Sonic Team

Sonic Team

Infobox Company
company_type = Subsidiary of SEGA
company_name = Sonic Team
company_slogan =
foundation = 1988
location = flagicon|Japan Ota, Tokyo, Japan
key_people = Yojiro Ogawa
Akinori Nishiyama
Shun Nakamura
Yuji Uekawa
industry = Computer and video game industry
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
num_employees =
homepage =

nihongo|Sonic Team|ソニックチーム|Sonikku Chīmu is a Japanese computer and video game developer established in Ota, Tokyo, Japan in 1988, originally known as Sega AM8. The Japan-based division is also known as G.E. Department 1 (Global Entertainment). The studio has collabrated with several In-House Japanese studios as well as all other American studios such as STI and Visual Concepts.

History of Sonic Team

In 1990, Sega asked one of their departments to create a game with a character that was popular enough to rival Nintendo's Mario. What the group came up with was a speedy platformer with a new, fresh character called Sonic the Hedgehog. In 1991 AM8 took its name from its phenomenally successful Sonic the Hedgehog series and became Sonic Team. Sonic Team was headed by the famed video game designer and producer Yuji Naka. Under his leadership Sonic Team has become a creative powerhouse in the video game industry.


Despite the extreme popularity of the Sonic the Hedgehog, Yuji Naka grew dissatisfied with Sega of Japan's policies and so moved to Sega's U.S. branch, Sega Technical Institute, headed by Mark Cerny. Due to most of Sonic Team's key members moving to the Western branch, Sega Technical Institute got the job to handle Sonic's Mega Drive sequels. The American developers collaborated with Sonic Team in the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Most of the STI staff worked on the zone art and special stages, while most of Sonic Team worked on the level designs and the programming. However, due to most of the Sonic Team staff lacking the ability to speak English, there was trouble with language barriers. The STI staff also weren't very experienced with strict Japanese game development philosophy. Most likely because all of the STI staff were new to the game industry. Sonic Team members also usually worked very late nights and usually slept under their desks in order to perfectly achieve Yuji Naka's guidelines. So after the completion of Sonic 2, Yuji Naka made the final decision to only allow the Japanese members in the core development team to work on Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

1993 - 1998

After the completion of Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Yuji Naka and the Sonic Team name finally became respected by Sega. Naka was even offered the role of producer at Sega of Japan. With the company's name revived, Sonic Team started developing different franchises, such as "Nights into Dreams...", Burning Rangers, ChuChu Rocket!, Samba de Amigo, and Phantasy Star Online. The joint creator of Sonic, Naoto Oshima, left Sonic Team to form his own studio, Artoon.


Sonic Team's United States division, Sonic Team USA (Sega Studio USA), was founded in 1999 and ran up until mid-2008, when Takashi Iizuka and a group of Sonic Team members decided to stay in America after testing the international releases for Sonic Adventure and ChuChu Rocket! to make games that appealed to the western market, like Sonic Adventure 2. Sonic Team's United States branch was established in #650-650 Townsend Street San Francisco, California 94103-4908, within the same building Sega of America resided in. [ [ 650 Townsend Center: San Francisco Commercial Real Estate Listing ] ]

2000 - 2006

During the transitional phase of Sega dropping out of the console race to concentrate on software and game development, all of its main departments were separated from the main company and established on semi-autonomous subsidiaries. In 2000, Sonic Team officially became SONICTEAM Ltd.Also during this phase, United Game Artists (formerly Sega AM9) merged with Sonic Team Japan in 2003 to start the Sonic Riders series. In 2004, Sega acquired Sega Sammy Holdings. Due to this new establishment company, all of Sega's subsidiary divisions were put back into their previous departments, including Sonic Team. Sonic Team once more became an internal division of Sega after being spun off as a second-party developer in 2000. The company name of Sonic Team USA is also changed to Sega Studio USA. Unlike most of the other divisions, Sonic Team still retains its internal structure and name. [ [ Sonic Team ] ] On May 8, 2006, Naka left the group with ten other members of Sonic Team to establish an independent game developer, Prope.

upervision and Criticism

Contrary to popular belief, most of the portable Sonic games released since 1999 were not developed by Sonic Team. Sonic Rush, Sonic Rush Adventure, Sonic Battle, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2, and Sonic Advance 3 were developed by Dimps, a Japanese developer. Sonic Rivals, and Sonic Rivals 2 were developed by Backbone Entertainment, a Canadian developer. Shortly after the merger with Sammy Holdings, a great deal of staff were moved in and out of Sonic Team. The loss of the "original" Sonic Team is believed to be responsible for the perceived decline in quality of Sonic the Hedgehog games.

