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Rolling Stone Interviews Christian Whitehead (Taxman) (New Sonic Mania Info Inside: His Origins, Iizuka, Modern Characters In the Classic series, The Future)


Zippo

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Didn't like the needless "Sonic's friends are inherently bad" thing at the start.

 

but then Taxman said this 

 

Really, what it comes down to is general scope. There’s only so much you can do within a particular time frame. Even with just three characters, you can access different parts of the stage because of their unique abilities - Tails can fly, for instance. I’m not against adding in the new characters - I think they’re cool - I think there’s potentially a lot of things you could do with it…

 

 

EEEEEEEEEEE!

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That's a rather embarrassing title to give the article. It's a little premature to say that Sonic's been "saved" because a game everyone liked came out. It's still SEGA and Sonic Team that are in charge you know. A game that the vast majority liked has happened before. The reaction was the same then too. It was just a bunch of people putting "Sonic's Back" in the titles of their Youtube videos and articles as if they had never said he's come "back" before. Seeing all those Youtube titles with "Sonic's Back" in them yet again just made me wonder if people have no self-awareness. We've done this song and dance before.

He's not "back" everytime he makes a good game every once in awhile. He'll only truly be "back" when he can be consistent with it again. 

But I digress. 

I'm consistently amazed by how much leeway it seems Iizuka and the others seem to give them. That may or may not be indicative of the way they themselves handle stuff but when you've got a person who knows what they're doing at the head, and the vision is clear and concise, it lends itself to a lot of creative and appropriate things.

I'm happy everyone likes this. Still haven't played it yet but I'll imagine I'll get over my crippling fear of the 2D games to at least attempt it one day.

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8 hours ago, Zippo said:

 - there couldn’t be too many water levels, or city levels.

Heh, and yet half the game is city levels. I suppose industrial districts don't count as cities then.

Nice interview, was fun to read. Could do with less stabs at modern Sonic from the interviewer tough, geez.

And yeah, agree with Detective Mike, all the "IT SAVED THE FRANCHISE!" and "Sonic back to his roots!" stuff was getting old 7 years ago, let alone now.
Sonic has been "saved" at least 4 times the past decade and everyone's still screaming that it's needs saving.
All the while the alleged saviour games don't sell all that many more copies then the ones that allegedly doomed the series, so I doubt Sega cares.
The only thing that needs saving is my sanity.

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2 hours ago, molul said:

The difference is that this time it's true xD

I'll happely act like a crazy ex-Girlfriend and throw that quote back at you when there's a brand new Classic Style Sonic in 5 years with even better'er physics.
And Mania suddenly goes the way of the Adventure 2/ Generations and The Internet suddenly decides it was terribly designed after all and it's this shiny new game that we need to blindly champion, with Mania's  minor issues like the blue orbs mentally blown up to giant game breaking disasters.

Seriously, I thought Generations was considered a great game and now that game is suddenly terrible.And am not talking about crazy youtube comments, actual game magazines suddenly go back on their old positive review to take shots at the game. Fangames like After the sequel suddenly had their reputation take a nosedive when Mania was coming (Altough don't know how the DX version is doing now) And I'm pretty sure even Sonic 4 enjoyed a brief reputation of SAVING THE FRANCHISE before it became Sonic 06's distant cousin? At this point, am I this crazy to anticipate a potential next Classic style game that's even more better'er'er then Mania will nuke every game's reputation around it?

Bleh, whatever. I'll just practise my sarcastic eyerolling when we're all supposed to pretend no 2d Sonic games have existed since 1994 and 2022 will finally bring us the real "2d Sonic game with green hill zone that Saves the franchise Again 2: Revenge of Again."
That's the scary thing about this "Didn't age well" mindset. It's hard to tell what elements only work "in this age" and which  are suddenly considered bad in the future. What impresses us today can be cheesy or tacky tomorrow, or worse.


Uhh.. Sorry, going off topic.
But yeah, again, great interview.
Interesting to read that Taxman considers building a relationship with Sega is what took him the most time.
I should save up that quote. So many folks I run into that are writing this Amateur Game design document to Sega with the full confidence that the poor schmuck at customer support will read trough it and start running to Sonic Team's office in excitement. Hope Taxman's tale will inspire them to work up their brand and reputation first before sending in their manuscript of SONIC SAVED THE FRANCHISE  Part 7: Again's Legacy of Againess.

