It’s always difficult condensing 365 days worth of events into a thousand words…particularly after a whirlwind year like this! We all certainly expected a lot from SEGA for a 20th anniversary year, most of us were really taken by surprise by the massive torrent of treats that had been prepared for the end of Sonic’s second decade.
First and foremost some thanks are in order, and we at TSS want to thank you guys, our army of dedicated readers and tipsters. You have all helped make this site what it is today, and have played a big part in cementing our position in the community as one of the flagship Sonic sites on the web. Thanks should be given to the rank of TSS staffers and co-writers who have invested large portions of their time to breathe life into the front page and the forums, generating up-to-date developments on news, and keeping us informed on everything from merchandise to music during this extremely busy year. One aspect of the community that has really shone through this year has been the cooperation of many sites, and thanks go to Sonic Wrecks, Sonic Retro and TSSZ amongst the many other affiliates who have allowed us to keep comprehensive coverage of news all year round.
I think few fans will contend my opinion that this year has been one of the most triumphant years to be a Sonic the Hedgehog fan, and that as a whole the community is much more happy and content. Many regard Sonic Generations now as one of the best Sonic the hedgehog titles to grace the series for many years, and that the culmination of the retro-style 2D game play blended with the best elements of modern Sonic has been a winning formula. It does appear now that a lot of the mistakes of the past five years have been remedied with Generations, and that these titles will hopefully continue to improve into 2012 with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2.
Sonic CD hit the download market to the jubilation of the fan base, and received critical acclaim amongst the community. The involvement of Christian Whitehead and the Retro engine yielded a game with a whole new dimension, finished polished graphics, improved game play and a whole boatload of options [not being biased by the interchangeable soundtrack, of course!]. As far as relations go between SEGA and the community this has been a massive leap, and many hope this will lead to a paradigm shift in which the talents of the fan base can develop bigger and better Sonic titles in the near future.
2011 has seen some great acts of kindness and charity – including Radio:SEGA’s Children in Need fundraiser (raising over £700), and the community fundraiser GreenAid for Dan Green (raising over $800). SEGA also pitched in with projects including a Sonic-themed playground in California.
June saw the first community event state-side, with the first Sonic Boom (check out some awesome shots of the night here) evening event in Los Angeles, California. Since Summer of Sonic began in 2008, there have been many calls from across the fan base for community events to be held further afield. Unfortunately, many factors have conspired against those fans looking to set up an event similar to Summer of Sonic in the US.
Fortunately, SEGA of America has been blessed with some of the most passionate and driven community personnel in the business, and from their enthusiasm rose the idea of Sonic Boom. over one thousand fans descended on the Nokia theatre during E3 to take the opportunity to attend the event in hopes of a first chance to play Sonic Generations, come dressed as their favourite characters and enjoy on-stage performances from the Needlemouse: The Musical gang and Crush 40 in all their glory. Svend and myself were lucky enough to be amongst those in attendance to experience the night – and what a night it was.
Although organised by SEGA rather than the community, this detract from the community theme of the evening; as many of you whom have attended Boom or SoS will know, there’s a certain magic to these events, presented with opportunities to meet friends you have made online in the flesh, and to meet and greet idols in reality. An extremely professionally organised event, we can only hope Sonic Boom will return again in the future.
June also played host to the 4th Summer of Sonic convention at London’s Camden Centre. Visitors were given the opportunity to meet the Sonic Team heads past and present, and enjoy performances from Jun Senoue and Julien-K. This year saw crowds frequenting the event increase once again to the point we had to open up extra spaces in the centre to accommodate those without tickets who hoped for a glimpse of the action. Undeniably, this year’s event the most intense to organise to date, and once again it is hats off to Kevin and Svend as without them this event really would not happen.
I extend the thanks of all those involved with the event to Iizuka-san and Naka-san who gave up their time to come to these events and to give out autographs and pose for photos with literally thousands of fans. I also want to thank Senoue-san, who not only dazzled the audience with more musical performances, but even ventured out of the venue, Sonic guitar in hand, to meet the fans queuing to enter the venue. I cannot think of an act more worthy a show of dedication to the fans, and for that I am truly grateful. There are so many other unsung heroes of these two events – to you all, a huge thank you.
All that remains to say is massive thank you from me as well. I’ve shared some fantastic experiences with many of you this year, and I thank my lucky stars I have been given the opportunities to participate in such an amazing world populated with some incredible people.
So, here’s to 2012: Another year of sensational Sonic games, cracking community events and fantastic friends!
Happy New Year from the Sonic Stadium!