What seemed to be an eternity of waiting since its announcement on March 17th, 2015 has finally passed on October 20th, 2016, as Nintendo had at long last lifted the curtain on the “NX,” or should I say the Nintendo Switch. Even before that day, Sega officially announced that Sonic would indeed be making an appearance on the system. It won’t be just any game, but the even longer-awaited next main game from Sonic Team called Project Sonic 2017, provided the Switch version is the same as the PS4/XBO/PC versions.
But that’s not all I’m here to talk about, since I’ve indeed planned this article for quite a long time. I’ve been dying to buckle down and talk about the future of Sonic, specifically on the Nintendo Switch. This won’t just be about Project Sonic 2017, but the entire system’s lifespan as a whole.
This is almost a continuation of sorts of my “A look into Sonic’s history with Nintendo” article from last year, where I covered every single Sonic game released for a Nintendo system since Sega went third-party. However, I am definitely planning on making a more up-to-date version in a few years or so to cover the last of the 3DS and Wii U games, and of course, what Sonic games will come out for the Switch between its launch and then.
I won’t make any game-by-game entries here like in that article, but I just want to go over what I see as being highly likely appearances. Those aside, let’s start with the one game we do know of: Project Sonic 2017.
Indeed, this looks to be a biggie. Whereas Sonic Lost World on Wii U was a departure from previous games and a very experimental (not to mention smaller in scale) entry in the series as a whole, this game looks like a return to the scale and budget of Sonic Generations, Sonic Colours, and Sonic Unleashed from before. Whether they are bringing back the old Boost gameplay remains to be seen, seeing as Takashi Iizuka said that Project Sonic 2017 is “not a sequel, [but] it will be a brand new experience.” Will it be “new” as in Sonic Colours compared to Sonic Unleashed? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Sadly, there is little to talk about over this game besides what we’ve seen in the trailer, but since we have seen what Switch should potentially be capable of, we can imagine some other possibilities. For one, the system should theoretically be capable of a near-identical experience as on PS4/XBO/PC. I’m talking of a closer gap in power than between Wii and PS3/360; that gap was why Sonic Generations never made it to Wii, and it was likely way too late for a Wii U port a year later as well.
One idea came to mind after seeing what is likely Mario Kart 8 being played in split-screen 2-player mode on one Switch tablet with the two Joy-Con controllers. What if one player was Classic Sonic and the other is Modern Sonic? That’s food enough for thought, as it could be a first in this scenario (in portable form I mean). Certainly there’s a lot of potential for Project Sonic 2017 to highly impress Switch owners, being a gorgeous 3D Sonic game you can take anywhere you want. Sonic Lost World on 3DS is still the only portable 3D Sonic game to date, and the reception to that wasn’t exactly favourable.
With that in mind, let’s move on to what could be in Sonic’s future on the Nintendo Switch. There are a few almost surefire games we can look forward to seeing, but these are highly expected and won’t exactly shock the world.
The first is of course the very likely titled Mario & Sonic at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. This will be the third Winter Olympics title in the Mario & Sonic series and the sixth Olympics game as a whole. The funny thing is that Sochi 2014 was very reliant on the Wii U GamePad and the Wii Remote for its controls, but Rio 2016 was more traditional and much simpler, and was arguably the least reliant on motion controls in any console entry to date. Right now, we don’t have any actual confirmation on the Switch’s motion capabilities if any at all, and Nintendo has yet to even confirm touchscreen controls at that.
One hope I do have is that all the new characters from Rio 2016 are made into proper characters that are playable in any event, whereas in Rio 2016 they all had one single event they could be played in, if I recall it correctly. Not exactly appealing now, is it? Another example is online capabilities like proper online multiplayer which was present in Sochi 2014, but was inexplicably removed in Rio 2016.
I’m certain they can get some stuff done with the aforementioned 2-player split-screen, but that’s nothing super revolutionary aside from the novelty of it now being portable. I certainly am looking forward to seeing how it looks visually since the systems seems to certainly be well above Wii U in power (not officially, just very likely) thanks to NVIDIA.
