San Diego Comic Con played host to the Sonic Mania Development team yesterday, in a panel that included Takashi Iizuka, programmers Christian Whitehead and Simon Thomley, alongside lead artist Tom Fry, composer Tee Lopes and SEGA community manager Aaron Webber. Our man in the field Jason Berry was at the panel, and captured the events as they happened via The Sonic Stadium Twitter. Continue reading SDCC Sonic Mania Panel Roundup & Special Stage Reveal
This year’s Tokyo Game Show kicks off on September 15th, and with it will come plenty of big reveals from some of the industry’s biggest developers and publishing giants, as well as over 200,000 people expected to be on the show floor to try out upcoming titles.
SEGA will be attending the event with livestreams going on throughout the show, showing off the likes of Yakuza 6, Persona 5, and the new Puyo Puyo Chronicle among other wares. The latest SEGA 3D Classics compilation title from M2, SEGA 3D Fukkoku Archives 3: Final Stage, and Sanzaru Games’ Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice will also be present, complete with new gameplay footage and a live stage event featuring special guests like M2 President Naoki Horii and Sonic series director Takashi Iizuka respectively.
Check out SEGA’s complete TGS 2016 schedule below!
Just recently, Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima spoke with the Japanese magazine Famitsu, and commented on the origins of the Mario & Sonic series, as well as Sonic joining Super Smash Bros. Brawl. But Yuji Naka also said that he wishes to give another presentation to Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka about a potential Mario & Sonic action game. See the quote below.
Well… many suspected that there might be more to Mr Iizuka’s trip to the US than just the SXSW panel, and it seems you were right. The head of Sonic Team Takashi Iizuka is in Sega of America right now, and according to Gamasutra, he’s there overseeing development on new Sonic games. Continue reading Takashi Iizuka Is In The US To Oversee New Sonic Games
As reported earlier, in Japan a Sonic fan event called the Sonic Appreciation Festival just took place and recently wrapped up. Special guests included series producer Takashi Iizuka, character artist and designer Yuji Uekawa, and composers Jun Senoue and Tomoya Ohtani. In the event, several announcements were made, while not of a new game, were still notable.
First and possibly most notable is the announcement of an upcoming concert called the Sonic Adventure Music Festival, which will be held on April 2nd, 2016 at the Future Seven venue in Japan.
Another announcement was that Jun Senoue is working on a new album called “The Works II”. This will be released on February 24th, 2016 in Japan.
A third announcement was that Sega will be holding another concert called the Symphony Sega Concert, which will be held on July 17th, 2016 in Japan also.
Finally on a minor note, it’s been reconfirmed that Sticks and the Deadly Six will be featured in Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which is also reconfirmed to launch on 3DS again on February 18th, 2016 in Japan. The Arcade version was also shown off but no info has surfaced, if anything new was shared of that version in particular. And once again there was no word of the Wii U version.
TSSZ has rounded up lots of pictures from the event right here.
Japanese Sonic the Hedgehog fans will once again be treated to another Sonic fan event, due to take place at the SEGA JOYPOLIS theme park in Odaiba, Tokyo on Sunday, 27th of December, 2015.
The event, similar to those that have taken place at this venue in the past, will include appearances from Takashi Iizuka, Yuji Uekawa, Tomoya Ohtani and Jun Senoue, and a musical performance. For the first time, a cosplay contest will take place, which will require entrants to submit their photo applications prior to the event in order to be selected for the finals which will take place on stage at the event.
Are you going to Japan in December and are you planning on attending the event? Let us know in the comments!
In June I had an opportunity to complete the set of SEGA-affiliated fan events and attend SONIC FEST 2014, SEGA of Japan’s answer to Sonic Boom and Summer of Sonic at SEGA’s Tokyo theme park, JOYPOLIS. SONICFEST this year was also a celebration of Sonic’s golden birthday (the birthday for which the age in years matches the date of the month of birth) which is a big deal in eastern culture. Although I’ve had a lot of contact with fans based in the Europe and the US, I’ve not spoken to many Japanese fans; whether this is because there are fewer of them or because there is a language barrier, I was unsure. Suffice to say we arrived at the gates of JOYPOLIS on Daiba island, unsure what to expect in regards to both the order of the day and turnout.
