Originally scheduled for a Fall 2015 launch, the launch of Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice was pushed back by a whole year as a result of SEGA's pledge to aim for a higher standard of quality in all of their games. This sentiment appears to ring true, as given the admittedly positive reception the Fire & Ice demo received at E3, things might be looking up for the latest entry in the Sonic the Hedgehog spinoff franchise.
Creative director Mat Kraemer recently sat down with GameSpot to talk about how Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice builds upon its predecessor's shortcomings. SEGA and developer Sanzaru Games previously announced that they have looked into criticisms of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal to better shape its sequel; the interview takes further note on just how Sanzaru has incorporated fan feedback into the game's production.
GameSpot: Could you speak a little about what you changed from the first Sonic Boom?
Mat Kraemer: One of the biggest changes is the level design. It's a lot more streamlined, it's a lot more made for speed. A lot of the stages that you see here are built for combo-ing. You can literally combo stages from the start all the way to the end. It was something that we didn't have in the first game, it was more maze-like where you had progression where you would get to a dead-end and then you would have to go back and go at a different pace.
And there's no progression blockers in the game. In the original game, you would play a stage, and then you couldn't move forward because you had to collect these badges. We removed those gates so you can freely move forward at your will.
GS: What were some other main points of feedback you got from the last game that you really took to heart?
Kraemer: The backtracking people really didn't like; and just generally the sense of speed, the sense of combo-ing. The last game--I would [compare] it more to a Sonic game that has more of a maze-style layout. Like a labyrinth, you get to a dead-end and then you turn back. [in Fire and Ice], the path from A to B is a lot more straightforward.
Kraemer further emphasized how the additional time spent developing Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice has allowed Sanzaru Games to make good on where Shattered Crystal fell short while also taking note of online comments:
"[...] that's something we always do, especially me. I read every single comment--I go on all the forums, I go on NeoGAF… but you have to take things with a grain of salt, especially with Sonic. Everyone's going to hate on Sonic and have something to say, but you look at those comments constructively. I take all the information and granularly break it down, and [say], "People really didn't like that feature, or they really wanted this," and those are the things you focus on."
SEGA announced a ton of features from the game shortly after its reveal last year, but how they will shape up in the final release after an extra year's worth of development remains to be seen. The interview also takes note of Sanzaru Games' history with the Sly Cooper games and the rise of virtual reality gaming; you can read more about it on GameSpot.
Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice for Nintendo 3DS launches on September 27th in North America (alongside a special Launch Edition) and September 30th in Europe. Two more Sonic the Hedgehog games will be launching in 2017, those being the retro-inspired Sonic Mania and the currently untitled "Project Sonic 2017."