Director Morio Kishimoto has discussed what Sonic the Hedgehog game is coming after Sonic Frontiers, and has also addressed relying too much on past locations.
Twitter user @SPrower212 asked Kishimoto (@moq_46) about the overuse of Green Hill Zone in Sonic titles. “Hello @moq_46. Sorry if this is hard to read, I’m using a translator. We’ve seen past locations displayed in past Sonic games, but some feel they’re overusing them. Will these locations be seen in future Sonic games?”
Kishimoto is quite active on Twitter, replying to fans requests in inquiries, and @SPrower wasn’t overlooked. “Hello! Thank you for translating into Japanese! I was thinking about contrasting the new environment of the open zone with the environment of the previous work of cyber space, but it seems that I felt that I was using the past environment too much. We will look into this as an issue.”
It’s a sign Kishimoto, and possibly other members of Sonic Team, are taking feedback into consideration. Fan website Tails Channel summarized Kishimoto’s Twitter replies, giving further insight into what the next Sonic game will entail.
The current “generation” of Sonic games promises to add more playable characters, but repeat appearances of classic levels like Green Hill Zone and Chemical Plant Zone would be avoided. Likewise, Kishimoto admitted the story in Sonic Frontiers could have been handled better. Future titles would aim for better scripts, stories, and also delve deeper into the characters.
Along with taking feedback aboard, Kishimoto revealed work on the next Sonic game had already started. Sonic Team had been looking into what gameplay mechanics and features would work best, considering feedback from fans over Sonic Frontiers. Regardless, combat is going to be expanded for more complex and immersive battles.
Discussing the development of Sonic Frontiers, Kishimoto revealed the “homing dash” glitch was known to Sonic Team. Also dubbed “Homing Cancel” and “Magnet Dash” by fans, dashing just before a homing attack connects can send you flying forwards. Kishimoto revealed the team decided to leave it in as a bonus for players, which it certainly has been to those looking to speedrun the game.
While focused on providing a better single-player experience, Kishimoto emphasized multiplayer games hadn’t been dismissed.
All of this must by taken with one caveat. By his own admission, Kishimoto isn’t going to be the director of every Sonic game moving forward. Even so, the Open Zone gameplay Sonic Frontiers utilized is being built upon, and (in Tails Channel’s words) “heavily considered” for the next main Sonic the Hedgehog game.
Further, Kishimoto explained to one fan, “I defined Sonic Frontier as a 3rd generation Sonic game, but not all Sonic games will be 3rd generation in the future. And I don’t think the first and second generations are inferior to the third. I think both generations are great Sonic games. Rest assured!”
Likewise, when speaking to another fan regarding 2D Sonic games and developer Dimps, Kishimoto noted, “In addition to 3D Sonic games, Sonic games also have side-scrolling Sonic games, so please look forward to them!”
Many of these promises could be backed up, as Sega have reportedly given Sonic Team and other AAA developers a bigger budget. Discussing the recent SEGA Sammy Holdings investor Q&A, Tails Channel translated several questions and answers regarding the Sonic franchise.
One investor asked, “With the strong performance of Sonic Frontiers and other global titles, will you be focusing more on products like it in the future?”
“We expect development costs for new titles to grow even larger in the future,” SEGA Sammy replied. “We will strive to ensure solid quality in the development of major titles from our existing franchises.”
“However, development labour costs will rise due to the impact of the global external environment, and we expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future. Since it is necessary to take on these challenges for major titles, we are proceeding with a bigger budget, even from the basic research stage. Therefore, we assume that development costs for future new titles will increase accordingly,” SEGA Sammy revealed.
While intended to counter-act global economic turmoil, some fans were delighted with the news of Sonic Team getting a larger budget — taking to social media to share their thoughts.
“SEGA IS GIVING SONIC TEAM A BIGGER BUDGET FOR FUTURE SONIC TITLES!,” @Cybrid101 bellowed, adding, “WE WON.”
The delight isn’t unfounded, as when past Sonic games have fallen under critique, fans have put the blame at Sonic Team’s alleged lack of budget and tight development time.
This was seemingly born of such factors being part of the issue with the infamous Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), though other elements did contribute. This included the development team being split in half to work on Sonic and the Secret Rings so the Nintendo Wii would have a Sonic game, and pushed to meet a Holiday 2006 release window despite warnings from quality control.
Fears of history repeating aren’t unfounded though. One developer who worked on the buggy Sonic Origins blamed “major time crunch” and being unable to delay the game, and an early build of Sonic Frontiers shown by IGN had fans begging for a delay.