Tuesday Feb 09, 2016
The fast among you will have already seen this, but the Sonic Runners Original Soundtrack Volume 2 has released on iTunes Store and Amazon! (And, if you haven’t already heard the music for this mobile game, it’s pretty fantastic!)
This second volume features seven songs from Sonic Runners, including songs used in Timed Mode and special holiday events, like Christmas and Halloween. Here’s the full track list:
1. Going My Way
Just like the first soundtrack, these songs were created by Tomoya Ohtani, the sound director of Sonic.
You can speed over to pick up the soundtrack at any of the links below. Happy listening!
Tuesday Feb 02, 2016
You may have noticed SEGA stepping a bit up to the plate more with localizations for Valkyria Chronicles Remastered and the SEGA 3D Classics Collection. Well… we’re not stopping there! 7th Dragon III Code: VFD is the next title in our sights, and we’re bringing it in its physical form for the Americas! And even though the series debuted in 2009 on the DS, 7th Dragon III Code: VFD is a self-contained episode, full of dungeon-crawling goodness.
To give you a taste of what you’ll be looking at when 7th Dragon III drops later this year, here’s a quick look at what the game is about:
A bleak world and engaging story – The year is 2100, dragons have invaded Earth and are ravaging the human race. As the protagonist, players must team up with “video game company” Nodens Enterprises to become a dragon hunter and save the universe.
Unique settings and time periods – Fortunately for humanity, Nodens Enterprises has found the key to tip the scales in favor of mankind. The protagonist must travel through time to three different eras — the mythical kingdom of Atlantis, futuristic capital of the land of Eden, and present-day Tokyo — in order to defeat the True Dragons and stand a chance against the most powerful one… the 7th Dragon: VFD.
A deep party system and character customization options – All characters are completely customizable from the get-go. Players will be joined by two squad members in the field, and have up to nine characters in their party. With eight classes (such as Samurai, God Hand, Rune Knight, and more), 40 voice options, and 96 appearance options, gamers will have plenty of options to develop the perfect dragon hunting team.
Base building with Nodens Enterprises HQ – Fighting dragons is tough work, but at least the team can recuperate at HQ where they can develop skills, collect side quests, and even go on dates. In addition, more floors such as a library, skylounge, and cat café can be added in order to improve HQ. Yes, you read that correctly, it says cat café.
Lots of dragons! – Although there are a variety of enemies to fight, it would be wise to be prepared for the myriad dragons you’ll face. It’ll take careful planning and strategy to defeat these dragons, so choosing the right squad — and right look — is paramount!
This is just one of MANY dragons you’ll tussle with in the game.
Customize your party to be the perfect dragon hunting team!
Nodens Enterprises is your friend. Let employees like Nagamimi the rabbit help guide you!
Clearly, the cat café is the highlight of the game.
7th Dragon III Code: VFD will be available this summer exclusively on the 3DS in the Americas. The game is rated T by the ESRB. For more information, please visit 7thdragon.sega.com
Tuesday Feb 02, 2016
Happy Hedgehog Day, everyone!
As we enter Sonic’s 25th Anniversary Year, it’s an exciting time to be a Sonic fan.
Isn’t it crazy to think it’s been 25 years since Sonic 1 released? Some of you reading this probably weren’t even born when the older among us pooled up our allowance to buy a copy of Sonic for our Genesis or Mega Drive. But, no matter our age, we all celebrate and follow the iconic blue blur for reasons that remain universal.
I know at least half of you reading this are thinking: “Hey! Are you announcing anything big today, like Sonic Labyrinth 2 or Tails Sky Patrol IV? What’s the scoop?”, but you’ll need to be patient for a while longer. Good things take time, and we’re sticking to that. That said, you’ve probably noticed a few numbers floating around here and there. Who knows that they might mean? (By the way, in case you missed it – those weren’t eyes, they were zeros.)
A few years ago, during my first tour of duty with SEGA, our team decided to post something teasing an upcoming announcement on February 2nd, or “Hedgehog Day”. This was a fun reference back to the release of Sonic 3, which took over “Groundhog Day” in much the way that any tyrannical conqueror takes something they want – by force. Inspired by the marketing bloodlust of our forefathers, “Hedgehog Day” was reborn again from the ashes of the 90’s, and each year we’ve tried to keep it going ever since.
Sonic has seen a wide range of games and gameplay styles, but whether you prefer the classics, the Adventure series, the Colors/Generations style, or anything in between, thanks for sticking with the blue blur through thick and thin.
We can’t wait to celebrate the 25th Anniversary with you all throughout the year – and we have some pretty cool stuff coming up.
Here’s to 25 years of Sonic, and 25 years of amazing fans!
