23rd June 1991

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Black Squirrel, Apr 22, 2022.

  1. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Sonic the Hedgehog was released for the Sega Mega Drive. Unless you were in Japan - they got a better version about a month later.

    This is the narrative. I mean it must be true - Sonic Adventure 2 released exactly ten years later in celebration*, there was an official symphony performance last year on this day, and Sonic Origins releases on the 23rd June this year. 23rd June 1991 is Sonic's birthday, everyone knows that!

    https://info.sonicretro.org/index.p..._(16-bit)&curid=2507&diff=333134&oldid=333118
    https://groups.google.com/g/rec.games.video/c/paAgJy9q1dA/m/geqhMS8zzNIJ

    Oh those crazy kids at Electronics Boutique, breaking the US street date by two weeks.

    https://groups.google.com/g/rec.games.video/c/opC0szfylSM/m/MY6ViOiu_AcJ

    Babbage's too? What are they like.

    https://retrocdn.net/File:NewYorkDailyNews_US_1991-06-12_page_144.jpg

    Hey this retailer's even advertising this fact. Which is something you'd totally do.

    https://retrocdn.net/index.php?title=File:GamesX_UK_11.pdf&page=14

    At least UK publication Games-X lists the 24th as a release date... a week after the US release. I mean okay the 24th isn't the 23rd, but that makes sense, because the 24th was a Monday and oh.


    Sonic the Hedgehog was not released on the 23rd June 1991


    In the early 1990s, video games typically did not have fixed release dates. They did in Japan, because Japan is organised, but in the West, a game went on sale as soon as retailers got their hands on cartridges. When would the carts be ready? Well if you're lucky, you might know a week or two in advance, but publishers weren't in the business of dictating exact launch dates. Also America is huge - you need proper logistics in place to ensure a nationwide release - as long as the product is stocked roughly at the same time as other parts of the country, that's good enough.

    So when did Sonic 1 come out in the US? "The second week of June". Some copies were available on the 11th, but chances are most of the country had to wait a couple of days. There's a reason so many dates on Sega Retro are rounded off to the nearest month - nobody knew precisely when games would be available, it was just "June".

    But while we don't know exactly when Sonic was released, we can be pretty sure it wasn't the 23rd, because the 23rd was a Sunday. You don't release games on a Sunday. The shops aren't even open on a Sunday.


    So that's America, what about Europe? Well Sonic charted in the 22nd June Gallup chart in the UK, so before that date at the very least. "A week after the US" seems fair, though it's more likely to be the 21st since that's a Friday (which was becoming "game release day"), but who knows. Was it a simultaneous release with the US? No... but yes. They were both released in June, and prior to games publishers inventing official release dates, again, that's close enough. Mind you we only have data on the UK - France, Germany and Spain might have received their copies on different days - it's all very fluid.


    So where did the 23rd date come from? That's a very good question. My theory is people taking the Sonic Adventure 2's 10th anniversary launch too literally, after which it was adopted by the masses, and Sega themselves. But I haven't found any contemporary references that state the 23rd.

    (unlike Sonic 2, whose "Sonic 2sday" (1992-11-24) was publicised well in advance and actually was a simultaneous release in the US and Europe... and a cheat code)


    tl;dr you are wrong, Sega is wrong, everything is wrong - Sonic came out earlier. Or at least this copy did.


    Many thanks to Pirate Dragon who did the bulk of this research. No doubt there are more things to find.




    *spoilers: that date isn't correct either
     
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  2. Pengi

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    23 June 1991 is the date Sonic Jam used in its Hall of Fame.

    https://info.sonicretro.org/File:HIS02.png
     
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  3. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Nifty, though I notice the European date is kept vague.
     
  4. Sonic Warrior TJ

    Sonic Warrior TJ

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    Screw the date (nah, your findings really are interesting; thanks for the info), I'm more interested in first impressions/discussion between new players from 1991. Talk about a time capsule. Are there more of those somewhere?
     
  5. RyogaMasaki

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    This is the kind of research that I appreciate. Good job!
     
  6. Yash

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    That would be really interesting to me as well. I was born in August '91 and obviously didn't start playing video games until I was a bit older (I feel like 6 or so was when I really started getting into Sonic?), and played Sonic 2 before Sonic 1, which naturally colored in how I viewed the first game. Even now I feel like any commentary about Sonic 1 is always retrospective and in comparison to the rest of the series, especially with how 2 generally streamlined its level design to emphasize the speed. Slower, plodding stages like Marble and Labyrinth are agony to anyone who's too used to the gotta-go-fast mentality, but how much did they really stick out when Sonic wasn't yet even a series?
     
  7. Ashura96

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    So were the earlier June 1991 purchases considered breaking the street date? If so, that shouldn't constitute an official release date.

    I do wonder if Sega actually had any documentation stating if June 23rd was the planned release date or not.

    This also reminds me of how Konami lost all of their shipping records pertaining to the original arcade release of Dance Dance Revolution. For the longest time, it was only known that the cabinets shipped out in September of 1998, but 20 years later they somehow either found shipping records, or decided to arbitrarily declare the release date as September 26th, 1998.

    Would love to find any official documentation regarding Sonic 1's release. I don't recall if "street dates" were even a thing for videogames back then.
     
