In a move that may surprise many, Square Enix, a company well known for RPGs such as "Final Fantasy," has recently enlisted the man that helped bring about the mascot platformer craze, Yuji Naka. Though he got his start with titles such like, "Girl's Garden" or the first two "Phantasy Star" games, the then up and coming programmer would later become famous for co-creating "Sonic the hedgehog;" a series that still runs to this day. Here's a brief history of Naka's career.

Nintendo generation

Gamers who grew up in the nineties will surely remember the 16-bit war between Sega's Genesis/Mega Drive and Nintendo's Super NES.

One of the heavy hitters of that generation was Naka's "Sonic the Hedgehog," a game starring a quick and snarky cartoon rodent who gave Nintendo's famous red plumber a run for his money. The title and the character changed the gaming landscape and cemented the tone of Sega's marketing campaign which utilized attitude to make it stand out against Nintendo's family-friendly approach at the time. Regardless of Sega's strategy, Naka himself felt the comparisons between Sonic and Mario were inaccurate and maintained a friendly rivalry with the father of Mario and Zelda, Shigeru Miyamoto.

The 3D era

During the 32-bit era, Naka took a break from the character and focused his attention on two particular titles for The Saturn, "Nights into Dreams" and "Burning Rangers." Both were fast and colorful 3D games made for a machine that wasn't really built for 3D.

Regardless, both titles garnered favorable reviews and a huge cult following. They still weren't enough to save The Saturn, which would be utterly destroyed in the market by Nintendo 64 and PlayStation.

After a brief hiatus and a vain attempt by Sega's North American division to bring the character into the third dimension, Naka would return to Sonic with the Dreamcast title "Sonic Adventure." At the time of release, the game was met a rave reception, but retrospective reviews would later become very polarizing.

Many today consider it a classic while others mark it as the beginning of the hedgehog's decline. Naka would also produce the highly acclaimed Dreamcast MMORPG, "Phantasy Star Online."

Final days at Sega

After Sega left the hardware business, subsequent "Sonic" titles would be released onto the consoles of their formal rivals and be met with a slow decline in reviews.

This slump led into what would have been Naka's last game in the series, "SONIC THE HEDGEHOG" for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Though initially headed by Naka, the game faced problems following his resignation from Sega midway through development. It attempted to bring new life into the series but instead brought an almost irreparable damage and ill-will to the brand from fans and critics alike. The game's infamy is so well known that later titles would do their best to deviate from it and even the official Sonic Twitter page would take part in mocking it.

Naka would later form his own company called Prope and produced the games "Ivy the Kiwi?" and "Rodea the Sky Soldier."

Joining Square Enix

In a recent twitter update, Naka made the following announcement:

Though probably more well known for his platformers and action games, Naka's work on the "Phantasy Star" titles make his enlistment at Square Enix an intriguing choice. Details are scarce at the moment, but Naka has hinted at an unannounced project in development.