Another game that’s been heavily rumoured to be making an appearance is Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/Nintendo 3DS (“Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch“?), seemingly as a port of the Wii U version. Sonic’s basically a surefire inclusion, being the only returning third-party character since they began appearing in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Same goes for the hopeful Super Smash Bros. 5 (if the port of 4 doesn’t scrap any plans for one). Switch insider Emily Rogers, who first told of a now confirmed Splatoon game on Switch, also hinted at a Super Mario Maker port, a game that featured Sonic as a Mystery Mushroom character. A quick mention goes to Mario Kart 8 as it might also be getting ported (since a revamped version appeared to be shown in the preview trailer), and while that does not feature Sonic in-person, he is however a Mii outfit in the original Wii U game. Provided all Amiibo functionality is carried over, the Mii outfit would likely be as well.
So we got the next Olympics title and first-party ports out of the way. What else is there? Potential exclusives, the very thing that will use the Switch hardware to its fullest.
Sonic’s had exclusives on every single Nintendo hardware since first appearing on the Game Boy Advance with Sonic Advance. After Sonic came to the GameCube with Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, however, that system is the only one without a major exclusive like a 3D Sonic game. Sonic Mega Collection was a definite exclusive for two years before getting an expanded release as Sonic Mega Collection Plus on PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Sonic Gems Collection was also a GameCube exclusive in North America (it was also on PS2 in Europe and Japan), and SA2:B and Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut (the PC version would not come out until at minimum 6 months later) were exclusives if you don’t count the Dreamcast originals back then.
So what could Sega do with an exclusive, “built from the ground up” Sonic game for the Nintendo Switch? It’s hard to say. For how different the Switch is, when you get down to what’s been shown so far (as Nintendo has said there still are unannounced surprises), there isn’t anything super new and different. The 2P split-screen is really cool, but what else is groundbreaking from a gameplay perspective? The biggest appeal is the idea of playing a gorgeous 3D Sonic game both on the TV and on the go, as I said above. Project Sonic 2017 would also be the first portable Sonic Team-made Sonic platformer if the Switch version is identical to the other versions and not just a farmed out, lower-budget and scaled Dimps-produced title in recent years.
Another game that I think is a high possibility after all these years is the long sought-after Mario & Sonic platformer. Yuji Naka still tries to pitch one to Sega here and there, so I would actually imagine it at minimum having Yuji Naka and his team at Prope involved with such a game. It’s funny as Rio 2016 on 3DS was co-developed by none other than Arzest, which was co-formed by another of Sonic’s co-creators: Naoto Ohshima. As for how such a game would even work, I’m not entirely sure. I’ve thought of mechanics such as being a Generations-style game with Sonic going through Mario’s world and vice-versa. I’ve also thought of blends of the two, and also how Mario could have new items to gain some of Sonic’s speed and abilities, and Sonic can rely more on springs to get to places? It’s a challenge to figure out for sure, and hence why one still hasn’t been made.
Naturally I expect more Sonic Boom games to come out as well. I would personally expect, perhaps, Sanzaru Games to take on a full 3D game on the Nintendo Switch since the hardware is naturally more than capable of running such a game, but also they can hopefully utilize the tech with the experience they gained from developing Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time on PS3 and Vita. I made an article awhile back talking about what teams I think could pull-off a great 3D Sonic Boom game. Sanzaru has done a pretty decent job thus far with the Sonic Boom titles (I myself reviewed Fire & Ice and Jason took on Shattered Crystal before it), so I would have faith in them on such a game, especially if they’re given the time and budget to do it properly.
Finally, there’s the still currently missing Switch version confirmation for Sonic Mania. Personally I think it’s a given, but that’s up to Sega and—to a lesser extent—the development team lead by Christian Whitehead. I think it has to do with PagodaWest Games being lower in priority to receive a dev kit from Nintendo, while other indie devs have already come forward and confirmed support such as Shin’en, Zoink Games, Image & Form, and more. Nintendo is also still being tight-lipped on specific game announcements, since few of the games in the Switch trailer were directly confirmed as though they were shouted about from the rooftops, and we likely won’t hear more about the Switch until early 2017.
And that’s pretty much it! It’s fun to think about what such a Sonic game could look like on the Nintendo Switch, especially if Sega really surprises us and comes up with something that’s legitimately fun, exciting and original for the system.
What are your thoughts on the Nintendo Switch, and what are you hoping to see in a potential Switch-exclusive Sonic game in the future? Let us know in the comments below!
It’s been quite awhile since my last Hero of Legend’s Musings article. I use these as my own opinion pieces from time to time. Please note of course that anything I write in these are my opinions specifically and said opinions don’t reflect Sonic Stadium.