I was pleased to see Japanese Sonic fans are just as enthusiastic as the rest! By the time we had arrived (about 45 minutes before doors opened), the queue was already down the boardwalk, heaving with fans dressed for the occasion, excitedly talking and greeting each other as the queue built. The first 200 fans through the door were given special individually numbered tickets, which allowed them access to the “golden circle” for the main stage event at SONICFEST (other fans could watch but from further back from the stage).
The park itself was open as usual on the day, albeit dressed a little more Sonic-themed than usual. In addition to these extras, the park recently underwent a large refurbishment, removing a lot of the old and outdated features and replacing them with attractions more akin to Sonic’s more modern appearance. A large portion of the first floor in the park is now an area known as the “Sonic Carnival”, an area dedicated to Sonic-centric games, as well as a very impressive Sonic statue, who exclaims various statements (in Japanese) when activated; fittingly, Sonic had been adorned in a crown and fur coat for the day. Several of the games are typical fairground affairs in which the most skilled players are rewarded for their efforts in the form of a lovely Sonic plush.
Amongst the standard affair are three unique Sonic games. Sonic Athletics sees players take to treadmills, in order to compete in three track events including sprints, long jumps and hurdles. The players physically run on the treadmill, with the forward pressure applied dictating the velocity of the chosen character. Conversely, Sonic Brain Training requires competitors to flex their grey matter through a series of five of a possible ten games, involving memory, mathematics, fast reflexes and a keen understanding of Japanese! Players stand at podiums containing touch screens, and compete to score the highest each round. Those scoring above 1,000,000 were rewarded with a keepsake card to mark your achievement, with those exceeding 1,200,000 earning a special card (the latter being just out of the reaches of my abilities!). Children can also enjoy the Sonic Ghost Shooting game, where a small cart takes players around a small track while blasting Sonic Adventure 2 era ghosts with a gun.
For the seasoned merchandise hunter, JOYPOLIS is heaven. The gift shop is filled with a huge range of current, generally available items, as well as a lot of exclusive pieces which can only be purchased at JOYPOLIS. More excitingly, the UFO machines had been especially stocked for one day only with the entire range of seasonal Sonic plushes, which included Surf Board and Water Melon Sonic (Summer exclusive), Halloween Vampire Sonic (Fall exclusive) and Santa Sonic (Winter exclusive). While some were easily obtained by unhooking a ring holding the plush in the catcher machine, others required you to destroy a load-bearing paper tie with a needle-like UFO arm – One Japanese fan pumped thousands of yen into a machine in order to obtain their prize!
For those feeling a little peckish, a special drink and chilidog combo was available, which came with a sticker to prove you’d devoured the foot-long. A limited edition range of sweets were on offer, including a special branded E-MA capsule which contained little cherry candies.
The main event of the day was a 90 minute show on the main stage, hosted by a gentleman in a SEGA boiler suit [EDIT: The guy is called Sexy Saito! Good to know! Thanks to Shane for the info – T]. He was soon joined on stage by Takashi Iizuka, who introduced the trailer for Sonic Boom (branded as “Sonic Toon” for the eastern market), after which gameplay was demonstrated by Iizuka-san himself, Jun Senoue played a selection of Sonic songs accompanied by Sonic himself with fans accompanying by singing along. AiAi from Super Monkey ball made his presence known for the blowing out of the candles of Sonic’s birthday cake.
Iizuka-san then issued a challenge to the audience for three competitors to go head-to-head against at Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed, with participants receiving a goodie bag of Sonic goods. Amusingly, none of the challengers has the skill to beat Iizuka-san, who came in first in the race!
Yuji Uekawa, best known for his signature Sonic the hedgehog designs that have graced the franchise since the days of Sonic Adventure, also made a rare stage appearance at SONICFEST to talk to the fans during the show. Soon after, a raffle also took place on stage, with the numbers of the 200 golden circle audiences being drawn at random to receive a special prize. After several of these prizes had been amusingly “modeled” by Senoue-san, we were ecstatic to realise that one of our number had been drawn (The winner being Lewis from Segadriven)! Not only that, Uekawa-san also presented three hand-drawn original Sonic sketches, which were also given away to three lucky winners (unfortunately my number was not picked!)
