don't click here

The legal status of the Dimps-associated handheld entries (Pocket Adventure, Advance, Rush)

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by TomGyroid, Sep 24, 2022.

  1. TomGyroid


    So I was planning to do some kind of chart that would suggest that perhaps EVERY 2D Sonic platformer of the time to a point had some kind of legal issues in music (or at least generally), not just the 4 original Mega Drive games. The music of S1/S2 is of course owned by Dreams Come True, who have gotten on well with Sega since then. SCD seems to have had legal issues with the Casey Rankin vocals of its songs, which has at least been resolved with Origins and presumably the Sega Mini 2's release of SCD. And S3&K of course has its infamous scandal with the music rights, involving MJ, his sound team, Hard Times and samples, which has gone unresolved to this day. But there were also some weird situations with the Dimps-made handheld entries (and the game basically made by them before they were Dimps) that are underdiscussed and/or potentially misconceptions.

    Pocket Adventure already features an awkward usage of the original MJ Knuckles theme from S3. As the theme is entirely remixed and basically a basic seconds-long drum beat that can't be copyrighted, they could probably legally get away with its inclusion. But considering Origins has completely wiped any trace of MJ music from S3&K and that's probably how the game is going to be represented from here on out, it would be a bit awkward to still keep that in at this point like how they'd no longer be selling the original MJ-infused S3&K ROM on Steam. "If the music's in Pocket Adventure, why isn't it in Origins?"

    But even beyond that, Ian Flynn confirmed that the game is "totally off-limits" at Sega, famously being one game not even mentioned in the Encyclo-speed-ia because they can't even mention it by name. He was told to just completely cut it out from his first draft, with its page and proposed timeline position. Confirmed to be non-canon, also. It's probably to do with the game being developed under SNK and whatever rights issues come from that, like how this other huge company being responsible for and having ownership of one of Sonic's 2D platformers is a turn-off for Sega, or something. So maybe don't expect it to be on the next Neo Geo Pocket Colour Collection like the Capcom titles were. It's weird, Sega and SNK managed to coexist by mutual participation in the latest Smash Bros. game, it's odd to imagine them being unwilling to work something out together like Sega does with Nintendo, whose Sonic-related owned games are mentioned in that book, albeit without directly showing Nintendo characters and such. Now that S3&K has come back, Pocket Adventure is the new Sonic platformer Sega refuses to even acknowledge.

    Aside from Advance 1 having to change its reused S1/S2 DCT music for its obscure Android port, a widespread theory is that there's legal issues with the extinct western publishers of the Advance games that hold them back from being rereleased. While Sega distributed in Japan, THQ distributed in North America and Infogrammes distributed in Europe. Besides an N-Gage port closer to the original release, Advance 1 has only been rereleased through the Japanese Wii U Virtual Console (alongside the sequels) and the aforementioned Japanese Android port that teases you of an official release with an expanded screen size. It seems as if they can't rerelease it outside of the country they distributed in themselves, and wouldn't just rerelease it in only either of North America or Europe if only one of them could comply. A counter to this is that Wii U's GBA VC was a lot more generally supported in Japan anyway or something, and the Android version was so unbelievably shoddy that it probably wasn't worth bringing across the pond in the first place. And further to the point, THQ actually took over Advance distribution from Infogrammes in Europe by releasing "2 Games in 1" packs with Advance 1 over there, also distributing Advance 3 in Europe in their place. And not even they were needed for the N-Gage version of Advance 1 as Sega did that themselves. Nor are they or Infogrammes even listed in the credits of the games. Footage of Advance has been seen since in both the Encylco-speed-ia and TailsTube, as if it's just fine to acknowledge them in any capacity. And to hammer the final nail in the coffin to the idea that THQ became sole copyright owner in Advance's distribution, people from the successive THQ Nordic have literally confirmed twice that Sega would actually own Advance's publishing rights, once in the 4Chan AMA they did, again when Reinhard Pollice was asked about it on Twitter. So it seems like neither THQ Nordic or Atari SA would retain any say in how the Advance games are handled, as it's clearly not a Pocket Adventure situation with them. They just happen to be MIA right now.

