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Sonic the HedgehogSega has a new ally in its plans for launching games for the next generation of game consoles: the west.  In an interview with Next Generation, Sega of America's president, Simon Jeffery, outlines Sega's goal to assign their licenses and characters to North American development teams instead of their traditional Japanese development arm.  Sonic the Hedgehog and friends will be back, as will Virtua Fighter, Afterburner, and House of the Dead.  The catch?  Don't expect any of this for the launch of the Microsoft Xbox 360.  Sega isn't planning to dive into the new consoles until the end of 2006.

It's about time that Sega remembered that it owns characters and properties beyond a speedy blue hedgehog.  Remember, this is the company that passed on a proposed Streets of Rage 4 for the Sega Dreamcast because they forgot that they owned the property.  I'd like to see the return of Ecco the Dolphin, Ristar, and maybe even Comix Zone and The Ooze if they can be done right.

Finally, remember that online Sonic RPG that Panovation was supposedly working on with Sega?  Jeffery denies that Sega has any part in the project.

He said that online would be a "focal part of our business" but scotched recent rumors of a Sonic MMOG. "Some fan somewhere has way too much time on their hands," he said. "We are investing in the online space but Sonic is a brand that skews to the young and traditionally younger gamers are not part of the MMOG experience. I’d be amazed if we did that. It’s nothing that Sega has planned."