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Game News, Interviews

SoS 2013 – Takashi Iizuka Interview

Takashi Iizuka (SoS 2013)Over the past few years the Sonic series has hit a bit of a renaissance, with Colours and Generations achieving relative success critically as well as commercially. Typically, just as this turnaround is achieved, the newest game shows signs of radical change to the 3D Sonic formula that had finally gained acceptance. Sonic Lost World’s new design is the kind of decision that means it’s always interesting to chat to Takashi Iizuka, the man at the top of Sonic Team today and the public face of the team. He’s always cheery and approachable, but you can never quite predict the answers you’ll get from him. We caught him right at the beginning of Summer of Sonic, as the organisers were on stage welcoming attendees!

[Sonic Retro sits down at one end of the large room, with Iizuka and Sega’s interpreter. At the other end, Jun Senoue is faintly strumming away on his guitar, playing the Station Square music. When asked which site we’re from, the reply elicits the customary “Ah, Sonic Retro” from Iizuka.]

Retro: We’re seeing Sonic Lost World at the convention today, and one of the things that is very noticeable is that it goes back to an older, more classic visual feel for the game, with recognisable elements of the original Sonic the Hedgehog design. What motivated you to make this change?

Iizuka: With the previous game (Sonic Generations), it was for the 20th anniversary so we decided to celebrate Sonic’s history. With that one, we tried to compress 20 years of history into one title and aimed for a high quality, HD re-imagining of what Sonic could be. With Sonic Lost World, what we wanted to do was imagine how best Sonic should be going forwards. So we looked back at what we had done before and tried to think about what would the best, playability-wise for Sonic going forwards, and what’s the best look for Sonic.

With Generations, it was HD and really detailed, almost so much that it was hard to see the rings when you were running through the levels. So this time, we stripped everything back and tried to renew Sonic, and we simplified the graphics to match the playability, the style of what Sonic should be.

[Read on for Iizuka’s views on the limitations of Sonic’s previous 3D outings, inspirations for Sonic Lost World and differences between working in the USA and Japan!]
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Comics, Community, Interviews

Interview With Ian Flynn

The Sonic the Hedgehog comics, Archie and STC alike, have dedicated followings. One of the people responsible for the comics is Ian Flynn, the chief writer for the Archie series since #160. Recently, he sat down for an interview with the Super Power Flower Hour, a relatively new Sonic-related podcast. He gives his thoughts on the Sonic franchise, working on the comics, the Mega Man comics, and more. Check it out.

Community, Game News, Game Secrets, Interviews, Podcasts, Sega Consoles, Sega Retro, Site News

Monday Links: Bringing in the New Year Edition

It’s New Year’s Eve. Not exactly a whole lot going on in terms of video games, Sega or Sonic the Hedgehog even. But hey, the world hasn’t ended yet! This year certainly has been full of surprises for everyone, including us here at Sonic & Sega Retro. We hope to see you in the new year. In the meantime, there’s still plenty to go around in terms of news and whats happening.

 

 

 

 

Sonic Retro News

  • Another Christmas with Sonic arrives after Christmas. It’s not 2013 yet, so there is still time for some holiday cheer. [Youtube]
  • Project AXSX is giving a New Year update on their progress. [Youtube]
  • Say that stream featuring the Unleashed-to-Generations mod was pretty keen last week. It’s all there, Wireheads and Magic Knights and all on our account. [Twitch]

Sonic/SEGA News

  • Now we know who to blame for why the Game Grumps are playing through Sonic 06. This remix of them thinking about playing it is a great idea. [Youtube]
  • 8-4 Play’s Podcast interviews programmer Gregg Tavares about his life and times working at various companies, including his time at SEGA, working conditions, Zombie Revenge and more. [Giant Bomb Presents 8-4 Play]
  • The GameCube and Wii emulator, Dolphin, has updated to include GCN Broadband adapter support. Besides enabling LAN play for Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, 1080 Avalanche and Kirby Air Ride, this includes support for playing Phantasy Star Onine Episode 1 & 2 and Episode 3 C.A.R.D. Revolution. There are still active homebrew servers available and are fully functional for both players emulating through Dolphin or playing on actual GameCube units. This is true cross-platform play. [Emulation]
  • Do you still not have Sonic Generations on Steam? GreenManGaming has it for 75% off. You can then take 30% off that price with this code:  GMG30-DPLIM-DN831 [GreenManGaming]
  • Voice acting is the most important element of game design. Jason Griffith plays a character in the latest entry of the multi-award million dollar selling military shooter. [Modern Combat]
Interviews

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: The (incredibly late) interview

Once upon a summer, your fearless correspondent went to Brighton for Summer of Sonic. There, he braved seagulls, rain and hundreds of other Sonic fans to get interviews with Takashi Iizuka and Jun Senoue. Those, you have seen. What you won’t have seen is the interview with Steve Lycett and Tim Spencer of Sumo Digital. That’s because, erm… we forgot to put it up.

Still, the good news is that because the game is out soon, you can now have all the latest information from July! Naturally the information contained within will be common knowledge, what with the interview having been recorded four months ago and all. However, you can still hear Sumo’s thoughts on designing for multiple vehicle types, testers with Sega knowledge deficits, and theoretical control systems for a version of the game that hasn’t been confirmed to exist at all.

So, what are you waiting for? (What were we waiting for?) Start the player, you!