Thursday Jan 21, 2016
The best thing about classics is that they never go out of style, which is why we are bringing nine classic SEGA games to the 3DS as part of the SEGA 3D Classics Collection. The best part – four of the nine classics are games that have never been released on the 3DS previously. For all of the included classics, developer M2 painstakingly recreated the experiences by breaking down the original games and powering them up with new visuals, game modes, and more to take full advantage of the 3DS. The game will be available in stores and digitally exclusively in the Americas for $29.99 on April 26th.
Puyo Puyo 2
Because it’s a collection, the most prudent thing to do would be to list the games included, starting with the titles never-before-released outside of Japan first:
Power Drift – This sprite-based circuit racer puts you head to head against other AI racers in a twisting, turning, jumping, looping race to the finish.
Puyo Puyo 2 – This head-to-head competitive puzzle game is simple to learn, hard to master, and compellingly addictive. Compete against the AI or friends in local multiplayer. Note: because of the quirks of trying to localize a game hard-coded in Japanese, the game has been left entirely in its original language. English instructions are available in the included digital manual.
Next, we have a pair of rarities not released on the 3DS before – true collectibles for the Master System enthusiast:
Maze Walker – Originally designed for the SegaScope 3-D glasses on the SegaMaster System, Maze Walker comes to life on the 3DS, faithfully reproducing the sense of depth as players try to escape the mysterious, twisting maze filled with unknown dangers. Originally released as Maze Hunter for the Master System in the West.
Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa – The sentient space ship Opa-Opa is back to defend its bases from evil (but cute!) invaders in the classic scrolling shooter. For SEGA history buffs, this version of Fantasy Zone II is the original Master System version.
And for the previously released titles:
Fantasy Zone II W –Fantasy Zone II W, which was originally created for the Master System, is the version of Fantasy Zone II upgraded to the graphical capabilities of the System- 16 arcade board with added 3D effects. You can enjoy it in 2 game modes with different rules.
Sonic The Hedgehog – The evil scientist, Dr. Eggman (aka Dr. Robotnik), has snatched the animals of South Island, turning them into robot slaves. Only the famed blue blur can defeat Dr. Eggman and rescue the animals from his vile clutches in the game that started it all for the fastest hedgehog – Sonic!
Thunder Blade – In Thunder Blade, players control a helicopter and use guns and missiles to destroy enemy vehicles while flying between buildings, through caves, and into enemy bases. The re-mastered version boasts stereoscopic 3D visuals and adds a host of new features.
Galaxy Force II – As the star pilot of the Space Federation, it’s up to you to strap yourself into your TRY-X fighter and turn the tables on the invade forces of Halcyon and the Fourth Empire in this 3D shoot ‘em up. This remastered version has upgraded graphics with double the resolution of the original for a more pleasing aesthetic.
Altered Beast – Summoned from the dead by Zeus, players in Altered Beast must shape shift into various beasts and fight off hordes of demons to rescue the captured Athena from the clutches of Neff. Offers local co-op multiplayer.
Fantasy Zone II W
Galaxy Force II
The game will be released at a value price of $29.99 for the 3DS in stores and digitally on the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS, with retail packaging that features original artwork by Pokémon art director, Ken Sugimori (another added plus). For more information, please visit 3dclassics.sega.com.
Friday Dec 04, 2015
Long time no see, everyone!
Aaron from SEGA here. Normally, I don’t work on the mobile titles, but today is a special exception – I get to tell you all about the Sonic Runners 2.0 update, as well as talk about your feedback as fans, and what it means going forward!
Oh, and today is National Cookie Day (no joke), so to get us started, please enjoy this picture of a delicious chocolate chip cookie:
Are you hungry yet? Good. Grab yourself a cookie of your own, and do your civic duty to your country.
Alright, so this update is pretty huge.
We’re talking Big the Cat levels of huge – you’ll see when we get to the patch notes in just a minute. As Sonic Runners evolves and changes with 2.0, it’s worth noting that already, the team made some improvements and fixes based on feedback from you guys. Take, for example, this beautiful (not actually beautiful) spike wall that started appearing when the update first hit:
R.i.p. in pepperonis, evil spike wall
A ton of you guys reached out to us on Twitter asking about it, so I sent a quick line in to Sonic Team. Within days, a maintenance was being completed and the Spike Wall was gone.
Huge thanks to all of you out there for letting us know! If you guys spot any other key issues, or have feedback you want to share with us, we encourage you – please send it our way! You can comment here on the blogs, you can reach us on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr. We read the internets. We’re watching you right now, even, taking note of that cookie you just finished eating. You’ve got a crumb on your cheek. No, the other side – yeah, there you go.
Alright, ready for the full patch notes? They’re lengthy, so let’s get started!
