Editorial: Sonic Lost Identity? Why Sonic should branch out, but why he should remain true to himself

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There’s little doubt that Sonic has, against all odds, cemented his place in the gaming landscape.

There was a time, and it was a time that I’m sure many reading this will remember, when Sonic existed exclusively on SEGA platforms. He was the face of the company: the representation of an edgier and more daring console competitor, and, in many ways, the total opposite of his rival, the mascot representing those other systems.

With SEGA’s exit from the hardware business, it was only a matter of time before this would all shift. Sonic Adventure 2, a game developed without any intention of ever being released on a Nintendo platform, was nevertheless met with incredibly warm reception among the Nintendo fanbase when it debuted on the Gamecube roughly eight months after its Dreamcast release. And rather then fading away like many mascots of old, Sonic was, in a sense, reborn to an entirely new audience.

It’s sometimes easy to worry about Sonic remaining true to himself, especially as he and his games have taken on several incredibly different forms over the years since. With the latest rumor that we’ll have a new Sonic game next year, I think it makes sense to look ahead at where we all think the hedgehog should be going. I’m definitely excited to see what plans SEGA has for the blue blur; it’s my hope that Sonic can continue to evolve and change while at the same time never leaving behind the essence of what defined him all those years ago.

SEGA Memories: Fred Durst pimps the Dreamcast

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In an act of sheer epic randomness, one of my buds recently reminded me of one of SEGA’s most unlikely of past sponsors. It was back during the Dreamcast era, as many of their publicity stunts were. SEGA was trying hard to get their online service, SegaNet, to gain traction. To do so, they enlisted the help of none other than a certain popular band… one who had just made it ridiculously big with a song called Nookie.

Yes, I’m talking about Limp Bizkit. Believe it or not, they’re actually still around today, but there was a time when they were at the top of the music industry, and that time coincided with the final months of the Dreamcast.

With their album, Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water, set to release in October of 2000, Limp Bizkit was preparing to embark on a major tour. SEGA, seeing their golden opportunity, chose to serve as one of the tour’s sponsors. It might seem ridiculous now, but at the time this was actually a huge snag for them, as Limp Bizkit and their form of rap metal was on the edge of releasing what would become the fastest-selling rock album on record; an honor that it, amazingly, still holds to this day.

For more, including a quote from SEGA from back then, read on.

The SEGA Five: Shenmue’s craziest moments

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It was a day of deathly quiet as Ryo hurried up the path to the Hazuki dojo, well aware that something was amiss. Minutes later, he would witness the murder of his father at the hands of Lan Di, an event that would forever alter the course of his existence.

Shenmue was a series that began dramatically, but quietly. Iwao’s death was one showcased with a degree of style, but the next few hours of the game saw the Hazuki dojo grieving, with Ryo searching through town for the most mundane of clues. It was a deliberately-paced start that may have mislead some into believing that they’d began a subtle and realistic experience; and to an extent, they wouldn’t be wrong. But Shenmue is, at heart, a Kung Fu epic.  And like in almost any of those, it doesn’t take long at all for the adventure to fly off the rails. In a good way.

Editorial: Fourteen years later, SEGA’s final hurrah is still one to remember

It’s incredibly rare for a failed system to carry with it such a long-lasting legacy. With the closing of one console generation comes the opening of another, and with time, the systems of old one fade into the realm of memories.

The Dreamcast didn’t get to see the end of the sixth generation of video game systems; at least, not in a traditional sense. But its thriving indie scene was then created, living on for years after the system’s discontinuation, with small independent games released, even today, for SEGA’s white box. Digital remasters of Dreamcast games on HD consoles continue to be greeted with interest and enthusiasm, this anticipation reaching even beyond the SEGA community.

For those of us who owned a Dreamcast from 1999 through 2001, we know that the system was truly something special. It was the only video game console to see its launch at the tail-end of the 90s, carrying with it not only the cultural magic that was the year 1999, but also carrying on its shoulders the last remnants of a dying arcade industry, without a doubt making the most of both. But the Dreamcast also had an eye to the future. As the first sixth gen video game system, it lead the way for many of the games we would go on to experience in a generation that saw storytelling and presentation make a significant jump. The Dreamcast’s games were not (for the most part) the types of linear “movie-games” we see today, but they were certainly cinematic; far more than what came before. They were innovative, they were different, they were funky, and they had soul.

They were art.

SEGA Tunes: Sonic Adventure, merging past and future

My very first experience with the Dreamcast took place at a crowded Toys R Us demo kiosk, the system launch being mere weeks away and with a poster for Sonic Adventure having caught my eye.

