In the second part of our Summer of Sonic interviews, I sat down to talk robots and character design with Metal Sonic and Amy Rose’s creator – Kazuyuki Hoshino!
TSS: First of all, what does it mean to you to be here at Summer of Sonic?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: It’s great to be here and meet the fans who have continued to love the characters that I have created!
TSS: How do you go about the process of creating the Badniks and other enemies for Sonic games?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: Other than creating some of the key central characters I’ve also created lots of sub-characters. Whenever I create a main character, someone that’s central to the story or series, I always fully immerse myself in that character to really put myself in their shoes. When I was younger I always dreamed of my creations being sold as figurines in shops so people could buy some of the things that I had created. I’ve always kept this in mind when creating characters so I can design them to look great not only for their purpose, but so they would look good as figurines too.
TSS: Out of all the enemy characters you have created, which would you say is your favourite (Metal Sonic excluded!).
Kazuyuki Hoshino: Although he’s not as much of an enemy anymore, I’d definitely have to say Shadow the Hedgehog.
TSS: How did designing for NiGHTS differ to designing for Sonic games?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: When I’m creating characters for Sonic, I always have in mind that it needs to be appealing to millions of people. Sonic has such a big mass audience so I try and design to meet that taste. With NiGHTS, it has a very particular theme with quite a specific and niche market so I can push the boat out a little further to make designs that are more dream-like and psychological.
TSS: What were your biggest challenges in terms of design when making the transition from 2D to 3D games?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: When designing in 3D, you have to make sure that you create everything so that even the parts that weren’t visible before in 2D are now visible in 3D and they look good. You have to figure out how every part of the design would look from different angles and make it work. In the classic Sonic games he only had to be shown from the perspective that made him look best, now that everything is in 3D, you see Sonic from behind a lot more than you ever would have in 2D so now you have to make sure he and all of the other characters look good from all angles. Shadow has a red stripe going down his back and this is because we wanted to make him look both cool from behind and distinctively different from Sonic.
TSS: If you were to re-design Metal Sonic today, what new features would you give him, if any?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: When we originally created Metal Sonic, the thing I really had a focus on was making him look metallic because he is, of course, called Metal Sonic. If I were to re-design him, I would potentially challenge this and try to give him a different feel and texture that you would pick up just from looking at him. For example, a new feature I would perhaps give him is the ability to become invisible. You know in Sci-Fi films where they have the light-reflection technology that camouflages the user? I’d love to experiment with things like that and incorporate that technology into not only his skillset, but his visual design too.
TSS: You’ve created many iconic and memorable characters over the years. Do you think that we might see an art book dedicated to your works one day?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: I’m honoured that this question has been asked several times already today! I don’t have any plans at the moment to create a compilation of all the art that I’ve created so far. It would be great to have though and my Mother actually looks at art books quite often so she would be incredibly proud!
TSS: Thank you very much for your time, Hoshino-san!
Thanks again to Bobby Wertheim for translations!