Sonic Runners 2.0 – Update details
You still with us? Hey, don’t you doze off!
Alright, so that covers pretty much all the major items from the 2.0 Update, and we hope that you guys will enjoy them! As always, we welcome your feedback and I’ll be here to help offer a direct line into Sonic Team, at least for a little while!
Happy Friday everyone, and Happy National Cookie day, too!
Om nom nom.
Tuesday Oct 27, 2015
Alien: Isolation – The Collection is now available on PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One!
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of ‘The Collection’ will be $39.99 at launch, with Steam users able to take advantage of a 50% discount of the $59.99 price in an exclusive 24 hour launch day promotion.
Alien: Isolation – The Collection
Xbox One – $39.99
Additionally, the cost of the digital version of Alien: Isolation on all consoles (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360) will be reduced to $29.99, beginning today.
Friday Oct 16, 2015
It’s been a while since we’ve talked about Yakuza 5, so we wanted to post a quick update on it. A few weird development bugs that popped up in localization are taking some time to iron out. Without getting too technical, there were just certain parts that didn’t like switching the Japanese text out for English, and we had to actually search through the source code to find a fix, taking more time than we expected. But! Everything is more or less back on track. Once we have details, we’ll make sure to share them!
“SEGA PLZ!” we’re sure you’re screaming in frustration. “How am I supposed to experience the awesomeness of the Japanese underworld if I have to wait longer?!” Well, to help you out through these trying times, we put together a list of some appropriate movies you can watch to get hyped for Yakuza 5. NOTE: just as Yakuza 5 is rated M, most/all of these movies are rated R by the MPAA, so please take that into consideration.
5. “Tokyo Drifter” – In the 60s, Seijun Suzuki was one of the most prolific and masterful directors of Yakuza films. While “Branded to Kill” is a particularly great movie, Yakuza 5 can relate a little more to “Tokyo Drifter.” After his gang boss retires, Tetsu lives the life of a drifter, wandering around Japan. But being ex-Yakuza doesn’t stop other bosses from sending assassins after you…
4. “Infernal Affairs 1 + 2” – Ok, while this series of Chinese crime thrillers is totally on point, if you replaced the Chinese actors with some big-wig Hollywood types and move the setting from Hong Kong to Boston, you’d have “The Departed,” which was inspired by “Infernal Affairs.” Basically, the Triads put a mole in the police, while the police put a mole in the Triads, and it’s a race to find each other out.
3. “Pulp Fiction” – Arguably Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, the interwoven stories between the cast of anti-heroes echoes the same structure of Yakuza 5, where players will bounce between the game’s 5 playable characters and carefully navigate the power struggle between warring clans. Sure, you’ve probably watched it already. WATCH IT AGAIN.
2. “Yojimbo” – From the legendary Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune comes this samurai film about a ronin who winds up in a village torn by two warring clans. Ok, it’s not a traditional gangster film, but watch it anyways just to see two crime bosses vie for the ronin’s services as a bodyguard (hint: “Yojimbo” means “bodyguard” in Japanese) as he masterfully plays them against one another. If you just HAVE to have tommy guns, “Last Man Standing” starring Bruce Willis has very similar trappings. Plus: it has Christopher Walken too. Minus: it has a bathtub scene….only with Willis.
1. “Sonatine” – Alright, so it’s a bit more arthouse than any of the films mentioned above, but let’s look at the facts: It was written, directed, and stars “Beat” Takeshi Kitano. It has some of the best gangster outfits ever. (I’m looking at you, double-breasted, lavender suit.) And if you’ve never seen a “Beat” Takeshi movie before, you kind of get a great picture of why you don’t mess with him. Some shopkeep mouths off to him at the beginning of the movie, and just before Takeshi leaves for Okinawa to broker a peace deal amongst two bosses, he makes a quick stop by the wharf, where the shopkeep is dangling at the end of a crane. “How long do you think he can hold his breath?” he asks a junior gang member. And well, you get the point. Best part? You do occasionally get to see his humanity peek out from his gangster façade, but a split-second later, and he’s shooting whoever’s disrespected him.
Tuesday Oct 06, 2015
3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 comes out on the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS this Thursday!
This is a translation of an edited version of the article located here:
We are back with the final game in the second batch of the SEGA 3D Classics series, and the finale for the SEGA 3D Remaster Project. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 was originally created by none other than Yuji Naka for the SEGA Mega Drive back in 1992. Major enhancements such as the helical loops brought both new graphics and an edge to the gameplay, resulting in a huge hit. Aside from the new stereoscopic 3D, 3D Sonic The Hedgehog 2 packs in Ring Keeper Mode and Stage Select, allowing players to take a more relaxed and enjoying approach the original game. We once again have brought the last and final (?!) special interview with SEGA Games Producer, Yosuke Okunari, and M2 President, Naoki Horii, to speak about the game and close out the series for us.
