Sunday 3 January 2010

Sonic to have his own rollercoaster at Alton Towers

It has been confirmed today that Sonic will have his own rollercoaster at Alton Towers. An existing ride, called the Spinball Whizzer, is to be re-themed in a Sonic style.

Here is what TowersTimes has to say:
"Rumours of a Spinball Whizzer retheme for 2010 first surfaced several months ago, but now TowersTimes are able to confirm that these rumours are true.

The resort information packs in the Hotel bedrooms have been updated already, ahead of the new season, and a small promo shot of a Spinball Whizzer car has a Sonic the Hedgehog logo on the side. This would appear to confirm the plans for the ride which is due to open in February."
The ride has been rumoured to be renamed "Sonic Spinball", a reference to his 1993 game of the same name. A new colour scheme for the ride is already in the process of being applied.

The ride's new dark blue supports.

It is likely that the ride will open to coïncide with the release of Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, which has a release date of February/March.

Still no confirmation for when Sega will re-open SegaWorld - perhaps to coïnicide with the launch of the Dreamcast 2?

[Source: TowersTimes and forums]

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Mega Drive sales figures - an update

There has been further research conducted into the Mega Drive's total sales figures within the Sega community, but this time more in-depth. This brings us closer to solving the dispute among retro gamers as to which console really did sell the most during the 16-bit console war.

Here is a list of sales figures compiled so far, including sources:
This brings the total sold worldwide to around 39.7 million. The most widely-quoted figure of 29 million total units sold must therefore be inaccurate, as this new figure has been compiled from various sources rather than just one.

What the compiled figures do show is that the Mega Drive was the best-selling unit in the Americas. Nintendo's official sales figures quote that 23.35 million SNESs were sold in total, compared to the Mega Drive's 25 million.

The Mega Drive sold more than the SNES in "other regions" as well, which includes Europe - compare Sega's 10.4 million to Nintendo's 8.58 million.

These figures do miss out on one thing, however - there are no solid sales figures for the many variations of Mega Drives, such as the Wondermega and Multi-Mega. One website mentions that in North America 10,000 JVC X'Eyes may have been sold along with 5,000 CDXs.

If we take all of the figures gathered so far, we can safely assume that the Mega Drive sold almost 40 million units worldwide, a much more accurate figure than the previously assumed 29 million. We can also say that the Mega Drive outsold the SNES in the Western hemisphere.

It seems that Nintendo's huge sales of the SNES in Japan (17.7 million) have led to the general assumption that the Mega Drive was "beaten" everywhere, when in fact Japan was the only major market where this occurred. Japan's figures gave the total SNES sales a huge 49.1 million, compared to Sega's 39.7 million.

Aside from these sales figures, the community found some software and hardware revenue figures from Sega and Nintendo:
Sega - US Hardware and Software Revenue in millions of dollars (including Sega Genesis, Sega CD, and Sega 32X, not including Sega Nomad, Sega CDX, JVC X'Eye, the Genesis 3 or software sold by Majesco in 1997-1999)

1989 - $182
1990 - $280
1991 - $586
1992 - $1,151
1993 - $1,938
1994 - $1,812 (End of 16-bit era Total: $5,949)
1995 - $812
1996 - $294
1997 - $180
Total - $7,235


Super NES - US Hardware & Software Revenue in millions of dollars

1991 - $560
1992 - $1,733
1993 - $1,890
1994 - $1,471 (End of 16-bit era Total: $5,654)
1995 - $823
1996 - $514
1997 - $243 (End of Sega Total: $7,234)
1998 - $137
1999 - $20
Total - $7,391
This shows that Sega was ahead (revenue-wise) of Nintendo from 1994, with Sega's cheaper hardware and software suggesting more units were sold. If we take into account Sega's hardware and software not included on the list then surely they made more revenue in total?

I will update the figures when more sources have been found. All this effort put in from the community shows that for many of us, the 16-bit war will rage for all eternity!

EDIT 28/12/09: I have updated the figures with new information, mainly for Europe and Japan.
02/01/10: Here is another source for the Mega Drive sales figures. [Unreliable chart removed.]
08/07/10: Here is a chart from the May 1995 issue of Man!ac Magazine showing console sales of 29 million at the fiscal end of 1994.

