E3 06: Sonic Rivals Preshow Q&A

Sega Studio USA director Takashi Iizuka talks to us about Sonic the Hedgehog's first PSP game, as announced earlier today.

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Announced earlier today and currently in development at Backbone Entertainment, Sonic Rivals for the PlayStation Portable is described by Sega as a "racing platformer" that will pit the company's speedy, blue mascot against three other characters in 3D environments with 2D gameplay. This morning's announcement came with very little in the way of gameplay information, which is why we contacted Takashi Iizuka, director at Sega Studio USA, for more information.

GameSpot: Why did you decide to create this type of sonic game for the PlayStation Portable, as opposed to a more traditional platformer? (Such as Sonic Rush on the Nintendo DS?)

The environments are 3D, the gameplay is 2D.
The environments are 3D, the gameplay is 2D.

Takashi Iizuka: The processing power of the PSP allows us to create beautifully sculpted 3D environments, while the portability gave us a chance to create a new type of Sonic game where we incorporate the traditional platform action with racing.

GS: How are you blending the 2D and 3D elements in the game? (that is, does it play something like Sonic Rush in terms of parts being straight 2D and other parts being pure 3D, such as in the boss fights in that game?).

TI: We are blending the traditional 2D platform action within the three-dimensional space...a similar challenge encountered in our creation of NiGHTS.

GS: What sonic characters will appear in the game? Which are playable?

TI: We currently have four playable characters, including Sonic, Knuckles, Shadow as well as introducing a brand new member of the Sonic family.

GS: What will the gameplay be like? Is it just the sonic basics of jump and run, or is there more to it?

In Sonic Rivals you won't just be racing against the clock.
In Sonic Rivals you won't just be racing against the clock.

TI: The gameplay will incorporate all of the traditional Sonic actions, such as jumping, running, and attacking, but what makes this game completely different is the "rival" feature. This game is based on competition between Sonic and a rival, where players will jostle, trip, and push each other, trying to be the first to cross the finish line. No matter if you're playing against the computer's AI or against your friend, the competition will be fierce and challenging from start to finish.

GS: Will there be a power-up system in place? If so, how will it work?

TI: Yes. This is a brand new power-up system based around a racing platformer, where the players can utilize the power-ups in both offensive and defensive ways. We'll be releasing more details about this system shortly.

GS: Will there be hidden areas and bonus games?

TI: We'll be releasing more info on that shortly.

GS: How will the customization system work? (Is it like equipping cards?)

TI: We have a robust reward-card system that allows the user to customize their characters.

GS: How is the game structured? Is the single-player game just a series of linear races shaped into a story or something else?

TI: You'll be able to play as one of four characters from the Sonic world, each having their own unique storyline. In the single-player mode, you will race through various zones, trying to thwart Eggman's evil plans.

GS: How will the multiplayer game work? What modes will it offer? Will it be ad hoc, infrastructure, or both?

Head to head battles promise to be fiercely competitive.
Head to head battles promise to be fiercely competitive.

TI: The multiplayer game is designed to be ad hoc, taking advantage of the PSP platform technology, enabling you to battle head to head, as well as be able to trade and wager cards with your friends.

GS: Will there be game sharing?

TI: We'll be releasing more info on that shortly.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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