TSS Retrospective: The Needlemouse Debacle: Episode I

“Speed returns, in an all new 2D adventure built from the ground up.”

Ten years ago, on September 8th, 2009, mere hours before the 10th anniversary of the Dreamcast, SEGA dropped a teaser trailer for “Project Needlemouse.” Catching the gaming community by surprise, this mysterious project promised to bring Sonic the Hedgehog back to its 2D roots with a new 2D platformer in the style of the Mega Drive games. This project would later be officially titled Sonic the Hedgehog 4, an episodic download game that hoped to please the older Sonic fans who grew up with the classics. 

Sonic 4’s two episodes have since been filed away as a mediocre experiment on SEGA’s part, with very little love and fondness in its legacy. The entire Sonic 4 saga left disappointed and bickering fans in its wake, with the general gaming community and even some newer Sonic fans wondering what the fuss was all about. For these people, Sonic 4 delivered point-blank on it’s promise of providing a 2D Sonic game in a style similar to the older games. To the target audience however, Sonic 4 was an insult, and they made sure SEGA knew that. 

The story behind SEGA’s Project Needlemouse is an interesting one. The way it was marketed throughout its lifespan and its impact on the Sonic fanbase, and even the gaming community at large, is noteworthy. While the games themselves are generally considered to be mediocre at best, the development and release of Sonic 4 may very well be a watershed moment of the franchise, impacting how SEGA would handle the series and its fanbase moving forward. Making the narrative of Project Needlemouse even more intriguing is how the context of which it was released, sandwiched between other Sonic games doing similar things, would impact audiences’ expectations. 

In this special multi-part series, we’ll take you back in time to a world where 2D Sonic only existed on Nintendo handhelds, Classic Sonic was nothing more than a tee-shirt emblem, and the Sonic Twitter as we know it didn’t exist. We’ll see how fan feedback impacted the course of Project Needlemouse, we might get a sense of why many Sonic fans are so judicious about everything SEGA releases starring the blue blur himself, and we’ll better understand why SEGA markets Sonic the way that they do now. This is the Needlemouse Debacle.

The “Retro” Age

Prior to Project Needlemouse’s first teaser, there had already been a ‘retro renaissance’ of sorts in the gaming industry. The New Super Mario Bros series was raking in cash on Nintendo’s Wii console, and Mega Man 9 set the bar for retro throwbacks. Surely, Sonic was also entitled to participate in this trend. It made sense, after all. Sonic’s origins were 2D, the past few 3D releases were received poorly, or at least had a mixed reception between fans and critics, and Sonic Unleashed’s integration of sidescrolling elements could be seen as the harbinger of the franchise’s focus on going back to the basics. 

When Project Needlemouse’s teaser trailer dropped with the promise of “an all new 2D adventure built from the ground up,”  it was a delightful, if unsurprising, event. It was also a little nerve-wracking for fans. Did SEGA really have the chops to pull it off? There was a sneaking suspicion that they would hand development onto Dimps, who at the time was responsible for a majority of Sonic’s modern 2D outings on handheld consoles. The Advance and Rush series were all developed by Dimps, and while they were generally well-liked, they didn’t exactly nail the “classic” feel, either in controls or level design. 

Certainly enough, Dimps was indeed responsible for the bulk of Project Needlemouses’ development, with some oversight from Sonic Team. Meanwhile, SEGA’s marketing team soon began to promote this mysterious project of theirs. Taking advantage of their burgeoning social media presence, they would do anything from trivia contests to concept art teasing to raise awareness that old-school 2D Sonic was coming back. There was even an “elimination round” that featured the names of popular Sonic characters that would be gradually crossed off, until only Sonic’s name remained; this would be a title where only Sonic was playable. Notably absent from this tournament were Tails, Knuckles and Dr Eggman, implying that they could make an appearance.

SEGA Announces a Saga

In February of 2010, Project Needlemouse was unveiled to be Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, and it would be a downloadable, episodic saga for consoles, PC and mobile devices. A short teaser with no more than 3 seconds of footage of Sonic running along a Green Hill Zone inspired level proved to be everything the fanbase needed to form an opinion. This footage would be dissected and scrutinized to hilarious lengths.

Along with the trailer was a press release reiterating how Sonic 4 would be the crucial “first step” of bringing Sonic back to his roots, and that it would be “Sonic 4 as you truly imagined it.” Sonic 4’s public advocate would be Ken Balough, digital brand manager for SEGA at the time. He would interact with the fans on SEGA’s official (and currently defunct) online forums as well as with the press to give details and drop hints on what Sonic 4 would be all about.

Some concerns were raised on the nature of the game being download only, as well as episodic. It seemed to be taking cues from the New Super Mario Bros series in terms of its presentation as a modern game, but it also appeared to look to Mega Man 9 for inspiration in it’s naming convention as well as the decision to be distributed digitally rather than physically. It would certainly not be a conventional release. It was a concern for fans that it be treated with the respect a game called “Sonic the Hedgehog 4” demanded. There was also discussion about the use of Sonic’s modern design rather than his short, stocky “classic” look. At the time, Classic Sonic wasn’t a major pillar in the franchise, yet the debate raged on and petitions were signed to include him in “Modern” Sonic’s stead.

Adding to fans’ concerns was the presence of the “homing attack,” a targeting move that was never present in the original games. Such a seemingly innocuous design choice would prove to be a major point of contention in the ongoing discourse. Although seen as one of Sonic’s signature moves in the 3D games where jumping on an enemy can be difficult at high speeds, it was almost never featured in modern 2D games as it wasn’t seen as a necessary addition. The presence of this move alone would provide enough fuel to the already kindling fire of fear and fury that fans were stoking: would the homing attack dictate the nature of the level design? How would that interact with Sonic’s momentum-based physics? A few of the more seasoned “retro” fans were already convinced the game would be a disappointment from the short teaser alone. Many questions were raised, but weren’t immediately answered by SEGA’s PR.

Then, the “PartnerNET” leak happened.

Of Leaks and Dying Cats

Not too long after Sonic 4’s official reveal, footage of the game in its entirety was leaked. Xbox Live Arcade used PartnerNET, a system used for game developers to test products, and unfortunately it was not a tightly run ship in regards to security. What started off as blurry screenshots effectively turned into footage of the entire game being leaked.  This would be the catalyst that changed the course of Project Needlemouses’ life.

Many of the retro fan’s fears were confirmed, and then some: the level design centered around the use of the homing attack as well as featured automated and linear level design with an overabundance of boost pads. It was extremely common to see “Bubble Chains,” where the badnik “Bubbles” would be laid out as stepping stones for Sonic to dash into, especially over bottomless pits. The renowned momentum-based gameplay of classic Sonic was rendered inert with a physics engine that gave Sonic no sense of inertia. Sonic’s “spinball” mechanics were totally inert: he didn’t gain speed while rolling downhill and didn’t bounce off of enemies or item boxes. 

