Since June, it feels like we’ve been getting a proper avalanche of Sonic Frontiers news, with the game currently scheduled to release toward the end of 2022. Although initial fan reaction to the gameplay footage was, shall we say, mixed, it seems many people are starting to come around to the game’s drastic new direction, particularly after its impressive showing at the recent Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase.
In a piece by Game Informer, it’s been revealed that Sonic Team is hoping the latest entry will elevate the series’ overarching narrative to new heights and transcend the usual “good guys versus bad guys” scenario that’s been the focal point of the franchise up till now.
In order to achieve this, Sonic Team has taken on long-time Sonic the Hedgehog comics writer Ian Flynn, who has been a key figure for both the Archie Comics and IDW Publishing runs of Sonic the Hedgehog. In speaking with Game Informer, Sonic Team’s creative officer said the following of Flynn’s recruitment:
“Ian has been working as a comic writer for a long time, so I was very familiar with his work, but after reading the IDW comics, I was even more impressed with his talent. That’s why I wanted to ask him to work on the story for the game as well. He knows the characters well, so he brought a great improvement to the characters’ emotions and dialogue.”
Flynn hopes that by introducing more nuance to the characters and weaving in plot points from previous Sonic titles, he can help Sonic Frontiers appeal to long-term fans, despite its drastic change in overall tone and structure:
“I’m a career Sonic nerd, so I wanted to weave some of the series’ legacy into the story. I wanted to advance the characters’ personal stories, even if just by a little bit. I also wanted to bring some interconnectivity to the previous games. There isn’t anything that will be too dense for new fans to wade through, but just enough for long-term fans to appreciate.”
Game Informer goes on to explain that while you’re exploring Kronos Island – the game’s primary setting – Sonic himself will make comments to himself that will reference characters and events from previous titles, including wondering if Kronos Island would make a suitable location for a new Chao Garden (indeed, this particular example may prove irksome for some, as it’s been previously confirmed that, no, Chao Garden will not feature in Sonic Frontiers).
According to Sonic Frontiers director Morio Kishimoto, the game might also end up being quite different in Japan from a narrative perspective. As the Sonic franchise has proven to be significantly more popular in the west (the Mega Drive pretty much tanked in Japan, coming behind the SNES and PC Engine), the translation from Ian Flynn’s writing will be adjusted to appeal to the Japanese market. Here’s what Kishimoto-san had to say:
“I used the translation of Ian Flynn’s story as a base and rewrote the Japanese to better suit the Japan market since Sonic is not as well-known as a character here in Japan when compared to how popular and known he is abroad. Many Japanese children grow up reading manga, watching anime, watching the live-action suit-hero shows, or watching Japanese movies, so the whole culture and entertainment familiarity in Japan is different from the West. So we needed to make some adjustments for our audience.”
Despite this, there are hopes within Team Sonic that Frontiers will break through the Japanese market thanks to the fresh implementation of the open-zones. It’ll also be interesting to see how the regional variations differ from one another, so if you’re fluent in both English and Japanese, you might want to check out both versions and see for yourself!
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Do you think Sonic Frontiers’ narrative will elevate the series new heights? Are you looking forward to playing the game? Let us know!