After advertisements for several SEGA games, the stage events concluded, and fans were invited to a meet and greet session with Iizuka-san, Senoue-san and Uekawa-san, with an impressive range of rare Sonic items being brought out by fans for signing (Kieran also got an opportunity to present Uekawa-san with a hand drawn gift). Post-signing session, I had an opportunity to talk to some Japanese fans and take some photos; some of the hand-made items were incredible, and it was obvious to see that a lot of them were extremely passionate about Sonic. More impressively, we saw an attendee wearing a Summer of Sonic shirt! We also got to meet Act, one of the drummers from Crush 40’s live shows, who was also in attendance for the day.
SONIC FEST was a fantastic day out, and it is great to see that community events like this have also caught on in the east. Hopefully SONIC FEST will be a reoccurring event, and I implore you to go if you’re in Tokyo next year! JOYPOLIS is open all year round, with admission starting from ¥800 ($8 / £5) – you can find more information about the park on the English JOYPOLIS page.
To be honest, if it wasn’t for Barry’s Weekly five list on Segabits, I probably wouldn’t have been inspired to do my own Sonic List column. Seeing how people comment and react to my opinions gives me a great feeling of pride (and sometimes shame). The first time I did one of these columns and saw all the replies, good or bad, it was one of my favorite Sonic related moments. That’s what today’s column is all about. My favorite moments in Sonic-dom. Weather it’s from a game, a cartoon or just part of my life. These are the moments that I remember back with great fondness. Click below and enjoy! Continue reading The Sonic List: My favorite Sonic related moments
SEGA Japan has announced that they will be demoing some of their upcoming games via a livestream event over at NicoVideo Monday June 30th at 9pm JST (1pm BST). Among the games present will be Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U for its first public demonstration in Japan. Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka will also be on hand for a Q&A with viewers, so we may see some new details come to light. We’ll pass along any new media and information that comes out of the presentation.
A few years back, a wineglass emblazoned with the Sonic 10th Anniversary emblem cropped up for sale on eBay. While most seasoned merch-hogs were aware of the trinity of 10th anniversary items that had been offered by the Sonic Factory in 2001 (the statue, the crystal cube and the pewter ring), this was the first time most had seen this item; its authenticity and origin (along with that of the 10th anniversary lighter) has been much debated amongst Sonic collectors.
Luckily, one fan account reveals the origin of these items, and details the happenings of the “Sonic 10th Anniversary Birthday Party in Japan” which took place a day after Sonic’s 10th birthday on the 24th of June, 2001.
Ahead of Sonic Lost World’s release, Nintendo Life have sat down with the one and only Takashi Iizuka to talk exclusivity, hardware limitations and the current reputation of the franchise among other interesting morsels for you to get your hedgehog-hungry teeth into!
SEGA Japan has announced their plans for the upcoming Tokyo Game Show that will be held September 19th-22nd and Sonic Lost World will be among the games playable at the event on both its Wii U and Nintendo 3DS platforms. On September 21st Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka and sound director Tomoya Ohtani will be delivering a presentation titled (in Google translate) “Introducing the charm of “Sonic Lost World” The latest series! ” The presentation is scheduled from 11:00 to 11:45 JST, which translates to 03:00-03:45 BST the same morning for us in the UK.
Saturday 21st September
11:00 to 11:45
Introducing the charm of “Sonic Lost World” The latest series!
[Speakers] Takashi Iizuka (Producer), Tomoya Ohtani (sound director)
SEGA will also be giving away the below Sonic fan and Sonic Lost World sticker sheets. A mug featuring Sonic in his Sketchog form will also be available to buy for 1,500 yen.
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!
Well somebody is certainly getting their air miles! Hot on the heels of Summer of Sonic’s announcement. The Sega Blog has also confirmed that Mr Iizuka will be in attendance at the Sega’s Sonic Boom event.
As with Summer of Sonic, Mr Iizuka will be answering questions in a live Q&A event. In addition to this, as with Summer of Sonic, fans will have the chance to email their questions to Sega which will be pitched to Mr Iizuka on the day (see the Sega blog for more details on that one).
Tickets for Boom are still available and can be purchased here.
