Sega is a Japanese company first and foremost, no way around it. As I did in the previous two articles of mine, I will delve into the Japanese side of Sega, and exclusively tailor this to Japanese only Sega games that have not made into the west, as well as how those types of games evolved. Read on for a retrospective look back at some games you likely never heard or about and surely never played!
SEGA of Japan
SEGA is synonymous with many things, but the most notable would have to be the startup logo. In the console days, systems like the Master System, SEGA CD, Saturn and Dreamcast had their own startup logo. But once the game began, you’d be treated to the SEGA logo. How the SEGA logo appeared often differed from game to game, but in the later years – especially once SEGA went third party – things became more uniform. From around 2005 to the past year we had the swoosh and deep voiced “SEGA” logo for most games. Most games featured this, though there has been exceptions (Alien: Isolation, Yakuza 0, Puyo Puyo Tetris to name a few). According to Sam Mullen, Senior Localization Producer for SEGA products at Atlus USA, the swoosh and low voice is no more and the above eye is the new logo ident moving forward.
The eye first appeared in a SEGA of Japan video titled “Branding Movie”, seen after the break, which should have a subtitled version coming soon according to Sam. The video shows SEGA’s Chief Product Officer (and Monkey Ball and Yakuza creator) Toshihiro Nagoshi on a computer looking at the human eye. He then reflects on SEGA’s games and identity as he drives around Japan looking out the window. We see people interacting with SEGA products in their daily lives. We then see Nagoshi analyzing the brand with staff through meetings and tests and then the words “Amazing SEGA” appear on screen before the eye ident closes things off.
Clearly SEGA of Japan have put time and energy into this new startup, the question is what is the reasoning for the change? What do you think of the new startup? Sound off in the comments below.
On this SEGA News Bits, George and Barry discuss the recent news of SEGA of Japan announcing the revival of major IPs during their “Road to 2020” business presentation. What franchises could they be referring to? Find out as we dig through the news archives to uncover an old survey that just might hold the answer!
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According to a recent press release, big changes are coming to SEGA in Japan. In the fall of 2018, SEGA SAMMY and its group companies located in the Tokyo metropolitan area will be consolidated and relocated to a business building in the “Nishishinagawa 1-chome District Type 1 Urban Redevelopment Project” now being developed in an area south of Osaki Station. Osaki Station being in Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan. The SEGA SAMMY group companies include SEGA SAMMY HOLDINGS INC., Sammy Corporation, SEGA Holdings Co., Ltd., SEGA Games Co., Ltd., ATLUS. CO., LTD., Sammy Networks Co., Ltd., DARTSLIVE Co., Ltd. and others.
The move is said to promote cooperation among the companies, creating synergy and more active interaction of personnel while pursuing efficient group management. To do this, SEGA SAMMY plans to consolidate currently scattered head office functions. The new office space will occupy 8 floors and 43,891 square meters (472,439 square feet).
SEGA game designer, producer, director, as well as the current Chief Creative Officer of Sega Corporation Toshihiro Nagoshi took the stage at Nintendo’s Switch presentation to… well, say that he was there and that SEGA had Switch on their radar. Nagoshi said: “SEGA sees a tremendous amount of appeal in Nintendo Switch and will intend to be present on the platform, and similarly I as an individual creator sense a new kind of appeal with this game hardware. We will consider new games for Nintendo Switch and will present them soon. This new hardware is taking on a new challenge and has a lot of appealing points and I would like to take advantage of this new concept and I would like to create a new interesting game.”
This past week, SEGA of Japan put out a survey asking fans what brand they are most invested in, who their favorite character is, and which franchise they want to see revived. Now that the survey has ended, the results were posted and there were quite a few surprises! In this SEGA News Bits, George and Barry discuss the results and share their thoughts on the fan submitted entries. Did your favorite franchise make the cut? Check out the video above and once your done sound off in the comments below.
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SEGA of Japan has launched a new SEGA survey asking fans various questions including what past franchise are they fond of, what character in a particular franchise is important to them and what franchise they’d want to see SEGA revive. This new SEGA survey isn’t surprising seeing as the company promised back in 2015 to be going in a new ‘fan oriented’ direction. With projects like Sonic Mania, Daytona 3 Championship USA, and even bringing back Valkyria Chronicles (not exactly how i’d want but whatever) its easy to see that SEGA will be leaning more towards what fans really want from the company. SEGA Japan says they will announce what games and characters got the most votes on November 20th, 2016. We will of course post the results on the blog, so check back on Sunday.
This new SEGA survey is obviously for a Japanese audience, but regardless of that I think everyone should let their voices be heard, so I encourage all of you to click here and take the survey for yourselves. Please make sure you have a moment to sit and ponder because picking one SEGA game and character to pick is harder than you might think.
If you had to pick one SEGA franchise that was published before 2014 to resurrect, what game would you pick? Let us know in the comments below!
Another Tokyo Game Show 2016 has passed, and in this SEGA News Bits your hosts George and Barry are joined by SEGAbits’ Tokyo Game Show 2016 correspondent Steve aka ap0c. Steve shares with us his firsthand impressions of what SEGA had to show at the event. Yakuza 0, Valkyria: Azure Revolution, Puyo Puyo Chronicles and more are covered in this special SEGA News Bits!
In the comments, let us know what SEGA or Atlus titles you are most excited for from the event.
Arcade? When you ask the modern western gamer about such a concept, they will likely know about the genre of “arcade” in today’s market of downloadable games on console, PC and smartphone. Home and mobile ports of classic coin operated titles. But twenty years ago, people would visit actual venues to play games they could otherwise not to, offering considerable advantages in graphics, controls and cabinet designs.