  8. Gestalt

    Gestalt

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    what.gif

    In my head canon, back in the day everyone was a hardliner and had to improvise much more. So... that doesn't surprise me an awful lot!
     
  9. Pirate Dragon

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    US generally didn't have street dates. Sonic 2sday was probably the first game to have one in 1992, followed by Sonic Mania Day (known as "3 in 1 Day in UK/Europe), and "Mortal Monday" in 1993, in turn followed by "Mortal Tuesday" in 1994. It was really only these two franchises that tried to do this in the US. It wasn't until the release of the Dreamcast that street dates became standard (for Sega at least, 3rd parties generally didn't have them), but this seemed to have fell out of favour after Sega went 3rd party, and other manufacturers didn't follow suit. So for the vast majority of games pre-Dreamcast there was no official release date, just a "ship date", which was when the publisher shipped it to the retailer's warehouse. After that it might show up in dedicated gaming stores (who put the effort in to getting it onto the shelves ASAP) in major cities like NY or LA the following day. But that is also dependent on when it shipped, ship it at the end of the working week and the weekend is going to increase the time to get it on shelves. For someone in the middle of nowhere with just a non-specialist general retailer it might not show up until weeks later.

    So as far as I'm concerned, the first day when consumers could purchase and play the game should be considered the release date. Maybe it wasn't nationwide, but mail order was a thing, so it should have been available nationwide by the following day at least.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2022
  10. Pirate Dragon

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    Just to clarify, US stores generally could open on a Sunday, although maybe there were some local State or County restrictions ...but I'm not an expert. I think the bigger issue would be with distribution ... you're probably not going to be getting deliveries on a Sunday, so it would need to be planned in advance as an official release date, which wasn't really a thing then. But since then it has happened, Nintendo likes to release hardware on a Sunday for instance. For the UK (and I suspect many European countries, for example Germany still has strict Sunday opening rules) this was an issue, high street retailers weren't open on a Sunday. So yeah, Sega Europe (or Virgin Mastertronic as it was then) weren't releasing Sonic on the 23rd.

    The one thing I'm not 100% sure about is if they had a UK street date or not, it's right at the transition where retailers (mainly Dixons) started demanding street dates so they could advertise in the newspapers for that weekend. Game Gear seems to have been the first console to have had a street date (91.06.29 ... a week after Sonic). It's said that Friday release dates were widely adopted (by retailers and publishers) within a number of months. It's possible that 91.06.24 was an official date, but it shipped the week prior and most retailers broke it as the concept of a street date was so new.
     
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  11. HEDGESMFG

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    "Sonic the Hedgehog, super varmint"

    I think the fandom needs to revive this early review description as a modern meme, dang it...
     
  12. YuTwo

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    I remember coming across a Usenet post from a tweet by the Sonic Retro account which would basically describe the way Tails would behave as the second player in Sonic 2 but the post was from 1991 so it was like a prediction
    [​IMG]
    https://twitter.com/sonicretro/status/1363561971572826113

    https://archive.ph/evVVQ
    Unfortunately they didn't provide an actual source to the Usenet post which I would have preferred to have seen as well.
     
  13. Pirate Dragon

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    Here.
     
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  14. Sonic Warrior TJ

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    That's awesome, many thanks for the link.

    What's kinda blowing my mind here is that even though some of these guys disagreed and questioned each other's opinions, they were still able to have a civil discussion and joke around. I didn't expect the guy who more or less predicted Tails' behavior more than a year before Sonic 2's release to also have a rather negative opinion on platformers VS sports or puzzle games. Even though he found "Sonic/Mario/Bonk" games less replayable than other genres and thought a Sonic sequel would be a waste of SEGA's time, he still understood enough about Sonic 1 to give thoughtful feedback and eerily spot-on speculation about an eventual 2-player mode.

    This is great. Thanks again.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2022
  15. Pirate Dragon

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  16. Sonic Warrior TJ

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    I can't express how much I appreciate all the links. This like going back in time to hang with the first Sonic fans, at a time when my knowledge of Sonic was limited to seeing it on Nick Arcade and messing around with a demo kiosk at Sam's Club while my dad was buying snacks for his first pharmacy. I knew that there were forums/newsgroups/BBs back then but I guess it never occurred to me that folks would be talking shop about Sonic, even before the first game was released.
     
  17. Linkabel

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    When did release dates become a set thing though? Even Sonic Adventure 2's release date is ambiguous.

    I remember buying SA2 on the 19th in Target, while others bought it on the 18th or actually on June 23rd.

    Would it be fair to say that in Sega's mind Sonic 1 was supposed to be available everywhere by the 23rd?

    And yeah, stores not being open on Sundays was not an issue in the U.S. at that time, unless you lived in a super small town. And chances that if you did you didn't have a store that sold video games to begin with.
     
  18. JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    The first newsgroup posts I've found that can be called the "Sonic Community" are from 1994 with talk about Sonic & Knuckles (Sonic 3 posts seem to still be "random" people) and people like Stealth and sonicblur are already around.
     
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  19. Pirate Dragon

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    I don't think it's really ambiguous. Japan announced 23rd as a WW date, but it wasn't really up to them what day it released overseas. SoA released games on a Tuesday hence releasing on the 19th in US, and games released on Fridays in the UK, hence 22nd for UK.
     
  20. Brainulator

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    Are we sure this isn't just people getting access to the cartridges before they're supposed to?