Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka recently spoke to Metro about their focus on old school fans as well as the newer generation of players, and how Sonic Mania will help figure out the direction of future titles.
Metro: To me, as an older fan, Sonic Mania looked great and Sonic Forces was only okay. Is it the other way round for kids? In terms of which they prefer?
Takeshi Iizuka: The target audience for Sonic Mania is the fans who like the Mega Drive from back in the day. We didn’t conduct playtesting with kids for Sonic Mania, since it’s not really about what kids think about Mania. But for Forces we did conduct broad research and playtesting, and made sure it’s accepted by a broader audience, from kids to adults. But the surprising thing about Mania is that when we were conducting research, there’s like a voice from the kids that they actually like pixelated and 2D Sonic too. So I think there’s a market for Mania amongst kids as well.
What do you do about elements in Sonic Forces which older fans might not like but kids will? Sonic’s friends, for example. The goal in the demo level is to find Shadow. And, really… I don’t want to find Shadow. I’d prefer he stayed lost.
Iizuka: [laughs] In the past two decades Sonic games have been trying to target a broader audience from kids to adults. And Forces has that same idea, so that means a wider range of characters that we know children like. Even if other fans may not be quite as keen.
But for Mania it’s kind of like a new approach. To target specifically 2D fans. So we don’t know whether it’ll be accepted positively in the market. We’ll find out after the game’s released, and we can figure out the direction of future titles after seeing the reaction.
In terms of Sonic in general. The complaint that’s often levelled against the core games is that they’re relatively shallow compared to other platformers – that all you’re doing for a lot of the time is just pushing right on the controller. How do you respond to that?
Iizuka: [laughing with translator] Of course I love Sonic, and I think a cartoonish character with enormous speed is really unique in a game world. So I’ve been creating Sonic games because I really love those characteristics. The franchise has sold for such a long time because of that high-speed action element, and that’s supported by the fans and the players.
Read the rest of the interview over at Metro.
Sonic Mania will release for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on August 15th. Sonic Forces releases during the 2017 holiday season for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC.