Thursday, September 20, 2012

More Sega All-Stars 2 Info (Thank You Sumo Digital Employees)

First of all, I should mention that I've gone all-out with my deviantART account, posting some lousy old pics of mine as well as favoriting a bunch of Sega/NASCAR ones.  So go favorite some pics if you haven't already...get behind the Sega community and give 'em your support.

But in other news, SegaBITS was able to get an interview with two Sumo Digital employees--Steve (DarthS0L) and Gareth (ex-Bizarre Creations guy).  How they were able to get an interview while I wasn't, I'll never know...but we learned a lot about Sonic All-Stars Racing 2.  This whole conversation was in podcast format so I decided to take really quick notes just in case you don't have the time to listen:


* "What are you playing?"  Diablo 3, watching Judge Dredd, reading Sonic comics, etc.

* Needed to get proper physics for all three vehicle types.  Not just a "platformer"--a block sliding across the ground.  Rode the line between simulation and arcade physics.  Track design was held off until the boat/plane physics were down.

* During play-testing, no one really mentioned the car handling which means they were so engrossed by it...they had no problems with it apparently.

* People asked for drifting in planes so they went back and added it later.  Got a lot of inspiration from SkyDrift on Xbox Live Arcade.

* Is the Flagman in the OutRun track?  Does he dance?  Probably not.  Surprisingly, people seem to care more about things like the dancing Flagman than they do the ability to race boats/planes.

* There will be a new flagman in this game (not the fat red-shirt guy from OR2) but we don't know who yet.

* You can unlock "stickers" to put on your license.  They're like badges you unlock and can show off & stuff.

* Is it possible they'll reveal the final roster before the game is released (Nov 20)?  Maybe, maybe not.

* How about Segata Sanshiro, can he be in the game?  Would be difficult since we're talking about a real-life person here (albeit a fictional one).

* New All-Stars moves for old characters.  They need to work on all three surfaces now.

* There will be flight-only and boat-only stages.

* Massive tracks--the Panzer Dragoon one is a great example.  At some point, the track changes and you're going to new places (driving on the temple roof) and some of the dev team was amazed because they didn't learn about these things being added to the game until now.

* Campaign Mode is similar to Mario Galaxy.  Use any character you want on any mission.  The campaign can be played up to four-player split-screen.

* New co-op gameplay mode: Traffic Attack.  Drive through traffic and use weapons to clear the way for your team.  Been doing racing games for over 10 years and the idea of a co-op racer was too good to be true.

* Campaign should be 10-15 hours, maybe longer.  There is a very hard difficulty (like in F-Zero & PGR2)  that should be good enough for diehards like us (challenge accepted).

* More battle arenas than first game.

* Online Multiplayer includes Halo/CoD playlists.  You have an ever-changing ranking like in Mario Kart Wii (win, it goes up, lose, it goes down).  Playlists include the Battle Race (three lives and you're out), straight up races with no powerups, and Capture the Chao (Flag).

* You will be able to play four-player split-screen online.

* All-stars moves work online.  Some are very similar in nature to make it easier to code them all into the game (i.e. some people shoot missiles, others get speed boosts, etc.)

* DarthS0L gets lots of grief online from people online.  Like where's Big the Cat???  Seems like people care more about their favorite character than the game itself.

* Fun experiment: S0L posts on the forums, "You can have any three characters you want, now choose" and the entire board goes crazy.  People begging and stuffing the votes by creating multiple accounts.  It wasn't real, however.

* Lots of passion for these Sega IPs.  During the first presentation of the Panzer Dragoon track, no one spoke, they just gasped.

* The gaming press tends to twist quotes a lot.  For instance, Gareth is asked "After PGR4, are you thinking about PGR5?"  "Yes I am" he says.  Then the media puts up the headline "PGR5 confirmed."  Ridiculous.

* Wii U version looks just as good as PS3, maybe better.  5-player split-screen is possible--four on the TV, one on the game pad.  The 5th guy is usually some "special" player with a unique power.  For instance, in the Super Monkey Ball level, the 5th guy (presumably a giant monkey ball) can squash other players.  The non-squashed players can save the squashed players by touching them but they must also avoid the 5th guy as well.

* You're playing the Wii U version of Sega All-Stars Racing 2?  Does someone else want to use the TV?  Just flip from the TV to the Wii U controller and walk away.  You can do it seamlessly without breaking the action.  You can return to the TV later if you like.

* How to speed up the game--use graphs and see where the game runs the slowest.  Look at the game's art--if something is too highly detailed but can barely be seen, tone it down.  Also crack down on lousy programming this way.  Also water physics takes a huge toll on the system too.

