Sonic receives a makeover as series is handed to Western dev

Sega has lifted the curtain on a brand new look for iconic mascot Sonic the Hedgehog.

The makeover comes as the publisher reveals new cartoon Sonic Boom, which is also to receive an associated game (a prequel, no less) on Wii U and 3DS.

Interesting it’s being developed by US studio Big Red Button, marking the first time Sonic has been handed to a Western studio.

Veteran Sonic game Takashi Iizuka has told Polygon that while he’s overseeing the game’s production , development itself was farmed out west to try and increase Sonic’s brand appeal in Western markets.

"As part of completely thinking about the West, we wanted to make sure we had Western game developers and make it a part of Western television," he said. "We wanted to make sure it was developed best for Western audiences primarily; this was very important.

"Our previous series, Sonic X, was made in Japan and influenced by Japanese anime; the main audience it was made for was in Japan, although it came to the West as well. So Sonic Boom is something made specifically for the Western audience.

For the TV series to be successful, we pretty much had to make it for that audience, and the games tie into that strategy. One of the things is, if you think about it at a high level, all the key aspects of this new initiative for Sonic, whether it’s the cartoon, the game or the toys, is centred on the Western side, and we wanted to be unified in that.

"Sonic Team is great and they make really great speed-oriented games, but this game is not just about speed. Speed is an important aspect of it, but exploration, combat and the strong narrative of the storyline are very big aspects of the game, more so than I would say in the past.”

As for the Sonic Boom TV series, that will debut on Cartoon Network either later this year or early next. The first run includes 52 11 minute episodes.

Sonic Boom’s visual identity includes character designs inspired by the abilities and unique personalities of each of the characters while still maintaining the core identity and values of the Sonic brand,” is the official line from Sega.

The rich worlds of the TV series and videogame will share a common narrative and a number of location and stylistic similarities reflecting full collaboration between videogame, TV series partners and Sega from the outset.”

It’s fair to say that the new character design has already received its fair share of criticism on the internet overnight but the real test will be the success of the TV series and the games.

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