Nicely, Sonic Team is undergoing something of a re-evaluation in the wake of Sonic Mania - which it supervised, probably. That must be especially nice for them, given that their most recent fully-developed game, Sonic Forces, was about as much fun as forcing a push-pin into your own forehead.
But hey - Sonic Team isn't all about Sonic. Here are 10 Sonic-less games - barring the Puyo Puyo sequels it has worked on, because... reasons - which were produced by Naka's heirs.
Ha ha; knacker hairs.
It "starred" - oh-hoh! - a little star-shaped guy, with arms and legs that could stretch to abnormal lengths. It lacked the speed of Sonic, but more than made up for it in the sheer wealth of ideas - Ristar could use his ridiculous arms to propel him through levels, grabbing enemies and headbutting them, and lob objects around and that. Plus, it boasted some gorgeous visuals that were clearly the work of the team behind Sonic.
Sega very much intended Ristar to be a new mascot (indeed, the character's origins dated back to early development of Sonic The Hedgehog), but its release - just three months before the Sega Saturn - punched its potential sales in the throat. A shame, because it's a bit of a lost gem.
It's fair to suggest that an androgynous "dream person" who was inspired by Sonic Team's research into REM sleep, the theories of psychoanalysts Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, and Cirque du Soleil, didn't exactly scream "mass market".
Also, the graphics - as nicely designed as they were - were let down by clipping and rough textures. Consequently, sales were somewhat disappointing, though this didn't prevent the release of a festive mini-sequel - Christmas Nights - and a full sequel for the Wii, some years later.
What was with the ellipsis at the end of the title though, Sega? According to the dictionary, an ellipsis is "the omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues".
So what are the missing words? Judging from the "contextual clues", I would suggest this: "Is a Twat".
As with Nights, it was prone to glitching - meaning that much of the team's extensive and unnecessary research (which included studying robot firefighter prototypes, apparently) was wasted. As with Nights, it failed to do much to turn around the system's waning fortunes.
However, it did feature characters called Big Landman and a woman called "Tillis".
"Watchu talkin' 'bout, Tillis?"
"This isn't the time - my hair is ablaze!"
It was the first game to feature online multiplayer, and was an experiment to see how many characters the machine could handle on screen at any one time. Though it wasn't perhaps the blockbuster release some would've expected from Sonic Team, the experiment directly lead to Phantasy Star Online, and the chaotic puzzle game was a surprise hit for "Seg-Seg" (Sega).
It was an expensive proposition on home systems, given that it had to be sold with a pair of maraca controllers which couldn't be used for any other game. You could, however, use them to smash yourself in the eyes every time you thought about how much you'd spent on a game that was about a maraca-playing monkey.
Just buy some real maracas, for pity's sake. Failing that: a "rain stick".
Unfortunately, while it just about managed to meet sales expectations, it failed to be the breakthrough hit which saved the Dreamcast from its ignominious fate. There's no question that it was a landmark, which influenced the genre and industry going forwards, but while the series has continued - on and off - in the years since, but it's hard to argue that it retains much more than a cult following.
Certainly, it had the makings of a hit... but was a huge flop for Sega and Sonic Team, selling less than 250,000 copies worldwide. Consequence: Sega's Yuji Naka was so distraught that he hasn't laid an egg since!
Astro Boy was a 3D platformer - with Nights-esque flying stages - starring the iconic, semi-nude, robot boy. It was solid enough, but hobbled by a dreadful camera system, which made boss battles a confusing mess.
Frankly, if people wanted to sway back and forth they'd get drunk - not stand in front of their televisions like they were performing some arcane ritual in order to summon Bruce Foreskin.
I don't even know what that means.
That's right: itt does sound like a company that would produce "marital aids".
In Japan it was known as Kimi no Tame nara Shineru - or "I Would Die For You" - while a later prequel was called Aka-chan wa Doko Kara Kuru no? ("Where Do Babies Come From?"). Not a lie.