SEGA U.S. Gets A New Sonic Statue

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Today on the SEGA U.S. blog, employee Kellie tells the story of the arrival of a brand-new Sonic statue for the office lobby.  The statue is life-size and awesome. The new statue replaces a statue from 1999.  She writes:

So I’m just sitting at my desk, typing away, when one of our HR reps appears over the wall of my cube. She says there’s a new Sonic in the lobby, and I should bring my camera. I dash off to find a major project in the works — the assembly of a new Sonic statue.

In case you’ve never been to our offices (as I assume most of you have not), we have a Sonic in our lobby. It’s the older ‘99-ish Sonic. He comes up to my mid-torso — tall enough for me to rest my elbow on.

With the arrival of this new, “modern Sonic” statue, followers of SEGA’s Twitter wanted to know if the old statue would be given away during one of the blog’s “Free Stuff Friday” sweepstakes.  Kellie replied to the large amount of interest:

Sadly, the answer is none of the above. The old Sonic will go into storage. (I’m bolding for emphasis because I expect that to be asked a lot.) But rest assured, if he is ever in danger of meeting the inside of a dumpster, the community team will rescue him and give him a good home.

Check out the gallery of the new and old statues below.

[Via SEGA America Blog]

Rumour: Leaked Document Reveals ‘Sonic Anniversary’

megatonMany different news sources are reporting that a SEGA America FTP bungle has resulted in a communication with Sony Computer Entertainment America being leaked on the Internet. The document, appearing to be notes from a meeting dated 5th August, include mention of special console-specific DLC characters for Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing, a new ‘Sonic Anniversary’ title to arrive on PS3 and multiple ways of SEGA offering exclusive content to Sony’s home console – including an introduction of classic Dreamcast titles on the PlayStation Network.

Of most note to Sonic fans, the ‘Sonic Anniversary’ project appears to be a new title – either in development or consideration – that aims to collect “all Sonic games on one BD [Blu-Ray Disc] disc”. The document ponders a retail price point of $99, which may be reasonable depending on whether it really is an entire collection of Sonic titles. Most intriguing is a note that says: “SCEA would love PSN exclusive power ups/different game modes (like Castlevania’s flip it over/backwards)” – raising hopes that such a collection would be in the vein of Sonic Jam more than simple emulations like Sonic Mega Collection. Spin Dash in Sonic 1 once again?

Speaking on Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing, special non-SEGA characters could make an appearance in the form of DLC with the following note; “Open to DLC to differentiate PS3 SKU – not ratchet and clank but other characters… maybe characters from Rare or Fable universes”. The latter two franchises suggest that the same sort of DLC is planned for the Xbox 360 version too, although who would we see? Kameo? Joanna Dark? The dog from Fable? A shame that Ratchet and Clank is ruled out (probably something Sony said), as it sounds like a good fit for the game.

According to the document, Sony also has intentions to sell PS2 games on the PlayStation Network, referencing an unnamed Sonic game and GTA Vice City as examples. SEGA also muses the possibility of Dreamcast digital titles, stating a possible exclusivity deal with Sony; “If we provide a list of DC titles SCEA will let us know which ones they’re interested in having exclusively… If we give them a long period of exclusivity they’ll give us more marketing support.”

If true, it all seems to be very exciting news for both SEGA fans and Sony PS3 owners alike. It also means that this is the latest in several incidents where SEGA America’s FTP team has leaked documents by uploading them publicly by accident. You can see the entire thing at Sonic Retro.

Mad Catz To Produce Sonic the Hedgehog Branded Accessories

Third party accessory maker Mad Catz has just announced that they have signed a multi-year agreement with SEGA America to produce peripherals using the Sonic the Hedgehog license. Naturally, as is the case with these press releases, everyone’s really happy about it as well.

This week’s happy quote comes from Mad Catz President and CEO, Darren Richardson; “Sonic is one of the videogame industry’s most popular and enduring characters and we are thrilled to initiate this relationship with Sega to create Sonic-branded videogame accessories. We look forward to offering unique and exciting accessories to fans of this truly iconic videogame and popular culture character.”

It’s likely, with Project Needlemouse around the corner, that Mad Catz saw an opportunity for a potential hedgehog rebirth and tried to jump on the chance of uber profits. And who could blame them? The agreement gives Mad Catz rights in North America only, which opens the question as to whether we might see them in Europe at all. Importing might be your best bet.

Mad Catz Press Release (heads up by Joystiq)

Miss, Peter Moore said “F You” to Yuji Naka!