Source: Sega Blog
P.S. Is it just me, or in the image I’ve used does at the start of the article… does it look like Ralph is reacting to Iizuka?
The Summer of Sonic website has announced that the head of Sonic Team; Takashi Iizuka will be returning to this years convention. The site details that Mr Iizuka will not only be meeting and greeting fans at a signing session (more details to come at a later date), but he will also be answering questions in a live Q&A session.
In addition to this, SOS is offering you the chance to have your questions pitched to Mr Iizuka during the Q&A session. The details as to how you can submit your question can be found at the Summer of Sonic website.
Sonic Lost World is a dramatic change in focus for a Sonic platform. Gone is the safe, well done engine from Unleashed to Generations and in comes a new game play experience. That’s a risky move considering many critics are just now seeing the improvement the Sonic games have been making. As me and Nuckles87 sit down privately with the head of Sonic Team Takashi Iizuka, he explains to us why this move was the right choice.
The Sonic Channel has recently posted an interview held by Takashi Iizuka with Rich Moore, director of the recent video game-filled movie Wreck-it Ralph (Sugar Rush in Japan). The two directors talk about Sonic’s cameos in Wreck-it Ralph, what a sequel could mean for the blue blur and what other SEGA franchises Rich would love to see included in a potential follow-up.
Hit the jump for the full interview and some more images!
Looking for a real piece of Sonic the Hedgehog history to add to your collection? Then look no further! Currently up for auction on ebay are a couple of really unique items that will make any Sonic merch-mad fanatic salivate!
Second in our 3-part lot of Summer of Sonic interviews – the one and only Takashi Iizuka! Pictured with him up there are his translator and Sonic’s Brand Director – David Corless. Anyway, onto the interview!
Over at the official Summer of Sonic website, organizer and founder Dreadknux announced that SOS 2012 will see the return of Sonic Team head, Takashi Iizuka!
I tried to come up with a headline, but really, words can’t do this video justice. Just watch it for yourself.
According to an ad for a new executive producer at Sega of America, it looks like one of Sega’s IP’s will be getting a reboot. With Iizuka’s confusing talks about “a new standard for Sonic”, I worry that it may be our favorite blue Hedgehog again. Just when he’s making good ground and Modern Sonic’s finally finding his feet. We’ll probably know more in 2012 I’m sure. Until then, start biting those fingernails.
In an interview with GameReactor.eu, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka talks about where we might see the Sonic franchise go in the future. When asked how he sees the next 20 years for Sonic, Iizuka explains that while Sonic Team will keep a focus on Sonic action titles, they would also like Sonic to reach out to a wider audience. To achieve this, Iizuka says “We will probably see Sonic going into other genres of games and also seeing Sonic in different media.”
What genres and media would you like to see the Sonic franchise explore? Let us know in the comments.
In an interview with Gamasutra, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka has explained that he would like to make a new standard Sonic in 2012 and the years ahead. Rather than continue on with the formula built with Sonic Generations, it appears Iizuka would like to develop something fresh in the future.
It seems that as far as current-gen Sonic goes, there have been false starts. The PlayStation 3 Sonic, the first one, was supposed to be a new beginning, and then there was Unleashed, which had good and bad about it. It seems like Generations is yet again starting over; are we at a point where you feel comfortable with the mark you’re making and can move forward?
I wouldn’t say that I think Generations is a new start. Instead, it’s more of the peaks of the past 20 years, is the way we’re approaching this. Generations is about taking the past 20 years of history and rolling it into one really fun product. I think, as a result, I would like to make a new standard Sonic, a modern Sonic if you will, in 2012 and beyond.
You can read the full interview over at Gamasutra.
Would you like to see fresh new Sonic experiences in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thanks to RUSSTYBONE and interface for the heads up!
Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka announced at SEGA France’s Paris Games Week presentation over the weekend that the original Mega Drive/Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog game will be an unlockable bonus in Sonic Generations. This won’t be news to those who followed the June demo leaks, but for those who didn’t, this should be very welcome news. That is unless you own the original or one of the many ports out there already.
Thanks to SSMB member Blur of Blue for the news tip!
As we reported October 19th, SEGA France and Sonic team head Takashi Iizuka held their Sonic Generations presentation at the Paris Games Week yesterday morning, and thanks to attendee funkyjeremi83 we have video footage of it. The “new” stage shown was Rooftop Run, which had previously only been shown in screenshot form.
