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Arc System Works handled programming the Game Gear port of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Drift

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Cooljerk, Apr 8, 2023.

  1. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    Was this known? The Arc Systems 25th Anniversary Official Character Collection book includes a lot of japanese interviews and history of Arc, going back to their Sega Master System and Game Gear days when they were known simply as Arc. They include a list of games they worked on for the Sega Systems, and relevant is this:

    SMS Double Dragon
    SMS Ghouls'n Ghosts
    SMS Moonwalker
    GG Super Monaco GP
    GG Pengo
    GG Taisen Mahjong Hao Pai
    GG Kuni-chan no Game Tengoku
    GG Sonic the Hedgehog
    GG Super Monaco GP II
    GG Taisen Mahjong Hao Pai 2
    GG Battletoads
    GG Sonic Drift

    It seems they were contracted programmers for these titles. The most obviously relevant are the GG port of Sonic the Hedgehog, and Sonic Drift, but SMS Double Dragon and Ghouls n Ghosts is pretty interesting to me. I checked the Sonic Retro wiki pages for both Sonic Drift and Sonic 8-bit and nowhere is Arc mentioned in either page.
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  2. ashthedragon


    Sonic Paradise Researcher
    Sonic Paradise & Sonic Ages
    How interesting! I've known that Yuzo Koshiro made a team( and founded Ancient) to develop GG Sonic 1, and needed to contract freelance programmers for it ( he was mainly a music guy, his sister Ayano did the graphics for the most part). But never knew they were from Arc System Works! Now the question is.. did he contact Arc itself, or just some freelance guys who ended at arc/were also contracted by arc?
  3. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    SMS power has a more definitive (but lacking the credits for sonic drift or Sonic 1) list of arc employees here:

    neither the credits for Sonic 1 GG nor Sonic Drift lists anybody by any of those names, or any close pseudonyms, and all the people they list are either people who worked at Sega or Ancient. So I'm guessing Arc was a shadow developer at the time, like M2 or Tose, and likely were contracted explicitly for shadow work, not any freelancers (otherwise they'd have appeared in the credits).

    Worth noting, Arc was founded by former sega employees in the first place.
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  4. Forte


    I speak better after three beers Member
    Were the two versions, SMS and GG being made at the same time? Or is it possible that the ARC people only worked on porting the game to GG?
  5. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    Arc only lists the gg version specifically, when they worked on multiple sms games as well, they make a distinction between the two platforms.

    According to yuzo koshiro in the untold history of japanese game developers volume 1, the game gear version supposedly was worked on first, not the sms version, but that doesnt really jive with the evidence we have seen, although he would know best.
  6. Blastfrog


    See ya starside. Member
    Perhaps the GG version was started first but finished afterward? With the SMS version essentially representing a mid-development snapshot of the GG version which continued to receive work after the SMS version had been forked from it? We know that the GG version prototypes have a lot of similarities with the SMS version such as the bigger Sonic sprites, etc.

    It appears that Aspect took a similar approach with Sonic 2 and Sonic Chaos, FWIW. Different company, yes, but perhaps that was standard practice at the time. The Game Gear was a more commercially viable platform (being the portable competitor to Nintendo's Game Boy), the SMS was old hat and was by then mostly only popular in parts of Europe and South America.
  7. sayonararobocop


    Well this all means one thing - Arc System Works should design Sonic the Fighters 2.
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  8. I’ve said it before on the Origins thread, but I think it’s clear that the GG was Sega’s primary focus with cross-platform 8-bit titles in the 90s. We frequently interpret the SMS versions of Sonic 1 and 2 being the main versions but that’s just because the system may have been popular in our region (Europe, SA), the resolution is better, etc., but time after time, Sega neglects those versions for inclusion in collections. Sega of Japan was leading the development of the majority of these titles, so obviously the main focus will be the version that actually gets released in that market.

    That said, I finally tried the GG Sonic 2 and you guys weren’t joking. That boss is ridiculously annoying lol. They should have some kind of tweak available for Origins as I can’t see more than 5% of gamers getting past it as is without save states.
  9. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    I wouldn't say this is true at all. Outside of the Sonic games, most of the time when an 8-bit sega game pops up for resale, it's the SMS version. Example, there were numerous SMS games for sale on the Wii Virtual Shop, while no game gear games were offered. There are entire M2 Sega Ages collections of SMS games, like the Space Harrier 2 complete collection, or the Fantasy Zone II Complete works. Looking at the 3DS line of Sega Ages 3D games, there wasn't a single Game Gear port there, but numerous SMS ports.