Ex-SEGA America President Peter Moore has revealed to Esquire Magazine that he has crossed the nasty path with Sonic programmer Yuji Naka, telling him “F*** you” during a Tokyo boardroom meeting. The tirade came as Moore was presenting the results to SEGA Japan of a consumer focus group, asking gamers what they thought of the SEGA brand.

At this point in time, the Dreamcast was sorely getting its arse handed to it by the Sony upstart, PlayStation 2, and the EA Sports head recollects asking people “If these brands were people, who would they be?” SEGA, unfortunately, was the “granddad with dementia who used to be cool but you couldn’t remember why”. Something familiar with that reaction there regarding today’s gaming climate, but that might just be me. Says Gamesradar:

Moore had tapes of the focus group dubbed in Japanese and headed to Tokyo to report the doddering image of Sega to the company’s board. However, when he arrived, Yuji Naka – who Moore describes as being “a tad conceited” – accused Moore of tampering with the dialogue. “I lost it,” remembers Moore. “I turned to the interpreter and said, ‘Tell him, “F*** you”.”

Although the translator refused to convey Moore’s feelings, he was pretty sure that his message got across. “Naka had lived in the US for three years, so I knew he understood. I walked out and never returned.” What a badass.

I guess Naka’s uncomfortable nature outside of programming awesome code rings even more true, what with his part in the whole Sonic X-Treme tragedy now urban legend. Power can sometimes make a guy arrogant, even Peter in his Xbox 360 days. But we have to agree with Gamesradar… man, what a badass. I’d like to buy him a beer.

When Peter Moore said “F*** you” to Yuji Naka – Gamesradar, via Kotaku

Sonic Unleashed Trailer [UPDATE]

It appears Sonic has returned to the realm of side scrollers and on rails game play in his latest console outing. Good stuff.

UPDATE: Looks like SEGA-On’s video was removed, so much for that. We know you love a good video though, so courtesy of our good friends at X-CulT, you can download a modified version of the (rather stupidly large at 600MB) video from their website. Also, if you want a laugh, click here.

Sega Signs Ad Deal with GET Interactive

Sega of America has signed a new advertising deal with GET Interactive, a company known for its technology that allows users to buy products directly via online-enabled content.

GET’s Ad Venture technology contains links with entertainment such as music videos. You can interact with virtual products and even buy real products. GET say they are working together with Sega on a wide array of brand placements in a new videogame currently in development.

So, now begs the question of what is this new game Sega are creating? Could Sonic be starring in a new game with Tony the Tiger to stop Eggman taking over McDonalds? Only time shall tell….

Interview: Simon Jeffery

0710jefferySimon Jeffery has had a bit of a history in the video game business. Before settling into the top position as President of SEGA America, he was the President for LucasArts between 2000-2003 and a studio director before then. He’s been credited for attempting to build better relationships between external developers for creating new games on existing IPs – something he’s keen to continue at SEGA with an announced Sonic RPG from BioWare in the works.

He caught a bit of flak from the online community a month or two back with a comment that largely insinuated that Sonic was for kids under 12 years old. While this may be true, it’s evident that the ‘mature’ turn the games have taken have appeared to drag this stigmata further down. Uproar was had, then Jeffery retracted his statement somewhat. The Sonic Stadium was given an opportunity to ask the man a few questions, to understand better the mind behind the driving force of future Sonic games.

TSS: Simon Jeffery, thank you for taking some time to speak with us. First, could we get an idea of your role in SEGA, and what kind of involvement you have in the games that are released, including in particular the Sonic series?

SJ: I run SEGA of America. We, like SEGA of Europe, are a subsidiary of SEGA of Japan. I have involvement with games that are built in the West, but not with games built in Japan. Therefore, sorry to say, I am unable to answer questions about Sonic Team – as they reside in Japan and do not come under my jurisdiction at all! Likewise, I know this will make you all mad; SEGA of America has no say in the voice casting. Absolutely none, so all of the online petitions and personal emails and letters that we get at SOA cannot be acted on, sorry to say.

TSS: You must get that question an awful lot, huh? You say you’re a Sonic fan yourself. What’s your fondest memory as a fan, and do you have a favourite Sonic game?

SJ: My fondest memory of Sonic was seeing it, playing it, and hearing it for the first time at a CES show, all those years ago. I was working for EA at the time, and was blown away by Sonic’s first showing on the Genesis. The great music pervaded the entire show – wherever you went, you heard the Sonic tunes! Sonic 1 is my favourite Sonic game for that same reason – gives me goosebumps when I see it.

TSS: You caught a bit of unexpected controversy over your implication that Sonic the Hedgehog becomes un-cool to kids once they hit 12 years old. But it can be argued that this is because the story, atmosphere and approach of recent Sonic games have made it unapproachable by adults. Would you agree with this statement?

