Nintendo 3DS

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice’s Director Discusses The Challenges Of Level Design, Fan Feedback, And More



In a recent interview with GameSpot, Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice’s creative director Matt Kraemer sat down to discuss what changes were made to the upcoming game based on what fans disliked in Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, the entry preceding Fire & Ice. Additionally, Kraemer also spoke about the challenge of making Fire & Ice’s level designs “more streamlined,” what it was like to work on a series as popular as Sonic, as well as the struggles of making the game accessible for everyone.


GameSpot: Could you speak a little about what you changed from the first Sonic Boom?


Matt Kraemer: One of the biggest changes is the level design. It’s a lot more streamlined, it’s a lot more made for speed. A lot of the stages that you see here are built for combo-ing. You can literally combo stages from the start all the way to the end. It was something that we didn’t have in the first game, it was more maze-like where you had progression where you would get to a dead-end and then you would have to go back and go at a different pace.

And there’s no progression blockers in the game. In the original game, you would play a stage, and then you couldn’t move forward because you had to collect these badges. We removed those gates so you can freely move forward at your will.


What were some other main points of feedback you got from the last game that you really took to heart?


The backtracking people really didn’t like; and just generally the sense of speed, the sense of combo-ing. The last game–I would [compare] it more to a Sonic game that has more of a maze-style layout. Like a labyrinth, you get to a dead-end and then you turn back. [in Fire and Ice], the path from A to B is a lot more straightforward.


What was it like working on a series as storied and popular as Sonic?


It’s been fantastic… To get the opportunity to work on Sonic, I mean, we grew up with Sonic, and it’s really an honor.

The first game kind of fell onto our lap. We’re not going to pass it up, it’s Sonic. I don’t care what time frame or situation we have, it’s Sonic, we have to do it. But I wish we had a lot more time to give that game the love that it needed. But I feel that we did that here with this [new game], and the team is really proud of it.


You mentioned that you wanted to make this accessible to everyone. Were there instances that you ran into where you were developing something and you had to tone it back?


Oh yeah. The original races when you’re racing against bots were way too hard. We toned those back a lot and did a lot of rubber-banding.

And the boss fights–some of those we had to tone back. And it’s surprising when you go into those playlists because you always try to get a really wide [demographic]. And you know who’s the better players? The younger kids. And the old dudes over there are saying, “Man, this is too hard for me!”

I think that a lot of the really difficult things are best left as optional. You don’t have to do them, but for the players that like the challenge, that’s there for them.

I think making it easier is better.


To read the entire interview from GameSpot, you can go here.


Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice will release for the Nintendo 3DS on September 27th in North America, September 30th in Europe, October 1st in Australia, and October 27th in Japan.