Interviews// Sonic Colours Producer, Takashi Iizuka

Posted 14 Sep 2010 14:31 by
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SPOnG: As a fan, it's great to see Sonic Colours satisfy what a lot of people are looking for in a Sonic game, particularly as the franchise has been in a downward spiral for several years. I guess a lot of people can pinpoint the start of those problems with Yuji Naka's leave to form Prope. What did the Sonic Team and yourself feel about his departure?

Takashi Iizuka: I really miss Naka-san and was sad to see him leave when he decided to form his own company. But even at that time, he wasn't the only person making decisions for the games. Concepts and gameplay elements were all discussed as a team, for example. So while it was very sad to see him go, Sonic Team is always Sonic Team and it didn't necessarily mean that Sonic was destined to head in a different direction post-Naka-san. At least, not as different as some people may think.


SPOnG: You're credited with being involved in fan favourites like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2, but you're also credited with creating Shadow the Hedgehog, which wasn't so well received. Given that Sonic Colours looks closer to the 1990s-era Sonic than the post-2005 Sonic, did you have to do a lot of soul searching and rediscover Sonic yourself before coming up with the design for Sonic Colours?

Takashi Iizuka: Well, one of the examples of the series' success was Sonic Adventure 2. For Sonic Adventure 1 we tried a lot of hit-and-miss things because it was our first 3D title of the franchise, but for Sonic Adventure 2 the focus was back to the tempo of the game. That's probably why it was received so well by the fans as well as the critics. In terms of that, I think the mentality we have towards Sonic Colours is quite similar.

Previous Sonic titles have tried to do a lot of things, like different characters and different types of gameplay, whereas in Sonic Colours I just wanted to keep the focus on the tempo and high-speed action. It's not really a case of me revisiting myself, but it's more like coming back to the same mentality that brought us success with fans and critics for the Sonic Adventure series.


SPOnG: Sonic Adventure 2 was a great game to play, but it seemed to curse Sonic Team into focusing on storyline above all else in the years that followed. Particularly in Sonic Heroes, Sonic Battle and Shadow the Hedgehog all titles that tried to extend the backstory of that game.

It became a bit too serious really. Was that something you found that the stories in, say, Sonic 2006 and Sonic Unleashed to a lesser extent, were elements that Sonic Team was focusing on a bit too much?

Takashi Iizuka: I actually feel the same way as you do, in terms of Sonic getting too serious. As for Sonic 2006 and Sonic Unleashed, I was still based in Sega's American studios at the time and wasn't directly involved in those titles. That was actually a good time for me, because it allowed me to see the Sonic games from a similar perspective as a fan's point of view.

What I felt was the same as you that the franchise had become too serious, the story had become very deep, whereas I see Sonic as more of a laid-back, enjoyable and fun experience. I kind of rediscovered that through Mario & Sonic in a way, because that game was very much a 'pick up and play' affair that everyone can jump in and enjoy. I think that's a better direction for the Sonic brand, and that's why Sonic Colours has a much more fun, enjoyable kind of setting.


SPOnG: So it's basically Papa Iizuka, taking his series back, is it?

Takashi Iizuka: (Laughs, nods)


SPOnG: Is it safe to say then, that future Sonic titles will have the same kind of colourful, simple, laid-back feel that Sonic Colours has?

Takashi Iizuka: Yes, that's the vision that I have.


SPOnG: It's a good vision. I like it. Thank you very much for your time.

Takashi Iizuka: Thank you very much.
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Comments

speedduelist 14 Sep 2010 23:45
1/6
Hi, I was wondering :

- what did you think of that carnival stage?
- how good is the platforming in that stage
- how many hidden paths did you find?
- how good are the 3d parts in that stage? are they fast? are they some way empty?
- how good is the platforming and the visuals in that stage?
- how many hidden paths did you find? and did it end with a goal ring or a capsule?

Sorry for so many questions (answer them if you want).
Great interview by the way.
Svend Joscelyne 15 Sep 2010 08:40
2/6
speedduelist wrote:
Hi, I was wondering :

- what did you think of that carnival stage?
- how good is the platforming in that stage
- how many hidden paths did you find?
- how good are the 3d parts in that stage? are they fast? are they some way empty?
- how good is the platforming and the visuals in that stage?
- how many hidden paths did you find? and did it end with a goal ring or a capsule?

Sorry for so many questions (answer them if you want).
Great interview by the way.


Hey there speedduelist!

Unfortunately the interview session did not involve me playing Starlight Carnival, so I did not include my hands-on impressions of the stage. I understand that - for some reason, maybe it has been overlooked by others - that we're the first to actually mention it, though? Good to know!

I'd love to answer your questions, and I'll do so in a very special Preview that I'm preparing for SPOnG right now. It will be ready next Monday, so I highly recommend sticking around. :)
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speedduelist 15 Sep 2010 11:15
3/6
i am sticking either way lol (Spong has really great exclusive news/interviews regarding other games i am interested in too).
Kiberbot 15 Sep 2010 21:43
4/6
Too serious? He was joking, right?