Music Composers

Sonic Team is also notable for achieving popular music in their games. There are a number of popular composers that have stuck with the developer for a long time, and are well known around the fanbase:

*Fumie Kumatani
*Tomoya Ohtani
*Kenichi Tokoi
*Runblebee- (works with Kenichi Tokoi)
*Hideaki Kobayashi
*Tomonori Sawada
*Naofumi Hataya
*Mariko Nanba
*Jun Senoue
*Yutaka Minobe
*Crush 40

ega Studio USA (Sonic Team USA)

Infobox Company
company_name = Sega Studio USA (Sonic Team USA)
company_slogan = The Studio by the Bay
foundation = 1999
location = flagicon|USA San Francisco, California
key_people = Takashi Iizuka
Kazuyuki Hoshino
industry = Computer and video game industry
revenue =
operating_income =
net_income =
owner = Sega Corporation
num_employees = 24 as of 2007
homepage =

Sega Studio USA was the United States division of Sonic Team located in San Francisco, California. The division was formed in 1999 when a group of Sonic Team decided to move to America to make international releases for a few games, and so that they could develop games to receive feedback from the Western Market. They had a few months to polish up Sonic Adventure's international release due to the worry of the western market reacting negatively to the rushed outcome of the game's original Japanese release. Sonic Adventure had a big milesone due to the deadline the game had so it could be launched with the Dreamcast's release. All of the team members that worked there were all of course Japanese, with the exception of Brad Wagner (Artist) who got hired at the studio during the development of Shadow the Hedgehog. [ [ Game Credits for Shadow the Hedgehog ] ] The division first worked on ChuChu Rocket! and Sonic Adventure's international release. In 2005, the division changed their official name to Sega Studio USA for unknown reasons.


The US branch's first game was the 2001 Dreamcast game "Sonic Adventure 2". Instead of using the same engine Sonic Adventure used, the programmers developed an entirely new and much more sophisticated engine. All of the game mechanics from Sonic Adventure were completely re-tooled from the ground up. The newly established Sonic Team USA was so influenced by their new San Francisco location, that the level designers of the game, Takashi Iizuka and Eitaro Toyoda, with the rest of the field artists, designed some of the levels, such as the City Escape, Mission Street, Radical Highway, Route 101, and Route 280 levels as references to major San Francisco locations. The City Escape level resembles the steep, downhill roads of the city. The Route 101 and Route 280 levels were named after actual highways within the surrounding bay area. The Mission Street level in the game was actually named and inspired after a famous street in the city, while the Radical Highway level resembles the famous Golden Gate Bridge. The game designers decided to get rid of the "Adventure Fields" from Sonic Adventure, in order to keep the action and game flow consistent. Also, at the time, Sonic Team USA made a partnership with Soap to advertise their shoe products in the game. Unfortunately, the partnership didn't last, as Soap soon stopped producing their shoe products. Later they were bought by another company called In-Stride, and began developing other products.


Sonic Team USA later ported the game to the GameCube after the Dreamcast was discontinued. They had 6 months to polish up and refine the game for the GameCube. The port was renamed "Sonic Adventure 2 Battle", after some multiplayer mode enhancements. The programmers and artists even added in minor special effects, such as rain in White Jungle, redesigned some textures completely, fixed some level design to establish better flow, improved the draw distance and graphic field activity, fixed a few cutscene hiccups, added in an extra level of sensitivity for the Emerald radar in the treasure hunting levels, included in some Chao Garden extras, and added in extra level geometry such as trees. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle was the only third party game on the GameCube to sell over one million copies in the United States alone.citeweb | title=US Platinum Video Game Chart | url= | work= [ The Magic Box] | accessdate=August 13 | accessyear=2005] The game is also considered to be the studio's most popular game by fans, and one of the most popular 3D Sonic games next to Sonic Adventure, noting that it is the only 3D sonic game in 2002 aside from Sonic Adventure.