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Game News, Game Secrets, Interviews

Retro Interview: Steve Lycett on Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing

All Stars Racing Transformed is only a little over a month away at this point. With this close to release, a number of people may be looking to retire their copy of Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing. Comparing the two is almost like comparing apples to oranges. That said it still acts as an important stepping stone that deserves an honorable mention. Before it becomes overshadowed from it’s upcoming sequel, we rattled the memories of Executive Producer at Sumo Digital Steve Lycett in an E-mail interview regarding development for Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing and what it’s sequel has benefited from their efforts.

 

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Interviews

Interview: Jun Senoue at Summer of Sonic 2012

Over the past 21 years, during good times and bad, one of the most consistently well-regarded aspects of the Sonic the Hedgehog series has been its sound design. While a multitude of composers and performers are responsible for this, the man who holds the most influence in the modern era is Jun Senoue, who in recent times has acted as sound director for Sonic Generations and composed the Sonic 4 music.

He’s a man who likes to keep himself busy – if a quick peek at his production history on Sega Retro doesn’t show you that, then consider that at Summer of Sonic he didn’t appear to have a moment of rest between backstage interviews, two signing sessions, Jam with Jun and the Crush 40 set! Thankfully, before the day took its toll I was able to sit down with him to chat about his start in the business, Sonic Generations and the process of making Sonic music in general. Take a look:

Retro: How did you get into writing music, and specifically how did you get into writing music for video games?

Senoue: Actually I was a big fan of Namco stuff, arcade stuff like Mappy from the mid-80s. After that I was a little bit away from video games. In the early 90s I was surprised by Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis, the Mega Drive. I joined Sega back in 1993. I just submitted my stuff to Sega and they accepted. I was totally surprised, those were my favourite games! It was a great opportunity to join Sega and luckily I had a chance to be part of Sonic 3’s music in the first year of my Sega life.

Retro: Were there any musicians that inspired you as you grew up?

Senoue: I was a big fan of a UK pop band called Duran Duran, and that was the reason I got a bass when I was 14. The bass player for them looked much cooler than the guitar player! Also I played the keyboard for a long time, but I found that the keyboard player and the drummer stayed at the back side of the stage. The people at the front of the stage were much more active and I just wanted to be a part of that. So I purchased a bass, because of John Taylor from Duran Duran. But after that I found that some guitar players had nice guitar solos in the middle of the songs, and I thought “Oh, that’s what I want to do!” so I switched from bass to guitar when I was 15, 16? So yes, Duran Duran was one of my favourite bands when I was young and also lots of hard rock and hair metal bands.

Hit “Read more” to learn which game spent a year in production without any sound direction and find out Jun’s favourite Sonic songs!

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Interviews

Interview: Takashi Iizuka at Summer of Sonic 2012

Takashi Iizuka at Summer of Sonic 2012Whether you’re getting your first Sonic game signed or you’re privileged enough to be playing on stage with Jun Senoue, one of the great things about Summer of Sonic is that it’s a chance for fans to connect with the people making the games we care about. Last year I was one of the lucky ones, as I had the great pleasure of interviewing Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka for this very site.

My luck continued this year. While I might have managed to scare the president and CEO of Prope away from the UK for good (though I’ll fervently deny that in court), Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka returned to Summer of Sonic and numbered amongst those who gracefully agreed to face a bout of questions from Sonic Retro. So, on with the show!

Retro: How did you first become involved in the video game industry? Did you work on any games before Sonic 3?

Iizuka: The university I went to was the kind of university where you learned about electronics. Most of the students will have worked with electronics companies like Toshiba and Sony after graduating. The difference was that I wanted to find a fun job, so the only company I went for was Sega! If I didn’t get that, I would have ended up going to a normal electronics company. Sonic 3 was the project that I started in my first year at Sega, but as practice I was involved with Golden Axe 3.

Retro: Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations have received the best reaction of any Sonic games since Sonic Adventure 2, both from critics and fans. What changes do you think explain the positive reactions that have been achieved?

Iizuka: Before Sonic 4 and and Sonic Colours where I was the producer, it seemed that the whole direction wasn’t really in tune. There wasn’t really an idea of how to portray Sonic. When I became producer, I was able to portray Sonic in the way that he really should be portrayed. This may have had an impact on the way the new games have been received.

You should totally hit “Read More” to read more! Continue Reading

Game Secrets, Interviews

Pix N Love’s History of Sonic Book in English Arrives this September

In lieu of a major Sonic title coming out, the 300 page hardcover book from French publisher Pix N Love will finally see a release in the Americas courtesy of Udon Entertainment who have issued a press release revealing the book will be made available in September. The book has been put up for pre-order for quite some time on Amazon.com, however Sega’s official blog has put up new scans of the book in English. At least, the big letters can be read in English.

For those unfamiliar, Pix N Love Publishing has been putting in efforts bringing up the detailed history of foreign developers and individuals through print format with interviews, product catalogs and provides an insight on the subject matter’s history. Unlike most other books from the publisher, the History of Sonic is going to be rolled up together into one book. Covering the history all the way up to Sonic Generations, complete with developer interviews and more in one hardcover bound book. In addition, with the publishing deal from Udon Entertainment, it will be guaranteed a wider distribution in the states, as opposed to the publisher sending out books to customers from it’s native country France. Currently pre-orders are available solely through Amazon.com. More information as it develops.

[Source: The Sonic Stadium, Udon, Sega Blog]