The newly-announced Sonic Boom is a new direction for the blue hedgehog, featuring major makeovers for some characters and bringing on developers Big Red Button and Sanzaru to make the Wii U and 3DS versions, respectively. The choices were fueled by focusing on western sensibilities first and foremost, to the point that Sonic veteran Takashi Iizuka says the company has no plans to even bring the games or cartoon to Japan.
"As part of completely thinking about the West, we wanted to make sure we had Western game developers and make it a part of Western television," Iizuka told Polygon. "We wanted to make sure it was developed best for Western audiences primarily; this was very important."
He says the TV show was the genesis for the idea. While the previous cartoon series, Sonic X, was rooted in Japanese anime, the new show is very much the opposite. "So Sonic Boom is something made specifically for the Western audience. For the TV series to be successful, we pretty much had to make it for that audience, and the games tie into that strategy."
As for Sonic's new look including a scarf, that had some western influence as well. Big Red Button's Bob Rafei previously worked on the Uncharted and Jak & Daxter series, and joked that "it's hard to take the DNA out of that." Despite the new look, and greater focus on combat and exploration, Rafei says they're being selective with how much they change. "We took the best of what we know from those games and applied it to what works for Sonic canon. That was really important to us, not to make another Ratchet and Clank game or another Jak and Daxter game. It was important to make sure that it feels like a Sonic game."