As you can see in the video, Rooftop Run has changed greatly compared to its Sonic Unleashed counterpart. The stage has been given a big facelift in presentation and because it’s one of the last stages in Sonic Generations, the difficulty has been increased.
The full 9 stage hub world was also shown at the presentation, and again thanks to funkyjeremi83, you can see footage of that, too.
Thanks to Guito, dbgtsonicx and SSMB member Ryan91 for the heads up!
You may remember we reported September 9th that UK Wii Nintendo Channel show Nintendo TV News announced that they would have an exclusive preview for the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations in their then next episode on September 23rd. Well, that preview never came and has been missing since with no word of when we can expect it. That is, until today.
At the end of today’s show it was announced that next Friday’s show on October 28th will now feature their Sonic Generations 3DS preview as well as an interview with Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka. Let’s just hope the show airs as planned this time. We’ll pass on any new information revealed in the episode.
Source: Nintendo TV News
SEGA France has unveiled all of their Paris Games Week offerings via The Blue Room (their blog). Attendees will be able to go hands-on with the PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo 3DS versions of Sonic Generations, both Wii and Nintendo 3DS versions of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the upcoming digital download port of Sonic CD and Virtua Tennis 4 for PlayStation Vita.
The creator of the Yakuza and Super Monkey Ball franchises Toshihiro Nagoshi will also be there to give the first public presentation outside of Japan for his latest game Binary Domain and Sonic fans will get their first public demonstration of a new stage from Sonic Generations by Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka. As we’ve seen all of the game’s stages in trailers, this stage won’t be completely “new”, but there are still four stages we’ve not seen very much of, like Speed Highway, Crisis City, Rooftop Run and Planet Wisp, so it will likely be one of those stages.
Here’s the full schedule for the presentations and autograph sessions below:
Saturday 10:15: Presentation of a new level of Sonic Generations
Saturday 10:45: Autograph session of Iizuka san to Space Dedications
Saturday 16h30: Presentation of Binary Domain Conference Room
5:00 p.m. Saturday: Autograph session of Nagoshi san to Space Dedications
Sunday 13h15: Presentation of Binary Domain indoor demo
1:45 p.m. Sunday: Autograph session in the Space Nagoshi san Dedications
Sunday 14h00: Presentation of a new level of Sonic Generations
Sunday 14:30: Autograph session in the Space Iizuka san Dedications
Will you be attending the event? Which Sonic Generations stage are you hoping to see? Let us know in the comments section below.
If you are attending and are able to to film the Sonic Generations demonstration, we’d greatly appreciate if you could send us your footage/photos to email@example.com or tweet us at @dreadknux or @Shadzter. We’ll give you full credit on the site in our report.
Gaming news site GameSpot has posted up the above video interview with Sonic Generations producer Takashi Iizuka, director Hiroshi Miyamoto and sound director Jun Senoue. The 4 minutes and 52 seconds long interview covers topics such as level selection, music and the set-up for the game’s story.
Thanks to Graham for the news tip and to Woun for the YouTube upload!
Got a news tip? Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or via Twitter at @Shadzter and we’ll credit you for the find.
In an interview posted today at Pocket Gamer, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka has explained why he thinks Sonic games haven’t fared too well with critics over the last several years. Iizuka says that over time Sonic’s various titles have been shared out across different teams, where each one has their own ideas of what makes a Sonic game. This is now changing, as Iizuka is taking full responsibility and control over all Sonic games going forward and hopes this will improve things.
So originally it was more or less the same team working on all the different Sonic titles, but after a few years, for various reasons, we started to delegate Sonic games to different groups of people.
And everyone in the office has their own idea of what Sonic should be, so we started to see slightly varied, slightly different directions of Sonic games.
I was conscious of this, so I’m now back with full responsibility of all things Sonic. I have control over the direction of not just Sonic Generations, but all the Sonic titles that we will develop in the future.
So I have more control, and hopefully this will provide better appearances for future titles.
When asked about what’s next for Sonic, Iizuka says we can expect more Sonic titles after Sonic Generations. As well as Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 in the digital download space, there is going to be “a whole new adventure, of course.”