Their next project was "Sonic Heroes". The team wanted to port this game on all platforms to achieve better sales and broaden the fanbase, so they decided to use RenderWare as a game engine to make programming the game on multiple consoles a lot easier, due to the studio's lack of experience developing for the Playstation 2. Thus, the team had to sacrifice a certain amount of technical capabilities. The game was released on the GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC CD-ROM. Instead of designing levels that relied on American influence, the team decided to design the concept of the game so that it would stay closer to the roots of the 2D Sonic games. This meant removing contact with any humans in the game, designing levels that didn't resemble modern day cities or environments, and developing a sparser story. Sonic Heroes actually went on to become the best selling 3D sonic game. Most likely because it was the first sonic game to debut on the Playstation 2 and Xbox. The concept on team-based gameplay was actually going to be used in future sonic games, but due to numerous fan complaints about the game design, the idea was cancelled. Some hardcore fans of the Sonic Adventure titles were disappointed on how different the presentation and gameplay mechanics for Sonic Heroes turned out. However, Takashi Iizuka has stated that he didn't want to make this another Sonic Adventure title due to his worry of only core gamers picking this up. He wanted to create a game for general users to adapt to easily in mind. [ [ INTERVIEW: Nights Watchman : Next Generation - Interactive Entertainment Today, Video Game and Industry News - Home of Edge Online ] ]


After Sonic Heroes, Sonic Team USA decided to change their official name to Sega Studio USA. It is unknown whether this was just decided on due to a new department the team moved into, or whether it had to do with the team wanting a new name. Sega Studio USA went on to make their next multiplatform game, "Shadow the Hedgehog", using the studio's own built game engine rather than using RenderWare technology again. Still, due to the company's lack of experience developing for the PS2 and Xbox, without the advantage of using the RenderWare engine, some of the game engine quality wasn't as well-balanced as hoped. It seems that most of the work that was put into building the game engine, was used to take advantage of better visual effects. The game was intended to clear up Shadow's mysterious back story, while also adding in a new gameplay perspective by including firearms and vehicles into the game. The game designers also wanted to incorporate the "choose your own path" concept that they scrapped during the mid-development of Sonic Adventure 2 due to disagreements in the game flow. According to an IGN interview with Takashi Iizuka, he stated that his team referenced some popular films for the game. "I can, however, say that we did reference films like Underworld, Constantine and even Terminator series while creating concept art for Shadow. These movies and more were used to create the image of what we thought Shadow and his world would be." [ [ Shadow the Hedgehog IGN Interview] ] The game was released on the Gamecube, Playstation 2, and Xbox. Despite all of the poor critical reaction from critics and part of the fanbase, the game has been able to sell surprisingly well, and has sold an excess of a million copies. This helped increase Sega's profits in 2006. [ [ Sega Sammy reports 31 per cent rise in profits // ] ] As with Sonic Heroes, the game was also criticized of how it ran on the PlayStation 2 due to framerate drops and longer load times. Takashi Iizuka was actually planning on making Shadow the Hedgehog a game series. But due to the poor critical reaction, the idea was scrapped. The game is still mixed with fan's opinions, with some liking the concept, while others despised it. Sega Studio USA was notable for including references to past Sonic Team games that some of the members at the studio worked on, into Shadow the Hedgehog. During the battle with Black Bull after you finish Lethal Highway, Sega of America / 650 Townsend Center makes a cameo appearance as the center building within the battle arena, which happens to be the building where Sega Studio USA resides in. Also, since Takashi Iizuka worked on Sonic 3 and Knuckles as a designer, he referenced a cameo to the spinning drums from Carnival Night Zone into the Circus Park level. Due to Iizuka's love for the original NiGHTS into Dreams, billboards of the game can be seen in one of the stages he designed called Lethal Highway. One of the levels in Shadow the Hedgehog, Circus Park, was named after one of the areas in the obscure Sonic Team game, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. One of the special weapons in the game, the Vacuum Gun, was inspired and designed off of the unique look from Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg as well.


Members of Sega Studio USA also supervised and designed the concept for Sonic Rivals and Sonic Rivals 2. Though the actual development of the games was done by Backbone Entertainment. To help Backbone with the game concept, Iizuka and his team wanted to re-create the 2D Sonic gameplay experience and combine the advanced technical capabilities the PSP had to offer to develop a fresh, original gameplay experience. Sega Studio USA helped out with character artwork, scenario writing, and level design ideas.

Takashi Iizuka and his team finally got the green light to make a new "Nights" game when Sonic Team's Japan departments started handling the 3D Sonic franchise, starting with Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. During the November shipment of Shadow the Hedgehog, Iizuka started right away from there and spent six months coming up with the game design without thinking or knowing which platform the game would be suitable for. The team found out that they could make the gameplay stand-out after researching the Wii's new control scheme and decided the Wii was the best choice for the game because of its "family friendly library of games". The platform was also suitable for this type of game due to the game's story being about the importance of family. The team was also interested with the online features the platform had to offer. They have currently finished working on the sequel titled, "". They have, again, designed a new game engine specifically for this type of game, rather than borrow the "Sonic and the Secret Rings" engine. Also because they didn't have to carry the burden of developing this game for other platforms, like they did with Sonic Heroes, and Shadow the Hedgehog, they were able to produce a more well-polished game experience. According to the back of the game case, the game uses PhysX as part of the games engine. The team also decided to not include American influence in the game like some of the modern 3D sonic games do. Instead they chose for a more European influence.


