Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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Interesting Sonic Team interviews

Post by big_smile »

Crystallize from Sonic Stadium found and translated some Sonic interviews from Russian GameLand magazine. The interviews are with Naka and Iizuka come from 2010 and are interesting because they clear up (and muddy) some of Sonic origin.

According to Naka, the Sonic universe started on Christmas Island, which only had animals and robots. Sonic didn't meet any humans until Adventure, which suggests all the human structures in the classic games were made by Eggman.

Christmas Island is on Earth and Naka kind of suggests that animals and robots were the result of nuclear testing, which could mean that Sonic is a mutant (but he might have been joking). Either way, it doesn't matter, as Naka said they deliberately kept Sonic's character vague to make him more interesting.

Iizuka describes the planet of the games as "Sonic's world" (Incidentally, since Iizuka took control of the franchise since Sonic Colours, the characters actually refer it to "Sonic's world", which I've always found it strange).

There's also an interview with Shiro Maekawa from 2006. It's badly translated, but it seems Maekawa was the driving force behind the story of the Adventure games. He wasn't a fan of the Mega Drive games as he felt they didn't suit the character, so for the Adventure series he decided to remake the universe the way he saw fit.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

Post by Dr. BUGMAN »

big_smile wrote:Shiro Maekawa
Say what you will about those games as games, but at least shitty mechanics and level design are easy enough baggage to slough off. Eldritch god-things and angsty ultimate life-bores are a bit more inexpungible. Fuck this guy and the fanbase he cultivated.

The fact that Adventure 1 share so many plot points with (the significantly more deft, albeit more recent) Paper Mario 2, suggests his insanity isn't even original. He's practically Japanese Ken Penders.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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I would posit that Shiro Maekawa's fault was in not moving on from Sonic Adventure 2, and Shadow. I will take my stand that SA2 was actually a pretty great game, it has very good representation of its characters, Sonic displays his cool 'tude perfectly, but when things get serious he dials into an appropriately serious mode, with just enough levity. Knuckles is brash, but not a fool, (ignoring his plot point Master emerald shatter) Tails is appropriately smart. Eggman's personality and carriage are spot on, and the family dynamic added a good facet to his character. Rouge is rouge, She fulfills her slot, and Shadow was, while not the most original character type, a chaos emerald wielding badass sonofagun, who ends up redeeming himself and sacrifices himself to fulfill his best friend's request and die in fire. The story as a whole was like a great 80's action movie, the kind that wasn't going to win any awards for deep intricate plot, but that was a blast to watch, had a few properly deep moments, and a handful of cool memorable ones as well. Reading the interview pretty much seems to point to the fact that he ended up becoming that awkward parent that tries to keep their kid around forever and live their lives through them; if he had just let Shadow go the end of SA2, things might still not be great, but at least it would not have become the most unfortunate, debasing thing for the character of Shadow. The perpetuation of the fanbase so reviled was made very much possible by the fact that, even beyond Shadow's resurrection (which really truly could have been handled properly) Shadow was stripped of the character development he had gone through, his rising above his dark broody storyline, actually fulfilling a goal properly, and moving on to being maybe a Batman-ish to Superman-ish (heavy, heavy ish) kind of ally, and was instead pandered out to the lowest denominator of fandom, roiled in awful angst and am-freaking-nesia.
And then they tried to fix that and still screwed up most of it.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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I was going to edit this into my last post but waited too long: Even with the abomination, the soul killing insult to those of us few Shadow fans that was the ShadowTH game, (not to mention everyone else I assume) they had the pieces of something good in there, and they could have made things passably right; in the final true chapter or whatever, all they had to do was take out the asinine lines about Shadow being his own destiny or what have you, and then at the end, instead of him throwing the picture away and wandering off into completely generic anti-hero guy, Shadow could have just looked at the photo, smiled, and had the camera fade away. And the next time you saw him he could be just a smidgen less uptight, and no mention of Maria or the past need come up, or if he was questioned as to why he still bothered saving the world, or working for GUN, he could just reply, "A dear friend (or my family) asked me to protect this planet", AND THERE YOU BE.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

Post by Rob-Bert »

big_smile wrote:There's also an interview with Shiro Maekawa from 2006. It's badly translated, but it seems Maekawa was the driving force behind the story of the Adventure games. He wasn't a fan of the Mega Drive games as he felt they didn't suit the character, so for the Adventure series he decided to remake the universe the way he saw fit.
So he basically hijacked the franchise and drove it clean into a wall.

How the hell does running through weird-shaped hills, grabbing floating rings, and jumping on colorful googly-eyed animal robots "not suit" what is essentially blue punk rock Felix the Cat wearing big floppy red shoes? Was this guy was just using Sonic as a outlet to fulfill his dream of making bad anime?

