Although Sheffield isn’t a massive bustling hub of game development, the city has definitely provided some very notable additions to the gaming industry. One pretty big addition is Sumo Digital. Founded way back in 2003 after the closure of Infogrames Studios Sheffield/Gremlin Interactive it has since handled some big titles. They’ve had a long standing relationship with SEGA, helped to create Disney Infinity 3.0, and have been heading up the development of Crackdown 3. Not a bad portfolio of work.
To celebrate 15 years of Sumo Digital, they hosted a game art exhibition between 25th – 29th June 2018 at the Showroom Workstation that showcased 12 historic pieces from their archives. The best part? It was open to the public and completely free. Plus, it was about a minute’s walk away from where I work, so I had to go visit.
The exhibition was situated towards the back of the main foyer area of the Workstation, spanning two walls. I will admit, if I hadn’t explicitly known that it was there, I could have easily missed the entire thing as it wasn’t very well sign-posted at all. It was also unmanned, aside from the person at the Workstation reception desk.
The exhibition didn’t span the entire history of Sumo Digital, with some of the earlier games not present, but it gave clear snapshots into how the studio has grown and developed in recent times. While there were plenty on show, a fair few pieces were from what would be later known as the SEGA: All-Stars franchise. This included SEGA Superstars Tennis, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
Little Big Planet 3 and Doctor Who were also featured, as well as Snake Pass – their first self-published title. After having such a fun time with Snake Pass, it was nice to see the various concepts behind Noodle’s final design. These concepts were alongside the beautiful print of the game’s main title art, created by Creatives In The Attic and later edited by Jack Newbert.
Most of the artwork was accompanied by a plaque detailing things like who published the game, when it was released, and some insight into what roles Sumo Digital played. One notable difference to this trend was that of the Crackdown 3 print. While it looked absolutely fantastic, there was no information at all. This is probably due to some kind of non-disclosure agreement, and it’s a nice little tease for when this long awaited game is released. No doubt Sumo Digital has a lot riding on this game, and it’s definitely one of their most high-profile ones to date.
In short, the “15 Years of Sumo Digital” game art exhibition was an enjoyable if understated ode to a games company that is as every part of the cultural landscape of Sheffield as Henderson’s Relish and Def Leppard.
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