SJ: Absolutely. The reason that Sonic is still around after 16 years, is that the character design was so endearing, had such longevity, that he has outlived all those other woodland critters like Bubsy the Bobcat and Awesome Possom! But there is more than that – Sonic has an attitude that can be related to by people of all ages, and can do things that no other videogame character can compete with. However, some of the Sonic games over the last few years have not lived up to expectation, and it is these games, not Sonic himself, which do not appeal to older gamers. Sonic is timeless!

TSS: Sonic could well be re-invented again, and you say you are facilitating that. Could we see a more ‘classic’ Sonic the Hedgehog, with an emphasis on level design instead of multiple characters? What would you personally like to see in a redesign or re-invention of Sonic?
SJ: That’s a difficult one for me to answer, as Sonic Team is the keeper of all things Sonic! The recent Sonic games on DS have taken a more classical approach, and they have proven extremely popular. The Sonic RPG that BioWare is building, also has a great opportunity to be a game that gamers of all ages will want to play, and enjoy Sonic’s characteristics again.

TSS: There is always the assumption that Sonic Team are working under strict deadlines that have an adverse impact on the project, such as Sonic The Hedgehog on XBOX 360. Do you think if they were given more development time they could bring out a game that lives up to the name of Sonic? Sonic Adventure took several years to develop and it turned out to be one of the series’ defining games.

SJ: In reality, most games will benefit from more time in development. Sonic Team, like most other teams, however, have many ideas that they want to build in the future to keep Sonic evolving. That means that there has to be a point at which they have to stop working on one game, and move onto their next ideas.

TSS: Sonic the Hedgehog has always been more popular in the West than in Japan, and a lot of products, such as the Archie comics and early television shows in the 1990s showed this. Is this the reason a lot more Western talent is getting involved in Sonic projects, such as BioWare and Backbone Entertainment?

SJ: Very much so. Many game developers in the West grew up with Sonic, and he is one of their cultural icons. It is an honor to be able to work on a Sonic game, and to have the endorsement of Sonic Team to do so. We at SEGA also want to make future Sonic games live up to a higher quality threshold, and Sonic Team are partnering with us in that regard.

TSS: Would you say that recent Sonic games have become too complicated for fans, and thus one of the reasons the series is held in disregard? Ever since Sonic Adventure the series has slowly deviated from the original premise of simple badnik-destroying, platform hopping action. To be fair, nobody wants to be throwing boxes as Tails when they could be running around expansive worlds as Sonic.

SJ: I wouldn’t say that they have become too complicated, no. Some might have been too finicky to play in parts because of camera etc, but many fans are looking for rewarding and challenging gameplay. One thing that you have to remember is that everyone is different. There are millions of Sonic fans around the world, and they all want different things from their favorite hedgehog. You can’t please all the people, all the time unfortunately, which is why we need to focus on making great-playing games that will satisfy as many fans as we possibly can.

TSS: Both yourself and SEGA Australia recently said that Sonic needs a change for the better; I think we can all agree the hedgehog isn’t well. But you also say you don’t have any say over what happens at Sonic Team or in SEGA Japan. If Sonic Team or SEGA Japan are still stuck in their belief that any old product will do, how will you hope to ensure that the series gets back on track?

SJ: We have a very close relationship with SEGA of Japan, and the executive team there is very interested in our opinions. They certainly don’t think that ‘any old product will do’ and are keen to make Sonic games more appealing to wider audiences outside of Japan. All this takes time though!

TSS: Finally, with next-generation consoles now allowing for more advanced games, consumers appear to be looking for more intricate stories and game play. The Sonic series has tried to adapt to this with apocalyptic storylines and multiple characters and failed miserably. Do you feel there is room for classic mascots of yesteryear such as Sonic in this day and age?

SJ: There will always be room for Sonic, no matter what the technology. Sonic is a character, not a game. It is up to us at SEGA to make games that bring the best out of the character, whatever platform it is on.

TSS: Thank you for your time, Simon.

SJ: Thank you! And remember folks – I can’t do ANYTHING about the voice acting – it is completely outside of SOA’s jurisdiction!

“Blue Dude With a ‘Tude” Sweepstakes

Sega seems to be going all out in it’s promotion for Sonic’s upcoming Wii appearance, Sonic and the Secret Rings. They’ve teamed up with nationally known American slushy maker “Slush Puppie” to bring you the “Blue Dude with a ‘Tude Sweepstakes”.

This contest is only eligible for people in the 48 contiguous states of the United States, as well as Canada (excluding Quebec). You can enter this contest via either paper slips at participating retail locations, or by printing up a slip on their site.

