23rd June 1991

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

  1. Linkabel

    Linkabel

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    The issue is that some sites had the release date as June 21st and some on June 19th. With others getting it way before that.

    And I don't think SoA had Tuesday as their set release day yet, didn't they? I remember Shenmue's release day was on a Wednesday and Skies of Arcadia on a Monday.
     
  2. Yuzu

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    Wow, this is honestly amazing. It makes sense when you consider how video games were released back then, but had I never thought that Sonic 1 released prior to June 23rd considering how publicized the anniversary is.

    Thank you for all of the research!
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2022
  3. Pirate Dragon

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    2001.06.19;
    https://segaretro.org/Press_release...f_Sonic_Adventure_2_Exclusively_for_Dreamcast
    https://web.archive.org/web/2003120...dreamcast/post_dreamcastgame.jhtml?PRODID=759
    https://web.archive.org/web/2001071...bx/categories/homepages/dreamcast/default.asp

    With Dreamcast Sega initially released games on either Tuesday or Wednesdays, but after WSB 2K1 which released Wednesday 2000.07.19 they stuck to Tuesdays.

    Skies of Arcadia; 2000.11.14
    https://web.archive.org/web/2003120...dreamcast/post_dreamcastgame.jhtml?PRODID=170
    Shenmue; 2000.11.07
    https://segaretro.org/Press_release:_2000-11-07:_Experience_the_Music_of_a_Masterpiece_With_'Shenmue_Limited_Edition';_Special_Edition_of_Anticipated_Dreamcast_Game_--_Shenmue_--_Includes_CD_Containing_Original_Musical_Scores
    https://web.archive.org/web/2003121...dreamcast/post_dreamcastgame.jhtml?PRODID=200
     
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  4. Linkabel

    Linkabel

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    Ah, that clears things up then.
     
  5. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    And this is probably the first alarm bell - they made a really big deal over Sonic 2 being the first "worldwide" game (even though it isn't, because Japan)... which wouldn't make much sense if the same franchise had pulled this stunt a year prior.

    It is odd that fixed release dates weren't more common in games though. This would have been around the same time that Disney were in the news for their "vault" shenannigans*, so there would have been a precedent for releasing media on a certain date:



    for example.



    *context for the younglings: Disney used to have a wonderful policy in which all their films were sacred and had to be watched in a cinema. So every x years they'd re-release the films in cinemas, before going back into "the vault".

    When they finally stopped ignoring VHS, the company decided it would only put out a couple of films at a time, creating an artifical cut-off date where they'd simply stop selling the product. "missed Lady and the Tramp? That was dumb, best go get The Little Mermaid BEFORE TIME RUNS OUT".

    It was a really successful, if exceedingly tedious for parents. They'd grown out of this policy by the time DVD had arrived, but it means 80s and early 90s Disney VHS cassettes are valuable collectors items that can go for stupid money.
     
  6. David The Lurker

    David The Lurker

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    Some months back, I was going through those exact usenet posts, posting some random screenshots on the Retro discord (hey kids! Did you know we have a Discord? Join today!) since I was thinking of writing an article on the front page about the earliest of Sonic discourse. Still haven't done that, but maybe the time is now right. Because it's all super interesting!

    There are people from Pittsburg, Seattle, and San Jose all talking about getting it before the 23rd, so unless everyone literally didn't care about "breaking street date," there's pretty clear evidence that it wasn't really a thing for the original Sonic. Unless there was and no one understood it, which I guess would be pretty unlikely. A big deal is made of Sonic 2 rolling out the way it did. If there had been a failure to try and do that with the first game, I think it would have come up during the ten million interviews Tom Kalinske and Al Nilsen have been a part of. If anything, I'd imagine SOA was far more concerned with getting the Sonic pack-in version of the Genesis out there than going "here is the first day of Sonic." Hence why they basically apologized for months about Altered Beast still being the pack in game and offering people free copies of Sonic in the mail if they bought a console during the summer.

