Takashi Iizuka interview by Game (August 4, 2010)

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This is an interview conducted by Game with Takashi Iizuka. It covers Sonic Colours.

The Interview

Sonic Colours: Interview with Takashi Iizuka

As the lead designer on Sonic The Hedgehog's first (and arguably still his best) 3D outing, Sonic Adventure, Takashi Iizuka has been one of the biggest influences on the career of gaming's coolest mascot.

So when Sega invited us along to their London HQ to chat with the man himself about his latest project, Sonic Colours, we raced right there almost as fast as the spiny speedster himself!

Here's what he had to say about Sonic's two gaming groups, making speedy gameplay feel fun, and the future of Sega's frontmanhog...

Game: What makes Sonic Colours different to other Sonic games?

Takashi Iizuka: The main difference is that, in past Sonic games, Sonic has always been the high speed guy, and other action elements come from other characters. In Sonic Colours Sonic is the lone playable character, and with the Colour powers Sonic is able to do something different for the first time, while keeping the high-speed characteristics in play.

Game: Could you talk us through the different Colour powers?

Takashi Iizuka: One is the yellow drill which allows Sonic to drill through the ground, which Sonic has never been able to do because he actually runs on the ground.

If you take the other two we have revealed, laser and rocket are features which allow you to experiment with different finding new routes [through a level] and find hidden areas.

We haven't revealed all of them yet, but those unrevealed Colour Powers are also built on the concept of giving you different gameplay and the option to explore the stages.

Game: Why did you choose yo [sic] to release Sonic Colours on Wii and DS and not Xbox 360 and PS3 too?

Takashi Iizuka: The reason we didn't develop across all the consoles is that we feel if you try to create a multiplatform title, one of the platforms will have to be the ported title. If a team concentrates on one platform they can really use its strengths.

One of the reasons we chose Wii and DS we had previous experience of working with Wii [from Sonic & The Secret Rings], but also because we wanted to make Sonic Colours the best possible Sonic game for each of those platforms.

Game: One of the main criticisms of Sonic is often that it's so fast, sometimes people don't fully feel in control. How do you address that, given that Sonic is a series based around speed?

Takashi Iizuka: We know there are sometimes opinions about control from core gamers, but we're intending Sonic Colours to be played by children of probably between six and twelve years-old.

So, with Sonic Colours we have aimed more to make a game that everyone can control and have fun in. So, it's not really a game for the core gamers. If you take the rail grind, it's something that's fast, not difficult but is fun to do and looks great. It's about making a game that's right for the core audience of the game.

Game: Does that mean you risk alienating those core gamers who grew up with the franchise? Does Sonic Colours have something in there for them, too? Or might they be getting a different Sonic release designed for them in future?

Takashi Iizuka: I think that there are two types of Sonic players.

One is the people who have played since the MegaDrive, who are mainly fans of 2D Sonic games and didn't really play the 3D Sonic games so much. For those gamers Sonic Team will be giving them Sonic 4 [for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network] so they can pick the Sonic game they want to play.

The other is the ones who have played 3D Sonic games and felt that the game was too difficult. Sonic Colours is the game for those types of players. It's still a 3D Sonic game but the controls are more user-friendly; it's an easy to pick up and play type of game.

So through the two Sonic games I feel the needs of both of the two core groups of Sonic fans are being addressed.

Game: Will the DS version of Sonic Colours sit somewhere between the two?

Takashi Iizuka: Yes, the DS version of Sonic Colours shares the same storyline and environment, but it different to the Wii version in terms of the level design and the gameplay experience.

Game: Could you tell us a bit about the story behind Sonic Colours? It looks more like the old games, which were set on Moebius, than the new-style Sonics set in Station Square...

Takashi Iizuka: We have two different worlds for Sonic games – one is human, and one is set on the non-human side. Sonic Colours is set on the non-human side. The only human in the game is Dr Eggman, who tries to build this huge amusement park which, as you will see on the world map, ties all these planets together with a tractor beam.

Eggman is trying to use all of these planets for his own evil ends which will be revealed at a later time, and Sonic realises what he is trying to do and sets out to try and stop him. That is the main story behind Sonic Colours.

Game: How many levels will that mean we'll be getting in Sonic Colours?

Takashi Iizuka: We can't reveal at the moment how many stages there are in the game, but there are a lot of planets, and there will be more than just a couple of acts in each zone.

Game: And what's next for Sonic?

Takashi Iizuka: [Grins] We've already announced Sonic Free Riders for Kinect, but if you look at 2011 that's the 20th Anniversary of Sonic, so you might just be seeing something special for that.

Game: Brilliant – many thanks, Iizuka-San.

Interview by: Mark 'Spindash' Scott

Interview Published: 04.08.10

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