So, the wait is finally over. Well, the wait for the wait. Exclusively on Gamespot, Sega PR man Ken Balough has decided to sit down and finally talk about the game we all knew was coming at some point: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2. Yes, there is a teaser trailer. No, there’s no gameplay footage. But you should watch it anyway, if only to see Ken Balough’s face.
It’s the middle of December, and the rerelease of Sonic the Hedgehog CD is supposed to happen at any moment. No, we don’t have a release date still. But Sega of America seems to realize that, yes, we really want this game. And so instead of telling us when it’ll come out, they’ve given us something amazing. Something that, by all rights, should have been in the documentary Sonic: The Birth of an Icon. Though the interior has been redone by our very own Taxman, the visual style of the game is still definitely that of Kazuyuki Hoshino, who was also the lead character designer of the game. And since he’s still at Sega, someone decided to ask him to talk about the game. And talk he did.
When news originally broke about the forthcoming release of the Sonic Generations Collector’s Edition, I must admit I was a bit jealous. Seeing as I lived in America, it would require money I couldn’t justify, importing a game that I had no idea would even work on my region’s hardware. So I sat and waited, to see just what the contents were. Yes, we all knew what they were supposed to be, but no one knew what songs were to be on the music CD, what the art book contained, or how nice the statues would stand. For me personally, however, it was the documentary that intrigued me the most. A history of Sonic the Hedgehog put together by Sega themselves? They hadn’t done anything like that in years, and definitely never in English. As should be evident by the title, I’m not going to review the entire collector’s edition for one simple reason: I don’t have it. There are plenty of other people who have shown it off and gushed over the limited-edition ring (which I must admit is pretty nice), but because of the wonders of the Internet, anyone can watch the Sega of America-produced documentary. Now with six extra minutes straight from the horses mouth. So the question must be asked…is it any good?
A few days after Gamesutra talked to Takashi Iizuka, GamereactorTV has posted their own interview with the current head of Sonic Team. While most of the interview is the usual PR speak and things we already know, the answer to the last question is the most interesting:
So the final question, how do you see the next twenty years for Sonic?
Sonic started as an action game twenty years ago and we will continue to focus on creating the best possible action game. But we want to reach the widest possible audience. So, you know, we will probably see Sonic going into other genres of games and also seeing Sonic in different media. So we will hopefully be able to have as many people as possible enjoy Sonic.
We have already seen Sonic race in karts, take place in the olympics and play tennis among other things. Next thing you know he’ll have his own Dance Dance Revolution game. Either way, it looks like there won’t be a shortage of spin-offs in the future of the Sonic franchise, both in games and other media. You can watch the full interview here:
Heads up for all you guys: SAGE–the amateur fangame expo that takes place in the Sonic community once a year–is going to have a live interview with Naoto Ohshima, the original creator of the Sonic the Hedgehog character, at 8:45PM EST over the SAGECast radio station! If you’re interested in asking him a question, feel free to join their IRC channel at irc.rizon.net in channel #sagexpo.
If you don’t have an IRC client, simply go the SAGExpo website and click the Chat tab to enter the channel. Alternatively, you can use Mibbit and enter the IRC details to get in. Remember that there will be a translator present on the radio station, so unlike in instances where Ohshima is speaking English himself, responses will be far more clear, concise and in-depth. Think carefully before you ask; not everybody will get a chance to have their questions answered, so time is of the essence.
For more information and discussion, check out the forum thread.
Saturday, June 25th. A thousand-strong horde of Sonic fans descends upon the Camden Centre in London, to celebrate a video gaming icon with music, games, laughs and chilli dogs. So far, so Summer of Sonic, but this was the 20th anniversary show so there had to be something just a bit special going on, and blimey did they ever deliver on that. How? By getting Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka to drop by London to enjoy the festivities, do some signings and some Q&A sessions. That is pretty hard to top, ladies and gents, especially when fans were able to quiz the pair on Madonna, the joint American/Japanese development of Sonic 2, and dat barrel. However, Sonic Retro was also able to get a little more into the bargain and snag an interview slot with Naka and Iizuka. Exciting? I thought so.
Now if you will, allow me to set the scene. Things are behind schedule and everyone is hot and totally knackered, a fact that fellow attendees will attest to. We’re now down to the last interview slot of the day, and another site needs to cram into the session too. We finally get to head in as Jun Senoue takes to the stage to wow everyone downstairs. Still, I know things are going to be at least a little bit good when we’re asked what sites we came from – the mention of our site causes an “Ah, Sonic Retro!” from Iizuka, as he tilts his head back and smiles with a mixture of recognition and amusement. If you were ever in doubt of Retro’s reach, dear reader, that should give you a rough idea of our place in the grand scheme of things.
Then, with little time to spare and more questions than I can possibly ask, we get down to business.
Retro: Naka-san, you joined Sega around the time of its first real console releases, having worked on the SG-1000 and Sega My Card series back in the mid-80s. What was it like to see Sega become a video game publisher that was known all over the world?
Naka: At the beginning, Sega’s real catalyst for success was the arcade, and Sonic pulled it along and really built upon that. Also, the fact that we had hardware and were a first party helped to give us that status in the market, as a global name. So, I feel really happy to be able to be involved, really lucky. It’s really amazing that something created in Haneda, which is not at the centre of Tokyo, sold worldwide.
Hit the post break for the rest of the interview!