Sega’s new Sonic game is being developed by Arzest, the Japanese studio led by the mascot’s original creator, Naoto Ohshima, according to VGC.
Ohshima, credited as Sonic’s designer and artist for the franchise’s first games, will return to the series with Sonic Superstars for the first time in over 20 years.
Sonic Team boss Takashi Iizuka said in an interview at Summer Game Fest on Saturday that the company originally intended to work again with developer Christian Whitehead, who directed Sonic Mania in 2017, but plans fell through.
Iizuka then approached Ohshima, who worked on the original Sonic the Hedgehog and other contributions in the ’90s, to work with his development team, primarily responsible for developing titles like Hey! is known to direct the next 2D game. Pikmin and Yoshi’s new island.
Sonic Mania developers Headcannon and Christian Whitehead are not involved, Iizuka confirmed.
“When we were making Sonic Mania and the game was done and Chris was done, we had a chat with Chris and the team about what the next 2D game should look like,” he explained.
“We had worked out some concepts and ideas between the teams, but we couldn’t start the project. And so it went away with Chris and the team for a while.
“I’m friends with many of my old colleagues and I’ve spoken to Ohshima-san about making a Sonic game together and if he’d be interested. He’s the original creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, so we had a conversation about whether his company, Arzest, would be interested in working on a Sonic game
“So there were ideas with Chris and the team that failed. Sonic Superstars was actually developed entirely by Arzest, but the Sonic team in Japan is working with them on the design and some other elements. Arzest and Ohshima-san are 100% developers of the game.”
Iizuka stated that his valuable experience working on the original Sonic games made him feel like he could trust Ohshima’s team. Ohshima is best known for being the creator of Sonic’s character designs, but Iizuma said few know that he actually designed many levels as well.
“What Ohshima-san really brings is his classic Sonic experience, having worked on Sonic 1 and Sonic CD. He has an understanding of how to make a true classic Sonic game.
“A lot of people think Ohshima-san just walked in and figured out what Sonic would look like, drew the character and that was it. Besides drawing and creating the character, he was also involved in the level design for Sonic 1. So he has the experience to make a Sonic game because he did the level design for the original game.”
In addition, Iizuka announced that Sonic 3 composer Jun Senoue will be the audio director for “Superstars.”
“If we’re talking about people who are still around and worked on the classic Sonic games, there aren’t many people actively developing games that are left of this really small group.
“But it’s three people; Myself, Ohshima-san and the third is Jun Senoue from Sega who made music for Sonic 3 at the time. He is also involved in the development of Sonic Superstars. Jun is the game’s music director and puts a lot of effort into making it sound like a classic game.
“But obviously he doesn’t just sit around creating all this music himself: he works with internal teams at Sega to create music in the classic Sonic style, and he also works with some external teams like Tee Lopes who make Sonic Mania have helped.”
Sonic Superstars will allow players to control either Sonic, Tails, Knuckles or Amy Rose, and for the first time in a Sonic game there will also be co-op support for up to four players.
The game will be released both digitally and physically on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch and PC in Fall 2023.