Sonic Team

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Sonic Team
Industry Video game industry
Founded 1990; 26 years ago (1990)
Headquarters Ōta, Tokyo, Japan
Key people
Yuji Naka
Naoto Ohshima
Hirokazu Yasuhara
Takashi Iizuka
Kazuyuki Hoshino
Jun Senoue
Tomoya Ohtani
Products Sonic the Hedgehog series
Nights series
Phantasy Star Online series
Owner Sega Sammy Holdings
Parent Sega Games Co., Ltd.

Sonic Team (ソニックチーム Sonikku Chīmu?) is a Japanese video game development division of Sega. The division was established in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan in 1990, and is best known for creating, developing, and producing the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Other games developed by the studio include Nights into Dreams..., Samba de Amigo, and the Phantasy Star Online series


Consumer Research and Development No. 3 (CS3)[edit]

Sonic the Hedgehog became Sega's biggest success on home consoles, elevating the creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima into lofty positions within the company being able to rename their CS3 department Sonic Team. After the creation of the first Sonic the Hedgehog, development resources went two ways. One group of staff went abroad to San Francisco to develop games, however except for collaboration with American staff on Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the staff was almost completely Japanese throughout. Meanwhile, staff in Japan would develop Sonic CD. When staff arrived back in Japan in 1995, they developed new IP such as Burning Rangers and Nights into Dreams..., which were the first titles to be promoted with the Sonic Team moniker on the game's box art.

Sonic Team Inc.[edit]

Sonic, surrounded by series creators Yuji Naka (left), Naoto Ohshima (center), and Hirokazu Yasuhara (right) in 2011

In 2000, all of Sega's in-house Consumer (CS) and Amusement Machine (AM) R&D departments were separated from the main company and established on nine semi-autonomous subsidiaries, with each subsidiary getting an elected president as a studio head.[1] However, for more financial stability, Sega began consolidating its studios into six main ones (Sega Wow, Sega AM2, Hitmaker, Amusement Vision, Smilebit, Sonic Team) in 2003, and merged them back into a uniform R&D structure in 2004.[2]

Sonic Team was established as a subsidiary with the same name as it had before, and was headed by Yuji Naka. Sonic Team USA was managed by Takashi Iizuka. After the release of Sonic Adventure, the Japanese Sonic Team mainly focused on making new IPs, which included Samba de Amigo, Chu Chu Rocket, and Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg for the GameCube, and Feel the Magic: XY/XX for the Nintendo DS. In 2003, Naka was promoted to the group of executive officers.[3] In the same year, the studio absorbed United Game Artists.

Logo of United Game Artists (CS4)

United Game Artists was established and headed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi. After arcade development he established CS4, which was an extension of CS3. His final contribution at Sega were the Space Channel 5 games and Rez. In 2003, the United Game Artists staff was absorbed by Sonic Team.[4][5]

Global Entertainment Research and Development Dept. 1 (GE1)[edit]

After the merge back into Sega, the corporate name for Sonic Team was Global Entertainment Research and Development Division No. 1 (GE1). It contained members of both Sonic Team and SEGA WOW. It was again headed by Naka until 2006, when he left Sega to form Prope.[6] GE1 was headed by Akinori Nishiyama. Takashi Iizuka continued to manage Sonic Team USA, now called Sega Studio USA. Non-Sonic projects during this period are sequels of NiGHTS and Phantasy Star Online, as well as two entries of Sega's Naruhodo Edutainment series of games for Nintendo DS and PSP [7] Which are Nounenrei Nou-Stress Kei Atama Scan and Jukogon in 2006, and Onsei Kanjou Sokuteiki: Kokoro Scan in 2007.

Consumer Research and Development Division No. 2 (CS2)[edit]

In 2008, another restructure at Sega took place, turning the departments into uniform consumer departments, and Sega Studio USA was dissolved. Akinori Nishiyama was promoted to chief producer, overseeing all software products at Sega, and Iizuka replaced Nishiyama as the general manager of Sonic Team. Since Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, he has become the main producer of the series. Since 2009, the "Sonic Team" brand has diminished out of non-Sonic games, despite them being produced by former Sonic Team members or being made in the same CS2 department. Examples of this include Pole's Big Adventure,[8] Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure,[9] Phantasy Star Online 2, and Project 575.[citation needed] The Puyo Puyo franchise has also no Sonic Team logos, but is listed on the official Sonic Team website.

See also[edit]


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