HoL’s Musings: Sonic’s Future and Potential on the Nintendo Switch

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 2017provided 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.

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Sonic Adventure 2: Battle (2002)
Nintendo GameCube

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.

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Sonic Advance (2001)
Game Boy Advance

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.

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Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007)
Nintendo Wii

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.

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Sonic Rush (2005)
Nintendo DS

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.

sonic-lost-world-wii-u-screenshot
Sonic Lost World (2013)
Wii U

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.

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Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice (2016)
Nintendo 3DS

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.

23 Comments

  1. It’s hard for me to pinpoint where I see Sonic being in the future, even as far as the Switch is concerned. Because I still feel like Sonic’s in this era where there is no future, and only celebration of the past. Project Sonic 2017 looks like it may break away from that, but features Classic Sonic nonetheless. Since we have no idea what the game will be like… I find it hard to imagine what the future holds for Sonic, and I feel the answers lie within this game since the 25th Anniversary Party didn’t really enforce any sort of direction going forward.

    Like, are Classic games like Sonic Mania going to continue now, since there are no more designated handhelds left to make 2D Dimps games on? Are they going to continue making Sonic Boom games on the Switch? Will Mario & Sonic finally get a platformer or fighting game? (At this point, I’d actually be surprised if they made yet another Olympics installment.) I don’t know what they really intend to do with Sonic going forward, since right now Sonic’s still in a state where it’s bringing back old fans… but it can’t go on forever, can it?

    1. Oh, and for that matter, will we ever see other Sonic spin-offs on this, like Sonic Riders 4, a new Sonic RPG, a storybook game, anything? Sonic spin-offs tend to be on Nintendo systems most often, and that’s not even mentioning Sonic Boom, so… yeah.

      1. Probably at some point, but considering Sonic Riders 3, Chronicles, and Black Knight were fairly poorly-received, I question what Sonic Team’s next move is as far as spinoffs are concerned.

        1. It’s a damn shame, too. I really enjoyed the first two Sonic Riders games, and I desperately want a good Sonic RPG…. but it seems like it’ll be a long time before we ever get a Sonic Riders sequel again, or another attempt at an RPG.

      2. You make an interesting point TheBlackHoodedGamer. It’s been an observation I’ve made recently but over the last couple of months from Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017’s reveal up until the experimental SAGE titles, I’ve noticed that anything involving classic Sonic or mechanics of that era seem to be the most well received. It’s almost like unless the game brings in the fans of that time, nobody wants to hear about because that’s the epitome of Sonic or it’s what he’s supposed to be, nothing more nothing less.

        With this, it seems like as you’ve said, the series won’t move forward or do anything different cause the slightest change makes the next game entry invalid. I’m quite young so I can’t speak for everyone but I believe you should judge games on their own merits. If we stick with the mentality that nothing will ever be better than Sonic’s first 8 or 9 years, we’re not going to get anywhere.

        I could be wrong of course but I thought I would just contribute a bit. I don’t know if anyone made it to summer of sonic this year or anything but when I went for the first time this year I noticed something. the youngest of the fans who went to the convention were more boom fans or just getting to know bits of the franchise. I realised then that regardless of what form Sonic comes in we have to realise somebody out there does like them, and the game or media in question probably wasn’t made for us but it is a part of the franchise. I grew up being the only one amongst friends who enjoyed the franchise but when I found someone who did, I knew that I’m not on my own, I felt welcomed because there was a shared interest in that series. I feel that a fanbase should be free to have their opinions, it’s what makes us human, but we should welcome the new additions to the franchise and the fans it brings in because at the end of the day, at the core, we all like the same thing.

        Sorry for rambling and going off track but yeah I agree with a fair amount of what you’re saying. Let’s hope that Sonic both in characterisation and as a franchise can move on at some point. Stay frosty dude.

        1. This is quite literally what I’ve been saying for quite some time now. Especially the point about judging things based on their own merits. If you pick apart every little thing in Sonic’s newer games and say “these aren’t like the Classics!! Terrible!!”, then Sonic will never move forward. I suppose at that rate, some people would be getting their wish, but at the cost of you and I not getting ours. So it really does irk me when Classic Sonic is still used so much, as I thought that was coming to an end, but maybe it’s just beginning.

          It’s why I really don’t mind Boom at all. It’s definitely not for me, it never was supposed to be. When I see fans of the Dreamcast era say that Boom is the worst thing ever because it’s not “like the good old days when Eggman was threatening, or when Shadow was actually cool”, it really comes off as “it’s different, so I hate it.” Boom was meant to introduce newer, younger fans with a comedy series. No matter how much it may seem jarring to what I grew up with, it really isn’t a big deal because it’s a spin-off series that was never made for my generation. That said, I’d really like it if Modern Sonic would go back to being the way it was before Sonic Colors, in terms of tone, but that’s a tale for another time.

    2. Feeling the same way as you to be honest, and I’m excited about Sonic Mania and its potential sequels but not as excited as I should be like 5 years ago before the constant bombardment of classic nods and games.

      Personally I feel they have something going on with Project 2017, the mere thought of a post apocaliptic world ruled by Eggman is enough to make me feel hope for the franchise again, I have the same concerns as you regarding classic Sonic being in it but then again Sega must have thrown him in the game/trailer in order to soften the reception of said game as many people complained about it being too serious or about it giving them flashbacks of Sonic 2006 (yes people actually say that with a straight face), so yeah, the inclusion of classic Sonic might be just to get a better reception from the general public and classic fans BUT STILL it seems the game wasn’t designed around classic Sonic but more around modern Sonic the way it was before Sonic Colors; the way I see it the main idea of moving Sonic forward still persists in the trailer with classic Sonic making an appearance only to help the nay-sayers better digest this bold move, at least that’s the way I see it right now.