    Of course, that doesn't fully explain where the date June 23rd came from. I guess from a business standpoint, it makes sense to pick a date to celebrate your mascot's anniversary. But this isn't a "Mr. Needlemouse" situation, where the Internet was the cause of confusion. As far as I know, the date first showed up in Sonic Jam, put together by Sonic Team doing their own research within the archives of SEGA. Did they find something that implied that was the intended release date, even if it was out twelve days earlier? Or did they just guess? Heck, do we even know who was in charge of putting together the timeline in Sonic Jam? I guess the "Hall of Fame" isn't perfect, since it mentions Sonic's debut was during Dreams Come True's tour, when we know it was actually months earlier at the '90 Tokyo Toy Show.

    [​IMG]

    Perhaps everything we've ever known is a lie.

    I think doing some further research into when June 23 was first mentioned might be in order, if some videogame magazine somewhere talked about it a long time ago. Sega of America's 1996 website certainly doesn't say it, just that it came out in June, but it also doesn't bother saying what day Sonic 2 came out. So not sure how helpful that information is. Either way, I can't imagine SEGA at this point changing Sonic's "official" birthday. After you've invested so much time, effort, and money into saying "This is when Sonic the Hedgehog was released," if anything it becomes a footnote that "well you see in some places or maybe all places it was released nearly two weeks prior but that doesn't count."
    unknown (19).png

    Can we get all instances of platformer on the wiki replaced with "run around and jump on shit."

    How soon we all forget. I remember being very excited about Sonic Adventure 2 coming out on the 19th, but having the worry on how I'd get it. I wanted it the day it came out, but my birthday was two days later, and I didn't know if I was to wait, or if gifts had already been purchased and I'd have to wait even longer...the worries of being a teen. Very intense, I assure you.
     
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  7. JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    Are you saying my clamshell Snow White VHS is worth money? :V
     
  8. HEDGESMFG

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    I actually remember reading those a long, long time ago myself. I think they started right around the S&K release and I swear I first recall some talks about the Mushroom Hill boss.

    Though I myself read those in the late 90s.
     
  9. What’s funny is he even more accurately predicted Astal, which has a bird that follows the main character closely, can be controlled by a second player, and can attack enemies or fetch items for the main character.
     
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  10. Xiao Hayes

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    I watched The Jungle Book on cinemas when I was a lil' kid, and it was quite old by then, indeed.

    Ah, my favourite style of description. I used to describe games like Final Fight and Streets of Rage as "go by the street killing people", years later some friends started describing Diablo as "tossing people's coins to the ground" and so on. To people who asked what was interesting about Sonic, I usually said: "You go faster downwards, and slower upwards, it's a game that makes sense".
     
  11. Gryson

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    I suspect there's more to this than is being considered here. I wouldn't outright dismiss the June 23rd date based on this evidence yet.

    The first question is: Was there ever an official release date? Maybe not in the sense of Sonic 2's more organized effort. However, it's not hard to imagine that Sega gave target release dates to retailers (and, in fact, this would make a lot of sense for reasons I'll talk about below). The fact that retailers sold the game earlier than Sega possibly asked for just reflects that individual retailers didn't care and there was little pressure or other reason to not sell it as soon as they received shipments. That doesn't negate that there may have been an official date of some sort. Even with games that had massive organized release dates (Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy VII, etc.) there are many reports of people getting their copies earlier. I actually bought my copy of Mortal Kombat three days before 'Mortal Monday' from Toys R Us... Retailers just didn't care or weren't organized enough.

    So, what about June 23rd? Why a Sunday? Retailers were definitely open on Sundays in the US (I assume the OP's comment reflects a cultural misunderstanding). In fact, Sunday was perhaps the biggest day for retailers due to one factor: Sunday newspaper ads. These were the weekly ads announcing the upcoming week's sales for all the big local retailers. They were usually full color and there would be a giant ream of them included with the Sunday newspaper.

    It makes sense for Sega to list the release date as a Sunday because that would be the day they announce to retailers that it's OK to begin advertising the game in their weekly ads. Of course, this is pure speculation... We'd have to get access to weekly ads from then to actually see, and I'm not sure if ads have been preserved anywhere. Sega would also choose a conservative date for this when they could be sure all retailers had received their shipments. They didn't want to risk offending smaller retailers who hadn't received shipments yet, so the 'official date' was weeks after some retailers had already started selling.

    Another reason it makes sense to have a fixed official release date (whether or not retailers could be persuaded to honor it) relates to advertising. Sega would want to be able to concentrate advertising (especially TV commercials) on a particular date or week when they could be reasonably assured that all retailers had the game in.

