GMR Interview with Takashi Iizuka

Interview Data:

  • Interview Date: 10 February 2004
  • Interview Topics: Sonic Heroes, PS2, NiGHTS
  • Interview Source: GMR external.png

Ringing up the lead designer of Sonic Heroes

When one thinks of Sega's illustrious Sonic Team, and Sonic the Hedgehog in particular, the name Yuji Naka immediately springs to mind. But there's actually someone else responsible for the primary design work on Sega's No. 1 franchise. His name is Takashi Iizuka, and he took some time to chat with GMR about Sonic Heroes, the PS2, and—hold on to your funny hats—a new NiGHTS….

GMR: How is it working in the U.S. instead of Japan? How does this affect how you work?
TI: Sonic Team USA works in the United States to receive impressions directly from the Western market and to apply these impressions to our games. At the same time, we consider the characteristics of the Japanese market so that we can create "worldwide" marketable games. For example, we had U.S. consumer tests for Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and Sonic Heroes during their development, and the tests' results are reflected in the final versions of the games.

GMR: Did Sonic Heroes meet your expectations? What do you feel you achieved with the game?
TI: In the Sonic Adventure games, you could control only one character at a time. Controlling multiple characters at the same time in Sonic Heroes makes the gameplay more fun. Of course, we encountered some problems (like maintaining the tempo between faster and slower characters), but through the development process we succeeded in expressing the fast action gameplay that the Sonic Adventure series captures so well.

GMR: Will we ever see another Sonic game that's just Sonic, where he doesn't have to share the limelight?
TI: We will continue to think up new concepts, like Sonic Heroes' multiple-character gameplay. This time, we've gotten favorable comments from users regarding the gameplay, and we will create a new game that does not disappoint users.

GMR: Although Yuji Naka has said there won't be another NiGHTS, we still hold out hope—especially since most Sonic Team games feature some sort of NiGHTS homage. What, in your opinion, would it take to see another NiGHTS game? We think it would be great for GameCube.
TI: First, please let me note that I don't think Sonic Team has ever said there won't be another NiGHTS. NiGHTS is one of the most important properties at Sonic Team and Sega, so if we have the chance and can create a solid concept for a new NiGHTS, we will develop it. I was a designer on NiGHTS and would like to create another NiGHTS game in the future.

GMR: The PS2 version of Sonic Heroes isn't as sharp as the other two versions, despite the Renderware connection. Is the PS2 just not as good at managing all that texture data?
TI: The performance of the Xbox and GC versions exceeds the performance of the PS2 version. If we had designed the game specifically for PS2, the quality of that version might have been better; however, we agreed on a median level of gameplay performance, then designed identical games across each console. Although the graphic memory of PS2 is lower than that of the others, we hope that users will be able to feel the same emotion and have a gameplay experience on par with the others.

GMR: What are you working on next?
TI: In 2003, we released many Sonic games—we can call 2003 the year of Sonic. On February 4, 2004, in Japan, we will release Puyo Pop Fever. Actually, we call the date Puyo Day since "two" can be read as "pu" and "four" in Japanese is "yo." As for the U.S., we are examining a new title right now, so please look forward to seeing it in the United States!


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