SEGA hopes to turn the tide for Sonic in Japan by bringing in new players with Sonic Frontiers. To achieve this, all dialogue has been rewritten for the Japanese release, and Frontiers contains the most regional differences in a Sonic game to date.
Shedding light on how the team achieved this, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka revealed that comic book writer Ian Flynn originally worked on the game and then Sega Japan redesigned it to better suit local audiences. Overall, the Japanese lyrics are described as more “melancholic”, while the Western release will have the same tried and tested vibe as before.
So far, the Sonic series has sold better in Europe and the US, so we have used the Western version for Japan and Asia. This time I’m doing it right, according to each culture.
For the first time in the series, this means that all dialogue written for the game has been rewritten.
“It was necessary to optimize Yang’s writing for Japan, so I rewrote all of the lines for Japan,” added Sonic Frontiers director Morio Kishimoto. “We changed the context of the words for the Japanese. Of course, the content of the story didn’t change. I just rewrote the dialogue.”
This also means that the key illustrations used in different regions were different. This can be seen immediately by looking at the examples given in the interview: Western advertising is much more fun.
Now that we know this was a deliberate move on Sega’s part, evidence of this can be seen in all Sonic Froniters promotional materials. The Japanese ads we covered earlier had a noticeably darker tone, even in terms of music. It focused more on Sonic’s loneliness as he races to find his friends rather than the action-packed previews we’ve seen in the west.
Sonic Frontiers releases on November 8 for PlayStation, Xbox, PC and Nintendo Switch.