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NOTE: TN indicates a Translation Note.
Volume 220, Originally Published November 2nd, 2007
Um….So, about Brawl. I’m extremely late on writing about this but, Sonic the Hedgehog has joined the fray!!
‘But, I don’t know… Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I get the feeling people are acting Sonic joining Smash was practically guaranteed….I want to write this in huge letters, but he definitely was not guaranteed! When looking at characters from outside of the world of Nintendo, there are a lot of joint efforts, hardships and other issues to deal with. I realize writing all this won’t make a difference to most people, but I want to make this absolutely clear. It was not a guarantee at all!
When deciding on the roster, my main thought was, “What characters does the world want to see the most?” Those are the requests I wanted to fulfill. Sonic wasn’t decided early, he actually was added to the roster this year[TN1]. Among the characters that were created from the ground up, he was the last one added.
It didn’t’ take much thought to realize bringing Sonic to life in Smash would be no small feat. If I gave him the same super-mobility he possesses in his original game, he would have became overpowered. What was I to do? I was conflicted.
I do this with all characters, but I decided I needed to first immerse myself in the original games and absorb the creator’s intention. Even though Sonic has a lot of games, I decided to base the core of Sonic on the ones I played. Of course I played the older titles, but I also completed the newest installment at the time—Sonic the Hedgehog for the Playstation 3. Naturally, I also played Sonic the Fighters, Shadow the Hedgehog and other supplementary games to the series.
After thinking about it for a while, I decided to utilize the first version of Sonic—the one from Sega Genesis. The first Sonic the Hedgehog is a game that can be played with one button. Even though it’s simple, it still feels invigorating. [TN2] I can understand that intention as a creator myself.
With that important piece, I decided that Sonic wouldn’t just be fast. You might have the wrong initial impression of Sonic if you think he is always fast. Sonic has times where he can be slow, but because of that freedom, players feel almost dizzy when he speeds up.
So, controlling Sonic has to be simple. That’s why his attacks became the way they are. Since he’s from Sega, I decided to make his neutral combo punch-punch-kick. [TN3] I didn’t forget to make him fun to play.
It’s like having a Sega Genesis on a Nintendo platform… That’s a big claim but there are things that need to be taken into consideration. Sonic follows the rules of Smash, like how he moves. His body structure is in the new style. His behavior is not completely faithful to the original, but if you try playing as him, you’ll realize it’s really Sonic. It’s not a reproduction of Sonic from the his games, but a brand-new Sonic for the modern era!
Also, before I forget: I added songs originally from the Sega Genesis, written by Masato Nakamura from Dreams Come True! You might even get to hear “that song”—the one they play on those crane games. I also added songs from other titles in the Sonic series. The songs aren’t all available from the start, but you’ll hear them at some point in the game.
Sonic is already finished, and now we are in the process of debugging. I eagerly await the reception from fans around the world.
[TN1] – This year – 2007. Smash Brothers Brawl was released January 2008.
[TN2] Sakurai discusses Kirby as a ‘one button game‘.
[TN3] This is a basic combo found in Virtua Fighter. Sakurai confirms the Virtua Fighter connection in a side note.
Looking Back (Published May 27th, 2009)
Interviewer: Why the long face?
Sakurai: When we announced Sonic, we also announced that the game would be delayed.
Interviewer: Ah, it was around that time, huh? Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Sakurai: When I wrote the draft for this column, we hadn’t decided on the delay yet, so I didn’t mention it in the column. Enough with the gloom—let’s talk about Sonic. How was Sonic in Smash?
Interviewer: I was surprised when I found out he was going to be in Brawl. After trying him out, I was amazed at how he didn’t feel out of place at all. It must have been very difficult to make him fit so well.
Sakurai: Speaking of Sonic, there are many different variations of him from his history. I was a little lost on which iteration I should draw from. I thought long and hard after playing his both his classic and newer games.
Interviewer: If you only judged the character from the newer Sonic games, would Sonic in Brawl have been any different?
Sakurai: He would have been very different.
Interviewer: Depending on the person, they might have strong impressions of a certain Sonic. There might be people who forgot that while Sonic charges his Super Peel Out it looks like the infinity symbol (∞), but for some other people that might be the Sonic they remember. You can make these great choices because you love games with all your heart and devote your entire being to their research.
Sakurai: Thank you. Also, the Sonic that made the infinity symbol wasn’t from the first Sonic, but actually from the Sega CD game, Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
Interviewer: That’s right, the first version of Sonic simply spun his legs around.
Sakurai: The modern Sonic’s design has some tight guidelines regarding proportions, but compared to the classic Sonic, his arms and legs are a lot longer.
Interviewer: During his evolution, they gave him a tough face at one point, too.
Sakurai: Sonic is remembered for his cool image abroad. Giving him proper shoes was a good choice.
Interviewer: That’s right. Giving him the ubiquitous Sega punch-punch-kick jab combo was a nice touch.
Sakurai: I’m glad that you enjoyed them. I can’t add these little homages to other projects I do.