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?
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?
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.
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
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?
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?
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?
Yes, that's the vision that I have.
SPOnG: It's a good vision. I like it. Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you very much.