Rock the Rock

From Sega Retro

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Rock the Rock
Date: 1994-10-08[1]1994-10-09[1]
Location: Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California 94133, United States
Organizer: Sega of America
Licensor: MTV, Blockbuster Video

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Rock the Rock, known in Japan as Sekai Taikai Rock the Rock, was an American video game tournament organized by Sega of America in promotion of upcoming release of Sonic & Knuckles. Held on San Francisco's Alcatraz Island and themed around a high-stakes heist, the tournament was one of the largest and most elaborate promotions undertaken by the company, and was aired in a televised MTV special one week later.


Rock the Rock began on Saturday, October 8th with a one-night international Sonic & Knuckles tournament, with over 40 tournament locations assembled at numerous Hard Rock Cafe restaurants and Sega-associated venues around the globe - over a week and a half before the game's American release. Dubbed the "Sonic & Knuckles International Preliminary Tournaments", up for grabs was $25,000 awarded directly from Sega of America, as well as every product the company produced for the next two years.[2] [3] Of the roughly 100,000 participants, fifty winners were chosen to compete in the tournament proper, along with five more selected randomly from a 1-800 telephone number.[1]

Over 100,000 players participated in the worldwide invitational tournaments.

Winners were handcuffed to briefcases containing copies of Sonic & Knuckles (theirs to keep[4]) and accompanied by "police" escort to their awaiting limousines - each followed by a Brink's armored car - where they were driven to the nearest airport and immediately flown to California's San Francisco Bay Area. The following morning, participants were shuttled from their hotel to San Francisco's Pier 41 by another security-escorted motorcade and ferried over to the city's famous Alcatraz Island.[1] Sonic the Hedgehog series co-creator Yuji Naka was in attendance for both the Yokohama Joypolis invitational tournament and the Alcatraz Island finale, congratulating both winners on their respective victories.[5][6]

The tournament proper began with 55 participants placed at their own Sonic & Knuckles-equipped Sega Genesis kiosk and housed within Alcatraz' New Industries building, each tasked with collecting as many rings in Mushroom Hill Zone Act 1 in 3 minutes. Of these, the top ten contestants with the highest ring counts were giving placing scores, and with the top two contestants - Mark Guinane and Chris Tang - proceeding to the final showdown.

Finalists Mark Guinane and Chris Tang were then led to a specially-constructed kiosk in the plaza of the island's nearby Model Industries building, where both contestants were again given 3 minutes to collect as many rings as possible, this time in Launch Base Zone Act 1. In the end, Tang won the tournament with a total of 153 rings to Guinane's 123. Soon after, at a promotional Sega of America press conference at the company's headquarters, he was presented with a large novelty check for $25,000 directly from Tom Kalinske, as well as every product Sega of America made for the next two years (also received by Mark Guinane).[2]

Television special

Concept art for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 shown during the Sega Technical Institute segment.

On Monday, October 17th, over a week after the tournament's conclusion, and one day before the release of Sonic & Knuckles, MTV aired Rock the Rock as a 30-minute television special.[1][7] Hosted by American celebrity personalities Bill Bellamy and Daisy Fuentes, the special featured an edited version of the tournament produced in Sega of America's trademark frantic, hyper-focused style, interspersed with information about the game and brief interviews with contestants.

After introducing the premise of the tournament and some primers on Sonic & Knuckles, the special cuts to a segment in which Sega Technical Institute staff are interviewed about the upcoming title. Roger Hector, Adrian Stephens, Howard Drossin, Kunitake Aoki, Chris Senn, and Dean Lester are all given brief screen time, along with appearances from Sega Test's Aron Drayer, Janine Cook, Marcus Montgomery, and Tracy Johnson. During these interviews, a number of never-before-seen pieces of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 concept art are quickly displayed.

