Ex-SEGA European Product Manager Tony Takoushi has recently created an account on instagram, and has shared an array of incredible images from early 90s Sonic merchandise, to original and development artwork from Sonic the Hedgehog designers.
Sonic Adventure celebrates it’s 20th anniversary today after hitting screens in Japan way back in 1998.
We take a look back at what made this game one of the most enduring Sonic the Hedgehog titles, and why SA1 was such a trailblazing title in not only the series, but in video game history.
SEGA of the 90’s certainly knew how to pull out all of the stops when it came to generating a buzz around the next Sonic game, and the anticipation of what was in store brought kids and grown-ups alike to fever pitch…and the announcement of Sonic Adventure was no different.
On the 22nd of August 1998, a few thousand lucky punters were invited to attend the first presentation of Sonic Adventure at the Tokyo International Forum – an event that was luckily recorded for posterity (which you can watch below). The first foray into the world of 128-bit high speed action was introduced by Yuji Naka, entering the stage in Rock star fashion by emerging from a balloon to a face-melting guitar riff.
The event also showcased a “Making of Sonic Adventure” semi-documentary presented in a light-hearted manor, in which Sonic Team embarked on a fact-finding trip to central America to visit the Tulum Ruins, the Caribbean Sea, the Tikal Ruins of Guatemala, and Machu Pichu amongst other locations – all of which influenced stages in the game.
Some members of the Team even became ill on their research trip from altitude sickness – talk about dedication to the cause!
Sonic has undergone several redesigns in his 27 ½ year history (we won’t mention the most recent!), but most fans regard the Sonic Adventure iteration of the neon protagonists to be one of the most successful. Characters traded their pot-bellies in for coloured irises and longer limbs, allowing for some incredibly elastic posturing that would become Yuji Uekawa’s instantly recognisable stylisation which remains the norm for modern Sonic artwork to this day. While the classic design of Sonic has since been translated to 3D, the modern Sonic style allowed for a much easier transition to the medium.
Dr Eggman was given a particularly significant redesign, along with both western and eastern franchises aligning on the Japanese name (although Robotnik would be kept as the name for his grandfather in the sequel).
The story mode
Story was not an element that featured heavily in Sonic the Hedgehog games until Sonic Adventure; in fact, one of the initial ideas while the game was on the development bench was to in fact create a Sonic RPG. For Sonic Adventure to include cut scenes and a narrative was a significant change to the game, and novel in that it in itself was derived from the intertwining stories of six different protagonists (one in fact executed in very few other video games at the time).
The seventh and final story in the game, and the true conclusion only accessible once all six main stories were completed, crescendos in the final showdown with Chaos with the player taking the controls of Super Sonic – something undoubtedly cemented as one of the most memorable video game conclusions for many Sonic fans.
Sonic Adventure was also the first Sonic the hedgehog game to include voice acting (besides SEGASonic Arcade) – and while the jury might still be out on the quality of the dialogue, SA1 is definitely one of the most quotable!
Hum the Green Hill Zone theme and just about any video game fan will tell you that its from a Sonic game – indeed, the soundtrack has always been a core component of what makes a Sonic game so, well, Sonical!
While Sonic Adventure is not the first video game to include vocal tracks (Sonic CD was doing that five years before) it is one of the first to have a fully-fledged album-like feel, complete with a swathe of character themes and a main anthem Open Your Heart, performed Crush 40, that is unparalleled in magnitude. The intro FMV undoubtedly still brings goose bumps to many!
The shift to a rock-centric soundtrack, a decision made by first-time Sonic Sound Director Jun Senoue, was a bold move; the music for the original trinity of Sonic games were after all composed by Masato Nakamura of Dreams Come True (and most likely Michael Jackson), resulting in a prolific pop influence. However, the move would prove highly successful and would be followed up with the equally popular Live & Learn in the sequel.
The magic of the soundtrack however derives from a brilliant use of multiple genres – rock, pop, rap, electronic, and jazz to name a few all feature throughout.
The game’s soundtrack has endured long enough that it has been celebrated since with the Sonic Adventure Music Experience, which saw Senoue-san and company re-record and perform key songs from the game and its sequel.
