Interviews// Sonic Colours Producer, Takashi Iizuka

Posted 14 Sep 2010 14:31 by
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SPOnG: It's fair to say that Sonic Team gets a lot of help from Dimps these days, but do you agree with the argument that Dimps is propping you up? How involved are those guys in the game's development?

Takashi Iizuka: I would say that both Sonic Team and Dimps have their own strengths, and that comes from our working experience. Our internal team at Sega has made all of the 3D titles, so we have a good knowledge of that, whereas Dimps has always done the 2D side-scrolling games between us we have the experience and knowledge to do both 3D and 2D products.

For Sonic Colours, our two teams worked quite well together on the concept, but we developed the 2D Nintendo DS and 3D Wii versions rather independently. The Wii version is fully developed internally, because we know a lot more about 3D Sonic development than some other developers. Dimps has the experience to make a 2D Sonic game as best as they can, and so they have exclusively worked on the Nintendo DS version they had no real input in terms of the Wii development.

SPOnG: Another title you're involved with is Sonic the Hedgehog 4, which you have said is aiming for a different, older Sonic audience but it appears that many people in that target audience is actually more interested in Sonic Colours than Sonic 4. Is that surprising to you? What's your reaction to that?

Takashi Iizuka: It's not so much a feeling of surprise, but the team and I really appreciate that a lot of classic fans are looking forward to Sonic Colours as well. I mean, Sonic Colours was created largely as a 3D title for the people who have become fans of the Sonic franchise most recently, but it's good to hear that the game has been received so well from the older fans too.

It doesn't mean that Sonic 4 has lost its purpose, however. Sonic 4 was created for a different kind of fan audience people that might have recently entered the franchise through the classic downloadable titles that we have released on digital platforms like XBLA, iPhone and Wii. I believe that there are new Sonic fans whose first experiences are playing one of these re-releases, so to play new games in that style would be more natural for them. That's one reason why we have Sonic 4 as a digital download, 2D game in the same vein as the classics.

So the approach in designing both Sonic 4 and Sonic Colours is more about how new fans are introduced to the franchise, and what older fans are used to and would like to see. There are so many different Sonic fans out there with different tastes and experiences, so I want to give them to different products to cater to one category or all categories of fans.


SPOnG: The reason I asked is because you're quoted most recently as saying that Sonic Colours is specifically intended for a 'younger audience' compared to Sonic 4. I guess the argument I could put forward is that the point of Sonic is for both adults and children to enjoy all of the games. It's a series for all ages, so why limit it by making that distinction? Was that something of a mistranslation, or do you stand by that quote?

Takashi Iizuka: It wasn't really a misquote or a mistranslation. The reason why I said 'younger audiences' is because the team and I wanted to capitalise on the new audience that we gained through the success of the Mario & Sonic games. Those titles in particular really worked well for Sonic as a character because it made our potential audience much broader than existing Sonic fans.

That created an opportunity for us to build a bigger fanbase, but we noticed that there weren't that many mainstream Sonic titles available for the Wii and DS post-Mario & Sonic. That's why Sonic Colours is a proper platforming mainstream game, so that those new fans can discover and learn more about the franchise beyond those spinoff titles. In that way, it's not really focused on young audiences in terms of age, but more as in maintaining that broader market.

Even though this is the case, if you look at the core gameplay elements of Sonic Colours, you'll notice that this is a true platforming action game that the core fans can also enjoy. The ultimate goal for Sonic Colours has always been to make the best Sonic title we can for the widest possible target audience. The market nature that the Wii and DS have is the reason why I used the term 'younger audiences'.
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Comments

speedduelist 14 Sep 2010 23:45
1/6
Hi, I was wondering :

- what did you think of that carnival stage?
- how good is the platforming in that stage
- how many hidden paths did you find?
- how good are the 3d parts in that stage? are they fast? are they some way empty?
- how good is the platforming and the visuals in that stage?
- how many hidden paths did you find? and did it end with a goal ring or a capsule?

Sorry for so many questions (answer them if you want).
Great interview by the way.
Svend Joscelyne 15 Sep 2010 08:40
2/6
speedduelist wrote:
Hi, I was wondering :

- what did you think of that carnival stage?
- how good is the platforming in that stage
- how many hidden paths did you find?
- how good are the 3d parts in that stage? are they fast? are they some way empty?
- how good is the platforming and the visuals in that stage?
- how many hidden paths did you find? and did it end with a goal ring or a capsule?

Sorry for so many questions (answer them if you want).
Great interview by the way.


Hey there speedduelist!

Unfortunately the interview session did not involve me playing Starlight Carnival, so I did not include my hands-on impressions of the stage. I understand that - for some reason, maybe it has been overlooked by others - that we're the first to actually mention it, though? Good to know!

I'd love to answer your questions, and I'll do so in a very special Preview that I'm preparing for SPOnG right now. It will be ready next Monday, so I highly recommend sticking around. :)
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speedduelist 15 Sep 2010 11:15
3/6
i am sticking either way lol (Spong has really great exclusive news/interviews regarding other games i am interested in too).
Kiberbot 15 Sep 2010 21:43
4/6
Too serious? He was joking, right?

