Sega has asked fans of their most popular franchise, “Sonic the Hedgehog”, to create their newest game, “Sonic Mania”.
“As the name implies, we developed this as a game for the maniacs by the biggest maniacs,” said Takashi Iizuka
, current lead of Sonic Team and long-time producer of Sonic titles. “That special feeling you got when you first tried a classic Sonic game —- we’ve recreated it this time.”
Critics are praising Sega for allowing its fans to create “Sonic Mania”, a new retro-throwback title, instead of the typical in-house developers. The move is making some critics draw comparisons to Nintendo, who usually shuts down fan projects in an effort to protect the intellectual property’s (IP) identity.
“It is drastically different from Nintendo’s strategy, and it’s a strategy that I think is much better,”
After a visit to Rare studios, Nintendo purchased majority shares in the company and allowed them to create any game they desired. The Stampers chose Donkey Kong and got to work on making the game their own. Although “Donkey Kong Country” was vastly different from Donkey Kong’s previous appearances in past titles, Rare did not have complete freedom to do as they pleased.
said George Weidman, creator of the YouTube channel Super Bunnyhop
. “The fans end up being better at these sort of ‘old school revival projects’ than the original developers.”
“There was some wrangling over the look of Donkey Kong; we wanted to modernize the look and give him a different personality. Shigeru Miyamoto had some very strong ideas on what he should look like,” said Brendan Gunn, former lead on the project.
While this strategy has worked for Nintendo in the past, more and more video game companies are leaning towards giving fans the freedom to do with their IPs as they please; for example, Bethesda released the creation kits
to two of their most popular franchises, “The Elder Scrolls” and “Fallout”. And where Bethesda and Sega are beginning to loosen their grip on their IPs, Nintendo seems to be holding on as strongly as ever.
“Fans wanted a game that brought back the Classic Sonic we all know and love,”
said Matt Mannheimer of Tails’ Channel
. “I feel that Sonic is finally getting back to where he used to be back in the day, which is awesome.”