E3 2017: Takashi Iizuka Was Interviewed By Game Informer

E3 2017: Takashi Iizuka Was Interviewed By Game Informer

by June 14, 2017 8 comments

This is the busiest Sonic/SEGA news period we’ve had in years, courtesy of an E3 where SEGA finally has Sonic games to discuss.

Takashi Iizuka recently took part in an interview with Game Informer to do that very thing. Some interesting questions were asked, including concerns that some fans have had about Sonic Forces. We’ve included highlights below. It, however, is highly recommended to see the full interview for much more that was asked:

In a lot of Sonic games, we play as side characters like Knuckles, Tails, and Amy in addition to Sonic. Sonic Forces seems more focused on Modern Sonic and Classic Sonic. Were you worried that introducing custom characters would distract from that focus?

For a lot of the other games in the whole history of Sonic the Hedgehog, when we didn’t want to introduce playing as Knuckles or playing as Tails or some other character, we wanted to make it a new kind of gameplay experience to keep things fun and bring some variety so you’re not just doing the same thing with a different looking character; we wanted it to feel like a different character. As we were doing that, we realized a lot of the fans enjoyed some of the gameplay variety, but they still really wanted to play as Sonic. They’d always say, “This game’s great, but I just wanted to play as Sonic instead of these other characters,” or for [Sonic] Unleashed, it was always, “I really love the Sonic running stages, and the Werehog’s cool, but I really wanted the Sonic running stages.” The team was aware that all the variety we were bringing to the fans… some people like it and some people don’t like it. There’s always this mix of “It’s cool,” and “It’s not cool,” and we wanted to make sure we were bringing something that people were going to enjoy. Starting with Sonic Colors, we started bringing the focus back to Sonic and putting all the gameplay focus onto Sonic the Hedgehog in the traditional, Modern Sonic kind of running gameplay.

With this new game, we realized we wanted to bring this create-your-own character, have them play in the game, and we want it to be different from how Sonic felt, but not so different that people are going to start getting upset that they’re not doing what they want to be doing. So we gave the character a Wispon, which is the new variety of gameplay that’s something fun that Sonic can’t do, and something fun that players can become good and skilled at, but we still wanted to keep the core feeling of running as Sonic, and jumping as Sonic, and playing as Sonic with this original character. In order to do so, we focused on high-speed running and we wanted to make sure your original character still has the feeling of Sonic and all of the fun that you get when you play as Sonic, while still giving them a Wispon so they get to still be a different character and have a different kind of gameplay style. It’s kind of a merging of all the fun things of Sonic with the variety of a different character without going to the extreme of not having the Sonic elements or not having the variety. We weren’t concerned with the original character because we knew we were going to deliver something that people who just like playing as Sonic like to play with something new that we wanted to bring.

Was the addition of custom characters at all inspired by the vibrant fan community?

I’ve been working on Sonic for a really long time, and I’ve been getting a lot fan-mail for a really long time – for like 20 years – and a lot of the fan-mail, even 20 years ago, people were saying, “Hey check out this drawing of Sonic I did,” and “Hey, check out this character I made that’s in the same style or look of Sonic the Hedgehog.” I’ve been constantly receiving these fan drawings or custom-created ideas, so even from 20 years ago, I had this understanding that fans enjoyed creating and existing in this world. I wanted to let people to do that to some extent, but I think the spark started a long time ago when I saw all of these people creating Sonic-type stuff. I understood that Americans like creating their own stuff, so this whole understanding how American fans are interacting with the character was the seed that was planted a long time ago. It just so happens that now we have the skills, the technology, and the team is making a representative world of Sonic the Hedgehog with characters that fit into our world. Players can now go in and make what they want with the format of the series. Fans have been making stuff – we’re very aware of that – and we hope they like the content that has been created. But really, the genesis was a really long time ago, seeing all of the created pictures coming into me.

These two games seem like they would be the first Sonic titles to be developed under Sega and Sonic Team’s new approach talked about a couple of years ago with being less deadline driven and more quality focused. How has this new approach benefited Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces?

Back when Sonic Boom was created, everybody was focusing on different things. The U.S. was really focused on Boom with a TV show and games to support it, and the Sonic Team back in Japan was working on Modern Sonic doing their own thing. Before this restructuring and organizational change, it wasn’t that things were fragmented or broken, but people were focused on different things that they wanted to do with Sonic the Hedgehog and the franchise in general. Since that has been reorganized and I’m here in Burbank communicating worldwide with all of the groups, we’re noticing that this is the best way of doing things and how it should be a real positive going forward. We’re now able to communicate with everyone worldwide from one perspective of what we want to do, what products we want to make, and how we’re going to be moving forward with the brand and the franchise. That’s probably the difference you’re seeing with the content that’s coming out. It’s really all of us being on the same page and supporting one product all together, instead of us focusing on what we want to do and what we want to do with our version of Sonic the Hedgehog for our territory. I think we’re much more globally minded now in moving everyone forward together instead of separate.

