SEGA Blog SEGA Blog Homepage SEGA on Facebook SEGA on Twitter SEGA on Flickr SEGA on YouTube

Archive for ‘Sonic Unleashed’


Sonic Unleashed Dev Diary #2- Yoshihisa Hashimoto

Hello to all Sonic fans!
My name is Yoshihisa Hashimoto and I am the project leader of “Sonic Unleashed” in the Sonic Team, Sega’s development studio in Japan. While managing the production of the Sonic Unleashed as a Game Director and Lead Game Designer, I also supervise, as Technical Director, the Hedgehog Engine which is critical in ensuring the high quality graphic images of Sonic Unleashed

In this 2nd issue of the Developer’s Diary, I am going to introduce you to the following topics.
* Sonic Unleashed which made a big advance in Sonic game play
*”Hedgehog Engine” which generates beautiful and impressive graphic images

Sonic Unleashed

[New Sonic Concept]
Sonic Unleashed offers many catchy features, and one of the most outstanding is the game play of Sonic the Hedgehog himself. The Art Director Sachiko Kawamura and I have participated in the development of many Sonic games for over 10 years since Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure2. During that time, we’ve seen a lot of Sonic games being developed and released. But we always felt that something was wrong.

I kept asking myself “Is this the Sonic the fans really want to see?” It looked to me that Sonic was tied on a heavy chain, taken away his freedom. I could hear his cry; “I want to run faster! I want to run freely!”

For years to come as I worked steadily to build my career at Sonic Team for Sega, I kept my belief that “The True Sonic the Hedgehog can be a lot better!” Then, in 2005, I was accosted and asked by the Producer, Akinori Nishiyama “Would you like to produce the next Sonic?” This when the new chapter of Sonic has began.

I started straight off to think what is needed to make the real Sonic. And I found the answer pretty quickly. Actually, I already had my answers in my head since I’d been always thinking about what “ideal” Sonic was.

· Sonic is all about speed. Without it, he is not Sonic. So put absolute priority on the sense of speed and let him dash non-stop on the trackless routes.

· Take in and Improve the classic “Side-Scroll Sonic” from Genesis. It will surely attract old Sonic fans.

· However, Do not end up with only an ordinary side-scroll game. Because it will be nothing more than a “Nostalgic Sonic”. We wanted to make a “Ultimate Sonic”.

· Keep the 3D game play that progress towards the back of the screen, which was adapted since Sonic Adventure. 3D is absolutely essential to give the sense of speed and the punchy presence. 3D Sonic can be very entertaining if made right. Rather, we go further into the 3D ( 3rd person ) Sonic direction.

· By comparing 3D/ 2D, 2 completely different game plays take only the good stuffs from both, discarding the demerits. And then we mix those 2 parts seamlessly will result in a stage that changes rapidly and dynamically.
The gameplay that offers all advantages from both 2D and 3D.

· We keep Platformings too: Speed can be appreciated more with the slower-pitched areas.

· *To realize the non-stop-supersonic-running action, revise the control. and prepare (develop) a new speed action mechanism.

· Prepare amazing visual images with rich presence so that the player can sync with Sonic.

· “New Sonic” would be born from the set of these key concepts.

Sonic UnleashedSonic Unleashed

[Unleash Sonic the Hedgehog!]

So we started on the prototype of new Sonic. First, we needed some new control mechanism to realize the “non-stop super sonic running action”. I came up with the following new action mechanism:
・Quick Step
・Ring Energy

Usually, the player moves in a 3D gameplay using the left stick in the, but since it’s analogue, it limits user’s move to linear directions. Sonic dashes at the supersonic speed. So it is difficult to let him to run non-stop within a complicated 3D environment by the left stick alone. We needed a system that allows sonic to move quickly and avoid the obstacles. That is “Quick Step”.

The control was quite simple: while running, all needed to do was to press either trigger with your right or left index finger.
This enabled Sonic to slide orthogonally to left and right and he could run through in the supersonic speed zipping through the obstacles in the 3D environment.

Next, I focused my attention to the rings, the item traditionally used in the sonic games. With rings, or even with one ring, Sonic can avoid the damages by the enemy. That was a fantastic system for fast action character such as Sonic, but I always felt it is a shame that collecting more than 2 rings makes little difference in the game play.

So I presented a new concept called “Ring Energy” in which collectin many rings is enjoyable and rewarded, marrying the concept of the ring and the speed. As more rings collected, more energy will be accumulated / pooled, and by consuming the rings, it also allowed Sonic to “Sonic Boost”, the fast accelerating feature. “Sonic Boost” also allows him to break the wall and the objects, and run quickly blasting the enemies. “Sonic Boost” is so refreshing and you will be addicted.

