Ohshima: I Wanted A ‘Back To The Future’ Sonic

Ohshima: I Wanted A ‘Back To The Future’ Sonic

sonic_cd_4Sonic Team legend and Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator, Naoto Ohshima, spoke to Gamasutra about some of his past work, including his time directing Sonic CD and the inspiration for the blue blur’s sneakers.

After discussing NiGHTS Into Dreams, attention turned to Ohshima’s Mega CD project and the reason behind time travel – a theme he has since revisited with Blinx: The Time Sweeper on the Xbox. “I wanted a Sonic where the levels changed on you — where Sonic would go really fast, like in Back to the Future, and bang, wind up in a different place.”

Ohshima also spoke of the time-travelling cutscene, displayed whenever Sonic reaches a speed in Sonic CD that sends him to the Past or Future. The original plan was to have an instant change, following a sonic boom, but apparently it was not technically possible so the loading cutscene stuck.

Ohshima: What I really wanted to do was just have this sonic boom, with a flash, and have the level change on you instantly. We just couldn’t manage it on the hardware, though, so instead there’s that sequence that plays while it’s loading. (laughs) I kept fighting and fighting with the programmers, but they said it just wasn’t possible.

Gamasutra: I bet they probably could have done it.

Ohshima: I know! (laughs) If Naka was doing the programming, I think it could’ve been done.

Speaking of Yuji Naka, the designer also spoke of how his team worked in Japan on Sonic CD in tandem with Naka’s SEGA Technical Institute in the U.S. on Sonic 2.

We exchanged information, of course, talking about the sort of game design each of us was aiming for. But Sonic CD wasn’t Sonic 2; it was really meant to be more of a CD version of the original Sonic. I can’t help but wonder, therefore, if we had more fun making CD than they did making Sonic 2 [because we didn’t have the pressure of making a “numbered sequel”].

Sonic the Hedgehog’s original design came up again, with discussion of how the character was created for the American market leading to questions of Sonic’s iconic blue, red and white colours. Ohshima said that, as we know, the blue was to symbolise SEGA, but what was more interesting was yet another tenuous link between Michael Jackson and the blue blur. Apparently Sonic’s shoes are directly inspired by Jackson’s Bad album cover. “I also thought that red went well for a character who can run really fast, when his legs are spinning.

Naoto Ohshima left SEGA many years ago to lead Artoon, but now has management duties at sister development studio Cavia, which recently finished Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles and is working on Square Enix’s Nier. But with this change in approach to more Western, adult-oriented games, does Oshima still have time in his life to go back to the mascot platforming gig?

Ah, well, I’m making a game like that right now. (laughs) I can’t quite talk about that yet, though. In more general terms, the game needs to be something that anyone is able to play, and it needs to have one thing or element that is brand new, that hasn’t been done before.

Shine on, you legend. Shine on.

The Sonic Stadium may link to retailers and earn a small commission on purchases made from users who click those links. These links will only appear in articles related to the product, in an unobtrusive manner, and do not influence our editorial decisions in any way.

Published by


Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.


  1. And suddenly, at the mention of a new mascot-based platformer, my intrigue shot through the roof again.

    Watch as some hacker from Retro try to recreate that “Sonic Boom” sequence.

  2. I’m looking forward to see his project.

    So that’s where Sonic’s sneakers are associated with Michael Jackson. “You know I’m BAD! I’m BAD! You know it!” Yeah…

    I’m now hoping Project Needlemouse to have time travel. And the way Naoto Oshima wanted it. Because NOW it’s possible. Also, I do like Sonic and Back to the Future. 😛

    I totally agree with Naoto, giving Sonic red sneakers looks very cool when they’re moving really fast. (And it’s just a cool character design, altogether.) When I was a kid, I just loved when Sonic’s sneakers turned into wheels. We should have that in Project Needlemouse.

  3. Yeah, I hope Ohshima, was refering to PNm (Project Needlemouse). It seems that once a father, always a father. As Ohshima was a founding father of Sonic, we may see some awesome new games coming our way

  4. Sonic CD is like my ONLY favorite 2D Sonic game…it was the first Sonic game I’ve played… sheesh…I was only 3…yet I knew nothing about how to play a simple video game ((not really simple at first)).
    After actually getting into it a couple years later, I was glued to the game… tch…a little girl playing video games…
    that’s not normal they say…

    Anyway…I remember beating the game with out the Time Stones, I cheered. Then beating the game with the Time Stones…and now, I know where everything is, I’ve beaten time attack records and so on.

    If they make a game similar that would be great but he says that it will be a game that has a completely new element…
    let’s see what Ohshima is up to.

  5. This is really weird, I’m watching Back to the Futures 1, 2 & 3 back to back on Anytime on Sky!
    I didn’t know Ohshima worked on Darkside Chronicles. It’s a shame, because it’s a pile of schnit.

    Michael Jackson also lets Sonic borrow his sneakers? Crackers.

  6. Sonic + Back to the Future is instant win.

    Proof: Sonic CD

    A real sonic-boom-transition-into-time-travel within the game would have been truly awesome. :]

  7. First the Sonic 3 soundtracks and now the Sneakers, whats next?! @ this rate poor Michael won’t have nothing left to take to his grave.

  8. They need to publish a tell all book or something while these legends are still working in the industry.
    When it comes to my favourite Sonic games, its almost a tie between Sonic 2 and CD

    Great times that won’t be coming back (apart from another collection game)

    I have to admit thou, when I saw the topic title on the homepage here, I thought it was hinting at the next Story Book Sonic game 😛

  9. That tooth-looking green ornament that looks like a tooth looks way similiar with the logo of finnish metal band Stam1na.

Comments are closed.