This is part of an ongoing series of features that looks back on the history of The Sonic Stadium. You can find out more about how this website changed the Sonic community, what it looked like back in the day, and even special images and update notes from the archive..
Sonic Colours Exclusives
October and November, 2010
No sooner had The Sonic Stadium celebrated its tenth anniversary, that we would have the opportunity to celebrate the incoming launch of Sonic Colours in some unique and exclusive ways. Thanks to my professional career as a games journalist, I was able to obtain an advance preview copy of the intergalactic Wii adventure and play it extensively for two weeks on a loaner development Wii unit.
I was excited about the new talent being brought in to voice Sonic and co – Roger Craig Smith (also the voice of Ezio Auditore in Assassin’s Creed) was definitely a good choice for Sonic, but above all else the dialogue was spot on and the writing perfect. I wasn’t exactly able to communicate my glee to anyone else short of dumping a bunch of footage – which would not have put me in good professional stead.
So imagine my delight when SEGA Community Manager ArchangelUK offered to present a special cutscene video as a world exclusive to TSS, Sonic Wrecks and Sonic Retro. The result is a news post the likes of which you’ve never seen – nearly 250 comments on that bad boy, all of fans chiming on their thoughts on the new Sonic voice. Pretty killer. See it again here.
In November, TSS was also able to offer an exclusive Sonic Colours wallpaper to its visitors. You can still grab it in this post here.
SEGA America Community Day
It finally happened. Ever since Brad started writing posts on The Sonic Stadium back in 2008 or so, I always loved how he wrote about his favourite game series with such passion and character. That’s kind of why I still let him out of his cage these days. One big part of his character – and one that is probably lacking in a lot of fans – is his sense of humour, and how he loves to joke about everything. A lot of people are put off about that. Basically, if you read his posts as if it was your mate telling you a tale in the pub, you’d probably learn to understand where he’s coming from a bit more.
I was worried that was going to be lost on SEGA America’s Ken Balough, as Brad has had a history of completely chewing him out on TSS, Retro and many other places. To be fair, the guy does say some obtuse stuff. But at SoA’s very first community event, things could not have gone any better – the pair got on like a house on fire. I mean, look at that photo. Unless Ken’s secretly wielding a dagger in his left hand off-camera, I’d say they be tight.
This event was special for a number of reasons – SEGA’s American community department had started to engage in the online fanbase a lot more and this was one of the first kinds of outreaches in the country. We had been spoiled by London-based community days by AAUK, and now it was the turn of the boys in the US. And Brad, in his own words, had one of the best days of his life. Read his full report right here.
E3 & Sonic Boom
June 6-10, 2011
This was a little bit unreal. I had never been to the USA before, for starters – not even to cover the Electronics Entertainment Expo in person – and the reason I was even able to go this year was because SEGA America was very keen on having Adam and myself on board to help ‘oversee’ the hosting of its own special fan convention called Sonic Boom. The guys in San Fran were very excited about the fact that I was able to build Summer of Sonic into the event it is today, and wanted to replicate that same community feeling in the States without treading on our toes.
To be honest, Adam and I were just honoured that the community’s efforts in establishing Summer of Sonic were recognised. Despite this, I don’t think we were quite qualified to be the ‘judges’ of SoA’s ability to hold a party, because the night that Aaron, Kellie, Julian and the rest of the team held was really quite amazing. With our Access All Areas/Talent passes, we made sure to help out with anything and everything we could, and I think our presence was appreciated as much as we appreciated being there.
Watching an event being held especially for Sonic fans in another country was both a bit surreal and incredibly heartwarming. It was great to be on the other side of the organisational fence and chill with some American fans too – I was surprised at just how many people had heard of me, how many were members of SSMB and had even heard of SoS in the UK!
Massive highlights of the whole week included a photo opportunity that I had with Yuji Naka, Takashi Iizuka, Naoto Ohshima and Hirokazu Yasuhara (I totally nerded out) and finally meeting some age-old internet community buddies that I have known for so long but never had a chance to meet in person. I’ve known Shayne Thames of Sonic Kingdom since I started in this community – eleven years! And the moment I first met Brad in person – that was special too. We know we tight. It was amazing to meet TSS writers Alex and Jason there too, and to see their work at E3 (I had to work E3 on a professional level, unfortunately!). Just a great weekend and a fantastic opportunity.