The game was so poorly programmed that it was possible for players to stand sideways along curved walls. It was frighteningly reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006’s disregard for the laws of physics, and it was embarrassing to witness a game that bore the title “Sonic the Hedgehog 4” to err in so many ways. It was speculated that this wasn’t even a new engine at all, but the same gameplay engine used in Sonic Rush, which had similar issues.

There were other strange design choices as well. Although the well-loved Jun Senoue would compose the music, the overabundance of synth instruments and muffled drum snare samples gave rise to a plethora of “dying cat” jokes which would be a hallmark bullet point on why the game was not up to standard. The game would boot players out of the campaign to a level select screen after completing a single act to where they would need to select the next one, rather than the expected level-to-level transitions.  Sonic’s iconic “blurry feet” were rarely seen, even when at top speed. There were strange “gimmick” acts that utilized unconventional controls or otherwise had weird clear conditions; mainly a score attack pinball level and a level where Sonic is trapped in a mine cart and the stage needed to be tilted to progress.

Finally, the decision to re-use level concepts from Sonic 1 and 2 caused a stir all its own. It was strongly contended that a game billed as a sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles ought to follow suit in introducing unique new places to explore. The starting Zone, Splash Hill, was considered harmless enough as a Green Hill callback, but lined up alongside knock-offs of Casino Night, Metropolis, Labyrinth and Death Egg Zones, it started to feel less like inspiration and more like unimaginative copying.

Damage control was put into place, and the game was delayed to the latter half of 2010 to incorporate fan feedback from the leaked footage. Ken Balough reiterated their intention of pleasing the targeted audience of old school fans and continued to state that it would be “Sonic 4 as you truly imagined it” by the game’s release. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this was an early build of the game, this did little to ease the concerns of fans. Debates on the forums and the heckling of Ken Balough would continue onto the game’s release.

Poor Pilot Episode

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I would release to generally positive feedback from major gaming publications on October 7th, 2010. “Sonic is back, baby!” Declared IGN. Most were pleased with its gameplay, highly saturated graphics and chiptune soundtrack (cats and all), but unfortunately the target audience failed to be impressed. While some would argue it was a fair attempt at a modern sidescroller, it was nearly unanimous among critics that they failed to replicate a traditional Sonic experience.

This wasn’t Sonic 4 as you truly imagined it.

The game was very much unchanged from its early leaked development build. The physics weren’t fixed. The automated level design remained unchanged. Players were still booted out of the campaign after every level (unless they pressed a button to opt otherwise). The only major changes would be the removal of the two “gimmick” acts which were replaced with more fully-featured platforming levels, and the implementation of Sonic’s blurry feet animation at running speed. Curiously, those gimmick acts would remain in the mobile version, raising speculation that Project Needlemouse may have started off as a mobile spin-off before turning into Sonic 4 altogether. 

Sonic 4’s first episode would compete with Sonic Colors that same year, and it was not uncommon to find comparisons between the two platformers. Despite being targeted to a younger, presumably easy-to-please audience, Sonic Colors would be cited as the main game that allowed the series to finally break the so-called “Sonic Cycle”. It would appear that the first attempt at reviving classic Sonic gameplay was less than successful, but this wouldn’t be the last we would hear of Project Needlemouse.

Stay tuned for The Needlemouse Debacle: Episode II, where we’ll cover SEGA’s attempt to appease the criticism from their target audience, and the impending release of Sonic 4’s second entry. 

‘Project Needlemouse’ Is Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 is the official name of what has been known for months as ‘Project Needlemouse’. The news was announced on Gamespot in conjunction with Sega of America early this morning, along with a teaser trailer (above). The game is being developed by Sonic Team.

Featuring 3D models on a 2D plane, Sonic the Hedgehog: Episode 4 aims to be a return to form for the platforming series. Gamespot ran a 48-second trailer of the game – only three of which included a full-screen display of what we should expect. Corkscrew twists from Sonic 2 and double-screen loops from Sonic 3 were present in the brief time we had to see the action.

“While the game is a brand-new adventure, it will definitely pick up after Sonic & Knuckles. However, what you are looking at is the beginning of a new story arc,” said brand manager Ken Balough to Gamespot on the Sonic 4 reveal. “We’re going to deliver a Genesis-era Sonic game as if it were created today that goes to the core of what classic Sonic fans desire. This means [the fan] gets to judge us on our work each step of the way, and we plan on delivering that goal in a big way.”

The “Episode 1” part of the game’s title suggests episodic content – Balough was keen to stress that Sonic 3 & Knuckles were essentially two parts of the same game, and that Sega are going to tap into that some more with this downloadable title. Looks like the company is taking the whole “back to the roots” deal quite literally, right down to the ‘lock-on’ technology.

Although this is being tagged as a return to classic form, Balough announced that the homing attack – seen in modern titles since Sonic Adventure – will be added to Sonic’s roster of moves, which will include the Spin Dash and ‘Power Sneakers’ (which we assume will be a power up rather than a specific move). Players will be able to compete with one another for the fastest times via online leaderboards.

Now, Wii owners – don’t feel left out, because the game is hitting the WiiWare channel as well as Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. Balough said that in terms of content all versions will be the same, but “the Wii will be at 480p, while the XBLA and PSN versions will run at 1080p. However, for certain areas of the game, the Wii will be able to use motion control, and the PS3 will be able to use the Sixaxis.”

The music is said to channel the 16-bit roots of the platforming series, according to Balough; “It will sound like an evolution from the original series. Expect to hear very familiar tempos and styles of music that resonates with 16-bit games but also has a modern appeal.”

So, let’s review; 2D adventure with 3D models, palm trees, badniks, corkscrews, loop-de-loops, 16-bit evolved music, continuation from Sonic & Knuckles, ‘lock-on’ technology and a homing attack; for Wii, PS3 and 360. We can’t really say any fairer than that!

Known as ‘Project Needlemouse’ for nearly six months since its official reveal on 9/9/09, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has been the subject of an insane amount of fan fervor – more so than past Sonic titles if only for the fact that Sega has stayed relatively silent on releasing concrete details. What little information was drip-fed to the community (including badnik concept artwork and images of palm trees) resulted in pages and pages of excited speculation on forums and blogs alike.

Now we know for sure what Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is all about; what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below, and stick with TSS for future details!

