Takashi Iizuka on 4Gamer.net:
The Secret Story of Additional DLC Stages’ Development
Thank you for today. First, could you tell us how were the players’ reactions after Sonic Lost World was released in October 2013?
Including Miiverse, there are various reactions and I always look at them very interestingly. I wonder if the one that stood out among those is the opinion that says, “The count of challenges is difficult to increase and it doesn’t progress further,” in which I received a lot immediately following release.
After taking those opinions seriously, in the update afterwards, we added the remedy that did things like adjusting it so that the count of challenges increases and giving 1UP when collecting 100 rings.
Actually, for the situation where the 1UP items would become insufficient, we had expected it to some extent. We thought that maybe it could cover if the players share the 1UP items in the item release using Miiverse, but at least regarding the count of challenges, we corresponded in the update after thinking that perhaps the ease in obtaining them a bit more would become easier to play.
It seems that the plan of item release using Miiverse is going on well, too, isn’t it? Even now that about 5 months have passed since the release, in the impression that a lot of players are using it actively, the items come released to the extent that they cannot use them. (Laughs)
This time, the item release that we tackled for the first time was a new try, so we did not know how far the players could use it until we release the game and there were times when we thought, What should we do if the items are not released?, but we felt relieved that everyone has been able to use it.
Fortunately, even now in just the domestic region, the players are using it to the extent that we can circulate the item release. We would be glad if they could play using the steadily released items from now on, too.
Please tell us the details of the release arrangement of Nintendo titles’ collaboration stages known as The Legend of Zelda Zone and Yoshi’s Island Zone in Sonic Lost World.
The idea was there since before around half a year when the original game is complete, but the Lost World of this time is the title that we release only for Nintendo consoles, so wondering if we could collaborate on something together was the motive.
From the start, we thought of having the forms put into the original game, but the schedule was not in time and they became releases as additional DLCs after the game release.
There are various things in Nintendo’s IP, but I wonder in what kind of criteria you chose the two—The Legend of Zelda and Yoshi’s Island—among those.
In Lost World, there are stages of forward view style and side view style. This time, we suggested to Nintendo that the former is The Legend of Zelda and the latter is Yoshi’s Island as the titles that match the styles respectively.
By the way, was Mario not listed as a candidate?
This time, the appearance looks interesting and we aimed at the unpredictability that the combination with Sonic is also different in nature.
Mario and Sonic are collaborating in Mario & Sonic series the whole time, and what’s more, there are similar parts in the game features of Mario and Sonic. We also had thoughts that it is not necessarily the case that the combination of those two would become an interesting content for customers.
I see. It means there were possibilities of being able to become the stages, where the characters, backgrounds, and others are different only, doesn’t it?
In Yoshi’s Island, there is a unique game feature of bringing home the eggs. We chose it after thinking that if we take that into Lost World, a playable and unique game that carries a different goal from the original game is formed.
Then, in The Legend of Zelda Zone, I wonder what kind of aims you had.
I think that The Legend of Zelda and Sonic’s game features are entirely different, and what’s more, it is a collaboration that also has the unpredictability in the point of different combination in nature. And anyway, we wanted to make the sound effect of destroying the wall cracks with the Color Power Black Bomb. (Laughs)
If it were The Legend of Zelda, we would not be able to remove the riddle solution’s sound effect, would we? (Laughs)
The said element also has a side that only the people who know about the parody could enjoy it.
Therefore, we not only make it carry the differences in graphics, game features, and others, but also have decided on the way where one could feel the playing benefits even if he or she does not know about the situations of the collaboration games—the ease of obtaining 1UP items in Yoshi’s Island Zone and helping a lot of small animals in The Legend of Zelda Zone.
The realization of the co-starring of Sonic and Link is to Super Smash Bros. series’s degree and the direct collaboration is for the first time, so I think it also has a big topicality, but wasn’t the combination of the two titles of different natures until now difficult?
Hmm … for Lost World, the sky world is its setting and its stages become cylinder shapes, so we were very worried about how we would present Hyrule Field that becomes the setting. If we created Hyrule Field to the stage structure of Lost World, it would become a land of cylinder shape floated in midair, so incompatibility would end up happening greatly.
When you mention Hyrule Field, the images of the huge and green grasslands come to mind after all.
We have also tried the stage shapes that look like a huge bowl that is not a full cylinder and so on, but we were unable to show the identity of Hyrule Field no matter what. Therefore, we separated the stage into first and second halves, and made the first half into the level design that emphasized the atmosphere of The Legend of Zelda and Dodongo’s Cavern of the second half into the shape that comes near the game features of Lost World.
Was the communication with Nintendo smooth?
Yes, because in the production of The Legend of Zelda Zone, they had been able to provide the material and the like, and also readily agree on making the Dodongo’s Cavern into a stage of cylinder shape that I have talked about just now.
