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Sega Returns To  Sonic 's Roots With Downloadable, Episodic  Sonic 4
Sega Returns To Sonic's Roots With Downloadable, Episodic Sonic 4
February 4, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

February 4, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
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Sega has announced a new Sonic The Hedgehog game, Sonic 4, to be released as a downloadable "episode" via Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Wii Ware.

According to a report from consumer site GameSpot, Sonic 4 will be a 2D game with 3D visuals. Sega associate brand manager Ken Balough suggested that the company is at last producing a Sonic game that inherits the spirit of the Genesis fan favorites.

"Ever since Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has been a game classic Sega fans have always wanted to see," he tells Gamespot.

Over the years, Sega's mascot has seen racing titles, 3D action games and even an RPG, but fans have long demanded a game that more faithfully reflects the gameplay and appeal of the original games.

"It was the right people, at the right time, getting together and finally making this game we've all wanted to see," says Balough of Sonic 4. He also says the game is planned with the subtitle Episode 1, "the first part of a much larger adventure."

"While the game is a brand-new adventure, it will definitely pick up after Sonic & Knuckles," he explains. "However, what you are looking at is the beginning of a new story arc."

Balough cited the popularity surge of classic properties, like Capcom's Mega Man, thanks to downloadable platforms, as part of the motive for Sonic 4. On the desire to develop a 2D game with polished 3D graphics, he promised: "We're going to deliver a Genesis-era Sonic game as if it were created today that goes to the core of what classic Sonic fans desire."


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Comments


Francois Kasjan
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Thank you !

What did people wanted to prove with a "Knight Sonic" or "Beast Sonic" ? ... that was non sense ^^

Finally an old school Sonic game :)



(btw Mega Man 9 was awesome)

Daniel Mafra
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With luck they will discover their onw way to Sonic as Nintendo did to Mario in New Super Mario Bros for Wii.



With more luck they do the same to old dead titles, like Space Harrier, Alex Kidd, Fantasy Zone, Golden Axe and so on.

Maurício Gomes
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Too bad that this has no Steam release... I would love it!

Roberto Alfonso
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Well, the Secret of the Rings game for Wii was pretty good for a 3D game, but it needed more speed.

David Rodriguez
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I still remember the epic conclusion fighting Eggman in a asteroid field as Super Sonic. Lookin forward to this!

John Giordano
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The two biggest problems in this are "downloadable" and "episodic".

brandon sheffield
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arghhhhhhhhh must not be fooled again.....

Roberto Alfonso
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Brandon's comment reminds me of the Sonic Life Cycle: http://b4.s3.quickshareit.com/1d24a7a6fceba5c2f8.png



(Image stolen from NeoGAF)

John Giordano
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"Downloadable" to me means Sega isn't confident enough to make this a retail release.



"Episodic" means, as a consumer, I'm going to have to make multiple purchases of what should really be one, single package.

Anatoly Ropotov
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This teaser looks really awful - weird model with weird animation, 2 seconds of in-game footage look pre-rendered. I wonder who's developing it? I doubt it's a Japanese team, as trailer looks like typical USA marketing.

Adam Flutie
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@John - exactly. Sega should step up and make it a retail release. As for the Episodic problem, it is probably a way they can get you to pay retail but only get 'downloadable'.

Andrew Smith
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I have been waiting for this for 16 years...but why only download? Take this project as serious as your fans take it please.



Regardless of how crappy the run animation looks, download only, I am just thrilled to get my sequel to the real sonic games.

Amir Sharar
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John Giordano said: "The two biggest problems in this are "downloadable" and "episodic"."



Problems in terms of what sense? Mind clarifying?



SEGA's main concerns are profitability, whether they will hit their target market, and overall revenue.



We all know episodic content means high profitability when the same toolset is used for each subsequent episode.



Secondly, the target market being the hardcore Sonic fans (myself included) who are a bit older and open to buying games online, are not averse to buying this over PSN/XBLA.



And episodic content can also mean shorter development cycles, as well as the opportunity to generate even more revenue with the same toolset and less effort/testing involved in subsequent episodes.



We can look at Mega Man 9 as a success story in this area.



But we also have a counter example in New Super Mario Bros. NSMB, being a retail release for the Wii was a risk because it was unknown whether consumers devalued a game based on the fact it was 2D. The running assumption prior (and during the PSX/N64 and PS2/DC/Xbox era) was that 2D games would not sell at full retail prices. NSMB to some extent demonstrates that this is wrong. I would argue though, that NSMB has increased it's value through a few features, namely the 4 player multiplayer as well as being a Mario IP that is seen as fun for the whole family. And obviously, it is sold on the #1 console out there. Still though, in the end it is a 2D playing game that has sold 10 million.



So while episodic is great for many reasons, SEGA can still generate a lot of revenue (with high profitability) and hit their target market (and then some) with a retail release.