Official Needlemouse Party Thread

I think that you’ll agree with me that the Needlemouse reveal will be the biggest announcement that SEGA has made in nearly a decade.  It is huge.  Site stats have tripled, servers are crashing from traffic, and excitement has reached a fever pitch.  In just under 8 hours, GameSpot and SEGA will reveal what exactly “Project Needlemouse” is.

Let’s have a fuckin’ party!  Post links to images, music, YouTube videos, or just your pure excitement in the comments!  Celebrate with your fellow Sonic fans!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pyxHnQa4uc[/youtube]

BREAKING: Project Needlemouse Revealed TONIGHT!!

UPDATE: If your in the UK it will be at 8am, 3am Eastern Time.

News just in from SEGA of America’s Blog that Project Needlemouse will be revealed on Gamespot TONIGHT!!

What is Project Needlemouse? Well, you’ll soon know. We will be unveiling Project Needlemouse at midnight (US Pacific time) TONIGHT on GameSpot!

That’s all we can say for now, but you’ll know more in just a few hours! So put on a pot of coffee, and stay up late for all the Needlemouse-y goodness.

We’ll update you with all thats revealed.

Is This A Screenshot of “Sonic 4?”

People have been sending us “Sonic 4” images on occasion to try and get us to post a SUPER AWESOME BULLETIN IN-DEPTH EXPOSE EXCLUSIVE or call some “friends” of ours to figure it out for us because we’re too stupid to see that it’s fake ourselves.  Well, we haven’t been doing that.  But, since we’re in the Hedgehog Week festivities… I might as well post two of the better “Sonic 4” hoaxes that we’ve received.

This image was sent to us a few times but it was never sent by its author, Luis Tejeda.

No idea what the hell this image in and who sent it in.  Still cool to look at, I guess.

Something Happening at “sonicthehedgehog4.com”…

(click to enlarge)

If you go to the mysterious and recently uncovered “sonicthehedgehog4.com,” you’ll see that you have to log in to see its content.  You also have to be a part of “SEGA West Staging.”  Hmm… interesting… What could they be *ahem* “staging?”

UPDATE: All the other “sonicthehedgehog#” websites do the same thing.  Except “sonicthehedgehog2.com,” which doesn’t exist.

UPDATE #2: Go to “sonicthehedgehog1.com.”  You don’t have to log-in to see its contents, which is some text that says “IT WORKS!”

[via sonicthehedgehog4.com]

Want the Real Needlemouse Info? RubyEclipse Says Thursday

Were you upset today at the incredibly lame Needlemouse reveal that featured drawings of stuff that we saw last decade and a song that was composed in FL Studio?  Well, get used to seeing more of that until Thursday.

The man responsible for posting all of these Needlemouse challenges and general nonsense, RubyEclipse, on the SEGA America blogs went over to NeoGAF today and made a comment about when actual information about Needlemouse would be coming out.

Nope, this Thursday all the big stuff is out of the bag. The second Needlemouse Challenge was also the last, as mentioned when the blog went up.

I know some people would have liked more than just a couple pieces of concept art – and I can understand that sentiment, knowing how excited and hopeful people are about the game. As huge as the hype may be, I personally think the wait to Thursday is well worth it – so, when that day comes, we’ll see if people agree.

So, there you have it.  Wait until Thursday.  Until then, enjoy the feeling and spirit of classic Sonic taking you over.

It is good to read some comments about you guys enjoying the music though – and that’s really just a small sample, as the best tracks are yet to come.

There better be better tracks.  Damn, that little ditty on the SEGA homepage was really bad.

[Via NeoGAF forums]

Hedgehog Week, Day 1 Update Inside!

Thats it, the wait is over, SEGA have finally released their first daily update of Hedgehog Week which comes in three parts. The first part is the promised concept art which is below, as are words from SOA blogger RubyEclipse.

The Sunflower has long been a defining feature of Sonic’s beginnings ever since it first appeared in the original Sonic The Hedgehog. Along with the Badniks, it returns in the first zone of Project Needlemouse – and, yes, it actually spins.
If there’s one thing we know about Palm Trees, it’s that they tend to hide hidden boxes with power-ups like invincibility. We do not question how exactly such a box managed to find its way to the top of a palm tree, but we do know that finding such boxes hidden in Palm Trees is still pretty awesome. So, consider it official – these guys are coming back, too.

While we know that these two pieces of concept art may literally only be a sunflower and a palm tree, and aren’t exactly the most action-packed pictures you’ve seen this year, they express a spirit of the game that we feel is even more important. From Badniks to Zones, there are some things that mean a lot simply because they exist within a game.

The second part is the chance to win a very special copy of Sonic 3, and more besides!

Today we are going to be giving away a ton of Sonic merchandise, including an exclusive signed copy of Sonic 3, autographed by Iizuka-san, one of the Senior Level designers from the original Sonic The Hedgehog 3 / Sonic and Knuckles team! If collectable merch from Sonic’s early days is your thing, or even if you’re only interested mostly because it’s both rare and awesome, then here’s how you can score it:

1: Post a comment on this blog!
2: Be the person who makes the 333rd Comment.
3: Win signed copy of Sonic The Hedgehog 3, boost coolness by +10.

Additional prizes will go out to people whose comments hit milestones along the way, including the following comment numbers:

1
5
10
25
50
100
150
200
250
300
330
331
332
333
334
400
450
500

Which means we’re going to be giving out at least 17 different pieces of Sonic swag today, including the signed game! Items you could win include a Sonic & Metal Sonic Wall Scroll (Featuring classic Sonic – who has black eyes), a brand new Sonic the Hedgehog Clock, a Sonic Towel and more! All you have to do is be the lucky person who gets their comment in one of the places above, and you’ve won the goods!

Q: Can I spam? What if I just post “ASKDJFLASDJFLKASDJF over and over again?
A: No spam, please! Comment with your thoughts on Needlemouse, your hopes for the game, what you thought about the concept art, etc. Spam comments won’t be approved, so only people who take the time to write out real comments will win the swag!

Q: Do responses to previous comments count?
A: Yes!

Q: Can I post more than once?
A: Yes!

The prize is said to contain some hints of it’s own about Needlemouse, let us know in the comments section what you think that might be

Finally…

Also in celebration of Hedgehog Day, we’ve added up a shiny new piece of flash to the front page of our website! We highly suggest checking it out – after all, it includes the first sneak peak at a few seconds of music from Project Needlemouse! Oh, but don’t go thinking that’s the big bonus – this Thursday, when everything finally goes out, we’ve got something extra special for you guys to complement the game’s real name.

Until then – awesome job once again on the amazing concept art you guys have sent in! We’re going to feature even more of it tomorrow and throughout the week as we celebrate Hedgehog Week, and the upcoming reveal of Project Needlemouse!

