Takashi Iizuka returns to America

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Director of the Sonic series since Sonic Adventure up to Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Takashi Iizuka has served diligently as vice president of product development over in Japan since Sonic Team USA’s closure in 2008. However, he seems to now be leading a charge of some sort at SEGA America, a quote provided from Gamasuta attributed to Tatsuyuki Miyazaki states: “Plus, the Sonic business team, with Ivo’s strong leadership and the addition of renowned Sonic Team creator Iizuka in the Los Angeles office, SEGA of America is in the best position yet to diversify and grow its business. SEGA of America is entering new age of publishing[sic], and going back to the road to prosperity.” This news coincides with SEGA finalizing their acquisition of Atlus USA, whose CEO, Naoto Hiraoka, seems very excited to be working with the company.

It’s likely no coincidence that these two events happen alongside each other. Nor is it a coincidence that Iizuka returns to America at the new Los Angeles office just as things start rolling for Sonic’s 25th anniversary. There’s very little to speculate on what it could all mean, however. The press release is vague about exactly what Iizuka’s plans are; strengthening the ‘global brand’ is something brought up a couple times, but that’s about it. It could just as well mean he’s back in the US to oversee the 25th Anniversary project, or perhaps get directly involved. He could also just be stopping by to appear at events, many of which are in the coming months, both official and fan-sponsored. Whatever the case, we’ll keep you all posted on any news bits surrounding Iizuka or Sonic that appear.

(Img. from Aaraon Webber)

SEGA Retrospective: The career of Tomoko Sasaki, composer of NiGHTS Into Dreams…

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There are typically three things that people associate with SEGA: Sonic the Hedgehog, consoles that never got to shine, and great music. SEGA has undoubtedly housed some of the most creative composers in the industry, making everything from sweeping, pseudo-orchestral soundscapes, to fast-paced, pumped-up techno. But the best composers don’t let their skill and talent end with their music.

Enter Tomoko Sasaki, best known to SEGA fans as the main composer of NiGHTS into Dreams…. Her sound, helped along by Naofumi Hataya and Fumie Kumatani, is what arguably sold NiGHTS‘ surreal dream worlds and energetic gameplay. It’s often considered one of the best soundtracks in SEGA history, let alone on the Saturn, but it was only Sasaki’s third composition. And even then, it wasn’t even the strangest thing she ever did.