    For these reasons I'd be very surprised if Sega didn't give a specific target release date to retailers and just let them do what they want. I think the evidence that the game was available earlier in June reflects that Sega didn't apply much pressure to retailers (or didn't persuade them of the value of a focused release date), and from the perspective of a single retailer, it makes more sense to release the game as soon as you have it in hand.

    It would be cool to see June 23rd newspaper ads, though.
     
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  12. Pirate Dragon

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    Another June 11th post;
    https://groups.google.com/g/rec.games.video/c/CgIpSUHEe3k/m/B92CjTp5O3IJ

    There are no newspaper ads for Sonic on June 23rd archived on Newspapers.com. There are no ads that mention that as a release date either. This was 1991, Genesis installed base was still quite small, and Sonic was a new IP which most of the public who didn't buy gaming mags would have been unaware of. There doesn't seem to have been any significant marketing in newspapers at the time, the only mention it tends to get is that it's a free mail in with Genesis consoles.

    Here's a post from Sega's Aimee Cardwell in 1995 explaining the situation with release dates;

    https://groups.google.com/g/rec.games.video.sega/c/P74s9-jynx4/m/vV-wdwNXnmoJ

    This is when SoA was a bigger more professional operation, it's how 99% of games were released in the US, they had a ship date, and after that it would turn up on shelves whenever, YMMV. The only reason to put a street date on a game then was if it was a huge franchise which had a massive marketing campaign surrounding it, that really wasn't the case when Sonic 1 released.
     
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  13. Gryson

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    You've seen the June 23 1991 Toys R Us and KayBee Toys Sunday newspaper inserts? If so, please post links - I'd love to check them out.

    Here's an example of one from late 1991:

    [​IMG]

    https://ausretrogamer.com/1991-toys-r-us-awesome-vintage-catalogue/

    These ad inserts are incredibly hard to find. Newspaper databases don't typically include them.

    We also don't know (I believe?) when the first Sonic TV commercials began airing.

    Basically, setting aside this speculation, my point is: We simply do not have enough information to conclude anything about whether or not the 'official' release date was June 23, 1991 (or even if an official release date existed).

    The only evidence I see presented here is that some retailers were selling the game before that date, but that's not unexpected for reasons stated in my previous post (and we don't have any sense of the scale of those early sales, since there's a heavy selection bias going on here).

    The questions that we don't have answers to:

    1) Did Sega provide retailers with a desired or intended release date for the game?
    2) Why did Sega claim the release date was June 23, 1991? What's the origin of that specific date?
    3) Was Sonic's release exceptional in some way, given how much money Sega was dumping into it (in terms of advertising)? Drawing conclusions from other releases might be a mistake here.
    4) When did advertising for Sonic begin? Both in regards to retailer insert advertising and Sega advertising.

    Basically, I'd say you're jumping to conclusions by claiming definitively that the June 23 date is nonsense. There are far too many possibilities unaccounted for and not enough evidence available.

    What I think we are safe in saying is: Sega claims a release date of June 23, 1991, but there is evidence that some retailers were selling the game before then.
     
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  14. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Probably - I can be pretty sure Sunday wouldn't have been a release date in the UK, so the "released on the same day in the US and Europe" claim wouldn't be true. It was actually illegal to trade on a Sunday back then, although I'm too young to remember whether anyone actually cared.

    Advertising for Sonic began well in advance of the game's release:

    https://retrocdn.net/index.php?title=File:EGM_US_022.pdf&page=40

    That's from the May 1991 edition of EGM, when the magazine had non-final code. We haven't got precise release dates of magazines for that period.
     
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  15. LockOnTommy11

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    All of this is fascinating, I’m loving reading through the 1991 forum posts. Great work guys.
     
  16. Pirate Dragon

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    Those supplements are scanned (in black & white ... some Sunday newspapers run to over 1000 pages due to this), but they weren't regular, just occasional, this one seems to be for the holiday season. The one linked above shows all of the console coverage in that supplement, others only have minor console coverage. Most weeks it's just a 1 page ad. The earliest Toys R Us one to mention Sonic that I could find was August 8th, where it's included with the Genesis. I haven't seen it advertised on it's own until much later in the year. Same for KayBee. There was essentially no newspaper advertising by national retailers for the game at release.

