Decade Moment: Visiting SEGA’s London HQ

Decade Moment: Visiting SEGA’s London HQ

What is a “Decade Moment?”  It is a moment from the past ten years that us here at TSS remember vividly to this day.  A game announcement, completing a tough level, or acquiring some slick merchandise… everything memorable and certifiably Sonic counts.
Being a life long Sonic fan has been difficult at times, being a lifelong SEGA fan even more so. When I was growing up you were in one of two groups; either a SEGA fan or a Nintendo fan. This division separated playgrounds around the country with kids either boasting about their new Mega Drive or SNES games. Harsh words were spoken, sometimes fights even broke out but supporting your chosen brand meant everything and meant it for life. At least, it did for me.

Believe it or not SEGA were actually the more popular company in the UK while I know Nintendo ruled the US. Unfortunately this didn’t last for very long. With the botched launches of the SEGA CD and 32X SEGA’s popularity waned and by the time the Saturn rolled around hardcore SEGA fans were few and far between, taunted by the legion of videogame players who’d turned to the PlayStation or N64. While they enjoyed the likes of Final Fantasy VII and Mario 64 I happily played NiGHTS, revelled in Sonic R & Sonic Jam and waited patiently for the next real Sonic game.

I felt I was rewarded for my loyalty when I won a Dreamcast around its launch from the old SEGA Europe website in 1999. To say I was happy would be a gross understatement. I remember screaming and doing laps round my house, pumping my fists in the air. Everyone knows how the Dreamcast’s commercial failure spelled the end of SEGA’s console manufacturing days but it was good just to be part of what’s now being called the world’s most underrated console.

If you’ve read up to here you must be thinking what all of this has to do with my moment of the decade. The problem is without a back story my moment won’t seem that significant and hopefully now you’ve got a small insight into my mindset when it comes to all things SEGA.
As these things tend to happen with people so passionate about the pastimes they love I ended up writing about SEGA related things and because of said writing I was invited to SEGA’s HQ in London to preview Sonic Unleashed two weeks before its release in 2008. The trip on the train from Leeds to London was nerve-wracking and navigating London’s Tube system a nightmare. Despite all the best written directions I had I was sure I was going to get lost but after taking the exit from a station I saw it from a distance; those four blue letters adorned on the top of a building; SEGA. I took a picture.

Allow me to elaborate on how much of a near religious moment this was for me. Since the age of six I’d asked for and bought all things SEGA so finally visiting the Mecca that is Sega’s London HQ was astounding. Add to the fact that I got to play a new ‘proper’ Sonic game two weeks before the majority of the population, be one of the first people to see Night Of The Werehog, take home some SEGA merch and a Sonic advent calendar and I was absolutely ecstatic. That’s not all, I also got to meet the awesome AAUK, Svend, T-Bird, Shadzter, Vger, Flyoy Fox, Violet and more (If I’ve forgotten your names play hell with me in the comment section of this post) and chat to them after the event. I’ll never forget how knackered poor AAUK was in the pub after, too tired to even contemplate my offer of a pint. Talk turned to how the intro to Unleashed was probably the best Sonic intro ever and hopes for it to be truly special.

The jury is out on how special the game turned out but at least its rated rather highly by TSS staff. What was special beyond a shadow of a doubt was that day, visiting SEGA HQ and meeting some fantastic new faces. No wonder I ended up writing here.

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  1. That third picture with the building makes the Europe HQ look like a giant fortress at that angle.

  2. I remember sending in a couple of drawings and a game ides to SEGA a few years ago just cos I’m nice XD. A few weeks later after coming home from school I find a big envolope for me O.O….so I open it and inside there were A Sonic Heroes poster, A Sonic Mega collection plus t-shirt, 2 Virtua Tennis Neck chains and a letter back fromk SEGA saying they liked my idea :D.

  3. When you walk into the automatic front doors, it says “SEA-GAH”

    That building below the HQ in your pic looks like Sonics shoe. There, I said it.

    Steve Lycett just de-confirmed my post.

  4. I remember that wonderful feeling when visiting SEGA, was one of my like long dreams ever since I first played Sonic 1 when it launched when I was about 4-5 years old.

    Was funny when I first went in with Flyboy Fox and I enquired to the lady at the desk about the Sonic Unleashed event and she didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. I looked to the right and saw a floor plan and noticed SEGA only own 1 floor of the building lol! The lady eventually realised we were after SEGA and directed us to the lift and what floor to get off on.

    I had a fantastic time that day! I will always remember the fun of playing Unleashed early, being one of the first to see Night of the Werehog, visitng SEGA and meeting lots of new friends. 😀

  5. Yeah, I never knew SEGA’s HQ was shared with another company so the receptionist at the entrance was a surprise for me too. Once you get to the right floor via the lift then you’re left with no doubt who owns that part of the building. The giant mural of the “Sonic Adventure” Sonic is great though I didn’t get a picture. Svend did, I wonder if he still has it? I’ll ask him and try to get it posted here.

    Jix, that would have been great. And that building is some warehouse or other. The HQ is quite a while away from the centre of London.

    The trip was graciously paid for by SEGA too, all £79 return train fare from Leeds to London. With the short notice I had the train was the only way down there I knew of that would have let me stay as long as I wanted to. I had a pay for a second journey to cover Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games for TSS while Svend was on holiday to Japan out of my own money. It was worth it though. I kicked some Swedish games journalist’s arses at it. AAUK can vouch for me.

    Shadzter, I remember being quite shy which is unusual for me in my old age but I was th only odd one out I think, not writing for TSS at the time. Fortunately everyone turned out to be great and made me feel welcome. An honourable mention has to go to Violet and Vger who had to put up with my inane ramblings about Sonic on the train back up from London to Leeds.

  6. @ Paul
    We weren’t going to hold any TSSZ rivalry against you, besides you were the cool guy from TSSZ.

    I had a similar experience, me and Flyboy Fox coincidentally got off the same train so we hung out together most of the day. We helped eachother find our way back to the train station in the dark at the end of the day. We thought we were going to get lost, I almost did when I left Flyboy Fox at her stop and went to try and find out which one I wanted. Turned out to of course be the same train so I ran back but had to sit on my own as I didn’t know which carriage Flyboy Fox was in.

  7. Mentioning SEGA I had always dreamed to go to SEGA WORLD in Darling Harbour Sydney it is closed now but I always wanted to go there… THEY ALSO DO NOT HAVE A SEGA industry in Sydney anymore it is so sad

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