Transcript of the 2017 Sonic the Hedgehog panel at South by Southwest

Sonic Mania

SONIC MANIA (15 Minutes)
Panelists: lizuka-san, Austin, Aaron (Mike and Roger welcome to jump in for fun)

AARON: We’ve had a great last year, but now it’s time to jump right into what’s to come. lizuka-san, I’ve got a number of questions here for you regarding Sonic Mania that I know our audience and fans would love to hear. Are you ready to begin?

IIZUKA-SAN: [In Japanese] Yes, but first, there’s someone else we should hear from, too. Someone very important to the creation of Sonic Mania. This person was responsible for the excellent mobile remasters of Sonic 1, Sonic 2, and Sonic CD.

AARON: Ah, that’s right! Though he couldn’t’ be here in person with us today, we have a special message for you all from Christian Whitehead, lead game designer for Sonic Mania.

[Asset needed: Christian’s “Hello!” speech. To be recorded by Christian. ]

Hey everyone!

Christian Whitehead here, in case you aren’t familiar with me, I’m the (title here) for Sonic Mania. The team and I have been working really hard to make Sonic Mania the best 2D Classic Sonic experience in years, and we can’t wait for you to play it.

Because we’re working hard on the game right now, we unfortunately couldn’t make it out to SXSW, but you’re in good hands with lizuka-san. (Hi, lizuka-san!)

On behalf of Headcanon, PagodaWest, and myself, we’re thrilled to be a part of this next chapter of Sonic. A game by the Mania, for the Mania. Take care everyone, and we hope you enjoy the panel!”

AARON: Great — thank you so much Christian, and from all of us here at SXSW, and the entire audience, please keep up the great work! We know you’re all working on the game right now and we can’t wait to see the final product.

Mania Reveal 1

lizuka-san, we know that Sonic Mania is a new 2D Adventure featuring Classic Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, and we know that the game has brand new stages and entirely redesigned classic stages. I’d like to open the discussion today talking about the new enemies that were just revealed. In particular, we saw art for one of them, called the Heavy Gunner. What can you tell us about him/them?

IIZUKA-SAN: Ah, the Hard Boiled Heavies. These are brand new enemies that Sonic will face as you play through Sonic Mania. We didn’t just want to create brand new levels — we wanted to create brand new bosses, too. Each Hard Boiled Heavy features a different strength, and you’ll have to adapt to overcome them as you play through the game.

AARON: We’ve seen just one Hard Boiled Heavy so far — the Heavy Gunner, which we have here on the screen. But are there more?

IIZUKA-SAN: Well, I don’t want to spoil too much, so you’ll have to wait and see! But, I can give you a hint…

[Asset Needed: Gunner + Silhouettes behind him. To be made at SOA.]

AARON: Oh, wow. So what we’re seeing are silhouettes of the other hard boiled heavies there?

IIZUKA-SAN: That’s right, you’ll have to wait and see. We’re excited for everyone to face the entire team of Hard Boiled Heavies when the game releases.

AARON: Looking forward to it! By the way, lizuka-san, what’s this large box you have there… ?

IIZUKA-SAN: Oh, this? (He lifts up the box onto the table.) This… is the Sonic Mania Collector’s Edition box!

AARON: Ooooh. This is the actual box that anyone who pre-ordered is going to get?

IIZUKA-SAN: That’s right. In fact, it’s not just a sturdy, fancy box… (he opens it) this sample has all the contents inside, too. (He takes out the statue.)

First, we have the Sonic Mania Statue, on the SEGA hardware base.

AARON: That’s awesome. How long did it take you to finalize the statue?

IIZUKA-SAN: We spent many months just working on the statue to make sure it was the best possible quality for our fans.

AARON: And I see the SEGA Genesis / MEGA DRIVE base he’s standing on. Is it just decorative, or does it do something?

IIZUKA-SAN: Actually, yes. If you put in batteries, and flick the power button on, it goes… (he turns it on — “SEEEEGAAAA” sound effect plays into the mic.)

AARON: Ah, very cool! I’m making a mental note to remember to get batteries later.

IIZUKA-SAN: Inside is also the Metallic Collector’s Card… (he pops it out and shows it off)… and the Sonic Mania cast cartridge. Now, inside here is the… (he takes a moment to open it)… gold ring! (He shows off the gold ring.)

AARON: lizuka-san, to confirm, everyone who ordered the collector’s edition gets all of those items as well as a code to download the game, right? No matter which platform we ordered it on?

IIZUKA-SAN: Yes, that’s correct. We hope you’ll look forward to the collector’s edition when it arrives at launch.

AARON: Last I heard, there are still some copies of the CE out there for a few platforms, but it’s worth noting, that once they’ve sold out, that’s it, as we don’t have any plans right now for re-prints. So, if you’re on the fence and thinking you like what you see here, now is the time to make sure you get it!

Mania Reveal 2


AARON: lizuka-san, I really like the art on the front of the CE box there, but I’m curious — is there going to be even more art made for the game when it releases digitally?

