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?
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?
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?
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
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'.