Sonic Generations sort of acts as the end of one period. After Sonic Generations, we will work on new Sonic titles. There’s going to be a whole new adventure, of course.
For the digital and mobile space, we have Sonic 4 – Episode 1 is already out, and we’ve already started creating Episode 2.
We’re going to continue to explore the reimaginationing of classic Sonic, but at the same time we will also keep looking into the gaming space around modern Sonic games.
To read the full interview, which includes information you may or may not already know about the 3DS version of Sonic Generations, head over to Pocket Gamer.
Those waiting eagerly for the second installment of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 should expect to see a title in 2012. According to the head of Sonic Team Takashi Iizuka in an interview with Eurogamer:
“This year, 2011, is the anniversary, so we’re focusing on the celebration title,” Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka told Eurogamer, “But moving forward to 2012, Sonic will still be going, so I’d hope to provide Episode 2 then.”
There was no comment from Iizuka with regards to whether or not there would be a release of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 3, and our guess will be that this would be dependent on the reception the second title in the episodic series gets.
For now, Iizuka has stated that priorities are set on the anniversary title, and that the plan has always been to release episode 2 after Sonic Generations.
For now, we will have to sit tight – it may be a while before we hear anything more with regards to this game.
There’s good news tonight for Sonic fans going to this year’s Gamescom event, with the announcement that Takashi Iizuka will be attending. The Sonic Team head disclosed the news of his attendance just 4 hours ago on his Facebook page with the short message you see below.
I’m going to Germany for Gamescom!
Iizuka has been very busy attending events around the world all year celebrating Sonic the Hedgehog’s 20th Anniversary and it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop anytime soon. We told you last week that SEGA will be going to Gamescom and will be designing their booth in the style of Green Hill Zone from the first Sonic the Hedgehog game on Mega Drive/Genesis. Attendees will be able to go hands-on with both console and handheld versions of Sonic Generations and Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the event, too.
Now we have to wonder if Iizuka is attending just to help SEGA with the Sonic 20th Anniversary celebrations and to do the usual interview rounds, or does he have some Sonic announcements to make? I guess we’ll find out this week.
Gamescom will run from 17th-21st August at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany.
Source: Takashi Iizuka’s Facebook page
Following August 5th’s portion of an ONM interview with Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuksa regarding pleasing fans of the older Sonic titles, the magazine has posted up the full interview on their website. The interview is made up of questions from fans about the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, but as is the norm so far for the portable edition, there are not really any new details about the game to share that we haven’t known for a while now. Outside of that, Takashi Iizuka expressed an interest in making titles for Nintendo’s new home console Wii U.
You can read the interview at ONM’s website.
Would you like to see a new Sonic game on Wii U? Let us know in the comments.
In a portion of a soon to be published interview with ONM, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka has expressed difficulty to please old Sonic fans when creating new Sonic titles. Iizuka says the team are always making efforts to build new gameplay innovations, but they then find it hard to please the fans who prefer the gameplay found in the older games. With Sonic Generations, Iizuka thinks classic fans will find some enjoyment, though, and he says Sonic Team is looking into continuing the Sonic 4 series, too.
Check out the interview quotes below:
“Our team are always trying to present new gameplay innovations so it’s hard to please fans who like the gameplay from the older games,” said Iizuka.
“However, we have included the older gameplay as part of Sonic’s 20th Anniversary, so we think the fans of the older games will enjoy it [Generations] as well. We are also looking into continuing the Sonic 4 series which was released on WiiWare, and we’ll keep developing titles so more fans will enjoy the games.”
The Summer of Sonic may have taken place three weeks ago now but that’s not the end of my coverage of the event. Quite a lot happened on the day after the Stadium’s exclusive interview with Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka. If by some small chance you missed it click here and drink it in. if you’re already familiar with that then I suppose you should read on. A lot happened on the Summer of Sonic stage but few things could live up to Naka-sand and Iizuka-san appearing on stage for a rather lengthy chat with one Mr Joscelyne. Well if didn’t feel very long listening to it on the show floor but let me tell you it felt a hell of a long longer writing this up for you all! But enough of my moaning, here is the first stage interview transcribed in full.
Svend Joscelyne: Can you briefly describe how you both got into the games industry and what it was that really got you excited about working with video games?
