Sonic Boom's first character redesigns were 'more alien and different'

Sonic Boom is making some bold revisions to Sonic and the gang, but earlier versions of the redesigns were even more radical and tempered by Sega's Sonic Team.

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Sonic Boom is making some pretty bold revisions to the look of Sonic and his assorted animal friends. Not all of those went over smoothly with the Sonic Team in Japan, and creative director Bob Rafei recently recounted how Sega helped temper some of their wilder ideas.

Rafei told GameSpot that their original redesign for the characters tried a variety of color and surface textures like fur and scales, and he acknowledges that in those versions they "lost some of the spirit of the character."

"They were great guardrails for us to understand when we were deviating too far from the character," he said. "Without their input, the character would have been a lot more alien and different from what Sonic is known for." Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka notably "couldn't actually look at the screen" because the studio's ideas were "too traumatic" for him. "We had a very sincere--just two adults talking--conversation about why a character should or should not wear pants, and that was a very surreal moment in my life and my career," Rafei said.

Other changes were practical considerations. Knuckles is much bulkier to get across the idea of a stronger character, but also to have a more identifiable silhouette. Many of the characters are sporting arm and leg wraps to show that they are concerned with function over fashion, as opposed to the new Eggman design that is meant to look very prim and militaristic.

Sonic Boom is due this year, and is catering itself towards the western market. Rafei previously said that western properties need to balance story and humor together, and a Japanese developer finding that balance for western gamers can be difficult.

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From The Chatty

  • reply
    March 17, 2014 8:15 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Sonic Boom's first character redesigns were 'more alien and different'.

    Sonic Boom is making some bold revisions to Sonic and the gang, but earlier versions of the redesigns were even more radical and tempered by Sega's Sonic Team.

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      March 17, 2014 9:00 AM

      I want to see the original concepts that the Sonic Team head couldn't bring himself to look at. They must've been craaaazy.

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      March 17, 2014 10:46 AM

      that is.... a LOT of wrap tape.

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        March 17, 2014 3:14 PM

        Seriously.

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        March 17, 2014 4:09 PM

        yea WTF is up with that. Someone got wrap tape cray cray and nobody told them to knock it off or something. Knuckles, ok, he punches things, but everyone else....I don't see the point.

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          March 17, 2014 6:05 PM

          it's implied in the lore that Knuckles, Sonic, and Amy are cutters.

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        March 17, 2014 6:13 PM

        They've even wrapped their shoes, because why the fuck not.

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      March 17, 2014 6:07 PM

      Does *anyone* like these designs? How did this actually come about without being laughed out of the conference room?

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        March 17, 2014 6:13 PM

        other than the tape, what's wrong with them exactly?

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          March 17, 2014 6:18 PM

          They keep stretching Sonic like this he's going to look like a basketball player in 2020. What's with the scarves and items? The "extreeeeme" hipster look? Why is Knuckles gigantic and beastly?

          It looks ridiculous. They keep pushing for some stupid story nonsense that no sonic fan cares about. Sonic generations "got it", as did Sonic 4 Episode 2. However they've now dumped all of that progress out the window and went to back to what made those awful werewolf and shadow games so bad. No one cares about this furry fanfic bs, just make a platformer.

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            March 17, 2014 6:54 PM

            I can kind of agree with the knuckles changes. Making him bigger than the rest immediately sells the fact that he's a bruiser, and it gives him his own silhouette which is pretty cool. I think they might have gone a bit overboard since he's fucking huge, but I like the idea behind it.

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      March 17, 2014 11:19 PM

      Miles "Tales" Prower actually is the only character out of those four that kind of looks normal.

      Sonic's legs are just too long and it makes him look weird, and Knuckles is just horrible and looks like some fan art gone wrong.

      Amy as a character I have always disliked, especially since Sonic games usually have a completely messed up bad voice acting and it just makes my ears bleed when I hear Amy or Sonic voices.

      I really wanted to like the Sonic games that Sega has put out since the Dreamcast era. Sonic Adventures tried a lot, but were quite bad games, and it has gone downhill ever since.

      The only good game actually was Sonic Generations.

      I really wanted to believe Sonic Lost World would be good, but it was just horrible. Both versions on 3DS and Wii U were absolutely bad bad bad games, I really hate the current way of thinking that they force the stupid homing attack in every game and make it pretty much impossible to not use it even if you don't want to use it. Lost World had already in the demo levels that just don't let you progress if you don't use homing attack. Same with Sonic 4 Ep 1.

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        March 17, 2014 11:22 PM

        Whenever I fire up Sonic 1, 2, 3 or Sonic CD I get immediately that great Sonic feeling. The music is awesome, especially in Sonic 2.

        All the levels are tight and the game is super fast if you want it to be. I really wonder what went wrong at Sega because they completely lost the plot with Sonic games after the Mega Drive era. They didn't even release anything except Sonic Jam on Saturn. The 3D parts in that game's hub were great by the way. Shame they couldn't make a proper new Sonic game on Saturn in the 90's.