HomeTechnologySonic Frontiers 'Open Zone' looks like every open world game

Sonic Frontiers ‘Open Zone’ looks like every open world game

Sonic angrily stares at something off-screen while running through a lush forest.

Screenshot: Sega

Morio Kishimoto, longtime Sonic Team developer and director of sound bordersrecently did its best to clarify what Sega means when it highlights the game “Open area” mechanics. But his explanation seems to confirm that the phrase is just a made-up marketing term rather than some kind of indication that Borders is significantly different from other sandbox games.

“Our open area is a world map, only we made it fully playable,” Kishimoto said. IGN. “A playable world map that includes scenic elements is something that hasn’t really been done before, so we had to come up with a new name. What is often defined as a world in other levels is called an area in Sonic games, so we took that and combined it with Open, which refers to a freely explorable field.

With all due respect, Kishimoto, but you literally just described an open world.

If anything, what sound borders is apparently all about the sounds as a direct correlation to the design of Bowser’s Furythe excellent expansion delivered with Super Mario 3D World on the switch. Although Bowser’s Fury scattered traditional mario levels on a large map, it was still a seamless open-world game. And it seems to me, at least to me, that sound borders try the exact same thing.

“The open area occupies a central place in sound borders‘ gameplay, and the levels of the game exist as elements in this area,” Kishimoto said. “From grind rails, to platforming objects, to loops, and more, the open area is packed with the sporty action we love in Sonic Games.”

I’m fine with people describing their games in whatever way they think is most appropriate, just to be clear. Language, especially game design language, is constantly changing. Most “roguelikes” these days have very little in common with the 1980s Thug, but I immediately understand what someone is getting at when using the term despite being somewhat removed from its original meaning. Ditto with terms like “Metroidvania” and “immersive sim”, by the way.

I guess it’s just Kishimoto’s insistence that sound borders is an entirely different thing that strikes me as funny.

“The [world map] system has been used by countless platformers since [Super Mario Bros. 3], even to this day,” Kishimoto said. “A real evolution of this structure is what we consider to be the essence of sound borders‘ field. We wanted to deliver a next-gen level-based platforming experience. But how do you scale a level-based platformer like Sonic in this new open area? That’s what sound borders is all about.

Of course, no one asked Kishimoto to explain all that jargon or even elaborate on what really defines Sonic Frontier‘s “open area” outside of an “open world” game during this recent media blitz. Kotaku contacted Sega for more information but did not hear back immediately.

sound borders is scheduled to launch in late 2022 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC. This looks bland and apparently the gameplay does not inspire confidence either, but Sega is pledged not to delay its release despite the largely negative feedback.

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