The first of two new Sonic games this year, Sonic Mania is a 2D game featuring twists on classic zones and new bosses. In an interview with Metro, Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka revealed (through a translator) that they don’t know how it will be received, but its reception will help determine the direction of future titles:
In the past two decades Sonic games have been trying to target a broader audience from kids to adults. And [Sonic] Forces has that same idea, so that means a wider range of characters that we know children like. Even if other fans may not be quite as keen.
But for Mania it’s kind of like a new approach. To target specifically 2D fans. So we don’t know whether it’ll be accepted positively in the market. We’ll find out after the game’s released, and we can figure out the direction of future titles after seeing the reaction.
Although SEGA didn’t do playtesting with kids for Sonic Mania, their research found that kids like 2D Sonic:
The target audience for Sonic Mania is the fans who like the Mega Drive from back in the day. We didn’t conduct playtesting with kids for Sonic Mania, since it’s not really about what kids think about Mania. But for Forces we did conduct broad research and playtesting, and made sure it’s accepted by a broader audience, from kids to adults. But the surprising thing about Mania is that when we were conducting research, there’s like a voice from the kids that they actually like pixelated and 2D Sonic too. So I think there’s a market for Mania amongst kids as well.
During the interview, Metro brought up how there was a NiGHTS statue behind Iizuka’s head. When the topic of a new NiGHTS game came up, Iizuka said, “If there is a strong desire from fans I would definitely consider that. But right now I’m not really thinking about it.”