And then, the ring became more important in its role. More the rings (collected) , faster the Max speed Sonic can sprint, so Time Attack has really became hot! Moreover by using various actions such as “Sonic Drift”, ”Sliding”, ”Stomping”, ”Wall Jump”, ”Light Speed Dash”, we materialized our concept to “let him dash non-stop supersonic on the trackless route.”

Once the speed mechanism has is there, we moved onto the stage designs. The stage that sonic dashes through is designed to show the change the view rapidly from 3D to 2D every 15 to 30 seconds. On each 3D and 2D area, the course is carefully laid out with various geographical elements such as uphill, downhill, bank, loop, valley, wall, ceiling, floor, grind rail, spring and jump bumper.

In this title the speed in which player travels in game is actually multiplied compared past Sonic titles. Since he’s so fast, each action stage is as long as 10~20Km. Our artists worked so hard to put together these massive geography. And one day we finally saw Sonic running in these courses. Even though the control is pretty simple, Sonic runs around freely in the beautifully elaborate background in his super speed. Camera is looking good and the change between 2D/ 3D is pretty smooth and dynamic.

“Wow! This is so fun! And feels good!” All our staffs are excited too. Sonic is finally freed from the heavy chain and started shine in his true color. This is the moment when finally Sonic is Unleashed.

Apatos Lighting and TexturesApatos No Effects

[Hedgehog Engine and its visual quality]
We also have “stunning visual beauty” as a major theme in Sonic Unleashed. I was not interested in making “average-quality visual” at all. I set the target of the visual quality to that of “pre-rendered CG animation” and wanted to achieve this goal in this title. Now that we have high-end hardwares such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation3, it’s the right time to achieve this goal. at

Back in 2005, I was able to see new games from other studios for Xbox360 and PlayStation3 and I remember always feeling that something was not right. “True, they’re looking better than past-gen games. But I feel something is missing.” “They are doing stuffs with Shadow Map, Normal Map, HDR… shaders and everything. Ok, lighting is richer. But it’s not blended enough. It just looks flat as a whole. I think the users’ expectation is much higher.” So we need graphics with “pre-rendered CG animation” level.

So I started thinking about what is need to achieve this; what does pre-rendered CGs have that game graphics lightings doesn’t? I went on to make it a habit to observe many games, a lot of pre-rendered graphics and real-life sceneries. As a result, I came to the conclusion that “the effect of light reflecting from one object to another” was what was completely lacking in gaming graphics. I realized that this was what I felt was “missing.”. This is a concept called “Global Illumination” in the field of pre-render CG.

After much struggle, we finally developed a Renderer that calculates Global Illumination by our 100% original algorithm. To cover the vast amount of calculation that needs to be processed, we also improvised a system that connects 100 PCs in the team to distribute the work load, which enabled us to complete all the lighting calculations for an action stage which goes as long as 10~20Km in 2,3 days.

At the same time, we developed a technology called Light Field, which used to ensure that the lightings on Sonic, enemies and objects are naturally blended to the background under Global Illumination environment. The result of Global Illumination and Light Field was brilliant. Graphics with the quality which was only a dream just a few years ago start to move before my eyes.
I remember watching the prototype graphics with my artists who worked on background and characters when their eyes started to glisten as they looked at the screen with such intensity. That’s when I became sure of our success.

As you all know, We have Sonic in Sonic Unleashed. The overall taste of graphic is rather cartoonish. Usually people don’t associate high-end visual technologies from these cartoony graphics. But we have set the ground to make the world-leading quality visuals that could be applied to the hardcore FPS or racing games with “real” taste.

We made no compromise in visual quality and/ or game mechanism. This is Sonic Unleashed.

Sonic Unleashed

[Back to Origin?]
I’ve been asked a lot of times if “Sonic is back to its origin” in interviews. My answer is always “No.” Sonic Unleashed has essence from Genesis, which is his origin. But it’s only one part of many charms of Sonic Unleashed. We are “learning from” “taking good bits of” origin but we are not “going back” at all. Actually, I wanted to “go beyond” the origin.

I’m confident that this one is so good that everyone will say “Sonic is back!”. This title has the best of SEGA, the passion of Sonic Team. I can’t wait the to have everyone see and play this newly unleashed Sonic. Stay tuned!

There will be more of the developer’s diary. So look forward to the next one, too!