I am very upset and depressed because of Iizuka's words. Sure thing, some fans will not agree with me, and it is because of them Iizuka made up his mind this way, but I do not think, that someones disliking deep storylines in Sonic games makes mine point of view wrong.

Yes. I am upset because Sonic never going to be serious and deep again, considering Sonic Team's boss' words are true. Good storytelling and each character's development is very important for me, and I don't think that it is unnecessary. Sonic Adventure series are the ones that became my ethalon of Sonic games, and thats the level of games that I want to see since 2001. Do not think that I am some underage fan, which knows nothing about "True Sonic". I am Sonic fan since 1994, and it all started with Sonic 3. However this hedgehog franchise became less interesting in the end of nineties, exactly because I found those old games that I have cleared for approximately 1000 times rather boring. I got tired of the Genesis/MegaDrive Sonic, so I threw him away. Indeed Sonic Adventure series were the one that revived my faith in Sonic and brought me back. That was one heck of an emotional boom! Sonic Adventure 1&2 on Dreamcast showed me brand new Sonic, Sonic that I will never forget, Sonic that I always will be faithfull to. What made Adventures so impressive for me? Surely: Speed, Interesting gameplay, fresh ideas and great music, but it would be "soulless game" that you could complete just one time and then forget about it, if it was not for storytelling. The storyline, characters development, everything that kept gamer which played only 2D games and could never see his franchise this brand new way. Characters and their storylines are the elements that helped me become interested in Sonic once again and gave unbelievable experience and emotions. I felt that Sonic is growing up with me, that he is gaining experience side by side with me, becomes different and developed! Its more than a feeling, that helped me understand that Sonic is not just some platfromer game for kids, that he can be way more interesting and deeper, and Sonic Adventure 2 finally convinced me so. After that I've became a fan of serious storytelling and characters development, and to be honest it is the main reason why I buy Sonic games, aside the desire to "play something". After Adventure series I've faced a lot of disapointments like Sonic Heroes or Shadow The Hedgehog Game but I believed that Sonic will shock me with something interesting like a good story or interesting characters. AND NOW Sonic Team's head who was the hope to bring back "spirit of Adventures" says that no more serious storylines, and Sonic is going to be some sort of cheap entertainment for kids.

Sonic's problems are not because of storylines, as most of people think. Sonic can combine awesome gameplay, perfect quality and serious storylines, and Adventure games are proof to that. Only ShTH and STH06 storylines have problems because there is a lot of "show off" and are way too serious, and aside of that, their storylines are written by talentless scenarist. "Pseudo epicness" won't help the case. But that does not mean that any kind of seriousness in Sonic games is no good. There are lot of franchises like Mario that live on weak but colorfull storyline, other games' storylines become deeper like Sonic in 2001. Not only its gameplay was awesome, but also it demonstrated high level of storytelling made those series special. Now that Sonic Team director wants to make Sonic really simple and kiddy I afraid I'll lose all interest in Sonic, for I do not find mindless running around levels without any purpose amusing. That would be very primitive and boring to say the least. I am not sure what is going happen to me as to Sonic fan, and I am very afraid about Anniversary Sonic's future, which was my last hope and light in the end of a tunnel...

Retro-fans got their Sonic 4. Colorfull and simple games' fans got their Sonic Colors. Sonic Adventure fans got nothing except STH06 that is hard to call a proper game back in 2006.

P.S. Excuse me for possible mistakes, english is foreign language to me. I just wanted you to know, that there are people that do not appreciate Iizuka's words.
Wilford111 20 Sep 2010 04:50
5/6
@Kiberbot
Go read Sonic fan-fiction, if you're just here for the stories.
Trollki 6 Jan 2011 05:52
6/6
"There are lot of franchises like Mario that live on weak but colorfull storyline, other games' storylines become deeper like Sonic in 2001. Not only its gameplay was awesome, but also it demonstrated high level of storytelling made those series special."

"Colorful storyline"? Mario lives purely on gameplay.

His most popular "core" games are his 2D side scrollers (NSMB:Wii likely outsells both Galaxy games combined).

Sonic needs to get gameplay back on track before you can even think of trying to do things like get "deep stories". Face it: many people go to movies, anime, comics, manga - hands-off media that you don't really have to interact with, to get stories. Games' stories have traditionally been and will continue to be seen as subpar compared to their stories - and the only thing that redeems them is the fact that you play through the games, as the main character (...if you get immersed enough).

If you want to see a modern game that tried to live on story instead of gameplay, go peep at Final Fantasy 13 and see what you think about it, because as far as many gamers are concerned, it's less of a game and more of a movie, and its narrative and graphics can only live for so long.

STH06 tried to be a bit too serious, and now we have fans and even prospective fans turned off from the whole "kiss" scene.

yeah man, gameplay da bess.
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