    It's really only the Sonic games which get GG ports to modern collections. Everywhere else, Sega uses SMS ports, even when a GG port exists. You, for example, almost never see the Game Gear port of Space Harrier for sale, despite it being noticeably improved over the SMS version, where you see the SMS version for sale numerous times in recent (10+) years.
  10. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

    no reverse gear Wiki Sysop
    Northumberland, UK
    steamboat wiki
    They sure were busy - Super Monaco GP and Pengo were two of the three Game Gear launch titles in Japan (Columns being the third), while Taisen Mahjong HaoPai was the first post-launch game.
  11. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    Not only that, the quality of the stuff they put out was really high. That list of the games they worked on is pretty outstanding for a small studio. Apparently back in those days, they were somewhere around 10 people, nearly all of them ex-sega programmers.
  12. I was pretty much just referring to the Sonic games as I can’t think of many examples where the developers would have to choose between one version or the other for a collection. I also don’t think the Virtual Console really counts considering those are for specific consoles.

    But talking about other games, I don’t think there are many examples of Sega rereleasing Master System ports that were developed exclusively for foreign markets after the MS’s Japanese discontinuation in lieu of the Game Gear version. The SMS games included in rereleases either came before the Game Gear existed, or included every possible thing like the Gunstar Heroes release containing GG and MS versions of Dynamite Headdy or the Wonder Boy collection containing the MS version of Monster World 3.

    I am curious where Space Harrier for the MS has been released in the past 10 years though. I don’t really keep up with Sega’s 8-bit games, especially when they’re ports.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2023
  13. Plorpus


    Hog Blue So What Member
    This is cool and all but it really just makes me want an ArcSys Sonic fighter with the Guilty Gear Strive art style
  14. muteKi


    Fuck it Member
    The Double Dragon and Battletoads credits aren't terribly surprising given that they also ported Battletoads to the Genesis, though given that Double Dragon came first, presumably that was what convinced Tradewest to make them their Sega conversion team.
  15. That would be nice. I think that more than anything, I’d prefer AM2 and RGG Studio to make a spiritual successor to Megamix now that they’ve started working on VF again, but a slick 2D fighter from Arc would be nice as well. You can have Atlus’ characters in there, the Sakura Taisen cast, characters from the Shining series, Sonic et al., etc. A good amount of SEGA’s IPs wouldn’t really work in a 3D fighters’ art and gameplay style, but every character could probably be adapted to look great in 2D (see Dengeki Bunko’s take on Akira).
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  16. Battons


    Shining Force Fan Member
    All you had to say was Shining, I’m in.
  17. Kyro


    A sonic fighting game that is a proper 2d fighter seems like a no brainer with sonic's huge cast and I really hope we get one someday
  18. Another dead giveaway for Sonic 1 being developed for Game Gear first could be the fact that the title screen on the Master System version is stretched, while on the Game Gear version it's not. What's funnier is that Sonic 2 and Chaos seem to have the opposite case, suggesting that Aspect started developing them as Master System games first and then reworking them for the Game Gear. And if anyone's curious about Sonic Spinball and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, it's the same deal as Sonic 1 (GG first, then SMS) but it's probably more obvious because the Master System versions came many months after the Game Gear ones. I wonder what that supposedly cancelled Master System version of Sonic Triple Trouble could've looked like. If it was anything like Sonic Chaos, it might've had a different title screen at the very least, for all we know.

    EDIT: I might've made a mistake in my judgment. I was looking up walkthroughs on YouTube and those didn't necessarily have the correct aspect ratio in some cases, so forget what I said about the stretched title screen. If anything, it's more of a case of the main target platform the developers were optimizing for the most and the level of polish given during development. Firing up an emulator this time and taking a closer, more active look at the games, I'm more inclined to say that all of them seem more likely to have been developed with the Game Gear specs and resolution in mind, while the Master System ports were merely byproducts released to cash in on the Master System's continuing popularity in Europe and Brazil, as opposed to North America and Japan where it was already considered dead, which would explain why Sonic 1 SMS in America is just the European copy but with a UPC sticker. As for why some of the Master System ports came out earlier before the proper Game Gear version they're most likely based on? Beats me, but it sure shows, if you ask me since the Game Gear counterparts look like they had more time in the oven, while the Master System versions with all their extra screen resolution remind me of a few widescreen HD remasters of games that were originally made in 4:3 aspect ratio, in that the extra screen resolution isn't really used for anything other than letting you see more of the level, including things that probably weren't meant to be seen. And yeah, while Sonic 2 SMS does benefit from the bigger screen resolution, it is still at the end of the day a game designed with Game Gear specs in mind. It was also Aspect's first side-scrolling platformer (alongside Batman Returns), which could explain many things about that game, since they were most likely still figuring things out at that point. So yeah, if you're wondering why the Game Gear versions keep getting rereleased, while the Master System versions only got a rerelease on the already dead Wii Virtual Console, perhaps there's a reason why.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2023