    With the 2-3 games in the Rush series, they're already difficult to rerelease with their tailored design to the DS, using both screens for the level design and touch screen controls for Rush's Special Stages. It would require a fundamental overhauling of the games, and may be a downgrade as a result. But looking past that, I've heard suggestions that its iconic soundtrack is holding it back. It was discovered to have used weird samples like Malcolm X's Grassroots speech. A far cry from SCD's sample CD usage, but maybe not S3&K's samples of Run-DMC and such. And like that game, perhaps weird sample usage brings up questions of clearance needing to be made for them in this day and age, now that they're identified. And they couldn't not do Rush yet rerelease its sequel. At any rate, what's directly clear is an absence of the Rush soundtrack in recent times. Being skipped over in the Sonic Symphony is one thing, but the track "Right There, Ride on" stopped appearing in the Smash Bros. series come Ultimate, being the only absent Sonic track (though songs missing from that game for whatever probable licensing issues are frequent). And the soundtrack is... Sort of on Spotify? When I went to play it, literally "Back 2 Back" was the only song available for whatever reason. If people were upset when part of S3&K's soundtrack had to be changed, imagine that with Rush, where the music is just so integral to that game's style.

    I think the Advance titles have the best chance of being in any sort of "Modern Origins" in the future, while Pocket Adventure and maybe Rush seem less certain.

    EDIT: A better explanation on how Rush's samples worked:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 24, 2022
    • Informative Informative x 7
    • List
  2. netscapenow


    I've always figured that if they were to rerelease Rush it wouldn't be out of the question to just zoom it out to closest height they can get to the two DS screens stacked, and then open up the rest of the camera for 16:9. Sure Sonic would be small but since you'd be playing it on either a big TV or 7 inch Switch screen, it'd probably wouldn't be much harder to look at than some of Forces' 2D sections :V

    The rerelease history of these games is peculiar though, especially the sheer amount of ports Advance 1 has for some reason. Interesting read!
  3. shilz


    getting my daily allowance of vitamin kk
    I really don't understand how sampling a speech is supposed to invalidate their rights to Wrapped in Black or who they'd even need to clear it with.
  4. Plorpus


    Hog Blue So What Member
    Pretty sure SPA is the only one with legal issues. Whether you’ll see the rest rereleased is up to whether or not SEGA deems it worth the effort.
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • List
  5. saxman


    Oldbie Tech Member
    My understanding has always been samples are fair game to use because they're so short. If that wasn't true, I think there'd be a lot more lawsuits in the realm of rap music and others that have traditionally relied heavily on it.
  6. Azookara


    yup Member
    Hip-hop music usually has to have it's samples cleared out before release, and it often relies on the label to work out the legal there and if it's worth the costs. It's a very complicated situation; even the tiniest snippet could be subject to a lawsuit if there's been no clearance involved. But it also can be a total non-issue if it goes unnoticed, which is how say IE the plunderphonics group The Avalanches managed to survive despite their music being wholly sample-based. Again, it's complicated.

    THAT SAID, Rush's samples should not have a problem. Wave Master (Sega's music studio, at least during that time) used licensed sample libraries. In particular, Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim)'s "Skip to My Loops" is where the grand majority of Rush's samples originate, as well as various ones used in Sonic 3, Jet Set Radio / JSRF and assorted Sega arcade titles. As long as they still have the rights to using that it should be considered okay. And I'd almost assure they do, considering how many Sega games use it.
  7. The KKM

    The KKM

    Welcome to the nExt level Member
    IDW's Sonic the Hedgehog comic books
    Pocket Adventure was SNK, not Dimps. Not really relevant in any sense of discussing legal hurdles here.
    I feel there's an obvious historical factor you're not taking into account that's a lot more likely to explain all this. Shortly after the Neo Geo Pocket and making Pocket Adventure, SNK went bankrupt, had its IPs bought by another company, had that other company become SNK, and went through multiple loops and legal nonsense.
    It's much more likely the reason Pocket Adventure fell in a black hole is due to that entire nonsense, than something to do with music samples; and after that, again, Dimps is a separate company so whatever they did would be unrelated to this.
  8. Pengi


    If I recall correctly, the Japanese Wii U release of Sonic Advance also replaced the Sonic 1 and 2 music. I'm sure this was simply about cutting costs, rather than a legal necessity.
  9. TomGyroid


    We can sort of get an idea of what that'd look like with this fan mod:

    Looking into it earlier, it was apparently also used in the Bebe's Kids game, and might fall under Wave Master's licensed samples, or at least be some kind of popular sample already:
    Very helpful info, think I'll update the main post to reflect this. I'm guessing the samples specifically didn't further hold S3&K's music back, especially since sample source Run-DMC recently worked with a Sonic project :V
    Interesting point. Though is that something Capcom didn't have issue in when rereleasing their Neo Geo Pocket games with the company? Were they in a different, earlier position to Sega?
    It seems to still be in there according to this let's play: