Press release: 1996-10-10: Sega Entertainment, Orion Interactive bring fun and games to PC learning software

From Sega Retro

This is an unaltered copy of a press release, for use as a primary source on Sega Retro. Please do not edit the contents below.
Language: English
Original source: The Free Library

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 10, 1996--Sega Entertainment Inc. and Orion Interactive are bringing what they know best to the PC learning software industry -- interactive entertainment.

Through a joint venture, the companies have teamed to create "Sonic Schoolhouse," an edutainment title that was designed as a game but with letters and numbers instead of weapons, spaceships and enemies.

"Sonic's Schoolhouse" is Sega's first edutainment title and Sonic the Hedgehog's debut as kids' computer learning pal. The title will be available, for children ages 5 to 9, nationwide on Oct. 18 for a suggested retail price of $34.99.

"Sega and Orion are proven leaders in children's entertainment, and we see tremendous opportunities in leveraging that expertise in the learning software category," said Shinobue Toyoda, president and chief executive officer of Sega Entertainment. "`Sonic's Schoolhouse' is like `Doom' for kids, but instead of being in dark hallways fighting bad guys, kids are in a brightly-colored 3-D schoolhouse challenging their friends to see who can answer questions first."

"Sonic's Schoolhouse" was built using a two-player game engine and designed for one-or-two player interactive challenges. It is one of the first edutainment titles in which children can actually play against each other simultaneously, making the learning process seem more like a game.

The title features a complete 3-D schoolhouse and playground, high-resolution graphics and a first-person perspective interface that simulates a virtual reality environment for kids.

"Keeping a child's interest is one of the most difficult challenges in the learning process, especially for the fundamental reading, spelling and math skills," said Judith Renyi, executive director of the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education. "When learning is fun, children are more likely to spend time focused on the educational content."

Upon entering the 3-D schoolhouse, kids can go into specific classrooms designated for math, spelling and reading. Players earn gum balls for each correct answer they place on the interactive chalkboards. The challenge is to find the right answers, which are constantly hopping around the classroom, and take them back to the chalkboard before Sonic's arch rival Dr. Robotnik steals players' answers.

Upon earning enough gum balls, the player is then eligible for more memory-skills games in the playground or for full motion video field trips to learn about animals in the wild.

An advisory panel of 10 educators and child psychologists helped Sega Entertainment create educational challenges appropriate for specific age groups. The title is recommended for children ages 5 to 9.

Sega Entertainment is supporting the "Sonic's Schoolhouse" launch with print ads running October through December, in-store displays, free demo offers on the company's Web site and a sampler disk mailing to key retail accounts. Packed in with the game are coupons worth $40 in discounts on Sonic products, including T-shirts, mousepads, comic books and plush toys.

"Sonic's Schoolhouse" is also included in a $20 million marketing campaign called "Blue is Backed" promoting six new Sonic titles shipping during the holidays.

Orion Interactive, established in 1993, is a division of Orion Pictures Corp., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Metromedia International Group Inc., whose stock is traded on the American and Pacific Stock Exchanges. BAP Interactive Inc. is a privately held California corporation.

Sega Entertainment is a joint venture between Sega of America, the arm of Tokyo-based Sega Enterprises Ltd. responsible for the development, marketing and distribution of Sega video game systems and video games in the Americas, and Softbank Holdings Inc., one of the world's largest distributors of computer software, peripherals and systems, as well as Japan's largest publisher of computer-related magazines and books.

Sega Entertainment is responsible for creating, marketing and distributing PC-based entertainment which utilizes Sega's arcade and console-based games and characters. With headquarters in Redwood City, Sega Entertainment is the second joint venture between Sega and Softbank; in October 1995, the two companies entered a joint venture to distribute interactive entertainment and PC software and hardware in the United States. -0- NOTE TO EDITORS: For Sega's past news releases, go to

CONTACT: Sega Entertainment Inc., Redwood City

Toni Werner, 415/802-3013


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