The Sega Dreamcast Mobile Assault Tour, when Sonic Adventure (Tournament Disk) was in the casting of Mad Max!!!
Faster than ever, Sonic made his comeback on Dreamcast in a game of never before attained graphical quality. Mixing platform game and adventure game in a real time 3D environment, Sonic Adventure ensured long hours of entertainment to the players.
The graphic quality, the use of cameras and the control of Sonic and his friends surprised us by their precision and ease of use. We discovered one after the other the six worlds in which the blue hedgehog had to defeat his enemies, collect as many rings as possible, find the famous emeralds and the numerous objects allowing him to access the other levels. Thanks to the VMU (memory card), we loaded games, saved our settings and raised cute little creatures called Chao.
The main advantages of Sonic Adventure:
Many games in one (shooting, surfing, flying, racing, pinball ...).
6 characters available with their own characteristics and courses.
Total freedom of movement at 360 ° in a 3D real time environment.
Exceptional graphic quality.
Varied sound tracks of incomparable quality.
Amazing speed and playability.
Possible uploading of mini-games to the memory card.
We must not forget to mention his acolytes who have accompanied him since 1991 as well as his sworn enemy, Doctor Robotnik.
Tails, first appeared in 1992 in Sonic the hedgehog 2
Tails is a young humanoid fox with two tails, from which he gets his nickname (tail) thanks to which he can fly for a few seconds. In the series, Tails is eight years old, 80 centimeters tall and weighs 20 kilograms. He's also a genius mechanic, and this will come in handy in many games.
Knuckles, first appeared in 1994 in Sonic the hedgehog 3
He is a 17 year old red echidna with dreadlocks. Knuckles is the guardian of the floating island and the mother emerald. He has spiked gloves, which allows him to destroy things like stone pillars. However, although he is an anti-hero, he always fights alongside Sonic and his comrades.
Big the Cat, first appeared in 1999 in Sonic Adventure
Big the Cat is an 18 year old fishing cat. He loses his lifelong companion, his frog Froggy, who has been absorbed by the tail of Chaos. His frog stole an emerald from Chaos and ran away and he tries to find it.
Amy Rose, first appeared in 1993, in Sonic the Hedgehog Mega CD
Amy is an avid fortune teller, specifically Tarot cards. She predicted that she would meet a beautiful blue hedgehog. She is a 12 year old hedgehog in love with Sonic. Amy has a strong character. She gets angry very easily, but she is often in a good mood.
Doctor Ivo Robotnik alias Eggman literally meaning the egg-man
Docteur Ivo Robotnik is Sonic's enemy. He is obese, with an egg-shaped body and a big moustache. He is a mad scientist with an IQ of 300 and a childish and ridiculous behavior. He is trying to conquer the world by enslaving the population through robotization to serve his whims.
Shadow, first appeared in 2001 in Sonic Adventure 2
Shadow was created 50 years ago by Professor Gerald Robotnik, Eggman's grandfather. Freed by Eggman, he repays him by being his faithful servant. Reasoned by Amy and having remembered the promise made to Maria (his friend accidentally killed by a G.U.N. agent), he decides to help Sonic and the others. He sacrifices himself at the end of the game Sonic Adventure 2 to save the world.
A brief history of Sonic Adventure development
In 1996, six employees of the Sonic Team were already planning their new game, the next Sonic, which was to be in 3D. Originally planned for the Saturn, development of this Sonic would be moved to Sega's new console known internally as the Katana. It became more and more obvious that the Saturn's lifespan was going to be shorter than expected by the Japanese firm.
The idea with their new project was to make the game more story-driven by approaching what was being done in RPGs. The 3D-compatible systems of the time offered the space and graphic capacity to include a scripted and cinematic storyline.
The bases being established, the development of the game could enter its production phase. The team wanted to take full advantage of the superior graphical capabilities available thanks to the technological evolution of the Dreamcast (formerly Katana). This Sonic was to be a showcase for the new Sega console!
After several months of research, they had decided that the action of their next title would take place partly in the Latin American regions. What Yuji Naka (producer), Hiroshi Nishiyama (designer), Tetsu Katano (programmer), Takashi Iizuka (director), Nobuhiko Honda (designer) and Kazuyuki Hoshino (art director) had been watching on TV or reading in books was not enough. Fueled by the desire to create worlds far more realistic than had ever been possible before, they had to see the ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization and the remains of the Inca culture with their own eyes. They wanted to feel the history of the past that was emerging there. The best experience is the one that you can have by yourself!
