Sonic Boom had “Crazy” Concept Designs

In an interview with Gamespot, Big Red Button’s creative director Bob Rafei talked about some of the design choices for Sonic Boom’s cast of characters, and it turns out original concepts for the characters were even more bizarre than what was delivered.

“We went pretty wide with the designs at first,” Rafei said. “Sonic Team and Sega were very open-minded about our approach, and accepting of a lot of things we were doing. Ultimately, because of some of our really wacky ideas, we did find the boundaries of things we could and couldn’t do.”

Sonic Boom was announced as an offshoot to the franchise, something that takes place in an alternate timeline. A line of toys and a new cartoon series are also in the works to go along with the new look. Because Sonic Boom isn’t a replacement but a reimagining, Big Red Button wanted to redesign the characters. That proved difficult.

“We experimented with different colors and surface features on the characters, such as fur or scales, and quickly Sonic Team came back with their discomfort of that. They were great guardrails for us…Without their input, the character would have been a lot more alien and different from what Sonic is known for.”

When Takashi Iizuka, head of Sonic Team, flew down to see the designs, he “sometimes couldn’t actually look at the screen—it was too traumatic seeing all the crazy stuff we wanted to do…Any small adjustment went a very long way, so we had to be very careful.”

One wonders what the original designs were, fur, scales, and everything in between.

My Opinion

Looking at the characters now, I still have many doubts on their designs. Sonic seems to be sporting legs longer than his body, Amy’s dress looks to be made of bubblegum, and Knuckles looks like he spends a bit too much time at the gym. Tails is the only character really unchanged, though the harness-like accessory seems a bit much. I’m not a fan of them.

Bob Rafei gave compelling arguments for some of the design changes: Knuckles is extra large so there were more differences in character silhouettes and all of them are sporting athletic tape because that shows a level of “practical heroism.” Still, just because he can make a well-reasoned argument for something doesn’t mean the end result is satisfying. Knuckles looks ridiculous.

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