Interview: A chat with Takashi Iizuka producer on the upcoming Team Sonic Racing
It’s almost been a decade since Sega teamed up with Sumo Digital to create the first in a new line of Sonic kart racing games. The first one, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing put Sonic, his mates and some of his Sega friends all together in the drivers seat. The second, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed did the same again but you could transform your vehicle on the fly which made for some varied racing.
The latest instalment, Team Sonic Racing doesn’t have either but instead goes back to a core racing experience with a brand new focus on racing as a team. It’s something new, so when we had the chance to ask game producer Takashi Iizuka about it – we jumped at the chance.
Vooks: Team Sonic Racing has moved back to just having Sonic characters and removing the wider range of Sega characters, can you tell us why the change?
Takashi Iizuka: In the past, SEGA used to always release different types of racing games, like Out Run and Daytona. For Team Sonic Racing we took a similar approach where we wanted to make a new type of racer instead of another All-Star game. We are hopeful that people will enjoy the new “Team Racing” concept in Team Sonic and enjoy the ability to explore the wider Sonic universe on new tracks and race as characters like Big the Cat and Chao.
Vooks: The game has a story mode, we’ve heard it has quite a bit of dialogue recorded for it, can you tell us more about it?
We put a “story mode” in the game for our fans to enjoy, but also for anyone who has never played a Sonic game to be able to play through and get introduced to the characters and world. Of course, if you are not interested in the story, you can always skip it.
Vooks: The game has squad team racing, where all of the people on your squad contribute to a win, how does this work?
Takashi Iizuka: Team Sonic Racing will offer several team mechanics that can be utilized to gain an edge each race. With moves like skim boost, slingshot, rescue and item transfer, players will be able to work together to fill up their Team Ultimate. Once full, the team will have the ability to unleash a massive speed boost that will help them secure the victory.
Vooks: Are people able to just race to win for themselves? Not everyone likes to be on a team!
Takashi Iizuka: While racing as a team is the game’s core concept, players will have the opportunity to race individually through a variety of game modes even online and offline.
Vooks: Transformations in the last games were a huge differentiator from other kart games, because of the transformations, the previous games had some really amazing and unique tracks, is there anything new in the tracks to compensate for this change?
Takashi Iizuka: In Team Sonic Racing, players will have access to 21 tracks, split across seven zones in the Sonic Universe. Some old fan favourites like Whale Lagoon, Bingo Party and Ocean View will be making their return. Additionally, players will have the option to go down blocked & hidden paths in tracks by knocking down obstacles on power characters or crossing over difficult terrain as a technique type.
Vooks: Can you tell us about the Switch version, and any specific Switch features that are coming, or how it’ll run?
Takashi Iizuka: Our goal is providing the same experience to any users. Therefore, there are no Switch specific features in Team Sonic Racing. But Switch users have a benefit to be able to bring and play this game anywhere.
Vooks: Since the game is team based, will there be online communication through the Nintendo Switch app or other voice chat?
Takashi Iizuka: This game doesn’t support the Nintendo Switch app.
Vooks: Sumo Digital has worked with Sega on Sonic racing games for almost a decade, is it any easier now?
Takashi Iizuka: We’ve had the good fortune to work with Sumo Digital over the years on numerous titles starting with Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing. Because we have such a rich history working with Sumo Digital, things have gotten smoother as we are able to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Team Sonic Racing is out on May 21st for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Thanks to Takashi Iizuka for taking the time to answer our questions.