According to a Q&A with Jun Senoue, one of the questions he answered from a fan was why he moved back to Japan. He answered by saying, "No more Sonic Team USA". It's believed after Sega of America moved to a new building after their lease ran out, Sega Studio USA got absorbed back into the Japan division. It's unknown whether all of the members moved back to Japan. It's possible that some members have moved in with other U.S. developers depending on how much they liked their life in America. [,com_joomlaboard/Itemid,5/func,view/id,14615/catid,2/]

Notable Staff

The division is headed by Takashi Iizuka. Notable Sonic Team members that have stuck with the U.S. branch from Sonic Adventure 2 to NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams include:

Art Director:
Kazuyuki Hoshino (Was the original character & visual designer for Sonic CD.)

Lead Programmer:Takeshi Sakakibara

Senior Programmer:Tomoyuki Naito

Music Composer(s):
Jun Senoue

Lead Field Artist:Hiroshi Nishiyama

Field Artist(s):Michikazu Tamamura, Daizo Kinoshita, Takahiro Kudo Miscellaneous:Atsushi Saito (Character Motion / Cutscene Animator), Nobuhiko Honda (Character Design)


The team resided on the sixth floor inside the Townsend Center building (650 Townsend Street, Suite 650, San Francisco,California), along with Sega of America. Other tenants that reside in the building include G4, Aplix Corporation, Level 3 Communications, and NaviSite, Inc.The Townsend Center building is one of the largest in San Francisco, with over 670,000 rentable square feet. The building is located within the vibrant SOMA neighborhood. It is six floors high with a street lobby and allows for rooftop parking access. The building allows up to 941 parking spaces. Inside, the building offers viewers to a beautiful lobby filled with murals, ample elevators, high-level security, and retail services (Cafe, Union Bank of California, Bank of America ATM, and Poggenpohl Kitchens.) The building even offers free shuttle services to other hubs within the city, and loading docks for the building's tenants. [ [ 650 Townsend Center: San Francisco Commercial Real Estate Listing ] ]

United Game Artists

AM Annex was a first-party video game development studio for Sega of Japan. In 2000, Sega-AM9 (as they were later called) became United Game Artists or (UGA) when Sega reorganized its studios to become second-party developer. They released three games for the Sega Dreamcast before they were merged with Sonic Team Japan in 2003. They are more well known for their work on Space Channel 5, Rez and the Sonic Riders series.

Notable Staff

* Tetsuya Mizuguchi - "Sega Rally Championship", "Space Channel 5" and "Rez". (left since)
* Takashi Thomas Yuda (Also works with Sega, and the original creator of Knuckles the Echidna) - "Sonic Riders" & ""

Video Game History

Games developed by Sonic Team (Japan)

*"Sonic the Hedgehog" (16-bit) (1991)
*"Ristar" (16-bit) (1995)
*"Nights into Dreams..." (1996)
*"Christmas Nights" (1996)
*"Burning Rangers" (1998)
*"Sonic Adventure/" (1998/2003)
*"ChuChu Rocket!" (1999/2000)
*"Samba de Amigo" (1999-arcade version; 2000-console versions)
*"Samba de Amigo Ver.2000" (2000-Japan)
*"Phantasy Star Online" (2000)
*"Sonic Pinball Party" (2002)
*"Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg" (2003)
*"Puyo Pop Fever" (2003-arcade version; 2004-console versions)
*"Astro Boy" (2004)
*"Sega SuperStars" (2004)
*"Puyo Pop Fever 2" (2005)
*"Phantasy Star Universe" (2006)
*"Sonic the Hedgehog" (2006)
*"Sonic and the Secret Rings" (2007)
*"Puyo Puyo 15th Anniversary" (2007)
*"Phantasy Star Portable" (2008)
*"Sonic Unleashed" (2008)
*"Sonic and the Black Knight" (2009)

Games developed by Sega Studio USA (Sonic Team USA)

style="width:50%;" valign="top"
*"Sonic Adventure International" (1999)
*"Sonic Adventure 2"/"" (2001/2002)
*"Sonic Heroes" (2003 in Japan, 2004 in U.S. and Europe)
*"Shadow the Hedgehog" (2005)
*"" (2007 in U.S. and Japan, 2008 in Europe)