Monday 9 November 2009

Celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall with your Game Gear

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was on this day in 1989 that the border crossings were opened to allow people to freely travel either side of Berlin, previously split in two since 1961.

There have been celebrations worldwide today, so why not have a look at this obscure Game Gear title to mark the occasion?

Not a very historically-accurate portrayal.

The game in question is called The Berlin Wall, released in 1991 in the arcades and on the Game Gear by Kaneko. It plays similarly to Space Panic and Lode Runner, whereby you must navigate various platforms linked by ladders and trap enemies.

The only links to the Wall itself are that you must chip away bits of concrete, and there are poorly digitised photos of the Berlin Wall scattered throughout the game. Nice.

You'll have a hard time finding a copy of the game as it was only released in Japan, but at least Game Gear games are region-free.

Thanks to Chris Covell and Albrito. Also see Chris's excellent Famicom Tsushin page.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Sega named as one of the world's coolest brands

This week the annual CoolBrands list was published, with Sega making it into the final selection.

Every year The Centre for Brand Analysis in the UK assemble an "Expert Council", made up of fashion designers, artists, presenters and more, to decide which are the world's coolest brands. Members of the general public are also invited to share their opinion, and can nominate brands for consideration.

Brands, which can be products or companies, are rated on their style, innovation, originality, authenticity, desirability and uniqueness. Then, based on this criteria, the nominations are whittled down to a list of just 500, creating the CoolBrands Top 500.

Sega was one of the few games brands to make the list, with Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox and Sony all finishing in the Top 20. Other games brands in the Top 500 included Atari, EA, Guitar Hero and Konami.

If this was the Nineties then Sega would surely have made the Top 20 ahead of Nintendo, who finished fifth. Oh well.

[Source: CoolBrands]

P.S. Today is SEGAtastic's first birthday! The blog managed to document an exciting year for Sega, which included the release of one of their best games for years (Valkyria Chronicles), marked them as the top publisher for hardcore Wii games (MadWorld, House of the Dead: Overkill) and (maybe) forecast a future of quality Sonic games (Project Needlemouse, All-Stars Racing).

Wednesday 9 September 2009

09/09/09 - Sonic's long-awaited return

Hello everyone! This is my first post since June when I suspended the blog. I said in the comments section of my "final" post that I would occasionally come back whenever something interesting happens. Well today (UK time), on the 10th Anniversary of the Dreamcast's North American launch, Sega announced what old-school Sonic fans have been waiting to hear for a very long time.

In an interview on GameSpot, Sega's brand manager Ken Ballough announced a new 2D/HD Sonic game, with the working title Project Needlemouse.
"Old-school Sonic fans have long asked to see Sonic return to a more 2D style of gameplay. Many liked the daytime stages in Unleashed, but wanted to see a game that plays purely similar to the early games of the Genesis. Project Needlemouse is that critical first step that brings Sonic back to his 2D roots."

A trailer has also been released, stating "Speed returns, in an all new 2D adventure built from the ground up". This confirms the game will not be running on the Hedgehog Engine or be a remake of a previous title.

On the subject of visuals, Ballough said "You can definitely expect HD graphics". He did not confirm whether or not they would be 3D graphics on a 2D plane (as in Sonic Rivals), 3D models on a 2D background (as in Sonic Rush), or 2D sprites on a 3D background (like Namco's Klonoa). From the art that has been released, it looks unlikely that the game will be fully 2D.

The artwork released was found on the teaser website, with the filename "concept_art_snapshot.jpg". It looks to be based on Green Hill Zone, and has been rendered in 3D.

The game is set for release in 2010 on (probably) PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. I can hardly wait.

[Source: GameSpot via Kotaku]

P.S. Remember to check back here every few weeks or months - I will still occasionally post updates on major Sega events (such as this), and my time studying Games Design (which starts next week - ARGH!).

EDIT: The teaser site, containing the "concept art", is fake. This means the graphics may not be in 3D, and use one of the combinations posted above. I personally hope for 2D hand-drawn graphics, with layers upon layers of glorious parallax!