In The Legend of Zelda Zone, Sonic is wearing Link’s outfit, but in Yoshi’s Island Zone, it is the normal Sonic, isn’t it? I wonder why it has been arranged to make Sonic wear outfit.
In Yoshi’s Island Zone, putting in the presentation of Sonic running around carrying the eggs is so, too, but it is for making sure that one would understand the collaboration situation at a glance.
Although I say, “Hyrule Field,” for the people who do not know about the original well, it might end up being seen as if there is not much difference from ordinary grasslands. Therefore, we took the form that makes Sonic wear Link’s outfit.
You were quite determined to make Sonic wear outfit as far as hiding his head and back trademark spines, weren’t you?
We were. After discussing it with the designer, we finalized a few spines and got settled in the form wearing a hat at last, but for his outfit, we were a little worried about how we should make Sonic to put on the hat anyhow during the modeling.
As for the situation where Link that appears in The Legend of Zelda Zone riding a Loftwing, is the model being used this time based on the Wii game The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword released in 2011?
Link and Loftwing are the use of material of Skyward Sword that Nintendo provided, but the resolution of Wii U is full HD, so we did the process of making it into high resolution at SEGA side. To our honor, Lost World became the game where the young man Link appears for the first time on Wii U.
Come to think of it, it is still only the cat-eyed Link of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD appearing on Wii U. Even the point of being able to see the young man Link, who has been made into HD before the original manufacturer is the attention, isn’t it?
Also, the thing that I want the players to pay attention to by all means is the image illustration of The Legend of Zelda Zone. This is what the Nintendo illustrator, who draws the package illustration of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword made personally.
Certainly, it is a perfect illustration in the collaboration with The Legend of Zelda and the person from the original manufacturer is the one who drew it, isn’t it?
The illustration is a form of collaboration and here, the illustrator colored it so that the prepared rough sketch of Sonic is matched with Link’s design. Recently, we also have had the chance of looking at only CG Sonic and when we saw the completed illustration, we were very touched.
We will change the subject a little, I think the background graphics of Yoshi’s Island Zone makes Yoshi’s Story of Nintendo 64 as the base, but I wonder why you chose the game released in 1997.
I agree with you that Yoshi’s Island Zone is based on the stage of Yoshi’s Story, but this time, we start the design from scratch at SEGA.
In Yoshi’s Island series, the rendering that appeared to be drawn with pastels is its characteristic and the taste of texture is quite different from Lost World. We also have limits in the splitting development time by the time we release the DLC, so we rather chose the way of easily creating the 3D model, which the staff gets used to its production than the rendering of pastel tones, which we are worried whether we could realize it.
For The Legend of Zelda Zone and Yoshi’s Island Zone, how long did it take in each of the development?
We did not decide the release date punctually from the beginning, but the collaboration stage with Nintendo takes about 3 months each.
In normal production, if a stage goes on changing its variation, we could mass-produce it by the time we complete the game features that would become the base, which is a tough situation. But this time, we made them carry different game features in each of the stage and they were the forms we have created, so it takes quite some time to finish them.
However, when Yoshi was in the world of Lost World or the music of The Legend of Zelda was playing in the background, it was very fun even if we were just looking at the screens under development and it became the mood of wanting to create not only one stage but more. (Laughs)
Surely, I ended up thinking the fact that only one stage is too good for Yoshi’s Island Zone as well as The Legend of Zelda Zone.
Actually, regarding Yoshi’s Island Zone, which is already released, we have been able to receive happy reviews that say, “I wanna play more,” “One stage is short,” from the customers who have played it.
Is that to say more stages will be added in DLC? Personally, I want to play them because it is all right if they are charged, though.
No, The Legend of Zelda Zone of this time will be the last. I think you can also guess from the DLC introduction page design of the official site, but we had decided the quantity—three—from the beginning.
In the situation where we would continue making more free stages from there, we would have difficult parts even as SEGA, and what’s more, Yoshi’s Island Zone and The Legend of Zelda Zone are the collaboration stages with Nintendo, so SEGA cannot make the rest as products from there.
With The Legend of Zelda Zone also being the last for the release of additional DLC, we end up suspecting that the idea and the like of the next game are clearly carried out any time now, but is there anything that you could tell us currently?
Regarding the thing that I can call as the next game, I have nothing that I can tell you yet even soon. (Laughs)
For the game where Sonic will appear, it has been decided that Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (PS3 / Wii U) will also be released in Japan on May 15. We could not easily release the Japan version and we were sorry for the people who had been waiting, but we Sonic Team are also cooperating in the production, so I want the players to play it by all means.
Well then, finally, may I have your message for the readers please?
It is as scheduled at the beginning, we have been able to release all three additional stages at last. I think there are many people who had already cleared the game, but with The Legend of Zelda Zone as a start, we would be glad if you could launch Lost World once more and play it for a long time again from now on.
With this as a starting point, we are in the hope that the excitement would happen again in Lost World. Thank you for today.
[Related item: Sonic Lost World (Wii U)]