With the big reveal of Sonic Boom last month, many long time Sonic fans are lamenting yet another reboot of the series. Since its early days on the Sega Genesis, Sonic has been in everything from traditional platformers to psuedo-open world games that just don’t work. It’s understandable that fans of the blue hedgehog would have such concerns, which is something developer Big Red Button understands. Recently Gamasutra had a chance to sit down with Sonic Boom’s creative director, Bob Rafei, in order to discusses changes to the franchise.
According to Rafei, Sega originally approached his team with the idea of a new Sonic game that focuses more on narrative than simple gameplay mechanics:
Sega approached us with their bold plan for a local co-op Sonic title with emphasis on action and strong narrative. Given the possibility to try something different with one of the most iconic gaming characters and BRB team’s prior experience with third-person character action we saw a great match and jumped at the opportunity.
Aside from the focus on the strong narrative, Rafei revealed that the team wanted a more open-world game than any of the previous games, while avoiding some of the more disastrous results of previous attempts at this style of game:
Fortunately, we were given a lot more freedom than I anticipated. Right from the start we worked closely with Sega, Iizuka-san, and Sonic Team to review initial BRB proposals to determine what worked, and more importantly, what was off-limits. They were very open to a lot of world, mechanic, enemy, villain and NPC proposals — with notes, of course, but ultimately pretty accepting to the possibilities.
In determining who the game would target and who it would appeal to, Rafei says Sega wanted to focus on kids, as well as those who enjoy local co-op with friends:
Kids 6-11 and shared local play experiences with friends or families. We set out to make Boom simply fun by finding the right balance of accessibility for new fans, yet have enough challenge, depth and player expression for established fans or more seasoned gamers. Boom’s gameplay encourages working together to defeat enemies.
Our goal was to build on the characters’ personalities by building on each character’s play mechanics, as well as fun characteristics through banter and story. We developed common pickup and play controls for seamless play experience no matter which character is selected. Our goal was to allow player expression via character selection and abilities in navigation and combat.
If you’re interested in reading the rest of the interview, you can find it here. It’s an interesting look at what Big Red Button hopes to accomplish in terms of creating a unique take on Sonic, while also offering long-term fans something they can enjoy and hope to see more of in the future.