Takashi Iizuka and Kazuyuki Hoshino talks Sonic Colours Ultimate, influence from the Sonic Movie – translated interview

In an interview with Famitsu, Sonic Studio creative officer Takashi Iizuka and creative director Kazuyuki Hoshino talked about the upcoming title Sonic Colours Ultimate, and the introduction of new features to help newcomers. Here’s an in-house translation of an excerpt relayed on Twitter.

Famitsu: How did this project came into being?

Iizuka: Before entering in with further details, I would like to first explain the context in which the Sonic brand finds itself recently.

The number of fans has been steadily growing, those that liked the first games with Sonic Mania, those that are in love with the series with Sonic Forces, and fans that are keen into racing games with Team Sonic Racing. Then, in last February, the Hollywood movie was released, and it turned into a massive success, going further beyond the expectations of SEGA and Paramount, the distributor.

The first Sonic the Hedgehog film by Paramount Pictures is the highest grossing video game movie of all time in the domestic region. (Paramount Pictures)

Thanks to the movie, beyond the existing fanbase, the number of people that got introduced to Sonic through the movie around the world has notably grown. Before it, the majority of Sonic fans were between 20 and 30 years old, and they were familiar with previous titles and animation series like Sonic X. The success of the movie has expanded the range of age to younger people, and those that got to meet Sonic through their parents introducing the character to their young.

Famitsu: It’s certain that the movie was directed to families.

Iizuka: Seeing the results of investing abroad [through the movie], a lot of families got to see the movie, and the number of people that have fallen in love with that “blue character with long legs that runs a lot” has grown exponentially. I’d like to recommend [Sonic Colours Ultimate] as the “Ideal Sonic to get into the series” for those that got to meet Sonic through the movie.

Famitsu: So you want those that don’t know Sonic very well to play it?

Iizuka: Yes, Sonic Colours was a game that sold four million copies on the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS on its’ release. And even so, there was no way to play it in current consoles.

Sonic the Hedgehog in Sonic Colours Ultimate, scheduled to be released 7 September. (SEGA)

It’s an ambitious project that took a step further beyond in gameplay, and I hope people play it for the same reason, and other ones.

Famitsu: What was the reason to name it Ultimate?

Iizuka: The original Sonic Colours was released in 2010, so we want to add more value to it. The original work was an expansion of previous titles like Sonic Unleashed, but this time, the concept is a “Sonic that can be constant fun”, by adding new characteristics to make an easier experience to beginners. For this reason we’ve given the name of Ultimate, because it is the definitive version.

I’d like to recommend [Sonic Colours Ultimate] as the “Ideal Sonic to get into the series” for those that got to meet Sonic through the movie.

Takashi Iizuka, SEGA

Famitsu: What changes have been done, exactly?

Iizuka: Since the output power of consoles and televisions has gotten better since then, there’s that. But the biggest change was removing the old life system. “Game Over” as we know it, doesn’t fit with the current context for gameplay, so this time players can play it unlimitedly without worrying how many times they fail.

Famitsu: It seems the best for beginners.

Iizuka: Going even further, since it’s an action platforming game, if you fail to jump, you could fall in a bottomless pit and commit an error, but we have added the function of “Tails Save” to help the player.

Tails Save in action, Sonic Colours Ultimate. (SEGA)

As indicated by the name, if the player falls in a bottomless pit, Tails will appear and save them. We’ve added functions like these to make beginners feel more included, and that they can enjoy an action game without getting frustrated.

Famitsu: Please explain to us once more the “Colour Power” system, the stand-out aspect from this game.

Iizuka: This was the next big step. Before, Sonic gameplay was just running fast and jumping to kill enemies. But in Sonic Colours, for the first time in a while, Sonic had a new ability. These Colour Power mechanics grants Sonic the ability to transform into drills and rockets, and depending on the Colour Power, Sonic can acquire even more abilities.

Famitsu: There’s also a new Wisp.

Iizuka: Yes. We’ve added the Jade Wisp from Team Sonic Racing to the roster. The Jade Wisp has the ability to convert the player in a ghost that can go through walls like a translucent spirit would do. With this power, the player will be able to access previously inaccessible areas.

The Jade WIsp in action in Sonic Colours Ultimate. (SEGA)

Famitsu: It’s a new way to play exploring new routes using the wisps.

Iizuka: Yes, it is. There are interesting objects and tricks in those scenarios of trial and error where you could stop and think: “If I use this certain Colour Power, I could reach over there.” The same happens with Jade. We’ve created new places in existing scenarios in which you can only access with Jade. Up until now, the Colour Powers were being used with the premise of using them to help you advance, but with Jade, we’ve added a little bit of fun with exploration.

Famitsu: This year, it’s being celebrated the 30th anniversary of Sonic, what plans do you have to celebrate it?

Hoshino: We’re planning to do a musical concert and collaborations with other games. As soon as we can, we’ll relay more information. We wish we could be celebrating it with everyone on the real world, but we’ve prepared something to replace it. In the meanwhile, keep visiting Sonic Channel, the official website for Sonic.

The back of a 30th anniversary-branded cap for Sonic the Hedgehog. (SEGA)

Famitsu: Lastly, what can we expect for the 30th Anniversary?

Iizuka: Looking back on the previous 30 years, I believe it has been a period in which have allowed people to meet Sonic through lots of different ways, from pixel art to 3D CG, the coexistence of Modern and Classic Sonic, the return of pixel art and other distinct genres into these action games. For the 10th and 20th anniversaries, we celebrated for the fans of the series, but for the 30th anniversary, I’d like to do something that would create and bring the biggest possible number of fans.

Hoshino: Meanwhile in Japan, we’re working with the head office of the Sonic Studio in the United States, and our main objective is to create a bigger number of fans in Japan, one that could rival the fans in foreign countries. Also, we’re working closely with the movie “Sonic the Hedgehog 2”, please look forward to it.

h/t Sephys00 via Abel Muniz Jr.

  1. I guess you could say that the Sonic Movie could possibly influence more games in the future. That’s a good thing in many aspects.

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