So I watched the 25th anniversary panel at SXSW the other day and… I’m a bit conflicted, see I knew there wouldn’t be any games announced at it, it’s been said constantly, unless you were living under a rock or found out about the event a few moments before it was due to start, it was hard not to know, aside from it being officially confirmed that there would be no game announcements, so many other Sega/Sonic sites and commentators were saying it.
Currently the fanbase seems to be a tad divided as to how it went, some people thought it was great, others are let down, the ones who are let down seem to be divided as to reasons why. Some are actually upset no new game was announced, others claim it was over-hyped, I think both charges are kinda false… but I understand why they’re disappointed and I think the reasons why reside somewhere else.
That being, to me, the panel had a lot of problems, and in many ways felt like a HUGE missed opportunity.
Lets look at who was on it first.
Yuji Naka & Takashi Iizuka.
Ok that’s it guys! That right there could have been a panel on it’s own! That would have been a great panel. But no! We also got Roger Craig Smith and Mike Pollock too! The two main voice actors!
This should have been amazing, but… it wasn’t… why?
I think that the main issue was, the main draw was the panellists, but they weren’t really needed for the content of the panel. Whilst it was great that we got some interesting titbits from Naka and Iizuka regarding early Sonic development, such as Iizuka being responsible for Sonic 3’s intro and Naka commentating on Tails’ development, that was about it.
The structure of the whole panel was basically this.
In *insert year here* we released *insert game here* and we *insert 2 facts here*
It’s not a bad idea for content, but… when you have guests like Naka and Iizuka on there, you would hope that there would be some interesting or unknown bits and pieces of information told, but there was barely anything. Naka doesn’t even work for Sega anymore, yet his contribution hardly justified him being there if I’m being hyper-critical of it.
But then if you turn your attention to the voice actors, it becomes hard to even see a reason for them to be there.
What do I mean about this?
I feel bad for criticising someone who I know reads the comments and will likely read this, but… Mike Pollock was there, who is mainly known for his work as Eggman, but, he didn’t even say anything as Eggman (at least I don’t recall that happening), I remember him speaking as Ella from Sonic X, but not Eggman… that doesn’t seem right?
Even Roger Craig Smith was there, he barely spoke during the whole panel, I don’t remember him performing Sonic, except for a small bit as Alton Towers Sonic, which was a fun throwback since it made me laugh. But in terms of contribution I think that Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator spoke more in that whole movie than RCS did in this panel.
These are two highly talented voice actors who barely spoke or did anything. There could have been a fun moment between Mike and Roger but… there was nothing. It was crying out to be done and it didn’t happen.
It wasn’t just the voice actors, even Naka and Iizuka faded into just window dressing at points, and it was sad to see this, to put it another way, take away all the panellists from this panel and ask yourself “was anything lost?” Aside from some titbits, no there wasn’t anything.
For me, this is why I left feeling a bit disappointed. Not because there wasn’t a big announcement, not because we didn’t get a flood of new information, but because it felt like the panel didn’t even need the panellists.
I honestly think it would have been a much better experience if they had dropped the retrospective angle and just made it an FAQ, made it clear at the start that they couldn’t answer questions regarding unannounced games or release dates, which is odd to say given what happened at that Sonic Boom FAQ a few years back.
But it would have gotten all the panellists involved and it would have been far more interesting to hear what they had to say.
So with regards to why some fans are let down by this, some of the reasons I don’t agree with at all, but I can understand why some are disappointed. It was hard not to get high expectations, the panels description mentioned ‘future of Sonic’, we got told we’d find out what the numbers meant and with Naka and Iizuka in the same room, it was hard to deny that people were expecting a big announcement in some way.
That’s not to say that the 25th party news isn’t a big deal, it is, but… the way it was handled felt a bit like a quick mention and in a way became an announcement of an announcement.
I think that in future, if Sega decides to do stuff like this, you really need to involve the actual panellists more, if I’m being really critical, at times they felt just like window dressing for someone’s history of Sonic PowerPoint presentation, when really they should have been leading it and giving some inside into the series and it’s history.
Oh well, at least we now have more cryptic clues to decipher, that’s still fun right?
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.