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Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Audio Interview: SUMO Digital Spills The Beans

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Excitement is high for SUMO’s new crossover title, Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing. We reported earlier that Ryo Hazuki will return for the first time since Shenmue 2, and old favorites such as Alex Kidd, Sonic The Hedgehog, Super Monkey Ball and Space Channel 5 are represented in this game, making it the wet dream of all SEGA fans out there.

We recently spoke with Steve Lycett of SUMO Digital about the audio direction for this title. Many fans have been desperate to hear more information on what we can expect from this title when it comes to music, voice acting and more.

Find out everything you want to know about the audio in Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing right here!

OSV: Steve, thank you so much for speaking to us! Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Steve: Hi there, I’m Steve Lycett and I’m the Producer on Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing, which is Sumo Digital’s latest game for SEGA.

OSV: SEGA fans are extremely excited for this game, and one of the most exciting aspects is the audio approach in these crossover titles. Let’s start by talking about the music itself, what can we expect?

Steve: Why not, good place to start! For this game we’ve once again been given the keys to SEGA’s big audio closet. What we try and do with the All-Star games, is get a good mix of music both old and new. That way we can hopefully raise some fond memories of older games you’ve played if you’re a SEGA fan, surprise you with some new songs – and also – hopefully- introduce a whole new legion of players to the music we’ve all enjoyed.

To this end we’ve got classic tracks from many, many games. If we take just the Sonic courses, we’ve got music from Sonic Heroes, Sonic CD, Sonic R and many more. Outside of Sonic, we’ve raided official sound tracks to get new arranged versions of music. We’ve even managed to get a Crush40 track in there!
What we do is give you a track for each course, then by playing the game, you earn SEGA Miles, which you can spend on the in-game shop. As you buy new music, you can then select from the ones you’ve unlocked when you start a race.

OSV: Who’s in charge of the original material recorded specifically for this title?

Steve: We’ve pulled in some familiar names to record us new material. So we’ve got Richard Jacques very much involved. We love Rich, we hope he loves us too! It wouldn’t have that All-Star feel without his involvement, so we’re very happy that he’s recorded new music for the game.

Expect to hear some brand new tracks from other respected artist too, you will spend the next few weeks humming and whistling them!

OSV: It seems this title will feature more music than your previous title SEGA Superstars Tennis judging by what you just told us.

Steve: There’s lots of music. I mean lots, we’re way over what we had in SEGA Superstars Tennis – and even I didn’t think we’d manage that.

OSV: Now all the character have different vehicles based on their classic titles, tell us a bit about the sound approach to the vehicles themselves.

Steve: Yeah, let’s have a chat about those. Each character has a car designed to fit their style. So Sonic has a sleek fast sports car, Tails has monoplane and our recent announcement shows Ryo Hazuki on a bike – then a forklift for his All-Star move. We’ve wanted capture classic Sega arcade games in feel and so we’ve based these off real world car sounds. So Sonic’s car is based off a big meaty V8 engine for example. Each vehicle sound is comprised of separate layers. We’ve got the main engine rev, a separate exhaust note, then layers we add on top, things like turbo whines, exhaust pops. On top of this we add yet more layers as we need to, so you’ve got tire squeal when you drift, a layer of wind noise when you’re getting lots of air – not to mention extra layers for boosting. This gives all the cars a rich and complex sound design. The guys behind the sounds are folk who’ve worked on such games as TOCA Touring Cars and SEGA Rally, they know their engines!

OSV: What about voice actors? Did you approach the old voice actors to return voicing their characters?

Steve: We’ve also gone to town with VO. Every character has their own set of VO, this is lifted from older titles in some cases, or new recordings where we can with the original actors. Getting that character in there is important for us – and having them sound as you expect even more so. We want the race to feel kinetic, we want you to hear the character enjoying themselves, so when you get that overtake you feel it’s important.

OSV: What else has SUMO done to enhance the classic SEGA racing feeling to the races?

Steve: To signpost race events we’ve also added full commentary to the game. We’ve got a classic over the top SEGA commentator in there, written by professional script writers to keep you updated on the race. It’s got thousands of lines of dialog for this alone, even more when you consider we’ve had to record these in 5 languages too!

OSV: This game also features weapons. Will they be using the classic sound effects from their respective games ala Mario Kart, where the classic mushroom sound and others are featured?

Steve: Yes, adding to the kinetic nature of the game are the games various weapons. We’ve got homing missile, punch gloves from Monkey Ball – all of these have signature sounds as when you’re focusing on the race, you need those audio cues to know what’s coming in and get ready to react to deal with them.

OSV. And we can expect full surround sound for all console releases, correct?

Steve: Yeah we’ve also pushed the boat out by supporting Dolby Digital on PS3 and Xbox 360. We’ve got in support for Dolby Pro-Logic 2 on the Wii. So if you’ve got the surround set-up – the game will use it!

OSV: Finally, what can we expect for the DS version? How are you cramming all that content into the handheld cart?

Steve: Want to play on the move, we’ve also crammed all these sounds and more into the DS version. As we’ve got to squash all this onto a cartridge, we’ve enlisted the services of Allister Brimble to compose us unique MIDI versions of all the games tunes . You won’t believe what he’s done with it. My personal favourite is “Can you Feel the Sunshine,” a track I didn’t think would ever work in MIDI format, but amazingly it does. Again – the byword for the game is “How much SEGA can we legally squeeze into one game” and I think Allister has done us proud.

OSV: Thank you so much for all the great information. It looks like SUMO has really gone all out when it comes to the audio department in this game!

Steve: Is audio important to us? You bet. We know it’s important to players around the world and we’ve done our very best to make a game that captures SEGA at it’s best – and deliver that feeling to the players when they load the game up come early 2010.

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