Neo Hazard and I are kicking off the new year with the Astro City Mini. Neo got his in and will be going through SEGA arcade classics. The stream starts Sunday night at 8PM Central, 2AM GMT. The stream will be embedded to this post once it goes live.
There are a handful of games that one could point to and say they forever changed the course of the video game industry. Among them? Sonic the Hedgehog. First released on the Sega Genesis on June 23rd, 1991, it challenged Nintendo’s dominance. It introduced a new kind of platformer to the masses. It sparked the imagination of an entire generation. Nearly 30 years later, the world of Sonic continues to grow and thrive, but it all started in a little black cart with six unique zones hiding inside, waiting for someone to plug it in and explore South Island.
As the kids who played the game grew up, it was only a matter of time before many became curious as to how this game came to be. Through research, interviews, and a lot of persistent digging, much of the game’s development has come to light. The process as to how Sonic and Eggman were designed. The months spent perfecting Green Hill Zone. The debates between the American and Japanese branches of SEGA, arguing how the game would be formed, advertised, and all the million little details inbetween that could make or break the company’s hopes in the 16-bit era. It’s a fascinating story, but there was always one piece that was missing. An early piece of media that would let someone take a peek into the development process, to experience a version of Sonic just a bit different than the one that hit store shelves.
That puzzle piece has finally been discovered. And it is glorious.
On this episode of SEGA Talk, we fire up the Game Boy Advance and discuss Sonic’s first 2D platforming adventure on a Nintendo handheld! What is Dimps? How does a speedy hammer wielding Amy Rose control? How does the game hold up almost 20 years later? Listen and learn!
If you want to give us feedback, suggest a topic for the next podcast or want to ask a question for us to answer on the next episode you can add them as a comment below or send theme directly to our email. Make sure you use subject line ‘SEGA Talk’ and as always, thanks for listening!
Back in 2014, Blake J. Harris released the novel Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle that Defined a Generation. As one can guess from the title, it told the story of the quest for market domination between the two parties in the early 90’s, which resulted in some of the best video games ever released. At the same time the book was published, there were already reports that it would be adapted into a live action film, with later reports also confirming a proper documentary being produced.
Originally meant to premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March, those plans were delayed for…obvious reasons. But through the wonder of modern technology, the documentary is set to go live on September 23rd, 2020, exclusively on the CBS All Access streaming platform. The trailer features Tom Kalinski and Al Nielsen, two men who were instrumental in the success of Sonic the Hedgehog – and SEGA as a whole – in the United States.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2. For some, it represents everything that a Sonic game should be. The pinnacle of the series, an entry point for millions of kids who would become life long fans. Due to its development, an extra layer of mystique has also surrounded the game, which is why when anything new comes out regarding its creation, people get excited. Just one more piece of the puzzle that showcases how such a beloved game came into being.
You might remember that last month, we posted about Craig Stitt. Not only was he an artist on Sonic 2, he went on to have a pretty impressive career outside of SEGA, working on such classics as Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet and Clank. Over at the Facebook group SEGA Retro Gamers, he’s been sharing stories of his time working in the gaming industry, and posting content that has never seen the light of day. That Treasure Tails pitch? Yeah, he’s the one who shared that.
Well, earlier today, Craig posted another slew of art connected to the development of Sonic 2, drawn by none other than the creator of Miles “Tails” Prower, Yasushi Yamaguchi.
These are photocopies I made of Yamaguchi’s oringal drawings; to help me stay in sync with the game’s style while designing the art for the levels I was working on. (Hidden Palace and Oil Ocean)
Hit that jump to check out the gallery.
With the full version of “Look-a-Like” being unearthed and shared to the world on Sunday, many fans wondered if the source that shared it with the community had a full version of the Sonic OVA soundtrack in their possession. illuminor, who had reached out to the anonymous contributor on the OVA, ran that question by their source to find an answer. They received a reply that provided a single .mp3 file containing production demo recordings of the soundtrack. The file isn’t from the master sound source, sporting occasional sound artifacts and issues with stereo, but considering that the OVA is nearly 25 years old now just being able to hear this at all is astounding.
The quote below from the YouTube description shines a little more light on the tracks themselves specifying that the tracks they don’t seem to have any official names, for instance. It is also worth noting that this .mp3 file also doesn’t contain every single piece of music created for the OVA, but it does include the South Island track, don’t worry.
This morning a member of the community under the handle @SAAC_RUS tweeted out a link to the above video. Rather surprisingly, the video contains the full and proper version of “Look-a-Like” from the Sonic OVA. The two episode shorts originally released in Japan in early 1996 and featured “Look-a-Like” as part of its backing music. However, the only official release of the song since was a truncated version available on the True Colors: The Best of Sonic the Hedgehog Part 2 CD, but now the full version is available for our listening pleasure thanks to illuminor. The video and its description explains how they came into possession of the song, shared below:
The universe of Sonic the Hedgehog is full of its own secrets and mysteries. And so it happens that some interesting things might be hiding in the most unexpected places. And today we would like to share with you an amazing discovery our good friend and the community member illuminor has made. illuminor specializes in translations – Japanese translations in particular. Having looked the Japanese version of Sonic OVA he noticed that the credits song «Look-a-like» has certain words that have never been used anywhere else and that differ from what fans usually document. «Look-a-like» is the ending theme of Sonic OVA performed by Riyu Konaka. Its full version was never officially released, though most of the song can be heard in the original Japanese release of the movie. And its short edit was later released in the official «True Colors: The Best of Sonic the Hedgehog Part 2» album. In all variations available on the Internet we can hear the line «A short while ago, I was born» which then repeats twice, but in the movie the first time sounds as «A long time ago…», though we cannot hear the rest due to the dialogue of the characters. illuminor decided to get to the bottom of it and reached out to one of the people who was involved in creating of Sonic OVA. We will not disclose the identity of this person not to cause them any troubles. The original plan of illuminor was to ask for the song’s lyrics, but his interlocutor exceeded all expectations and just sent the whole track instead of the plain text. And so, friends, for the first time in history we are happy to introduce you the full and original version of the song «Look-a-like». Have a nice listening! We are thanked to illuminor for the news and for such a great material!
How great is it to finally have it after all this time?
With just two months before the opening of the Sonic Hacking Contest for 2020, the website is now open for entry submissions for this year’s contest! The website has re-opened despite complications with development that prevented the site from re-opening on an earlier date.
Everyone is free to submit as many hacks as you can, however the staff encourages adhering to the updated Rules and Guidelines before submitting. All accounts created last year can still be accessed by simply logging in with the same credentials. Merged accounts from Sonic Retro and SSRG are still absent for the time being. The website has seen additional renovations over the previous year including revised trophy guidelines as well as a vault to access entries from over the years.
The Sonic Hacking Contest for 2020 is taking place from October 26th to November 1st. You can visit the website at https://sonichacking.org or follow up on news and highlights from the contest’s Twitter account.
When Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released, it was an instant success. Kids all around couldn’t stop talking about the game, nor could they stop talking about the newest character added to the Sonic mythos – Miles “Tails” Prower. His popularity raised just as quickly as Sonic’s did, and it wasn’t long before he was spun off into a handful of his own games. Tails and the Music Maker, Tails’ Skypatrol, and Tails Adventures all put the two-tailed fox in the forefront. SEGA had faith in Sonic’s sidekick, and for good reason.
However, those weren’t the only games that had been pitched as stand alone titles for Tails. Earlier today, Craig Stitt, known to Sonic fans as an artist on both Sonic 2 and Sonic Spinball, shared a handful of still images he created for Treasure Tails, a game that was pitched all the way back in February of 1993.