I would argue that episodic is great for mitigating risk with new IPs, and great for small development teams that want to shrink the development cycle to a certain extent to get their product out sooner. SEGA (or rather Sonic Team, if they are behind this) doesn't have these concerns.



And of course, New Super Mario Bros. has changed everything, and it should change SEGA's attitude towards this game.



Now as a huge Sonic fan my only concerns are whether or not the 2D physics will be retained. What made Sonic so special was that he operated in a logical physics environment but pushed it to the boundaries. Running so fast he was able to run up walls, on the roof, and being able to break his "running terminal velocity" by spinning were all excellent mechanics. This in combination with the levels that were designed for some hardcore platforming that you saw in few other games.



Lastly, the artstyle was quite unique and often fantastical. The "Mobius" setting was done away with in Sonic Adventure and they need to return to that sort of style.

brandon sheffield
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honestly if they do make several episodes, and they sell for whatever price and people buy them, I'm sure they'll package the whole thing into a retail release later.



they've run this series so far into the ground that I'm glad they're trying something new to be honest. I hope it works.



Roberto Alfonso - my favorite version of the sonic cycle: http://visublog.mechafetus.com/img/src/1252480260119.jpg

Ian Fisch
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From what I've seen so far in the (very short) trailer, there doesn't seem to be much personality in the art style. For example when Sonic runs past the sign making it spin, there's no "woosh" effect like you would get if this were hand animated. Rather it's just a polygonal model rotating on its axis. Boring.



I think low budget 2d looks a hell of a lot better than low budget 3d

Matt Ponton
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I agree Brandon on both of your points. It is awkward that this "something new" is really just "reverting to the old formula".



About the trailer, personally it made me sad. I mean look at the years:



1991

1992

1994

2010



Really, I mean if that isn't an eighteen-wheeler to the face, I don't know what would be. It took them 16 years to return to the proven formula. Sixteen years of trying random other game genres. I think the Advance series was the closest but it still felt "off". What boggles my mind even more is that Sonic Team thinks that the recent 3D Sonic Games have been good. I hope that this Sonic is done by an American team that grew up with the first three games.

John Giordano
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@Amir,



If episodic content is just a matter of Sega trying to suck more money out of people, then that's why it disappoints me. I don't want to have to buy episode after episode of what should be a single game.



If you want your games to have higher profitability, make better games. Don't try to fool people with "episodes".

John Gordon
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Mega Man 9 was just a niche title, while New Super Mario Bros. Wii might end up being the best selling game of this generation. They should be taking their cue from Mario. The old Sonic franchise could hold it's own against the old Mario franchise, and I think it could do it again if they put some serious effort behind it. They should scrap this episodic idea and make a full fledged AAA quality game out of it.

Anthony Charles
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"While the game is a brand-new adventure, it will definitely pick up after Sonic & Knuckles," he explains. "However, what you are looking at is the beginning of a new story arc."



lolz. i hope this new story arc can live up to the old one of, "free animals while grabbing rings".

Mark Tran
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Aha, that's good to see. Sega's jumped onto the revivalist bandwagon, which is not really a bad thing. With NSMB, and Megaman 9 being such hits. Reviving the games of the past with new installments, it's what we've all been asking for right? I'm overjoyed that Sega seems to have finally listened to their fans.

Richard Cody
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It says in the article that Sonic 3's story was finished in Sonic & Knuckles, which in turn end up seeming like episodes to a larger whole.

The naming kind of clears that up. Also, Sega can make a whole line of them -year after year- and put them out under one number in the series (rather than 4, 5, 6, 7...).



From all aspects this idea is pretty sound, that's unusual for Sega.

Maurício Gomes
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I am still waiting to see if Sega will wake up and do cool games again... It was like, Sonic, Comix Zone, Ristar, these games were awesome (specially Comix Zone).



Sega should stop doing 3D for the sake of doing 3D...

Amir Sharar
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John Giordano said: "If you want your games to have higher profitability, make better games. Don't try to fool people with "episodes"."



I'm not disagreeing with your overall point, but do remember that Sonic & Knuckles was very much like an episodic add-on to Sonic 3. It was all planned to be in Sonic 3 but various issues prevented that. I remember doing the stage select code for Sonic 3 and seeing all these other stage names that were not in Sonic 3.



In the end it gave us 2 very good titles that had a good level of polish. Secondly, it didn't leave fans waiting for years for a sequel. I'm hoping that SEGA is simply following to choose this precedent, rather than, as you mention, attempt to milk us for money.

Amir Sharar
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Having seen some leaked footage of this game, I can tell you right now there will be many, many disappointed fans. It looks to play like the previous Dimps Sonic titles and not like Sonic Team's 2D titles.



I'm writing up a blog entry on this subject, which I hope to have done by this weekend.


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