There are always little symbols to look out for that can help you figure out if a game’s going to be worthwhile. Once upon a time it might have been Nintendo’s seal of quality, or maybe the logo of your favourite developer – back in the day it was Treasure’s magic box, perhaps, or more recently the glimmering P of Platinum Games. In recent years, there’s another logo I’ve always kept an eye out for, a symbol that’s a guarantee of quality, and a certain little spark. Quite often, though, you have to look really hard for it.
Sumo Digital isn’t the most widely known developer out there, though that’s mostly by design. Since it was founded in 2003, the Sheffield studio has quietly built a strong reputation. It caught my attention with 2004’s OutRun 2 port on Xbox, won my heart with OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast and by the time Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed was released in 2012 – the best Mario Kart game, until Mario Kart 8 came along at least – I was well and truly in love. You may well have played a Sumo Digital game before without realising it. I’m fairly sure you’ll have enjoyed it, too.
“It’s one of those things,” says COO Paul Porter. “We’ve always done things under the radar, because it’s other people’s IP. The story’s not about Sumo, the story’s about the game, the publisher and the IP owner. We’ve always kept quiet in the background.” Some of Sumo’s work is even a surprise to me, a self-confessed fan of the studio – it was only upon meeting up with Sumo at last December’s PlayStation Experience that I realised it was responsible for Colorado, one of the new Hitman’s episodes, and there’s plenty more unheralded work besides.