If you’re a classic video gaming fan who got excited about the recent news of a brand new Sonic the Hedgehog game in development at Sega, the company wants to apologise to you. After promising players a special game to mark the thirtieth anniversary of everybody’s favourite fast-running spiky blue hedgehog, the game’s developer-in-chief Takashi Iizuka has now confessed that the big reveal was too much too soon. It seems that we’re going to have to wait for the game a little longer – and it might even turn out to be quite a lot longer.
The world got its first (very brief) look at the new Sonic game in May 2021 when Sega held a special live stream event to announce it. This was just days ahead of Sonic’s official thirtieth birthday in June. In truth, the teaser trailer didn’t show us very much. We saw a few seconds of Sonic running for his life through a forest environment, and then the scene cut to a strange logo that hasn’t yet been explained. It now transpires that we weren’t supposed to read anything into the logo and that the trailer was released mostly because Sega felt like they had to do something to mark the anniversary. They are working on a game, but it’s in such an early stage of development that the finished product might not resemble the clip we saw in any way.
Eagerness to mark the anniversary date wasn’t the only motivating factor for Sega, according to Iizuka. He says the company is also aware that it’s been a long time since the release of “Sonic Forces,” which was the last AAA-standard Sonic game in the long-running series. Fans had begun to grow worried about when or even if they’d see their hedgehog friend again, so Sega thought that releasing the clip might have been a way of ending those concerns. They were successful in that aim, but now they’ve built anticipation for the release of a game that’s nowhere near ready. It’s now thought that we won’t see the as-yet-untitled new game until 2022 at the earliest.
Sega never intended to release the game this year, so the announcement that it won’t be arriving with us until 2022 isn’t technically a delay. Despite that, it will still be treated as a delay because fans had convinced themselves (off the back of the teaser) that they’d get their hands on it much sooner. It now seems likely that the sequel to the Sonic the Hedgehog movie might be released before the next game. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” (which may get a catchier title prior to release) is currently scheduled to be released on April 8th 2022. There’s an irony in the movie being released before the game because the first movie was delayed by almost a year after fan backlash prompted a redesign of the character’s design in the movie. Filming has already wrapped on the sequel, and this time there ought not to be a delay because the design has already been established by the first film Sonic’s buddy Tails is known to be appearing in the sequel, so it’s to be hoped that the movie’s producers have hit the mark expected of them at the first time of asking with the character’s design.
Anyone who’s surprised about the amount of hype and attention that’s lavished upon anything Sonic the Hedgehog related must not have been paying attention to video games for the past thirty years. Only Nintendo’s iconic plumber Mario is more famous than Sonic, and even that’s a close call. From toys to movies and cartoon series, Sonic has conquered almost every form of media that Mario has. The only exception might be online slots websites, where Mario has appeared in two or three online slots, but Sonic is yet to make his debut. That might be down to a reluctance on Sega’s part to get involved in online slots, but that might change now that Atari has got involved in the market. Those who play slots online have recently been having a lot of fun with official Atari-branded content based on classics like “Star Raiders,” so there’s money to be made if Sega ever wants to make it.
The announcement that the new game could still be a year away from release will come as a major disappointment to many, but especially to those who’ve invested hours of their time into trying to work out the meaning of the symbol we mentioned earlier. It’s an abstract, metallic shape – and Iizuka says that there’s no way that anybody could possibly understand its meaning based on information that’s already available to them. He says that the symbol will appear in the game, but it’s related to new content within the game and so has no connection to existing Sonic characters or lore – in as much as “Sonic lore” even exists.
Now that we’ve been told we can basically forget everything we saw in the trailer, we’re left wondering what the new Sonic game will actually look and feel like. Iizuka has promised us a “generational leap” of kinds, similar to when Sonic first went from two dimensions to three. That move wasn’t without controversy at the time, and the games eventually went back to two dimensions because of popular demand from players. There’s a new generation of hardware for developers to play with now, and so advancements of almost any kind are possible, but based on what’s happened in the past, it might be better for Sega to stick close to the existing, successful formula rather than making wholesale changes purely for the sake of change. Experience has taught us that players don’t necessarily appreciate that. There have been rumours that the game will be called “Sonic Raiders,” but we’re yet to see any evidence that would support that idea. Aside from the preview – which is apparently now irrelevant – Sega is keeping its cards close to its chest on this one.
When there’s more to tell you about “Sonic Raiders” or whatever the name of the game turns out to be, you can be sure you’ll find the news here.
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