Yuji Naka: I joined the games industry when I was 18 years old and the reason I joined was probably the same as everybody else; I really liked games! At the time I used to go to game centres (arcades) a lot and I really wanted to create the games I saw in them. I happened to take an interview with SEGA and they accepted my interview. I’ve now been in the industry 27 years and I’ve really enjoyed my time.
Takashi Iizuka: From a young age as a child I really enjoyed drawing and I used to draw Manga and staple the pages together and create my own little Manga book. So I really enjoyed coming up with new stories and the whole process of creating a Manga. I actually moved away from this for a time and during University I thought to myself I want to be in a job where I’m creating something and a story. That’s why I joined the games industry.
SJ: So Takashi Iizuka, how would you say it’s different to create games between modern and classic Sonic titles given that you’ve been involved in level design in Sonic 3 & Knuckles and also that you’ve been in charge of the modern games.
TI: Classic Sonic was first on Megadrive and we saw Sonic 1,2 and 3 in the Classic Sonic style. With that you just used the d-pad and a single button so it was very accessible and simple to pick up and play and get a taste of what Sonic is all about. With modern Sonic it’s all about the high speed action and the level design is created in such a way to allow the smooth and speedy sensation you are intended to get from the modern style Sonic. I think this is really Unique to Sonic, it’s the only game in the world where you can get that sort of sensation of speed in platform action. I think this is something we’ve built upon for the past 20 years.
SJ: So for Mr Yuji Naka, you worked closely with a US development team for Sonic The Hedgehog 2. Given that Sonic was designed for a western audience what was your experience working with SEGA Technical Institute as opposed to a domestic development team?
YN: In Sonic 1 we were a purely Japanese development team so all the staff were Japanese. In Sonic 2 we saw a mix of this, so we had some foreign staff and some Japanese staff working together. The difference I experienced was the overseas staff had a very different way in using colour and level design. So in Sonic 2 I think you see some very unique levels and these are really good levels. They tended to be created by the overseas staff. At the moment I’m here speaking in Japanese and I’m really sorry that I’m not speaking to you in English but as you may notice my English is not native! So we had some communication issues working with the overseas staff. In Sonic 3 we saw the arrival of Iizuka-san and the return of an all Japanese development team. This was due to the issues I mentioned earlier regarding communication. If the opportunity arises and if we have the time we would really like to work with overseas staff again on a Sonic title.
SJ: It’s a good thing you mentioned Sonic The Hedgehog 3 because I was just about to get onto that. Iizuka-san you were the level designer for Sonic The Hedgehog 3 and lot of kids remember that game for one specific thing; the Carnival Nights Zone Barrel (Queue laughter from Iizuka-san and the crowd) where the only way to proceed through the level was to press up, down, up, down many times to proceed through the stage. Were you involved in that part of the level design process and do you look back on that now and think “How many kids lives did I ruin by implementing that barrel?”.
TI: The short answer is no, that wasn’t me (The crowd laughs and applauds)! The person responsible for that level is the lead level designer for Sonic 1, 2 and 3. His name is Yasuhara.
YN: I presume people found that level quite difficult to understand and I would actually be the person responsible for programming it. I am so sorry! Thank you (The crowd laughs and applauds again)!
SJ: This next question really goes to the both of you. What was the feeling within the Sonic Team that made you decide to dramatically change Sonic’s appearance back in 1998. Was there a feeling that Sonic was becoming unpopular? What was the feeling there?
YN: This change came about when the game moved on from 2D to 3D. At this time the intention was for Sonic to be a loved character for many years like Micky Mouse. Micky Mouse has been loved over the many years he’s been in existence and he’s been completely redesigned around five times. So when we regarded it like that we wanted to change Sonic to continue his appeal. I think being here after 20 years of Sonic being around makes me extremely happy that people have continued to love and support Sonic.
TI: Those are the reasons that Naka-san mentioned earlier but from a technical point of view classic Sonic’s design was created so that he’d be seen from the side in 2D. So when we created the game in 3D we had to have the camera angle from behind Sonic. If we carried along with the old design his arms and legs would have been very difficult to see because the old design was only created to be seen from the side in 2D. So that is a technical reason why we decided to change the design.
