I was doing a deep dive into a certain someone in the games industry and I had this idea for a thread about icons within the industry who are well known for maybe one property, but have their hands all over other places within gaming.
For this I have picked Naoto Oshima, designer of Sonic the Hedgehog. He started as an artist at Sega who worked on some Master System and early Mega Drive titles before submitting his concepts for Sega’s new mascot character. What I find interesting about him is that while he is credited as designer or concept artist for a lot of games, you rarely see his fingerprints on the final product, save for a few examples where his influence clearly shines through.
I’m going to post some examples that I found of things that Naoto Oshima worked on or contributed to other than Sonic.
Starting with the obvious…
Nights Into Dreams
A lovechild between Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima, this game brims with Oshima’s signature style. Wacky, cartoonish characters and bright, optimistic colors flourish in the surreal dreamscape of this game.
The second game of Sonic Team’s “No We’re Not Doing A Sonic Game For The Saturn Shut Up Already” phase, he is credited as character designer and artist, but I had trouble finding confirmed artwork done by him for the game. This piece, along with one other I found, shows aspects of his style, with the cartoon faces and long, oversized limbs.
Pinobee: Wings of Adventure
This one kind of surprised me. I was aware of Pinobee back in the day, but never played it, and definitely didn’t know Oshima worked on it. Looking at this bit of artwork, though, you can see some “Sonic-ness” in the titular character’s face (the smirk and scowling eyes) and the goddess character on the left looks like they could have been featured in Nights Into Dreams.
Blinx: Time Sweeper
This is the property that more or less inspired this thread. I never had the chance to play Blinx, never having owned an Xbox when it was out, but I when I saw it in the store I instantly noticed Oshima’s influence on this character, what with the cheeky grin going across the side of his face. He looks like he could be a character in some lost Sonic game.
The most recent property co-headed by Oshima, Balan Wonderworld is basically a Nights Into Dreams spiritual successor, and Oshima’s artistic influence is all over it. Everything from the main character, the two human characters, all the outfits to collect and even the Tims, it’s all apparent this is a Naoto Oshima vehicle.
The next few items I found particularly interesting…
Away: Shuffle Dungeon
I had never heard of this game before, and it hardly looks like the characters are designed by Oshima, but he is indeed credited as character designer for this game. The two twin characters at the bottom kind of look like characters from his other works, but he definitely went in a different direction for this game.
I don’t know much about this game either, but Oshima did some guest characters for it that basically look like Sonic OCs (especially monkey Sonic on the left there). This is peak Oshima art right here.
The Monkey Prince
This is really fascinating to me, as it’s not a game property, but a movie. These pictures are from 2018. Naoto Oshima was tapped to provide concept art for this CG movie in production called The Monkey Prince. I couldn’t find much about it, but there are some other pictures with human characters that also look like Oshima characters.
So, who are some other players in the industry like this? I know there are other artists, programmers and designers who are known for one or two properties that have lesser known contributions all over gaming and I’m curious what you guys can dig up.