IIZUKA-SAN: Yes, there will be. Actually… Audience, would you like to see it?

AARON: Audience, what do you say?


AARON: I think that sounds like a yes, lizuka-san!

IIZUKA-SAN: OK! Let’s show them… the new art for Sonic Mania.

[Asset Needed: Key Art — Done]

  • (Note: We must be careful not to call it “Box Art”, because the physical version is not revealed until later.)

AARON: That’s looking great!

IIZUKA-SAN: Christian, PagodaWest, and Headcanon ale working very hard on both the game and the art assets. There’s so much more we haven’t shown here, but we’d like to keep some surprises for you when you play the game itself.

Release window

AARON: Speaking of playing the game, lizuka-san… the question on everyone’s minds, I think — do you have any update on the game’s release window, and is there any news yet on how much the game is going to cost.

IIZUKA-SAN: Ah, about that… would you all like to know the latest release window and-price-point for the game?


IIZUKA-SAN: I thought so. First, for the release window. The dev team is working very hard on the game right now. In order to give them the time they need, we have changed the release date of the game very slightly — from Spring to Late Summer / Early Fall of this year.


AARON: Well, I imagine we’re glad it’s not a very long wait, but so many people are excited for this game. Can you explain why we have to wait?

IIZUKA-SAN: For SEGA, quality is most important. We stated this last year, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to make Sonic games the highest quality possible.

Though we like to go fast, sometimes, for a great game, sometimes you must also wait.

AARON: Audience, are you guys willing to wait a month or two so we can ensure that Sonic Mania is one of the best 2D games we’ve ever released?


AARON: (Will react based on audience)


Vinyl album

AARON: Now, lizuka-san, I think we also have one more question for the crowd, don’t we…

IIZUKA-SAN: That’s right. The album.

AARON: We have a question for you, audience! An interest check, so to speak. We’re wondering… how many of you guys would be interested in picking up an official Sonic Mania Vinyl Album with music from the game on it?


Pre-order bonus

AARON: Another question for you, lizuka-san — let’s say I pre-order the game before it comes out digitally. Will I get any kind of pre-order bonus for doing so?

IIZUKA-SAN: (Smiling) Hmm… you’ll have to wait and see.

AARON: Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask — a lot of people have been clamoring for SEGA to do a limited physical run of some sort for Sonic Mania. Is there any chance that might become a reality someday?

IIZUKA-SAN: I don’t have any news on that right now, sorry. But we are listening, so please do send us your feedback if a physical copy is something you’d like to see someday. Well, send it to Aaron on Twitter, anyway. (laughs)


AARON: Oh, lovely. Well, as liuzka-san and our marketing team know, I do love passing on feedback. As we wrap up here talking about Sonic Mania, we do have one last thing to show… some of you may have been following a certain cryptic teaser campaign on our social media channels, and if so, pay attention here… because this is happening fast.

AARON: lizuka-san, I hear you brought in a super zoomed in tease for one of the new levels in Sonic Mania?

IIZUKA-SAN: Yes, that’s right. Good luck figuring it out, but it’s a little something to keep you busy while you wait for more news on Sonic Mania!

[Asset Needed: Pixel Tease. To be made by SOA w/ Sonic Team guidance.]

AARON: Good luck to all our internet sleuths out there — I know you guys will do us proud on this. Well lizuka-san, anything else you’d like to add on Sonic Mania?

IIZUKA-SAN: All of us at SEGA, as well our developers like Christian Whitehead, PagodaWest, and Headcanon are very excited to bring Sonic Mania to you this Summer. We hope you’ll enjoy playing it as it releases on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and of course, Nintendo Switch.


AARON: Finally, I’d like to add that we have a very special item to give you all at the end of our panel today. It’s exclusive and it’s related to Sonic Mania, so trust me when I say you’ll want to stick around for that. Here’s a sneak peek, and this is a brand new piece of art we had custom made — featuring Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles — check it out.

[Show Poster Design — from Kieran.]

AARON: Alright, well, is that all for now, lizuka-san?

IIZUKA-SAN: Oh, well, there is one more thing for Mania.

AARON: OK, what have you got for us?

New zone

IIZUKA-SAN: Audience, would you like to learn about one more Classic Zone that is returning in Sonic Mania?


AARON: Sounds like you have your answer! OK, Audience, we need you to close your eyes for this next part…

IIZUKA-SAN: Do you recognize… this?


(I guess you know this stage.)

IIZUKA-SAN: That’s right, it’s Flying Battery Zone, from Sonic & Knuckles. We also have a short sample of Flying Battery Zone footage for you to see here.


Alright, that’s all for Sonic Mania, and with that out of the way — Mike! Roger! You guys still awake over there? It’s almost your turn!

MIKE: An evil genius is always prepared.

ROGER: All set!


Previous Article

Tails' Channel launching "Tails' Channel Takes", a new foray into opinion-based programming

Next Article

EXCLUSIVE: Panel script for Sonic SXSW 2017 uncovered by archivist

Related Posts