Summer of Sonic 2013: Takashi Iizuka Interview

SoS13-Iizuka

I once again had the amazing opportunity to sit down with the head honcho over at Sonic Team – Takashi Iizuka! In the interview we talk Summer of Sonic, Lost World, Colour Powers and Sonic’s future. It’s quite a read so you definitely don’t want to miss it!

TSS: First of all, how does it feel to be back at Summer of Sonic for the third time?

Takashi Iizuka: I’m really, really happy to be here again though I haven’t actually been into the big rooms quite ye! I always love coming here to get the opportunity to meet the fans face-to-face and to really get some time with them.

TSS: What’s your favourite Summer of Sonic moment so far?

Takashi Iizuka: I’ve only actually been to Summer of Sonic three times so far and this time it hadn’t really started yet so I can’t really say I have a favourite moment from this year’s event quite yet. The previous two times, however, have been at two different locations which has been interesting! The one we did two years ago for Sonic’s 20th anniversary, we had Yuji Naka as a guest which was really great to see.

TSS: Was Sonic Lost World built around the Wisps or were they incorporated into the game later on in development?

Takashi Iizuka: Sonic Colours is the game where we first introduced the Wisps into Sonic games and it was a feature that was originally intended to be exclusively to this game. The Wisps and Colour Powers actually gave a great variety to the gameplay style and the user experience. We feel that it’s a great addition to the series and we really like the Wisps! We intend to actually carry on integrating the Colour Powers into Sonic games in the future and to standardise as something that is accepted as one of the things that’s in a Sonic game. As long as it matches the gameplay style, you will see Colour Powers. For Lost World, we intended to implement them from the outset, they weren’t bolted onto the game afterwards.

TSS: Did you bring over any other elements from Sonic Colours or Sonic Generations?

Takashi Iizuka: Over the past two versions of Sonic, we’ve really established the combination of forward-view and side-view platform-action gameplay. That’s really become a staple of Sonic but we wanted to something completely new with Lost World and provide a new experience to the user by giving them a different twist on the level design. We did take the Colour Powers from Colours but what else did we take from Sonic Colours specifically? I can’t really think of any specifics other than the things that are a staple diet of the Sonic series like the Spin Dash and Homing Attack so you will see standard Sonic stuff in there but this time it was more focused on pushing Sonic forward. If I were to talk about what we’ve taken from Classic Sonic? When you defeat a Badnik you’ll see an animal pop out as you did in the Classic games.

TSS: Do you feel that the ‘parkour’ style of gameplay that is being introduced in Lost World is something that will be permanently added to Sonic’s skillset?

Takashi Iizuka: The parkour has been specifically designed for Lost World since it really suits our game as it stands now with its cylindrical stages and so forth. Moving forwards, we’re not really intended on keeping parkour but that’s not set in stone. We’re just not planning on it being in the future games right now. As it was with Colour Powers, this feature was meant to be a one-off for Sonic Colours because it suited that game. As it was so popular and we see great benefits in using them, we carried on using them and we’re now thinking of using them as a staple. For now, no is the answer but that’s only for now. We could re-visit it depending on the feedback we get from it.

TSS: SEGA have put a lot of faith in the Nintendo platform for the next few Sonic games. What was it like developing with the Wii U tablet?

Takashi Iizuka: The biggest unique feature of the Wii U in terms of hardware is its dual-screen capability and the Gamepad. For Lost World, we have 3 main elements of how we’ve made full use of this technology with the first one being the ability to play the game on the Gamepad without the need to have it displayed on the TV. The second one is the option for competitive gameplay without splitting the screen unlike previously where each player would lose half of their screen in order to accommodate the other player but this time you can half one player using the Gamepad screen and the other using the television. The third major use is with the Colour Powers which can be activated by using the touch screen and making use of the gyro. The development team have had great fun working on the Wii U hardware and making full use of its unique features.

TSS: What were some of the team’s biggest challenges when designing levels for Lost World?

Takashi Iizuka: As you may have noticed, we have some cylindrical stages where you can around in 360 degrees. We have no previous experiences in creating levels like this in terms of design. Windy Hill is going to be the first stage in the game and we have created that level, broken it down, recreated it, broken it down again, rinsed and repeated so many times over the past half a year to really perfect that level and its design so that has been a huge challenge.

TSS: Thank you very much for your time, Iizuka-san!

Takashi Iizuka: [In English] Thank you too, I’ve enjoyed this talk!

We also have a video version of this interview for your viewing pleasure courtesy of Sonic Wrecks!

Stay tuned, because up next is an interview with Metal Sonic’s creator – Kazuyuki Hoshino!

Many thanks to Bobby Wertheim and Kevin Eva!

