Talking about Sonic Rivals 2 on PSP, Takashi Iizuka brings us up to speed on the latest outing for Sega's iconic blue hedgehog.
Takashi Iizuka is the Lead Game Designer and Director of Sega Studio USA. He began working at the Sega Technical Institute in 1992 on Sonic 3 with Yuji Naka, before founding Sega Studio USA in San Francisco, where his team produced Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog.
Can you explain the idea behind and the story of Sonic Rivals 2?
Based on the positive response we got from Sonic Rivals, we decided to expand the series to include team-inspired rivalry. The general story surrounds the mysterious disappearance of the Chao. We created a story around the teams, creating both a personal team story and overall arc that ties what may seem to be random events together, if the player finishes the game with each of the teams.
Sonic Rivals 2 combines a 3D aesthetic with 2D gameplay, how did this style come about?
Our initial goal was to re-create the 2D gameplay experience of the Genesis Sonic while taking the technical advantage that the current portable platforms offer. With this in mind, we created the game design to combine the best of these two worlds. We tried to push the 3D capacity of the levels while keeping the fast and fun gameplay that has made Sonic games so memorable.
Three new characters are joining Sonic and his rivals; can you tell us some more about them and their signature abilities?
To round out our cast of characters, we included Tails, Espio and Rouge, each with their own distinctive signature moves. Tails' signature move, Tail Copter, allows him to fly using his tails to traverse sections of the course quickly and avoid obstacles. Espio the Chameleon is known for his stealthy agility, thus we gave him Chroma-Cammo which allows him to become invisible temporarily while boosting his speed. For Rouge, she has a special ability we call Bat Guard that allows her to send out bats as either a defensive barrier or to attack her enemies. This is a really cool feature that makes her a true rival to be reckoned with.
What other new features are there in this second outing for Sonic on PSP?
One of our biggest new features is Battle Mode. Battle Mode encompasses a much smaller stage than the traditional Sonic stages, and is a place where two players can compete head-to-head in a variety of rule sets. For example, there is Knockout, where the objective is to KO your opponent a certain number of times before he or she KOs you, Ring Battle, where you try to collect more rings than your opponent, and Laps Race, where you compete to finish a certain number of laps before your opponent. This allows players a greater opportunity to compete head-to-head with the improved jostling system of Sonic Rivals 2.
Also, by popular demand, we've created a Free Play Mode where players can explore the main acts without having to worry about dealing with their opponent in the main game. However, we've thrown in a little surprise so there's a point to exploring the main acts.
Can you tell us about the multiplayer aspects of Sonic Rivals 2 and explain the card mechanic in the game?
Like the first game, two players can compete across the various tracks in the game, as well as participate in Circuit Cups if both players own a copy.
We also offer Game Sharing, to give you a chance to play in the Battle and Boss Modes against your friends who may not have tried out the game yet. There are a variety of goals that the player can achieve, that will unlock a card. By unlocking certain cards, the player can unlock new tracksuits that can be worn.
If you had to pick a character from the Sonic universe who would you be and why?
I think it would have to be a toss up between Sonic and Shadow. Sonic for the fact he is the iconic figure of Sega, a company I have been with from the start of my career. I also would have to pick Shadow for the fact he is a character I created.
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