Yes, on this day fifteen years ago The Sonic Stadium opened its virtual doors to the World Wide Web (that’s what we called the Internet that back in 2000). And over the years, I and a trusty team of awesome Sonic fans have done our best to entertain, inform and excite with news, features, columns, podcasts and videos of anything involved with everyone’s favourite hedgehog.
We started life as a simple fansite, formed of a collection of HTML pages. After several failed attempts, we added a successful forum in the SSMB. We grew to build a streaming radio station (which later introduced Sonic-themed podcasts), an annual awards ceremony, a fangame development team, a massive video/music depository and a network that included a fan showcase, video podcasts and competitive Sonic gaming. We also kick-started a series of events in the Summer of Sonic that led to the establishment of a number of fellow fan-run conventions.
We’ve accomplished an awful lot, and yet none of it would be possible without the insane amount of contribution of TSS Network staff, past and present. So to celebrate The Sonic Stadium’s 15th Anniversary, I reached out to a number of our old and current staff and asked them to reminisce and talk about their favourite memories and moments of TSS history.
Below are the responses I received – click a name to be taken straight to their anecdote, or scroll on to read them all (it’s a very long article – sorry about that). Thanks to everyone who has contributed to TSS in the past, and continue to do so – and thanks to all of our readers and fellow Sonic fans that give us the energy and drive to do this. I hope you enjoy the stories below, and I hope you enjoy our celebration with us.
Choose Your Warrior!
- Hero of Legend – TSS Writer, 2014 – 2015
- Brad/Symbotic – TSS Writer, 2014 – 2015
- JonoD – TSS Writer, 2014 – 2015
- VEDJ-F – TSS Writer, 2013 – 2015
- Hogfather – TSS Writer, 2012 – 2015
- DoctorMK – TSS Writer, 2012 – 2015
- Swiss – TSS Writer, 2012 – 2013
- Jason Berry – TSS Writer, 2010 – 2015
- Slingerland – TSS Writer, 2007 – 2011
- Xnic – Sonic News, 2005 – 2007
- Biafra Republic – SEGASonic Radio
- Turbo – SEGASonic Radio
- VizardJeffhog – SEGASonic Radio
- DiscoPonies – The Sonic Show
- SonicYoda – SEGADriven, Summer of Sonic
- Sonic Guy – SSMB, 2001 – 2004
- Chris – SSMB Administrator, 2003 – 2015
- Shadzter – TSS Editor, 2005 – 2015
- Roareye Black – Sonic Showcase Network, Summer of Sonic, 2001 – 2011
- T-Bird – TSS Editor, Summer of Sonic, 2007 – 2015
- Dreadknux – Founder, The Sonic Stadium
Hero of Legend: TSS Writer, 2014 – 2015
I remember first finding this site around 2003 I think. It was around the time I started using computers quite often and was looking for the latest Sonic news and such, after adoring Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, Sonic Mega Collection and Sonic Adventure DX on Gamecube. The Shadow the Hedgehog coverage on the home page around March 2005 will always stick with me; Shadow holding the gun in that opening shot with the caption, “This is not a joke” or something like that, absolutely slayed me.
It was around 2005 that I became most active here, reading about the sad passing of Deem Bristow and Long John Baldry (RIP). I also remember the Knuckles DS April Fools gag TSS played, along with the never-resolved teasers of a Gamecube-exclusive Sonic game and the first video of Sonic Next-Gen. I hopped on the forum around 2007, but became more active around 2008 during the Sonic Unleashed hype.
I think my biggest claim to fame was likely during the cast change of 2010 when I grabbed those voice clips of Roger Craig Smith from Radio Redux, and also found some sweet screens and such of Sonic Colors before anyone else – likely why my popularity rating is as high as it is. People REALLY gave me positive reception then – I was really happy to do something for the Sonic community.
Fast forward to February 5th of last year when I joined the team (the day before Sonic Boom was announced… MAN! LOL) – a feat little me in 2003 NEVER imagined ever happening. It’s been such an honor, privilege, and joy to work with you guys and to see people reading the articles that I write. I hope to be here for MANY years to come and I want to thank you all, staff and fans of the site alike, so much. I truly appreciate it deeply! Here’s to many more years of The Sonic Stadium!