30 Comments

  1. I really hope they keep Parkour. It makes Sonic able to do many more things! It makes the gameplay more flexible.

    1. Same here. Even though I base my opinion only on footage from these beta versions, it seems to be a very nice addition that helps keep the fluidity and doesn’t work against it, like the homing attack (when it doesn’t bug)

    1. Yeah, no offense to the man or anything from me, but that is some bassackwards logic right there. I’m actually sort of nervous about Wisps becoming a standard in Sonic. Just.. I mean, they’re not bad or anything, but.. umm… you know, it seems a little unnecessary, whereas parkour seems like a feature that would tremendously help Sonic. Is there just going to be Wisps flying around now instead of Chao? I question how it’d even work in a story matter. Well, it’s fine by me as long as Wisps aren’t forced into the gameplay…. though it’s just weird the parkour is going to be left behind in favor of wisps. Plus, due to the fact that he wants them to become a standard, I don’t see why Sonic Colors is unique at all anymore, aside from introducing them. Will the next game after Lost World now be seen as Colors 3? XD

      1. This is the main problem with the Sonic Franchise

        >introduces something as “one-time-only”
        >do it again
        >become standard

        this happens all the time. With gameplay, characters, even art style. Just take a look at Sonic’s history.

        1. Well, to be honest, I can’t exactly remember a time where that happened and it bothered me… unless people count only being able to play as Sonic as one of those standards.

          …. And, with Wisps sticking around, I’m getting the feeling that perhaps it will stay as solo Sonic too, seeing as some of the powers make Tails and Knuckles obsolete… hm…. As Gamma once said, “This presents a problem.”

          1. Well if we wanna get technical, SA1 and SA2 has guns. They were just lock-on. Omega has guns and weapons in Heroes, then he Shadow has guns in ShTH, then Omega still did his weapons thing in 06, just without lock-on.

            It was a standard for a little bit, then it stopped. XD

      2. Strange isn’t it? I agree with your statement.
        P.S.- Rest in Peace Chao; it appears that you have been replaced. 🙁

        1. And I grew up loving the Chao too. I hope small animals, Wisps, and Chao can all coincide in the universe. I just simply wonder how they will explain the Wisps returning from this point onward.

      1. HAHAHAHA!

        No seriously, that’s hilarious. That’s like saying Tetsuya Nomura and Masahiro Sakurai know what they’re doing.

        Thanks for the laugh. :3

  2. I don’t understand all the hate here. Iizuka-san and Sonic Team have been doing a great job changing up the gameplay recently. I really hope the parkour system stays or is mixed in more with Sonic because it just feels like what Sonic would actually do. Also, wisps becoming a normal thing? I’m ok with this!

  3. The games have been really good lately, but I think I can speak for almost everyone when
    I say I would have rather had tails and knuckles playable and be able to do some of the things the wisps can do than have the wisps themselves.

  4. I can understand the whole gameplay style change. I think it’s nice to mix it up. But… making wisps a standard is something even I can’t get down with. They felt like a one and done thing… this is the change i’ll have the biggest problem adjusting to.

  5. I don’t see why people hate the guy,the moment Iizuka became Sonic Team head was the moment Sonic was actually getting back to good again. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fucking moron.

    1. “Anyone who thinks otherwise is a ******* moron.”

      Way to try and force your opinion down people’s throats.

  6. Me in 2010: Hey, these wisps are cool! I wish that they come back in future Sonic games. 😀
    Me in 2011: The wisps are cool, but I rather much prefer they don’t come back now. They were more of a one-off thing anyway. 🙂
    Me in 2012: WHAT’S THE NEXT MAINSTREAM SONIC TITLE?!?!!!????!?!?! XD
    Me in 2013: Be careful what you wish for… 🙁
    Me now: This comment took way too long to type…

  7. I wish the parkour stays, it looks really fun with lot of possibilities and I hope it is, but of course Sonic Team should wait and see how that mechanic is received by gamers.

    And for anyone wondering why the wisps are back is because they were well received, unlike guns, swords or werehogs.

  8. It’s a shame to hear that Parkour might not return, but that could change depending on Lost World’s success. Maybe. As for the Wisps becoming a staple in the series… I’m not sure what to think. On the one hand, it could bring some more gameplay variety with new Wisps in each game. But on the other hand, wasn’t that why Tails and Knuckles were there in the classic games?

    I understand that there are many characters in the franchise now, and it can sometimes be difficult to choose what purpose they have (if any). But I could easily see them working with a similar gameplay style. For example, Tails and Knux wouldn’t use parkour, so they’d need to either fly or climb up certain areas. However, they can still use the Spin Dash, as well as use their own abilities similar to the Wisp Powers for Sonic. Tails’ flight could replace the Eagle Wisp (and possibly the Rocket Wisp) in levels, and Knuckles’ drill attack could replace… well, isn’t it obvious? These are just some of my ideas though.

    Also, keep in mind that they haven’t fully revealed the Versus multiplayer mode, only the Co-op mode. There’s a chance that the other characters (or at least Tails, Knux and Amy) might be playable… but I’m not getting my hopes up. Overall, I’m still a bit skeptical on Lost World.

  9. I am going to say to Takashi Lizuka the head of Sonic Team you are great and awesome to make a lot of Sonic games then shirts and everything! accept some bad Sonic games like Sonic 06 also Takashi Lizuka I know you look like have Some a squirrel. One more thing Takashi Lizuka I will see you at Summer of Sonic 2014 only one year at London.

Comments are closed.