After Sonic Forces’ unfinished story in 2017, many were concerned about the direction the story would take in the future. When Sonic Frontiers was first announced, fans were delighted to learn that longtime Sonic the Hedgehog comics writer Ian Flynn was involved in writing the game for Sonic Team. Flynn has been a popular writer on both the Archie Comics and IDW Publishing long-running Sonic the Hedgehog series, with hundreds of accolades to his name. However, joining Sonic Team for a major entry is new territory.
“Ian has worked as a manga writer for a long time, so I’m very familiar with his work, but after reading IDW comics, I was even more impressed with his work. his talent,” said Sonic Team creative director Takashi Iizuka. “That’s why I also wanted to ask him to build the story for the game. He understands the characters very well, so he brought a great improvement to the emotions and dialogue of the game. the characters.”
Flynn is long with the franchise, has contributed a lot to the whole comic series and even wrote a few popular episodes. Sonic boom cartoon, impressed Sega, and a few years after IDW won the franchise, he was invited to contribute to the story of Sonic Frontiers. “I’m a big fan of Sonic’s career, so I wanted to bring some of the legacy of the series into the story,” Flynn said. “I wanted to enhance the individual stories of the characters, even if just a little bit. I also wanted to bring in some connection between the previous games. There wasn’t anything too dense for the fans. new fans may pass, but only enough for longtime fans to appreciate.”
During my hands-on with Sonic Frontiers, I witnessed some of Flynn’s work in that respect. As you’re running through the open area of Sonic Frontiers, Sonic will make small remarks to himself. As the story of Sonic Frontiers takes place at the latest in the Sonic timeline as it exists in the present – following the events of Sonic Force and Team Sonic Racing – all previous titles are public games. plain. In one dialogue, Blue Blur wonders if Kronos Island would make a good location for Chao Garden. We know there aren’t any Chao Garden in Sonic Frontiers, but such minor lines add to Frontiers’ overall connection to the rest of the Sonic the Hedgehog timeline. “That’s what Ian is for the fans,” Iizuka said. “The inclusion of references to other games makes it clear that Sonic Frontiers’ story is not a standalone world, but rather part of Sonic’s long history.”
While Sonic Forces and Generations has also referenced a number of other Sonic games, Frontiers seems to do so with a lighter touch. Players shouldn’t expect a bunch of familiar cameos or boss battles as seen in those games. Yes, Eggman is also present in the game, as are a handful of Sonic’s friends, but the cast of characters is cut down considerably compared to some recent games. “The story begins when Sonic, Amy and Tails visit the undeveloped island of Kronos and are separated by a mysterious phenomenon,” said Iizuka. “Sonic sets out alone to find his missing friends, but this is an undeveloped land no one has visited before, so we won’t get to see a huge cast of characters.”
Those familiar faces — Eggman, Amy, Tails, and Big, to name a few — were hand-picked by Sonic Team and then assigned to Flynn to further refine their characters and arcs. While not everyone’s favorite character appears in Sonic Frontiers, Flynn suggests that we could get the deeper cuts mentioned. “When you’re running around, listen to what Sonic says to himself,” he said. “You might hear some of the names removed that surprise you.”
Even though Sonic Team mostly calls the shots, Flynn may still have some major say in the overall story. “That was when Ian Flynn presented some ideas to bring different characters into the story,” said director Morio Kishimoto. “We let the development team think about how it could be integrated into the new open-area format, which then pushed Ian Flynn to present more new ideas to us and through the collaboration. That back and forth, we’ve settled on the characters that will appear in the game.”
Sonic Team still has many mysteries about how the story unfolds in Frontiers. Sonic, Tails, and Amy arrive after reading Chaos Emeralds, but while I’ve been playing for over three hours, I still don’t know what’s going on with the characters, the islands, or the creatures that live in them. This seems to be very much designed. “Eggman arrived on the island just before [Sonic, Tails, and Amy], but went missing after that,” said Iizuka. The island seems uninhabited, but there are mysterious life forms made of rock called Koco. Sonic’s missing friends, undeveloped island with ancient ruins, strange life forms – all these mysteries await players to unravel as they explore the world of Sonic Frontiers. “
One character who had a particularly mysterious presence during my first few hours was Eggman. Sonic’s most iconic enemy shows up in the first cutscene, gets swept up in Cyberspace, and I don’t see him again until a little later in another cutscene where he’s trying to escape from digital prison. Out in the open area, I stumbled across some of Eggman’s technology, which even confused Sonic. I don’t know what role the naughty bearded man plays in Sonic Frontiers, but Sonic Team promises it’s a standout role.
Kishimoto said, “Having Eggman in the story is something that we decided from the very beginning of the story. “We wanted Eggman to be a hugely important key character in this story for it to succeed; we didn’t want him to be just the bad guy in our ‘good guy versus bad guy’ scenario. We wanted to portray him as a flesh-and-blood human in the story.”
While Flynn is adept at writing the comics, Sega is more credited with creating the story of Sonic Frontiers than in creating the comics. In fact, when Flynn wrote a Sonic the Hedgehog comic book for IDW, he handles the introduction of the premise, characters, setting, and plot himself. Then, when those elements are approved, he goes page by page and creates a script. That’s usually the last time he sees the work until it hits store shelves. For Sonic Frontiers, Flynn is still heavily involved, but the process is different.
“With Sonic Frontiers, Sega provides the plot rhythm, setting, and characters, so my job is mostly filling in the details,” says Flynn. “I was able to come up with some ideas, but this is more of a collaborative effort. As the game evolves, new content and revised approaches are needed, so I’ve been involved longer. much more than a comic project.”
According to director Kishimoto, Sonic Frontiers’ storytelling takes on a more serious tone, hoping to surpass the “good guys versus bad guys” scenario he refers to present in most games of the same genre. “We needed something dramatic to set that serious tone and foreshadow things to ponder while playing the game,” he said. “On the surface, our story is something that can be easily enjoyed, but we also wanted to challenge ourselves to create a drama that is also interesting if thought on a deeper level. It’s a rare type of experience in the theatrical-action game genre, obviously, but it was important for us to incorporate it because we felt it was of paramount importance to the format. this open area.”
Flynn echoed Kishimoto’s assessment of the story. “I’d say it’s a sadder story,” Flynn said. “It’s about self-reflection and choosing how to move forward. And Sonic, being Sonic, is the positive reinforcement and drive for change that everyone needs. I hope everyone enjoys it. what we’ve tried together.”
Sonic Frontiers is coming to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC later this year. For more on Sonic Frontiers, be sure to click the banner below to visit our exclusive coverage hub.