Sega’s new Sonic game is being developed by Arzest, the Japanese studio run by original mascot creator Naoto Ohshima, he told VGC.
Ohshima, who is credited with designing Sonic and providing art for the franchise’s oldest games, will return for his first entry in the series in over 20 years with Sonic Superstars.
Sonic Team president Takashi Iizuka said in an interview at Summer Game Fest on Saturday that the company originally intended to collaborate again with developer Christian Whitehead, who directed 2017’s Sonic Mania, but plans fell through.
Iizuka then approached Ohshima, who had worked on the original Sonic the Hedgehog and other entries in the 1990s, to helm the next 2D game with his development team, best known for developing titles such as Hey! Pikmin Island and New Yoshi Island.
Iizuka confirmed that Sonic Mania developers Headcannon and Christian Whitehead were not involved.
“When we were making Sonic Mania and the game finished and Chris finished, we had a conversation with Chris and the team about what the next 2D game should be,” he explained.
“We had some concepts and ideas laid out between the teams but couldn’t get the project started. So he disappeared for a while with Chris and the team.
“I’m friends with a lot of my old classmates and I was having a conversation with Ohshima-san about how they made a Sonic game together and if he’d be interested. He’s the original creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, and so we had a chat about if his company Arzest would be interested in working on a Sonic game
“So there were ideas with Chris and the team that fell through. Sonic Superstars is being developed by Arzest, but Sonic Team in Japan is working with them on the design and a few other elements. Arzest and Ohshima-san are 100% game developers.”
Iizuka explained that he felt he could trust Ohshima’s team because of their valuable experience working on the original Sonic games. Ohshima is best known as the creator of Sonic’s character design, but Iizuma said few people knew he actually designed many of the levels as well.
What Ohshima-san really brings is his classic sonic experience, having worked on Sonic 1 and Sonic CD. He has an understanding of how to make a true classic Sonic game.
“A lot of people think Ohshima-san just came and thought of what Sonic would look like, drew the character and that was it. But he was also doing level design on Sonic 1 in addition to drawing and character creation. So he has that expertise in making a Sonic game because he designed the level for the original game “.
In addition, Iizuka revealed that Sonic 3 composer Jun Senoue will lead the voice-over on Superstars
“When we talk about people still working on classic Sonic games, there aren’t a lot of people actively working on making games left from that really small group.
“But there are three people. Myself, Ohshima-san and the third is Jun Senui from Sega, who did the music for Sonic 3 that day. He is also involved in the development of Sonic Superstars.” John is the game’s music director and really focuses on making it sound like a classic.
“But he clearly hasn’t sat around creating all this music himself: he works with internal teams at Sega to create music in a classic Sonic setting and also works on some outside teams like Tee Lopes who helped on Sonic Mania.”
Sonic Superstars lets players control Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, or Amy Rose, and for the first time in a Sonic game, there will also be co-op support for up to four players.
The game will be released Fall 2023 digitally and physically on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch and PC.
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