Takashi Iizuka: Without Sonic Mania, Ray and Mighty “Would Never See Light of Day” Again

In a new interview with Famitsu, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka revealed some interesting details about how long-lost Sonic characters Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Squirrel managed to make their way into Sonic Mania Plus. While he was happy and excited to be able to bring the two heroes back, he was certain that the door on their return to the series was otherwise closed.

Mighty and Ray first featured alongside Sonic in the rarely-seen and little-played 1993 arcade title SEGASonic the Hedgehog. Over the years, the two had largely been forgotten, barely acknowledged by the core Sonic Team development team (SEGASonic the Hedgehog and 1995 SEGA 32X platformer, Knuckles’ Chaotix, which Mighty made a re-appearance, were developed by different SEGA studios).

The only recent official reference of the two characters before the announcement of their inclusion in Sonic Mania Plus was in Sonic Generations (2011), where their headshots appeared in a ‘Missing’ poster Easter egg in the City Escape stage. So while Sonic Team does acknowledge the existence of Ray and Mighty, it is clearly intentional that little has been done with them in the mainline game series.

When asked about how the Sonic Mania team and Sonic Team decided on the ‘Plus‘ content, Iizuka noted that, “We thought about elements that would make fans happy. Since Sonic Mania is all about things that stimulate expectations and curiosity from fans, as a result of thinking about what could we add to make things more exciting, we decided to add Mighty and Ray as new characters.”

It sounded like Sonic Mania, as a celebration of classic Sonic gaming throughout the 16-bit era, provided an excellent opportunity to bring back the two characters – who Iizuka acknowledged that “fans [had] continued asking ‘whatever happened to them’ [for years]”. But without the Sonic Mania project, the producer was adamant that there had been no appetite at SEGA to formally bring the pair back.

“If anything, to me personally Mighty and Ray were “sealed characters” that would never see light of day in a video game. However, this time around we wanted to make a title packed with all kinds of references for all the special manias [fans] out there, and the stage was set to have those two make an appearance. So I figured we could unseal them [laughs].”

Iizuka also revealed the special characteristics of the two characters in Sonic Mania Plus. Mighty will have a downward ‘stomp’ move called the Hammer Drop, which will allow him to create new routes and attack enemies at will. He will also have no trouble with projectiles with his hard shell. Ray, as a flying squirrel, can use a glide move similar to Knuckles, with the added bonus of using momentum to fly upwards (similar to the cape in Super Mario World). Several levels had to be re-worked in order for Ray’s special move to avoid breaking the level design.

Read the rest of the Famitsu interview, in English, on Siliconera – there’s a lot of interesting material in there.

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Dreadknux

Sexy founder of The Sonic Stadium, and creator and co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic fan convention. By day, I'm a super-fantastic games journalist, el professionale. By night, I'm the mother-loving Sonical Batman. I keep the site ticking, look after the TSS Network, and get all excited about Sonic games so that you can too. May contain nuts.

6 Comments

  1. So basically: “We knew the people who buy our products (the consumer) wanted Mighty and Ray back, but we (the producers) didn’t feel like it.

    Iizuka is basically confessing they were wrong, without outright admitting it – that Sega had no interest, ignoring the consumer. Jackass. Hope he enjoys all that money that’ll flow in from people like me who just want to support the return of their valuable side-crew.

    1. “Valuable side crew?” Unless you frequented Japanese arcades back in the mid 90s you’ve never even played a game with Ray in it. More people might know Mighty from Chaotix, but considering Sonic wasn’t even in that game calling Mighty “valuable side crew” is still a stretch.

      I’m glad these two are in the game, don’t get me wrong, but lets not pretend most people know or care who these characters are. This is for Sonic maniacs, not random consumers.

    2. So, Iizuka gets all the blame, and none goes to Yuji Naka, who ran the team until 2006, 10 years after Mighty’s last appearance, and 13 after Ray’s?

    3. Yep. I mean it basically just confirmed my suspicions. They COULD use all those characters people actually like…but they won’t, unless it’s time to pimp out Classic some more. That melty-faced halfwit should just resign.

  2. So they’re quite happy to make mediocre to outright dumb one-and-done lame characters like Infinite but bringing back a welcome old character is sooo inconceivable? Really says things about the state of the games. I like the 3D sonic games (the good ones) as much as the classics/classic style, but Mania is everything done right and they really need to take as much notes as possible fron them. But we know they’ll just release another rushed forces or some equally bad trash.

  3. Goddamn Izuka is just not with it. Dude needs to leave Sonic and SEGA. He’s just an incompetent layabout. And he’s self absorbed because he’s the guy in charge of Sonic. He doesn’t have any genuine passion for the character and the franchise, but he wants to prove to people…..or at least validate to himself how important and amazing he is by making his own games. The 3D Sonic games that is. As far as I’m concerned we are lucky to have Mania. Cause if not for that game, Sonic would be burned out for me. The ONLY reason Mania is even a reality is because Izuka knows they need Whitehead and his direction, at least for now. Because the past couple 3D games have NOT been bringing in the usual good numbers for Sonic sales. They’re losing the audience and are grasping for whatever works.

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