Brad/Symbotic: TSS Writer, 2014 – 2015
Although I’m relatively new to the staff team at TSS, I’ve been visiting the site for quite some time – coming to eight years now! TSS was always my reliable go-to whenever I needed Sonic news. I remember being glued to the site, visiting every day during the Sonic 4: Episode 1 development cycle in particular. Although there were plenty of sources to get this news, TSS always felt the most established and reliable. After joining the boards in the midst of this hype, I slowly became part of the community over the years – and when a job opened up in 2014 for a writing position, I was lucky enough to be selected!
A highlight of my time at TSS so far would definitely be putting together our little Sonic ’06 April Fools gag earlier this year. I always loved TSS’ approach to April Fools, since they always seemed to take it a step further, and being able to brainstorm and help put one together was just as fun as experiencing it! There’s also little things I’ve contributed, such as making our recent 15th logo, or using our Twitter to interact with our audience which make the job that little bit cooler.
Even though I wouldn’t call 2014 the strongest year to start this little writing gig of mine, I’m very happy being a member of the team so far and can’t wait to see how things go next year as we approach Sonic’s 25th anniversary.
JonoD: TSS Writer, 2014 – 2015
In 2009, I first contacted TSS regarding a news tip regarding the creation of the Sonic Spinball roller coaster at Alton Towers (and half expecting my hand to be bitten off for doing so). So I was amazed to see my news tip put over the front page! Fast forward five years and what do you know, I’m now doing the writing! Some great memories here too.
I haven’t been sailing aboard the ‘SS Sonic Stadium’ for that long, compared to some of the more established seafarers here… but there isn’t a lot that can beat the fun that was had putting together the 2015 April Fools video for Sonic The Hedgehog Remastered. With my background being in video, I wanted to put some editing skills to the test to not only try and create something that looked sort-of legitimate (and I think we fooled at least some people), but to also have a great time doing it. And what a great time putting it together it was. We all got to put our heads together, bounce ideas off of each other and the end result was something we were all super proud of – and something that still makes me laugh with some of the responses we had got.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that everybody here will be gushing over the awesome people they’ve met, just because it’s an anniversary post (it’s like… the law in most places I’ve seen). But I can genuinely say that TSS has introduced me to, and has allowed me to get to know, a truly eclectic mix of people from every conceivable walk of life – and to forge some genuinely awesome friendships. Those people know who they are, and I can’t wait to get started on another new venture (la la… la la…) with them and everyone else.
VEDJ-F: TSS Writer, 2013 – 2015
Technically speaking, I’ve been floating around the Sonic Stadium since about 2007, but I didn’t really come into my own on here until four years later in 2011. I was looking for more outlets for Archie discussion, guess I saw something I really wanted to reply to, and joined up there and then. Since then, I’ve grown a lot in that time. From a fairly fresh uni student to working the 9-5 to rushing around part-time, life’s been a rollercoaster and being here has been the steady rock that I can count on for reliability and familiarity. It’s allowed to mature my manner and approach, and let me hone skills in combination with ones used while studying and working.
My history with Archie news and making random niche articles stems back a bit further than that. I was super active on the SEGA Forums, one of the main posters for new solicits and previews, and I’d often make up reams of analytical musings just because I felt like it. It still came as a shock when, in December 2013, I was asked if I could write for the Sonic Stadium. Now, nearly two years on, I’m still keeping one eye on Archie developments and the other on my shipping. Because that’s also what I do best.
That’s not to say that this is always a simple job. Between November 2014 and February 2015 I became severely ill with physical problems. Dealing with at least one new preview per week for a continuous three months isn’t easy, even at optimal health, but I was determined to stay on the ball for it. And the reviews and miscellaneous articles don’t appear overnight – most of them get done over the span of a month (and the last big article I did took four months). But these challenges come with a great personal reward of being able to inform our readers and generate interest and discussion, which is always something I set out to do.
I don’t have specific memories of my time on here per se – it’s a miasma of generally positive experiences, with people I’ve come to know over the years. I’ve made some nice friends, I get along with the other staff on here – what else can I say other than I foresee me staying on here for the next 15 years of the Sonic Stadium!
