This year, Sega celebrates their 30th anniversary since they first entered the videogame hardware business. While they no longer make their own consoles, Sonic the Hedgehog series producer Takashi Iizuka shares some memories with Famitsu.com of having worked with the company for the better part of the past 30 years, along with some thoughts on what lies ahead.
While Sonic the Hedgehog started his adventures on the Sega Genesis over 20 years ago, Iizuka, who had been involved in the franchise since Sonic the Hedgehog 3, states that the series will stay true to its essence regardless of its change in hardware.
Famitsu asks the producer about his thoughts on having worked on the series since the Sega Genesis era.
“Yes, the Sega Genesis had scaling functions that were made possible through programming that weren’t available on other hardware, and it made impossible ideas possible,” Iizuka says. “It was a very interesting hardware. Back in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, we realized the novel idea of connecting two cartridges together, which I still think is impressive till this day.”
As we all know, the Sega Saturn was the start of a turning point for its company, being a console that didn’t do very well and began Sega’s journey down the path of a software-only developer. Famitsu asks why there weren’t any new Sonic titles on the console.
Iizuka shares, “During the early days of the Sega Saturn, I was working on the development of NiGHTS. Afterwards, there was word that there wouldn’t be a Sonic title on the Sega Saturn; however, we had produced Sonic Jam. At the time, we were working on having Sonic move through a 3D space, parts of which were made available through Sonic Jam’s museum.”
By the time Sega released Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast in 1998, they had finally realized their dream of having a proper Sonic game that is in full 3D.
“Everything changed. But what’s satisfying about Sonic is being able to run forward,” expresses Iizuka. “By holding forward on the directional keys, you’re able to go where you want, while the camera is already pointing towards the destination. I thought that as long as we stayed true to those regards, the 3D version won’t lose that sense of satisfaction.”
He continued, “However, when Sonic Adventure 2 was being developed in America, I heard that it was going to withdraw from the hardware (exclusivity). It was my favorite console as a developer and player, so it was a huge shock to me. When I first held the controller [for Nintendo GameCube], I asked them to keep the analog stick located above the thumb. It was a hardware that was designed using suggestions from the developers, so the making part of it was very fun.”
Fast-forward over ten years, and now Iizuka looks forward to creating a new Sonic title that goes beyond everything they’ve learned up until now with Sonic Lost World.
“In 2011, we delivered a compilation of Sonic games from the past 20 years, called Sonic Generations. Next is Sonic Lost World, which will feature graphics that fit the game’s content, nice controllability, and a new 360 degree ‘Tube Stage’ that has yet to be seen,” Iizuka says. “We are thinking of showing off a new Sonic that is different from everything before.”
As Iizuka looks forward to challenging the development of a new Sonic, he concludes, “Yes, I believe some people may ask ‘Will you be able to show how fun Sonic can be using a 360 degree stage?’ just like how some asked ‘Will it really be possible to have it in 3D?’ which was the kind of question that helped in the creation of Sonic Adventure.”
“I believe Sonic Lost World will deliver a new experience for everyone. It will also have data transfer between the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, so please look forward to it.”
Sonic Lost World is slated for release on October 22nd in North America for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.
Photograph courtesy Famitsu. Screenshots courtesy Nintendo.