Hirokazu Yasuhara talks about inventing Sonic

Hirokazu Yasuhara talks about inventing Sonic

In a recent interview with Gamasutra about Game Design Psychology Hirokazu Yasuhara was asked a few questions regarding the creation of Sonic. Heres a portion of the interview –

Ahh, that’s great. So…this may be a question you answered long ago, but when Sonic was created, Sega, as I understand, wanted a mascot. So how were the three of you chosen, or were you just coming up with this yourselves? Like, Ohshima, Naka and yourself.

HY: Like, how we wound up choosing between an armadillo and a hedgehog?

Did they tell you three to do it, or did they say “OK, everybody at Sega, come up with an idea”?

HY: No, it was just us three, and the mission statement was just “You guys have to make a mascot for Sega.”

How many design iterations and ideas did you go through before you came up with this?

HY: Well, in the very beginning, the project staff consisted entirely of Naka and Ohshima, back before I joined them. The main thing Naka had thought up at that time was a game engine that scrolled really, really fast — the problem after that was to figure out what kind of game we could make with that.

We didn’t have any game at that time, so we had to think about that first. I thought it’d be enough to have a game where you ran really fast, but we couldn’t get anything to work. Naka was really adamant about the idea that the game should be playable with one button, since Mario needed two — jump, and run or attack.

My response to that was that if you have only one button, then all you can do is jump, so we need to find some way the player can attack at the same time. So our character needed some way to deal damage just by jumping, and from there, we came up with the idea that he should roll himself up into a ball while in the air. I think that was how we first started off.

Did Sega want the mascot to be specifically popular in the US?
HY: Yes, that’s true.

Is that why he’s red, white and blue?

HY: Well, he’s blue because that’s the color of Sega [the Sega logo].

Oh! But then, the red and white shoes…

HY: Well, that…hmm, that I’m not sure about; you may want to ask Ohshima about that.

Okay. Someday, I’d love to.

HY: Maybe there was that sort of meaning, since we definitely were trying to make this popular in America.

I also heard that originally, when Sonic would get hit, the rings would not come out. Is that true? And then that was later implemented to make it more interesting.

HY: Well, I think the way rings shot out of you when you got hit was there from the beginning. But the Genesis’s power means that you can only show so many rings at once, so we experimented a lot at first with having the rings flash and not overlap with each other and so on.

After a while, though, we realized that having a ton of rings onscreen would be a selling point — it’d show how cool the Genesis was, and it was visually interesting. So we tried our hardest to make that happen.

You can read the full 5 page interview here, it’s an interesting read.

The ring scatter thing is interesting too, now we know why only so many of your rings scatter rather than all of them. That would be alot for any console to handle. I’d never thought of Sonic’s colours symbolizing the U.S. flag before, could that be true? Share your views at the SSMB here.