Sonic Frontiers is the "cornerstone of future Sonic games", just as Sonic Adventure was back in 1998.
Discussing the structure of the latest game in the series, it seems the open zone design will be the new standard.
"Just like Sonic Adventure, our goal for Sonic Frontiers was to create a game that would be the cornerstone of future Sonic games," said Iizuka. "It is a brand-new approach for the franchise, but we have been conscious to honour Sonic's roots as well - the game still needs to feel like a Sonic game."
Honouring Sonic's roots is done literally through the game's cyberspace levels, which are inspired by past Sonic games. But the game also has that same sense of speed and movement the series is known for.
Said Iizuka: "Our goal with Sonic Frontiers was to evolve the linear, stage-clearing 3D action that began with Sonic Adventure in 1998 into a new action-packed adventure game where players have the freedom to explore the environment around them.
"We know many players love exploring expansive worlds with no predetermined path and that's what we set out to achieve with our new open-zone platforming concept. I am very excited for Sonic to join this revolutionary step in immersive gaming worlds."
Elsewhere in the interview, Iizuka confirms the timeline placement of Sonic Frontiers: that's "after Sonic Forces and Team Sonic Racing", making it the most recent game in the series.
Yes, just like The Legend of Zelda series, there is an implied timeline in Sonic games.
Cementing this timeline will surely be a task for the Sonic lore team, which recently began hiring for a new manager to ensure the Sonic universe is "more meaningfully connected" across games, comics, animation and more.
Iizuka praised the work of writer Ian Flynn, who's worked on both the Sonic comics and the story of Sonic Frontiers.
"It has been a pleasure to work with Ian Flynn, who has been an active contributor to the Sonic franchise for a long time. He knows the characters well and brought great development to their emotions and interactions," said Iizuka.
Cut dialogue from the game suggests that Sonic may have deeper feelings for love interest Amy after all, surely something to add to the series' lore.
And speaking of comics, make sure you check out the prologue comics and animation before you start Sonic Frontiers.