Sega attempts to explain what Sonic Frontier’s ‘open-zone’ is, still isn’t open world

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Sega keeps telling us how Sonic Frontiers is an ‘open-zone’ game and not an open world one, which doesn’t make sense, but it might have successfully explained it now.

Because everything has to be completely original these days, Sega is seemingly refusing to call Sonic Frontiers what it probably is, an open world game, opting for ‘open-zone’ instead. But in an interview with IGN, director Morio Kishimoto took the time to explain what the company means when it says ‘open-zone’.

“Level-based platformers often have a world map. Our open-zone is a world map, only we’ve made it entirely playable,” said Kishimoto.

“A playable world map that includes stage-like 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 level-based platformers is called a zone in Sonic games, so we took that and combined it with open, which refers to a freely explorable field. So that’s what open-zone stands for.”

Considering Breath of the Wild basically does the exact same thing, except with tiny puzzle dungeons, this still kind of sounds like an open world game, but hey, marketing has got to do its thing.

“Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in Japan in 1988. I believe this was the first game to introduce a world map,” continues Kishimoto. “The system has been used by countless platformers since, even to this day. A true evolution of this structure is what we see as the essence of Sonic Frontiers’ field.

“We wanted to provide a next-gen level-based platforming experience. But how do we evolve a level-based platformer like Sonic into this new Open Zone? That’s what Sonic Frontiers is all about.”

Kishimoto also sees Mario, Kirby, and Donkey Kong as rivals rather than other games that actually are open world. That one’s fair, as that is more in line with the kind of demographic that would play a Sonic game.

Open world or not, Sonic Team’s boss is pretty confident that the game won’t be delayed. But we’ll have to wait and see if it achieves those high review scores Sega is targeting.

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