I picked up the controller to find myself in some sort of futuristic bumper car hall. Momentarily confused as to what to do, I did what all little kids do when they’re stuck in a video game; I had Sonic jump around aimlessly until he hijacked one of the bumper cars and drove it out onto an outer space race track.

Simply put, my mind was blown, and the Twinkle Park stage became one of my favorites in the series, a place that it still holds to this day.

I was in for another surprise in the final product, when I got to play the Twinkle Park stage on my own TV with the sound up. The music, an epic remix of Panic Puppet Zone Act 1 from Sonic 3D Blast, was incredible. Crazily enough though, despite being a remix, the Sonic Adventure version unquestionably takes on a life of its own and fits the game just as well as an original track would have, if not better.

Sonic Adventure made several major changes to the series, there’s no doubt about it. But the game also had many nods to the character’s past, all integrated seamlessly into Sonic Adventure’s next generation shell.

To hear the original Sonic 3D Blast version of the song, hit the jump.

Sonic Lost World official comic prequel to hit stores October 26th-27th

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Sonic comic book fans will have the chance to learn more about new villains The Deadly Six in what’s being deemed “The Official Prequel” to Sonic Lost World.

The comic book will see release, (interestingly, after the game itself) on October 26th-27th during Halloween ComicFest, and will be disappearing from retailers after that. Needless to say, those interested should head down to their local comic book shops that weekend to snag a copy.

For Archie’s official description of the Sonic Lost World-themed issue, hit the jump.

New Hero Bank trailer shows off both combat and exploration elements

SEGA of Japan has released a new action-packed trailer for Toshihiro Nagoshi’s upcoming 3DS RPG, Hero Bank. The footage provides us with a good look at the cinematic battles, which appear to feature a mix of menu-driven and action-driven gameplay: though the trailer’s editing makes it tough to tell exactly what the balance will be. While the battle scenes are voice acted, it looks like much of the rest of the game’s dialogue will be handled through text boxes.

The trailer also shows that Hero Bank will include some exploration elements, with the main character shown wandering through locations including a city street and classroom. The anime-driven visual style reminds me (during the non-combat sections) somewhat of the look of Shun Nakamura’s Ryhthm Thief and the Emperor’s Treasure from last year, though thankfully Hero Bank will have explorable environments instead of a point and click system. The look and feel of the battles is reminiscent of Saturday Morning anime cartoons.

Specifics, especially with regard to Hero Bank’s combat system, are tough for me to judge at this point, as battles look to be text-heavy and as of now no Western release has been announced. The game is said to be targeting a younger audience, comes from Yakuza and Super Monkey Ball mastermind Toshihiro Nagoshi, and will be releasing on December 19th in Japan for the 3DS.

SEGA’s recently announced Hero Bank turns out to be the latest project from Toshihiro Nagoshi


It’s not much of a stretch to say that the announcement of Hero Bank, a 3DS exclusive RPG said to deal with real world currencies, hasn’t set the world on fire. Though I’m personally still trying to wrap my head around its general concept, details are beginning to trickle in for SEGA’s newest IP; one bit of info that may be of most interest to SEGA fans is that it comes from none other than Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi. For more, including quotes from the man himself, hit the jump.

Sonic Lost World to be “all new” says SEGA


Details on Sonic’s latest Nintendo-exclusive adventure remain scarce, with a single concept photo among our only clues for where the Blue Blur’s next journey will take him. Today we’ve received a slight bit of info courtesy of Sega of America President John Cheng, who divulged some vague teases to the Associated Press.

“With ‘Sonic Lost World,’ we’re going to introduce new gameplay and enemies, which is always fun,” Cheng said. “In terms of Sonic and his friends, he’ll have his same friends there, and I think there’ll be some new ones as well. It’s not a reiteration. It’s going to be all new.”

We’re going to introduce new gameplay and enemies, which is always fun”- John Cheng

Sonic’s last major title, Sonic Generations, was mainly a throwback, taking place in re-imagined levels from the series’ past and featuring gameplay similar to its immediate predecessors, Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colors. It’s currently unknown if Sonic Lost World will continue to feature the same mix of 2D/3D Sonic gameplay present in those games, whether it will use the Hedgehog Engine, or whether it will be starting things entirely from scratch.

Sonic Lost World is the first of three Nintendo-exclusive Sonic titles, and it’s said to see release this year for the Wii U and 3DS. For the latest news on the title, keep it glued to SEGAbits.

SEGA Tunes: TrickStyle

Back before Criterion was developing the critically-acclaimed Burnout series along with, more recently, their successful Need for Speed reboots, they released a little-known Dreamcast launch title called TrickStyle. It was a racer featuring hoveboards in futuristic versions of New York, London, and Tokyo, and though the racing physics engine and trick systems felt rough, what was unquestionable was Criterion’s artistry. The game’s art still sticks out as vibrant and incredibly detailed even to this day, and its soundtrack set the scene and gave the game a very cool feel.