Their in-depth journey will last about 12 days. This adventure rich in emotion will lead them to discover countries such as Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. They visited prestigious archaeological sites such as Machu Picchu or Tikal.
Sonic et Knuckles en voyage !
Armed with their camera, they took many photos that they transposed into what would later become Sonic Adventure Dreamcast. They didn't forget to write about their adventure in a travel blog that you can find on the page: Sonic Team's road trip to South America for Sonic Adventure.
Concept Art (Naoto Ohshima)
For the transition of the game to 3D, the characters have been completely redrawn by Yuji Uekawa. To do this, the creator of the hero of Ristar was inspired by the art of graffiti. The goal was to rethink the look of the characters so that consumers would not think that it was just another Sonic but that they would imagine themselves playing a whole new kind of game!
The developers wanted to attract a wider audience, breathe new life into the license, and respond to a request from people writing to Sonic Team suggesting that they incorporate new mechanics into the franchise. Two new characters were going to make their appearance:
The first was E-102 Gamma, a robotic creation built by Eggman. Its gameplay style, a shooter of sorts, brought a third-person shooter component to the game.
The second, Big the Cat, allowed players to fish. The desire of the staff was to break the intense rhythm of the other 5 heroes of Sonic Adventure by offering a more relaxing adventure for him.
Sega and the Sonic Team had managed to keep the details of the game secret. Not much information leaked out during its development. Rumors were going around, people thought it was going to be called "Sonic & Knuckles RPG".
On August 22, 1998, the game was introduced to the public for the first time at the Tokyo International Forum. People lined up in the street hours in advance to participate. A show worthy of a Hollywood movie premiere presented in video: the style of the game, the new characters, the gameplay and the extended scenario of this innovative Sonic. Scores of the Sonic Adventure soundtrack were performed live by Jun Senoue (video game music composer and guitarist of the hard rock band Crush 40) and his band.
The Show in video !
Sonic Adventure became the most wanted game in Japan until its release in December of the same year. Sonic Team could now focus on its American and European localization.
Yuji Naka, one of the fathers of Sonic the Hedgehog (or not)
Yuji Naka started his career at Sega in 1984 as the lead programmer of the first Phantasy Star. He caught everyone's attention from the very beginning. In 1989, with Phantasy Star II, Ghost & Goblins and Super Thunderblade, he delivered his first games for the Sega Mega Drive console.
Naka really started to take off two years later with the help of a turbo-charged hedgehog. His 1991 hit Sonic the Hedgehog not only changed the world of jump'n runs, but also his own life! From then on, his career at Sega continued at the same pace as Sega's new mascot. Sonic was in living rooms all over the world. Until 1994, three more Sonic titles appeared for the Mega Drive under his direction: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 3 and Sonic & Knuckles.
The success story of Sonic, the most famous hedgehog in the world, continued on Sega Saturn (Sonic Jam and Sonic R) and Sega Dreamcast (Sonic Adventure). In 2000, he was given his own division.
He was also responsible for some of the highlights of video game history with the unique Samba of Amigo (1999) and the online debut of Phantasy Star Online (both released on Dreamcast). In 2004, Naka was appointed head of R&D creation at Sega.
He is particularly known for having scuttled, because of his ego, some projects such as Sonic X-treme Saturn and the clone of Star Fox on Dreamcast, Geist Force, which will finally be cancelled!
The Sega Dreamcast Mobile Assault Tour
American promotion for the launch of the Dreamcast began in August 1999, with the console scheduled for release in the USA on the famous date of 9.9.1999. Sega of America, in partnership with IGN, had seen things through to the end with a major promotional campaign, The Sega Dreamcast Mobile Assault Tour, covering the whole of the USA. For 22 weeks, fans of the blue hedgehog brand were able to preview the new Dreamcast system, the first 128-bit console in history, designed with passion by Sega engineers!
Heather Kashner (Sega) «As part of the tour, we developed some innovative promotions to support our concert tour sponsorships. One of these promotions involved giving a Limp Bizkit fan the chance to play Fred Durst on the big screen during each concert. These types of promotions helped create an incredible buzz ahead of the Dreamcast's launch.»
The Mobile Assault Tour targeted gamers aged 12 to 17, giving them the chance to try out games prior to the launch of the Sega Dreamcast. Among the games consumers were able to play on the tour were Sonic Adventure, NBA 2k and Crazy Taxi.
Heather Kashner (Sega) «Overall, the Mobile Assault Tour was a great success. It was a massive grassroots marketing effort that helped generate $97 million in revenue for Sega Dreamcast on launch day.»