Hogfather – TSS Writer, 2012 – 2015
The memory that immediately comes to mind is the day I managed to crash TSS and SSMB. Someone posted a bunch of screenshots of an unannounced Sonic game, followed by a picture of Sonic and the Werehog – nobody could really decide if they were legitimate or a hoax. Still, they caused a stir – TSS and SSMB exploded with activity, but after Sonic ’06 a lot of people feared the worst. Then I discovered a trailer for Sonic Unleashed, posted it on SSMB and… well, first the forum crashed, then TSS itself went down. The entire thing was offline for about 15 minutes. That was fun.
Another great day was the week Sonic Generations was announced (4th – 7th April 2011). Prior to this, we had heard tonnes of rumours about the next Sonic game – leaked titles, a random pizza day held at Sega Mexico (this really happened), Sega Spain reps practically confirming a big announcement… Then a domain name for Sonic Generations was discovered. The SSMB community ended up creating loads of light-hearted jokes in response, it was essentially a party atmosphere in there. Then the trailer dropped and it delivered on all the hype. The game turned out pretty good!
But by far the most important thing has to be the many wonderful people who I have met and interacted with – including my partner – through TSS and SSMB. I’ve hung out with TSS staffers including Dreadknux, Shadzter and T-Bird… we’ve wandered the streets of London and York together. It’s odd that I don’t keep in touch with the friends I’ve made at college or university as much as I do the people I’ve met through TSS.
And now I have a message for Dreadknux, yeah you know, the owner… “Oi Dreadknux! When you gonna fund my Death Egg?!” (You’ll get a 1997 Ford Focus and be happy with it ~ Dreadknux)
DoctorMK: TSS Writer, 2012 – 2015
I first joined TSS during the run-up to Sonic Unleashed in 2008, and I’ve been here to witness the hype and the excitement for every major release since. I’ve seen the thrills, I’ve seen the spills, and everything else that’s happened in between. The last seven years have been a real rollercoaster ride, whether it be the critical acclaim for Sonic Colours and Generations or the sheer controversy over Sonic Boom – but it’s all been an experience that I’ll never forget. No matter what the quality of the games have been, TSS and SSMB have remained a welcome and exciting place to share discussions and opinions with like-minded fans across the globe, and it’s why I still frequent the site to this day.
That’s not to mention the wealth of other things TSS has had to offer – from the overwhelming creativity and generosity that has been apparent in the community (thanks again for making Sonic Relief 2009-2011 such a success!) to the opportunity to give back and contribute to the site as a staff writer (seriously, if you’d have told me back in 2008 that I’d be writing articles and reviews for TSS, I wouldn’t have believed you!), it’s the place that just keeps on giving and I owe it a great deal of gratitude for my time here so far – and to think, those seven years don’t even constitute half of its age!
So, TSS – on your 15th birthday, I raise a glass to you (non-alcoholic, of course – you’re not quite at the legal drinking age yet!) and heartily say: here’s to 15 more years of supersonic goodness and beyond… you’re way past cool!
Swiss: TSS Writer, 2012 – 2013
I was a bit of a late bloomer to the TSS crowd but since I arrived, I’ve found it to be nothing but good times! My favourite memory by far was having the opportunity to meet and interview some of my childhood heroes for the site; Yuji Naka, Takashi Iizuka and Crush 40 just to name a few!
Happy Anniversary to The Sonic Stadium and everyone involved with it (particularly you, Svend!) and here’s to another 15 years!
Jason Berry: TSS Writer, 2010 – 2015
I came to Sonic Stadium about 10 years ago, after being on Sonic HQ for a while. I thought it must’ve been the top Sonic site, because even the formatting back then made it look professional. Alex (nuckles87) became a writer on TSS and helped bring me in too. While working here, I was watching Twitter for any big news and doing articles such as “The S List” (something I really need to do again), getting interviews and footage from conventions like E3 and Comic Con and meeting all the wonderful folk at Sega.
However, my fondest memory is actually very recent. I have been at SegaBits for a few years and doing the Sonic Talk podcast there. Technical difficulties meant that various episodes of the podcast were delayed, and as a result I got into a bit of a funk. I kinda fell out of love with Sega but still loved the Sonic community, so we discussed bringing Sonic Talk over to the Sonic Stadium. George (co-founder of SegaBits) was very cool about it and allowed the move.
This has lit a huge fire and passion under me – now, I’m scheduling the show in advance, making sure we have enough material to cover and working harder on getting guests to interview. I still really need to learn to do MP3 links and RSS feeds, but my passion to work has returned and I’m back to doing what I love.
