Sega isn’t phased by the mixed reactions to Sonic Frontiers. Earlier this month, the studio showed off new footage of the video game, which sees Sonic the Hedgehog enter a wormhole and find himself in a world called Starfall Islands. Many fans didn’t love what they saw, and some even called for Sega to delay Sonic Frontiers in favor of working on it longer. However, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka said fans just haven’t had a chance to fully understand Sonic Frontiers’ gameplay.
‘Sonic Frontiers’ footage has received mixed reviews from fans
In early June, Sega and IGN released the first lengthy footage of Sonic Frontiers. One video showed off the game’s open-world format, while another clip featured combat. Fans got to see quite a bit of Starfall Islands and its stunning landscapes (which closely resemble that of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). In terms of enemies, Sonic will have to battle some pretty massive bosses.
Some longtime Sonic fans didn’t quite have the reaction to Sonic Frontiers that Sega might have hoped for. #DelaySonicFrontiers began trending on Twitter as people criticized the gameplay footage. Some users thought the animations looked stiff, while others thought the Blue Blur didn’t move fast enough. Overall, fans thought Sonic Frontiers deserved more time in the studio to become a truly great game.
“Fans want to enjoy an increase in polished game offerings, like you enjoyed increased business offers and sales,” one person tweeted about Sega. They noted that fan feedback led Sega and Paramount to redesign Sonic the Hedgehog for the movie, which turned out to be a box office hit.
“It’s time to raise OUR bar. Not SEGA’s,” the fan added.
Sonic Team lead Takashi Iizuka said fans just ‘don’t understand’ the new ‘open zone’ gameplay in ‘Sonic Frontiers’
As much as fans want the delay, it looks like Sega won’t budge. In response to the criticism, Iizuka said fans just need a chance to understand the gameplay in Sonic Frontiers.
“It’s not really that surprising,” Iizuka told VGC at the Summer Game Fest: Play Days event in Los Angeles. “We do realize everyone is just kind of reacting to the videos that they saw, and because they don’t understand what this new gameplay is, they’re kind of comparing it to other games that they already know. So we do see a lot of people saying, ‘oh, it’s kind of like this, it’s kind of like that, but it’s not like this, it’s not like that.'”
Iizuka continued on to say that Sonic Frontiers’ “open-zone” format is vastly different from previous Sonic the Hedgehog platformer games. In order to understand, fans will need “hands-on” experience with the game.
“If people come to Gamescom or Tokyo Game Show, [they can] get that hands-on experience to play the game and understand what the game is. Because right now we’re just kind of watching videos of people reacting to what they believe the game to be,” Iizuka added.
What exactly does ‘open zone’ mean?
For now, Sega hopes to focus on explaining what it means by “open-zone.” That process has already started, as director Morio Kishimoto offered a definition to IGN. According to Kishimoto, it’s the game’s “secret weapon.”
“Level-based platformers often have a world map. Our Open Zone is a world map, only we’ve made it entirely playable, Kishimoto said. “What is often defined as a World in other level-based platformers is called a Zone in Sonic games, so we took that and combined it with Open, which refers to a freely explorable field. So that’s what Open Zone stands for.”
Sonic Frontiers is expected to arrive in late 2022.