IGN continues their extensive coverage of Sonic Frontiers, and today brings us a ton of talk about just what makes this game an ‘Open Zone’ experience, rather than a traditional open world adventure.

In an interview with Director Morio Kishimoto, we learn why Sonic Team has come up with a new term for what many would traditionally call an open world Sonic game.

“Level-based platformers often have a world map. Our Open Zone is a world map, only we’ve made it entirely playable. A playable world map that includes stage-like elements is something that hasn’t really been done before, so we had to come up with a new name. What is often defined as a World in other level-based platformers is called a Zone in Sonic games, so we took that and combined it with Open, which refers to a freely explorable field. So that’s what Open Zone stands for.

Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in Japan in 1988. I believe this was the first game to introduce a world map. The system has been used by countless platformers since, even to this day. A true evolution of this structure is what we see as the essence of Sonic Frontiers’ field. We wanted to provide a next-gen level-based platforming experience. But how do we evolve a level-based platformer like Sonic into this new Open Zone? That’s what Sonic Frontiers is all about.

The Open Zone stands central in Sonic Frontiers’ gameplay, and the game’s levels exist as elements within this area. From grind rails to platform objects, loops and so on, the Open Zone is packed with the athletic action we love in Sonic games. In the Open Zone, the high-speed gameplay can carry players in any direction without the limitations of a stage or course.

In previous Sonic titles, we had to gradually make the stages more difficult in order to reach an amount of play time that would satisfy players. It is natural for level-based platformers to become more difficult as you progress. However, for Sonic games the problem has always been that higher difficulty can get in the way of the game’s sense of speed. In Sonic Frontiers, the Open Zone offers a lot of content already, so raising the difficulty in order to increase the play time was no longer necessary. From start to finish, we were able to maintain a sense of speed with ideal level design for a Sonic game.

Some of the puzzles are brain-teasers, while others test your action techniques or play out as a minigame. That being said, we’ve included ways for players to get hooked by the puzzles, so please look forward to that.”

[Director Morio Kishimoto]

Outside of that, Kishimoto also shared a few more tidbits on Sonic Frontiers. First up, we learned that the game will take roughly 20 to 30 hours for the average player to complete. That’s for those who are only tackling the main adventure. If you’re more of a completionist, you can expect to spend at least double that amount of time wandering the landscape.

Lastly, Kishimoto revealed that Sonic’s running speed can be leveled up. The game includes a speedometer to show how fast Sonic is running, and this can be upgraded. This will be handled through the game’s skill tree, which was mentioned a couple of weeks back.


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I'm still not convinced. Not sure why they haven't shown the "linear" levels that you can supposedly access. What they have shown looks boring and more like a tech demo.


2y ago

I'm still not convinced. Not sure why they haven't shown the "linear" levels that you can supposedly access. What they have shown looks boring and more like a tech demo.