Slingerland – TSS Writer, 2007 – 2011
I was kid obsessed with math, computers, and video games. Knowing that the monumental task of creating my own assets and characters would hinder my progress and desire to learn, I decided to make a Sonic game. I joined the Sonic community when I was 13. Sonic Fan Games HQ was the place.
Skills and personality led me to other sites and forums. I became a prominent staff member at places like Sonic Retro, but I’ll never forget when Svend recruited me for the Sonic Stadium front page in 2007. It was he and I against the world, man. We were looking to jumpstart the stagnant scene that was about to be dulled over with another shitty Sonic game, Sonic & the Black Knight. A lot of people liked the brash attitude of the blog. Some people couldn’t stand it. Some people used the outrage to generate hits for their Sonic Drama News Enterprise. It was hysterical. I turned my personality up way past 11 and had a great time on skits like “Slingerland’s Corner,” even if they are extremely cringe-inducing for me now.
My last front page post here at TSS was in 2011. Once one of my best friends, Christian “The Taxman” Whitehead, released the official remake of Sonic CD, I felt that it was time to move on and gave the ol’ Irish Exit to the community (without a huge goodbye post, which is how you’re supposed to do it). Despite no longer being on the front pages or modding the forums, TSS and the Sonic community as a whole still makes a major impact on my life.
I’ve made a ton of friends here. Too many to name or count. Some friendships are still only in the digital sense but some guys and gals have come to visit me here in Los Angeles. A few people also live here in Los Angeles with me! This upcoming week, “Hawkz” and his awesome wife are coming in from Australia and we’re going to get drunk at Disneyland. That fuckin’ rules. Even my relationships with SEGA staffers across the world have transcended their employment with the company and we hang whenever we visit each other’s cities.
I taught myself how to program, edit, make motion graphics, and critically write all while being here. I’m an audio engineer by trade, so I definitely still use these skills on a day-to-day basis and without the outlet for creativity that was the Sonic community, I don’t know if I’d even be working where I am now. It’s hard to believe that I became apart of this machine 15 years ago and it’s especially crazy that The Sonic Stadium is also 15 years old. Svend and I will definitely drink up to this milestone next time he’s in L.A. for E3 (if he remembers to check his damn phone this time).
Slingerland now hosts his own Twitch channel called Cool Warp.
Xnic: Sonic News Writer, 2005 – 2007
I look back upon my time at TSS in the mid-2000s fondly. If there is one thing that stands above all else, it was the community. Artists, writers, roleplayers, video game enthusiasts and more were all welcome. Whether we were discussing the latest Sonic game, creating our own worlds, or simply bonding over our common interests, TSS encouraged a tight-knit, warm and welcoming community. Those who were a part of it came to trust and lean on friends they met from all over the world.
I met friends who helped me become the person I am today. Although I don’t keep contact with those people, I will remember them forever. It was my pleasure to spend time writing news pieces for Sonic News and nurturing the community that so many people loved, and continue to love today. Cheers, and happy 15th, TSS!
Biafra Republic: SEGASonic Radio
Wow, fifteen years. That’s a fucking long time. I have never been one for long speeches, having gotten a C- in Composition I after 2 attempts, so I will make it short. It’s been an amazing ride, filled with ups and downs (and loop-de-loops and springs and spike traps). I remember when I first joined up during my first semester at college, helping Dread with the old Fan Art section. Fast forward fifteen years and I am still around, DJing on SEGASonic Radio and giving my 2p.
We’ve grown from Dread on AngelFire to Stas.Net to sharing space on Sonic Kingdom to our own server and even beyond. We helped launch the first Sonic-themed fan convention in Europe, stream our favorite tunes over the net with SSR, and bring everyone together on SSMB. Here’s to another 15 years, everyone. May we go even further than we already have today.
Turbo: SEGASonic Radio
Wow, 15 years of TSS. How time really flies. It feels like only yesterday that I found the site on school computers over 10 years ago. Even after discovering other sites like The Sonic Foundation and Sonic HQ, I always came back to TSS.
My biggest memory of TSS was finding out about SEGASonic Radio – on my days off I would tune into some of the live shows like Hawkz in the House, The Raccoon Zone and (of course) The Sonic Hour. When the station started looking for new shows, I decided to go for it. After one audio audition and a one-to-one with Roarey Raccoon, Turbo Drive Live became a part of SSR and still continues to be so.
Starting as a wandering visitor of the website, to an entertainer with an on going weekly livecast show – along with being involved in many different projects including Project 24 and Summer of Sonic – has been a hell of a ride. So here’s to TSS for 15 years of Sonical awesomeness and here’s to 15 more.
Vizard Jeffhog: SEGASonic Radio
I’m gonna go for the “self-fulfilling plug” approach and bring up the first Sonic Stadium Music Album. I had no idea as to how things were gonna turn out, but I had an absolute blast throughout its production, from sitting down and arranging music for it, overseeing its production, and working with the people that rolled up their sleeves and got involved — with Wolfy, Freen in Green, EAR, Gregzilla, Mike, Carbo, Bev, the list goes on.
I didn’t think it would’ve turned out to be as successful as it was, never mind its sequel album! I am sad though that the third iteration fell through, after all the hype that was put into it, with university effectively pulling me away from any online involvement that didn’t revolve around grades and work. I never really felt that I got the chance to actually apologize to everyone for letting things turn out the way they have, but I’m happy that the trend of a remix album series nonetheless picked up, despite everything. EAR has done an amazing job so far in overseeing the much more manageable successor series under the “Sound of The Sonic Stadium” banner.
On the SEGASonic Radio front, as fun as it was hosting The Music Plant Zone and honoured as I felt to be given the reigns to the entire operation, the absolute best time I’ve had running the station was when the gang at the time and myself got involved with our friends at RadioSEGA, Sonic Radio, and RadioNintendo for the biggest collaborative Project 24 there ever was! With all this extra time on my hands, now that I’m out of classes for now, I’d like to hunker down and get back into the groove of it all. I’ve been hoarding quite a bit of music over the course of my little hiatus, after all!
If I could bring up one last favourite memory though… straight from The (Old) Sonic Show, back in my lurker days? Slingerland’s Corner. I’ll never forget Brad wonderfully tearing “Evil the Hedgehog” a new one!
DiscoPonies: The Sonic Show
It is so weird to think that a site I followed as child and admired let me into their arms and into the warmest and friendliest group of people I have ever known online. To see how it has continued to grow to this day is a strong sentiment to how this place has managed to evolve and meet the changing needs of each new generation of Sonic fans.
I will always have a special place in my heart for The Sonic Hour show on SegaSonic Radio. I will never forget tuning in every week religiously. I would even go so far as to download episodes I had already heard so I could play them again while playing Sonic Adventure 2. I honestly feel that one part of The Sonic Stadium began my fascination with making my own media for Sonic fans. No matter what happens to the site, you can still go back to the very first episode of that radio show to understand the goal and mentality of The Sonic Stadium. To express a love of something with no embarrassment or judgement and most importantly, to do it with a laugh and a smile.
SonicYoda: SEGADriven, Summer of Sonic
The Sonic Stadium was a big influence on my early days of webmastering and along with sites like Sonic Fan Games HQ, The Sonic World and Sonic HQ, it led me into the depths of the Sonic the Hedgehog community.
The most important moment in its 15 year history (for me personally) would be leading me to a chance encounter with fellow Sonic fans in a real-world setting in 2007, when the website made me aware of a community gathering dubbed ‘Wrecksfest’ by Sonic Wrecks head-honcho ArchangelUK. The people I would meet on that day have since become some of my greatest friends and I’ve been massively lucky to share many great experiences with them, some of which include staffing the Summer of Sonic convention for 5 years running and even holidaying with a few in Japan.
I will be forever grateful to The Sonic Stadium for all the opportunities and friends it’s lead to along the way and may it continue to reign as one of the most important and long-lasting Sonic the Hedgehog community hubs on the internet. Thank you so much to Dreadknux and everyone who has contributed to TSS over the years!
Sonic Guy: SSMB, 2001 – 2004
Sonic the Hedgehog played an important role in my adolescent years, and the same could be said for TSS. As I look back on the 15th anniversary of a subcultural phenomenon, I am reminded as to how important it was to have that landmark community.
I remember sitting out from school after snapping my left ankle clean off of my foot; I fell down two flights of stairs and couldn’t walk for the life of me. Bored at home (all while jamming to the OST of Sonic R), I longed for something more. I wondered to myself, “who else is out there that could relate to my interests of Sega, Sonic the Hedgehog, and all things video game related”? I soon hopped online (no pun intended), and away I went with those search results. Low and behold, I stumbled across a small website with big intentions. Little did I know how much that discovery would rock my foundation.
From breathing life into the SSMB, all the way through to an acquisition with Sonic News, one of my fondest memories of our online experience was with whom I had the privilege of spending it with. Various discussion topics about gaming, culture, science fiction, politics and life soon turned into role playing habits and creative, collaborative efforts. You truly built ground with your fellow forum members, and I wouldn’t of traded that experience for the world.
UltimateVG, Sonic Neo, Iris, Shanie, and of course Dreadknux; I want to personally thank you for every crazy moment we’ve been through. Everything ventured and simply gained; game creation, website building, advertising, role playing, growing up, and simply getting to know someone outside of your proverbial shoebox. To these eyes, you’ve opened up a world of opportunity; it was through The Sonic Stadium that I realized just how important it is to belong somewhere. Here’s to another 15 years! The legacy never dies!
‘Sonic Guy’ was one of the original SSMB oldies, helping to breathe life into the forum and kick-starting the community you see today. He now creates music under the nickname Wonder Havoc, and has a new album out soon.
Chris: SSMB Administrator, 2003 – 2015
Hard to believe it’s been 15 years since the launch of The Sonic Stadium; I can’t say I ever expected a small fansite to establish a network, make a name for itself in the fanbase or survive several server crashes, but this one did. I didn’t expect to be working on it, either.
As far as memories go, none are stronger than those of April Fools. Each and every year, our staff show that they’re in the spirit by coming up with hilarious (and sometimes cruel) pranks to play. I’ll never forget the SEGA Smash Cards one year – an old but cancelled feature ‘revived’ by Dreadknux and B’man to trick even the staff. If you look hard enough, you can find a log of my own anticipation for the feature before having that excitement dashed.
Speaking of the staff: Over the years, I’ve worked alongside some of the most talented and passionate folks I’ve ever met. Many of them taking up roles from administrator to clan staff and beyond – some that have moved on with their lives while others have stuck it out. I wish them all the best for their efforts and hope life treats them well. Although I’ve lost contact with some of them, I’d love to hear how they’re doing from time to time.
Shadzter: TSS Editor, 2005 – 2015
I first started visiting TSS in the early years around the time of SEGA’s transition from a console producer to a third party publisher. Being a big fan of Sonic since the first game, it was great to find a site as passionate about the spiky blue hedgehog as myself. TSS became my first stop for Sonic news, keeping me up to date and hyped for upcoming games. Several years ago I joined the team to write the news on this very site, which became one of my favourite hobbies.
I’ve scoured the internet and dug up lots of exclusive stories for us across the years – even cancelled games. One of my favourite memories being on the TSS team is going to London and visiting SEGA Europe with the other staff. It was a dream come true and I got to meet some amazing people in Dreadknux, AAUK, T-Bird, Hogfather and others.
After a few years of browsing TSS I joined the SSMB and felt right at home with my fellow fans, visiting every day to discuss my favourite games. The forum has always been well managed by the amazing staff both past and present, which keeps me coming back. But TSS hasn’t just brought a forum to the Sonic community, it also gave us the Summer of Sonic events where fans got to make new friends in person and celebrate the Sonic franchise. I’m so happy I got to help out for a couple of the events and hang with the other TSS staff and fans. TSS has been a big part of my life and I hope it will be around for many more years to come.
Roareye Black: Sonic Showcase Network, Summer of Sonic, 2001 – 2013
One of my favourite moments from TSS was during an episode of The Sonic Hour where we were doing a Royal Wedding Special. I don’t think we ever had a more fun roll-call of names from the chatroom than that episode. Dread was on particularly fine form reading out each name and slating it like a royal toff.
On a more personal note, I also enjoyed Summer of Sonic 2013 when myself and several of the staff were, at different times, photobombing a young man on the livestream as he spoke to someone on the phone. I’m glad that moment was recorded to show the upbeat nature of the Sonic community at its best. We’re all a bunch of prats really.
T-Bird: TSS Editor, Summer of Sonic, 2007 – 2015
Time certainly does fly when you’re having fun, and I can’t quite believe I have spent the best part of a decade as staff at TSS. I hope all staff past and present are proud of the TSS legacy, and the plethora of events created by the tightly-knit community surrounding it. No discussion of community events involving TSS can go without mentioning the Summer of Sonic, and I feel extraordinarily privileged to have worked with and met so many fantastic people who have played their part in its execution.
