tssznews.com has an interesting article, with sources and links, about a blogger who years ago, seemed to have more insight regarding Nights: Journey of Dreams than anyone else.
The story gets more interesting. In the blogger's tirade, he went on to mention the mechanics of Sonic Unleashed, a year before they were made public.
In particular, it reveals an internal strife between Sonic Team and Sega of Japan, highlighted by the fact that NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams was originally developed as an Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 title - going so far as to say he (Ben Andac) played an Xbox 360 build of NiGHTS at one point. Upon witnessing the overnight success of the Wii, Sega of Japan apparently forced Sonic Team to retool the game for Nintendo’s lower-spec platform, something its producer (Takashi Iizuka) was not happy about. Despite the shift in platform, the game’s fast-approaching release date and limited development budget remained firmly unchanged, giving Sonic Team roughly one year to rebuild NiGHTS exclusively for the Wii (when most games typically take two years or more to develop).
After publishing said comment, the blog suffered a quick mass-deletion of posts, and was then replaced with:
“Sonic Team are a relic from a past age who have overstayed their welcome. For the same marketing reasons that their name was initially kept (and has since backfired) they should be dissolved - it may already be too late for NiGHTS (and I really hope it isn’t and they manage to turn it around, which with Iizuka-san’s passion for the project is a possibility), but for the good of the company’s image; for the future of Sega’s other prestigious IPs and lastly for its iconic mascot it needs to be done… before they release another Sonic game with a transforming Evil ‘Night’ Sonic who looks like a werewolf and can stretch his arms out Dhalsim-style. It will happen, mark my words.“
There are other glimpses of insight to be had in the article, and the linked archived blog entry, but I find this perspectve to be very interesting:
The sidebar of his blog now contains a typical “My opinions are my own and do not reflect upon my employer, and I will not discuss my job with you” disclaimer, but most importantly, reveals the blog owner’s true name: Ben Andac. Ben Andac, as it turns out, worked as a “Game Consultant” and an “Admissions and Recruitment Executive” for both Sega Europe and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Ben’s job was most likely to evaluate the quality of products coming out of the publisher and potentially scout for new recruits to develop software.
Sega of Japan had intended NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams as a brief rest from the never-ending onslaught of Sonic game after Sonic game. In Ben’s own words: “There’s no doubt that Sonic Team have lost their quality touch. They are worse than talentless: they are without passion. Bored, weary, closed-minded and out of touch with any sense of what makes games good anymore.” Quite simply put, after making so many of them, Sonic Team is tired of Sonic games - something Ben cites as a reason for Yuji Naka’s resignation in 2006.
(I know the website is not well known, but the article seems fully sourced.)