Come one, come all for a Grand Prix of hijinks with the Sonic and Sega Retro crew playing Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 next Friday August the 3rd, 5PM Central. In addition the event will be live streamed with commentary from Retro staff, talking about the game, the upcoming sequel and more. Streaming and further details will be available soon.
To join in, send a friend request now to VidyaRetro on either Xbox Live or Sony Entertainment Network. Once 5PM Central rolls around, be sure to start the game and await an invite.
The Humble Indie Bundle Team began their latest bundle that is a collection focusing on music soundtracks rather than games. In fact, theres only two soundtracks in this bundle that’s related to any video game series. Featured artists include MC Frontalot, They Might Be Giants, Christopher Tin (Civilization), Jonathan Coulton (Portal 2, Left for Dead), and the sole video game soundtrack featuring the ‘Best of’ collection of songs from Sega’s Valkyria Chronicles series, including Valkyria Chronicles 3 courtesy of series composer Hitoshi Sakimoto.
Just like other Indie Bundle packages, you’re given the choice to name your price, allocate who gets what (Split between the composers, to charities and/or to the website host,) then you’re all set to download all of the soundtracks, DRM free offered in *.mp3 and *.flac formats.
Admittably, I’m just getting it for the Valkyria soundtrack and some TMBG. Also if you go past the average you can get a set of remixes from OK Go.
While we waited in line to get into Sonic Boom, there came a point between the talks of Rainbow Gems, Vanilla the Rabbit, and talking with Ruby Eclipse about the future of Sonic where a fiendish idea was conceived.
“If a small group of people belted out the first few lines of ‘Live and Learn‘, how many people would join in the song?”
Over the past 21 years, during good times and bad, one of the most consistently well-regarded aspects of the Sonic the Hedgehog series has been its sound design. While a multitude of composers and performers are responsible for this, the man who holds the most influence in the modern era is Jun Senoue, who in recent times has acted as sound director for Sonic Generations and composed the Sonic 4 music.
He’s a man who likes to keep himself busy – if a quick peek at his production history on Sega Retro doesn’t show you that, then consider that at Summer of Sonic he didn’t appear to have a moment of rest between backstage interviews, two signing sessions, Jam with Jun and the Crush 40 set! Thankfully, before the day took its toll I was able to sit down with him to chat about his start in the business, Sonic Generations and the process of making Sonic music in general. Take a look:
Retro:How did you get into writing music, and specifically how did you get into writing music for video games?
Senoue: Actually I was a big fan of Namco stuff, arcade stuff like Mappy from the mid-80s. After that I was a little bit away from video games. In the early 90s I was surprised by Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis, the Mega Drive. I joined Sega back in 1993. I just submitted my stuff to Sega and they accepted. I was totally surprised, those were my favourite games! It was a great opportunity to join Sega and luckily I had a chance to be part of Sonic 3’s music in the first year of my Sega life.
Retro: Were there any musicians that inspired you as you grew up?
Senoue: I was a big fan of a UK pop band called Duran Duran, and that was the reason I got a bass when I was 14. The bass player for them looked much cooler than the guitar player! Also I played the keyboard for a long time, but I found that the keyboard player and the drummer stayed at the back side of the stage. The people at the front of the stage were much more active and I just wanted to be a part of that. So I purchased a bass, because of John Taylor from Duran Duran. But after that I found that some guitar players had nice guitar solos in the middle of the songs, and I thought “Oh, that’s what I want to do!” so I switched from bass to guitar when I was 15, 16? So yes, Duran Duran was one of my favourite bands when I was young and also lots of hard rock and hair metal bands.
Hit “Read more” to learn which game spent a year in production without any sound direction and find out Jun’s favourite Sonic songs!
For the past few years, Sega has struggled to keep important information on upcoming titles from leaking to the public before an official announcement – and by “struggled”, I mean “failed spectacularly”. Sonic Unleashed saw promotional images as well as an early video of Savannah Citadel find their way to the public before the game was even announced; Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I leaked in its entirety prior to release, and the negative reaction to the game at the time led to a six month delay; Sonic Generations had its entire roster of levels, bosses, and characters revealed months in advance; even Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II was accidentally released several weeks early on Steam.
And so the cycle has continued with the upcoming high-definition remaster of the Dreamcast’s swan song, Sonic Adventure 2. Waaay back in April, we reported that the title had been spotted in a massive leaked list of upcoming Xbox Live Arcade titles. A month later, Major Nelson of Xbox Live pseudo-fame accidentally posted that Avatar items based on the game were due for release. And finally, just last month, Microsoft themselves posted an official listing for the game on Xbox.com, complete with screenshots, box art, and a release date of October 3, 2012. At this point, presumably Sega realized that keeping the game a secret any longer would be utterly futile, so Ken Balough and the Sega of America superteam took to the stage at Sonic Boom on Friday to show the first official trailer for the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network rerelease, poking a bit of self-deprecating fun at the company’s inability to keep a secret. Oh, and apologies in advance for the overly-enthusiastic crowd.
