Rafei discusses redesigns, Sonic Team, and sports tape

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A new interview has surfaced with Bob Rafei, CEO of Big Red Button Entertainment, who says Sonic Team had some “discomfort” over some of the company’s more wacky redesign ideas. A lengthy article over on Gamespot goes into some details of the behind the scenes work of Sonic Boom, which Rafei explains about the freedom Sonic Team gave them, and where they simply had to cross the line.

“We went pretty wide with the designs at first, and by going too wide, we lost some of the spirit of the character and had to rein it in,” said Rafei. “Sonic Team and Sega were very open-minded about our approach, and accepting of a lot of things we were doing. Ultimately, because of some of our really wacky ideas, we did find the boundaries of things we could and couldn’t do[…] we experimented with different colors and surface features on the characters, such as fur or scales, and quickly Sonic Team came back with their discomfort of that. They were great guardrails for us to understand when we were deviating too far from the character. Without their input, the character would have been a lot more alien and different from what Sonic is known for.”

Sonic the Speedy Reptile, perhaps?

Rafei goes on to explain the time where Iizuka himself popped down the Big Red Button to have a chat about the new look characters – where they ended up having an adult conversation about the validity of pants on the cast.

“I felt sorry for the guy because sometimes he couldn’t actually look at the screen–it was too traumatic seeing all the crazy stuff we wanted to do. Over the course of that meeting, when we were coming up with new ideas, we had a very sincere–just two adults talking–conversation about why a character should or should not wear pants, and that was a very surreal moment in my life and my career,”

But that’s not all! Rafei also answers many other burning questions – such as, what is the deal with all that sports tape?!

“From my perspective, it was important the characters have a practical heroism to them and not vanity, which is more fitting for villains. The arm and leg wraps were inspired by fighters and American football players–two groups who don’t really care what they look like so long as the end result is that they kick ass at what they do. That was something I wanted associated with these characters. The sports tape is meant to show the characters are not vain; it’s just a part of their daily routine. When the world is in jeopardy, you don’t have time to worry about what you look like. It’s a more grounded approach for the characters.

This is in contrast to Eggman and his very formal, military-esque attire. That’s a very conscious design choice because his character is more vain and is very concerned with what his robots look like and what he looks like. Hopefully you can see the thought that went into this and not just something we threw out for the sake of it.”

Well, when you put it like that! You can read the full story over on Gamespot, where they also touch on other sweet details like the reason behind our brand new jacked up Knuckles, why Sonic is wearing a bandana, and how similar Sonic Boom will be to the classics we all know and love. Now excuse me while I go make a Sonic the Reptile with Pants picture…

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A video game enthusiast, dog lover and dedicated Netflix user. Would probably spend every day eating pizza and talking about movies quite happily.


    1. Blue arms. The one and only thing keeping me from being optimistic about this show. You can put sports tape on everyone, you can really weird out Knuckles, but you do not, and I repeat, you do not, make Sonic’s arms blue.

      1. See? I told you I was not alone, people know the blue arms gig looks dumb as hell, and psst guess what? it was gonna be worse way worse! so horrible even Iizuka couldn’t look at it!

        1. Again with this guys? Look if you dont like it, then you dont have to deal with it, Its Another Universe, if you really hate it that badly then stick to the main canon thats it

          1. Its not that I hate it, I mean it’s still Sonic.. it’s just the blue arms are a huge unnecessary distraction.. it’s like trying to watch TV with a huge fly on the screen 🙁

          2. I don’t hate the redesigns, I just hate Sonic’s coloring. What if they gave Knuckles and Tails peach arms?

        2. But Seriously though guys, if it really bothers you that much that yur still going to complain then dont watch or play it, its that simple

          1. So what your saying is if you dont like something turn a blind eye and be quiet about it? that’s what keeps companies giving us garbage and politicians and religion ruining the world.

            We say it like it is! ever heard the tale of the naked king?

          2. Im not saying that what im saying and most people would agree, is that your entitled your opinion and we respect that, but whats done is done, and if thats what they want to do, then so be it, its their choice, and if it really bothers you guys tht much, then you dnt have to worry about it, The more you keep complaining and nitpicking at it though, the more annoying its going to “seem” to you guys, but the fact is that whats done is done, and this is the final design. And if SEGA Likes it, then it is going to be that way, if you realy hate it that badly then dont watch or Play Sonic Boom, if the blue arms are really such a problem.

    2. It’s hardly a distraction anyways. I know it’s old, but, complaining about blue arms is like complaining about green eyes. The arms is the last thing I would complain about. Now, if he was turned into Sonic the Reptile, then yeah, that would be uproar worthy.

      1. It’s still an unnecessary change.

        I don’t mind the green eyes, they just didn’t fit into Sonic 4

        1. I don’t even mind green arms at all. It’s just that through every one of Sonic’s redesigns, he’s always had consistent body coloring. Even the rest of the cast in this show has the same body coloring. They even remembered to color Amy’s arms right. Why must Sonic be the only exception?

          1. Well, considering Amy’s tape is a drastically different colour from everybody else’s in order to show up better on her arms, and they obviously did think the use of the tape through and want to use it, maybe colour palettes were a concern.

          2. Indeed! its like taking Mario’s mustache away! would you like that?

            It makes no sense and it looks ugly, look… I know it sounds like beating a dead horse to some but if we dont get angry about stupid stuff like this SEGA will continue to mutate Sonic into something unrecognizable.

        2. Hello? are I hope you are joking… and if you aren’t joking then please look at Classic Sonic then look at Modern Sonic, its not just the green eyes that make a difference. I think you meant they should’ve had Classic Sonic in sonic 4.