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1 hour ago, Roger_van_der_weide said:

I'll happely act like a crazy ex-Girlfriend and throw that quote back at you when there's a brand new Classic Style Sonic in 5 years with even better'er physics.
And Mania suddenly goes the way of the Adventure 2/ Generations and The Internet suddenly decides it was terribly designed after all and it's this shiny new game that we need to blindly champion, with Mania's  minor issues like the blue orbs mentally blown up to giant game breaking disasters.

Seriously, I thought Generations was considered a great game and now that game is suddenly terrible.And am not talking about crazy youtube comments, actual game magazines suddenly go back on their old positive review to take shots at the game. Fangames like After the sequel suddenly had their reputation take a nosedive when Mania was coming (Altough don't know how the DX version is doing now) And I'm pretty sure even Sonic 4 enjoyed a brief reputation of SAVING THE FRANCHISE before it became Sonic 06's distant cousin? At this point, am I this crazy to anticipate a potential next Classic style game that's even more better'er'er then Mania will nuke every game's reputation around it?

Bleh, whatever. I'll just practise my sarcastic eyerolling when we're all supposed to pretend no 2d Sonic games have existed since 1994 and 2022 will finally bring us the real "2d Sonic game with green hill zone that Saves the franchise Again 2: Revenge of Again."
That's the scary thing about this "Didn't age well" mindset. It's hard to tell what elements only work "in this age" and are suddenly considered bad in the future. What impresses us today can be cheesy or tacky tomorrow, or worse.

Lol XDD Deal ;)

I personally didn't find Generations great. It was better than previous games to me thanks to the reimagined levels, but classic Sonic felt weird (physics were not good enough, and enemies were strangely BIG) and modern Sonic was as little fun as it was in Colors. It was good enough, but not more than that (to me). I won't speak for magazines. That's a weird and ugly world XD

But yes, I see your point and won't take the risk to say Mania will always be great for everyone. A few days ago, a friend of mine who I see as an "I hate everything because I would do it better but I don't do it because stuff" told me that classic Sonic formula was always wrong, because you can't always go fast. I said you don't need to go fast, there's exploration, there are different secrets and paths, blablabla. He kept saying that "if the essence is speed, then let it run forever". I said life is not black or white, and classic formula is really fun for me, as I start exploring, then memorize the levels and try to go as fast as I can.

I can see his point, though. Sonic started like a "fast Mario", amazing us with those physics. Mario was all about short, focused levels. Do all platformers need to play like Mario? Of course not. Is (classic) Sonic fun? Hell yeah.

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@Roger_van_der_weide 

Well magazines spoke well of Generations and Colours back then, and they're still doing it now. Let's not forget that the series went back to some pretty dark ages after 2011 with Lost World and Boom.

It almost sunk as low as 2006 with RoL, the franchise was a laughing stock once again. 

Press is obviosly going to say "Sonic is back", he has been in bad-mediocre games for 6 years, that's a pretty long time.

As far as fans go I can only speak for myself, but, I never liked Colours, I think it's a competent game but I dislike it with all my heart, and Generations was good, lots of unexpressed potential that I would've seen brought to life in Forces, which unfortunately isn't there. So I think things are pretty coherent!

You're not wrong in saying what you're saying, 'cause it does happen sometimes, but good games are still good.

Back on topic!

The interview was great, it's nice to hear stuff from Whitehead himself! I wonder which zones they picked initially...? I'm so curious about Mania.

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The way some people talk about Lost World as if it's an 06 level game is astonishing to me. It's not perfect but I had fun with it. Loved the more open levels instead of boost hallways and the figure eight looked great in 3D. Would have loved to see a more refined follow up to it with less gimmick stages, and a bit more speed.

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lol Iizuka really love those Death Egg Robots, like holy shit. But I got hand it to the man, putting it in Green Hill Zone was cool.

I reaaaaally wish Taxman could say which zones his team originally pitched. >_<

Also, nice jab at SEGA with the "too many city levels" hahaha.

Man, I want more games from this men. C'mon Iizuka, SEGA...

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21 hours ago, Roger_van_der_weide said:

Heh, and yet half the game is city levels. I suppose industrial districts don't count as cities then.
 

