The Sonic Second: Sonic 1’s Secret Credits

In gaming’s early days, the practice of crediting a game’s developers using only pseudonyms made things needlessly mysterious. When I beat Sonic 1 or Phantasy Star II for the first time and saw alphabet soup like YU2, BIGISLAND, STRESTELESS and MUUUU YUJI, it was anticlimactically jarring. What was with all the fake names, and who were these talented folks really?

Fortunately, games like Sonic 2 and Sonic CD, released later as Sega’s habit of obfuscating the identities of their talent started to fall away, would finally reveal full names, with their old pseudonyms helpfully provided as a parenthetical.

Sonic 2 [U]_003

Long before this revolution, however, good old YU2 himself provided a full and proper list of credits for Sonic 1, hidden in the game itself. Way to stick it to the man!

But where is this secret list, you ask? Well, you look right at it every time you boot up the game, on the “SONIC TEAM PRESENTS” screen. Like the purloined letter, it’s hidden in plain sight. Sort of.

You see, the names are written in the same colour as the background, rendering them invisible. But with a little palette trickery, like magic they appear.

Sonic 1 [U]_000

If you’re using hardware, you can do the above by using a Game Genie and the code TD79-86AC. If you’re using an emulator like Gens, the patch code is FFFB02:0E80.

That’s not the only way to access them. According to Sonic Retro, there’s a cheat code built right into the game that will make them show up, and even remove the “SONIC TEAM PRESENTS” text that’s in the way.

In either ROM, with the region set to Japan, press C, C, C, C, C, C, Up, Down, Down, Down, Left, Right; you should hear a sound confirming this. Then, when the demo starts, hold Down + A + B + C and either press Start or wait for the demo to end.

I was only able to get this to work with my Japanese ROM; using my USA ROM with the region set to J didn’t work. But I might have been doing something wrong.

Sonic 1 [J]_000

(Another interesting thing is that the “PRESS START BUTTON” object loads properly after you do this.)

Sonic 1 [J]_000 (2)

Okay, so this is all very well and good, but those credits are in Japanese…. Can’t an anglophone get a translation around here?

Very well:

Program

Yuji Naka (a.k.a. YU2)

Plan

Hirokazu Yasuhara (a.k.a. Carol Yas)

Design

Naoto Ohshima (a.k.a. Bigisland, a literal translation of his family name)
Jina Ishiwatari (a.k.a. Jinya)
Rieko Kataoka (a.k.a. Phenix Rie, later Rieko Kodama (through marriage, I assume))

Sound Produce

Masato Nakamura (of Dreams Come True, the only one here to get proper credit at the end of the game)

Sound Program

Hiroshi Kubota (a.k.a. Jimita)
Yukifumi Makino (a.k.a. Macky)

Sega’s efforts to conceal these folks’ identities seem ludicrous in the internet age. Now we can all look up their works and give them the credit they deserve!


Here are some bonus points of interest:

  • The pseudonyms used in the game credits apparently weren’t just hastily thrown in. In Sega Players Enjoy Club, a Japanese newsletter for Sega fans that was written and drawn largely by the developers themselves, they use the same pseudonyms, almost like nicknames or alter egos.
  • Sonic 1 isn’t the only Sonic game to have a secret credits screen. Sonic CD has one, too – it’s shown after you beat the secret 8th Special Stage.
    Sonic 3_019

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