The Dreamcast was the very first games console to provide a connection to the internet as standard, and as such, Sonic Adventure is the very first game in history to include downloadable content! This came in the form of the Sonic Adventure Christmas download, which was only available for the first few days of release (it was no longer available after Christmas day). While this content only included Christmas trees in station square which played played music and gave a seasonal message when interacted with, it was another example of how SEGA and Sonic games were well ahead of the curb.
Happy birthday Sonic Adventure!
What makes Sonic Adventure special to you? Let us know in the comments!
Issue 189 of the British retro video gaming magazine Retro Gamer features a “Making of Sonic Adventure” feature!
Following the developer diary videos, the latest installment of the behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the Sonic Mania universe focuses on the creation of the Sonic Mania Adventures shorts, narrated by director Tyson Hesse. Check out the video below!
SEGA showed off a very tongue-in-cheek infomercial two weeks ago for the Collector’s Edition of Sonic Mania, which starred familiar faces such as Aaron Webber and Kazuyuki Hoshino. Fans of old loved the nostalgic infomercial parody advert for parodying the original Sonic 2 commercial… which was also a parody of infomercials in itself. The rabbit hole gets so much more nauseating from there…
If you were interested in the filming process behind the Mania infomercial, then have no fear: Sonic’s got you covered. Check out the behind-the-scenes below!
TSS: First of all, what does it mean to you to be here at Summer of Sonic?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: It’s great to be here and meet the fans who have continued to love the characters that I have created!
TSS: How do you go about the process of creating the Badniks and other enemies for Sonic games?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: Other than creating some of the key central characters I’ve also created lots of sub-characters. Whenever I create a main character, someone that’s central to the story or series, I always fully immerse myself in that character to really put myself in their shoes. When I was younger I always dreamed of my creations being sold as figurines in shops so people could buy some of the things that I had created. I’ve always kept this in mind when creating characters so I can design them to look great not only for their purpose, but so they would look good as figurines too.
TSS: Out of all the enemy characters you have created, which would you say is your favourite (Metal Sonic excluded!).
Kazuyuki Hoshino: Although he’s not as much of an enemy anymore, I’d definitely have to say Shadow the Hedgehog.
TSS: How did designing for NiGHTS differ to designing for Sonic games?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: When I’m creating characters for Sonic, I always have in mind that it needs to be appealing to millions of people. Sonic has such a big mass audience so I try and design to meet that taste. With NiGHTS, it has a very particular theme with quite a specific and niche market so I can push the boat out a little further to make designs that are more dream-like and psychological.
TSS: What were your biggest challenges in terms of design when making the transition from 2D to 3D games?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: When designing in 3D, you have to make sure that you create everything so that even the parts that weren’t visible before in 2D are now visible in 3D and they look good. You have to figure out how every part of the design would look from different angles and make it work. In the classic Sonic games he only had to be shown from the perspective that made him look best, now that everything is in 3D, you see Sonic from behind a lot more than you ever would have in 2D so now you have to make sure he and all of the other characters look good from all angles. Shadow has a red stripe going down his back and this is because we wanted to make him look both cool from behind and distinctively different from Sonic.
TSS: If you were to re-design Metal Sonic today, what new features would you give him, if any?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: When we originally created Metal Sonic, the thing I really had a focus on was making him look metallic because he is, of course, called Metal Sonic. If I were to re-design him, I would potentially challenge this and try to give him a different feel and texture that you would pick up just from looking at him. For example, a new feature I would perhaps give him is the ability to become invisible. You know in Sci-Fi films where they have the light-reflection technology that camouflages the user? I’d love to experiment with things like that and incorporate that technology into not only his skillset, but his visual design too.
TSS: You’ve created many iconic and memorable characters over the years. Do you think that we might see an art book dedicated to your works one day?
Kazuyuki Hoshino: I’m honoured that this question has been asked several times already today! I don’t have any plans at the moment to create a compilation of all the art that I’ve created so far. It would be great to have though and my Mother actually looks at art books quite often so she would be incredibly proud!
TSS: Thank you very much for your time, Hoshino-san!
Thanks again to Bobby Wertheim for translations!
SEGA has just posted the above Sonic CD developer diary video on their blog. In the video Sonic Team Art Director Kazuyuki Hoshino gives an insight into the creation of Sonic CD‘s logo, characters, enemies, bosses and stages. It’s an interesting watch, and even features some never-before-seen concept sketches.
Source: SEGA Blog
Thanks to StrickerX-mas at the SSMB for the heads up!