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Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Director and Producer on Gameplay and Development Hurdles

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Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 producer Yasuyuki Tsuzuki and director Yuka Kobayashi talked more about the game’s different events and monetization, as well as some of the challenges involved in developing the game, in a recent 4Gamer interview. Tsuzuki was previously the producer of Phantasy Star Nova at Sega, while Kobayashi has worked on handheld Sonic entries like Sonic Colors (DS) and Sonic Generations (3DS), as well as Sonic Unleashed (Wii). [Thanks, 4Gamer!]

Here are the highlights:

  • While Sega has been making Olympics-themed games for a long time now on various platforms, smartphones have since become an important platform that cannot be ignored. As such, a game project for the platform was also created. The reason why Sonic became the main character of the game is due to previous successes on smartphones, like Sonic Dash and Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom, and the Sonic series being Sega’s flagship franchise.

 

  • The game is made to be a casual experience that will allow players to experience a full-scale Olympics game. They’re hoping that the game will pick up interest as a Sonic game, a sports game, and an Olympics game. Players can choose whether they want to focus on enjoying the story, beating records, and playing against other global players.

 

  • Regarding monetization, around ten stages will be playable for free, while the stages afterwards will be playable after a one-time purchase (think of it being similar to Super Mario Run). Players who buy the game can give a Premium Pass ticket to their friends, which increases the amount of free playable stages and lets them buy the game at a discount.

Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

  • Speaking of the game’s story mode, Tsuzuki and Hirabayashi said that it’s “100% Sonic,” and every character will have interesting scenes in the story. Sonic and his friends will need to retake the city of Tokyo from Eggman, and players will be able to see Sonic characters competing across Tokyo’s distinctive areas. For example, in Roppongi we’ll see Rouge take the stage with the jewel-esque night sky as a backdrop. A lot of effort has been put into the BGM, which are all arrangements from across the series.

 

  • Although controls are made to be simple, that doesn’t mean every event plays the same. Even events that have a similar gameplay style can feel completely different, such as how Trap Shooting focuses on shooting down as many as possible, while Archery focuses on precision. The game also differentiates itself from other Sega Olympics games by playing more like the Sonic series, such as Hurdles focusing on the balance between speed and dodging obstacles; while 3m Diving will have springs and rings appear.

 

  • There are a total of 7 Areas in Tokyo, with 20-30 stages per area. The story is linear, but there are a lot of things to do on the side, such as collecting collectibles, challenging the rankings, and sending out Challenges to people. As you progress through the story, the more events you’ll unlock. For events you find difficult, there is an Assist feature to help out. At release, there will be 200 stages, and the story by itself will take around 10-20 hours to complete.

 

  • Multiplayer is asynchronous, where players will be able to send play data to friends. By sending out Challenges among friends, there will be special collectibles you can earn.

 

  • Speaking about the challenges faced during development, Kobayashi stated that the team spent a lot of time optimizing the gameplay experience so that the game could run on as many devices as possible, as the team wants Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to be the most-played game out of the four Olympic titles (the others being Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: The Official Video Game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Arcade Edition).

 

  • While development hasn’t been majorly affected by the COVID-19 lockdown, as the game development environment isn’t that different even when working from home, there might be a release date delay. That said, while development itself hasn’t slowed down, communication between staff members isn’t as convenient, and in Tsuzuki’s case, his home hasn’t been fitted to accommodate work from home.

Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 will launch on Android and Apple iOS devices on May 7, 2020. Check out the latest trailer here.

Alistair Wong
Very avid gamer with writing tendencies. Fan of Rockman and Pokémon and lots more!