Sega_Dreamcast_Mobile Assault Tour_Press Packet
The Mobile Assault Tour teamed up with IGN.com, the Internet's leading gaming and entertainment destination, to co-organize the Sega Dreamcast Mobile Assault Tour and the "Sega Dreamcast Championships". This partnership with IGN.com gave Sega Dreamcast a strong presence on one of the Web's most popular gaming and entertainment sites. IGN.com also published the "Official Mobile Assault Tour Site", featuring highlights of the tour and details of upcoming venues. IGN.com had given Dreamcast incredible exposure, reaching millions of gamers and raising Sega Dreamcast's profile with the general public before its launch.
Jason Michaels (IGN) «Dreamcast wanted to maximize the launch exposure of its brand and game titles, IGN wanted to increase its name engagement offline (rather than online only). In addition, IGN had recently spun off Imagine Media, Inc. into a separate sister company, Affiliation Networks, and also wanted to strengthen its image. Affiliation Networks became Snowball, then IGN Networks.»
Peter Moore (CEO of Sega of America), Heather Kashner (Director of Consumer Promotions for Sega US) and Jason Michaels (IGN marketing person) were the organizers of the event. The planning of the promotional tour and the manufacturing of the vehicles took place in less than 90 days.
Heather Kashner was Director of Consumer Promotion for Sega of America from 1999 to 2001. She was hired to develop the promotional plan to support the $100 million marketing launch of the Sega Dreamcast. As part of this plan, Heather and her team developed an extensive outreach campaign, including the "Sega Dreamcast Mobile Assault Tour". Her impressive experience spans consumer packaged goods, sports and entertainment sectors, with leading consumer brands such as LEGO, Sega, Burt's Bees, adidas and Reebok (where she worked for Peter Moore). Prior to joining the corporate world, Heather was Program Administrator for the Women's National Team at US Soccer (the US Soccer Federation), where she was part of the 1991 World Champion and 1996 Olympic Gold Medal winning teams.
Jason Michaels (IGN) «We had made decisions quickly. We had met daily during the planning phase and then weekly to monitor progress. Together, we had visited the manufacturing plant and seen the vans and trailers being built.»
From Los Angeles to New York, via San Francisco and Boston, two convoys, each carrying a truck in the Dreamcast colors, crisscrossed the country, stopping off at over 200 locations in 39 cities. These vehicles, straight out of Mad Max or The Lost World: Jurassic Park films, carried 16 demonstration kiosks, but that's not all!
The vehicles on the tour were custom-designed to invade almost any place of mass consumption, and included a six-ton, 46-foot (approx. 14-meter) "assault" truck.
Heather Kashner (Sega) «This tour was a real beast. One of the biggest challenges we faced during development was the weight of the various components. We had to make several modifications so that the truck and trailer could support the weight and maintain a speed of at least 55 miles per hour (90km/h) to get to the various sites on time.»
Once the trucks had reached their destination, their rear hatches opened, and two off-roaders - buggies looking like weird golf carts - emerged, each equipped with 4 Dreamcast displays. Four kiosks were set up on the outside of the truck, while another 4 remained inside for competition purposes. The trucks also housed a computer kiosk where fans could discover interesting content and games on IGN.com. Then, at last, the Sonic Adventure battles could begin!
Jason Michaels (IGN) «Weather was a variable, but there were no major problems as I recall. We had hired an event company to organize "The Sega Dreamcast Mobile Assault Tour" nationally, and we had kicked off the event with two van teams - West and East - meeting in Las Vegas for the finale.»
The tour targeted high-traffic public venues, concert tours (Ozzy Ozbourne, Limp Bizkit), the MTV Video Music Awards in New York and retail outlets. Popular locations included skateboard parks, shopping malls, beaches, sporting events, cinemas and concerts.
As part of the Mobile Assault Tour, the "Sega Dreamcast Championships" was created. The championship took place in Las Vegas and was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, with a special performance by Blink 182.
Jason Michaels (IGN) «The tour had concluded with a championship in Las Vegas, NV, at the Sega Gameworks entertainment center, hosted live by Jimmy Kimmel (actor and comedian).»
The aim was to achieve the highest score in a truncated version of Sonic Adventure specially designed for the occasion: Sonic Adventure Tournament Disk.
In 2 minutes maximum, competitors had to prove they were the best by collecting the most rings, killing the most enemies and getting as far as possible in the levels before the count down to zero.
