SEGA News Bits: Deep Silver to bring SEGA and Atlus titles to Europe

In this SEGA News Bits, George and Barry discuss the recent announcement that publisher Deep Silver has teamed with SEGA of America and Atlus USA to release Atlus and select SEGA titles to Europe. That’s right! While SEGA Europe lets great games slip through the cracks, these two American companies are picking up the slack (“Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers” anyone?) .

Europeans can expect Atlus’ Persona 5 and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse as well as SEGA’s 7th Dragon III Code: VFD in both physical and packaged releases thanks to a deal made with Deep Silver, and that is just the beginning. More games are to come! Listen to our thoughts on what this means for SEGA Europe and why SEGA of America and Atlus USA had to do what they did in our latest News Bits.

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Celebrating Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th anniversary with 25 great underrated moments

sonic 25 headerSEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog franchise turns 25 today, and while we’ve celebrated franchise milestone years in the past, there is something really special about this one. A quarter of a century is a long time, and it is a testament to SEGA’s perseverance and the devotion of the Sonic fanbase that the franchise is still going strong. Sonic Lost World and the Sonic Boom franchise – particularly the games – are often pinpointed as the franchise’s recent weak points and signs that the franchise as a whole needs to be put down or at the very least take a long break. While I am not here to debate the merits of Sonic Lost World and Sonic Boom, I will say that to end a series or take a long break because of either is both incredibly shortsighted and far too extreme a reaction. I would also argue that Sonic is about much more than just the main series games, as fans like to label the major titles, and that there has always been great Sonic things happening even during the franchise’s darkest years.

In celebration of 25 years of Sonic the Hedgehog, join me in looking back year-by-year as I shine the light on great moments in Sonic history that more people need to be talking about.

SEGA and Atlus E3 2016 line-up revealed

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SEGA has just issued a press release laying out just what attendees can expect to find at their E3 2016 booth, which as we’ve detailed before will be shared with Atlus. While the press release was issued by the London offices, the booth itself is being run by SEGA of America and Atlus USA, however there will be select titles that will also be making their way to Europe. First up is Relic Entertainment’s Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III, which is set to release in 2017 for Microsoft Windows PC. SEGA’s Yakuza 0, due out in 2017 for PS4 in the Americas and Europe, and Atlus’s Persona 5, due out in February 2017 in the Americas, will also be playable. Sonic will also have a presence with Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice for the Nintendo 3DS which is due out in the Americas and Europe in September 2016. And last but not least, 7th Dragon III Code: VFD for the Nintendo 3DS, which is due out in July 2016 in the Americas, will also be on display.

Jurgen Post, COO For SEGA Europe Ltd., called the lineup “one of the strongest line-ups we have had at E3 for quite a few years”, which is arguably true. Though given SEGA didn’t have a booth in 2015, and 2014 heavily featured the critical bomb that was Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, it’s not hard too hard to declare 2016’s showing as a strong one comparatively. Personally, I think 2016’s E3 lineup is lacking that one big new title that 2014 had with Alien: Isolation. Yakuza 0 and 7th Dragon III Code: VFD are sure to be fun, but they are also titles that have already been released in Japan for some time. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III and Persona 5 both look great, but I wouldn’t say Warhammer is game your average SEGA fan has been chomping at the bit for, and obviously the other is an Atlus title. Also of note, no signs of any Xbox One or Wii U games.

Still, it is great to see SEGA returning to E3 and we wish them a great show. Hopefully this is just a baby step after their massive restructuring and we have more reveals to come leading up to or after the event. Sonic fans and even SEGA themselves have been heavily teasing that the Sonic 25th Anniversary event in July is something to watch out for, so maybe the big new Sonic game will be revealed there amongst one thousand fans who will undoubtably spread the word via fan sites and social media rather than at a trade show.

SEGA Game Tester documentary from 1996 emerges online

This video was uploaded online a few days ago, titled ‘This is SEGA TEST’ a titled “trainumentary” created by the SEGA test department in 1995-1996. The video was shot on location at Sega of America in Redwood City, CA. The SEGA Game Tester documentary talks about what SEGA is looking for in a game tester, but gives you a interesting inside look at the company during that era and the people that worked as testers.

Tom Kalinske, President of SEGA of America at the time is in the video talking about the processes of selecting a SEGA game tester. We had a chance to interview him in our podcast, if you haven’t listened. Its a great little documentary, especially for retro SEGA game fans. Watch it and let us know what you guys think in the comments below and tell us how many of you wanted to be a SEGA game tester during the mid-90s.