Saying certain zones count as city levels on the basis of them being industrial districts is a very tenuous argument. By that logic I could argue Hill Top is a city level because it has manmade materials such as chairlifts and seesaws. Or that zones like Hydrocity and Sandopolis are city levels due to the fact they have architectural structures such as temples, brick walls, and pillars.

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1 hour ago, Yeow said:

Saying certain zones count as city levels on the basis of them being industrial districts is a very tenuous argument. By that logic I could argue Hill Top is a city level because it has manmade materials such as chairlifts and seesaws. Or that zones like Hydrocity and Sandopolis are city levels due to the fact they have architectural structures such as temples, brick walls, and pillars.

It's more like if you follow up a forest stage with a jungle or swamp stage.
Technically diffrent, but graphically very close.

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Green Hill:                        Green natural level

Chemical Plant:             Blue, grey, and yellow factory

Studiopolis:                     Blue buildings and studio

Flying Battery:               Orange airship

Press Garden:                Green and white ruin/garden with 1800's or older printing technology

Stardust Speedway:    Green overgrown cathedral/Yellow speedway/factory

Hydrocity:                         Blue and orange catacombs

Mirage Saloon:               Yellow and purple canyon/western tavern

Oil Ocean:                        Orange and black oil refinery and rig

Lava Reef:                       Orange and red volcano and caverns/blue caverns and mining equipment

Metallic Madness:        Green metallic stronghold

Titanic Monarch:           Red and yellow robotic innards

 

Natural > industrial > residential/commercial > mechanical transportation >  historical and natural > residential/industrial > historical  > natural/commercial? > industrial  > natural/industrialized > industrial > mechanical

 

Natural > man-made > man-made > man-made > man-made/natural > man-made > man-made > natural/man-made > man-made > natural > man-made > man-made

 

------------------------------------------------

I don't think Mania has the same problem as Generations with city-levels, as it's really varied in that regard, but I could understand an issue with how few natural environments Sonic travels through in this game. Though, that's a problem with every classic Sonic game, honestly. The theme of the fight is entirely around industrialization, after all. Only Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles really escaped that with a contant shift between man-made and natural environments as the game went on, in a perfect 1:1 ratio with each other.

They're varied enough in how their locations are presented, imo, like how while one man-made ruin can be underwater, another can be on a speedway, and another can be in the snow. Or how one industrial area is a normal factory, whereas the other takes place in the sky, and another in an ocean of oil, or volcano. And there's barely any actual cities, when you look at it, lol; so they're kind of unique that way.

Mania is a pretty long game, though, so I do think it's easier to get burnt out on concepts faster than not, tbh.

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Heh, it was more a jokey observation I made, didn't want to turn this into a fight. I like city levels and glad we get them back after Lost world didn't have any, ignoring the 3ds version. But man, I really needed some kind of jungle stage or something in the second half of Mania after the endless dark ruins, dark caves and dark cities.
Mirage saloon really felt like an oasis of bright colors and daylight and came as a relief.

And to Mania's credit, they put in a lot of effort to give Oil ocean even more of a oil platform plant feel to it then the original to diffrentiate it.
I suppose it's mostly my memories of Sonic 2 that I mostly think of it as a city level as the dome shapes and crane structures weren't as emphasized and usually obscured by the level structures.

Eh, whatever. BACK TO TOPIC again.

Uhh.. So. Reading Taxman's description of how levels work is interesting. Weird he mentions the Megadrive/ Genesis couldn't handle vertical stage movement very well, I still remember Classic Sonic games doing quite some vertical stuff, particularly icecap zone and hydrocity. Guess that was mostly trickery then.
 

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50 minutes ago, Roger_van_der_weide said:

Uhh.. So. Reading Taxman's description of how levels work is interesting. Weird he mentions the Megadrive/ Genesis couldn't handle vertical stage movement very well, I still remember Classic Sonic games doing quite some vertical stuff, particularly icecap zone and hydrocity. Guess that was mostly trickery then.

Marble Garden is a very good example, because it loops vertically without you noticing it. 

s3-mgz-act1map.png

The difference though is that the Mega Drive games had to resort to trickery, like looping/wrap-arounds, to make the levels particularly tall. The Y dimension could only be pushed so far. It's different in Mania where they can make the stages as tall as the want without having the map wrap around. A level like Chemical Plant 2 would not have been possible before.

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