Games supervised by Sega Studio USA (Sonic Team USA)

style="width:50%;" valign="top"
*"Sonic Rivals" (2006)
*"Sonic Rivals 2" (2007)

Games developed at Sega Technical Institute

style="width:50%;" valign="top"
*"Kid Chameleon" (16-bit) (1992)
*"Sonic the Hedgehog 2" (16-bit) (1992)
*"Sonic Spinball" (16-bit) (1993)
*"Sonic the Hedgehog 3" (16-bit) (1994)
*"Sonic & Knuckles" (16-bit) (1994)
*"Comix Zone" (16-bit) (1995)
*"The Ooze" (16-bit) (1995)
*"Die Hard Arcade" (16-bit) (1996/1997)
*"Sonic X-treme" (32-bit) (cancelled)

Handheld games supervised by Sonic Team

style="width:50%;" valign="top"
*"Puyo Pop Fever" (2004)
*"Sonic Advance" (2001)
*"Sonic Advance 2" (2002)
*"Sonic Battle" (2004)
*"Sonic Advance 3" (2004)
*"Sonic Rush" (2005)
*"Sonic Rush Adventure" (2007)

onic Team compilations

style="width:50%;" valign="top"
*"Sonic Jam" (1997) - Saturn
*"Sonic Mega Collection" (2002) - GameCube
*"Sonic Mega Collection Plus" (2004) - PS2, Xbox, PC
*"Sonic Gems Collection" (2005) - Gamecube, PS2 (Gamecube Exclusive in North America)

Games developed in co-operation with Sonic Team

style="width:50%;" valign="top"
*"Sonic The Fighters" (Arcade) (1996)
*"Sonic 3D Blast" (1996)
*"Sonic R" (1997)
*"Sonic Shuffle" (2000)
*"Virtua Striker 3" (2001)
*"Virtua Striker 3 Version 2002" (2002)

Games developed by United Games Artists

* "Space Channel 5" — (1999) (Dreamcast, PlayStation 2)
* "Rez" — (2001) (Dreamcast, PlayStation 2)
* "" — (2002) (Dreamcast, PlayStation 2)

Games developed by former UGA staff at Sonic Team

* "" — (2004) (Nintendo DS)
* "The Rub Rabbits!" — (2005) (Nintendo DS)
* "Sonic Riders" — (2006) (GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox and Windows)
* "Atama Scan" (2006-Japan)
* "Kokoro Scan" (2007-Japan)
* "" — (2008) (PlayStation 2 and Wii)


ee also

* Sega

External links

*ja icon [ Sonic Team's official website]
* [ "United Game Artists"] profile on MobyGames

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

См. также в других словарях:

  • Sonic Team — Тип …   Википедия

  • Sonic Team — Création 1988 Fondateurs Takashi Iizuka (Game Designer/Producteur) Kazuyuki Hoshino (Artiste) Jun Senoue (Compositeur) Yuji Uekawa (Illustrateur) Tetsu Katano (Programmeur) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sonic Team — ist ein japanischer Computer und Videospielentwicklerteam. Gegründet wurde das Team 1988 als Sega AM8. Gründer des Teams war Yuji Naka. 1991 wurde wegen des großen Erfolges von Sonic the Hedgehog der Name geändert in Sonic Team. Der Erfinder von… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sonic Team — El Sonic Team es un equipo de creación de videojuegos, responsable de haber creado sagas tan conocidas como Sonic The Hedgehog y NiGHTS Into Dreams.... Principalmente, sus integrantes son de nacionalidad japonesa, pero también han pasado… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Список игр, разработанных Sonic Team — В списке ниже приведены игры, разработанные подразделением компании Sega Sonic Team. Содержание 1 Игры, разработанные Sonic Team 2 Игры, разработанные в Sega Studio USA (Sonic Team USA) …   Википедия

  • Sonic Heroes — Desarrolladora(s) Sonic Team Distribuidora(s) Sega Diseñador(es) Takashi Iisuka Plataforma(s) PS2 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sonic Adventure — Обложка североамериканского издания игры для консоли Dreamcast, выпущенного под лейблом Sega All Stars в 2000 году Разработчики Sonic Team Sonic Team USA (международная) NOW Production[1] …   Википедия

  • Sonic Unleashed — European box art. Developer(s) Sonic Team[1] Dimps (PS2/Wii Day time level design) …   Wikipedia

  • Sonic Heroes — Североамериканская обложка игры для …   Википедия

  • Sonic Heroes — Éditeur Sega Développeur Sonic Team Concepteur Taka …   Wikipédia en Français

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