Entertainment

After decades of twists and turns, Sonic’s breakthrough gives Sega more hope

A model of the character Sega 'Sonic the Hedgeho'g was taken at tis headquarters in Tokyo
A model of the Sega character ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is pictured at headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, February 16, 2022. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon

February 28, 2022

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings is hoping to ride on Sonic the Hedgehog’s fast-growing ships as the character enjoys a renaissance amid a scramble for entertainment content on the internet. Global.

This year saw the launch of a sequel to a Hollywood movie and a Netflix series, along with a title that Sega hopes will revive the fortunes of the decades-old Sonic game franchise. century has problems.

“Sonic is the face of Sega. If Sonic does well, then Sega is doing well to some extent,” Shuji Utsumi, Sega’s co-CEO, told Reuters in an interview.

Matte blue became a household name in the West in a series of side-scrolling games in the 1990s on the Sega Mega Drive console, also known as Sega Genesis in North America, outselling the Super NES’s Super NES. Nintendo in many countries.

“Sonic is great with a sense of humor and an attitude… that resonated in the West,” said Utsumi, who worked at Sony when it launched the first PlayStation.

Unlike Nintendo’s Mario, who has starred for decades with popular titles, Sonic had trouble making the transition to 3D gaming as Sega pulled out of the console business to become a home. game publishing.

Now, after years of trial and error during Sega’s merger with pachinko slot maker Sammy, Sonic has revived his career as a movie star as studios scour the companies for Look for characters that are abused and mass-attracted.

Sonic-related revenue, including from the film, quadrupled in the five years to the fiscal year ending March 2021.

The series has a committed and enduring fan base in the West, in contrast to Sega’s other series such as “Yakuza” and “Persona”, which have a large audience in Japan.

Jacob Mills, 31, a British game level designer, said of the hedgehog: “It was definitely a nostalgic love affair for him. Mills plays new Sonic releases and describes his enthusiasm as “a shared experience of mutual frustration”.

Early prospects for Paramount’s first Sonic movie, which featured Jim Carrey, seemed in doubt when a trailer showing the strikingly white-toothed character was mocked on social media.

The studio tweaked the design, and the film eventually grossed over $300 million worldwide – making it one of the best-grossing video game adaptations – upon release in 2020. in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is due for release in April. The importance of the franchise to Paramount was highlighted in an investor presentation earlier this month outlining the future of the company and announced the second Sonic sequel along with a combined animated/live-action series about the character Knuckles for their streaming service. A separate animated series will premiere on Netflix this year.

“It’s another big franchise for us and for Sega,” Paramount Pictures director Brian Robbins told Reuters. The investment in Sonic is part of a broader commitment to the franchise that includes movies and series, Paramount CEO Bob Bakish said during the rollout. Shares fell due to skepticism about whether content could compete in an increasingly crowded streaming market.

EXPAND THE WORLD

Sega embraced the Sonic community, in 2017 releasing Sonic Mania, a widely praised retro platformer that began life as a fan-made game before being supported by the company.

A game artist who later worked for Paramount on the Sonic and Sega film interacted humorously with fans via the Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter account, which has 5.8 million followers.

Expectations are growing for “Sonic Frontiers,” an open-world platform that will be released this year. The format is novel to the franchise, whose other games have been purchased or downloaded 1.38 billion times. Sega hasn’t shown any games for the title, this has been delayed for a year, and wary fans point to the “Audio Cycle”, where excitement and talk of a comeback during the new release build is consumed by frustration on gameplay.

The earnings impact of Sonic-related output “will be tangible” in the financial year starting in April, Utsumi said without providing further details.

This month, the company raised its full-year operating profit forecast by a third to 31 billion yen ($268 million). The games division has been driven by sales of titles like the role-playing game “Shin Megami Tensei V” for the Nintendo Switch.

Utsumi, who returned to Sega two years ago after starting his own game company and working at Disney and Warner Music, says the company is a “treasure island” of commercialable content become more.

Other Japanese characters joining the craze include studio “Minions” Illumination’s upcoming Super Mario film and Netflix’s live-action remake of the hit 1990s Cowboy BeBop anime that was released last year. .

Sega has a close relationship with Xbox maker Microsoft, and in November said it was exploring an alliance to develop games using the cloud technology of Redmond, the Washington-based company.

In the long term, Sega aims to create a “supergame” with global appeal – perhaps part of the “metaverse”, a buzzing term for a network of online environments created by the Internet. continuous simulation.

Sega, whose stock is up 16% year-to-date, has long experience in arcade and console gaming as well as various genres, Utsumi said.

“There is no one better suited to do this than us,” he said.

(1 dollar = 115,5800 yen)

(Reporting by Sam Nussey, Shinji Kitamura and Dawn Chmielewski; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

https://www.oann.com/after-decades-in-a-spin-sonics-break-out-leaves-sega-hoping-for-more/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=after-decades-in-a-spin-sonics-break-out-leaves-sega-hoping-for-more After decades of twists and turns, Sonic’s breakthrough gives Sega more hope

Dais Johnston

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