Iizuka Explains The Secret to Making 2D Gameplay Work

Iizuka Explains The Secret to Making 2D Gameplay Work

UK Xbox 360 specialist magazine Xbox World 360 recently sent out e-mails to a variety of game developers to find out the secrets of the industry for a feature in their magazine, which has now been made available online on partner site CVG. One of the developers queried was Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka, who was asked “What’s the secret to making 2D work?”, to which he replied with the below statement.

I think there are various kinds of 2D platformer and each one of them focuses on different game elements. In the case of Sonic games, I put a premium on the game tempo of the stage.

A game cannot be constructed with only speed elements and a game with only jump actions is not a Sonic. Though jump actions bring a feeling of tension and cause a lot of stress, it’s an element giving the player a great sense of achievement when completed.

In addition to that, maximizing the feeling of achievement and exhilaration in a game whilst still providing the speed is the basic concept – and also real pleasure – of Sonic games.

Takashi Iizuka has gotten a lot of flack from the fanbase for Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 due to physics being very different to the classic Mega Drive titles among other reasons, and those fans who didn’t enjoy Episode 1 are hopeful things will change in Episode 2. While this statement doesn’t mention physics, does it give you some hope for Episode 2 and any other future 2D Sonic games? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Source: Xbox World 360 @ CVG (via GoNintendo)

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  1. Eh, sounds good to me. he may not be good at putting stuff into practice, but the effort is there I guess.

  2. Well, there is nothing offensive written here.
    And I think He knows about people’s feelings about physics and speed boosters.
    He is right though, the tempo of a stage is very important in a Sonic game. It creates a distictive feel to the environment. Hydrocity is known to be a high-tempo stage, as is Chemical Plant and Starlight Zone. They give you the buzz of blasting through stages at Mach 3. Other stages like Labyrinth, Marble and Sandopolis are known for their slow tempo, with the latter adding to the tense feeling Iizuka Described, with the lights and Ghosts in Act 2.
    Tempo is key in making a game feel like a Sonic game.

  3. Perhaps some 2D Fans would like to see some old characters make small apperances or the usual for future 2D Games?….If not then fine….Doesn’t matter…

  4. i felt very comfortable with the physics in Sonic 4, it was firm and easy to get used too.
    The Spin dash however was unforgivable but the mid-air braking made the casino bumpers in Act 1 of Casino Street Zone less of an annoyance and actually quite an asset when doing speed runs.
    My record on Act one in that level is 32 seconds.

  5. I was expecting more lulz from this post. But it’s actually pretty coherent and normal, and I agree with it.

    Point 1 Iizuka.

  6. “A game cannot be constructed with only speed elements and a game with only jump actions is not a Sonic.”

    Yeah, Sonic 1 begs to differ.

    They’ll most likely fix the physics problems, SEGA is pretty well tapped into the community.. I didnt really have an issue with the physics as much as I did with the bosses and the wait time in between being allowed to attack……. but that’s just me I suppose

  7. The only parts when the physics bothered me were in the platforming sections. I have physics problems with the classics too, so it doesn’t bother me to much.

  8. @Jix Hedgehog

    I think what he was trying to say was “Something that is only speed is not Sonic and something that is only jumping is not Sonic, the two need to be in tandem to give a Sonic the Hedgehog feel to a game.” At least, that’s how I interpreted it.

    To an extent, he’s right. There are parts of Sonic games that are all about speed and others that are all about platforming, but the mixture of the two is that fully-fleshed out experience. Like what was said before, Sonic and Knuckles contains levels that are very platforming-heavy and rely on short bursts of speed, while other levels rely heavily on exhilarating speed. Even then, sometimes speed and platforming are combined to create momentum based puzzles.

    Something that Sonic 4 Ep 1 lacked in was a healthy dose of balance in the levels. Some seemed far too gimmicky while others were very bland, and very few successfully achieved that mixture of platforming and speed. Splash Hill Act 1 was pretty and had a lot of loops and inclines, but lacked a decent amount of platforming. Meanwhile, Act 2 focused far too much on gimmicky gameplay with the vines. Act 3 did pretty well in achieving a happy medium, but again, that careful balance needs to be prevalent.

  9. Alright. Very good, Iizuka. Next question- when do you plan to put those ideas into effect? The Rush games and Sonic 4 have absolutely no consideration of tempo and the only times jump actions deliver tension is over what may be a poorly placed bottomless pit.

    It had everything about Sonic except the spindash. That includes running, jumping, rolling, bouncing, pushing, breaking, looping, etc.

  10. I don’t hate Iizuka since I don’t think it is his fault for the way the game came out, sure it wasn’t perfect, but this fanbase is also well far from it.

  11. @Super Stingray

    I don’t know about Rush, but Sonic 4 definitely did. Rush had a great tempo that was a little fast and reaction-based, but it was still solid.

