2014 as you may recall was ‘The Year of Sonic’ and lets be honest, it was pretty awful, in fact it was one of the worst years for decades which finished with one of the worst games for decades. So 2015 couldn’t be any worse right? 2015 had to be better right?
Well… in around 3 days time it will be 2016, so how have the last 360ish days been if you are a Sonic fan? Well… Urm…
This is how 2015 feels if you are a Sonic fan.
Imagine the videogame industry is having a big party! One fan from each fandom is invited to attend, it’s at a house, the parents are out of town and won’t be back for several days. The Sonic fan can be represented as that guy who goes to the party, sits or stands in the corner for the whole night, with a drink in his hand, a nervous smile on his face, who doesn’t talk to anyone, nobody speaks to, except for the host who may say “Hey you enjoying yourself” to which they reply “Yeah I’m having a great time!”
That’s the entire conversation they have for the whole night.
But they’re there, they turn up, just so that the next day they can join in with the conversation about being at the party, and how they pretended to have a good time. That’s what this year feels like.
Why do I feel this? Well… lets sum up all the things which stand out from this year and you’ll see why.
2015 started out with something utterly incredible. This went from being one of the best Sonic games in years, to quite possibly one of the worst Sonic games of all time and has continued on a downward spiral ever since.
When this game launched earlier this year in its soft launch form, it was really fun, the micro transactions were seen as an optional extra, players were rewarded for effort which didn’t require a huge dedication of time and energy, it was a fantastic little game to play in your spare time and on commuter trips.
Then they launched it worldwide and oh my goodness what a train wreck. Players were not punished if not held at ransom for progression, you had to spend in game currency to progress and you were dragged kicking and screaming to the store to buy red rings and then made to sit and watch adverts just so you could actually get a high score.
In the months since then, there has been nothing but problems, at one point I made an article asking Sega to fix the game because it was so bad and acting in many ways like a virus on some devices thanks to the fact it was clogging up memory with useless files.
But it’s not ended there, at one point the game was unfairly banning players due to them getting insane high scores thanks to a poorly designed event. I’ve not even bothered to do an article on that spike wall thing because frankly why are people still shocked and surprised given the track record of this game.
In 2015, Sega released a game which held players for ransom, encouraged gambling to pre teens, acted like a computer virus, was a technical mess, unfairly banned players from events and continues to suffer from technical and design problems.
How can I defend that? How can Sega defend that? How can anyone defend it? Why are people still supporting it? I stopped playing this game several months ago, having spent £0.00 on it because it was so bad. Which I find amazing since I loved the soft launch version so much, I came astonishingly close to buying some red rings just so I could support the game in some way since it was providing me with so much fun. Now however, I just think it’s abysmal.
Runners turned out to be so bad, I am now extremely hesitant to install any future Sega games onto my mobile devices, Runners was so awful and caused my device so many problems I frankly do not trust Sega that much anymore with the mobile market.
So what else happened in 2015?
Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice Announced, Delayed,
Does this game actually exist? Are Sanzaru actually working on this? Just that for a game which was due out in November 2015, which was announced on June 9th 2015 there has been no new information about it other than ‘it’s delayed’. What is going on with this game? I’ve asked this before and then barely a week later we found out it had been delayed so who knows maybe this will prompt some kind of response.
Yeah we get it, it’s probably going to be somewhat average, but hiding it away (if indeed Sanzaru are working on it) isn’t going to help much, if anything it’s going to hurt sales more keeping it quiet than showing something which isn’t that great if indeed there are problems with it.
Now some people are going to try and defend this move by saying “Well it’s only a handheld TV show spinoff” to that I say, ‘what difference does that make’ you’ve still got the brand IP on the box, you’re still representing the franchise by releasing this, it’s going to impact the franchise and either improve or lower it’s reputation, why the silence? The game was due out over a month ago, why hasn’t it had a second trailer or even some new screenshots released? I could train my cat to pee “Sonic Boom” into the snow and it would be more promotion/acknowledgement than Sega have given this game.
It honestly feels like the game has been cancelled, I know I’m not the only one who thinks this, people are already openly talking about how they think that the game has been cancelled or that it never existed in the first place, that Sega is just waiting for the next big Sonic game announcement to come so they can bury the news with better news.
Boom Series 1 finished.
Boom finished it’s first series, it was pretty good, so good in fact there’s going to be a second. Not sure what else to say on this one other than it was a decent show which has some flaws but otherwise it’s a good show which did so well it got a second season.
Which is good, no really it’s good.
Sonic & Sometimes Sticks & MegaMan & Capcom Cross Over
Archie comics did a cross over event! It was not very good. That is all.
Boom Toys did great? They did right?
You know… I want to say that these did really really well… and they did, they sold out in a lot of stores and Tomy is expanding the range. But… is it just me, or at least for UK peoples, it’s amazingly hard to find certain figures? I’m sure my local Entertainer has only had 2 Eggman figures in and Orbot & Cutbot are also hard to find.
It seems that we have another case of the F4F mini Super Sonic’s, too few stock so it looks like the figures are doing better than they may seem.
But they have to be doing well otherwise Tomy would never agree to expanding the range as much as this, but it just feels really hard to find some of it.
More Stuff Got Cancelled.
So other than Boom Fie & ice being
cancelled delayed, a lot of other stuff got cancelled or put on indefinite delay too. Some of it sounded really cool or at least somewhat interesting.
Sonic Central App is still a thing apparently.
Announced at the same time of Sonic Boom Fire & Ice, Sonic Central, the app for all things Sonic was supposed to be out in the Summer, however it is now missing, presumed frightened and hungry. However Sega still insists that it is still in development & more information will be available soon… this was 2 months ago.
Sonic X Hello Kitty for Europe is Missing.
This is really getting annoying now. This first got announced several years ago and was quite a big thing in Japan, then last year it was promised for Europe this year… and… nothing. No news from either Sanrio or Sega as to what happened with this.
Sonic X Doodle Jump figures are missing.
Announced at toy fair 2014, expected release was 2014-2015… Never to be seen again.
Pretty much everything from Brand License Europe 2014
Not just the Sonic stuff, The football manager store, all the licenses with the other Sega franchises, all the news, all the items shown in this video, very few of the products saw a release. There’s even a Sega Central video showing the booth and tons of products yet few made it to stores.
Sonic Dash 2 Came Out
Sonic Dash 2 is a videogame which came out, and that’s pretty much all you can say on it. We reviewed it. But really what else can you say on this?
Breaking News, There is No Sonic Movie News
All we know is that it’s not cancelled. A whole year of no information. What else can you say?
This Sounds bad… Was it?
Ok, that’s not everything I know, but it’s all which could come to mind and when I asked people on SSMB for their initial thoughts, this is all what we could come up with, but… thinking harder, no it wasn’t that bad. There was a lot of good stuff too, some of which is unsung and some of which needs more glory put on it.
First 4 Figures Let Fans Design the 25th Anniversary Statue
Being a bit selfish with this one since they used my suggestion but… hey it was pretty epic so why not be? Early in the year, in fact it was the day I went on my vacation, First 4 Figures asked fans to pitch ideas for the 25th Anniversary Sonic Statue.
Holy cow they were not expecting the response they got!
Tons of ideas were submitted, even drawings and sketches were submitted showing a range of ideas. However the one which people seemed to like the best was the one I came up with, since then they have asked fans questions and refined the design a little, even asking fans to vote on a colour scheme.
You can bet that this one will be a big seller when it eventually goes on sale.
The Sonic Social Media Accounts Go Fast For Great Justice
The Sonic Social Media accounts used to be these things which were just sorta there, they would occasionally announce things, do competitions, post trailers for games, really they just existed, like millions of twitter accounts, they just were…
Then Aaron Webber, came back to Sega and took over the social media accounts, what followed is one of the best moves Sega have made in ages. These are my thoughts on the matter.
Boom and to an extent Sonic Lost World didn’t do much for Sonic’s reputation, Boom effectively undid 3 years worth of work in building a franchises reputation, with the delay in Boom 2 Fire/Ice, there is nothing to promote the brand as a game in a positive light.
So what can you do? You have to embrace everything, even the bad. What has been a joke by the fans is now a joke by the brand, it’s no longer a ‘protective’ thing which must not be officially commented on, instead of keeping fans at arms length and saying “You can have your fun, but… we can’t join in” it’s become “You guys look like you’re having a lot of fun with our brand, can we come and play too?”
I for one think this is great, whilst the quality of the games is still a big question mark which will be judged when the time comes, in terms of doing the brand favours, I personally think everything that Aaron has done so far has been right. If I look at all the social media stuff, there is not one thing which has been done which harms the brand, in fact he’s single handily made Sonic relevant with these short term interactions with fans and non fans. Look how much Sonic’s tweets have been re-tweeted and favourites following Webber’s appointment, just compare it to even the most popular or engaging tweets from before he got free reign on the accounts, it’s sky-rocketed and not for bad reasons.
Now some people, have been quite vocal in their dislike about it, to the point where it looks like they’re practically crying brats at everything it does. Ok, I get it, not everything is funny, heck I don’t laugh at all the stuff posted, but some of it is funny, and you cannot deny that on sites which used to snort and laugh at Sonic, they now talk fondly of it and it’s due to the twitter account bringing attention to the brand again.
But some people it seems are almost going out of their way to try and convince others that it’s not good, to the point where they are demanding people be sacked from their jobs… just because they don’t find a joke funny.
If you are one of these people who are constantly bashing it, you know these people, the ones who you can guess are going to hate it because that’s what they do, the people who think it’s ruining the brand because… you know, you don’t know their reasons, these people. You know, that kind of person. I have one thing to say to you, I’m not angry at you for disliking something I like, I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for you because, you don’t want to join in the fun, you don’t want to be part of this party, you just want to sit there and be angry at something which ultimately doesn’t really matter since we’ll ultimately judge the franchise on the games, especially since the guy running the social media account doesn’t make the games. Your anger makes no sense.
Why are you so angry? The only reason I can see is because you either dislike the guy running it for reasons nobody understands, or because you’re just an angry person. Even harsh critics of Sonic, such as Jim Sterling & IGN have come out and said that the Sonic twitter account burnt them good, they’re joining in with the joke and the party, it’s giving so many people pleasure, laughter and joy, and you just feel hatred and disgust, how sorry for you, you don’t get to feel that enjoyment which so many others are.
Before Webber took over and started doing what he did, you never had people like Kel “Who loves orange Soda” Mitchell openly referencing the account, you never had direct interactions with the fans. Since the twitter accounts was taken over, the brand image has improved a lot.
Now, that said, there is a risk that the joke can get old, even I am starting to become a little bored with “Sanic” I think it’s time to move on now.
Oh don’t worry, despite what gets posted on twitter, critics and I include myself in this are not going to turn a blind eye to when products put out by the company are bad, or are good, we’ll shine a spotlight on both.
If the next Sonic game ends up being a broken mess, I will be the first to ask for answers as to why it turned out the way it did and calling people out on it, but for the engagement with the fans and how it’s tried to turn around a negative image. But in terms of trying to curb the negativity from bad products, the Sonic Social Media accounts are doing a fantastic job, which is what a brand twitter account is supposed to do.
Sega of Europe Hires An Awesome Community Manager & He Does Awesome Things Which Nobody Notices
Everybody by now knows that AAUK was the EU community manager for a good few years, and he left several years ago… since then, there hasn’t really been a face for the community side in Europe, however, a few months ago, Sega hired Dan Sheridan to be the new community manager for Europe.
He has only been in the role for a few months now, but my god his impact has been huge!
Within the first week he was engaging with fans through the official YouTube channel, he was actively organising a launch party for Sonic Lost World on PC, of which anyone could attend and an open bar! This is unheard of!
Since then he’s ran tons of competitions, all that epic promotional merchandise which gets released for various games has started to get in the hands of fans where it belongs, not just limited to Sonic, I’ve spotted Alien & even Shenmue merch being given away!
Matt form the Tails Channel was on a short trip to the UK, asks offhand if he can come visit Sega, is told “Sure come on down, hey you wanna be in our next official video!?” That… didn’t used to happen!
There was a parade in Hamleys which I suspect Dan had a hand in and the Sega Central video series has improved a lot from how it was originally too, it’s not perfect but my god the quality has vastly improved over what it was like before he got on board.
Seriously, Dan has done a tremendous job despite only being in the role for a few months, the fan engagement and promotion of the brand has been pretty superb.
Sonic Lost World Gets a PC Release & It’s… Ok
Look, Sonic Lost World isn’t the best game ever, it’s also not the worst, but it got released on the PC for a budget price with the NiGHTS DLC included, it actually runs pretty well even on lower end systems.
Even fears that it wouldn’t cross over well due to the Wii U’s touch screen controls are unfounded.
I’m ok with this. It’s an OK game being re-released on a new platform and you now have the PC modding community going at it like busy bees which is going to extend it’s appeal further.
Its not harming anyone, it’s not harming the series, it exists, it’s ok, and it’s there. I’m ok with this.
Well… it’s the 25th Anniversary. So odds are there will be something big, already we know from the event in Japan that there will be some special events. F4F & Tomy have also let slip special 25th Anniversary things.
2016, it’ll be a classic.
Disclaimer: The views in this piece may not reflect the views of TSS or other writers on the staff team. The intention of The Spin is to promote debate and discussion of an issue or something that’s happening in the fandom or the world of Sonic.