Can you believe it? It's fifteen years since Mario and Sonic first went head-to-head on the home console scene, causing more fevered playground discussion than the stern-faced revelations of one boy we knew, whose mother had told him you loose a pint of blood everytime you masturbate. As it happened, no you don't, and Mario did - in many ways - win the battle of the console mascots.
Now, fifteen years later, Sonic Team - freed (somewhat regrettably, perhaps) from the shackles of working solely on a Sega console - is set to bring Sonic bang up-to-date, as the speedy blue hedgehog prepares to spread his next-gen wares across PS3 and Xbox 360. We caught up with the guys at this year's E3 to find out what's in store when Sonic touches down this winter.
What are the key Sonic values, and how do they come across in Sonic's next-gen adventure?
Sonic Team: What the team wanted to do in this game is create speed and a cool attitude. In terms of speed, we've already shown Sonic running at great speed and for this game we want to really up that again. The team also felt that Sonic hasn't had the same amount of attitude recently as he has in the past, so the inclusion of humans in the storyline lets us show more attitude.
Can we expect to see slower levels where we're given the opportunity to explore the world?
Sonic Team: Sonic won't just be running, there will be moments where people can stop and do different things. Throughout the last 15 years, Sonic fans have said they like the way Sonic just keeps running, but have also said they want action as well - and felt that the team hasn't made a game that features speed and action. So this time, we're trying to incorporate both. It's hard to put together, but that's what we're trying to do.
What's it been like, working with a Western company such as Microsoft?
Sonic Team: The team doesn't have any difficulties working with Microsoft, it makes no difference in terms of making games.
How is Sonic going to change the next generation of consoles?
Sonic Team: On previous consoles, we had to choose to enhance graphics or gameplay. On the next generation of machines we can do anything.
Would you still prefer to be making games for a Sega console?
Sonic Team: There probably would be many positive things in working for a Sega machine again, but we're happy with the current situation. As a creator of games, if Sega only made games for one hardware the number of people who can play the game is really limited. But since we have PlayStation, Xbox, Gamecube and so on, it means more people can enjoy the games that Sega is creating.
Xbox 360 is focussed around multiplayer gaming - are you planning anything in that area?
Sonic Team: We can't tell you about this in detail at the moment, but we are thinking about it although nothing has been decided. We'll probably do something, but we're still not sure.
Why do Sonic and Silver play in different styles of levels?
Sonic Team: The differences in stages are because of the storyline. One of the key features of this game is that Sonic can go into lots of very different types of environment.
Can Sonic play in Silver's levels and vice versa?
Sonic Team: There are stages both characters can play, but the abilities Silver has are so different there has to be levels that only Silver can play. There will be some shared levels, though.