From all of us here at SEGA – Happy Hedgehog Day!

If you live outside the UK on SEGA’s homepage you have to select the flag in the top right hand corner and select the US flag. Only then will you hear the music and see the flash animation.

That seems to be it for now so get posting on SEGA’s blog to win some stuff!

Project Needlemouse Challenge II Update

SEGA staffer Ruby Eclipse has made an update on the SEGA of America Blog regarding Project Needlemouse Challenge II. It appears the Sonic community has pulverised the requested 100 pieces of art as the current ammount of submissions now stands at over 350 entries so give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

In celebration of the effort that’s been put in RubyEclipse had this to say –

That makes all of us – including, hopefully, you guys – very happy. The challenge has been bested within 48 hours, and as a result next week is going to be the Week of the Hedgehog! The celebration will begin next Tuesday on Hedgehog Day, (step aside, groundhog!) with a special massive swag giveaway and concept art reveal, and will lead into our biggest announcement going live as we approach next weekend. Trust us when we say that February is going to be a very good month.

Now then – to celebrate your success, we’d like to offer you guys additional rewards for continuing to send in your concept art – and some very awesome concept art, at that! So,for every 50 pieces of Concept Art (past 100), we will give away one extra piece of Sonic Merchandise during our Hedgehog Day giveaway!

To close RubyEclipse wanted to put an end to a rumour about the project that’s been going around to no end until now –

Oh, and as another bonus, let’s go ahead and dispel away a little rumor that we’ve noticed in the comments:

Project Needlemouse is not an HD version of Sonic 1. These may be old badniks, but when we said all-new adventure, we meant it.

The SEGA staff have picked out a bunch of their favourite pieces of concept art sent in and posted them up on the Blog for all to see. Has your entry been posted up? Excited about Hedgehog Day? Let us know in the comments

Thanks to jeremycarrier over at the SSMB for the heads up!

SEGA Starts Needlemouse Community Challenge #2

Yes, this concept art above is official and will be a badnik in the final game.

Remember that concept art made by Trakker last week?  Well, it has caught SEGA’s attention.  If we want more information about Project Needlemouse, we have to follow his footsteps.  SEGA is asking for 100 pieces of concept art to unveil more concept art, a zone name, and a double-super-secret bonus surprise.

Here’s what SEGA says on their blog:

So, the folks here at SEGA have only one word to comment on the fake concept art above:

Awesome.

In fact, we’d like to see even more of it. So here’s the challenge: we want you guys to create your own concept art based on your favorite Badniks from the original Sonic games. It can be any Badnik from Sonic 1, 2, 3, Sonic & Knuckles, or any other Sonic games of that era. Pick your favorite(s), draw them up concept art style, and send it our way! (Japanese not required!)

The Challenge: Submit over 100 (total) pieces of Concept Art of your favorite oldschool Badniks to SEGA! Show us which enemies you want to see in Project Needlemouse!

The Reward: If the challenge is met, next week we’ll reveal:

  • Project Needlemouse’s Actual Name
  • Concept Art from the first Zone
  • A very cool extra bonus…

What to use: Alright! Now that we have your attention, on to the specifics. You can create the concept art in Photoshop, on paper, in Microsoft Paint, via crayon, or using pretty much any worthwhile medium that gets the point across. (Create it from something notably awesome – like, say, Oreos – and you will get a bonus spotlight!) The limit is one piece of concept art per person.

Submitting your concept art: Next, send it our way! You’ve got a few options here, so just pick the one that’s easiest for you.

1. Post it here in a comment! Host it on an external site like Photobucket.com, and then comment here on the Blog with a link to your art.

2. E-mail us! If you’re a little shy about showing off your work to the world, you can also send it to us via e-mail: communityteam@sega.com !

3. PM us! If you’ve got a Forum or SEGA Pass account, you can send a private message to RubyEclipse on the SEGA forums with your art. If you already have a forum account, you’re all set!

If you guys can send in a cumulative total of over 100 pieces of concept art by Monday morning at 10:00 AM, you’re in for a very special treat in the days following. This will be our final community challenge for Project Needlemouse – and it will also be one of the last times we refer to the game by its code name. If you thought the first concept art was cool, then trust us – things are about to get a whole lot more interesting. We will also be updating throughout the week and weekend to let you know how close you are!

Go go go go go go… draw and stuff, damnit.

Project Needlemouse: SEGA Teasing Community?

SEGA have just out of the blue updated the header image to their forums to the above Sonic sprites leaving the Sonic community to wonder if this is a tease on how Project Needlemouse will be designed. Could we be seeing the classic Mega Drive sprites return?

In other news SEGA of America staff member Ruby Eclipse hinted at some news coming for Project Needlemouse soon with a reply he made at NeoGAF forums to someone shocked at how much discussion has been going on with what little info we have over at –

If it makes you feel any better, that’s all going to change in the very near future.

I mean, er – what? Let’s post more videos.

So could we be seeing more of the game soon? We’ll have to wait and see but for now take this all with a grain of salt.

Sunday Poll: “waits 4 needlemouse infos”

Nothing ever happens on Sundays.  You come here, usually shit ain’t goin’ on Sundays and you’re all like “pfffft, that sucks.”  Here’s a chance to do something about that, I guess.  I’m going to start doing this every Sunday.  The first Sunday poll question is:

With all the drama, leaks, and general bullshit around Project Needlemouse, how desperate are you to know anything about the game?

  1. Extremely Desperate.  I’ve ruined three pairs of pants.
  2. Desperate.  My pants are literally bulging.
  3. Moderate.  I feel a small sensation downstairs.
  4. Not Desperate.  I’d like more concrete information before getting tight.
  5. Don’t Give a Shit.  Self-explanatory.

Select one of the 5 answers in the comments box below.

Random: ScrewAttack Reveal Justin Timberlake Is Providing The Music For Project Needlemouse

ScrewAttack have looked into the future top 10 gaming headlines for 2010 and have returned with some news for Project Needlemouse. After the confirmation that Michael Jackson provided music for Sonic 3, SEGA have decided they want another pop star on board so they’ve shockingly got Justin Timberlake to perform music for the game.

Check out ScrewAttack’s Top 10 Headlines For 2010 video here

How do you feel about this crazy news? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s note: Justin Timberlake isn’t really providing music for Project Needlemouse, this post is for comedy value only.

[Update] RUMOUR: Dutch Fansite ‘Leaks’ Needlemouse Details?

Earlier today, Dutch fansite SegaOnline posted information from an anonymous source claiming to have insider knowledge of Project Needlemouse’s development. The website ran the story as a rumour earlier today, before mysteriously disappearing from view.