Sonic Unleashed and House of the Dead: Overkill- On the Spot @ Gamespot!

Big news today for Sonic Unleashed and House of the Dead: Overkill, our two teams are headed over to Gamespot to talk about the games and show off some gameplay! The segment starts at 4:00pm PST and will both games will appear sometime during the segment.

If you can’t make the show, don’t worry, Gamespot runs a viewable version after the show has been run live!


Sonic Unleashed Developer Diary – Patrick Riley

I’m happy to report that we’ve been given access to some regular blog content from the team working on Sonic Unleashed. The first blog entry features Patrick Riley, who works right here in our SEGA offices. Take a read of the article and be sure to head over to our Flickr page to view all of the screenshots.

Be on the lookout for the next blog article, which we’ll be adding very shortly.


Hi there, my name is Patrick Riley and I am the producer of Sonic Unleashed here at Sega of America. My job is to workPatrick Riley closely with the development team out in Japan and work on the game from our US office.

The team in Japan is a fantastic team to work with and all of you will see in the next little while what incredible work they have done to bring this new Sonic game to life. Filled with incredible Sonic speed-based gameplay, stunning international-inspired environments, and your favorite blue Hedgehog, Sonic Unleashed is the game we know Sonic fans have been waiting for!

Just to give you a little background, the team has been working on the Hedgehog Engine since 2005, and on the game itself since 2006. Their goal was both to take Sonic in an interesting new direction while returning Sonic to his roots by incorporating many of the classic elements that fans loved best. So they knew that lots of speed would be key in this game being successful. To add a new flavor, they decided to invite the Werehog. I’m not going to talk about him quite yet, but stay tuned for some Werehog updates in the next couple of weeks.


The story itself is based on an alternate world similar to our own in many ways. The game starts in the middle of the action, just like a Bond film. Dr. Eggman has once again caused serious amounts of trouble – as he so loves to do – and Sonic has finally cornered him and looks on the brink of finally winning their epic struggle. But it is all a ploy and Dr. Eggman uses that moment to steal the seven Chaos Emeralds and use them to break apart the earth and wake Dark Gaia – a frighteningly huge monster. It is at that same moment that Sonic is exposed to the dark energy of those Chaos Emeralds and a beastly change takes place. Sonic is blown out of an airlock by Dr. Eggman, but survives the fall to Earth through the intervention of a strange energy source. Sonic is then left to figure out both how to bring the world back together and what this unbelievable change means for him.


Sonic’s adventure begins here. He travels the world to put together the pieces of the fragmented planet as well as those of his own life now that so much has changed. He explores beautiful environments inspired by China, Greece, Africa and speeds through them in both 3D and 2.5D gameplay.

The team faced a lot of challenges in accomplishing their vision. First and foremost, we targeted multiple platforms – PS3, 360, Wii, and PS2 – so a big challenge was making sure that the game worked well on all platforms. For example, making sure that the Wii version really took advantage of the unique control system and the next-gen versions really took advantage of the power of the systems to make the game look amazing. Also, narrowing down the locations – in a world like our where there are so many interesting places to visit, how do we choose just a few? There are just too many amazing sights in the world! Narrowing it down was quite the challenge.


Finally, making sure that we gave fans the Sonic game they were really looking for was truly number one on our mind. The team is made up of people who love Sonic, who have worked on many Sonic titles, and who felt passionate about the experience they believed Sonic could offer on any system. Creating that perfect game was something we spent a lot of time discussing- all the pros and cons of what could and couldn’t work – what fans loved and what fans hated – what we loved and hated. In the end, it came down to us. We had to ask ourselves what we felt Sonic was missing up until now and what we would want in a Sonic game. Fortunately, as Sonic fans we are extremely excited about the game you guys will be seeing soon and as the PD team, extremely proud of the game we made.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be drafting up some dev diaries for you check out to get a better ides of the Werehog and all his skills and what inspired us on that front. We’ll talk more about the background of the team itself and their role in the creation of the game. We’ll introduce you to some of the places you will visit over the course of the game. Lastly, we’ll give you a taste of some of the new moves Sonic has been given in this game and some of the control specifics we implemented for the Wii version to ensure that Wii fans were really taking advantage of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.


I hope, by the time I’m done writing this – you guys will be a happy with the game as we are proud. But in the meantime, start training your thumbs for some serous speeding action! Stay tuned for more developer updates and introductions to the team in Japan who worked so hard to bring you this game. In the upcoming weeks we will tell you more about the new features – including the Hedgehog Engine created by the Sonic team – as well as the stunning environments, Sonic’s new moves and of course, the Werehog himself. Keep reading!