- Sonic Boom – Behind the Scenes
- E3 2011 Previews: Sonic Generations | City Escape | Mario & Sonic London | Mario & Sonic London Q&A
Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka
It’s every Sonic the Hedgehog fan’s dream to meet Yuji Naka. So what happened in 2011, on Sonic’s 20th Anniversary, had me tripping so many balls that I was in a constant state of mental pinching just to see if I was alive or not. The reality was, after eleven years The Sonic Stadium had finally made it – it was granted an audience with not only Naka-san, but current Sonic Team leader Takashi Iizuka too.
Iizuka-san, in the number of times I have had the fortune to meet him, always comes across as a laid-back, cool character who does actually understand what it is about Sonic the Hedgehog that made the original games so good. He worked on the Mega Drive titles, after all. It’s a direct contrast to how he is usually perceived in press – but half of the problem is in the translation of such interviews really. With Sonic Colours – the first Sonic title in years that Iizuka has helmed – he proved that he knew his stuff.
The fact that he is still very close to Naka-san is probably a reason for his understanding. And while Naka-san does have that (sometimes intimidating) steely expression of Japanese professionalism, I can tell that deep down the man cares deeply for the fans and the games he has worked on. Having the privilege of talking to a man who had shaped my entire childhood for 20 years was nothing compared to the honour – and incredibly daunting task – of looking after him on a professional level at an event that I created!
- E3 2011 Interview: Takashi Iizuka on Sonic Generations
- TSS Exclusive: Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka Interview at Summer of Sonic
- Summer of Sonic 2011: Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka Stage Interview
Summer of Sonic 2011
June 25, 2011
Once again, the Summer of Sonic convention becomes my biggest emotional investment of the year, and pays off in absolute dividends. This year’s event was very special indeed, largely in part to the 20th Anniversary celebrations taking place by SEGA around the world. As the publisher offered to become an even bigger sponsor in the fan-run convention, it was possible to really up the ante in terms of guests.
As you might already know, Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka were the headline attendees for SoS 2011 – and it was the first time that the pair had been subject the fans with such intimacy. They had already attended Sonic Boom, but at Summer of Sonic they spent two hours signing things for fans, and sat on stage with legendary sound director Jun Senoue for two hour-long stage Q&As. Trust me, these guys had never seen anything quite so energetic and atmospheric as the crowd in Camden Centre that Saturday. As they left at the end of the day, they expressed their deepest gratitude and asked for several names of people who had caught their interest during the Q&A and signings. They loved you guys.
But SoS was also the biggest we’d ever held for other reasons too – rock group Julien-K (This Machine, Waking Up) did a live performance, Jun Senoue came back to provide a surprise live performance at the end of the day, and comic fans were left amazed as Archie stars Ian Flynn and Tracy Yardley! met with Fleetway legends Nigel Dobbyn and Nigel Kitching for the very first time. Even Mike Pollock turned up on the sneak!
Sonic Wrecks brought the karaoke, TSS held a number of competitions, demos of Sonic Generations were plentiful, a fan variety performance allowed talented community members to show off their skills to the crowd and merchandise was finally available to purchase! Even the cosplay contest was out of this world in 2011 – someone even came dressed as Wes Weasley! But beyond what we had on show for attendees, what really made me feel like the whole thing was worth it was the audience, as always. Making friends, having fun and enjoying the day together. That’s what Summer of Sonic is all about, and as much as it emotionally exhausts me in terms of planning, I wouldn’t trade the results off for anything else in the world.
Other Notable Developments
- Project 24 had another successful run on SEGASonic Radio in December 2010, with a full 24hour schedule packed with live broadcasts and free prizes to give away.
- Sonic Relief, a fundraising initiative run by Doctor MK and supported by SSMB and TSS, kicked off in January 2011 and saw great success. Fundraisers had the opportunity to put blue noses on their avatars, take part in fan fiction or get involved in a number of other activities.
- April Fools Day: The Sonic Stadium became The Chuckle Stadium. For all your Chuckle Brothers needs.
- GamesMaster Presents: Sonic the Hedgehog was launched to UK magazine stores in June to celebrate Sonic’s 20th Anniversary – and The Sonic Stadium and Summer of Sonic got a major look in as Dreadknux wrote several pieces for the bumper edition issue.
- The Sonic Show was sadly hacked by some obnoxious cretin in mid-August 2011. It has since started a nice recovery, with 1000 fresh subscribers already added to its new YouTube channel!
More Exclusive Features
- Archie Sonic Colours Adaptation Interviews: Paul Kaminski | Ian Flynn | Tracy Yardley!
- TSS Review: Sonic Colours
- New York Comic Con Interviews: Paul Kaminski | Aaron Webber
- Comic Review: Archie 226-229 – Sonic Genesis