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Head of Sonic Team says pixel art isn't a "viable art style" for future games

Don't expect Sonic Mania 2.

Multiple Sonics in Sonic Superstars opening
Image credit: Sega / Eurogamer

Head of Sonic Team Takashi Iizuka doesn't think pixel art is a "viable art style" for the future of Sonic, so don't get your hopes up for Sonic Mania 2.

In an interview with Games Radar at Gamescom, Iizuka discussed the future of the Sonic franchise and the need to maintain both 2D and 3D Sonic games in parallel.

"When we talk about the brand, we definitely need to have a modern Sonic 3D game," he said. "We also feel we need to have a classic Sonic 2D game. Those are our fundamental pillars that we need to have. We're expanding into movies and TV, but we still need to have both the 3D and the 2D line up for our gaming audience."

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Last year's Sonic Frontiers established the open zone concept, which Iizuka previously described as the "cornerstone of future Sonic games".

In this latest interview, Iizuka elaborated that Frontiers cemented 3D Sonic gameplay "as something we can build on for the next 10-20 years to continue bringing new gameplay experiences to players".

So what about 2D games?

Sonic Superstars, the team's next game, is an "evolution of the 2D Sonic gameplay".

"We look at the pixel art - it's great - but when we think about 10-20 years in the future, we don't think it's going to be a viable art style or presentation for our players," said Iizuka. "And in order to advance and really step things up, we did want to make sure that we're presenting something that 10-20 years down the road we're still evolving and creating new content for."

It's unclear from this comment why Iizuka doesn't believe pixel art will be viable and it's certainly disappointing for fans of Sonic Mania, which used the style to recapture the iconic look of the original Mega Drive games.

By contrast, Sonic Superstars features 3D character models and environments in a 2D perspective. It's certainly a more elaborate visual style filled with modern effects, but pixel art still has its charm.

As a sidescroller, Sonic Superstars is a return to classic Sonic but as I wrote in my Gamescom preview, its co-operative multiplayer is fundamentally flawed.

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