* The game was built for 512 mb of RAM in mind but since the Wii U has double of that, it can only make the game run faster!

* The music changes as the tracks & vehicles change.  Had to be careful that the music keeps up with the pace of the action.  All of the iconic music was hand-picked.  Also makes reference to famous Sega composer Richard Jacques who knows everyone and everything about Sega.  S0L is not a big fan game music but Jacques' work is great.

* Why isn't there a store that sells Sega merchandise--t-shirts, hats, music???  Good point.

* People at Sonic Boom asked about a Sega All-Stars fighting game?  What style?  This is challenging to design because you have big characters vs. small characters.  Threw around the idea of mech-based Virtual-On style combat and Sonic in Streets of Rage.  Don't copy Smash Bros. like Sony did.  People really liked a Power Stone-style brawler.

* The game should capture everyone's imagination based on age.  Hardcore gamers, kids, and families should like it.

* Gareth leaves at this point.

* There are three different levels of graphics for different consoles.  Different assets for different platforms.  That's a lot of different models that need to be made for many different versions of the game.

* What's your favorite Sega racer???  S0L says OutRun 2 (no surprise).

* Favorite Sega character???  S0L says Afterburner, OutRun, and Space Harrier--basically "AM2" he said. But that doesn't count so he says Gilius from Golden Axe.  You could go crazy with ideas...him riding a turtle and using magic so it was fun working with him.

* Anyone left out of All-Stars 2 that you want to include in All-Stars 3?  Turns down the question because he doesn't want to leak any of the roster.

* November is a tough month.  Can All-Stars Racing 2 compete?  Yes, because there's a demand for these kind of arcade, family-friendly games.  There aren't many games out there like that.  You can only find these kind of games on Nintendo consoles but now here's one available on all consoles.

* They all feel really good about the game and poured hours and hours of attention into it so have faith, readers!

* If the next Mario Kart steals an idea from us then that's great!

* Name recognition is good for us.  "Sonic & Sega All-Stars" is working out for us now.

* Will any recent Sega IPs get in the game, like Bayonetta or Rhythm Thief?  No guarantees because some of these games were released after they started.  The goal is to keep the age rating down to E-10 as well as keep that classic Sega feel so not every character was forced into the game.  However, nothing's guaranteed at this point.

* Voice clips will be recycled because to record dialogue for 29 characters is hugely expensive.  Some voice actors are no longer available.  Localization is a pain.

* The End.  This conversation goes on through 1:20 (80 mins) so that's a good amount of information to be extracted.


Lest you forget, I did get to ask a few tough questions on the Sega Official Forums with replies from Sumo Digital so check those out too.

Overall, if S0L if confident, then I am too.  For once, a racing game not called Need for Speed or Mario Kart gets a load of attention.  All I have to say now is PREORDER the damn game if you haven't already.  Be there in November to get the game.  Back at E3, Sega All-Stars Racing 2 was denied "Best Racing Game of E3" because these airhead gaming types thought Need for Speed: Most Wanted was the better racing game.  Yeah, Most Wanted, here's the new trailer with all the "play any way you want in a generic city with a generic name (Fairhaven City)" bull crap.  So please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BUY SONIC AND SEGA ALL-STARS RACING: TRANSFORMED and do the Sega Nation a huge, huge favor.  Thank you and God bless.

BTW, what's this...a Sega-related story on Reddit Gaming's front page?  NO!!!!


  1. To be honest, I'm actually pretty curious about both the new Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing and the new NFS: Most Wanted. I'll see if I can rent them both when they come out. If for any reason I don't like the latter, then I'm done with the franchise. If I like the former (chances are I might), I'll see if I can get it.

    In the meantime, I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope that Segas new racing game will do good.

  2. I played through and beat the first Sonic & Sega Racing. It was good, but I would never have called it a true Sega racer. At its heart, it's still a kart racer - a much better kart racer than Mario Kart Wii, but still a kart racer. I appreciate that they make references to classic Sega games I love, but it's a genre I've never cared about that much. Well, I did when I was younger, but I've given up now. Mario Kart 64 would probably be my favorite. Or Sonic R - I'm probably the only person in the world who loves that game.

    We all want to see a proper Sega racer again. Sega Rally Revo was good attempt, but I want to see AM2 or AM3 push the bar as they did in the old days.

    Which reminds me, I've had a Japanese copy of Sega Rally 2006 lying on my desk for over a year now, and I haven't been able to play it. I should fix that.

  3. Cool. I'll check this out. BTW, if you saw this already then apologies, but ran into a recent article (07/12) on Sumo's involvement in OutRun2. Glad to have bought both games when they came out.

