TSS was given the opportunity at E3 to get a first hands-on look at the Sonic at the Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020 mobile title, set for release to coincide with the event next year, and although this date is still some time away, we were permitted to play a few rounds on an early demo of the game!
TSS Preview: Sonic at the Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020
Interviewed: Eigo Kasahara (Creative Producer), Takashi Iizuka (Vice President of Product Development)
Interviewer: Adam Tuff (Editor-In-Chief, The Sonic Stadium)
After being ushered backstage at SEGA Atlus’ impressive E3 booth, I was introduced to Eigo Kasahara, Creative Producer of the title, who briefly introduced me to the game he is currently working on: the Sonic-only Olympic Games title, planned for release in 2020. The game sees Sonic and his friends compete in a series of Olympic events, in which players can represent their countries in online leaderboards.
It’s still the better part of a year before this game sees general release, but Kasahara-san’s team already has a working demo, which was handed to me on a mobile phone with the demo of the 110 metre hurdles event loaded. After running into a few hurdles on the first go (literally, not figuratively!), I had a good understanding of the timing of button taps required in the mini game to allow Sonic to clear each hurdle.
Holding a finger down to the screen charges Sonic up before the pistol fires and Sonic was catapulted off the starting line. A tap on the screen causes Sonic to jump; the longer the finger is held after the jump tap, the greater height Sonic achieves; to master the game, the player must achieve sufficient height to clear the hurdles, without sacrificing time on the ground which is used to accelerate. Collisions with hurdles reduce Sonic’s speed.
Hungry for more, I tell Kasahara-san that it was fun and ask kindly if I can play again, and eagerly await the translator to give me an answer – to my delight he obliges. I get a good start, and rapidly build to an incredible velocity, clearing every hurdle, and start to become aware that Takashi Iizuka has also just entered the room and is also watching me play. After a few near misses with gasps from my audience, I clear every hurdle and blast across the finish line, and my audience are audibly impressed with my Olympic prowess – albeit in the mobile world. Following the demo, we were granted an interview with Kasahara-san:
The Sonic Stadium: Sonic at the Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020 will take place in the city that is birthplace of Sonic and home to SEGA; what elements of the game will reflect this and what was done to make these fit in with the Sonic the Hedgehog Universe?
Eigo Kasahara: The overworld map in Sonic at the Olympic Games feels like Sonic’s world, but includes many sightseeing spots of Tokyo. When the player visits each of these spots, each will contain an Olympic mini game.
TSS: Is there a story mode to the game, and how will players progress or unlock different stages?
EK: The overworld will include many different areas through which players will progress as they complete events. There is a story mode, and it will centre around Eggman’s evil plot where it is up to Sonic to stop him by progressing through each of the events in each area.
TSS: It seems like a great year for Sonic to go it alone in an Olympic Games title!
EK: It has been more than 10 years since the first Mario & Sonic at the Olympics title in the series, but this is the first one that will take place in Japan. I have been very excited to make this Sonic title for more than a year, and so I want to make a game that anyone can play!
TSS: Sonic games lend themselves very well to the mobile platform, as it allows the players an on-the-go experience and allows co-operative and competitive play with friends and others around the world. What features of this game will allow players to interact with others?
EK: The title is primarily a solo play experience but will include a ranking system where you will compete globally to get high scores. While it isn’t real time PvP, you can compete with your rival’s ghost which will appear alongside you while on the track.
TSS: A feature of many mobile games is that there are usually a host of extras that become available for players to either unlock or purchase. Are there any add-ons expected to be made available in Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020?
EK: We don’t have all those kinds of decisions made quite yet as the game is still in early development, we are considering adding the option for players to be able to download and select classic background music in order to play levels with well-known Sonic songs.
TSS: There will be more than 30 different sports played at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. How did you and the team go about selecting events that would be featured in this game, and what were your main considerations in this process?
EK: Because this is a mobile game and meant to be played on the go, we wanted to select games that the players would be able to complete in short spaces of time – sports like hurdles lend themselves very well, and so this was our primary consideration.
TSS: Because this is a mobile game, the audience is much broader compared to say a console Sonic the Hedgehog game. While Sonic has always been an easy game to pick up and play, how are you doing this with this Olympic title?
EK: We wanted all the games to be intuitive to play – and this is the focus of our development team for this title. At the moment it is a trial-and-error process for those involved in the game to figure out what ways of playing each game are both easy to pick up and fun to play.
TSS: Are there any events that will feature in the mobile title that will not feature in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020 console title?
EK: Oh! Good question! Yes, both the 3000-metre steeplechase and skeet shooting events will be exclusive to the Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 mobile title.
TSS: Last question – what are your hopes for Japan’s Olympic performance in 2020?
EK: [Laughs] Of course we hope Japan wins as many Gold medals as possible – and we aim to put as many games as possible we think Japan will win into the Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 title [laughs all around].
TSS: Kasahara-san, Iizuka-san, thank you very much for your time!
Sonic at the Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020 is due for release in Spring 2020.