  12. it’s going to be hard to come back from sonic 4 ep. 1. i may give ep 2 a chance but it’s very unlikely…sega really messed up on that one.

    and i’ve said this before, it was a fine game, it would have been quite acceptable if they called it sonic rush HD or something…but they called it sonic 4…

  13. You know, Mr Iizuka, my best friend worked that stuff out on his own before he ever knew anything about game design. That was about a year ago. In that respect, he knew more about game design than you did without even having any training whatsoever.

    And then there’s Sonic Fan Remix, which ended up in an actual publication because it was just so much better than anything people have been getting off you. The two making that one seem to have worked this out as well without any trouble at all. And I actually doubt those guys have jobs in the gaming industry – which immediately says everything.

    Q: What’s it feel like to be clearly outclassed by nonprofessionals in every single way?

  14. @Umiyuri

    It’s funny you say that because it’s those who accomplish things, like the creators of Sonic Fan Remix, that become part of SEGA and start working on new Sonic games, like the current crew.

    Difference is, in the fanbase, we don’t have to worry about consistancy or anything really great or technically. Just a picture and some movement. And we can do everything half-assed so we can make it look good and simple. But in the profession you’re assigned to one tiny job and that job alone, must take years to develope the game and work with a dozen others as a team to come up with something the whole team agrees on as well as each member of that team being responsible for their parts and their parts alone. The final product is what they get when all their parts come together.

    It doesn’t matter how good an artist I am. If I’m teamed up with 9 other people and we’re each only assigned to draw 1/10 of the image, none of us can decide how the final image will look the way we can if we each drew our own individual picture.

    Iizuka does not design the levels, program, program the physics, create the music, voice act, write the story, and decide every single move made in a game. Does anyone not remember how long the credits were in Sonic Colors? XD

  15. @Tiago J7 Monteiro: I don’t think that’s going to happen. Apparently, Iizuka changed the physics on pirpose to allow stunts that weren’t possible in the Mega Drive games. By the sounds of it, he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the physics.

    But, what he said here is both interesting and true. Although personally, levels like Marble Zone and Labyrinth Zone are levels I could do without.

  16. I personally found the physics for Sonic 4: Episode 1 to be fine. I don’t think they need to be changed for Episode 2. I’d prefer seeing some original enemies and bosses instead.

  17. Now if only Iizuka could only take his own advice being an influential person on this game…

  18. @FoxBoy:

    The thing is, he’s the team leader. He’s the one who’s supposed to make sure everybody gets their parts to click. He can’t even do that.

  19. @Umiyuri

    Being team leader doesn’t mean you control ever little aspect. And even for the things you do control, he can only do so much leading his crew. either way, his crew are still the crew themselves and it can’t be perfectly how he wants it. They can’t just have a set idea and expect to reach that idea precisely the way a fangame can.

  20. Iizuka talking about what makes platform games work…
    haha I needed a good laugh this morning, thanks Sega!

  21. I loved Episode 1 and Episode 2 will really be good. The only reason people are bashing the physics is becuase they just happened to find one little problem. You usually won’t find out that you immediately stop if you jump while rolling because most of the time you’ll be hold the the annalog stick foward which propells him foward. Getting stuck sideways on a wall thing only happens when you really get at it. I’m pretty sure if you’re doing a “regular” playthrough, then you wouldn’t just slow down to a loop-de-loop just to do that for an hour. The physics have never bugged me becuase I dpn’t take the time to find every single problem with this game just to bash it. When I play, I play. I enjoy what I play unless something gets in my way like controls or glitches (like Sonic 06). I just hope the levels get more original and Tails will be his sidekick in the next episode. Thank you.

  22. @Umiyuri; There will always be someone jumping to Sonic 4’s defence or to the teams defence. In my opinion what you’ve been saying is 100% right.

  23. @LolWutermelon

    If you’re referring to me, then it’s not a matter of opinion as I was merely stating facts. If you’re talking about others directly defending Sonic 4 then yeah that’s opinion and I don’t mind what anyone’s opinions were. If you liked it then you liked it, if not then you didn’t. Big deal. Hopefully they can do better to please everyone next time. =) (Personally I also had no major problems with the physics other than Sonic felt extremely heavy as if stress was required to make some move or jump rather than fluently moving. Others may have had other nitpicks ruin it for them while some felt comfortable with the gameplay no problem.)

    However I must say, people of both opinions should be allowed to voice those opinions, not just one side. So let’s all remember that.

    And lastly, I wasn’t originally going to say anything about this despite me disagreeing that Umiyuri was 100% right since a lot of stuff he said overlooked a lot of factors that go into it, but yeah I wasn’t gonna say anything at first cuz I have no problem with you agreeing with it. But I found a small technical issue with what you said. Technically, if it’s in your OPINION, he can’t be 100% RIGHT since Opinion’s aren’t right or wrong. XD

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