Sonic Unleashed Website is Live!

Hey Sonic Fans!

We’ve got a nice Friday update for you, our newest website is now live for Sonic Unleashed.  The website features a ton of videos, two of which are new, and information about the upcoming Sonic game.

How to interact the site to get the most out of it? Grab the world and give it a spin to navigate the various sections and move your mouse over and flag to view the videos.  Learn more about the game by clicking on the flags directly and pull up information about that area of the game.  Switch between Day and Night sections by clicking the sun and moon.


SEGA Papercraft!

One of my favorite blogs SpriteStitch is at it again with their video game related craft projects. Many of you may be familiar with the concept of papercrafts, or printable 3-d paper models you can make yourself at home without tape or glue. There are tons of cool different designs out there, with people creating and submitting their own. Today SpriteStitch highlighted  the papercrafting trend with a Sonic and Knuckles papercraft hosted by one of the major purveyors of the artform I also discovered a pretty sweet Dinosaur King papercraft sponsored by the 4Kids television network.

You can click on the above image to download the template and the instructions to make your own Sonic, Knuckles, or Dinosaur King papercraft models. There are also a ton of other projects on there that should keep us busy for a while in between our voracious gaming/school/work/eat/sleep schedules.  I think ClumsyOrchid and I might have to race to see who can make the best StrongBad papercraft. Check it out, its relatively easy to figure out, all you need is a color printer, some scissors, and about an hour of free time (unless you are an expert, in which you could speed through a couple in an hour).


Unleash The Beast — New Sonic Unleashed Gameplay Trailer!

So the newest Sonic Unleashed trailer has been making its rounds of the internets over the past couple days. The trailer shows off some of the finer gameplay elements as well as a few new maps and areas that we havent gotten much of a look at either.

The other big news in this trailer is that it shows off more of the nighttime gameplay elements that have been speculated upon at most since their announcement months back. So, with no further ado, i present to you the new Sonic Unleashed Gameplay Trailer!

YouTube Preview Image



Sonic Odyssey (and Tails Illiad)

When I first came to SEGA almost a year ago, I’ll admit that I had kind of big eyes about it—I grew up playing the Sega Master System and Genesis, and my respect for Sega mythology has always been deep. So it was a strange, somewhat surreal experience indeed when my first task here was to help respond to fan mail, written by young folks with the same enthusiasm for the gaming and for SEGA that I’ve had (I’m not the only one who answers the mail here, but it can be a big job—if you’ve written to us, it can take a while to hear back, but we do try and respond to everything!).

The vast majority of letters written to SEGA are, of course, about Sonic. Not just about Sonic, himself, though—they’re about the whole of the extended Sonic the Hedgehog universe, and we receive opinions, ideas, drawings, and even fan fiction about all the games and every imaginable character, from Amy Rose and Shadow to Big the Cat and, of course, the Chao.

Until coming here I hadn’t really played all the way through a Sonic game since Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles for the Genesis. I was vaguely aware that, aside from Sonic, a universe full of anthropomorphic hedgehogs, squirrels, crocodiles, and omnipotent chaos-energy wielding echidnas existed in the Sonic mythos—but I could not have named them for you. I could not identify them on sight. I could not tell you what the romantic triangles were, or which characters might actually be holographic projections of super-advanced A.I.. Interacting with a devoted fan community changed this: I have learned quickly.

The Sonic universe, when I last left it sometime around the dawn of the Dreamcast, consisted of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and the good doctor. Reading countless letters, playing the newer games, and delving into the comic books published by Archie Comics, I quickly learned just how deep the Sonic universe went. Video Games, at their best, are a kind of narrative that takes place between the gamer and the game makers, and when people give as much back as the fans of the Sonic series have, it can lead to some pretty incredible results. For my own part, I don’t care if a hero is named Odysseus or Knuckles: I enjoy seeing a world that is self-contained, populated with its own history, heroes, and villains.

I know not everyone agrees with this, too—there are Sonic purists out there, and people who only like the 16-bit games, or like the Dreamcast ones the best, or don’t think anyone other than Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails should ever be in a game. That’s fine—I respect the old-school opinions (heck, I grew up playing this game), and likewise I’m delighted there are so many fans of the obscure characters and plotlines that make up the Sonic mythology. The letters I’ve read and the terrific fan artwork & stories I’ve seen do sort of hammer home the point that these are characters people love & are attached to.