      2. Green eyes came with his revamped look on 9/9/99 his whole body was different, but this blue arms thing looks like a joke, from this interview they were gonna give sonic pants! these are ex Naughty dog members guys the creators of CRASH freaking Bandicoot.

        Its obvious they want to turn sonic into their “Crashy” image.

        Don’t say oh but now its better, look they were gonna ruin Sonic’s image and Iizuka was very displeased! THAT says alot! if you keep denying this then you are like those XBOX ONE fans that even tho Microsoft was gonna ruin their lives they now love them cuz oh wow they remove the DRM and junk, oh wow Microsoft are gods! GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK! dont make me laugh people.

        Its not the blue arms that has us mad its their negligence and their lack of interest of what made Sonic truly great! they are just getting payed to make the game they wouldn’t care less about you people, they are in it for the money that is all.

        So dont you dare talk about the green eye thing, that’s a ridiculous excuse that only one person used in who know when, because Green eyes doesn’t make Modern Sonic but his whole body does. You guys are just damage controlling like the Xbox one fans, You know you are. Those who nitpick and criticize are the ones who have their head well put on their shoulders because we see everything unlike you who I bet are noticing all the errors thanks to us. So thank us for opening your eyes, does it hurt when we do? GOOD.

        1. I’ll admit, I tilted my head in confusion when I first saw Sonic’s blue arms, but it wasn’t that big of a deal, and I’ve long since accepted it. But you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Blue arms =/= the end of Sonic.

          It’s not a big deal. It doesn’t affect the games in the slightest. If those blue arms started stretching, Werehog style, then you’re be right in complaining.

          It’s one thing to criticize, but it’s another to complain at the level you’re doing. With this minor issue, you’ve somehow related it to racism, religion, and politics. If that’s not making mountains out of molehills, I don’t know what is…

          The original, tan armed Sonic still exists. There’s still going to be games outside of Sonic Boom. But this is a new chance for the hedgehog. A chance to create a different take on the series.

          If you don’t like it, then just leave it alone. No one’s tying you to a chair and forcing you to enjoy it.

          Good day.

  1. Seem’s a bit of a stereotypical take on personality traits, vanity is not a “villain” trait, but I get the sports tape, it doesn’t bother me too much, there are other things I find about the designs that are a lot more noticeable and in some cases, irking.

    1. Vanity may not be a villain trait in all circumstances, but it definitely IS an Eggman trait.

  2. Scales lead me to believe more that some Crocodiles and Chameleons have been considered.

    I’d like to see what was going on in the original designs. I don’t trust the notion that Iizuka “sometimes couldn’t look at the screen”. As far as this has gone, I’ve seen far worse out of this franchise and at times when Iizuka was in charge of the franchise pre-Sonic Colours.

    Whatever it was it was probably “too Western”. And if anything, what this franchise is desperate need of is some fresh perspective on the franchise that hasn’t gotten to speak up for anything game changing in the franchise. I’m really glad we’re having a new Euromerica Sonic again. This is the best thing to happen to the franchise in years. I just hope Sega of Japan lets them really spread out their wings and throw in some really crazy ideas given how fucking anal they’ve been that the Archieverse even has to abide by the Modern art style now.

      1. Oh, I’m not saying that “too Western” is a bad thing. If anything, more of its influence will only do the Boom franchise even more favours. But I’ll bet that Iizuka felt that that was a bad thing. And considering the fan reaction to how Western, sometimes really Disney-esque the really awesome character boards are, he knows who he’s speaking for, it seems.

        It’s a shame, too, really. The definition of what’s Sonicky needs to expand. This series kind of thrives on all sorts of experimentation and alternate universe play and yet this fanbase seems to have become completely content with the one game-centric vision that was being set there for a while. Quite frankly, good riddance with that being the only Sonic universe. In a series where you have a Time Traveling Super Saiyan Transforming Hedgehog there sure isn’t enough multiverses to go around and very minimal cross interaction with said multiverses.

        I’m so glad that they’re giving leeway to another branch that Sega West gets to handle. I really hope that Iizuka hasn’t had them throw away any really grandiose ideas that could really make this series stand out. I have confidence in the team. They just need a lot of leg room to do something interesting.

  3. They should have different unlockable attires/clothing/props for the characters in the game

  4. Personally I love the changes, I just really hope they keep the little things about the characters as well though, like Sonic being afraid of water, Amy being in love with Sonic, things like that really :/

    1. Fun fact, I don’t think Sonic’s fear of water has EVER been referenced in the games. Makes sense, because in most of the 2D games he can easily enter water without freaking out, and in games like Rush Adventure he’s pratically sailing across tonnes of water.

  5. I hate Big Red Button of Naughty Dog create new redesign for Knuckles The echidna, not going to play with him a lot only Amy Rose, or Sonic The Hedgehog, and Miles Tails Prower when the new Sonic game have a release date?

    1. There will be parts of the game where you have to use a certain character to proceed, so good luck with that. Also, hating on a company over a character design is just FLAT-OUT DUMB!

      1. Dude, This is the Sonic Fan-base. Of course they would hate a company for something so simple.

  6. Hmm, interesting thought into the sports tape. I didn’t think of it that way, although personally I’m not too against it in the first place. I’m laughing a bit at the pants discussion… Sometimes I wonder why the men get away with wearing nothing but pants but the females have to wear clothing (even Blaze, granted it was more of a robe type outfit in my opinion). It’s just silly!

    Still looking forward to more news on this game, but it’s so fascinating getting to hear the thoughts that go on behind the designs and concepts.

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