Practically everything was unknown about Sonic X-Treme. How it felt to play, what the levels were, how many bosses, the story… When information was revealed about a female character, people wondered whether she was going to replace Amy Rose, and if she’d be the timid ‘damsel in distress’ type.
Chris Senn, co-lead Designer and Art Director, has revealed concept artwork of Tiara Boobowski. Tiara is a Manx kitten, according to Senn. The concept was going to be a bandicoot, but the resemblance beared more of a Manx.
The character of Tiara was not going to be the helpless girly type, but rather someone more of a match for Sonic. “I didn’t steer towards or away anything other than what seemed to work right as a character I could see Sonic interacting with… she needed to be spunky, and match Sonic’s “tude.” I think the final sketch design of her captures that (at least for me).”
“Michael Kosaka wanted her to have this type of character, so we went in that direction. You’re right in that the “damsel in distress” was not what we were looking for and I think that exemplifies some of the (at least then) cultural differences between the Japanese and American markets.” If we’re going to be talking about cultural ideas as well, Tiara’s ‘well rounded’ figure not only is quite a link to the definition and traits of a real life Manx cat (long hind legs, raised rump and large chest) but also perhaps a (probably unconscious) decision to exercise some ‘girl power’ within the series with the ‘X-Treme’ (sorry!) feminity of the character.
“Personally, I still like the idea of Sonic meeting his “match”… and seeing that involvement evolve through experiences together. Unfortunately, the back story that would support gameplay like this was never really a part of Sonic Xtreme. The storylines we had all pretty much focused on supporting the worlds and basic plot premise between good and evil… but didn’t delve into the involvement of the characters with each other as much as we could have. To make it a deeper, more rewarding game, I think this should take place…”
Not only did Tiara have a matching attitude, she had matching gameplay too. Concept images were made showcasing how Tiara would look if played in the game. This shows that Tiara was under consideration as a playable character instead of a simple storyline piece, but as the project progressed Tiara was removed as a playable character due to time constraints. Click on the thumbnail to see an entire animation of Tiara running through the level, it also displays a lot of the 3D level manipulation that had been designed for the game.
As for Tiara’s occupation and background story, that’s still not been fully revealed to date. We know she is the daughter of a Gazebo Boobowski, who is a revered Professor living in the Castle of Light. An official ‘myspace’ account was created to reveal more on Tiara’s character, which can be accessed here. On this profile it states Tiara is a “Princess”. Which would make sense given her father’s abode and her name – Sonic characters are usually named in relation to their abilities or status. In fact, certain blogs being posted on Tiara’s myspace even appear to reveal certain plotlines to Sonic X-Treme, with references to “climbing the tower” and a recent entry containing the following:
“Breaker says station lost communication with Base Orbit – and I haven’t heard a peep from Dad. I’m worried. He never gets anywhere without contacting me. I’m gonna go run for awhile. Hopefully that will clear my mind a little.”
A blog on January 15th is written as an “Emergency Transmission”, with a broken ‘May Day’ message. Also of equal interest is Tiara’s apparent dislike for Sonic the Hedgehog – her profile mentions ‘arrogant hedgehogs’ as a turn-off, while she openly claims she wouldn’t ask Sonic for water if she was dying of thirst. Pretty bold statement. But is there real dislike there, or is it all a front? Time will tell, when information on the rest of the game is revealed…