It’s possible that Sonic Frontiers’ gameplay has received a variety of reactions from fans so far. Despite this, the possibility of Sonic racing through a vast open-world environment (sometimes known as an “Open Zone”) is still very exciting. IGN First recently had a conversation with Takashi Iizuka, the creative officer for Sonic Team, regarding the concept of the “Open Zone” and what inspired it.
After the launch of Sonic Forces, the developer immediately began planning the next installment in the Sonic series. The Team, at that time, feeling constrained by the linear format of 3D titles, chose to take the linear game design it was renowned for and build an action game with a great deal more freedom. The game in question is Sonic Generations, which was released in 2001. Sonic Adventure provided as a foundation, and the subsequent game, Sonic Frontiers, grew into a more open-ended experience.
Because of the nature of Sonic games, which focuses on speed, there is a possibility that some fans will be disturbed about these notions. If there are large open areas, it’s feasible that players will run out of room, sending them careening off of ledges and into pits with no bottom. However, if the levels are designed in such a way that they take Sonic’s speed into consideration, and if the appropriate game elements are used in order to elevate those levels, then this may be successful.
The game Super Mario Odyssey gives players the impression that they are venturing across vast open areas, but in reality, each level is far smaller than it leads players to assume it is. Nintendo created the levels such that they are compatible with Mario’s movement, and they are packed to the gills with a wide variety of objects and activities for players to discover and engage in. To make the Starfall Islands more enjoyable and satisfying, Sonic Frontiers could easily learn from exploratory levels like New Donk City and apply those lessons to the Starfall Islands.
In an interesting turn of events, Iizuka concludes by expressing his hope that the work done on the game can be applied to the creation of a new Adventure game. While this is going on, the former is scheduled to be released around the holiday season of 2022 for the Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC, and Nintendo Switch. You can get a sneak peek at the animation for the Prologue here, which features Knuckles the Echidna in the clip.