SEGA on Sonic Mania's origins, why DLC isn't planned, much more - Nintendo Everything

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SEGA on Sonic Mania’s origins, why DLC isn’t planned, much more

Posted on August 19, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Switch

Sonic Mania launched around the world this past week. Right around the release, Japanese site Gamer spoke with series producer Takashi Iizuka from SEGA. Iizuka spoke about how Sonic Mania came to be, why DLC currently isn’t in the works, and how the special stages weren’t initially planned… plus more. Note: light spoilers follow towards the very end of the post.

For Sonic’s 25th anniversary last year, Iizuka received a task to deliver some sort of product, but not towards existing Sonic fans. They were instead targeting the “dormant fans” who used to play the SEGA Genesis, but haven’t really played any games again since. He then met Christian Whitehead, the Australian programmer who ported Sonic 1, 2, and CD to mobile, and the two would then establish the Sonic Mania project.

They previously talked about just simply porting those games again, but Iizuka thought that fans must have had a desire for new surprises from what they loved in the past rather than simply revisiting things as-is. That’s why it was decided to re-arrange existing stages in Sonic Mania.

Iizuka had previously worked with Sonic Team and other major development companies in Japan. But for Sonic Mania, it’s the first time he partnered with a team totally composed of “independent Sonic manias” spread across various countries.

This new team also had a greater passion to create, in comparison to usual companies that set decisions based on a pre-determined schedule (in meetings, etc). As a result, the team had so many features they still wanted to add even after the beta version was complete. Thanks to this, Iizuka felt that Sonic Mania players should be able to feel the passion from the creators of the game who are fellow “Sonic manias”.

Unlike the 3D Sonic games, characters in Sonic Mania do not speak. Since there are only few places requiring localization, they have been able to bring the game to various countries with more language options. Currently there is Japanese, English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish support.

The brand-new Studiopolis stage is included due to receiving the most requests from the Sonic Mania development team. Iizuka said again that the staff was very enthusiastic about creating more contens than requested, such as in character sprites and amount of stages.

Iizuka actually considered reducing the amount of stages at one point in order to meet the development schedule. However, in the end it was decided to put all of them in the game.

This relates to another point in the interview. Sonic Mania doesn’t really have much in the way of cut content like scrapped stages. Since Sonic Mania was only distributed digitally, the team was able to continue working very close leading up to launch and essentially put in everything they wanted to. Because of this, there are currently no plans for DLC.

While most people would say Green Hill or Chemical Planet for recommended returning stages, Iizuka would recommend Flying Battery, because he likes the music and also when the player goes inside and outside the ship. He’s glad that the stage has become more interesting than the original because of the renewals.

For the new stage, Iizuka would recommend Mirage Saloon because the stage structure will be different depending on the player character chosen.

Puyo Puyo gameplay was added because there was a Puyo Puyo game released in the west for the SEGA Genesis back then, which was “Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine”. The team also wanted to add it for the boss battle in Chemical Planet.

At first, Iizuka didn’t have plans to feature Blue Sphere in the special stages. Special stages themselves were planned, but they didn’t have any particular direction initially. However, when the time came for the team to start on development, Blue Sphere was brought over to Sonic Mania as an experiment of sorts, so that’s how the stages ended up in the final game.

The team’s concept for the story, which focuses on the Phantom Ruby, is that Dr. Eggman’s robots called Hard-Boiled Heavies become self-sentient and move on their own will. In addition to that, the team felt the need to continuously connect stages from various eras (returning and new alike). And to fill the plot hole, the Phantom Ruby’s mysterious power is added as the key.

Finally, for the Sonic Mania project, it was decided that the technological limit would be set at SEGA CD, which is higher than Genesis but lower than Saturn. So in creating a SEGA CD-grade special stage, they would intentionally make SEGA CD-grade polygons, because high-polygon models would already be available for Sonic Forces.

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  • Roto Prime

    anything on a potential hard copy?

  • Adrian Brown

    It would’ve been nice if the Sonic amiibo was implemented into the game as nice extra for Switch owners.

    • Radish

      I agree. But then you’d get people whining about locked content and paywalls like they did with Metroid: Samus Returns.

