Eurogamer interviewed Shun Nakamura, the game designer and producer of the Sonic Team, which is currently developing the Sonic Forces. The designer answered questions about what the success of Sonic Mania meant for the team and told what to expect from the next game of the main series – Sonic Forces.
You were surprised by the interest in the traditional two-dimensional “Sonic” with the announcement and release of Sonic Mania?
“No. I know that it’s easier for many people to understand 2D games. And we have a huge fan base of the classic “Sonic”, which always craves such content. When you release such a project, many people are happy to receive it, especially if the game from Sega with a hedgehog Sonic returns in a very familiar 2D. Now there are a lot of two-dimensional projects, maybe that’s why the classic Sonic came back with such popularity. ”
Sonic Mania became one of the most laudatory games about Sonic. This reaction made you think and rethink your approach to your own games?
“It was very interesting to me to watch that Sonic Mania gets high marks and its praise the players. As a team, we still need to do 3D games for an audience that likes the 3D style of Sonic. Seeing the reaction that Mania received, we were all lost in thought. We had to understand what it was like so much for people to use it in the 3D series in the future – to give the players what they are looking for, what they found in Sonic Mania. ”
In what Mania is really good, it’s in the perception of the character, the sense of speed and momentum – this is what I think Dimps was trying hard to achieve in Sonic the Hedgehog 4. You communicated with Christian Whitehead, what it’s like to be with people on the same wavelength. Will you imitate this in your games?
“The Sonic Team did not communicate directly with Christian, but Iizuka-san (head of the Sonic Team) was in Los Angeles – he was engaged in the approval of Sonic Mania. Since Iizuka-san worked on classical games, he directed the team to give the game the same sensations as the classics. He told us: “In Sonic Mania, they do it, you might want to add something to the Forces to tie them up in some way.” But the team was perfectly aware of what Sonic Mania is, while it did Forces, because its development began many years before Sonic Mania! “.
Games like Sonic Forces have a very wide fan base, consisting of people like me, with a long, thick beard that played in Sonic the Hedgehog around the age of ten. But now they already have their own children, and they want something completely different – it should be difficult. What is the target audience for Forces? And how often do you confront such grumbling old men like me?
“The team is trying to attract an audience that likes modern games about Sonic, and even going beyond the group of Sonic fans, we are trying to interest children who love” customization. ” From a strategic point of view, it was intended to present two games. We wanted the fans to get what they wanted, but also, if they wanted, they had the opportunity to try something new. ”
It is very good to have two directions. Is this what you would like to continue?
“This question is more for a team in the United States. From our perspective, we now see really happy fans of the classic Sonic. They got what they wanted for a long time. And it makes us think about what we can do to keep them like that. We have nothing to report yet, but we are following what happens this year. ”
You return Shadow after a long time. Someone adores him, some do not. Why did you want to return it?
“Sonic Mania has expanded the classic series – we released it for people who want the continuation of Sonic & Knuckles. Sonic Forces continues the stories of Unleashed, Colors and Generations – it’s for the fans of these games. Shadow is very popular among a subset of our fans, those who grew up playing the Adventure series. They will be very happy. He appears in the Forces as an enemy, and in the additional content that we make, the fans will go deeper into the history of Shadow. We want to make sure that all bands and all people of different ages have found something in all the games that we release. ”
Speaking of fans … When it comes to fans of Sonic, on the Internet there is a huge amount of artwork on the game. Some of them are spicy, but not all. From these considerations, did you create the avatar feature?
“I did not see much of this kind of fan art.”
Do you use secure search at work?
“[Laughs] Iizuka knows me better than the fans’ work and knows that they have been loving creating their own characters for the past couple of decades. He wanted to give fans a tool for this. In addition, he will allow them to invent not some strange heroes, but authentic for the universe Sonic. ”
Sonic Forces will be released on the Nintendo Switch. What did you do to start the game on this device?
“When we developed the concept of the project, we originally wanted to make it multi-platform. Regardless of the “iron”, you are equally playing the game. And that was long before the decision was made to release Sonic Forces on the Nintendo Switch. Even with Xbox One and PlayStation 4, we were going to get a new Nintendo device – even though we did not know anything about it, we already made a budget and a schedule for this version. When we first took Switch in our hands, we panicked a little, because it was different from what we expected. We had to understand how the console works. She threw us tests, but her own engine allowed to set everything up quickly enough. ”
I played it recently on Switch – the game works at 30 frames / s?
And on the other consoles 60 frames / second?
Switch, by the way, lies in my bag. It has two detachable controllers with motion recognition and HD vibration. You worked on Samba de Amigo. Have you ever thought about how perfect it is here?
“I really want to make Samba de Amigo on Switch.”
That would be wonderful. I would not have to spend a lot on the version for Dreamcast, as I already did.
“I really, really would like to release it to Switch! When the Wii came out, it was only with one Wii Remote controller, and you had to buy a second one. The first time I saw Switch, I thought: “Oh my God – that’s it!”. On it you do not need to buy something extra. I’m really very interested in this. ”
Sonic Forces will go on sale November 7, 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch.