Takashi Iizuka and Ethan Einhorn interview by 1UP (March 22, 2005)

From Sonic Retro

This is an interview conducted by 1UP with Takashi Iizuka and Ethan Einhorn. The interview covers Shadow the Hedgehog.

The Interview

1UP: What was it like to finally unveil a new game (such as Shadow the Hedgehog)?

Takashi Iizuka: It was very important for us to expand the Sonic franchise with the introduction of Shadow the Hedgehog, and moving forward we want to bring both the old users and the new users [together] to enhance the Sonic franchise.

1UP: Sonic the Hedgehog when it first started out seemed to be about being cool and it was edgy, at least compared to all the platformers on the market at the time. It seems like this new game is trying to capture that for a new audience now. The recent games have been a little bit more tame compared to some of the other offerings in the platform genre; is [Shadow the Hedgehog] trying to bring the Sonic franchise back to what is used to be?

Takashi Iizuka: In order to enlarge the Sonic franchise, we've created this new game. It's not really a reaction to what we've seen. Basically, we're trying to capture a new type of audience, but we're not trying to throw away Sonic. We're trying to expand his world to a more broad user audience.

Ethan Einhorn: What we can say is that this new title is one of a number of Sonic titles that you can anticipate in 2005.

1UP: What defines a Sonic game to you? What makes a Sonic game a Sonic game?

Takashi Iizuka: For the past 14 years, Sonic's been based on a really cool, fast-paced type of character. Moving forward for the future, we don't want to throw that away. We want to keep that, but within keeping that we want to add additional features that will help bring in a new type of audience.

1UP: What platforms are you interested in bringing Sonic to?

Ethan Einhorn: We know that everyone loves Sonic (smiles).

Takashi Iizuka: The current philosophy behind what we're building in our games is for all the current game systems [Ed's note: this includes PSP].

1UP: Sonic in the past defined Sega. Since Sega's attempting to make a big play in the next generation, are you already thinking along those lines with Sonic?

Takashi Iizuka: We understand that there are new platforms coming out, and as a challenge to that, we're hopeful to at least show you part of our progress at E3.

1UP: In terms of game development, is there any interest in moving Sonic online?

Takashi Iizuka: In order to kind of expand the Sonic franchise, we're offering Shadow and moving in a new direction, but we're also considering other options -- maybe online, maybe other venues to expand the Sonic franchise. We're looking into that. That's one of the probable areas that we may investigate moving forward.

1UP: Are you talking about other genres as well?

Ethan Einhorn: Sonic has not just been a platformer in the past, and he will continue to do interesting things this year.

1UP: You had mentioned there were more Sonic things to look forward to. Are those things we can look forward to at E3?

Ethan Einhorn: Yeah, this is going to be a banner year for Sonic at E3.

1UP: Will we see a return with Sonic to a more straightforward Sonic? One character -- Sonic himself -- but not necessarily a handheld game? For a console experience, will we ever see something more basic -- maybe 2D or maybe a bit more of a return to the more simplistic gameplay of the past? Is there a general interest in that?

Takashi Iizuka: Sonic Team has found that the 2D scrolling linear experience is very enjoyable. That's why we've released Sonic Advance 1, 2 and 3. Within the team itself, there is still a love for that style of game. Everybody realizes that's what made Sonic popular, so that's really close to their heart.

1UP: Will we ever see Sonic CD or Knuckles Chaotix on a compilation at some point?

Ethan Einhorn: We recognize the popularity of titles that have not yet been released -- especially Sonic CD -- and we're always interested in satisfying our fan base (smiles).

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