I am very upset and depressed because of Iizuka's words. Sure thing, some fans will not agree with me, and it is because of them Iizuka made up his mind this way, but I do not think, that someones disliking deep storylines in Sonic games makes mine point of view wrong.

Yes. I am upset because Sonic never going to be serious and deep again, considering Sonic Team's boss' words are true. Good storytelling and each character's development is very important for me, and I don't think that it is unnecessary. Sonic Adventure series are the ones that became my ethalon of Sonic games, and thats the level of games that I want to see since 2001. Do not think that I am some underage fan, which knows nothing about "True Sonic". I am Sonic fan since 1994, and it all started with Sonic 3. However this hedgehog franchise became less interesting in the end of nineties, exactly because I found those old games that I have cleared for approximately 1000 times rather boring. I got tired of the Genesis/MegaDrive Sonic, so I threw him away. Indeed Sonic Adventure series were the one that revived my faith in Sonic and brought me back. That was one heck of an emotional boom! Sonic Adventure 1&2 on Dreamcast showed me brand new Sonic, Sonic that I will never forget, Sonic that I always will be faithfull to. What made Adventures so impressive for me? Surely: Speed, Interesting gameplay, fresh ideas and great music, but it would be "soulless game" that you could complete just one time and then forget about it, if it was not for storytelling. The storyline, characters development, everything that kept gamer which played only 2D games and could never see his franchise this brand new way. Characters and their storylines are the elements that helped me become interested in Sonic once again and gave unbelievable experience and emotions. I felt that Sonic is growing up with me, that he is gaining experience side by side with me, becomes different and developed! Its more than a feeling, that helped me understand that Sonic is not just some platfromer game for kids, that he can be way more interesting and deeper, and Sonic Adventure 2 finally convinced me so. After that I've became a fan of serious storytelling and characters development, and to be honest it is the main reason why I buy Sonic games, aside the desire to "play something". After Adventure series I've faced a lot of disapointments like Sonic Heroes or Shadow The Hedgehog Game but I believed that Sonic will shock me with something interesting like a good story or interesting characters. AND NOW Sonic Team's head who was the hope to bring back "spirit of Adventures" says that no more serious storylines, and Sonic is going to be some sort of cheap entertainment for kids.

Sonic's problems are not because of storylines, as most of people think. Sonic can combine awesome gameplay, perfect quality and serious storylines, and Adventure games are proof to that. Only ShTH and STH06 storylines have problems because there is a lot of "show off" and are way too serious, and aside of that, their storylines are written by talentless scenarist. "Pseudo epicness" won't help the case. But that does not mean that any kind of seriousness in Sonic games is no good. There are lot of franchises like Mario that live on weak but colorfull storyline, other games' storylines become deeper like Sonic in 2001. Not only its gameplay was awesome, but also it demonstrated high level of storytelling made those series special. Now that Sonic Team director wants to make Sonic really simple and kiddy I afraid I'll lose all interest in Sonic, for I do not find mindless running around levels without any purpose amusing. That would be very primitive and boring to say the least. I am not sure what is going happen to me as to Sonic fan, and I am very afraid about Anniversary Sonic's future, which was my last hope and light in the end of a tunnel...

Retro-fans got their Sonic 4. Colorfull and simple games' fans got their Sonic Colors. Sonic Adventure fans got nothing except STH06 that is hard to call a proper game back in 2006.

P.S. Excuse me for possible mistakes, english is foreign language to me. I just wanted you to know, that there are people that do not appreciate Iizuka's words.
Wilford111 20 Sep 2010 04:50
5/6
@Kiberbot
Go read Sonic fan-fiction, if you're just here for the stories.
Trollki 6 Jan 2011 05:52
6/6
"There are lot of franchises like Mario that live on weak but colorfull storyline, other games' storylines become deeper like Sonic in 2001. Not only its gameplay was awesome, but also it demonstrated high level of storytelling made those series special."

"Colorful storyline"? Mario lives purely on gameplay.

His most popular "core" games are his 2D side scrollers (NSMB:Wii likely outsells both Galaxy games combined).

Sonic needs to get gameplay back on track before you can even think of trying to do things like get "deep stories". Face it: many people go to movies, anime, comics, manga - hands-off media that you don't really have to interact with, to get stories. Games' stories have traditionally been and will continue to be seen as subpar compared to their stories - and the only thing that redeems them is the fact that you play through the games, as the main character (...if you get immersed enough).

If you want to see a modern game that tried to live on story instead of gameplay, go peep at Final Fantasy 13 and see what you think about it, because as far as many gamers are concerned, it's less of a game and more of a movie, and its narrative and graphics can only live for so long.

STH06 tried to be a bit too serious, and now we have fans and even prospective fans turned off from the whole "kiss" scene.

yeah man, gameplay da bess.
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