With upcoming, downloadable, side-scrolling platformer Sonic 4, SEGA is taking the speedy blue hedgehog back to his Mega Drive roots. But what of Sonic Colours, the Wii and DS adventure game due out later this year? What roots, if any, is that game digging up?
And following the likes of Sonic Unleashed, Sonic and the Secret Rings and Black Knight, should we even care?
Sonic Team head honcho Takashi Iizuka tells Eurogamer that, yes, you absolutely should care, because he's well aware of what you thought about Unleashed's night-time levels and is doing his utmost to make sure you never have to endure similar agony again.
Eurogamer: Is Sonic Colours a reaction to criticism of Sonic Unleashed?
Takashi Iizuka: Yes. The team deliberately looked into the daylight stages of Sonic Unleashed.
After the release of that game the team had a lot of good feedback, particularly of the daylight stages. That's how the project initially started - focusing on the good side of the previous project.
Eurogamer: What do you think about how Sonic Unleashed ended up?
Takashi Iizuka: Initially the purpose of separating the daytime and the night-time was to give more variety to the gameplay.
One is, obviously, the speed side, which you saw in the daytime stages, whereas the platforming and more the technical side was the focus of the night-time stages. In that project it was completely separated from each other. It was two different gameplay types.
But now, looking back at the reviews and the critics and all the stuff from the fans, we can see that the daytime stages were better received than the night-time stages. That's how we look back to the project, and this is how it affects the current project.
Eurogamer: Why have you decided to make Sonic Colours exclusive to Nintendo platforms?
Takashi Iizuka: This is because the development team was... not comfortable, but had a lot of experience with the Nintendo platforms. They thought they could capitalise on their past experience. That's why they went for the Wii and the DS.
Eurogamer: Will Xbox 360 and PS3 versions be released in the future?
Takashi Iizuka: It's hard to say, for the time being. Going with Nintendo platforms doesn't mean the team doesn't have any experience at all with the PS3 and 360. They have the experience from Sonic Unleashed working on those next-gen platforms.
At this point in time it's hard to say whether Sonic Colours will be released on those platforms. But it's something the team might look into in the future.
Eurogamer: How did you approach incorporating motion control into the Sonic experience?
Takashi Iizuka: It depends on what kind of titles you're developing, even within the Sonic franchise.
For example, we released Sonic and the Secret Rings for the Wii. That was designed to incorporate motion controls even though it was still a Sonic action game.
But in the case of Sonic Colours, the starting point was on the pure speed of what makes Sonic Sonic. In that sense the team felt the motion controllers were not the main control that should be incorporated.
They limited the use of motion controls. In this case it's solely limited to when you're using the colour powers. That's because the motion controllers are not as responsive as the direct digital or analogue input.
On the other hand, the other Sonic title that's currently in development, Sonic Free Riders for Xbox Kinect, is obviously specifically designed to incorporate Kinect features.
It's hard to say what is good and what's bad. It depends on what kind of titles, even within the Sonic franchise, you're trying to develop.