Key details that were revealed to SegaOnline included the game’s name, ‘Sonic 4’; that the game will only be released on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network; and that this will be the first in a series of similar games. The website’s source claims that the game will be titled “Sonic 4: Episode 1”, but says that despite the implications, each ‘Episode’ will be a full game in its own right.

On top of this, the anonymous source has said there will be 7 Chaos Emeralds, a return of the ‘Zone’ and ‘Acts’ level structure, and that the game will begin in ‘Splash Hill Zone’ and finish in ‘E.G.G. Station Zone’.

As you might expect, this could be either a hot leak from someone within Sega (or with close ties to the company) that’s about to have the hounds set on him, or it’s part of an elaborately hilarious trolling. Either way, the SegaOnline story has since disappeared. It was originally located here – now a 404 Error page sits in its place.

This is not the first time that SegaOnline has had supposedly ‘leaked’ material removed shortly after publication – earlier this month the website had posted images from the Xbox 360 ‘Partnernet’ developer service, which detailed information on a port of Sonic Adventure DX on Xbox Live Arcade. It was suggested that Sega had sent a request to shut down the page.

UPDATE: Perhaps an elaborate trolling is in fact afoot? The story was picked up by TSSZ News, who has just recently received a request to remove the information by SegaOnline, and not Sega, and now the authenticity of the story has been thrown up into the air. TSSZ News writer Tristan Bresnen posted on the Sonic Retro forums;

“There is anger. That’s all I feel comfortable saying publicly right now about the authenticity of the story…at least until I can dig a little deeper.”

If this is all part of a game on the Sonic community at large, we tip our collective hat to you, sir/madam. Well played. Doesn’t affect us at TSS either way, but still – well played. If not, then what to make of it all? Let us know in the comments box below. In the meantime, we’ll just sit here and eat some popcorn and watch the whole thing play out.

RUMOR: Is Project Needlemouse “Sonic 4?”

So, I went on Sonic Retro a second ago and got a link to a 1UP article about the “games that they’re dying to see.” Project Needlemouse is on the list.  Here’s what they said:

Here’s what people already know about the game: it centers on only Sonic, it’s going to be 2D, it’s in HD, and it’ll be coming to Xbox Live and PSN. Here’s what they don’t know: it’s Sonic the Hedgehog 4. At least, that’s how it’s considered internally at Sega — whether it’ll have some other name when it ships, we’re not sure. But from its 2D gameplay to its focus on just the character we actually give a shit about, this is the Sonic game we’ve been waiting for since we moved on from the Sega Genesis. Let’s just hope this doesn’t all sound too good to be true — the second we see a Weresonic or Sonic’s fat purple friend we’re calling bullshit on the whole thing.

You call bullshit, 1UP?  Nah, I call bullshit on you.  Sonic 4?  You know just as much about Project Needlemouse as the rest of us: nothing.  We got crabs.

Each commenter gets a bonus point if they post a link to a “Sonic the Hedgehog 4” fangame.

Source: 1UP

“More” Needlemouse Concept Art

Remember the Shellcracker concept art that SEGA revealed last week for Project Needlemouse?  Well, one fan has decided to draw up some more in that style.  This time, it’s one of Shellcracker’s running buddies, Slicer, the biggest dick in the entire game.  Looks pretty official to me, but I’ll let you be the judge:

Visit Trakker’s DeviantArt profile.

Thanks to SilvaRymes for sending us this image.

BONUS VIDEO: “Slicer is annoying as shit.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7Rbr6qemYw[/youtube]

GamesRadar On Needlemouse: Highly Anticipated & Doomed To Fail

GamesRadar may be familiar to some Sonic fans thanks to their extremely harsh treatment of SEGA’s mascot. Staunch supporters of older Sonic games writers for the site have documented the hedgehogs fall from grace in graphic detail, labeling his kiss with Elise in Sonic 06 as their reason for taking a swing at Sonic and his friends every chance they get.

Their viewpoint on Sonic isn’t an unusual one in the mainstream gaming press, but while some persecute without remorse, reading thorough the various lists compiled on GamesRadar you can’t help but feel that at least a small part of them yearns for an exceptional Sonic game. Over a year ago now one of their writers stated the only way for SEGA to remedy the problem would be to “Take a cue from Mega Man 9 – make Sonic 4 and bring back Blast Processing.”

Capcom's revival of Mega Man has been so successful it's spawned another retro sequel. It's not a stretch to think SEGA saw this and started work on a classic revival of their own.

Over a year later and GamesRadar aren’t getting exactly what they asked for but it’s close enough and what little we know about Project Needlemouse has them excited,

“So we know it’s 2D. We know it’s HD (which rules out Wii). We know it’s clearly focused on speed and old-school feel based on the sound effects and specific blue-blur animations. By all accounts, this is it folks, the game we’ve been asking for since the late ‘90s. And you know what? We’re ready to bite… almost.”

It’s with that in mind I want to bring your attention to two of their newest lists. The first details their top 100 most anticipated games of 2010. Project Needlemouse sits pretty at number 50.

“The very name sends shivers down our spines. Why? Because Sonic was called Mr Needlemouse internally at Sega before he was called Sonic. This is it – the game where they make Sonic like it’s 1991, only now they’ve got Xbox 360 and PS3 hardware to do it with. Time and time again, our hopes are dashed, but if ever one last fragile hope burned in the void, it’s in the shape of this game. And it has to be perfect. Nothing less will do.”

The well wishing doesn’t last very long. Only a few days later Project Needlemouse appeared on a very different list; Games that are doomed to die in 2010.

“Sonic is historically an automatic seller. After years of slow franchise death, does anyone really give a crap about the little blue bugger anymore? At this point, anyone who does care probably isn’t interested in the Sonic of yesteryear, and anyone who cared about Sonic when he was at the top of the industry has had his passion destroyed by this:

The worst moment in a Sonic game? The worst game in the Sonic series? Many think so.

Claiming Needlemouse is doomed to fail strikes me as being a very premature statement. Firstly there are precious few actual facts to base an opinion on and secondly, dismissing a legion of loyal Sonic fans is a very dangerous thing to do. GamesRadar may end up eating their words with this one. What do you lot think, let me know on the comments!

Needlemouse: Day 5 Prediction

SEGA can’t pull a fast one on me!  I see where they’re going with this project.  My FINAL prediction is…

So, that ends “Needlemouse Week” here at TSS.  Thank you to you readers as well for sitting through our week of fake reveals.  I hope that you enjoyed them.   It looks like my initial prediction was correct.  Let’s celebrate my completely insignificant and easily guessable achievement!  PARTY.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7-6GTlzS_Q[/youtube]

Thanks to ila of SFGHQ for keeping the Evil spirit alive.  Don’t know Evil?  You need to watch more old school Sonic Show (27:50 mark).