Is Overwhelming Manpower Enough? Not Only Are There A Ton Of Stages, But They’re Huge!
– It seems like the base porting was a hassle in itself, but what would you say was the most difficult aspect with 3D Sonic The Hedgehog 2? Was this an overall difficult port?
Yosuke Okunari (below YO): As I mentioned in the previous interviews, Streets of Rage 2, Gunstar Heroes, and Sonic 2 were all Mega Drive titles that we wanted to include for Batch 1, but we held off on them because M2 considered them to be technically challenging at the time.
Commemorating the 16th title of SEGA 3D Classics project is Sonic The Hedgehog 2.
Out of the three titles, Sonic 2 looked as if it would have the most technical issues during development, so we’ve decided to have it as the bookend of the series. If you just casually think about it, you might make the mistake that converting Sonic 2 would a simple task, considering Sonic The Hedgehog has already been worked on. However, there were several new hurdles we had to overcome for Sonic 2.
First off, there is a monumental increase in volume. There’s not much of a difference based on the number of stages, but there are nearly double the amount in terms of zone variety. Sonic 1 consisted of six zones, with three acts per zone, totaling to about nineteen levels plus special stages. Sonic 2 consists of eleven zones, with two acts up to Zone 7 and only Zone 8 having three acts. There are also Sky Chase, Wing Fortress, and Death Egg, which all totals up to twenty stages. On top of all of that, we needed to turn the special stage into 3D, so there were lots of hurdles to overcome.
– So considering the amount that needed to be addressed, you guys were in a tough spot.
YO: Well, it’s not like we actually measured them out, but I’m sure the lengths of each stage in Sonic 2 are much longer than those of Sonic 1, so that adds more to our workload. However, if volume was the only issue, we could’ve solved things as long as we had time, like Gunstar Heroes. In this case though, we had two more issues.
The Special Stages… This is where Sonic runs through this half-pipe tube. As much we wanted to make it happen, we were skeptical whether we can turn the graphics for this into stereoscopic 3D.
– Sounds like the most easy to envision, yet complicated issue.
YO: Lastly, the Versus Mode. Not many may remember, this game used to have a Versus Mode, where the screen gets split into two with a top half and bottom half. This system is what we could call a display of Naka-san’s true prowess, as it was elaborately designed and utilized interlacing. We were unsure how to replicate this on the Nintendo 3DS. Plus, the 3DS has a liquid crystal display, which doesn’t use interlacing at all.
Around four years ago when these series were originally established, we had agreed that overcoming these hurdles was “impossible,” and thus only converted Sonic 1. However, after three years of accumulated techniques, M2 was able to take on the challenges of converting Sonic 2.
– Regarding the first issue, so you’re saying that despite the larger volume, the past strategies would’ve sufficed if it were for the normal stages only.
Naoki Horii (NH below): Yes, to a certain extent. However, the maps are bigger in all four directions compared to Sonic 1, so the resources needing work are an order of magnitude larger.
YO: Not only the map sizes, but the stage gimmicks had some enhancements in the Sonic 2 as well. For example, while Sonic 1 incorporated the loop-the-loops where Sonic runs up and flips 360 degrees, Sonic 2 includes spiral paths and other elaborate actions. Turning those into 3D is another hurdle to jump.
– The majority of Sonic 1 was a one-way progression, but Sonic 2 had players going all over the place. Was that another feature that made it difficult to convert? Considering the conversion for Gunstar Heroes took roughly one and a half years, would you say the same time would be needed for this title?
NH: Before we even got to batch two’s Mega Drive games, Okunari-san had stated that he wanted to see these titles in the line-up if it ever happened, so they’ve been on our radar for a while. However, we didn’t officially start the development until we finalized the plan.
YO: They needed to research in order to overcome the technical hurdles of Sonic 2.
– So the development process kicked off once your conversion techniques seemed sufficient enough to fix the second and third issues? However, the sheer volume of it all was still a challenge.
YO: With Streets of Rage 2, we weren’t sure if we could render it at 60 frames a second, and if we could apply stereoscopic 3D to scenes that had an angled view. However, the work on Gunstar Heroes and Sonic 2 was predicated upon the work on Streets of Rage 2. A spring board if you will. So whatever issues we had with Streets of Rage 2 weren’t anything major for Sonic 2. Therefore, it was assumed that we could achieve at least 60 FPS for co-op play and find ways to convert all the visual tricks into proper 3D.