In future posts I’ll steer this blog away from just talking about Sonic, and I’ll maybe even delve into my own back catalog of classic SEGA goodness—but right now, we’re in the middle of the hype for the upcoming RPG and, of course, Sonic Unleashed, so my first post here seemed as good a time as any to talk about my own history with the blue guy. I’m going to have to wrangle myself a Nintendo DS to play Chronicles on—I think it’s pretty awesome that a company as savvy as Bioware is developing an RPG for these characters, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.


Mysterious Footage – Sonic?

YouTube Preview Image




Gameplay Unleashed!

A couple weeks ago I got to take a look at the new Sonic Unleashed in action and in all honesty, I was pretty impressed. It’s been a while since the Blue Blur first enamored me with his side-scrolling high speed assault on Dr. Robotnik in the original Genesis — and he’s come quite a long way in the last 17 years (wow — am I really getting that old?). That being said, Sonic Unleashed will be featuring a lot of things we have come to know and love in a Sonic game, the thrills of blasting challenging and intriguing environments, an insatiable appetite for ring collecting, freaky-hybrid-robo-creatures, and most importantly — SPEED! Sonic Unleashed looks to not disappoint in any of these departments from what I’ve seen so far, and even offers us more excitment and a some familiar gameplay dynamics in a new light.

The folks over at IGN got ahold of some killer gameplay footage of Unleashed in action, so I figured this would be a good time to show it off and share it with you guys if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. I’m hoping to get another updated look at the game soon and perhaps some more footage as we get closer to release to share as well, but for now I leave you with this supersonic journey through Sonic Unleashed:

YouTube Preview Image

What do you guys think?



Sega Gamer’s Day – My Take on Three Games

I love my job at SEGA.

I had the chance to run through our Gamer’s Day presentations and got a first hand look at most of our release schedule in one concentrated dose. Normally, the Gamer’s Day is for Press and PR only, so this was quite a treat for me. I’m still very much a fan of Sega and the games we create; and having a chance to see our games demoed by their creators is always a thrill.

The rest of the gaming press has been writing on the day with their impressions of Gamer’s Day, as well as other companies that had showings last week. There’s a lot of good info out there on all of the titles shown, but I wanted to put together a quick rundown of some highlights for me. So of the day, here are some brief impressions of three games I saw:

Sonic Unleashed

The newest Sonic title is basically the game I’ve been waiting to play since I first saw high resolution shots of our favorite blue hedgehog. The graphics are simply amazing, Sonic has never looked better. The world is highly detailed, and the sense of speed has to be seen to be believed.

Sonic Unleashed Sonic Unleashed

One of the few ‘wow’ moments for me was when the action swapped from 2D to 3D and Sonic was grinding a railing. From this vantage point, the next challenge was visible from afar and Sonic was racing towards it full speed. The draw distance was huge; you could really get a sense for how big the level was.

So far I’m amped to see how the game will come together; it looks like a good mix of great graphics, great controls, and great gameplay.

Sonic Chronicles

The one thing you don’t get a chance to see in the screens for Sonic Chronicles is how the environment looks in motion. This may seem like a simple thing, but it brings some life to the game that you just don’t see in static screenshots. Of the section we saw, there was noticeable depth to the area with billowing smoke from toxic pipes, surrounding lush green hills. Sonic Chronicles is looking like a lot of fun, and I’ll definitely be looking to play more with the build they had for the Gamer’s Day event.

The Dark BrotherhoodThe Dark BrotherhoodThe Dark Brotherhood

Samba De Amigo

I actually own two original Samba controllers on the Dreamcast. Every now and again, we’ll break out the maraca boxes and make fools of ourselves to friends and family. I’m not terribly coordinated, but I love the game, and was thrilled to get a chance to actually play it at the Gamer’s Day.

Samba De AmigoSamba De Amigo

So the big question is: how does Samba feel compared to the original? Pretty much the same! The Wii-motes are much lighter, that’s probably the only major difference I could tell right off. The play mechanics seemed identical, I was able to quickly jump in and start waving my arms like a Samba crazed maniac. It felt really good to play Samba again, and I’m looking forward to playing more of it in the office. This is big on my list to share with friends when it launches later this year.

So there you have it, those are my top picks from the day. I’m looking forward to seeing all our games come together, in addition to these three. If you haven’t already done so, please do check out the coverage across the major sites, there are a lot of good games coming out from SEGA and we had a great Gamer’s Day showing them to everyone.

If you haven’t seen all of the screenshots released for the day, do check out our Flikr page!