It’s been three years since the last Summer of Sonic, but this year the UK-based Sonic the Hedgehog convention was brought back for “One More Run” thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that reached half the requested amount inside 5 hours, and smashed the intended target by over another 50% on top. Clearly the fan demand was still there 3 years on, and excitement about the show reached fever pitch when it was confirmed shortly after the 25th anniversary party in San Diego that our friends at Sega America had generously supplied some demo pods for Summer of Sonic – attendees would be the first in Europe to play the hotly anticipated Sonic Mania. So, how’d the event go? Let’s find out, shall we?
Edit: 3/23/2016 You can now watch the full panel courtesy of the SEGAbits channel.
The Sonic 25th Anniversary panel at SXSW will begin just a few hours from when this post is published. And thankfully SXSW will be hosting a live stream of the panel, which you can see above. The Sonic section of the stream will start at at 1:30pm PDT / 3:30pm CDT / 4:30pm EDT / 8:30pm GMT / 9:30pm CET.
The panel will feature Aaron Webber, Austin Keys, Mike Pollock, Roger Craig Smith, Takashi Iizuka and Yuji Naka, and will focus on the history of the franchise. The panel’s description also teases that they’ll “look to the future”, though Sega has already clarified that they don’t plan to announce any new games at the panel. Aside from that, Aaron Webber has teased that the meaning of the numbers on the Game Grumps photo from a couple of months ago will be revealed.
Whatever the panel is going to be about, with that selection of guests it’s sure to at least be something worth watching.
Before we get to the announcement here, let’s go over the history of this game’s development cause chances are you might want to know whatever happened to it: So four years ago, Yuji Naka and Prope revealed a game called Rodea the Sky Soldier for the Wii and 3DS. Since then, it’s undergone some pretty big changes as their collaborator, Kadokawa Games, seemingly took their sweet time publishing and advertising the game. While Yuji Naka said that the Wii version was finished, Kadokawa hadn’t given any updates on when it’d come out aside from them giving more information “in the near future” and the 3DS version supposedly still being worked on.
It wasn’t until late last year when the game was re-revealed that we’d actually get more information. It turned out that Kadokawa and Prope had pretty much been making an entirely new game for Wii U and 3DS, with them also releasing the original Wii game in a bundle with the Wii U version. As for the differences between the new and old versions: it seems like the original game is more arcadey and score-based, while the new game has a bigger focus on adventure and story. Both versions will be released in Japan on April 2nd.
So now that we know that the game is still being made and coming out soon in Japan, the question was if western countries would get the game as well. This is where NIS America steps in, as they announced today that they’ll be bringing the Wii U and 3DS versions of game to the US and Europe this fall. As for the original Wii game, there’s no confirmation yet but an NISA representative did tell Nintendo World Report that they do want to release it as a pack-in with the Wii U game like how it’s being sold in Japan. So, you know, hopefully that happens.
Have you been wondering what Yuji Naka has been up to since leaving Sonic Team besides making a bunch of small and kinda neat games? Well, a new action adventure game called Rodea the Sky Soldier was announced for Wii and 3DS, publisher Kadowaka Games released a trailer which can be seen above. So why is it being released for Wii? Well, this trailer was released a little more than two years ago, after which the publisher never spoke of it again. Yuji Naka gave an update a few months later saying that the game was finished, but that they were waiting for Kadowaka Games to publish it. After a while everyone who did know about the game either forgot about it or assumed that it was scrapped.
Now we finally have an update on the title. Yoshimi Yasuda, the president of Kadowaka Games had said that they were having trouble adapting the control scheme to the 3DS version, which is being handled by the publisher. Yasuda said that the version is about 70% finished and that there will be more information in the near future. Maybe it’ll get a re-reveal at TGS 2013? We’ll see.
Prope also released a Digimon RPG called Digimon Adventure for PSP earlier this year in Japan, a western release doesn’t seem likely for this game though.
Saturday, June 25th. A thousand-strong horde of Sonic fans descends upon the Camden Centre in London, to celebrate a video gaming icon with music, games, laughs and chilli dogs. So far, so Summer of Sonic, but this was the 20th anniversary show so there had to be something just a bit special going on, and blimey did they ever deliver on that. How? By getting Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka to drop by London to enjoy the festivities, do some signings and some Q&A sessions. That is pretty hard to top, ladies and gents, especially when fans were able to quiz the pair on Madonna, the joint American/Japanese development of Sonic 2, and dat barrel. However, Sonic Retro was also able to get a little more into the bargain and snag an interview slot with Naka and Iizuka. Exciting? I thought so.
Now if you will, allow me to set the scene. Things are behind schedule and everyone is hot and totally knackered, a fact that fellow attendees will attest to. We’re now down to the last interview slot of the day, and another site needs to cram into the session too. We finally get to head in as Jun Senoue takes to the stage to wow everyone downstairs. Still, I know things are going to be at least a little bit good when we’re asked what sites we came from – the mention of our site causes an “Ah, Sonic Retro!” from Iizuka, as he tilts his head back and smiles with a mixture of recognition and amusement. If you were ever in doubt of Retro’s reach, dear reader, that should give you a rough idea of our place in the grand scheme of things.
Then, with little time to spare and more questions than I can possibly ask, we get down to business.
Retro: Naka-san, you joined Sega around the time of its first real console releases, having worked on the SG-1000 and Sega My Card series back in the mid-80s. What was it like to see Sega become a video game publisher that was known all over the world?
Naka: At the beginning, Sega’s real catalyst for success was the arcade, and Sonic pulled it along and really built upon that. Also, the fact that we had hardware and were a first party helped to give us that status in the market, as a global name. So, I feel really happy to be able to be involved, really lucky. It’s really amazing that something created in Haneda, which is not at the centre of Tokyo, sold worldwide.
Hit the post break for the rest of the interview!