With Gunstar Heroes, with time we managed to solve all of the issues that arose in Streets of Rage 2 one way or another. The scroll speed for Gunstar Heroes isn’t too fast, and the maps are pretty standard sizes. Although we needed to implement the ins-and-outs of each bosses, we were able to get through all of it thanks to M2.
With Sonic 2, however, the map sizes are huge compared to the two, and consisted of many parts where we questioned the 3D stereoscopic compatibility, so the difficulty was on another level. The development scale for Sonic 2 was by far the largest in the series.
– In other words, you’re saying the man-hour cost was monumental.
NH: We had assumed that as a rough estimate, we would only need three people; a programmer converting the entire game, a programmer dealing with the special stages, and another one developing the Versus Mode. As a result, our budget shot up as well.
– Up until now, was one programmer in charge developing one title?
NH: There’d be one main guy, sometimes with a few assistants, but never an instance where everyone puts in equal amount of work into a title. For Sonic 2’s case, we completely separated the production process of the main game and special stage.
– So everyone specialized at what they did.
The Special Stage: Pre-rendered Image Copied With The Naked Eye!?
Okunari-san’s overseas version teaser poster. We had them take the same pose as in the poster.
– I understand that the normal stages were a challenge in terms of volume, but I assume the special stages were a challenge development wise.
YO: The deciding factor for starting this project depended on whether or not it was even possible to convert these special stages. We were still in the development stage of SEGA 3D Fukkoku Archives when we wanted to start this project. We knew it would be hard, but we really wanted to make it work, so we kept bouncing technical ideas off each other to find the most feasible method.
While discussing with M2, one method we both agreed that we didn’t want to employ was the way the mobile version of Sonic 2 does it. That version doesn’t use emulation and is a totally different approach than we use. That version actually uses polygons to render out the Special Stages and it would have turned out to be a completely different product.
If we were talking about an HD version and making a totally different game, then it would’ve been acceptable, but this project was anchored around this “Remastering” concept. It needed to be authentic. We wanted it so if we turn off the 3D stereoscopic switch, it would look exactly the same as seen on a Mega Drive screen. We could have taken the way the mobile version of Sonic 2 does it and converted that, but we requested M2 to find another way.
– And despite that, you had prospects of success.
NH: To tell you the truth, not really. We simply had two methods, and would’ve been happy if one of them worked out.
First method was similar to what we did for the Fukkoku Archives version of Space Harrier, where we would cut up the bonus stage, stack five to seven layers together, and add depth, and hope it would turn out alright. After giving it a try, it somewhat looked how it should, but was still lacking something. At that point, we contemplated whether we want to continue with this method or not, and ended up going with the second method.
Applying 3D stereoscopic to this already looks complicated, but here you see a time-consuming method where they take pre-rendered graphics, adjust each segment, and apply Z depth.
NH: Sonic 2’s Special Stages were actually created out of pre-rendered polygons, and then video of that was compressed and halved both vertically and horizontally, then dropped into the game cartridge. We took that pre-rendered video, reverted it back to its original polygon state, remade our own version of it, then when back and assigned depth on a pixel-by-pixel basis. Therefore, we had to analyze and pull out the data needed to create the bonus stage for Sonic 2. Although these are pre-rendered images, SEGA’s development team would fix some of them up to enhance the looks. However, those sections would look unnatural with the polygons we created, so then we had to tweak the polygon render and create a course that matched the original images, and that’s how we got it running without issue on 3DS.
I can say this only because I didn’t work on it, but if the one in charge of it was here right now, I’m sure there’d be many comments like, “I wonder why we even thought of doing that method?” or, “How could you give me such an annoying task!”
– Was it the programmer in charge of the special stage who suggested this idea?
NH: No, it was suggested by someone else, who said it would be the best way to make it look clean. The one in charge started on it saying he’s got the time, so he continued to adjust it from beginning to end. Since his seat was right near the entrance of our company, we’d see the same course from Sonic 2 on the display as we got to work. It may have seemed like there was no work being done, but he was going against an enormous amount of data.
– Must’ve been really tough for the guy.
NH: As for graphics, we based everything on the Mega Drive while programming in the Z axis. Movements such as collision detection are same as the original game, since the polygon graphics we recreated only functions to attach the 3D information onto the original images.
YO: Therefore, it’s very unlikely for the difficulty level to increase for playing the Special Stage.
– So on the program side of things, it’s the same.
– So you guys created built our some polygon images, rendered out those images to create a graphics, just to create the same visuals as the original?
NH: Yes, we were able to create a 3D version of the Special Stage by sort of eyeing the original images and creating polygon equivalents.
– Props to you guys for doing such a thing!
YO: Thanks to our efforts, we were able to bring out the true 3D effect to life, as you can see.
Another Obstacle: Versus Mode = Lost Hope
This pair comes up with the craziest solutions. This release is another example of their success.