There were many prizes to be won. Some participants received T-shirts, Japanese DC memory cards of different colors, Millennium 2000 limited edition controllers, etc. Everyone wanted only one thing: to be among the 4 finalists and compete for the supreme title of the best Sonic Adventure player in order to hope to win the $15,000 prize, in January 2000, at the grand finale in Las Vegas. Second and third place prizes were nothing to be sneezed at either, as the lucky winners would get 5000 and 2500 respectively in retrospect while the fourth place finisher went home with lots of Sega goodies and memories!
Jason Michaels (IGN) «Merchandise included Dreamcast and IGN t-shirts, disc samples, Imagine Media magazines such as Ultra Game Players, and more.»
The Sega Dreamcast Mobile Assault Tour was only a part of the marketing campaign for the Sega Dreamcast estimated at about 100 million dollars!
A European competition on Sonic Adventure, famous for its first prize which was a unique Dreamcast demonstration terminal stamped with Sonic, took place during the "European Sonic Speed Challenge". Neil Riddaway, the winner, shared his testimony in this article: The European Sonic Speed Challenge with a Sonic colored Dreamcast terminal to win!
The prototype of Sonic Adventure Tournament Disk!
According to the last modification of the files with the GD-ROM Explorer tool, the date of the prototype is August 10, 1999 at 01:00:00. This multi-zone build (Us/Pal/Jap) of Sonic Adventure would have been made only 2 days before the final US version being August 12, 1999 at 16:00:00. The main interest of the disk is its purely historical aspect since the organizing team of the event "The Sega Dreamcast Mobile Assault Tour" used this prototyped version of Sonic Adventure Dreamcast Tournament Disk !
Wishing to document this prototype of Sonic Adventure, the initial intention was to modify its ISO to access its Debug Menu. It turned out that its content was very close and similar to the final, promotional or limited known versions of the game. The files of the stages corresponded between the different versions, no differences or particularities were to be found in the levels. It was not worthwhile, so to speak, to hack it even if it has some features like :
Another music than the one played in the final version is discernible on the title screen.
The player starts a new game with all of Sonic's upgrades.
When you finish the Emerald Coast level in less than two minutes, the game pauses at the score screen without automatically switching to the next windows. You have to press START to move on or you will be left there indefinitely.
While the English localization files (voice and text) are all finalized, the German, French and Spanish localization files are not.
The ADX files (proprietary audio storage and compression format used mostly for the Dreamcast) present in this build correspond to the final Japanese version. The reason why they differ from the American version 1.0 is that the developers changed the bitrate from 44 khz to 32 khz to save space on some music files.
The NIGHTS_A.ADX, SSRACING.ADX and NIGHTS_S.ADX musics used for the DLC are missing. They are however present in the final Japanese and American versions.
The TGS_SOUSA_x.PRS files are left over from the Japanese version, they have been removed for the US final.
Resources for the website do not exist yet. Sonic Adventure Tournament Disk adopts the same EXTRA as the Japanese commercial version. The Sonic Team changed and updated them during the pressing of the GD-Rom in the United States.
The 1ST_READ is nothing extravagant. These are probably minor code corrections.
A bit of technique : When the Dreamcast starts a GD-ROM, it reads two things on the disk. First the IP.BIN which is used to launch the software and then the 1ST_READ.BIN which contains the real program to execute and load (the game).
PRS files are different because of changes in the 1ST_READ code. There is not enough byte difference between the PRS of the prototype and the final version to indicate major changes.
I would like to thank ehw from Hidden Palace website for his expertise and his precious help to document this prototype of Sonic Adventure Tournament Disk Dreamcast. I hardly needed to do anything ah ah ah !
You can download this build of Sonic Adventure Dreamcast Tournament Disk below:
I would like to thank Jason Michaels (IGN marketing person): for his availability, his kindness and for taking the time to answer my questions. His testimony and brings new information about "The Sega Dreamcast Mobile Assault Tour". Knowing the logistical constraints of such an event, it's an impressive work that has been provided upstream by all the people involved in the project.
Special thanks to:
In connection with the Sonic franchise: Sonic Shuffle Dreamcast (prototype with Debug Menu) - Sonic Adventure 2 Dreamcast Preview prototype - Sonic Team Road Trip (article with a prototype of Sonic Adventure) - Photos of the French launch for Sonic 3 Mega Drive (article) - Sonic The Hedgehog Character Manual Official Stylebook Binder (downloadable document) - The European Sonic Speed Challenge, a contest on Sonic Adventure (article) - The 1993 European Formula 1 Grand Prix (article)
More than 200 prototypes, documents, presskits have been dumped or scanned, you will find them in free download in the "Prototypes and documents release" section