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Sonic Team head Iizuka approved all character changes in Sonic Boom

Sonic Boom 6

In a recent interview with GameSpot, developer Big Red Button fielded several questions about the changes to character design implemented by the team in the upcoming Sonic Boom game. According the lead producer Bob Rafei, the team went through several iterations of design for each of the characters, but ultimately the Sonic Team was the final approval step for any changes that were made to the characters.

We experimented with different colors and surface features on the characters, such as fur or scales, and quickly Sonic Team came back with their discomfort of that. They were great guardrails for us to understand when we were deviating too far from the character. Without their input, the character would have been a lot more alien and different from what Sonic is known for.

Head of Sega’s Sonic Team is Takashi Iizuka, who went so far as to come to Los Angeles to personally look through all the different concepts Big Red Button had designed for the potential game. Rafei said some of the designs were so jarring with traditional Sonic design that Iizuka could actually look at the screen sometimes.

I felt sorry for the guy because sometimes he couldn’t actually look at the screen–it was too traumatic seeing all the crazy stuff we wanted to do. Over the course of that meeting, when we were coming up with new ideas, we had a very sincere–just two adults talking–conversation about why a character should or should not wear pants, and that was a very surreal moment in my life and my career.

Ultimately we see the final chosen character designs above. It’s obvious Iizuka got his wish, since none of the characters are wearing pants save for Dr. Eggman, who has always worn black leggings. Some small articles of clothing have been added to the character designs, such as Sonic wearing a brown bandana and Tails having a tool belt, but the most contentious change to the character models is what fans are calling bandages.

Rafei says they’re not intended to be bandages, but rather sports tape, and the design was inspired by athletes who don’t care what they look like as long as they’re doing a good job. Rafei says vanity is something people are used to in villains, but not heroes.

From my perspective, it was important the characters have a practical heroism to them and not vanity, which is more fitting for villains. The arm and leg wraps were inspired by fighters and American football players–two groups who don’t really care what they look like so long as the end result is that they kick ass at what they do.

What do you think of this explanation for why these characters look different?

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  • Hopper200456

    I like the new designs…. Though knuckles is a bit… weird looking

    • http://about.me/overlordror Ashley King

      Yeah Knuckles being so butch is a bit weird considering his first appearance he was the same size as Sonic almost.

      • Hopper200456

        Steroids man… They’ll do a number to you

  • montymole1991

    Knuckles looks like a bizarre wrestler.

  • Ryan F

    As someone who has familiarity with the Sonic games, but never actually played them, the differences were at first difficult for me to notice without someone pointing all of them out.

    Given the team that’s making this game, I’m now very interested in this Sonic game.

  • Carlos Coronado

    I actually like the new character design in this game Knuckles
    actually looks like a brawler now.

  • jjbredesen

    Don’t blame Lizuka for being worried, if they change sonics looks to much, fans will rage, and it will not stay true to the “sonic feel”

    Its important that t does not look to diffrent, so that people can see that its still sonic, but at the same time fresh and with a western turn.

    • montymole1991

      Who is Takashi LIZUKA?

      *facepalm*

      • jjbredesen

        ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

        • montymole1991

          Humpf, now you changed from LIZUKA to IIZUKA.

          And sent towards me a lot of questions marks.

          Hypocrite.

          • Johnny Be Me

            I think you’re kinda mad.

          • montymole1991

            I am.

      • Dáibhí wotshissurname

        ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    • abe

      honestly sonic hasn’t been sonic of some time

  • Dáibhí wotshissurname

    Is it just me, or is Tails the one that reeks of the most attitude? It’s Delsin from InFAMOUS: Second Son versus the redesigned Sonic crew…

  • helpo

    http://www.change.org/petitions/nintendo-adding-online-multiplayer-and-voice-chat-to-virtual-console-games

    Here’s why it’s important:

    Have you ever imagined playing an old classic that you loved and wanted it to be online to show off your skills or even play with friends and family that live to far away to play the game with them. Imagine Super Mario World with online and voice chat, Mario kart with online and voice chat or even super smash bros! from N64 with online multiplayer and voice chat the list can go on and on this can be something that I know will be a hit! We together can make this happen if we show nintendo that we really want this! This would be amazing!

    • NyallJodhan

      What’s with this insistence on voice chat? I don’t want random strangers cussing in my living room, thank you. I’ll cuss in my own living room, thank you.

      • helpo

        you can always mute them its just an option for people that like to

        • NyallJodhan

          In that case, if they implement it, I hope it’s muted by default. So those who want it can hunt to enable it.

          • helpo

            exactly :)

          • Nicolas Dorion

            Who’s the target audience exactly? Wouldn’t rebuilding the entire engine of old games to allow multiplayer would cost way too much money for the very, very, very few people who want Mario Kart 64to be a multiplayer game?

          • helpo

            retro and the core gamer classic lovers and no it wouldn’t take that long im not asking for a revise in graphics their are many games that didnt take long to make like doom for xbox arcade was put in with online multiplayer and using the same graphics also another example wii sports club that did not take that long to develop very simple and all they did was tune the graphics a little change up the game play a tad and put in online multiplayer. their are a lot more VC Lovers then their are wii sport lovers so i know VC would be much more popular :)

  • Mario Garth

    I like it. It suits all of them.

  • http://www.linux-guides.com/ Je Saist

    Obviously Rafei never played City Of Heroes… quite a few Heroes spent more time preening in Icon than they did handing villains their rear ends on platters.

  • GregoryTheRainMaker

    I’m indifferent on the modified designs of these characters…I can tolerate it. It’s not enough of a distraction that it is making me lose focus of wanting to check out the gameplay and what type of experience will entail from the story. No worry.

  • Wooopigsooie

    I can definitely see the “American footballer” inspiration in the knuckles design. The dude is simply huge and he’s got dread locks, lol. Also, I really appreciate the athletic tape look, as I’m a basketball player myself and am familiar with that type of thing so I wasn’t too jarred by it.

    • Random12multi

      Now imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger Voicing knuckles

  • Mario

    Mhh… I thought for a moment that they were gonna put an article about the Smash ball having been revealed?

  • Deadpool U

    • uPadWatcher

      Kick a$$ clip you’ve shared, Deadpool U.

  • Blue Hernandez

    I like the new changes and Amy is sexy now. That is all.

  • uPadWatcher

    I truly love the designs that Big Red Button Entertainment have made for the characters in Sonic Boom. After making fun Sony games like Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, and Uncharted for PlayStation One and PS 2 respectively, they have truly done their homework… especially using Crytek’s CryEngine on the Wii U hardware. I’m sure that Boom is gonna kick more butt than Sonic Team’s Sonic Lost World.

  • Alden Youngthunder

    the whole sonic crew looks so mature in sonic boom.

  • Nicolas Dorion

    why are there bandages on their shoes exactly?

  • ETeach

    Nice little look into how the studio views character design :)

  • Chad Dodsworth

    As long as its a good sonic game… I could care less! Happy to see it running on the Cryengine though!

  • http://www.gamesobscura.com/ themizarkshow

    Definitely think they went overboard with the tape in some places, but overall its a really solid, fresh take on the series and I’m excited to see it finalized.

  • Jeffrey Imchanging Edwards

    I hope they dont turn tails into a snob dont get me wrong i wanna see tails show a little back bone but just not a snobby know it att