Joystiq: We're most interested in the day and night gameplay, specifically when Sonic changes into an unleashed beast. We're wondering if this will play out in real-time as players go through a stage, or are there set stages specifically for night time?
Patrick Riley: Certain parts of the action stages are built for both day and night gameplay. When in these areas and when in the villages, in-game time will pass and Sonic will transform. However, we're making sure that the player won't be "stuck" in a form they don't want and it will be easy to automatically advance the clock. Other parts of the action stages are built specifically for day or night gameplay. While Sonic is in these areas, in-game time will not pass.
Joystiq: How many stages are there? We've seen "Greece" and "Europe" but what other themes are there?
Patrick Riley: We'll be talking about the number of environments later but there are plenty we haven't touched on at all, and of course we'll be reserving some of them to be found by the players. In addition to Greece and Europe, however, players will visit China and Africa, as well. There are daytime and nighttime stages in each environment, in addition to unlockable mini-stages. Players will explore numerous locations throughout the globe, each of which has been rendered like never before in a Sonic game.
Joystiq: Tell us more about Sonic's "dark side." Will we be seeing it soon?
Patrick Riley: Yes, we are showing off the nighttime gameplay for the first time [at E3]. At night, Sonic transforms into a more bestial form with super-strength and the ability to stretch his arms. He'll use these new powers to beat down enemies in a fully-fleshed out combat system, and to traverse the environment to reach areas he could never reach before.
Joystiq: What about story? How did Sonic gain his werewolf persona?
Patrick Riley: This will be revealed in the opening minutes of the game, in the coolest opening cinematic ever seen in a Sonic game. But I wouldn't want to spoil the specifics at this time.
Joystiq: We heard we can play as characters other than Sonic. Can you share with us who they are?
Patrick Riley: You will play as Sonic in his classic speedster form, as well as Sonic in his new Werehog form. Beyond that, you will be able to play one other character for short sections, such as mini-games, but the game is 99% Sonic in his two forms.
Joystiq: Speaking of stages, we saw the new trailer (that debuted a few weeks ago) -- the one with timed button-input events which look like they're there for branching paths. Can you explain how these events work?
Patrick Riley: There are two different ways that the paths branch. First is the standard branch up or down, left or right, that you choose on-the-fly during gameplay. Secondly, are the timed button-input events. These all happen during jumps, and if you input the button presses correctly Sonic will jump just a little bit further or higher and access a different part of the level.
Joystiq: We heard there's a new combat system in place. What's that all about?
Patrick Riley: At nighttime there is a fully-fleshed out combat system through which Sonic can use his new powers to beat down his enemies in big brawls. There are dozens of combos, grabs, throws, giant swings -- lots of fun stuff to do.
Joystiq: Tell us about boss battles. How does Sonic's new abilities play into boss battles?
Patrick Riley: Sonic will face some of the bosses in his classic speedster form, and some in his new Werehog form. He'll use his super speed to fight the former, and his new combat prowess to overcome the latter.
Joystiq: Will there be any console exclusive content for any of the four versions in development?
Patrick Riley: There is no exclusive content for any single console. However, as we have discussed before there are two development silos. So there are many differences between the titles being developed for 360 and PS3 with the titles that are being developed for Wii and PS2.
Joystiq: Will there be a playable demo on PlayStation Network or Xbox Live before game's release?
Patrick Riley: Yes, the current plan is to release a playable demo shortly before or right around release.
Joystiq: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Patrick Riley: We hope longtime Sonic fans find that Sonic Unleashed enhances the series they've been enjoying for years, and that it's the best Sonic experience they've ever played. We also hope Sonic Unleashed can create a whole new generation of fans with its fresh take on a long-running and acclaimed series.