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Sega Studios San Francisco

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Sega Studios San Francisco, formerly known as Secret Level, was a San Francisco, California based studio owned by Sega.

Secret Level

Secret Level before being purchased by Sega largely ported game titles, and created tools, and technologies for the console entertainment industry. Founded in late 1999, the company to date is located near AT&T Park in San Francisco. Secret Levels credit included America's Army: Rise of a Soldier released in 2005 for Xbox. They also worked on the Xbox port of Final Fight: Streetwise and Karaoke Revolution.

Sega Buyout

For the development of Golden Axe Beast Rider and the video game adaptation of the Iron Man movie. Secret Level was purchased by Sega near E3 2006, the studio started working on Golden Axe Beast Rider prior to the take over, Simon Jeffery former SOA president impressed with Secret Level's technology convinced Sega to buy the studio.

After the takeover Secret Level evolved from a small studio to a large studio with over a hundred employees, 2 years of expansion and development later Iron Man and Golden Axe were released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Iron Man & Golden Axe

According to Metacritic, an online compiler of video game review scores, the PlayStation 3 version of Iron Man received an average rating of 42 (on a 100 point scale) from video game critics,[2] and the Xbox 360 version received an average rating of 45.[3] Metacritic states that average scores below 50 indicate "generally unfavorable reviews."[4] Secret Level did not develop the Iron Man movie tie-in games for the Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable or Windows platforms, which instead were developed by the studio Artificial Mind.

Beast Rider on the other hand received a 3.2/10 rating from IGN with a closing comment, "This is a game worth avoiding like the plague, even if the classic remains deep and warm within your heart."[5] GamePro called it "poorly designed and utterly mediocre," "a terrible game that feels like a slap in the face to fans of the original franchise." [6] TeamXbox gave the game a 6.8 rating. Gametrailers' sister site's editor High School Ben told people to "F' it" due to strange controls, lack of music, and high difficulty.[7] G4tv's X-Play gave the game a 2/5 stars during their Oct.22.08 review.[8]

On a positive note Play Magazine scored it a 9/10. Play also delivered a comment that "certain online reviewers" couldn't have played through it and released a decent review in the time-frame they did.

With the critical and commercial failure of both Secret Level games published by Sega, the parent company disbanded Secret Level and absorbed selected few into the new studio and restarted another recruitment program. The current studio doesn't have the autonomy the previous studio had and Sega is directly controlling all of the studio ventures.

Sega hoped with the restructure that Iron Man 2 and the sequel to Beast Rider will deliver what the original games were meant to do. On April 2, 2010, Sega announced that Sega Studios San Francisco would be closed with the release of Iron Man 2. Sega did not say anything about the sequel to Beast Rider[9] Which lead several websites to believe the game was not up to expectations[10]

Sega West president Mike Hayes was interviewed by 1up and in the interview he discussed the studios disbandonment. 1UP: Was the closing of Secret Level because of the shift to digital?'

'MH: It was a broader thing. We're pleased with Iron Man 2 that they worked on, but the truth of the matter is that we couldn't find another appropriate project to give them. It was something you may recall we did with our racing studio here in London, about three years ago. It was a good team, but we were unable to find them their next project.

Iron Man 2

Once Iron Man 2 was released critics reviewed it as worse than the original Iron Man.[11]

The game has received generally unfavorable reviews, with Metacritic scores of 44%[12] and 45%[13] for the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions respectively. There is division among critics whether or not it is an improvement from its' predecessor or not. IGN gave this game a score of 5.1, claiming it was an improvement from its predecessor but doesn't quite hit the mark. They cited the game's bad graphics, five-hour length, repetitive dodging and action and no real challenge in the game, thus making the upgrade system unnecessary.[14] Gamestate gave it a 4.0/10[15] stating it was one of the worst games the media house has ever played. Michael Lafferty from GameZone gave it a 4.5/10 who ultimately said "Watch the movie, read the comic book, but pass on the game".[16] Gamespot gave it a 4.5/10 Iron Man 2 for Xbox 360 said that its improvements and neuters its thrills, taking all the fun out of being a high-tech superhero.[17]Empire magazine gave it one star calling it a "Rare failure for Sega" and also stating that the expirence felt like an early PlayStation 1 game

Relegating Mike Hayes comments about the studio merely PR talk and the actual reason for the foreclosure of the studio was attributed to their inability to meet the expected standards.


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