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X releasing Fall 2016 to the Americas for Playstation 4 and Vita

SEGA of America has just announced that Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X will be releasing to the Americas in Fall 2016. Both Playstation 4 and Vita versions are receiving localizations, however there is no word on a European version just yet. The games will be released in digital and physical formats.

Project DIVA X sees players helping Miku and her friends as they sing and dance their way though 5 clouds that comprise of their world. Each cloud is unique, with themes that include Classic, Cool, Cute, Elegant, and Quirky. The game promises 30 new and classic songs as well as nearly 300 costumes. The game also features a full concert editor.

After the break, check out some screens from the Vita version as well as SEGA’s full press release.

SEGA releases “Help Us Make Our Games Better” survey – check it out!

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SEGA has just released a link to a survey which has the goal of improving the quality of their games. The survey, which can be found here, goes quite in depth. Users are asked to list consoles they own and currently play, including just about every major home console you can think of released from the 70s through to today including some that never made their way west, like the SG-1000). Users are also asked to name their favorite SEGA franchises from an incredibly long and varied list (everything from Panzer Dragoon to Fatal Labyrinth to Yakuza) as well as list off franchises they love that may be listed. Mobile gaming seems to be of upmost importance, leading me to believe that this survey will be utilized by SEGA Networks as well as SEGA of America and SEGA Europe.

One page that caught our attention was “Please select any of the following websites or channels that you have visited in the last 90 days:” which included SEGA Retro, Sonic Retro, The Dreamcast Junkyard, the SEGAbits YouTube channel, as well as others. Very interesting that our YouTube channel is on SEGA’s radar given our recent refocus which put news, commentary and interviews at the forefront.

If you haven’t taken the survey yet, check it out and we’ll see how our answers shape the future of SEGA!

SEGA-16 founder working on a SEGA of America history book

sega16I have always been a huge fan of the SEGA fansite SEGA-16, the site really went beyond the call in their efforts to secure some of the best interviews I have ever read. Now website founder Ken Horowitz has announced via his SEGA-16 facebook page that he is working on a history book about SEGA of America:

“Last month, I submitted to my publisher the manuscript for a book chronicling the game development history of Sega of America. Tentatively titled: “Achieving the Next Level: The History of American Sega Games,” the book is an exhaustive retrospective of SOA as a game-maker, from its founding in 1986 and the first steps taken on the Master System to its final efforts on the Dreamcast. Nearly 100 former SOA alumni (including each of its presidents from 1986-2001) and independent game developers were interviewed, and the creation processes of almost 40 Sega-published titles are documented. Every one of SOA’s internal studios is included, many of which have never before been examined.”

The book will look at games created by SEGA of America’s development division and I hope gathers new information about games we loved as kids. He estimates that the book will be around 500 pages long and as of right now there isn’t a release date. Of course, we will keep you posted as more news hits.

SEGA reveals Yakuza 0 American release details and screenshots

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More good news regarding the recently revealed American release of Yakuza 0 direct from SEGA. First off, despite being released to both the PS3 and PS4 in Japan, Yakuza 0 will only be seeing a PS4 release in America. Secondly, the game will receive both physical and digital copies. So those bemoaning SEGA’s decision to release Yakuza 5 digital only should be happy to hear the next title will receive a disc release.

It also is worth mentioning that I have read comments online suggesting that the game’s American release is connected to Atlus in some way, but SEGA has stressed that this is 100% a SEGA release and any mentions of Atlus (for example, the screens were hosted by Atlus) were only a subterfuge to hide the surprise of the release. Sneaky.

After the break, check out newly released screenshots from the upcoming game.

Some of SEGA of America’s staff confirmed to be working in Atlus USA’s offices

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Back in late September we speculated that SEGA of America had moved in with Atlus USA at their offices in Irvine, California. While all signs pointed to “yes”, we didn’t want to be 100% certain until we had official word from SEGA. Thanks to SEGAbits forum member NoirSuede we have confirmation from SEGA that they indeed have moved in to the Atlus offices.

In a recent official SEGA Twitch stream, NoirSuede asked “is the non-Sonic Sega of America staff in the Atlus USA office?”, to which SEGA replied “some of them”. So the official word is some, but not all. So where are the others? The SEGA West corporate page lists the Atlus address, as well as an address in Burbank, California at 250 East Olive Avenue. These offices house Marza Animation Planet, but we have heard from some fans that this office now doubles as the Sonic brand office. Burbank would be a fitting location for Sonic, given the upcoming Hollywood film from Sony Pictures.

SEGA Twitter account teases “Still Thinking” – Could more Nintendo 3DS themes be on the way?