Thursday 25 June 2009

Sega Toys release listening flowers

Last year Sega Toys released Pekoppa, a plant that "listened" to whatever the speaker said and reacted by moving up and down. Now they have released an updated version called Hanappa ("hana" meaning "flower" or "petal"), which features more designs and actions.

The battery-powered plant is available in African Daisy, Sunflower and Marguerite varieties. New movements include flapping leaves and "acting surprised". How can a plant look surprised?

If you want one of these highly useless toys, you can import them for around £20 after July 4th. I think I'll pass.

[Source: CrunchGear]

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Play these ancient Sega games

There has been a Photoshop contest over on Gizmodo, the theme being "what if games consoles had been around for hundreds of years?". Aside from the Call of Duty and Guitar Hero remakes, there were some Sega-related ones.

My favourite was "Crazy Horsey", a play on Crazy Taxi. Presumably you must ride your horse around the village, taking peasants to their chosen destinations (such as the gallows).

The next one wasn't exactly Sega-based, but was apparently made for the Genesis. With a name like "Grand Theft Wheel 4", that's the only console it could be made for, although the box says it's available on Mega Drive too.

Click here to see the rest of the entries. "Grand Theft Horse" is definitely the best.

[Source: Gizmodo via Kotaku]

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Is Moonwalker 2 in development?

Ow! Hee-hee! Who's bad?

There have been rumours across the internet this week that Michael Jackson is set to appear in a new game. It is apparently being developed for the PS3, PS2 and Wii, with a release date of Christmas 2009.

The game is supposedly based on Michael's This Is It concert at the O2 arena in London, and is being created by his film production company MJJ Productions. There has been no mention of a publisher, although Sega have published almost every game Michael has cameoed in so far.

Gameplay-wise, the game could be in the style of Dance Dance Revolution or SingStar, as the music videos are set to feature heavily. It is aimed at the whole family.

Past games Michael has appeared in include Moonwalker, Space Channel 5 1 and 2, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing and I'm Sorry. He also apparently created the music for Sonic 3.

It would be great if Sega published the game, but I doubt it will happen. I really enjoyed Moonwalker on the Mega Drive, so hopefully this new game will be good too!

[Source: 9Lives via NowGamer]

Happy 18th Birthday Sonic!

Today is Sonic's 18th Birthday - it was 18 years ago today that Sonic the Hedgehog was released on the Mega Drive in North America and Europe. The Japanese release was a month later, with added parallax and raster effects.

Sonic showed everyone what the Mega Drive could do, and what the NES couldn't. He was part of the reason Sega dominated the generation in Europe, and challenged Nintendo's rule in the rest of the world.

Despite some terrible games in the last decade, Sonic has remained a household name. At one point in the Nineties he was more well-known among children that Mickey Mouse! He was also the first video game character to appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a feat only replicated by Pikachu.

To think it was nearly 15 years ago that I first played Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive - I still own both the game and the console. Sonic Adventure 2 was the reason I bought a GameCube back in 2002 (sorry Dreamcast!).

Hopefully Sonic will still be around in another 18 years, with a return to form in his games. More 2D sidescrollers please Sega (and a new console whilst you're at it)!

Monday 22 June 2009

More Tamagotchi Park info

Slightly edited growth chart for the Segagotchi eggs.

I found some more information regarding the Saturn Tamagotchi game Sega Saturn de Hakken!! Tamagotchi Park, which featured cameos from many Sega characters.

One interesting point is that only certain eggs can become Sega characters, rather than one egg becoming any character (like the keychain pets). These "Segagotchi" eggs all have characters based on Sega hardware and franchises.

The baby and child characters are Master System cards, the teenage characters are a Saturn disc and a Mega Drive cartridge, and the adult characters are based on Opa Opa, Pengo, Flicky, Alex Kidd, and Sonic.

The games you can play include a food-eating contest (does Sonic eat chilli dogs?) and a Chao-style race, where you can cheer your pet on to make it faster.

The game as a whole sounds fun. If only Bandai would release Segagotchi in keychain form - that would be excellent!

[Source: WarOmnimon from Tama-Zone]