What with the imminent release of next gen Sonic the Hedgehog from SEGA, out on PS3 and 360 next month, SPOnG managed to grab a quick few words with the game's producer, Sonic Team's Akinori Nishiyama (pictured here).
We sent in Svend, our resident Sonic know-all, to do the job and quiz Nishiyama-san on what's in store for gamers with the new title. If you can read through some of the idiosyncratic translation of Nishiyama-san's answers, you'll get a very good idea about what's in store next month.
Read on, Sonic fans!
SPOnG: Why did you feel that Sonic needed a redesign, in terms of character design and the premise of the game?
Nishiyama-san: Sonic is celebrating his 15th anniversary and his design has been changing with time. [The new game] is tailored to the realistic expressions and high-resolution world view of the next-gen console, Sonic has become taller and changed into a more realistic character.
SPOnG: What kind of things are the team looking at from classic Megadrive Sonic games as inspiration to bring this new game back to its roots?
Nishiyama-san: By taking full advantage of the expressions and performance of the next-gen consoles, I wanted to challenge the realms of Sonic's speed and coolness.
SPOnG: Despite the 'back to the roots' claim, it can be said that the game looks more like a step forward in the series rather than a revision of it. Is it a case of trying to balance both old and new ideas to appeal to all kinds of gamers and fans?
Nishiyama-san: We are creating this title by bringing in the good points of the previous Sonic series, and also aiming for a new standard of the future Sonic. For those who have played the series, some of the scenes may feel familiar...
SPOnG: What prompted the decision to use the Havok engine when developing the stages? How will we see physics being used?
Nishiyama-san: I decide to use the Havok engine when I was thinking of a new game play on the next-gen console. By using the physics engine, I wanted to give variety to this action game and ensure the game has the new feelings of the game play, which allows players to experience different situations every time they play the game.
SPOnG: Sonic is referred to as the 'Iblis Trigger'. Will this Iblis creature be subservient to Dr Eggman, or will the villain once again be overthrown by a greater force?
Nishiyama-san: Dr. Eggman is after the secret of "Disaster Flame", which comes down in the Kingdom of Soleanna as something that burns down everything in the world. "Iblis" seems to have something to do with this "Disaster Flame", but his real identity becomes apparent as players play each scenario of Sonic, Shadow and Silver.
SPOnG: How intricate can we expect the level design to be? Past Sonic games have attempted alternate routes through stages, but failed because they were simple linear paths that only diverted from the main route for a few seconds. How substantial will these diversions be?
Nishiyama-san: The lagoon city of Soleanna is designed so that Action Stage, where players enjoy various action elements, is linked from all over to the Town Stage. Here players can also enjoy adventure elements, gather information or purchase necessary items. The Action Stage allows players to enjoy exhilarating speed and action.
SPOnG: How many levels will there be in total for Sonic fans to work through? Will it be Sonic's biggest adventure yet?
Nishiyama-san: The game volume will be the biggest of all the series. Each character appearing in this title has different game play as well as different stories. There will also be familiar characters from the previous series bringing a lot of excitement to the story.