Project Needlemouse Concept Art. Sonic Only Character In The Game

SEGA of America and SEGA Europe have updated their blogs with the final day of the Project Needlemouse Challenge. Some cool concept art of an enemy that looks very similar to the crab badnik in Sonic 2’s Metropolis Zone, RubyEclipse states that this art reveals the spirit and direction of the game. So we could be seeing a return to classic Sonic after all in this game.

Also revealed is that Sonic will be the only playable character and no new character will be making an appearance playable or otherwise. With that said it doesn’t seem to rule Tails and Knuckles out as non playable characters, we’ll have to see how things go in future info/media.

RubyEclipse also gives more confirmation the game is going back to Sonic’s 2D roots in the comments section of the blog entry –

Ilcane – We realize there are many fans out there of other characters – even some for Charmy Bee, as we found out on the first day.

Project Needlemouse is being created for the people who have long asked us for a game with only Sonic that harkens back to his 2D roots. We can’t please everyone, but we feel very strongly that there is a massive group of people out there who have been waiting for a moment like this to finally come. Thank you for your opinion and your feedback though; Sonic is something that many different people feel very strongly about, but know that we are listening!

Posted by RubyEclipse on January 15th, 2010 at 11:44 am

Thanks to Dusk the Fragile Keeper at the SSMB for the heads up on that comment.

Sonic Community Win SEGA’s Needlemouse Challenge

It’s been a very long four days for Sonic fans everywhere thanks to SEGA’s Project Needlemouse Character Countdown. Starved for information about the game with naught but a teaser trailer and rumours of it possibly being a downloadable title for 360 and PS3 to go on, fans leapt on SEGA’s challenge to whittle down a frankly ridiculous list of possible playable characters. The first two challenges were easy with fans racking up 250 correct replies on SEGA’s blog and Facebook page in a matter of hours. The third day was harder with the target of 1000 answers on SEGA’s forum failing to be reached.

In the final challenge yesterday SEGA were asking for a mammoth 1250 correct answers to be posted to their Twitter account or for SEGA or Needlemouse to reach the trending topic list. It was a long night with an extraordinary effort put in by everyone to push for the goal. Many fans had never used Twitter before and set up an account just for this challenge. Others helped members struggling to Tweet correctly by showing them how. It wasn’t long before Twitter was drown under a wave of #SEGA and #Needlemouse posts. SEGA offered words of encouragement and for a short period we were actually posting more topics per minute than some of the top 10 trending topics. It was a valiant effort but while we never made the trending topics list we still won. At around 7am GMT SEGA gave us the word:

Continue reading Sonic Community Win SEGA’s Needlemouse Challenge

TSS AT WAR: Project Needlemouse

Things are bad at The Sonic Stadium. Real bad. The staff members are at war. Over the last week, we have been constantly fighting over one hot topic. A topic that has been so controversial that it makes your eyes burn and your skin itch.

Who will be in Project Needlemouse?

With only five names left to go, tensions are higher than ever with TSS staff. Oh, if only there was some way you could know the sort of arguments we’re having, gentle reader. It’s pandemonium! With each staffer backing a different character, you can just imagine the chaos that’s taking place. Here’s a mere snippet of our conflict:

Dreadknux

Guys, guys! Can we please just chill the hell out!?

Shadzter

No way! I think Sonic should be in because he has the most experience at being a Needle pimping mouse!! If it weren’t for him we wouldn’t even have this fanbase, the bunny with the stretchy ears idea? We don’t need any of that, how many game’s has Bugs Bunny starred in huh? Can he curl up in a ball? Sure he can run fast but can he break the sound barrier? No? I didn’t think so. Carrot munching? How about Chilli Dog munching? Now that’s hard core, Sonic’s got one tough belly. Take that you guys!

Paul Street

Hell no, it’s got to be Shadow! I mean think about it, it hasn’t been easy being the “Ultimate Life Form”. His best friend Maria died, he was left to rot in a G.U.N base for 50 years and then there was something about aliens that I’m going to totally ignore. But when it comes right down to it Shadow is a bad-ass and if any character in the Sonic cast will benefit from a back to basics 2D game it’s him.

Forget all of the silliness and remember how cool you felt grinding the bridge in Radical Highway being persued by the news choppers. If you strip back on the stupid back story and concentrate on navigating a level looking as cool as possible then it doesn’t get much cooler than the black and red hedgehog zipping through levels on his rocket skates. That is why Shadow needs to be in Project Needlemouse and if he doesn’t make it, I’ll eat my hat! (Or not, as I don’t own a hat).

Plus being a Sonic re-colour he’ll be easy to fit in knowing know how lazy the Sonic Team are. Oh snap!

T-Bird

I think you guys are WAAAAY off the mark. Everybody loved Vector so much in the Olympic games that SEGA decided they’d made a massive mistake cutting the bling-bling Crocodile from Sonic 1 in the never-to-happen sound test. Needlemouse is supposed to be going back to the oldschool right? I mean REAL oldschool! Then it makes sense they’d put in this guy…nothing would give me more joy than sliding through tight spaces with this dude.

Dreadknux

T-Bird, Vector’s not in the running anymore.

T-Bird

Oh. Well, I think you guys are still WAAAAY off the mark. Everybody loved Vector Amy so much in the Olympic games that SEGA decided they’d made make a massive mistake cutting the bling-bling Crocodile love interest from Sonic 1 Needlemouse in the never-to-happen sound test Shower scene. Needlemouse is supposed to be going back to the oldschool right? I mean REAL oldschool! Then it makes sense they’d put in this guy girl…nothing would give me more joy than sliding through tight spaces with this dude. (edited for younger readers).

Dreadknux

T-Bird, Amy’s not in it anymore.

T-Bird

Screw you all then, I reckon it’s Froggy. Why? Sorry, I don’t know. We are simply Na-tur-al.

JayZeach (Radio DJ)

Wait, you can’t do that! I wanted to pick Froggy! He is clearly the best character in the world, small, covert, able to get wherever he wants. It matters not that he was caught in the past because soon, he will…TAKE OVER THE WORLD, mwahahahaha, using his Sidekick Big The Cat as muscle of course.

Brad Flick

I’m backing Mr. Needlemouse all the way, because he has a kick-ass website. Go chug one, a-holes.

nuckles87

KNUCKLES, DAMMIT. KNUCKLES THE MOTHER****ING ECHIDNA. HE DON’T NEED TO BE ON NO STINKING LIST. He’ll force his presence into this through the sheer power of echidna!

