Sonic and the Secret Rings is almost upon us, gracing the high-speed hedgehog with a totally new gameplay style and setting.
Sonic and the Secret Rings is taking a bold step in massively changing one of the biggest characters in videogame history, and it's got fans talking.
Now read our chat with Sonic Team director, Yojiro Ogawa, about his first Wii project.
To kick off, the on-rails gameplay of Sonic and the Secret Rings was the game's biggest surprise for fans. Where did you get your inspiration for the on-rails gameplay?
Yojiro Ogawa: When we were first told about the Wii hardware, we realised the Wii Remote was going to be very unique. We tested many different controller configurations, including the standard way to hold the Remote. Our goal was to make the gameplay simple so that users could play it for a long time.
We realised that when holding the Remote in the standard 'pointer' way you could move it on the X, Y and Z axis but the twisting motion of your arm is limited. So we tried holding it sideways and decided to use that configuration.
We also tried to use different buttons and gestures for different things. For example we wanted a shake of the remote to activate a speed boost, and the pressing buttons for different functions but we decided the horizontal tilting function worked better.
The reason why we didn't use too much motion control was because the way people shake the Remote is very different, and if there were several hundred people playing, they would shake the control in a hundred different ways.
When the DS was first unveiled, Sega put together a Sonic tech demo which saw Sonic run through a 3D environment along a fixed path. Does Secret Rings bare any relation to that?
Ogawa: I never noted their similarity so no, they're completely separate projects. However, the team that worked on Secret Rings also worked on Project Rub on DS, so you might see some places or aspects that are similar in Secret Rings.
Project Rub has 2D actions scenes, and you might notice similar 2D action scenes in Secret Rings. You could consider this type of 2D-orientated action something I'm keen on and something I try to put into our games. I have previously worked on the Panzer Dragoon games so you can see the similarity there [in that it's on rails, we think he means].
Please tell us why you chose an Arabian Nights theme?
Ogawa: There was nothing in specific that inspired me to go with the Arabian Nights theme. It just came to me. One reason you could say I chose that theme is that I wanted to make the Wii Sonic game look very different from the Xbox 360 and PS3 Sonic games. When we started development on Secret Rings I wanted Sonic to go into a completely different world.
So I came up with the idea of having Sonic go into a story book, which I linked to Arabian Nights. Another reason I chose this setting is because it has is a lot of mysterious charm and we could add magic to the formula.
Did you base your impression of the theme on any particular film or novel?
Ogawa: When I think back to the time we started creating plans and concepts for Sonic on Wii I was playing God of War, Prince of Persia and Shadow of the Colossus. I had read in one article that the team who made Shadow of the Colossus were inspired by stories like Sinbad, in which a lot of big objects and creatures appear so that's where I got my inspiration from.