With Gunstar Heroes and Streets of Rage 2 scheduled to release in the summer, we couldn’t allow only Sonic 2 to be released in the winter, so we agreed to drop the Versus Mode.
However, not too long after the project started, M2 told us, “It seems doable, so can we try and include it,” to which I responded, “Of course, as long as you can stay within schedule. We leave this matter to you.”
NH: I knew they wouldn’t say no to efforts enhancing the game.
– On the other hand, was it something you really though was technically possible, even when you were told that you didn’t have to go that far?
NH: I knew that it would’ve been possible from a technical standpoint, but I feared I wouldn’t be able to finish it on time. Therefore, knowing that I didn’t have to do it sort of took the pressure off the team. If we absolutely had to make it, it would’ve been a challenge and stressful to complete.
Another reason is that we didn’t want to not include it at this point in the SEGA 3D Remaster Project. Considering Sonic 2 was the last of the project, I really wanted to include all elements of the game.
Since Versus mode will require double the information, even a non-techie can see how hard it might be to apply 3D stereoscopic. The two screens are blended as they’re displayed.
YO: I was told by M2 that the Versus Mode was unique in from a technical point of view. I wasn’t a part of SEGA back when Sonic 2 was released, and I remember how clear the resolution was when I played the game at home. I was in total disbelief that something this amazing could be done on the Mega Drive.
Since that was the case, I was not surprised to hear that replicating the Versus Mode onto the 3DS was going to be complicated. Plus, while it was essential for Streets of Rage 2 and Gunstar Heroes to be multiplayer games, Sonic 2 was mainly a single player game, so I felt it was more acceptable if we couldn’t do the Versus Mode.
NH: I told a few of my ideas to Okunari-san. The Versus Mode is displayed by having two compressed screens for the top and bottom, but we figured it would be easier to display 1P and 2P separately. In the end, we decided to leave the two compressed screens as is, because players won’t be able to strategize without seeing the opponent. In terms of programming for Sonic 2, we struggled to lower the load for two screens.
– I can see how that’s an issue. It’s displaying double the usual load, after all.
-Were you guys able to solve the issue by simply finding savings elsewhere?
NH: Hmm. Actually I wonder how they pulled it off myself (laughs).
YO: Some of the zones had been cut out from the Versus Mode most likely to accommodate two player, hence the limited zone selection.
NH: I’d have to agree on that.
YO: Our main concerns then were along the lines of, “Does our Mega Drive emulator, the Giga Drive, have enough capacity to handle it?” or, “Perhaps it’ll end up looking like it’s running at 30 FPS?” It’s crazy how Sonic 2’s two-player mode runs at 60 FPS, considering we thought 60 FPS would be impossible for Streets of Rage 2.
NH: Although they’re two compressed screens, there’s no difference in line counts, since interlacing still requires you to draw the screen once per frame. We redraw 224 lines, which becomes 1 frame of 448 lines, but and this doesn’t change for 3DS. For the actual 3DS graphics, all we do is compress the vertical aspect, and blend together the front and back images. We only change up how we render for two player.
YO: Sonic 2 includes some amazing techniques that hadn’t been implemented in earlier Mega Drive titles. Since it’s a later gen Mega Drive title, it didn’t has as much of a wow factor, but thanks to M2 analysis, we were able to shed light on the excellent features that this game has to offer.
NH: We discovered a lot about them while dissecting it…
YO: Even as an emulator, the Giga Drive doesn’t have all the same capabilities and features that the Mega Drive had, so when you have to use parts we usually don’t and speed them up, well, converting a game that uses everything of the Mega Drive is the most difficult.
Various gimmicks can be found in Sonic 2. Enhancing the different functions seemed to be a high technical hurdle to overcome.
YO: For example, Sonic 2 uses the Mega Drive’s transparency feature. Oh and how they display water.
NH: I agree. Sonic 2 includes numerous stages where the water level rises up and down and uses some kind of Z-version parallax scrolling where the colors change whenever the raster switches. We didn’t really look into it, but I believe Sonic 2 is able to use 61 different colors for the water level change. The Mega Drive as a whole has 64 colors, and it changes colors with every increase and decrease. You can really see they put a lot of effort into making this, like hiding the noise that occurs during color changes by displaying many sprites. But no one has to worry about this kind thing these days.
YO: Yeah, but you don’t need those sorts of skills anymore, either. It’s a lost art. Since this project focused heavily on replicating the Mega Drive experience, our biggest bottleneck was to match every little details like they were in the original game because we won’t let ourselves do things that the original Mega Drive wouldn’t do. If this was a simple remake, the Special Stage could’ve been reproduced with actual polygons instead of pre-rendering, and we could have probably had a high framerate that would have been more or less like the original.