Billy Bob (from behind the boiler)

Well, good golly gilly gob bam, ah dohn’ kno’ much abaht no Sawnic da Hidgehawg, no’ssir. Ah just com ‘ere ta fix yaw boilah. C’n I pik Boilah Man?

Dreadknux

What the-? No, because Boiler Man doesn’t exist. Where the hell did you come from anyway?

Billy Bob

Texas.

Dreadknux

No, I mean where in this area have you been hiding all this time?

Billy Bob

…Boilah. Ah… Ah fix da boilah.

Dreadknux

We need better security in here. Enough of that, I’ve already determined who’s going to win, and it’s certainly none of the losers you losers have picked. Losers. Everybody knows that it’s all about our saviour of the Sonic series, Big the Cat. Goddamn, that cat is pimpin’. Everything you know and love rests within that rotund vessel of consciousness.

Think about it. SEGA could totally remake Sonic the Hedgehog from the Mega Drive, only it will be in HD and instead of Sonic, you have Big the Cat, blanky busting badniks as he cannonballs down hills and destroys half of Eggman’s machines and pinball tables with his ultra-bulk. Think of Buzzbombers in normal Sonic 1 size, and then playing as a sprite three times that size. Because Big is so big, he can be the all-seeing destructor of evil.

The creator. The Alpha. The Omega. The Purple! It’s a…

Brad Flick

Dude’s out of his nut, man. Is he going to..?

Dreadknux

Oh, it’s a…

Shadzter

He’s going to sing it! Restrain him!!!

Dreadknux

OH IT’S A WINDY AND SUNNY DAAAAA-AHHHH!

… Ahem. Sorry about that. Now you know how bad things can get at TSS Towers. This is the dark side of this website, for sure, and I’m glad you don’t get to see most of it. With hours to go until the last names are struck off, it’s a race against time before we all start killing one another in some kind of Pon Farr ritual (except less sexual). Who do you think will be kept in this list, and why? Why!? WHY!? Pledge yourself against one of the final characters, for great justice! And support him in the comments box!

And don’t forget to answer SEGA’s questions (or make the company a trending topic) on Twitter either.

Project Needlemouse Challenge #3 NOW LIVE

Third Project Needlemouse Challenge is now LIVE at the Official Sonic board over at SEGA forums.

From RubyEclipse of SEGA of America at the forum –

Hi everyone,

For those of you new around here, welcome to the SEGA/Sonic forums! Today’s part of the Needlemouse Challenge will be taking place here – to enter, just post on this thread with the correct responses!

Here are today’s questions:

How many acts were in each zone of Sonic 1?
What was the first game to feature Super Sonic?
The original Sonic the Hedgehog featured special stages with morphing backgrounds – can you name two of the animals seen in that background?

You guys have 20 hours to achieve the 750 needed to knock off additional characters from the roster tomorrow, or 1,000 for the bonus point!

Good luck everyone!

SEGA of America blog reveals Vector and Tikal are todays cuts from the character list.
With over 900 correct answers to yesterdays challenge the bonus point was achieved, just one more this week and we get the special surprise on Friday aswell as the full list of characters appearing in the game.

RubyEclipse has noted the following –
The bonus points count towards a little something special related to Project Needlemouse that we’ll reveal if you guys earn enough.

The bonus point reward is not related to characters, and though I don’t want to hype it up too much for sake of people complaining, I think it’s pretty cool personally.

Project Needlemouse Challenge Round 2 NOW LIVE

SEGA have updated the SEGA and Sonic Facebook pages with round 2 of the Project Needlemouse Challenge. Todays names to be cut off are Charmy and Chip, as revealed at the SEGA of America Blog and Sonic City Blognik. Today’s questions are below –

Sonic The Hedgehog The Needlemouse Challenge has arrived on Facebook! The trivia questions for today are: 1: What was the general name for the robot enemies in the early Sonic games? 2: 50 Rings is always nice, but 100 is even nicer – why so? 3: In Sonic 2 for the Genesis / Mega Drive, how many lives was a ‘continue’ worth?

SEGA Facebook
Sonic Facebook

Prediction for Needlemouse’s Character List

In all seriousness, this list is pretty funny.  I forgot that SEGA had a sense of humor.  Well played.

My favorite prediction was when the game was announced, though.  You might remember us telling you about awesome sprite t-shirts a few weeks ago.  Well, those were made by our friend Trunks, from “The Wild Adventures of Trunks and Soto.” He posted this GIF in the Needlemouse thread at Sonic Retro and I wouldn’t be surprised if it came true…


Aaaaaand… one more for the road…

Full Needlemouse Character List Friday, If Fans Succeed In Challenge

UPDATE: First task has been completed and with over the required 250 replies the bonus point might be achieved too. /UPDATE END

SEGA of America have revealed a possible list of characters that will appear in Project Needlemouse. Each day until Friday they are going to put a rejected stamp on the characters that won’t be in the game. Friday the full list of characters will be revealed if fan’s can succeed in a challenge. No information is given on wether the characters in the picture are the only potential characters in the game, so other characters like Tails and Knuckles still may or may not be in the game.

1: The Details: Each name on the picture above is a potential playable character in Project Needlemouse. However, not all of them are going to make the cut – and each day this week until Friday, we’re going to update this picture with a rejected stamp over those who will not actually be showing up!

2: The Challenge: Answer our trivia questions about oldschool Sonic games! (Genesis era) We’ll post trivia questions each day on a specific part of our SEGA/Sonic sites, and you all have to work together to figure out the right answers and post them there! Each day we’ll challenge you guys to get a certain number of people to post the correct answers – and if you meet that challenge, we’ll remove more names from the picture in a new blog the following day!

*About Bonus Points: If you go above and beyond the expected results, the community will earn a bonus point for that day. Earn at least three bonus points and we’ll give you all something special this Friday!

3: The Schedule:

Monday: SEGA Blogs
Tuesday: SEGA/Sonic Facebook
Wednesday: Official Sonic Forum
Thursday: SEGA Twitter
Day 1: SEGA Blogs (Difficulty: Easy)
Challenge: Get 100 Replies with 3/3 Correct answers

Bonus Point unlocked with 250+ correct responses!

Trivia Questions:

1: In Sonic 1, how many rings were needed at the end of an act to enter a special stage?

2: How many emeralds were in the original Sonic 1 for Genesis / Mega Drive?

3: What colors were these emeralds?

Remember: It’s all about momentum. This statement holds as true with this challenge as it did in the Sonic games that many of us grew up playing. Fans across the world will need to work together and spread the word if you want to succeed. So build up strong now, because the ending is going to be a challenge!

You have just under 20 hours from the time of this posting to reach 100 correct replies, or 250 for the bonus point! Good luck – the Needlemouse challenge begins now!

