

In other words, you’ll be hard pressed to detect any Sonic DNA in SHOT2048, whose modest scope is pitched just about right for casual, pick-up-and-play mobile gaming. But that doesn’t mean Naka isn’t super-proud to have made his own game from scratch. “This is the first time in my 37 years as a game creator that I, Yuji Naka, have made a game all by myself,” he beamed on Twitter. “I would appreciate it if you could play it and spread the word.”

On that tip, we’re doing our part, Naka-san. To check out SHOT2048 for yourself, pick your platform poison at either Google Play or the Apple App Store, where your first strategic move is deciding on whether to nab the free, ad-supported base game, or to clear away the clutter by springing for the $5.99 full version.

For a peek at what Naka’s been up to lately on consoles (he recently did a brief creative stint at Square Enix that ended just this year), check out the offbeat, Naka-directed platformer Balan Wonderworld, which made its cross-platform console debut earlier this year.