Sega Technical Institute

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Sega Technical Institute (STI) was a video game development division of Sega of America which produced a number of the company's first-party video games during the first half of the 1990s. It is notable for producing the Sega Mega Drive's top selling game, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, along with its sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and others such as Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, Comix Zone, Kid Chameleon and The Ooze.

In early 1996, the division established a satellite office headquartered in Burbank, California named STI Burbank, responsible for the unreleased Saturn games Comix Zone and Sonic Saturn.


STI's in-house composer Howard Drossin.

STI was established by Mark Cerny as a development division within the offices of Sega of America with the goal of producing high quality video games in the United States. It was conceived almost as a training facility[2], in which experienced Japanese staff would fly over to train American developers, many of whom had no prior experience in games[4]. However, the plan backfired, initially with delays in sorting out the correct work visas (meaning the Americans were ready, making games before the Japanese had left the country). As a result of this, STI's first product, Dick Tracy was built by a wholly American team.

After the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, lead programmer Yuji Naka briefly left Sega, but after the game proved popular, was convinced by Cerny to travel to the US to begin work on a sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Naka, alongside other Japanese staff (including core "Sonic Team" member Hirokazu Yasuhara) became members of STI and began the project in conjunction with US staff, however severe language and cultural barriers effectively drove STI into two distinct teams after its release[4][2][5], with the parties acknowledging that Sonic 3 would be better served by a Japanese-only team. Cerny also left STI after Sonic 2.

The American developers continued on their own projects, namely Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball and later Comix Zone and The Ooze. After the release of Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, many of the Japanese developers returned to Japan, and Sega of America took full control of STI. STI would work with the Japanese Sega AM1 division in creating Die Hard Arcade, but following corporate shake-ups, would become "Sega of America Product Development"[6], managing external development and localising games for the US market. During this period, several of its original products were scrapped. The creative control at STI meant several projects were started but unfinished, the most notable being the infamous Sonic X-treme, a widely-publicised 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game destined for the Sega Saturn.

Years after its closure, a number of former Sega Technical Institute staff (such as Hirokazu Yasuhara) would later migrate to developer Naughty Dog, working on titles such as the Jak & Daxter series and Uncharted.


List of staff

External links


  1. Hidden Palace: News
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Interview: Peter Morawiec (2007-04-20) by Sega-16 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Interview: Peter Morawiec (2007-04-20) by Sega-16" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 (Wayback Machine: 2023-06-21 01:35)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Interview: Mark Cerny (2006-12-05) by Sega-16
  6. Interview: Mike Wallis (2007-06-19) by Sega-16

Timeline of Sega of America research and development divisions