Takashi Yuda interview by GameSpy (January 20, 2006)
From Sonic Retro
GameSpy: The last Sonic racing title was Sonic R for Saturn. What made you want to revisit this genre?
Takashi Yuda: The main reason for revisiting the racing genre for Sonic is because fans have been asking for it. Secondly we felt we're able to combine all of the action elements Sonic and his friends are known for and racing together to create a truly innovative racing game that Sonic fans are sure to enjoy. To us, Sonic Riders is not a remake of Sonic R, rather its own entity entirely.
GameSpy: What made you want to do a racing game instead of a new platformer?
Takashi Yuda: We know that many Sonic fans are still enjoying all the past Sonic adventures on the current platforms so we wanted to give them something fresh and new to enjoy on the current gen machines. Riders will also appeal to extreme sports minded gamers to try something that Sonic is part of.
GameSpy: Despite the fact that Sonic R was developed by Traveller's Tales, is Sonic Riders at all related to that game, either through storyline or some other connection?
Takashi Yuda: As I stated above, this title has nothing to do with Sonic R. Other than that the genre is the same, racing, there is no relationship between them.
GameSpy: One of the more memorable aspects of Sonic R was the soundtrack. Can we expect any similar music (complete with lyrics) in Riders?
Takashi Yuda: The music in Riders will be fast paced and give you that heart pounding feeling you should have during a high-speed race; we guarantee the music will be loved by all.
GameSpy: During development of Riders, did you go back to Sonic R at all to see what aspects of it you liked or disliked? If so, what were your impressions of the game after all these years?
Takashi Yuda: I played Sonic R, but since Sonic Riders is a totally new game, we decided not to take any influences from that game. The only thing we did take from Sonic R is to continue make sure that Sonic and his friends appear in a quality game.
GameSpy: We've seen a few new characters in Sonic Riders, and they're all birds. Why all the feathered friends in the Sonic universe all of a sudden?
Takashi Yuda: We thought of having "Air Pirates" for Sonic's rivals, so that's why we created the bird characters.
GameSpy: What prompted the use of hover boards in Riders instead of having the characters ride in vehicles or run?
Takashi Yuda: Air is a huge part of Sonic Riders, and we had to think of a vehicle that would make riding air make sense and fun at the same time, so the hover board worked great! This allowed us to create crazy levels that didn't bind us to oceans (surfing) or mountains (snow boarding) and you can go anywhere on a hover board, places race cars can't take you.
Takashi Yuda: Although that was part of Sonic Adventure 2 we didn't really refer to it when creating Sonic Riders. We aimed at creating a new experience for Sonic this time around and when you play it, you'll see that Sonic Riders is truly something different and new to the Sonic universe.
GameSpy: What are some of the unique features that set Sonic Riders apart from other racing games?
Takashi Yuda: One of the main differences is the use of Turbulence and Air system in the game. No where else can you ride in someone else's air wake and use their speed against them to catch up. The "Air" system also allows you to pull of some amazing tricks and make huge jumps. Your board also runs on Air, so you have to keep your Air meter filled up by performing awesome tricks in the air, the crazier the tricks you pull off, the more Air gets charged. Our thought when creating Sonic Riders was "Who needs wheels when you've got Air" so it's all about the Air in Sonic Riders.
GameSpy: Tell us about the multiplayer modes. Is it purely racing or is there some combat involved?
Takashi Yuda: We've got both aspects of racing and combat in the multiplayer modes. We wanted to design the game so players that are stronger with combat skills can have a great time on their hover boards also. The main goal was to make a game so that everyone either expert or novice can pick-up and play Sonic Riders and have a great time.
GameSpy: With the recent release of Shadow the Hedgehog, is Sega potentially trying to make Shadow the new platforming star while spinning Sonic off into these side projects?
Takashi Yuda: Oh you'll have to wait and see what we do; we've got some surprises coming.
GameSpy: Is Riders a one-shot game, or are you hoping that it will turn into its own separate franchise?
Takashi Yuda: We would definitely like to create Sonic-based racing games. No one knows speed like Sonic so having a line of Sonic racing games makes a perfect fit and perfect sense.
GameSpy: Are there any hidden characters to unlock? We'd love to race through the stages as NiGHTS or the Hornet car from Daytona USA.
Takashi Yuda: We can't go into too much detail but I can say that there will definitely be tons of unlockable content in Sonic Riders.