SJ: and for Naka-san, when Sonic The Hedgehog 1 was released for the SEGA Megadrive, SEGA Japan and SEGA America and even SEGA Europe had their own different back-story for the reason for Sonic The Hedgehogs existence. Do you know much about the western storyline that SEGA created and what do you think about it?
YN: To be honest I’m quite surprised to hear this. I didn’t know there was such a big gap in the storyline between the Japanese Sonic The Hedgehog and the Western Sonic The Hedgehog. Were they that different?
SJ: There was a whole storyline that SEGA created on the American side that involved how Sonic went from a brown hedgehog to a blue hedgehog and involved a scientist called Dr Ovi Kintobor transforming into what we know as Dr Robotnik using the power of the chaos emeralds to turn him into a negative character. I believe it was slightly different to the Japanese back-story.
YN: I’m very surprised to hear this story, where is this written?
(The crowd laughs)
SJ: SEGA of America and SEGA Europe wrote it back in 1991! It’s not in game, it’s within comics, marketing, press and PR materials.
(Svend addresses the crowd)
SJ: You guys have heard the back story, right?
(The crowd replies with a unified “Yeah!”)
SJ: It exists, I didn’t make it up.
YN: Aaaaah! Back in the early days we didn’t have the internet or e-mail so communicating globally was extremely difficult. we were having to communicate over the telephone and with faxes so it was really hard to control what was going on globally and to keep a unified direction. Looking back now hearing this after 20 years I can laugh about it and think it’s great that this has happened. I think if I’d heard about it at the time I would have been very angry!
(The crowd laughs and applauds)
SJ: I’m glad I brought it up now and not back then! So Iizuka-san, it’s the 20th anniversary of Sonic The Hedgehog but it’s also the 10th anniversary of Shadow The Hedgehog (Queue cheering from the crowd!). We have some fans here! Clearly when you directed Sonic Adventure 2 he was only intended for that one game but were you surprised as to how popular he’d become?
TI: The Shadow character idea was something that we all had in our minds in the dev team when we were creating the first Sonic Adventure. When creating that game we had the intention of creating a rival character for Sonic Adventure 2 and we didn’t really talk about it that much but we were all thinking about it. When we were working on Sonic Adventure 2 we all did a bit of brainstorming and we brought this to the table and prepared the storyline for the Dark side and the Hero side. As you know in the story Shadow was only meant to appear in that single title. But because of the reaction of the fans we decided to bring him back in Sonic Heroes and eventually you saw him in his own title.
(The crowd responds with a mix of cheers and boos)
SJ: Don’t boo Shadow, he deserves some love too! That’s why he’s so angry. In some ways, well actually in many ways, Sonic has inspired a generation of, shall we say copycat animal mascots; Bubsy the Bobcat, Crash Bandicoot, Aero the Acrobat. Have you guys ever played any of those games and what do you think of them?
(As the translator repeats the question in Japanese Yuji Naka looks confused and asks for the names of the characters a second time. The crowd is amused).
YN: Of the those games I’ve only actually played Crash Bandicoot. When I was creating Sonic 2, my boss was called Mark Cerny and this person moved on from the team half way into development. He’s actually the guy responsible for creating Crash Bandicoot. As he worked really closely with us he could see the flow of how we created Sonic and what Sonic was all about so you may draw some similarities between these games. For example as he saw us placing rings and really putting a lot of effort and creativity in placing them in their locations I heard from him that he was putting a lot of effort into placing apples all over his levels as well.
And with that both Naka-san and Iizuka-san would exit the stage to a round of applause. Come back later though for the second stage interview where they would both field questions submitted by the fans, with the added bonus of Jun Senoue joining them.
This year’s Summer of Sonic convention had so much going on…competitions, Sonic Generations, music performances, guests and loads more – even if you attended, you no doubt missed some parts of the day.
Even if that doesn’t satisfy your appetite for Summer of Sonic or if you’re still feeling blue and missing hanging out with all your fellow Sonic fans…there is a whole heap of other bonus footage to catch including the Nevermind the Buzzbombers competition, all 40 minutes of Julien-K’s performance, and of the uncut, unedited Sonic Team Interview!
You have absolutely no excuse to be bored this weekend!