Today, Sega revealed the third title in its three-deal exclusivity partnership with Nintendo. Sonic Boom will be coming to Wii U and 3DS, but the surprise is that two Western studios will be handling the development.

Today, we heard from Big Red Button co-founder Bob Rafei (who led the visual art development on Naughty Dog’s Jak & Daxter series) about the direction that the Wii U title will be taking. “It’s ‘wide linear,’” Rafei told us. He likened the gameplay to Ratchet & Clank’s playground planets, encapsulated but offering players freedom to explore. 

“We have a critical path that we want to make sure every player can access,” he said. “There are secondary paths as well. In playing legacy Sonic games, you have a lot of tiered gameplay and the advanced gamers would reach those upper levels.”

Two characters will cooperatively play in most areas, but boss fights will use all four of the playable Sonic team: Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Knuckles. The game will also offer power-ups and exploration that will take advantage of each character’s abilities. Big Red Button is building the Wii U version of the game in CryEngine 3.

The portable version of Sonic Boom for 3DS will be developed by Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time studio, Sanzaru. No details were available yet about the portable iteration.

Sonic Boom is a new branch of Sonic Universe, and it will be paired with a CG cartoon with heavy humor overtones. Tomy will be leading toy development, and tie-ins will include plush, action figures, role play toys, remote controlled vehicles, and other novelties.

Sonic Boom is due out in 2014. For more, including a trailer, check out our additional coverage.