SEGA of America blog

Sonic City Blognik

What Up With That?: The Needlemouse Trailer

Ooooooooooo weeeeeeee… what up with that?

Did you hear some “news” that Integrated Alchemy (IA), not SEGA, produced the Needlemouse trailer?  Did you get mad when IA revealed that they hadn’t seen nor heard anything about the game?  Have you abandoned all hope for Project Needlemouse for no good reason?  Well, don’t worry, because today on “What Up With That?,” we’re going to clear up all of the questions floating around.

SEGA outsourced the trailer to another company.  What up with that?

That happens… fairly regularly.  There are whole production houses devoted to creating trailers all over the world.  Integrated Alchemy is no different.  Look at their website and watch their sizzle reel.  They make trailers for a multitude of gaming companies.  Shock.

It’s also not the first time that SEGA has handed over their hype to someone else.  If the Mazuri video didn’t leak, we would have seen this werehog/ring smash teaser first.

There’s no gameplay footage, images, or artwork.  What up with that?

That’s why it’s called a teaser.  You can build hype for a game without showing any media whatsoever.  That’s how hype works.  Remember those Halo 3 “action figure” commercials (these were also outsourced to another company)?  You know nothing about the game, but you know that you want it after having seen the teaser:

 [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjhSp7xGsMc[/youtube]

SEGA told Integrated Alchemy nothing.  What up with that?

SEGA is famous for copious amounts of leaks, mostly through their FTP or the Australian ratings board.  Maybe they finally want to keep everything under wraps for once.  Isn’t that great?

Or, hey, maybe you’re one who thinks that they didn’t have anything at the time.  If you are, the next section is for you…

SEGA deceived us all by not having anything upon commissioning the trailer.  Needlemouse is full of lies.  What up with that?

This one is my favorite.  There are a few people out there who still don’t understand “teaser trailers” (please scroll up and read again if you still don’t).  These special few are of the belief that SEGA will not deliver on the promises in the teaser, since they didn’t make it themselves and did not show/tell Integrated Alchemy anything aside from “we’re making a new retro, 2D Sonic game.”  Well, let’s stop right there and make those people look stupid.

Do you remember when the trailer was released alongside a Q&A at GameSpot?  Ken Ballough reaffirmed that we would be getting everything that (literally) flew at us in the teaser.  Also, if SEGA didn’t entirely agree with the trailer’s content, then they would have axed it.  IA might have developed the trailer, but there is no way in blue hell that they would also release it.  When you’re being outsourced/commissioned to do something, you’re going to give the paying customer (in this case, SEGA) what they want.  In short, everything that you see and hear in this trailer will be in the final product.

Besides, SEGA wouldn’t want some company that makes trailers and motion graphics to dig a hole that they can’t fill.  SEGA already has a hard enough time filling the holes that they dig themselves.

Integrated Alchemy started this whole mess with their video’s description.  What up with that?

It’s obvious: they’re dumbasses.  Really good with After Effects… but dumbasses nonetheless.

I care a lot about whatever we’re talking about.  What up with that?

Go ride a bike.  It’s not a big deal… at all.

GameSpot Asks For Needlemouse Info, SEGA Replies

We’ve previously reported on GameSpot’s trip to SEGA’s Japan Headquarters and have only so far seen pictures.  Now, we get to the questions.  Oh, yes… the questions.  I know what I want to know.  Give me some Project effin’ Needlemouse information.  Come on… let me have it.

GameSpot readers: Can you give us more details about Project Needlemouse?

Ah, yes.  Awesome question, GameSpot.  I like you again.  SEGA, the floor is yours.  Dish some dirt…

Darren Macbeth: More information on this project will be revealed in the new year.

*waitsforprojectneedlemouseinfoslol*

Confirmed: Needlemouse.com Website Not Legit

If you’ve been checking out TSS this morning or discussing various things on the SSMB today, you’ll probably have noticed that there’s a new Sonic game announced that’s getting more attention than any in recent times. But what’s caught the attention of some fans, even more than the impressive teaser trailer, is the mysterious appearance of a website at http://www.needlemouse.com/

needlemouse-possible-concept

Featuring nothing but a black page and the above image (labelled as ‘concept artwork’ within the page’s source code), the safe assumption is that we’re seeing a bunch of early renders for a Green Hill-esque stage in the new 2010 ‘Needlemouse’ project. But, is it a real legit SEGA website?

A few forum members on the SSMB have dug up WHOIS information and have found that, while the domain name was registered back on the 21st August 2009, the nameservers link to one ‘dreamhost.com’ – obviously, this isn’t exactly the sort of host you’d expect to see an official SEGA website on. The fact that SEGA are usually so protective of leaked images, and hardly ever release concept artwork, suggest that this webpage could either be a clever hoax or a lead-up to some sort of fan project.

Having said that, nothing solid has been proven against the validity of the needlemouse.com website – this could all be a clever grassroots viral campaign, lead by a development team that isn’t as protective as Sonic Team. Indeed, we’re not even told if Sonic Team are even involved in this project at all.

The only sure way to find out is to obtain comment from SEGA — the Sega America official blog does not mention the needlemouse.com domain at all (where you would imagine that it would get some sort of acknowledgement) and our calls to SEGA directly about the matter has been met with the response; “I’ve asked”. Sounds a bit ominous if you ask us.

We’ll update you guys on SEGA’s official response on whether what you’re seeing is the real deal. Stay tuned.

EDIT: Apparently TSSZ has been in touch with a Sega America representative who told them that the site “is not connected to our Project Needlemouse”. Regardless, we’re holding out until we hear some sort of confirmation ourselves. But the prospect isn’t looking too good is it?

UPDATE: IGN has now gotten word from the Sega America Community Team about the non-relation to Project Needlemouse. So that settles that, then. If you didn’t like the fan-created Green Hill Zone then your prayers have been answered. If you did like it though, perhaps the real thing might turn out better. Who knows.

UPDATE: New Sonic Game Revealed for 2010, “Project Needlemouse”

Just now, SEGA has released a trailer for Sonic’s 2010 outing. The game, currently untitled, is code named Project Needlemouse. Rather then spoil the surprise for you, I think I will just link to the trailer, posted by GameSpot, and let you guys see for yourselves. There is no game play in this trailer, or even a clear look at Sonic himself, but it does tell you exactly what this game is going to be.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxwdVwtbnHM[/youtube]

You can view the HD version here!

I’m excited. Are you?

You can also read an interview about the game here.

On a not so subtle note, TSS would also like to wish the Dreamcast a happy tenth anniversary! Great gift, huh?

UPDATE: The link to “needlemouse.com” has been removed, as it has proven to be the link to a fan game. I deeply apologize for the mistake.