    Even though I enjoyed the last game quite a bit, I can see where rstyle is coming from about the game not being a "true" Sega racer, but as I've mentioned before, I blame 30fps as opposed to glorious 60fps. I think I only decided to give the game a shot simply because Sumo's name was on it, and while the AM2/3/4 feel wasn't there, I'd feel guilty if I shot down their efforts for what they attempted to accomplish.

    I also loved Sonic R, I'll admit it, though admittedly I liked exploring the stages above all else, probably because we were denied a proper Sonic 3D game for the Saturn. Made me wonder what could've been.

    Kinda feel bad for S0L when it comes to online fans. I have to admit I'd be pulling my hair out with some of those questions on the Sega board if I were in his position. But I suppose that no matter how hard you try to tell people of the realities and restrictions of game development, not everyone's expectations are going to be realistic. You can tell when he's getting frustrated and I can't blame him for a second.

    I guess if there was one question, I'd be curious how Richard Jacques felt about doing the music for the Panzer Dragoon stage, since in many interviews, whenever he was asked if there was one game he could work on, what it would be, it was usually a Panzer Dragoon game (and this was before PD Orta came out, which I think he should've been offered). Wonder if he finally got his wish in some sense. Big fan of his stuff. Then again, that could perhaps be a music leak if there's PD stuff in the game that hasn't been revealed. I'm most curious how it was to work with the IP holders on an individual level, but it doesn't seem that information can be expressed in detail.

    Looking at a lot of the things S0L can't/won't answer, while it's obvious he can't touch on leaks and information that's yet to be announced by Sega, it's evident there's a lot of other things he can't speak about or touch upon. It makes me wonder how many things have to be kept on a lid in regards to Sega; properties, internal practices, people, etc. Is it Sega, or politics common within the industry?

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  5. Yeah, and I think that was the same reason I bought Sonic & Sega. To their credit, Sumo built a very solid kart racer, with an excellent drift mechanic.

    Also, unlike a lot of people I don't always prefer 60 FPS over 30. It's a tradeoff, sacrificing graphical detail for gameplay and vice versa. In my opinion, some racers are better suited for lower framerates, and others aren't. It depends on the type of racing game we're talking about, and what the developers are attempting to accomplish. At least that's the way I see it.

    Gareth's comment on rumors and PGR5 once again makes me really feel for British developers. We've lost tremendous talent over the last few years in the closing of Bizarre and of course, most recently Studio Liverpool. The MSR/PGR series and the Wipeout series have had a tremendous impact on me, and I think the genre as well as the entire industry is in a much less exciting place without them.

  6. I know the Daytona/OutRun fans are not 100% set on a Sonic kart racer. However, it's a "meet me halfway" kind of game. Sega & Sumo Digital know there's this demand for the hardcore racer. Yet like S0L said, there's the Sega & family-oriented fanbases to consider and this game appeals to us and them. Not bad considering the Sumo Digital staff consists of plenty of racing diehards (including ex. Bizarre employees) and they're the only ones nowadays who actually treat Sega IPs with utmost care so props to them.

    Besides, I wondered what AM2 was up to. Last time I checked, they were working on Virtua Fighter and some Hatsune Miku game. I think, but it's not a racing game. Their last two games, Sega Race TV and R-Tuned, really weren't that great. Suzuki-San is gone, Nagoshi-San only cares about Yakuza (and understandingly makes Sega money). We can cry about it but really, Sumo is our last hope at this point so regardless, we'll all buy it and will like at least most of what we get.

    I can understand S0L's frustration because you constantly have to double-check what you say so you don't reveal anything by mistake. Apparently, some kids don't understand the game design process from pre-pro to release and how you can't have one guy on the Internet announcing the 500+ fan service characters in the new Sonic...err, Sega game.

    However, it's these British studios that are the most dedicated to these racing games. Some ones in recent history are Bizarre, Codemasters, Criterion (don't like their games but at least they're dedicated to the genre), Black Rock (DDEEEAAAUGGGHHH), Ubisoft and Psygnosis (some racers, not all), and Sumo Digital. Go to America and there's Turn 10, Eutechnyx, Firebrand, Midway/Raw Thrills, and EA Canada/Black Box. Turn10 is great (well, when you're owned by Microsoft, you better damn well be) but the rest aren't as well known or have a strange track record. Besides, Britain has Top Gear, America has the...uh, History Channel version.

    Speaking of Sonic R, that music reminds me of the OutRun 2 music: Life was a Bore and Night Flight. Was that you, Richard...?