-This is all because the concept of this project is about ‘remastering’, correct?
NH: Back then, there were many who would develop these kinds of technical improvements, but the general focus has shifted. Things change completely based on differences between using a frame buffer or a line buffer. And if I can say it this way, some people just had a knack for it.
– So you can say Sonic 2 is a compilation of all these advancements.
YO: We were able to make Sonic 2 happen BECAUSE it was the 16th title in the lineup.
New Ring Keeper Mode – Only Lose Half Your Rings!
-Now I’d like to ask about the new additional content added into Sonic 2.
YO: So as you know we always try to include two new additional things that weren’t in the original, but this time one of those is the Stage Select being a normally accessible feature. This is just to lower the hurdle for getting at the stages later in the game for those who have played the game before.
Stage Select is right there, ready to go. Players can start from later stages.
And the main focal point is the Ring Keeper Mode. I feel like there were many people who couldn’t clear Sonic 2 back then. The last boss battles against Mecha Sonic and Eggman Robot were so difficult, that even I, as a heavy gamer back then, lost to them countless times. Thus, instead of recreating an unbeatable game, we wanted to offer a more fun, casual game play, which was possible through Ring Keeper mode.
Although Sonic loses all his rings upon receiving damage, the fact that he only needs one ring to survive is what keeps Sonic games from getting too hard. We lowered that hurdle even more by introducing Ring Keeper mode, which cuts down the ring drop down to only half. So for example, if you had 50 rings, normally you’d lose them all, but now you only drop 25 of them.
Sonic’s rings get scattered upon receiving damage, but Ring Keeper mode cuts down that effect to half. Essentially, players are safe until they’re down to just one ring.
– So they’re safe until they’re down to one ring.
YO: That’s correct. It’ll keep cutting down to half, until players reach one ring and it drops to zero. You tend to pick up more rings as you progress, so the difficulty is much lower. Another important thing to note is that Sonic will have ten rings when the game starts, so going against a boss shouldn’t be too bad even if you have to get hit a couple of times.
– You’re right. It was pretty difficult when restarting right before boss battles.
YO: Therefore, I feel like those who couldn’t reach the end of the game should be able to make it all the way by using Ring Keeper mode.
– Would you say you can beat Sonic 2 and help on the 3DS?
YO: Impossible! I was never that good anyway. (laughs). That’s not going happen on Normal mode.
– Well the point of SEGA 3D Classics is also to let those people who never experienced and beat the game originally to come back and experience it anew.
YO: Indeed. One of our focuses is to have people never got to beat the game before to beat it this time. The controllers are a bit different, so the gameplay isn’t exactly the same, but people should be able to gradually progress by saving frequently.
– Any lasts words to people looking to play 3D Sonic 2?
YO: I’d say Sonic 2 was the most popular game sold worldwide on the Mega Drive, so it’s a chance for people to play the Mega Drive game that had the biggest worldwide impact, on the 3DS. I personally think Sonic 2 is THE Mega Drive game. An “I am Mega Drive, hear me roar!” sort of thing. I’m happy we could end the SEGA 3D Remaster Project with this one, as the 16th title of the project (this is because the Mega Drive focused heavily on “16-BIT”). The three titles we brought back this time are what we believe are most memorable when you look back at the Mega Drive hardware, so we hope that you enjoy what we have to offer.
NH: I agree with him that having Sonic 2 as our 16th title is significant. Sonic 2 has various stage pieces that the stereoscopic 3D enhances visually, so please enjoy.
Also, it would be great if you could even slightly appreciate the staff who worked on the Special Stage as you play this. I’m more than positive there will be no more instances where someone copies a pre-rendering by eye!
YO: You’ll be able to see the stereoscopic 3D trailer on the Nintendo eShop, so please feel free to check it out if you’re interested after watching this interview.
One Can Only Wish… AC Version Virtual Racing Conversion
Thanks to all staff for working hard. It’d be nice if the arcade version of Virtual Racing can be brought back too though…
YO: I’m sure many from my generation will consider the 1980’s as the era of video games, with numerous SEGA games released for arcades and Mega Drives. This project was the perfect chance for us to convert the games from that era, one by one putting our full effort behind it, so I’m very thankful for the experience and it will honestly be a happy memory I take forward with me for a long time.
The line-up consisted of the top titles in terms of popularity… I was a bit skeptical if Thunder Blade really belonged in the top 16, but I’m happy that we got to re-release all of those titles in the 2010s, and I hope they go on to be one of the most beloved series on the 3DS.