      • I’d be cool if it unlocked something you could still get in the game otherwise, like one of the… well, unlockables (but I suck at Blue Sphere and special stages in general, so…).

        • Shelleymdreher

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        • Adrian Brown

          Yes, a feature that you don’t miss if you don’t have the amiibo, or let’s say something small like getting a different background music if you scan it, like something from Sonic Adventure or Heroes.

    • agentboolen

      It would be nice if Amiibo’s didn’t exist. I don’t need over priced plastic for features that should already be in the game. Nintendo made you and millions a fool and run to the bank after it.

      • Adrian Brown

        I disagree. ames like MK8 and Animal Crossing were updated to implement them with extra optional features, that were thought after the release of the game. Maybe that’s not the case for every game, but those are good examples of extra content that wouldn’t have existed if not for amiibo. And if you don’t care about that, at least we have high quality official figures of Nintendo characters.

  • Bart

    I was just thinking I wouldn’t mind some DLC stages for this… Or a sequel.

    • Roto Prime

      Sonic Mania 2!!!!!!

    • Supporter

      Definitely a sequel in a few years. Not too soon or some fans will complain about too much classic Sonic.

      • agentboolen

        Wait to long and Christian Whitehead’s team might not be the same and then give us a sequels that aren’t on par. Let’s pretend this is the Genesis years and match those sequel cycles.

        I honestly don’t think you can complain about too much retro Sonic, modern Sonic was complained about because he has never been good in the first place.

        • That would cannibalize their own sales. There’s really no benefit from doing that. Overexposure kills a franchise or the excitement for it.

          This is the first Sonic game that I’ve gotten since Sonic Advance, not counting the iOS Sonic CD port. So, they definitely accomplished the goal of targeting dormant players.

          Now, let’s see how Sega squanders all that good will by announcing 30 different 3D Sonic games ported to every system ever.

          • agentboolen

            When I say match the Genesis cycle for sequels I mean sequel every 1 – 2 years time period. And I also think they need a break on the modern 3d Sonic’s. This should be the only Sonic at this point. But yes Sega will Doom things by keeping the crap 3d flowing.

            My choice is to make Christian Whiteheads team the new Sonic Team and get the old Sonic Team off Sonic all together… Maybe they can bring Alex Kid back if they need work for those part workers.

          • Some games just don’t work in 3D. Sonic, just like Castlevania and Kirby, simply doesn’t work in 3D. The sooner Sega realizes that, the better off they’d be.

            They keep trying and they keep failing. Speed and 3D just don’t go that well together aside from racing games.

          • This was my first Sonic game since Sonic 3D Blast…. so…. yeah, good work, SEGA. IMO they should have Sonic Mania 2 out in 2019 or by 2020. Sonic games on Genesis were about 2 years apart 🙂

        • UbRuben

          Sonic Generations is highly regarded.

          • agentboolen

            It’s crap.

          • UbRuben

            Hardly. You seem to have a bias against the 3D games, including the good one. Which by the way, also had fun 2D levels.

        • Supporter

          Trust me, there are already people complaining about too much classic Sonic so Sega and Christian Whitehead’s team have to time a sequel right.

          Plus, it’s debatable which modern Sonic games are highly regarded such as Sonic Colors and Generations. Whether modern Sonic has ever been good is debatable because it’s an opinion, not a fact.

        • UnrealClock

          Wait too long? I don’t think there has to be timing on this. Those guys have been making sonic games for like a decade. They’re not losing their edge they’re just getting better.

          • agentboolen

            Ok how’s this wait too long and Sega will ruin any interest people have with bad 3d Sonic’s. Momentum is on there side right now.

    • Nate Benson (TheNormalGamer)

      There is, if you get the good ending then sonic goes in the phantom rubies portal and goes to sonic forces

    • Nate Benson (TheNormalGamer)

      There is in the good ending sonic goes in a portal to sonic forces so that’s the sequel

  • MagcargoMan

    “They were instead targeting the “dormant fans” who used to play the SEGA Genesis, but haven’t really played any games again since.”
    So Genwunners basically?

    • agentboolen

      This is what Sega believes so they can keep giving us crap modern day Sonic’s after this. Christian Whitehead’s team is the new Sonic Team, Sega should get rid of the other team that has given us endless crap.