In the heart of San Diego as the blood from the San Diego ComicCon pumps through the city, the House of Blues was bumping last night with the ’80s Hair Guitar stylings of Crush 40 belting out fan favourites and all new tracks, and a grand outpouring of love for the spiky Blue Blur from all 800 or so in attendance.
And Sonic Retro was there in force to experience it.
After a little meetup at a nearby Yard House with some of our older members and a few other fans, we made our way to House of Blues to discover that the line was already stretching around three corners of a block with people eager to attend Sega of America’s Second Annual celebration of all things Sonic. And while those of us in line joked about the stranger sides of the fandom, we ran into a familiar face frantically scurrying around the block to make sure the line was moving: Sega of America’s Sonic Generations Brand Manager Aaron “Ruby Eclipse” Webber. After some small talk, we left him on his way to continue making sure the line was moving at a steady pace.
As a little bit of a game after letting him go, a few of us wagered on a social experiment: if the six of us belted out loudly the first four lines of Live and Learn, how many people would join in? The result was far greater than expected and can only be truly enjoyed by the video captured of it. Keep an eye out here as we’ll post it once I’m able to get on an Internet service that can handle video uploading.
From Comic Con comes a new trailer for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed showing at least part of the opening cinematic of the game. The trailer primarily features Sonic characters along with a bunch of recycled voice clips, though Vyse from Skies of Arcadia, Gillius from Golden Axe and AiAi from Super Monkey Ball do appear as well as some of the dragons from Panzer Dragoon. The end of the trailer shows the release date of the game, which is November 20th, 2012 in the US and November 16th in Europe.
The box art of the game has also been revealed. Non-Sonic SEGA characters take a backseat on this cover, with Sonic literally appearing five times to show how his vehicle transforms from a boat into a plane into a car. If you squint you might be able to see AiAi flying around in the background. Aside from the lack of other SEGA characters it’s not a bad cover though. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed will be coming to Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, 3DS, Wii U and on PC download services like Steam.
It’s no surprise that Sonic will have a cameo in Disney’s upcoming movie Wreck-It Ralph. With so many classic videogame characters appearing in it Sonic was bound to be included, especially with Eggman making an appearance as well. Now we’ve got a confirmation that he’s not just going to sit or walk by like a lot of the cameos.
At the Comic-Con panel for Wreck-It Ralph the first 10 minutes of the film were shown, and in those 10 minutes a PSA was shown with Sonic explaining that if a game character dies in a game that’s not their own they die for good. Seemingly a reference to the Sonic Sez segments from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. There’s no confirmation on who will be voicing Sonic in the movie, we already know that Zangief (from the Street Fighter games) isn’t voiced by his normal voice actor in the movie so there’s some doubt on if Roger Craig Smith will be playing the role.
You can expect to see Wreck-It Ralph in theaters from November 2nd, 2012 in the US.
Whether you’re getting your first Sonic game signed or you’re privileged enough to be playing on stage with Jun Senoue, one of the great things about Summer of Sonic is that it’s a chance for fans to connect with the people making the games we care about. Last year I was one of the lucky ones, as I had the great pleasure of interviewing Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka for this very site.
My luck continued this year. While I might have managed to scare the president and CEO of Prope away from the UK for good (though I’ll fervently deny that in court), Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka returned to Summer of Sonic and numbered amongst those who gracefully agreed to face a bout of questions from Sonic Retro. So, on with the show!
Retro: How did you first become involved in the video game industry? Did you work on any games before Sonic 3?
Iizuka: The university I went to was the kind of university where you learned about electronics. Most of the students will have worked with electronics companies like Toshiba and Sony after graduating. The difference was that I wanted to find a fun job, so the only company I went for was Sega! If I didn’t get that, I would have ended up going to a normal electronics company. Sonic 3 was the project that I started in my first year at Sega, but as practice I was involved with Golden Axe 3.
Retro: Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations have received the best reaction of any Sonic games since Sonic Adventure 2, both from critics and fans. What changes do you think explain the positive reactions that have been achieved?
Iizuka: Before Sonic 4 and and Sonic Colours where I was the producer, it seemed that the whole direction wasn’t really in tune. There wasn’t really an idea of how to portray Sonic. When I became producer, I was able to portray Sonic in the way that he really should be portrayed. This may have had an impact on the way the new games have been received.
You can stop using your Japanese accounts to play some Phantasy Star Online 2 as Sega’s flagship MMO series will hit US and UK territories by 2013. No further information is given regarding the release date, or platforms outside of PC. However Sega has put up a promotional site to gear up would be players for it’s upcoming release. Fan site PSO World was able to break the news on it’s release, and in addition, the official site shows ties with the PSO World community.
Be sure to check out the website for more information. (Or those who are already playing, keep doing that.)