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Sonic Boom made for western audiences, character redesigns explained by Sega

Friday, 7th February 2014 08:35 GMT By Dave Cook

Sonic Boom is the ‘sort-of’ Sonic the Hedgehog reboot made for western audiences. The IP covers a new game for Wii U and 3DS, a TV show and probably a ton of merchandise. Sega has now explained why it’s changing up the characters.

If you missed the Sonic Boom trailer and details, just hit the link. You’ll see just how different the characters look.

Now, speaking with Polygon Sonic Team designer Takashi Iizuka confirmed that he is overseeing the project, but that Sonic Boom Wii U development is being handled by western studio Big Red Button, while Sanzaru Games is handling the 3DS edition.

Explaining the re-brand, Iizuka said, “As part of completely thinking about the West, we wanted to make sure we had Western game developers and make it a part of Western television. We wanted to make sure it was developed best for Western audiences primarily; this was very important.

“The whole thing started with the television series. Our previous series, Sonic X, was made in Japan and influenced by Japanese anime; the main audience it was made for was in Japan, although it came to the West as well. So Sonic Boom is something made specifically for the Western audience. For the TV series to be successful, we pretty much had to make it for that audience, and the games tie into that strategy.”

Sega of America producer Stephen Frost then chipped in, telling the site that Big Red Button was chosen to westernise Sonic due to its experience with action-adventure games, probably because it’s headed up by former Uncharted developer Bob Rafei.

Rafei said of the new Sonic Boom title, “Sonic Team is great and they make really great speed-oriented games, but this game is not just about speed. Speed is an important aspect of it, but exploration, combat and the strong narrative of the storyline are very big aspects of the game, more so than I would say in the past.

“So again, we wanted a strong storyline and art design that Western audiences can resonate a little bit better with the synergistic relation for all of us at Sega of America is why we drove toward a Western developer across the board.”

He said it’s more of a sandbox affair with wider level clusters connected by areas that funnel players into moments of speed. It also helps to keep co-op players grouped together at key points.

Rafei conceded that Uncharted is an influence on Sonic Boom, and that’s kind of where Sonic’s Nathan Drake scarf comes from. He continued, “I was part of the team that created Uncharted, so it’s hard to take the DNA out of that. We’re making the games we want and want to play and it’s hard not to tap into, what feels right to you.

“And given our past with a lot of team members worked on Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, so you want to make sure we’re not just doing the same thing. We took the best of what we know from those games and applied it to what works for Sonic canon. That was really important to us, not to make another Ratchet and Clank game or another Jak and Daxter game. It was important to make sure that it feels like a Sonic game.”

What do you make of Sonic Boom so far? Discuss below.

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