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While attending Summer Game Fest I visited SEGA for a hands-on session with Sonic X Shadow Generations, in addition to an interview with Takashi Iizuka, best-known as the head of Sonic Team and a lead producer on several Sonic The Hedgehog titles.

Iizuka is also credited as the mind behind one of my favourite video game characters ever, Shadow The Hedgehog, who’s once again sharing the spotlight with Sonic in the new game.

I was blown away with the revamped gameplay of Sonic Generations, as well as the all-new Shadow The Hedgehog stages which felt completely different in terms of controls and tone.

For a bit of context, Sonic Generations follows Sonic and his friends being attacked by a time monster, which sees the blue blur meet his past self and sprint through some of his franchise’s most iconic stages. From Green Hill Zone, to City Escape, to Rooftop Run, the game is a non-stop celebration of Sonic’s history from start to finish.

While the base game has been largely unchanged aside from a touch-up to the controls, visuals and a new collectible, the inclusion of a Shadow The Hedgehog spin-off storyline is completely new. It follows Shadow after being attacked by the same time monster, which unfortunately resurrects Black Doom, the antagonist from Shadow’s first and only spin-off title. If you don’t know a thing about Shadow, his back story, or what the hell Doom is, fear not as there’ll apparently be a short video that’ll ”explain a lot of this to you.”

Shadow The Hedgehog-

After concluding my hands-on session, I was dying to learn more about the game from the man himself, including what a title like this could mean for the character of Shadow in the future.

As you might glean from The Year Of Shadow, it’s a pretty big year for the SEGA character, and Iizuka’s words on what that means for both the staff at Sonic Team and the fans filled me with joy.

Iizuka said: “We have the movie coming out this December and a huge spotlight is going to be put on Shadow as a character … So we wanted to release a game at the same time that would also put a spotlight on Shadow … so everyone's going to know just how cool of a character he is.”

Ever since his first debut in Sonic Adventure 2 all the way back in 2001, Shadow has been one of the most complex characters SEGA has created. From his backstory, mannerisms, and allegiances, he’s gone through a lot of changes and interpretations, some good, some bad.

With that in mind I was interested to learn what previous Sonic media the team will be taking inspiration from, and how they planned on reimagining it for both the gameplay and story.

Sonic X Shadow Generations-

Iizuka spoke about Shadow’s signature Chaos Control ability, and how the team “really wanted to go in and make sure the level design or all of the Shadow Generations content used Chaos Control to the fullest extent.”

Shadow’s ability to stop time can be used to make platforming easier, dispatch enemies quickly and painlessly, and generally feel great to pull off.

However another trick Shadow has up his sleeve are the new Doom powers, which were described as “new abilities for Shadow” that make “getting through each level unique.”

Now, the biggest part of Sonic X Shadow Generations is obviously Shadow’s storyline, which will feature several levels all taken from previous games that Shadow was in, basically a whole other game stacked on top of the existing Sonic Generations. Now while that’s not a very long list there are still plenty of levels to choose from, but it turns out it wasn’t that arduous of a task to select which ones to bring back and remake.

Iizuka told me: “For Sonic Generations, we really picked the most popular stages to go back and remake … we took the same approach for Shadow Generations.

“We wanted to pick the most popular and the most important stages to remake and redo and make the stages and the themes all crafted around those past experiences. So it's going to be something very familiar to people except all of the gameplay will be brand new.”

Sonic X Shadow Generations-

Iizuka went on to explain that the levels selected are also from crucial times and events in Shadow’s life, saying “You're going to go through a lot of things that Shadow and learn more about his character.”

He went on to say: "a lot of people, I think, maybe don't know that much about Shadow because the story is told over various different titles. Unless you've played all the titles, you won't really have that full comprehensive understanding. But in the Shadow Generations portion, we're going to walk through all of those important moments, so you really know who the character is, and you really understand the background of Shadow..

“That's really what's going to make playing Shadow Generations easy for anyone to just pick up and come right in and play.”

My final burning question as a Shadow fan myself was what this title could mean for future projects, as Shadow hasn’t had a spin-off game since 2005. With that in mind I wanted to know if this project generated interest in Sonic Team and SEGA to revisit those spin-offs in the future.

Shadow The Hedgehog-

“I've been working for decades making new Sonic games, and we never really had a lot of opportunities to make spin-off titles, because fans always wanted more Sonic games. The Shadow the Hedgehog game was one of those times where we were actually able to make a spin off title, and make a game that wasn't Sonic, but was another character in our universe.

“But ultimately, what it gets down to is, you know, we need to constantly be providing content to our fans, content that people are going to want and like, and we don't really have a lot of resources to make so many titles. So we do need to focus on, you know, making Sonic games that fans are going to expect and fans are really going to enjoy.”

Iizuka went on to say the team got lucky in 2024, saying “This is the Year Of Shadow. So we're able to really focus on, yes, creating a game that had Sonic in it, but also a game that's going to have Shadow in it with new gameplay for Shadow, and going to be able to tell a story to really introduce Shadow as a character to a lot of people who maybe don’t know him.”

Unfortunately it sounds like future Sonic spin-offs would have to be tied to some sort of remaster or re-release, but if that’s the only way to explore other characters in the video games I’m all for it, bring on Sonic 3 & Knuckles & Chaotix.

It was a pleasure speaking to Takashi Iizuka, and I can’t wait to play more of Sonic X Shadow Generations when it releases on 25 October later this, it’s probably going to quickly become my new favourite Sonic game.

Featured Image Credit: SEGA

Topics: Interview, Sonic, Sega, Xbox, PlayStation, PC