For over 22 years, the one constant in the Sonic the Hedgehog universe has been the battle between Dr. Eggman and Sonic.
But for "Sonic Lost World," the newest addition to the series, scheduled for release later this year, Sega decided to team up the furry blue hedgehog with his biggest enemy to fight a threat that could destroy the world.
"The exciting part about this story is that it's different from previous games," said Associate Brand Manager Aaron Webber. "It's always been Dr. Eggman vs. Sonic, over and over. This time around we had so many opportunities to flesh out Dr. Eggman and see sides of him you never thought you'd see."
After Eggman harnesses the power of a legion of baddies dubbed "The Deadly Six," Sonic and his pals fear the worst. But when Eggman is unable to keep the villains under his control, he is forced to ask Sonic for help.
Sega Brand Manager Derrek Peel said the game focuses on the relationship between the two characters.
"Dr. Eggman is complex," Peel teased.
The story isn't the only thing Sega has changed. A rarity in the franchise, Sonic does not run automatically. More an adventure game with exploration elements than the sugar-charged, red-shoed platformer of yesteryear, "Lost World" gives Sonic a few more tricks than usual. Similar to "Prince of Persia," Sonic can now run across walls. This comes in handy in many of the stages with multiple enemies where your only escape is to scale a wall to safety. The return of the "speed dash," Sonic's nifty spin move that allows him to quickly spin through obstacles and navigate environments, also makes "Lost World" feel different than recent games in the series.
The level design is also unique. Several levels keep the tried and true gameplay of Sonic intact, as speed is a necessary evil to traverse areas flooded with enemies. Other levels have more of a "Temple Run" type feel where Sonic's speed and ability to dodge enemies and obstacles plays a central role. Another major level style combines the speed element in bursts, but requires Sonic to slow down and look for hidden objects and save animals taken captive.
Sega says Sonic diehards shouldn't fear the changes though. With the press of a button, Sonic can revert to his old speed-limit breaking self -- and he'll need to at times. The several tributes to classic Sonic games, such as the bumpers, springboards and animal friends in need of help make sure you never forget you're playing a Sonic title. While the game is heavy on exploration, Sega said there are still plenty of instances where Sonic can let his spikey hair down and run to his heart's content.
"We want this game to be open and accessible to everyone," Webber said. "This will be a starting point for many people who haven't played the game before."
With Miiverse sharing, the activation of Sonic's "color powers" through the gamepad and multiple ways to play with friends and the engaging new story, Sega is confident in what they have produced on the Wii U.
"We've had a big focus on quality, especially after the renaissance we had, starting with 'Sonic Generations' and 'Sonic Colors,'" Webber said. "We wanted to make sure that this game took advantage of the hardware and was fun and easy to play- if you're a Sonic fan or not. "
Sega has also paid close attention to the 3DS version of the game. Featuring brand new levels, online play, full stereoscopic 3D gameplay and connectivity with the Wii U version, Sega said the game will not be a shallow copy, but rather a fleshed-out handheld title they feel can hold its own with the best games on the 3DS.
"Whenever you release a game on both console and a handheld, you wonder which one is better," said Webber. "I think it's great that the 3DS version can hold its own against its console counterpart."
Sonic Lost World is scheduled for a holiday release exclusively on the Wii U and 3DS.