Takashi Yuda interview by GameSpy (September 21, 2005)
From Sonic Retro
GameSpy: First of all, what prompted to make an extreme-sports racing game out of Sonic at this time?
Takashi Yuda: What inspired me to make an extreme game? There are two reasons. I wanted to create a game where Sonic is on a board or some sort of vehicle or whatnot. When you think of that, what would Sonic look good on? His personality and characteristics naturally came about, and him being on sort of extreme-sports type of equipment.
The number two reason is that when the project got started, the original concept didn't start off with making an extreme-sports game or anything like that. The original concept was about using what we call "turbulence." We call it turbulence because this wake is created when the leader character heads off, and he creates this air wake, like a slipstream. When that wake is created, sort of like a half-pipe shape air pressure turbulence is created. The terminology we'll be using is "turbulence." The characters behind the lead player can actually ride that wake, sort of like a half pipe, and after seeing that concept the team decided to move forward with extreme or snowboard/skateboard type of gameplay.
The reason why I created that is to give every player equal chance, so that not one particular player has an advantage over the others. By riding on the wave of the turbulence, the player can move faster. At the same time, using the turbulence you can jump and reach places you wouldn't normally be able to reach, therefore you can have access to hidden shortcuts and whatnot. You basically balance out between players.
GameSpy: Also, I was asking why they'd make a racing game now, at the crux of next gen ... also the series has tried racing games in the past as with Sonic Drift and Sonic R, which never continued and had sequels.
Takashi Yuda: Both Sonic R and Sonic Drift are well-created games, but when you play the game it's just an ordinary game with Sonic, inside of a car, or whatnot. With Sonic Riders, what I want to do is expose the character elements of Sonic and his team and his friends through this racing game, and also to show the unique Sonic action element that no other racing game has. Therefore making Sonic Riders an original racing game of its own, a one-of-its-kind racing game.
GameSpy: Lately the past few Sonic games have been made by Iizuka's team in the United States. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about the team making this game?
Takashi Yuda: The director was involved in Sonic Advance 1 and 2, and I myself was involved in Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles, the old-school titles. The rest of the team is fairly new, intentionally bringing new blood into creating something totally now.
GameSpy: Sonic has been very successful in America this generation. I was wondering if you had any insight into why or what people like so much about Sonic?
Takashi Yuda: What I believe is that U.S. Sonic fans like about Sonic is that he's carefree, yet he's confident. He himself is a good guy, yet he has his own style and originality and opinions. He's someone that people can look up to and mirror themselves.
He's not easily persuaded by other people's opinions, he has his own and he's really confident. Not to say that he's selfish or anything like that; he has a mind of his own. Once his mind is set on something, he believes in it, and he's not easily persuaded.
Takashi Yuda: Not for this game.
GameSpy: Is it difficult to work on a series with such a long history? Sonic started in 1991. Is it difficult to keep it fresh, or to not contradict what has gone before?
Takashi Yuda: The biggest challenge of working on the Sonic franchise is that there are guidelines and rules to keep in the existing Sonic concept and also the general gameplay, so the biggest challenge is to follow that, yet to find new challenges for the gamers and to offer new types of gameplay.
GameSpy: There have been a ton of new characters over the course of the Sonic franchise. How did you pick the characters for the game? Are there any new ones?
Takashi Yuda: There are three new characters. How did I choose them? There's a whole story mode in the game. This is not just a straight-up racing game where you pick up the controller and start racing -- there's a story mode, also, with cutscenes and voiceovers and whatnot. I chose the characters from previous Sonic games that best fit the storyline. There are a total of 17 characters that you will get to play when you clear the game. In the beginning you have seven characters to choose from. As you clear each stage you unlock characters. At the end of the game you eventually have 17 characters you unlock.