This tune played on a racetrack inspired by New York City’s Central Park. It’s both ambient and also fairly melodic. Other music in the game is a bit more intense, but this one fit perfectly for a quieter race as you hovered through Central Park under the moon’s glow.

For another (very different) tune from TrickStyle, hit the jump.

SEGA Memories: Evolution 2 – A larger and better adventure


‘Sup y’all? Welcome to another episode of Monday Memories! Last week I discussed Evolution: The World of Sacred Device, Sting’s RPG for the Dreamcast launch. As a kid who was new to Japanese RPGs, I found it to be a fun and memorable adventure; though to Japanese RPG fans at the time, it was probably more along the lines of, “that lame dungeon crawler those Dreamcast owners are stuck with while we play Final Fantasy VIII.”

The Dreamcast would of course go on to see many far more developed Japanese RPGs by the end of its lifespan, but Evolution 2: Far Off Promise is one that I’d say deserves the “you tried your best” award by stepping up to the plate and offering some big improvements over its predecessor. As a little kid, my mind was blown.

SEGA Memories: How Evolution proved that one man’s trash was another’s treasure


For those of us who love video games, I don’t think there’s any doubt that the various consoles we’ve come in contact with throughout our lives have left behind their own unique memories. Gaming is an interactive medium, afterall, and it’s an art form that you don’t simply sit there and view, but one which you fully interact with. And it’s this interaction, I feel, that can make the experience so much more personal, by and large, than going to the movies for a couple of hours.

The Dreamcast, for me, was the system where I completed what had been my gradual transition from “childhood gamer” to “hardcore gamer.” It was when I went from simply playing multiplayer games with my friends, or games that I’d seen advertised on TV, to someone who actively looked up and discussed video games on the internet. It was when I began to follow the industry more closely and discover genres that I’d never known existed. And in the case of Evolution: The World of Sacred Device, it was my first real Japanese RPG experience.

Wii U version of Aliens: Colonial Marines officially cancelled


Though it shouldn’t come as such an unexpected move given the universally negative reception Gearbox’s Aliens effort has received thusfar, there’s still something fairly surprising about SEGA, through a vague statement to IGN, announcing the Wii U version’s cancellation after all this time.

SEGA can confirm that the Wii U sku of Aliens: Colonial Marines is no longer in development.”

Maybe it’s because this was, as some of you may remember, said by Randy Pitchford on multiple occasions to be the definitive console version of the title, though its quiet cancellation lends far more credibility to recent rumors that it was actually the worst. Maybe it’s because it’s rare to see a game that’s spent this long in development being given the axe, for any reason.

We may never fully know why the Wii U version won’t be seeing the light of day, though I suppose it isn’t too hard to speculate. Regardless, it’s been a game that’s played such a major role in SEGA’s identity throughout its protracted development, and if nothing else, this cancellation serves as a final and symbolic closing chapter in the Aliens: Colonial Marines saga.

Here’s hoping that better decisions are made in the future, from all parties involved in this project.

Aliens: Colonial Marines (360/PS3) on sale for $39.99 at Toys R Us


Segabits will soon have our own review up for Aliens: Colonial Marines, though if you have been awaiting our opinion, I don’t think it’s spoiling much to say that the game doesn’t exactly come with a recommendation.

That said, if you still had an interest in trying out SEGA and Gearbox’s controversial shooter for yourselves but were hesitant to pay $59.99, now might be your chance. Toys R Us has both the PS3 and 360 versions on sale for $39.99 through Saturday the 16th, though apparently only in store; not online.

The game was released this past February to (putting it mildly) a very mixed response. $39.99 should hopefully prove to be a more reasonable price for what’s offered should you opt to pick up the title.

SEGA Tunes SEGAbits Staff Spotlight: Ben, aka “nSega54”

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And so, on a quiet night, the streetlamps frosty amidst the falling snow, the locals warm and cozy inside their apartments up above the city streets, the town of Dobuita continues to sleep….

Shenmue has been lying dormant for an unspeakably long time, with not even a hint of a resolution in sight. Money, enough to have gone a long way towards funding a 3rd installment, was instead carelessly tossed off to to a Texas-based developer named Gearbox Software rather than into the hands of Yu Suzuki. After all these years, is it finally time to accept that SEGA will never allow their fanbase to continue the series that holds so much of their nostalgic gaming memories?

I’d given up hope long ago that Shenmue III would be released. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still appreciate all the great memories it offered, memories which, even over a decade later, still linger. This week’s Tuesday Tunes will highlight a couple of my favorite songs from the Shenmue games’ legendary soundtracks, so sit back and take a listen.