    According to this thread the earliest known use of June 23rd was in Sonic Jam in 1997. There's no contemporary evidence pointing to this being the aactual release date, it seems it was ret-conned after the fact

    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
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  17. MastaSys

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    Yeah I specifically remember Pokémon Gold & Silver having a set release date publicized extensively, being the sequel to the monster success it was the 1st Gen, the stores not giving a shit, and they put the copies in the shelves the moment they got the hands in the games.

    So I'm not remotely surprised by this.
     
  18. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    I've been trying to work this out - both the May and June 1991 editions of EGM, GamePro and Game Players have "coming soon" print adverts, July editions claim "it's here". In the UK the earliest advert I can find is this one from 29th May - I think it's safe to say the campaign started before cartridges were available to buy.

    It's trickier on the TV side. In America Sega was airing those "H.A.G." commercials:

    There's a Thunder Force III/Hard Drivin one that was on the air before Sonic (9th June)



    Powerball/Street Smart (15th June)


    Batman/Air Buster (16th June)



    Sonic is being advertised on the 22nd June:

    (23rd, 30th)


    And it's a bundle by the 8th July:




    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DNyH45M7PI
    There's also this horrendous one suggesting the system and games are sold separately. No idea when this aired (I suspect later, but who knows).


    Advertising plans is something games companies used to print in CES press kits, as part of a plan to get retailers to stock their products. If someone could find those, you might get a better answer.


    I'm not convinced it's a case that "everyone just broke the street date". Would you advertise that you've done that? I've seen street dates be broken by a couple of days, but 11 or 12? Seems like a lot.
     
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  19. kitsunebi

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    I've been reading this thread and it's quite entertaining, but I'm not really sure what the end goal is here...There seems to be evidence that the game was first available for purchase across a range of dates. This appears to be factually documented, so there definitively isn't a specific "release date" that was adhered to. I guess there could be a "ship date" when Sega first began shipment, but that doesn't seem to be what people are trying to suss out.

    It looks like what everyone is really struggling to prove true is the speculation that there was indeed an intended release date, but that it wasn't adhered to by stores.
    Okayyy....so that gives us two scenarios:

    1. There was an intended release date, but it was ignored and stores began selling it whenever they got their copies.
    2. There was no intended release date, and stores began selling it whenever they got their copies.

    In the grand scheme of things so far as it matters to history...what's the difference? You either say that the game was released approximately around June 23 with some stores getting it sooner or later, or you say the game was supposed to be released on June 23, but some stores got it sooner or later. Either way, it's the same approximate time period and not any single day we're talking about, right? Even if someone discovers a document from Sega requesting stores to hold their copies until a specific date, we have evidence to show that any such hypothetical document was ignored, so...again, what's the hoped for goal here? Being able to list an "official release date" followed by an asterisk explaining that stores generally ignored it and the game was available before and after it?


    Anyway, I have nothing to add, evidence-wise, other than to repeat what others have said - stores in the USA were absolutely open on Sundays, though most stores opened later in the morning to accommodate church-goers. No delivery services operated on Sundays, though, so anything sold on a Sunday would have been received earlier in the week. I was 14 when Sonic debuted, but personally have no recollection of games back then being released on specific days (like comics, which are released only on Wednesdays in America). You just went to the shops with fingers crossed when waiting on new releases. I also have no recollection of any particular pre-release hype for Sonic. Sure, it was in some magazines, but even more so than most games, Sonic was something that needed to be seen in motion to really show off its strengths, so it wasn't until the toy shops swapped out those execrable Altered Beast cartridges for Sonic carts in their display kiosks that I was even aware Sonic existed.

    Since it seems most people already believe what they want to believe (while hoping against hope to find evidence to back it up), I'll say that I'm of the camp that believes what was posted above in the 1995 quote from Sega's Aimee Cardwell - Sega at the time may have had ship dates, but it was up to the stores when to put the product on shelves. Whether true or not though, the fact remains that the game clearly did not go on sale at one specific date, so proving that there was SUPPOSED to be a specific release date proves...what?
     
  20. Pengi

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    The goal is to have a factual historical record.
     
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