The contest started on February 1st (sorry for the late notice) and ends on May 31st. Continue reading “Blue Dude With a ‘Tude” Sweepstakes

More Sonic Titles Coming To PS2?

Simon Jeffery, head of SEGA US, recently spoke to BusinessWeek.com about what SEGA see of the future for PS2, when he dropped a potentially interesting hint about possible future Sonic titles.

The following is a excerpt from the interview.
What strategy should a software developer like Sega take?

We’re really balancing our portfolio of games for old-gen and new-gen hardware. We’re focusing our big investments on the next generation, and we’re making sure we have a balanced portfolio of kids’ games and family-oriented products and movie tie-ins. Continue reading More Sonic Titles Coming To PS2?

Sonic To Miss PS3 Launch

SEGA America have announced that the PlayStation 3 version of Sonic the Hedgehog will no longer be released in time for the console’s launch, instead being delayed until an unspecified time in “Holiday 2006”.

The reasons for the delay appear to be involving downloadable content for the game, wherein SEGA are said to need more time incorporating this feature into the PS3 version. With the extra time, potential PS3 owners could download items and levels, although SEGA would not confirm just what they have planned for this service.

No mention was made of an alteration to the XBOX 360 version release date, so there is a likelihood that the 360 may still see a November 17th street date for the US. The release date for the game in Europe remains unchanged for November 24th.

Expect The Sonic Stadium to get a massive playtest of the game and to have a special during the launch week where we reveal all about the next generation of blue blur platforming.

Nintendo Power Interviews Simon Jeffery

In the latest issue of Nintendo Power, Simon Jeffery comments on the newest coming Sonic games, other current games, and what might be upcoming for Sega.

Interviewer from Nintendo then questions Simon on why he thinks Sonic has done so well in the market since the 16-bit era, while many others have fallen.

“It’s classic character design. It’s the same as the Looney Tunes characters or the Disney characters that were created back in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s. So much thought and process went into building Sonic originally back in those days. Many of the other characters that came out of the 16-bit era were created in very a reactionary way. Continue reading Nintendo Power Interviews Simon Jeffery

TSS: What to expect at E3 2005

As The Sonic Stadium is to be covering E3 2005 almost from the inside out, SONIC NEWS has made room for a TSS article to collate everything that’s already been said, what’s been confirmed, what’s been rumoured. E3 can be a very confusing and somewhat dangerous place for those who haven’t been catching up, so allow this article to hand you all the current information we have, so you get some background knowledge on what Sonic Team has and might be offering.

First of all, let’s base things on SEGA’s Official E3 Lineup. On the Sonic Team side, you have two titles; Phantasy Star Universe and Shadow the Hedgehog.

Phantasy Star Universe is, as the name suggests, the true sequel to Phantasy Star Online. It’s the “next generation” of PSO games. Sonic Team first revealed ‘PSU’ at E3 2004, but raised more questions than answers.

Continue reading TSS: What to expect at E3 2005

PSO: Blue Burst Mini US Site

Sega of America has opened their mini Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst official site a few days ago. The website features some information (shown below), PC requirements, screenshots, and a spring 2005 release date listed. Stay tuned to Sonic News for further information on its release.

New Quests!
Thirty three quests have been created from the offline portion of the PSO story. Visit the Governor-General and receive up to 15 quests, or get to the Laboratory to accept 18 quests that await you there.

Continue reading PSO: Blue Burst Mini US Site

Several New Sonic Games This Year

In an announcement made earlier this week by their press FTP, SEGA America confirm Shadow the Hedgehog is only one of ‘several’ new Sonic games coming from the franchise in 2005.

Taken from the PDF released by Sega,

“In addition to presenting a retrospective Sonic video, SEGA of America president Simon Jeffery and Takashi Iizuka, game director, SEGA Studio USA surprised attendees of the ‘Walk of Game’ induction ceremony with a sneak-peek of a mysterious trailer labeled Shadow the Hedgehog; one of several new projects coming from the Sonic franchise in 2005. SEGA did not release any details about this new game, but assured fans that there will be more information about several new Sonic titles forthcoming.

Continue reading Several New Sonic Games This Year

Make Your Own Sonic Watch

Make it!

Sega now has Sonic watches in which you can create for $29.95. They’re water-resistant, come with a one-year warranty, and comes with nine different characters! The characters are Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy Rose, Dr. Eggman, Rouge, Shadow, Big the Cat, or Chao. You also get to mix and match colors and designs on every other detail of your Sonic watch. Click Here to head to a shortcut, or click Here for the actual site.