NH: I’ve been involved on projects where we bring back really old games for people to play again for quite some time, but these classics for the 3DS have been the easiest to work on because you really get to wow the players with the 3D on these. I usually have a difficult time coming up with ideas so people would want to replay these old games, but the stereoscopic 3D aspect of 3DS was impactful enough to get the crowd going. I’m deeply moved by the fact that my 3DS has become, you could say, a SEGA Console in its own way. I mean, it’s got Thunder Blade running on it! It’s a SEGA Console!
– Is there a title you wish you could have converted?
YO: That would have to be the arcade version of Virtual Racing for me. It hasn’t ever been faithfully ported. There’re four ports to date: Mega Drive, 32X, SEGA Saturn, and Playstation, but none of them stayed true to the original.
The Mega Drive and 32X versions were amazing at the time, but I wish more attention went to Virtual Racing rather than Virtual Fighter. I wasn’t too impressed with Winning Run (racing game developed by Namco at the time), which was released earlier, but Virtual Racing really caught my attention. The 30 FPS framerate gave it a smoother effect compared to other games like Hard Driving and Winning Run.
There was also a Grand Prix mode, where people could play 15 rounds for 200 yen when popularity started to die. I remember having so much fun playing with three other people and figuring out when to replace the worn out tires at the pits. I do feel that I want to re-experience that some day. Many have told me that there’s no reason to bring it back when there’s so many amazing racing games out there, but I’ve got a lot of great memories associated with that game, so I’d love to bring it back if I had the chance.
NH: I got to say, I agree. I’d say Virtual Racing since I like to work on those primitive era games.
– Despite this maybe being the end of the SEGA 3D Remaster Project, I really hope you can make those happen.
YO: Seriously! But I wonder how many of these “final episode” interviews we’ve had regarding this project. Back during Batch 1’s 3D Streets of Rage episode, I was the one who suggested to put “Farewell!” as the title! I thought that was going to be be the end of the interviews.
NH: I was very surprised that time when I heard we’re continuing this project.
YO: The title we really thought was the end of the series is 3D Thunder Blade, and these interview were supposed to end there as well. But then, we decided to release a packaged version of it, so we embarrassingly came back for bonus interview. That’s when we announced it to be our last, once again, yet continued the series until now.
I’ve been porting older games with M2 for ten years now. The reason we were able to bring such quality classics back is M2’s continued loyalty to SEGA. What started only as a standard conversion, has lead us to go above and beyond, such as adding “HAYA OH” as 3D Space Harrier’s final boss or adding extra modes. This is all thanks to our loyal customers and their constant support as well. I feel blessed to have such amazing customers.
-Thank you very much.
Okunari-san’s unopened Sonic The Hedgehog 2 package. Why the overseas version…? Regardless, oh, the nostalgia!
Friday Sep 25, 2015
Alright, it’s finally time to get back to the Sonic Showdown!
Thanks again for waiting so patiently as we got here – things have been amazingly busy here at SEGA the last couple weeks, but it’s all for good things to come in the future. I’m excited to show you what we’re up to someday, but for now, secrecy (and a slight desire to remain employed until certain things are accomplished) mandate that my lips are sealed. All in time.
So, as we move into the last two matches of the first rounds, we’ve a couple big hitters arriving to mix things up!
First, brace yourself for the edge (ow) as the world’s darkest hedgehog looks to find that darn fourth Chaos Emerald within the world of Sonic Boom – off of boomerang-wielding, conspiracy-theorist jungle badger, no less! It’s Shadow VS. Sticks in today’s first match-up!
Next, the world’s Echidna with the fewest chuckles faces off against a member of his own original team – the silent and skilled ninja Espio, of the Chaotix! Will Knuckles (& Knuckles) take the victory, or will Espio prove his worth?
Please note that I’m updating the timer on this poll, so the polls will end automatically in just under one week, even if the numbers are close! Be sure to vote now and spread the word, and may the best characters win!
Once this round is done, next week we move on to the quarterfinals! Good luck to all of our competitors in the last two initial rounds – let us know who you’re voting for in the comments below!
Monday Sep 14, 2015
Alright, classy people – today we’ve got some news for you. Some of you might initially see it as a negative, but I’m here to tell you why it’s a good thing.
The team at SEGA has decided to delay the release date of Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, which we announced for Nintendo 3DS earlier this year. In order to make sure the game has the time and polish needed, we’re moving it out into 2016. No exact window from us, just yet – it’ll be ready when it’s ready!
In the grand scheme of things, while the downside is that you won’t be playing the game this year, the upside is that what you’ll play next year, and what fans will continue to play for years after they pick up the game, will be a stronger, more enjoyable experience.
We think that’s important, not just for this one game, but for all future Sonic titles.
Questions? Comments? Favorite desserts? We welcome them all in the comments, and we’ll have more news on Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice as we move towards next year!
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