Production credits

  • Producer: Scott Weinstock
  • Director: Joe Perota
  • Coordinating Producer: Bob Maurer
  • Segment Producer: Edward M. Capuano
  • Line Producer: Frank Garritano
  • Writer: Tracy Grandstaff
  • Editors: Charlie Liotta, Paul "G" Goldberg, Evan Anthony
  • Unit Manager: Barry Fox
  • Production Associate: Michele Roberts
  • Technical Manager: Paul Cox
  • Production Coordinator: Joelle Charlot
  • Associate Director: Julie Altheimer
  • Stage Manager: Jamie Battista
  • Lighting Director: Jerry Watson
  • Art Director: Josh Koral
  • Technical Director: Scott McQuaid
  • Camera: Dave Benzer, Rob Darcy, Tom Adkins, Dave Eastwood
  • A1: Wes Weaver
  • A2's: Tom Celin, Rom Rosenblum
  • Gaffer: Adam Santelli
  • Electrics: Jason Santelli, Chris Milani, Thom Ward, Fernando Cordova
  • Grips: Jeff Bane, Hue Freeman, Paul Meise, Bob Sitzwohl
  • Utility: Dan Aguilar, Chris Callarman, Tom Higbee, Chris McHugh, Curtis Menzel
  • Video Operator: Mark Sanford
  • Tape Operator: Skip Van Fliet
  • Production Assistants: Skip Bensley, Rick de Oliveira, James Ellsworth, Kathryn Filley, Tony Gee, Rad Hall, Dave Higby, Andres Le Roux, Ed Lin, Mickey Ray, Alex Ross
  • Post-Production Facility: Moxie Video
  • Director Post-Production: Hank Keichlin
  • Director of Facilities Scheduling: Cynthia Fuchs
  • Council for Law and Business Affairs: Sabrina Silverberg
  • Opening Sequence and Packaging: Todd Meuller
  • Graphics Design: Romy Mann, William Heins, Paul Villacis
  • Production Clerks: Nat Havholm, Michele Bessey
  • Talent Coordinator: Rod Aissa
  • Wardrobe: Patricia Kazmierowski
  • Make Up: Eddie Valentine, Wallett
  • Production Accountant: Ingrid Hall
  • Rights and Clearances: Julie Insogna
  • MTV Marketing: John Shea
  • MTV Press Relations: Linda Alexander
  • Announcer: Rafael Ferrer
ENG Crew - San Francisco
  • Camera: Jarred Johnson, David Collier, John Chater, Norman Bonnie
  • Audio: George Rosenfield, Louis Block, David Boyle
  • Utility: Chris McCracken
ENG Crew - New York
  • Segment Producer: Mike Bloom
  • Production Clerk: Gisellah Harvey
  • Production Assistants: Tim Healy, Jeff Sutch
  • Camera: Christian Hoagland
  • Audio: Paul Turlick
ENG Crew - Tokyo, Japan
  • Camera: Yuichi Ueki
  • Crew: Inn Productions
  • Event Executive Producer: Tom Abramson
  • Creative Supervisor: Sara Holihan
  • Creative Coordinator: Trisha Dunne
  • Event Producers: Joe Owens, Darcy Brown
  • Event Production Coordinator: Caroline Czirr
  • Event Production Assistant: Corey Walter
  • Preliminary Tournament Locations Provided By: Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc. (for the East Coast Group), Hard Rock America (for the West Coast Group)
  • Bill Bellamy's Wardrobe Provided By: Eddie Bauer
  • Aerial Photography Provided By: A La Carte Communications & The Golden Gate National Park Association
  • Special Thanks: Nat Katzman, ACME Scenery, Moxie Video staff, Rangers of the National Park Service, Red & White Fleet, City of San Francisco Film Commission, The Barge Boys, Staff of Sega of America, Kristin Widmer, Susan Locke, Krissy Reinhardt, Mike Neuwirth, Holly Weinstock
  • VP MTV Production: Joel Stillerman
  • Executive Producer: Salli Frattini
  • Sega, Genesis, Sonic, Knuckles, and all related characters are trademarks of Sega.
  • ©1994 Sega P.O. Box 8097, Redwood City, CA 94063.
In-broadcast credits[7]

Magazine articles

Main article: Rock the Rock/Magazine articles.


Main article: Photos of Rock the Rock

Video gallery

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Broadcast recording

External links


Officially licensed Sega tournaments held outside Japan
France FR Sega Masters 91 (1991) | Sega Euro Challenge 92 (1992) | Challenge Européen Sega 1993 (1993)
United Kingdom UK Sega Challenge 1990 (1990) | Sega Masterblaster Championship 1991 (1991) | Sega Sports Challenge (1992) | UK Sega Games Championships (1993) | 1994 Sega UK Challenge (1994)
United States of America US Sega Challenge (1987-1988) | Sega Genesis World Championship (1990) | Rock the Rock (1994)
Others Sega TV Game-ki Zenkoku Contest (Japan; 1974) | 1991 Sega European Championship | 1992 Sega European Championship | Sega European Championships 1993 | Champion Train '93 (Germany; 1993) | Télémoustique Sega Cup 93