Former SEGA Producer Alleges Yuji Naka Killed “Dreamcast’s Star Fox”

The father of Sonic brought an abrupt end to the game Geist Force!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 12/21/2021 02:06 Comment on this     ShareThis

Ever heard of Geist Force? In the late ’90s, SEGA was preparing for the launch of its Dreamcast console. Geist Force was being billed as something akin to SEGA’s take on Nintendo’s Star Fox series. The game was being developed by SEGA of  America, led in part by producer Mark Subotnick. Although Geist Force had some serious ambition behind it, the game never saw the light of day. In a recent interview with The Retro Hour Podcast, Subotnick went into depth about how the project was ultimately scuttled by designer Yuji Naka.

Naka’s name should be familiar to Nintendo fans, as he was the lead programmer on the original Sonic the Hedgehog and subsequent leader of Sonic Team. In 1998, when Geist Force was making the rounds on the convention circuit and in active development, Naka was still a major force within SEGA. It was in his capacity as one of the bigwigs at the company that he made his way to Subotnick’s studio to get a look at their operations.

It’s here that things hit a snag, according to Subotnick. He alleges that Naka was speaking in Japanese throughout his tour of the facility, unaware that numerous of Subotnick’s workers also spoke the language. Naka allegedly was commenting on which bits of tech he wanted to appropriate for the development of (presumably) Sonic Adventure. Upon completion of Geist Force, the entire staff was to be released, with only a single person to be retained in order to help with the harvested tech.

Needless to say, this was less than inspiring to the team at SoA and did not go over well. Knowing their days were numbered, a bunch of staffers left the project for careers elsewhere, leaving Subotnick with too few workers to complete Geist Force. Despite having big ambitions for the project, not to mention being roughly 70 percent completed, Geist Force never came to fruition.

It’s a bummer to imagine that careless comments could have led to the demise of a promising new SEGA franchise. However, if Subotnick’s assertions that Geist Force was close to completion are true, perhaps one day SEGA might step in and finish the work. It isn’t beyond the pale in today’s industry where games like (ironically) Star Fox 2 have been polished up and launched well after having been canceled in the past.

If you’re curious to hear more about the demise of Geist Force, give the above episode of The Retro Gaming Hour a watch and let us know what you think about the situation down in the comments.

Source: The Retro Gaming Podcast

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