When I look at Modern Sonic games, some of the biggest consistent problems with gameplay have been how slippery it can feel when you’re moving, and then the way the action goes into autopilot at times, where lots of cool things are happening on screen, but you’re not responsible for much of it. With what I’ve played of Sonic Forces, both of those issues seem to have been improved. How has the team learned from these gameplay pitfalls of the past?

The controls have been a progression ever since Unleashed. We took the controls from Unleashed and brought it into Colors, kind of tweaking and changing and tuning it a bit, then taking it to Generations. What you’re seeing with Forces is this iterative process of making it tighter, better, and nicer feeling. It’s the continuous process, and since we have the same great team working on the same great content, they get to take their learnings forward with them on the next titles they’re working on. A lot of the playtesting we’re doing, a lot of the feedback given back to the developers is being built upon and built upon and built upon. Forces is the result of that iterative process from Unleashed all the way to the current day. That goes for not just the maps, but also the character running on those maps.

Is there any chance of a multiplayer component in Sonic Forces?

It’s a single-player game, and we’re going to focus on you creating a character and enjoying the story as a single-player experience. If you’re connected online, there will be some features that will work when you are connected to the internet through the first-party services.

8 Comments so far

  1. sonicgalaxy27
    #1 sonicgalaxy27 14 June, 2017, 15:49

    SSF1991, I really love this article that you did here. It makes perfect sense. See, this is why SEGA cares about the fanbase alot. Sometimes, they make sonic games so sloppy.

    Reply this comment
  2. Mike B.
    #2 Mike B. 14 June, 2017, 16:49

    I hate to sound like negative nancy here, but with the rumors of cancellation of Sonic Boom and the Archie comics, I would hate to see that the whole “global minded, supporting one product all together” as a ploy to force everybody into the modern and classic SegaSonic game continuity and anything that deviates from that is just fluff that should die at the wayside.

    Unless Iizuka is talking about bringing together the ideas and derivatives of Sonic together to share ideas with each other and help each other grow without cutting off anything.

    So its whether or not Sega and Sonic Team thinks its best to invoke Communism and force all the talent together to make a better product, while removing anything that deviates from their perspective; or invoke Democracy and allow the talent and ideas from the derivatives to pool together into one big melting pot and making a better product from there, while still keeping the things that support that talent.

    Personally, I like the latter option. It allows people to continue liking the things they like about Sonic the Hedgehog, while allowing them to contribute a bit more to the greater whole.

    Reply this comment
  3. Axx
    #3 Axx 14 June, 2017, 20:26

    Sounds to me like he genuinely only heard the complaints about Sonic’s friends being involved and not enough about their lack of involvement. It doesn’t help that even today people still claim they want just Sonic. I don’t need the other characters all the time but at least half of the time I would like to play as at least two other characters. Primarily Tails and Knuckles, sometimes Shadow, and occasionally any of the others from Amy to Silver to the Chaotix or even Blaze. Think at least half of the games that come out should have at least 3 – 8 playable characters or more if you use some of th as partner or secondary characters to a major playable character’s story like Heroes, Shadow The Hedgehog or 06….

    Reply this comment
    • sonicgalaxy27
      sonicgalaxy27 14 June, 2017, 21:25

      Well, this game is not gonna feature any other playable characters. its just gonna be Modern Sonic, Classic Sonic, and the Custom character for people’s likely. To be fair, Tails was ok in Sonic 06 and Sonic Heroes, but i was expecting blaze to appear in this game, but i would imagine if the next sonic title feature other characters like Tails, silver, blaze and knuckles as playable, but SEGA sometimes is on a tight schedule to fix The Sonic The Hedgehog Series. I seen a few people still hating on the fan base of this series.

      Reply this comment
    • SSF1991
      SSF1991 Author 18 June, 2017, 00:27

      Sadly, the issue with Sonic’s friends being in games at all is still getting backlash, even 10 years later. Outside of the Sonic community, people just simply hate Sonic’s friends. Even Generations got some criticism from reviewers like IGN because Sonic’s friends were in the game.

      Why? I have no idea. Do I think it’s justified? No. But they’re there.

      Reply this comment
  4. Kid Kaos
    #4 Kid Kaos 14 June, 2017, 23:27

    It’s nice that they are trying to unify the brand instead of having it be all over the place, hopefully they’ll bring in elements that worked really well in other media *cough*Ian Flynn’s Writting*cough* into the main cannon (and hopefully whatever’s going on with the comics will be solved).

    also, for all of you out there who said “I just wanted to play as Sonic instead of these other characters” and caused Sonic Team to make Sonic-only games with no other playable characters for the past 10 years, I hate you all and I hope you wake up with a hedgehog with rabies shoved up your ass. (okay, I’m massively exagerating, but I hated not having other characters nonetheless)

    Reply this comment
    • SSF1991
      SSF1991 Author 18 June, 2017, 00:25

      “also, for all of you out there who said “I just wanted to play as Sonic instead of these other characters” and caused Sonic Team to make Sonic-only games with no other playable characters for the past 10 years, I hate you all and I hope you wake up with a hedgehog with rabies shoved up your ass”

      That last part was unneccessary.

      Reply this comment

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