Today, SEGA announced a new "franchise strategy": Sonic Boom. The news was flowing in since about 1:00 PM/ET today, and there's plenty to discuss. Here's a roundup of today's news for the game.
First off, Sega says this is not a series reboot. Sega of America president John Chen stressed that "Sonic Boom will not be replacing the original franchise". Aaron Webber described it as a "new branch" of the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
This third Nintendo-exclusive game in the Nintendo/Sega partnership will be developed by Big Red Button (Wii U) and Sanzaru (3DS). They will be different games, but set in the same universe. The game features traditional Sonic elements such as speed, but it'll star alongside exploration, combat, and an "Enerbeam" tethering mechanic. (Note: speed will be a primary element, but not the main objective)
- Big Red Button CEO and visual director Bob Rafei - who was instrumental in Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter - describes the Sonic Boom game for Wii U as "wide linear," but not necessarily open world. Instead, Sonic Boom will feature interconnected hubs, with the game's narrative determining which two characters are available for play in each area and all four characters featuring in boss levels. Every character brings something to the table, from Sonic's speed, to Amy's agility, Knuckles' strength, and Tails' range.
- "We have a critical path that we want to make sure every player can access, and there's secondary paths as well," explains Rafei. "There's a healthy dose of platforming in the game. We do have 2D sections in the game and the 3D exploration is all about that. That's not to say that's all the game is."
The point is for the four playable characters - Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Knuckles - to have their own unique gameplay style. There will be a 4-player co-op mode for the Wii U version, and it appears to place an emphasis on teamwork.
BigRedButton says they've found a good way to put the GamePad to use, but they're not telling yet.
Here's the summary of what we know about the Wii U version:
- The game runs on CryEngine.
- Big Red Button is lead by Bob Rafei, a Naughty Dog veteran of the Jak & Daxter series and Uncharted 1. A lot of the team members also worked on Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank.
- The Sonic Boom series as a whole is being run out of Sega of America as a fully Westernized version of the franchise, whereas Sonic Team in Japan is managing the Japanese-based series. The concept actually started with the TV show (made in France) and then they decided to make games with Western devs to support that.
- While speed is an element in the game, it's not the main focus for the Sonic Boom series.
- Combat and "strong narrative" are major aspects of the game.
- While not an open world, the levels are notably more open to allow for more exploration based gameplay. They describe it as "a series of classic sandbox levels branching out into more levels in a spoke-like system".
- There is a "critical path" and also a lot of side content that you can do if you want to, similar to other open world/sandbox type games.
- The game director notes that his experience on Uncharted was part of their influence in making the game in a more action/adventure direction, and that the team is making a game they would want to play. However, they want to make sure it still feels like a Sonic game instead of just Jak or Ratchet with a Sonic skin.
- Each character has different special abilities which tie into both combat and exploration.
- They made Amy Rose a much bigger character in the game because they wanted there to be more strong female characters and also for the game to appeal to girls more. They also note "If she was to break out and have a game of her own you'd probably get an idea of what that would look like based on this game."
- Their goal is that each of the four characters feel unique gameplay wise and like main characters instead of just Sonic and a bunch of supporting cast.
- The game has 2- to 4-player co-op.
- The new main enemy is "darker and more foreboding than Eggman is."
- Sonic Team will still make games focused on speed that aren't part of the Sonic Boom series. These are being developed in parallel.
(Thanks to Nirolak for the summary!)
No information yet on the 3DS version.