  • Travis Francis

    “Iizuka actually considered reducing the amount of stages at one point in order to meet the development schedule.”

    Jesus. Game devs need to quit having this attitude. Sure, a delay would piss off customers, but having an unfinished product is much more infuriating. I enjoy Mania for what it is, but would love to see some DLC with extra levels.

    • Carlos

      This seems to be one of Sega’s biggest problems. They want to get everything out by a certain time, instead of making a good game.

      • Princess_Eevee9

        Poor Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric… And Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 too.

        • agentboolen

          Let’s not forget putting humans into Sonic games. 2006 never had a chance because of the completely joke of a storyline.

          Sonic is a hero for the forest world. Eggman wants to replace living things with robots. Sonic stands up for life and takes out Eggman.

          This is the only story you need. Complicate things like the modern day games have and end up with crap.

          • Princess_Eevee9

            Humans have always been a thing in Sonic though. Actually Modern Sonic games started that tradition but… Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 had some really out there story elements… Just wish SEGA would you know finish what they started and give us the complete game.

          • agentboolen

            Sonic adventure screwed this up. It’s better being Sonic rescuing there forest animals from danger. Humans can be the danger but when there his friends it gets stupid. My honest opinion the second they started talking the stories went down hill.

    • agentboolen

      You lost me at dlc, just work on a sequel. Dlc is the industries way of penny pinching more money out of us. Treat this like a Genesis cartridge, it’s in our hands and you can’t add anything else to the cartridge once it’s in the public hands.

      • Ricky Ellmore

        ….they even have a digital & Knuckles lock on mode to unlock bundled with it so yeah you don’t even need the lock on cartridge that S & K had. DLC is just another way of saying “this game isn’t finished but here you go, you can have the rest and pay for it later” while a complete and finished product that Mania is means no need for DLC, you already have it all. Like you say, a sequel would be better where they do it again but come at a different angle (the difference between sonic 1’s special stage and sonic 2’s justifies this idea) so you don’t spend £4.99 on a new level to play and that’s it you’ve completed the game again.

        • agentboolen

          That’s what I’m saying. The game is complete, move on. Keep the story going at the same quality, don’t just add lesser quality add-ons. The fact is dlc is never the same value as the whole game, it’s always just a little overpriced.

          My honest opinion 1 – 2 year later this should have a sequel. Not some rushed dlc a few months later.

  • Rafael Bueno

    who would ask for DLC even??

    • Princess_Eevee9

      I definitely would want DLC to be available for more content considering how many Zones exist for Classic Sonic games.

      • agentboolen

        Your a mark to the gaming industry ripping us off with overpriced dlc. Just give them time to make a proper sequel and consider a good game done at release. That’s the problem these days there’s always looking for more money from a game instead of leaving it be.

        We didn’t have dlc in the days of the Genesis and we don’t need it now on a retro Genesis style Sonic. Bring out dlc and destroy the retro Genesis vibe that have going.

        Dlc is a plague

        • Princess_Eevee9

          Ahhhh I couldn’t comprehend this insane comment nor your other ones. Why don’t you go cuddle your Genesis and bounce? Myself and others would like more as the game has oodles of potential.

          • agentboolen

            Go ahead buy expensive dlc that isn’t worth the same value as the rest of the game. Sequels are better way to go. If you can’t comprehend that comment there’s something wrong with you.

          • You’re making me sad Princess..

  • Princess_Eevee9

    Where’s our physical copy? Amiibo support? DLC Content for more Zones and maybe characters? They have so much to give.

    • agentboolen

      Physical is not needed for a 300mb file, Amiibo’s are a scam for dumb Nintendo fanboys, and dlc is a plague on the industry giving publishers an excuse to try to sell us stuff that should have already been in the final product.

      Where lucky here, for once they finished a game at release, be happy not needy.

      • Addy

        “Physical is not needed for a 300mb file”

        Cave Story+ had a physical release and it’s under 200 MB in size, cave with a manual and music disc. If that game had a physical release, why can’t Sonic Mania?

