GameInformer have published a rather lengthy interview with Sonic Forces producer Shun Nakamura. There’s a lot to be learnt from the interview which discusses everything from the changes to the ring system to the inclusion of Sonic Generation style levels.
In Sonic Forces, Sonic loses his rings when hit like always, but he doesn’t have the ability to regain them. This is a huge departure from the series’ history and seems to go against the notion of classic Sonic. Why make this change?
We realize Sonic Mania came out and had classic Sonic portrayed in the classic world, with the classic gameplay of when you get hit, you lose all your rings and you have the chance to gather them back up and continue running. That was made by a different team with a different design aesthetic of recreating a classic Sonic title. What my team wanted to do with Sonic Forces is really expand on the game design and make something different and new for the Sonic Forces world, which is more modern. When we were designing the game, we wanted to make sure it was balanced properly, so it’s not too easy, but also not too challenging.
Since presenting it at E3, we’ve heard a lot of people ask what you have, and it’s something the team feels really strongly about. They do like the design of Sonic Forces as we have presented it, but we’re also listening to a lot of the people saying they want that classic gameplay element back. We believe what we made [is a good balance] and will be a great experience for people — but we also are hearing that people are wanting something that we haven’t provided to them. I’m still sitting with the team digesting it and figuring out what to do. It’s an unresolved topic even amongst the team.
With Sonic Mania proving so successful, how do you differentiate the classic Sonic gameplay in Sonic Forces from the retro style found in Sonic Mania?
It’s different teams creating Mania and Forces, but we were watching some builds come in for Mania and were like, “Wow! That’s a really great game.” It hits that classic Genesis/Mega Drive era of gameplay right on the head. It’s solid. When we were looking at what was being done in Sonic Mania, we were like, “There’s a couple of ideas in here that are really good.” But from a classic standpoint, what we’re doing is looking back to Sonic Generations and saying, “Look, we need this classic Sonic gameplay and people really liked Sonic Generations, so let’s bring that into Sonic Forces.” [We also asked], “How can we expand on that Sonic Generations classic style gameplay and make it be something more than Sonic Generations was?” There is a little bit of a design difference and design philosophy in the base content that each team was referencing [for Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces].
How long should fans expect a typical playthrough to last?
The gameplay content is going to be very similar to Sonic Colors or Sonic Generations, if you want to think about experiencing it from start to finish. What’s going to be additional is all the extra little things the team has hidden inside the game that will require you to go back and play with different and more powerful Wispons. There’s content in there to make sure that everyone can play through the game and have a fun time, but there’s also all these little things to do later that, if you really wanted to dig into the game, will be there for you.
One thing I do want to make sure everyone understands is that we’re selling Sonic Forces at $39.99 in America, and we don’t want people to think that maybe this is a short game or this is a lesser experience than what we’ve done in the past… So with Forces, nobody should be worried that they’re getting less content, or there’s not even [extra] stuff in there, or that we cut some corners. That’s really not the case.