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During and since the transition to Southern California (to possibly the Atlus USA offices), SEGA of America has played it pretty safe on social media. Typically we’d only see press releases and links to trailers and announcements, but today the SEGA Twitter account shared a 14 second video of the SEGA Genesis “Welcome To The Next Level” logo accompanied by the Dreamcast hardware startup sounds and the Western Saturn startup jingle and the text “Still Thinking”. Would could SEGA be teasing?

While we’re merely speculating, it’s possible that new Nintendo 3DS themes are on the way featuring Western SEGA Dreamcast, Saturn, and Genesis/Mega Drive sounds and images. We know that SEGA of Japan released their own collection of console inspired 3DS themes, and later the US got Fantasy Zone and Space Harrier themes. We also know that SEGA of America staff expressed interest in bringing more themes – like the hardware ones – to the West, but noted that they would have to be localized as they were region specific in design.

Of course it is also possible it is a tease of something bigger, but let’s keep expectations in check.

Update: The letters in the video light up to spell “THEME”. I think it is safe to say that Dreamcast, Saturn, and Genesis themes are on the way to the Nintendo 3DS!

SEGA News Bits: Has SEGA of America moved in with Atlus USA?

During the summer, SEGA of America closed their San Francisco offices and moved to Southern California. Oddly, SEGA had been pretty quiet when it came to revealing the exact location of the office, but after a little digging we may now know where they ended up! Based on various sources, it appears that SEGA has moved in to the existing Atlus USA offices in Irvine, California.

In this SEGA News Bits, Barry and George share how they came to this conclusion and give their thoughts on this development. As a bonus, enjoy a slideshow of pictures taken when Barry visited SEGA’s San Francisco offices in 2013, and check out the original SEGAbits Visits SEGA of America, Inc. articles here: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 

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SEGA almost licensed the technology that created the Virtual Boy

SEGAVirtuaBoyFormer SEGA of America President Tom Kalinske has revealed on a Reddit community podcast that not only was SEGA in talks with Trip Hawkins about releasing the 3DO console (also talks with other manufactures including Sony), Tom reveals they also dodged another bullet by not entering an agreement with Reflection Technologies – the company that went on to make Virtual Boy with Nintendo. Seems that SEGA America was really interested in Virtual Reality headsets (they even showed their own prototypes at public events, but nothing was released).

“It was pretty cool. You could put it on and literally you were in a virtual world, and it moved as you moved your head.

One of the problems was almost everybody got sick. It caused severe motion sickness. Other people got severe headaches. I think we were right in turning it down.” – Tom Kalinske, former SEGA of America President on Virtual Boy tech

What are your thoughts? Did SEGA do the right move by passing on the ‘Virtua Boy‘?

[Via: Nintendo Life]

Why SEGA refusing to localize Phantasy Star Online 2 is a bad sign

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Given that we know the news that SEGA doesn’t have plans on publishing Phantasy Star Online 2 outside of Japan, at least for the Playstation 4 (though the PC and Vita versions have been out for over 3 years, so I assume those aren’t coming either). I stated in my original article that I thought it was a really bad decision and got many people upset while they tried  to debate me on the topic even though I never really stated why I felt it was a bad decision. So, here it is, my article talking about why SEGA West not bringing Phantasy Star Online 2 is just another stupid decision by the company that has had a long history of bad decisions.

I decided that it was time I did a write up about why SEGA West not bringing Phantasy Star Online 2 outside of Japan is bad,  not only for their in-house IP but also for their overall brand.

Swingin’ Report Show #80: Interview with Aaron Webber, Sonic the Hedgehog PR & Social Media Manager

He’s back! After leaving SEGA of America in 2014, Aaron Webber has returned as the PR & Social Media Manager for the Sonic the Hedgehog brand. Since returning, Aaron has been making waves on the Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, catching both fan and media attention with his sly wit and deep knowledge of the franchise.

Aaron was kind enough to sit down with us for an hour in his first interview since returning to SEGA to talk about his new role, SEGA’s move to LA, his approach to interacting with fans, Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, his favorite Sonic games, and answers to some burning canon questions!

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Swingin’ Report Show #78: Interview with Sam Mullen, Localization Producer, SEGA of America

On this episode of the SEGAbits Swingin’ Report Show, we’re joined by SEGA of America Localization Producer Sam Mullen! In his role at SEGA, Sam has managed the localization process of several Japanese titles including Binary Domain, Rise of Nightmares, and the Hatsune Miku titles. Currently he is working on SEGA’s line of 3D Classics titles which include arcade and SEGA Genesis favorites as well as Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX for the Nintendo 3DS.

Learn about what the process of localization entails as well as what to expect from SEGA’s upcoming 3DS titles in this week’s show! Oh, and see a surprise cameo from former Brand Manager Aaron Webber who happened to be at SEGA of America HQ while we were recording this episode.

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