We already know Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric had a very troubled development, but to what extent? Several researches have dig up some of its secrets, but now we have a more extensive look on the developing process of it.
Motobadnik, who in collaboration with Spanish site Sonic Paradise released a few months ago a early trailer of Sonic Synergy who was long lost to the community, has kept researching on the matter to the point of tracing a very precise timeline of events, along with many details before unknown thanks to his contact with a Big Red Button source who wants to remain anonymous.
The full article is in Spanish, but here are some of the most important bits of it.
- The game started development as “Project Apollo”. Around October 2011 it was at a “Block Out” phase, with a huge focus on LAN party online multiplayer gameplay and racing.
- Storyline wise, it revolved about Sonic origins: Sonic and a young Eggman were close friends, but during a time travel sequence Eggman messes with something at the past, breaking their friendship. Ancients were very important in this storyline, because they were related with Sonic’s origins. Eggman was once planned as a playable character but it was discarded. Tentative title for this was “Sonic Origins”
- One of their main goals was to create an organic and natural looking environment for Sonic, using handmade textures for a cartoonish look. It was not rejected, but result is poor at the final game because of Wii U’s lower capabilities.
- Game was 80% exploration, 20% speed. They were trying to do a sort of Jak & Daxter styled Sonic, reminiscent of Bob Rafei’s past as a Naugthy Dog developer.
- Due to a series of requirement from Sega Japan, they worked for 2 years on the “Vertical Slice” build, a tech demo of sorts that demoed all the gameplay gimmicks, in order to work on them and show their ideas to SEGA.
- Game was planned as a 4 players Co-op adventure, set to release as a digital title at Steam with a PS Store/Xbox Live port planned if sales went as expected. That Vertical slice demo is what we know as Synergy.
- Synergy started at this room, after a cutscene played.
- Around late 2012, Sega shows this Vertical slice demo to Nintendo and include Synergy as part of their exclusivity deal. Sega asks Big Red Button for a Nintendo 3DS port, until Sanzaru games came to save the day.
- Wii U porting came around mid 2013. This makes a full change on the product focus. 4 players co-op was impossible, so game was turned into a 2 players adventure. Many mechanics were changed due to Wii U hardware, making them reworks the levels into more lineal ones, with lots of interactive prompt buttons for almost everything.
- TV show also helped destroy their original idea. A designer pitched Sega the idea of a Sonic Tv Show. It was unrelated to the game, but 8 months before the game launch SEGA gave total control to the show team to change the game, making big changes to the storyline and making Knuckles dumb. They also asked for a richer universe with lots of characters that were totally absent in the series, along with filler cutscenes and levels due to the storyline change. No info on the previous storyline was revealed, except that ancients had a huge importance there.
- Sega and Sonic Tems asked for several changes during all the developing process:
- Gameplay wise, asides for asking for more speed and less exploration, they also eliminated water moves. Initially, Sonic and friends were able to swim, but due to Sonic Team exigencies they made them die on contact with water in the final game.
- Design wise, many changes were made on the characters to make them more similar to “legacy Sonic” look. Several NPC characters had to be radically changed due to them violating Sonic Team design guidelines. One of them was Cliff, originally an inventor. Only Tails and Eggman can be inventors.
- Storyline wise, they made them discard the Sonic origins storyline as SEGA denied it, due to them planning to tell Sonic origins in the future ( or at least, that is what they told Big Red Button.
- Many gameplay gimmicks were removed. Rappel rock climbing, using friends as a slingshot, water ski, run fast to boost other characters while using Sonic, swim and dive for a few seconds… most of them were removed due to Wii U limitations. Crater lake level was hugely changed too, as it was focused on 4 players water skiing. They had to take parts of other levels to put a full crater lake level. Mecha worm boss was going to be part of Crater Lake originally.
- Chao was initially included at the game, but later removed due to time and hardware constraints.
- There was a piggy bank gimmick, were you banked your rings to later use to upgrade the characters and weapons. It was removed due to the change of game focus.
- Wii U build was planned to include several gamepad gimmicks such as moving platforms with the touch screen and controlling a golem robot, but was discarded due to tech issues and time constraints.
- There was a bi plane level that was removed due to being too boring. You controlled tails to chase Lyric into the final level. Voice clips from that level were dubbed into other languages. Motobadnik uploaded spanish audio dub lines from that level.
- Synergy name changed due to SEGA wanting to make a global brand, thus making no sense.
Motobadnik also released two more trailers for the game. One from November 2012
and another one from August 2013.
Last, but not least, Motobadnik released a full PDF with a design guide from February 2014. It includes tons of concept art, evolution of design and removed content from the games. You can download it here.
And that is all. Motobadnik ask that if you’re planning to make a video, article or any kind of relay of this info, please source the original source ( Sonic Paradise and him) and also contact him to avoid misinformation and help clarify any possible doubt that might arise. You can contact him at his twitter account ( he speaks English so have no fear to hit him up anytime)
Here are a few more screenshots and arts found at the article. If you want to read it fully, head to Sonic Paradise ( although it is in Spanish).