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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if he had just let Shadow go the end of SA2, things might still not be great, but at least it would not have become the most unfortunate, debasing thing for the character of Shadow. The perpetuation of the fanbase so reviled was made very much possible by the fact that, even beyond Shadow's resurrection (which really truly could have been handled properly) Shadow was stripped of the character development he had gone through, his rising above his dark broody storyline, actually fulfilling a goal properly, and moving on to being maybe a Batman-ish to Superman-ish (heavy, heavy ish) kind of ally, and was instead pandered out to the lowest denominator of fandom, roiled in awful angst and am-freaking-nesia.
And then they tried to fix that and still screwed up most of it..
Pandering to the fandom? I think that's giving Sonic Team far too much credit.
Iizuka mentioned in interviews how they wanted to make a Shadow game almost immediately after designing the character. I am sure if it hadn't been for the switch to multi-platform, we would have probably got Shadow the Hedgehog released straight after SA2.

Also, I don't think Sonic Team tried to fix anything. The story panned out exactly as they planned it.

Their design decisions actually make sense (in a crazy logic kind-of way). Shadow was supposed to be a character with a mysterious past. That's quite hard to pull off in the Sonic universe, as none of the character's have a past. I think that's why Sonic Team gave Shadow all that amnesia, clone, android baggage. They were trying to create mystery through confusion.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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So he basically hijacked the franchise and drove it clean into a wall.
Iizuka get's the blame for messing up the franchise, but it really seems Shiro Maekawa is the culprit.

He was the story writer for Adventure 1 & 2, Heroes, 2006 and left after Zero Gravity. ZG was the final Sonic game to fit in that style of story. The later games have been more light hearted (and I think they've gone too much the other way, favouring comedy over proper story-telling).

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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big_smile wrote:
Iizuka mentioned in interviews how they wanted to make a Shadow game almost immediately after designing the character. I am sure if it hadn't been for the switch to multi-platform, we would have probably got Shadow the Hedgehog released straight after SA2.
This I did not know, I wonder if said game might actually have been passably good had it come to out directly after SA2, free of reusing sonic heroes and lifting sonicx flavor, maybe less "mature theme", I mean just using SA2's graphics would have made it less fugly.
Still may have been awful, but in some other universe there is a pretty good Shadow game out there; I can dream.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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The big problem with the Shadow game was the same as other Iizuka era titles (or should that now be Maekawa-era) is that it tries to do far too much. The game had too many levels and in some of the later stages it's clear they were pressed for time.

10 endings (+ 1 true ending) is just too many to do properly. If they had cut it down to 3 (+1), it would have been a tighter game.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

Post by Frieza2000 »

Now I'm curious how much influence Oshima had. SA1 had a lot more to do with the original story and stuck closer to that old Japanese Sonic vibe than any of the other games in that era. Was Maekawa transitioning into his new vision for Sonic gradually, or was it someone like Oshima keeping him in check?

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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Regardless of who the writer was, it's ultimately down to the director/producer to make final decisions. Takeshi Iizuka was still responsible for quality control as far as Sa1/2/Shadow are concerned. If the story sucks, the ball is in his court to demand changes.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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Wooduck51 wrote:Sonic displays his cool 'tude perfectly, but when things get serious he dials into an appropriately serious mode, with just enough levity
I'm not about to pick apart your whole post, but I take enough umbrage that Sonic has been characterized adequately. Sonic is a competent, determined little imp. "Imp" in the old world Grimm sense that he is a diminutive force of nature not to be trifled with (though, I guess he's more analogous with a gremlin since he dismantles machinery). But the charm of the pre-Dreamcast days is that, for all his bravado and agency, he's not entirely unflappable:

Image

(this is also shown in his teetering and death sprites)

And this is also why Knuckles and Amy were such great foils: the former for his irreverent raillery, the latter for her well-intended affections. They serve to keep his ego in check. Tails functions more like the personable Watson to Sonic's detached Holmes (whenever Sonic acts commiseratingly, I cringe; it does not suit him).

Shadow (Rouge, etc.,) bring out nothing in the central character, therefore they are useless. Simple as that.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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Dr. BUGMAN wrote:....I'm not about to pick apart your whole post, but I take enough umbrage that Sonic has been characterized adequately.....
Fair enough; taking it from your stand I can't argue much against what you say, save that SA2 was not a Sonic central story but a story in which Sonic is a main character. Beyond that it comes down to how lenient you are, or how accepting you are, of variations on the source material. Which could bring up whether SA2 was truly a "sonic game" or simply a game set in the sonic universe.

And a not entirely related point in general is that while games have had terrible stories, I feel that if the appropriate time and work had been put into the actual gameplay, design and mechanics, resulting in A well functioning and fun game, we might have still talked about how sub-par the writing was, but I doubt we would heap such derision upon the writers.

Also wholly unrelated; Umbrage; it's awfully swell to converse with people who have a functional grasp of language. (spoken wholly devoid of sarcasm and with utmost sincerity)

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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I swear to god Bugman if you ever use a word like "commiseratingly" again I don't know what I'll do

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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Wooduck51 wrote: Also wholly unrelated; Umbrage; it's awfully swell to converse with people who have a functional grasp of language. (spoken wholly devoid of sarcasm and with utmost sincerity)
I would like to note that was not a dig at anyone else on this board whatsoever; 'twas supposed to be taken as a general statement about this place as a whole.

And now that I have over-analyzed, carry on!

