Sonic Team boss: “Sonic Frontiers is incomparable, so don’t”

Sonic Frontiers has undeniably gone off on the wrong foot. With Sega putting the squeeze on Sonic Team to deliver a high-score hitting game, seeing your exclusive gameplay video getting torched isn’t exactly helping. But according to Sonic Team boss Takashi Iizuka, ignorance is mainly to blame. Because we’re comparing it to all these other games, which is impossible. Sonic Frontiers runs on an ‘open zone’ format, which we simply don’t seem to grasp yet.

When your gameplay reveal goes viral on Twitter, two things might be happening. One, you’ve absolutely smashed it. Or two, you’ve achieved the absolute opposite. The latter has been happening to Sonic Frontiers, Sega’s attempt to finally bring Sonic back to peak performance. But as of now, people are only urging the devs to delay the game. The hashtag #DelaySonicFrontiers trending briefly proved that. In an interview with VGC, team boss Iizuka reiterated that a delay is not going to happen. At least, not because of the backlash.

The major problem is that we’re not getting the concept if we’re to believe Iizuka. People have been drawing comparisons to other games. And that’s weird because none of those games are built upon the same principle. We might think that we know, but we don’t. So we’re judging Sonic Frontiers before we even know what it truly is.

“We do realize everyone is just kind of reacting to the videos that they saw, and because they don’t understand what this new gameplay is, they’re kind of comparing it to other games that they already know.

So we do see a lot of people saying, ‘oh, it’s kind of like this, it’s kind of like that, but it’s not like this, it’s not like that’. And really, the team is going out and creating this new game format for Sonic, and we’re calling it an ‘open zone’ format.

“This new game system itself is something that doesn’t really exist in any other comparable titles, so we really hope that from here until launch we can really explain what open zone gameplay is.”

Precisely! That’s exactly the problem here. Sonic Team hasn’t really been explaining what this ‘open zone’ format is. They just dropped a fairly tame gameplay video of Sonic running around an empty world, solving dull puzzles. All we’re seeing is a Breath of the Wild-like world, so the comparisons aren’t that surprising. But all might change after one single play session.

“If people come to Gamescom or Tokyo Game Show, [they can] get that hands-on experience to play the game and understand what the game is. Because right now we’re just kind of watching videos of people reacting to what they believe the game to be.”

And apparently, people have actually been playtesting Sonic Frontiers already and loved the living shit out of it. As it stands, players are already confident enough to rate the game. According to Iizuka, 80 or 90 points out of 100 are being awarded already.

“From our playtesting results we have been iterating, we have been listening to the comments that come back, but we’ve also been getting a lot of great feedback from people who rate the game and are like, ‘I had a lot of fun playing this game, I’d give it like an 80 or 90 point score out of 100’.

“So we do feel that we’re getting to the point where this game is done, and people will like it, and we do want to get that game into our fans’ hands as soon as possible.”

So, long story short: Sonic Team knows what we think right now, and we think we know, but we don’t. Therefore, Sonic Frontiers isn’t going to get a major overhaul, causing a delay. Unless the entire team catches COVID, the game’s release will stay on schedule. And you’ll love it once you try it. Just don’t make assumptions.

“So we realize a lot of people are watching the videos online and making assumptions, but we do feel confident based on the playtest results from the target demographic that are coming in and playing the game start to finish, they really like the game and we’re confident that we’re making a game that will be satisfying.

“So if our development team all gets coronavirus, or they’re all hospitalized, or there’s something that actually prohibits us from being able to deliver the game on time, we will need more time.

“But we’re working right now with our team in Japan who are working really hard to make sure this holiday, people can buy the game, pick it up, take it home, and have a fun experience with it.”