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Naka We chose boards because we thought they were the coolest. No, really, we think boards convey a sense of speed -- this IS Sonic, after all -- but they are also able to give you a sensation of gliding and cutting through the wind. We have actually wanted to do something with boards for a very long time now, and we've finally been able to implement it in Sonic RidersGameSpy: So what differences in gameplay will we see in Sonic Riders as compared to Sonic Drift and Sonic R?
Naka The big difference is something called the "Air System." By utilizing the way the air flows in the game, you can do special tricks, gain a burst of speed, and other things. We think it adds a lot of variety and excitement to the game.GameSpy: We also got some brief glimpses of the next-gen Sonic game. It appears to be an extension of the demo movie we saw at E3. The other movies shown (Virtua Fighter, After Burner) turned out to be arcade games running on Lindbergh hardware. Was the Sonic demo running on Lindbergh as well?
Naka It wasn't running on Lindbergh, actually -- what you saw at E3 was our in-house next-gen development system.GameSpy: Hmm, interesting! So how far along is development on the next-gen Sonic?
Naka I'm afraid that I can only say that ... "we're working really hard on it right now!" But we do hope you'll be excited for the next time we are able to show more of it.GameSpy: From the demo movies, the game appears to utilize the Havok physics engine you first used in PS2 Astro Boy. What sort of uses might we see for it in-game?
Naka Yes, it does. The engine is used for the physics of various objects in the game to give the player a heightened sense of involvement. In the TGS demo, we showed a bridge falling to reveal a new route for Sonic to run through. You'll be seeing the engine used for more stuff like that.
GameSpy: Most of the recent Sonic titles have featured Sonic with a large cast of supporting characters. Is there any chance that, in the future, you might want to do a game starring Sonic alone again?
Naka We have given it some thought, yes. But you see, "volume" seems to be a big thing in games these days. The media's always going on and on asking about every single little thing about a game. "Who's in it? How many stages are there? What are the play modes?" It's practically all I ever hear! And the Sonic world has a bunch of established characters, so if we did a game with just Sonic ... I can already hear people saying, "But where's Tails? Where's Knuckles? Where's Shadow? How does he do this by himself?" And then I'd have to explain, "No no, see, it's just SONIC this time." But yes, it is a challenge I'd like to do. After all, the games in the series since the first have been constantly introducing and adding new characters, so maybe Sonic deserves some "alone time" again.GameSpy: Let's talk about the recent Sonic Gems Collection. Sonic the Fighters was actually developed primarily by AM2, but you oversaw large parts of the project. What was it like working with Kataoka-san and the AM2 staff? I recall Kataoka saying that Sonic the Fighters was one of the projects he enjoyed the most.
Naka I've definitely heard that, too. But it really was a product of AM2. The gameplay design was entirely theirs, and I more or less just oversaw the implementation of the characters and setting. We treated it like a licensed product, and it turned out great. I'm still very fond of it, which is why we took the time to finally give it a proper console port.GameSpy: What about the very rare Sega Sonic the Hedgehog arcade game? Did you consider including that? Also, did you do any work on that game yourself?
Naka That's another one that was developed outside of my control. It was done by part of the Sega arcade division at the time. We did think about adding it to Gems Collection, though, but we couldn't implement it in the end because the game used a trackball control scheme that is very, very difficult to replicate with a standard controller. It is a pretty fun and unique little game, though.GameSpy: Sonic CD is thought of as the most "mysterious" game in the Sonic series, mainly because you can see that many ideas the staff had either weren't fully implemented or were cut altogether (for example, there is an entire stage gone from the stage select). People are very curious about ideas the Sonic Team staff had for the game but weren't able to implement. Can you tell us anything about those?
Naka Well, it's the same thing as with Sonic the Fighters. I didn't do very much with Sonic CD, since I was working on Sonic 2 during most of that time, so I can't really say too much about it. But the Sonic games are pretty famous for having things left on the cutting room floor. I mean, 1, 2, and 3ALL had stages cut from them! I think the most famous loss was the Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic 2. We simply ran out of time to fully implement that into the game. The same thing happened with Sonic 3. See, we had all kinds of ideas for those games, things above and beyond even the Hidden Palace. But the Hidden Palace is pretty well known because it was all over the media before we eventually had to cut it. All the players were just left wondering where it went! So ... I'm guessing the stuff cut out of Sonic CD was probably done for similar reasons -- either we were running out of time or things just weren't working out. Making games is a business, after all, and sometimes it simply has to be done.
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- Sega Talks Sonic Riders Part Two (1/27/06)
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