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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Dr. BUGMAN wrote:
Wooduck51 wrote:Sonic displays his cool 'tude perfectly, but when things get serious he dials into an appropriately serious mode, with just enough levity
I'm not about to pick apart your whole post, but I take enough umbrage that Sonic has been characterized adequately. Sonic is a competent, determined little imp. "Imp" in the old world Grimm sense that he is a diminutive force of nature not to be trifled with (though, I guess he's more analogous with a gremlin since he dismantles machinery). But the charm of the pre-Dreamcast days is that, for all his bravado and agency, he's not entirely unflappable:

Image

(this is also shown in his teetering and death sprites)

And this is also why Knuckles and Amy were such great foils: the former for his irreverent raillery, the latter for her well-intended affections. They serve to keep his ego in check. Tails functions more like the personable Watson to Sonic's detached Holmes (whenever Sonic acts commiseratingly, I cringe; it does not suit him).

Shadow (Rouge, etc.,) bring out nothing in the central character, therefore they are useless. Simple as that.
fucking brilliant characterization Bugman, one I wish that the actual guardians of this character would take into account. I loathe sonic in any game from SA1 onward. He is a snarky piece of shit that I've never felt represented the same character from the megadrive titles. To this day, the ova is the only non mute sonic that actually got his core personality right

Image

I cringe thinking about what they're going to do with him in the upcoming theatrical adaptation.

The only thing I take issue with is how you've characterized knuckles. I would argue that his appeal is that he is that same impish quality reflected back on the hero. Everytime he flips a trap, it just looks like hes enjoying himself so damn much. It's a delight.

Image

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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That's what I meant!

Incidentally the OVA is the one place I'd cite NOT to characterize Knuckles. Way too buddy-buddy. He should have mercilessly mocked Sonic & Tails for needing his assistance.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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Dr. BUGMAN wrote:That's what I meant!
On further thought, maybe not? Is it your wish that he remains a deliberate obstacle to Sonic? I don't think I can entirely get behind that since the misunderstanding that motivated Knuckles is resolved by the end of S&K. Not letting the series get bogged down with continuity is fine by me, but I dunno if this particular bit of status quo is maintainable without undermining the character as it had in the past.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

Post by G.Silver »

Here's an interview with Yuji Naka and Shigeru Miyamoto, right after Sonic Advance was released. An interesting bit included is about Sega and Nintendo's different strategies as far as when to polish a game (or how much time to spend on it) which jives pretty well with the result, at least as far as Sonic games are concerned.

http://shmuplations.com/miyamotoxnaka/

This is from the Shmupulations website, the Patreon I mentioned a while back. There's a ton of other interesting stuff on it. (Full disclosure, I do support this Patreon and this is an interview I contributed towards getting translated.)

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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what a fascinating interview. It's clear that Naka idolizes Miyamoto and rightfully so. It's almost creepy how prophetic their closing comments about smash brothers were. Now here we are and Sonic has already been in two of them.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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http://shmuplations.com/nights/

Another one from Shmuplations, this time on NiGHTS! It's a collection of smaller interviews that they did in a variety of magazines, but all together it gives an interesting look at the development and a lot of stuff that I didn't know, like originally wanting to make the game in full 2D, and the original concept for the game being a world within rainbows, not dreams. I had thought that I'd read enough interviews or behind-the-scenes stuff about NiGHTS in English that I felt like this interview would be unlikely to have any interesting reveals, but not so--it's recommended reading for sure.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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"But one of our design principles at Sonic Team was that we didn’t want to include guns and shooting mechanics."

:(

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

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Not really an interview, or strictly Sonic Team, but this podcast has Spenser Nilsen talking about the US soundtrack for Sonic CD, how it came about, how they made it, some small bits of trivia here and there. Kind of a neat thing!

http://www.vgmpire.com/2016/05/25/vgmpi ... er-nilsen/

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

Post by G.Silver »

A follow up on that NiGHTS interview at Shmuplations, this one deals specifically with the A-Life system:

http://shmuplations.com/alife/

I have to admit this doesn't go into much detail as far as how the system works, I would have liked to see a more authoritative explanation of how it works, and not just their comments on it. Naka also has a few comments for the game industry in general and its unwillingness to take chances (the story that never ends, I guess!)

By the way, I usually plug Shmuplations in the crowd funding thread but I'll just mention it here this time: Of particular interest, this month there's also interviews on the original Mario Kart and Sega musicians, but if you're interested in supporting it on Patreon and voting to sway which interviews get translated, the cost has gone down--it used to be $5 a month, but now you can contribute as little as $2 per translation and capping it (you can set a per-month maximum). There's quite a few Sonic Team interviews on [url = http://shmuplations.com/patreonlist/]the list[/url], including both retrospective articles (for instance an Oshima interview from 2009) and ones conducted when the games were brand new.

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Re: Interesting Sonic Team interviews

Post by G.Silver »

A whole mess of Sonic interviews just dropped at Shmuplations. I haven't read all of them yet, but there's definitely a few odds and ends I haven't heard before, including a snipe from Naka at Sonic Underground and the US Mario cartoons!

http://shmuplations.com/sonic/

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