Putting a coin into a machine should get you more enjoyment that you expect out of it. That has been the ethos of SEGA’s coin-up division for as long as existed. Immediate, visceral, thrilling; all of that should be encapsulated into the experience. One session should not go longer than 3 minutes. Often times games offer more depth as well, which is best summed up by the phrase “easy to learn hard to master” – which can be said of countless fighting games.
But different cultural perspectives can transform one concept considerably, and this can be applied to arcade games. Back in the glory days of arcades, westerners played in an arcade maybe once a month or even once a week at most. However in Japan, with its density of population, going to an arcade can become simply a part of your everyday routine, similar to how westerners play their games on home and mobile platforms. But what could one keep coming back to the arcade, time and again? Cards. Yes. Magnetic cards.
Valkyria: Azure Revolution, a spin-off from SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles franchise, saw a demo released in Japan alongside the retail release of Valkyria Chronicles Remastered for PS4 in early February. While Valkyria Chronicles Remastered was met with positive reactions, reactions to the demo of Valkyria: Azure Revolution were mixed to say the least. According to Siliconera, via Hachima, developer Media.Vision received three times the amount of player feedback than expected and plenty of it was harsh. Based on what they heard, the developer has since reworked the battle system, which was more action oriented in the demo, to be more RPG-like in the final game.
Added is a new action gauge for both sides of combat which will allow players to strategize. The new system will allow actions to be done once the gauge fills, and players will be able to stop time while using weapons and abilities – much like a traditional RPG. The game’s director, Takeshi Ozawa, believed that since this is a Valkyria title, a more strategic battle system was required. It’s great that Media.Vision is taking the feedback to heart, but it is kind of odd that it took them this long to realize that a Valkyria Chronicles game functions best when the combat has strategy involved. Makes me wonder if this early demo was a test to see if a action Valkyria game would fly with fans.
The next demo for the game should be available this summer.
It’s been announced that a special museum exhibit for the 25th anniversary celebrations of Sonic the Hedgehog and Puyo Puyo will be hosted at the Huis Ten Bosch Game Museum between May 3rd to May 7th. This exhibit will have two floors dedicated to both franchises, with a selection of games highlighting their history. Meanwhile, a giant screen will display the games Sonic Generations and Puyo Puyo Tetris outside the venue. Merchandise from both franchises will also be available at the venue.
Thanks to shmuplations.com, we now have the full interview with SEGA of Japan’s Hideki Sato, the legend who helmed SEGA’s console R&D during the 16-bit era and later became the company president in 2002. The interview initially appeared in the Japanese publication Famitsu DC in 1998 and was later republished in the 2001 “SEGA Consumer History” book. Several hardcore fans, myself included, have that book in their collection, but were unable to read the interview due to the obvious language barrier. Now we have the whole thing in english! Check out the full translated interview here. The interview is in two parts, with part one covering the Dreamcast and part two covering past hardware.
The SegaSonic Bros. saga continues with a new screen and a detailed description of how the cancelled 1992 arcade game played. First off, it is now abundantly clear that the game was not a prototype of 1993’s SegaSonic the Hedehog. Despite a similar name and title screen, and the appearance of two additional characters colored red and yellow, SegaSonic Bros. was actually a drop down puzzle game from Bubble Bobble creator Fukio Mitsuji – a far cry from SegaSonic the Hedgehog‘s isometric platforming controlled with a trackball. Amazingly, SegaSonic Bros. was revealed as far back as June 2014 when SEGA 3D Classics developer and SEGA legend Yosuke Okunari tweeted a zoomed in screen of the game in action in reply to a tweet from Kenjoh Kohji who had shared a link to a site describing SegaSonic Bros.. Unfortunately, the conversation went unnoticed by fans, likely because Okunari was replying, it was in Japanese, and the screen was not overtly Sonic the Hedgehog.
Two new SEGA trademarks cropped up today from Japan: “Soukuu no Liberation” (Liberation of the Blue Sky) and “Sega Cyclone Development Kit.” No other information was given at this time, so we can only speculate as to what these two are. The first is most likely the name of a game. Some have speculated that “Liberation of the Blue Sky” is a Skies of Arcadia game, but the only reason is the mention of a sky and let’s all remember that the franchise was Eternal Arcadia in Japan. More likely, it it a new IP and if I was a gambling man I’d place my bets on mobile or arcade.
“Sega Cyclone Development Kit” is more interesting, as it is clearly a development kit (duh) for a piece of hardware called Cyclone. SEGA arcade fans might find the name familiar, as there exists a piece of motion sim hardware SEGA utilizes called Typhoon. It is possible that this is an update to the motion simulator, or another arcade related thing such as a new board. Or *sigh* it’s a new console… but honestly, after eight years of SEGA blogging and following the company since 1991 I can honestly say that I do not think this is a home console.
A NEW STRUCTURE, A NEW SEGA
The executive team, Hideki Okamura (Left), Hisao Oguchi (Middle) and Takayuki Kawagoe (Right).
In 2005, Sega was back in the black in all areas for the first time in a long time. The Sega Sammy structure was completed, and the next generation home consoles were ahead. Like in the formation of twelve new R&D studios in 1998, executive management had a reset. Long time executives Hideki Sato and Hisashi Suzuki retired from Sega, after their thirty – or even in Suzuki’s case – forty years of service.
As mentioned in Part 3, Hisao Oguchi would atain the highest executive position which he held until 2008 where he received even wider responsibilities as Chief Creative Officer of Sega Sammy.
Then there is Masano Maeda, who joined in 1991. Madea was responsible for building a new Western management team that made crucial partnerships and buyouts of Western companies, like Creative Assembly, Sports Interactive and Secret Level On a side note: the amount of games developed for Xbox 360 amount to roughly forty games, and on PC to about sixty games. On the Dreamcast, the amount comes to fourteen, and old PC releases amount to sixteen.