It’s probably fitting then, that one of my favourite TSS memories dates all the way back to the very first TSS community event, the Summer of Sonic (taking place way back in 2006 in its internet-based incarnation, and coincidentally the 15th anniversary of Sonic) as it was the progenitor of all UK-based Sonic fan events and my springboard into playing an active part in the Sonic community.
For the first time, an event brought together multiple rival sites in celebration of every aspect of Sonic the hedgehog, be it video game, animation, merchandise or music. Visitors were given the opportunity to contribute in many ways, via submitting messages, artwork and photographs and sharing their love for Sonic.
Through happy coincidence I was travelling to London to meet Jun Senoue who was visiting at the time (as a fresh-faced, star-struck 21-year-old!), and took the opportunity to put together an interview as a contribution to the site. Some of you may have also seen my video contribution to the final Summer of Sonic competition, which included my appearance under many alter egos and in an Eggman costume that was made on a shoestring. TSS became my gateway to a new era of my Sonic-dom, and today the community is one, if not my favourite aspect about being a fan.
I wish TSS a very happy 15th birthday and I hope future generations continue to enjoy the site as a place to forge new friendships!
Dreadknux: Founder, The Sonic Stadium
Well. What exactly can I say about a website that I started when I was just fifteen years old? Launching The Sonic Stadium on 24 October 2000 was, at the time, just a means for a teenage-old me to reach out and share information with other Sonic fans around the world. Today, a decade and a half on, it has not only allowed me to make new friends, events and opportunities but has also inspired others to do the same.
I can’t, for example, take credit for some of the amazing work that other TSS staff have taken the initiative to launch. The Sonic Stadium Music Adventure, Sonic Relief, Sonic the Comic Con… all ideas led by TSS editors and contributors. And whenever someone outside of TSS says that this site has been an inspiration to them somehow, it really makes me proud.
Many of my fondest memories involve this site’s more formative years. The year 2000/2001 was an important time for TSS, as I decided to launch things like SEGASonic Radio and the Sonic Site Awards to differentiate us from other fansites out there. That, and the memories of ‘previewing’ Sonic Adventure 2 off the Phantasy Star Online demo disk (spoiler: I was 15, very hyperbolic and writing like a pure fanboy) will stick with me, as will the excitement of doing so. You can’t find that preview on the site at the moment, but I’m restoring it, so you’ll be able to do so soon.
I’ll always remember 2005 as one of the big turning points for The Sonic Stadium too. SEGA Europe had begin reaching out to the community, and I went out of my way to meet with them during this period to represent the fans and insist that talking to us was a good idea. The result was SEGA establishing a bona fide community department, probably the first games company to do so in fact. It also led to a number of exclusives on our part, including ‘Shadow Week’ where we revealed information on the 2005 game during launch week and gave away signed copies of the PS2 version.
And of course, as Slingerland mentioned earlier, 2007/2008 was important too as we adopted a blog format for the site and thus changed tone – from a stoic news reportage site to an excitable fansite that was excited/astonished/disgusted with our readers in response to various Sonic game developments. We became the ‘pub buddy’ website, and although we’ve toned it down a little since then, I think we still have that friendly approach to our articles that allow fellow fans to join us in our future excitement.
Naturally, TSS has led me to make so many friends – I have very fond memories of meeting T-Bird and Last Minute Continue’s ArchAngelUK for the first time in Nottingham – as well as stand alongside some of my heroes from SEGA. I shared a stage and quizzed my childhood heroes Yuji Naka, Takashi Iizuka and Jun Senoue, I played host to Sonic the Comic legends Nigel Kitching and Nigel Dobbyn, and had a special art piece drawn for me by Metal Sonic creator Kazuyuki Hoshino.
I’m grateful and honoured to be privy to all of that, but what gives me the most pride is seeing a sea of smiling faces at Summer of Sonic, knowing that people who love the franchise as much as I do feel happy in a space where they can meet others and make friends. I made TSS for other Sonic fans, I will keep TSS going for as long as I can for other Sonic fans, and I’m incredibly honoured that you all think TSS is worth your time.
Here’s to another fifteen years!