        • agentboolen

          It can but why would a publisher want to waste the money. I guess it’s worth it since there are those fans that hate digital. But for those fans if you don’t buy digital you’ll be missing out on some good games.

          Also usually those hard copy versions are more money then the digital. At this point why do you need a hard copy? Do you actually believe they won’t port classics to new systems. Worrying the apocalypse is going to happen and your not always going to have access to classics is dumb I’m.

          I just don’t understand the reason for everything to be physical these days. Question didn’t you pay more for your Cave Story+?

          • Addy

            True physical copies cost more, but digital games are a different story. Some people don’t have a fast internet connection or have no way connecting their game systems only due to where they live or financial reasons. Getting a refund is harder then you would with physical games. Digital games don’t last forever, they can be removed from the store without notice sometimes and can’t be obtained unless you’ve already downloaded before or otherwise, also when the server ends it’s run, all of it’s catalog goes along with it.

          • agentboolen

            Your wrong with the server. There only allowed to advertise the game to a certain date and if they don’t renew that date it stops being purchased but if you bought it already it’s in your history and always accessable. Just recently I got a new Xbox 360 and completely redownload all the games, even the ones like Double Dragon that aren’t listed anymore.

            I also don’t know any store that let’s you return a physical game once it has been opened. Sure you can sell them back but at a huge loss in price.

            Yes your correct some people don’t have good isp’s, but this is only 300mb, that’s even possible to download on 56k, I’ve done it in the late 90’s with computer software. It takes awhile but is possible. Honestly I think it’s pointless to own a modern day console if you don’t have an actual ISP. Every game I have on my PS4 has been patched at least once.

          • Addy

            I am aware you can re-download game you bought. There’s a rare chace some games you can’t re-download even if you bought it, though I can’t think of any examples at the moment. There are stores that offer refunds, but digital games are different, the only place that I know of that offers refunds for digital games is Steam, and that’s only during the first few hours after buying it, if I recall, I don’t use Steam. You saying I’m worried about the apocalypse makes you assume that I hate digital media. No, I have downloaded games digitally but I prefer physical and don’t want to spend more then $20 buying a digital copy, trying to be as frugal as possible.

  • agentboolen

    I’d hate to see anyone complain about the lack of dlc for this one. This game is perfect the way it is, do like the Genesis days and let Christian Whitehead and his team work on a sequel. When dealing with retro-esque games dlc shouldn’t happen. Dlc has become a ugly plague to modern games and I’m very happy Sonic Mania will not have any.

    Christian Whitehead give us sequels, not dlc please.


  • Justin McQuillen

    Sega cd couldn’t do polygonal graphics any better than Genesis games. 32x is probably what they really meant

    • Bart

      Hmm, I dunno, pretty sure the Mega Drive by itself couldn’t handle something like Silpheed for example.

      • Justin McQuillen

        Not sure, but what I can say is I have been an owner of Sega CD and a copy of Sonic CD since the 90’s and Sonic CD’s bonus stage features a sprite version of Sonic. The model used in Sonic Mania actually looks like what was used on the Saturn.

        • Bart

          Oh, I see what you mean now. 🙂

      • ECM

        Silpheed is streaming background off the disc–it isn’t real time, just a video.

        • Bart

          We were talking about the Mega Drive / CD’s relative polygon pushing capabilities, this was the first game that came to mind for me, wasn’t talking about the backgrounds but everything else, it’s all polygons isn’t it? I don’t think the MD could do that without the CD attached to it, that was my point.

          • ECM

            Actually, no, I believe the enemy ships, player ship, etc. are just sprites designed to look like polys to mesh with the streamed backgrounds.

            That doesn’t mean, of course, that the Sega CD couldn’t push polys slightly better since the 68k in the CD is clocked a bit higher than the MD, although you lose a lot of that extra performance because the bus that connects the two units severely throttles the advantages of said CPU.

            (Of course I’m being pedantic, because they probably didn’t actually adhere strictly to the SCD/MCD spec.)

          • Bart

            Oh, interesting, I didn’t know any of that. 🙂

  • Meadowtronic

    Maybe this next?

  • @SkiYewNiverCity

    I really hate the blue sphere special stages! Always have

  • Ricky Ellmore

    3rd time’s a charm right?