      1. I appreciate the replies guys, you have no idea. It’s nice to see positivity or at the very least optimism as opposed to negativity, disrespect or rude sarcasm that I normally see or end up being greeted with.
        You both make some good points by the way.

        @TheBlackHoodedGamer – I believe that the games of the 2000’s really did set a good foundation for modern sonic since the lore set up in previous games allowed for some deep and somewhat meaningful stories, something I miss in modern kids or family games. Sonic to a degree actually shaped some of my moral standing as well as educating me in some areas so it’d be nice to see those stories balanced together with a good game in the future and project Sonic 2017 seems like a good place to start. Will see what happens though. Thanks again dude.

        Raw – I like this point of view. People look at PS2017 and get the impression It’s too much for the series. The argument is that a cast of colourful humanoid characters don’t deserve to have a story this dark or serious because you can’t take it seriously. Meanwhile we have humans who use keys to fight amongst Disney characters as well as cyborg ninjas and samurai fighting off government corporations, yet people love those series to death since it’s somewhat rooted in reality.
        If that’s not the case, it really is a matter of “I didn’t grow up with this sonic… Too similar to 06 or Shadow the Edgehog (really?)… Or insult to injury trying too hard to be Mario or another key series.

        Classic Sonic really does seem to soften the edge for most people. Desire my concerns however, It’s pretty much keeping sonic team alive at the moment, with only a select group of people deciding to complain no matter what. I know that I’m probably the naive one being so young but I don’t think that Sonic is bound to one gameplay style or genre. He’s a hedgehog that can run at a speed faster than sound with a determined, fairly cocky but likeable attitude, each character has their own backstory and semi unique quotes but for that similar mould of speed. The possibilities are practically endless if you keep those core concepts, lore and personalities, or maybe I’m taking it to far and Sonic should stay simple. Any way. I’ve taken up enough if your time in this one but you catch my drift. I still believe that this series has a hopeful future but it’s success is just as dependent on us fans and supporters as it is on the developers. Thanks for reading or skimming through my comment if you did but take care otherwise.

        “Hey Sonic. Enjoy your future… It’s gonna be great. You sure managed to shape mine”.

      2. I’m absolutely positive that Classic Sonic is being used as a failsafe for Project Sonic 2017, for the time being… as I know many people would probably see this trailer without him and freak out because, as you said, Sonic 06 flashbacks. In a way, I kind of don’t like how Classic Sonic is used as such a crutch, as the series’ “Jesus”, the thing that SAVES an otherwise “bad 3D Sonic game.”

        I’m hoping that they just used Classic Sonic in the initial reveal trailer to set up a good expectation, and that they’ll soon show us more new things, and other characters, stuff I’d like to see. I absolutely hope that Classic Sonic is not going to be a prime-time gimmick yet again, as that’s kinda what he’s been turned into, along with things like Green Hill, and badniks. You get the idea.

        1. Yeah classic Sonic is effectively a failsafe but I’m hopeful that it won’t just be those two and other characters even if they’re not past characters make an appearance. Green Hill although it’s been frequently used recently isn’t as much of a nostalgia technique as the badniks if I’m honest.
          Don’t get me wrong, they are undoubtedly classic designs and all and have a sort of personality to them but I did like the direction Sonic Team went with more bipedal droid like robots throughout sonic’s so called dark age. The Guardian Units of Nations robots and egg gunner series in 06 remain my favourite designs so far funny enough.

          A bit off topic there but in another vein, it would just be nice to see a few more cast members. Even though I’m saying this I have to ask, do you think there are too many characters in the game series or that they’re just underused. I’m one of those people that would get alot of flack because I support most of the decisions that Sonic team makes with the games to an extent but I never thought there were too many of his friends. People look at the 3D games like the transformers films in the sense of, Sonic shouldn’t interact with humans, i.e keep it simple whereas some really don’t mind but again, you just can’t please the rest of the fanbase. I would like to hear your thoughts if you see this though.

          1. @TheBlackHoodedGamer
            @Kenan

            Agreed, I hope Classic Sonis is not as important to the overall story as the trailer make it look, also I still think there will be more playable characters than Sonic (and classic Sonic) this time around given the ‘Join the resistance’ phrase at the end, but as we mentioned earlier Sega is probably too afraid of the backlash to reveal that right now as its a feature that is more than likely gonna get mixed reception, so they need to show something else to “soften the blow” which is probably going to be the first gameplay reveal.

    1. Ironically the Wii U and PS4 don’t have Sonic 1 (and Xbox One has it only because of backwards compatibility). Safe to say the Switch won’t have it either. Unless they decide to port the CW version to consoles which I highly doubt will happen.

  2. We already got a Mario and Sonic platformer, it was Lost World so no need for another. That is as close to Mario as Sonic ever needs to come. It’s just not the right locations/tone for the hedgehog.

  3. Nice read, I would dare to say thaf the future of Sonic seems more multi-platform than how it was in past years for a number of reasons, but I’m confident that they will keep supporting Nintendo consoles in some way.

    But regarding the Mario & Sonic platform crossover I’m not excited about the idea at all, I loved seeing Mario and Sonic together in Smash Bros. and in the Olympic games to some extent but I don’t feel they will merge well in an adventure game, story and gameplay-wise. Mario and Sonic have very distintive narratives and characters that I don’t think will mix very well unless they are willing to corrupt one of the franchises for that purpose (making the tone of Mario more serious and grounded or making Sonic more simplistic and emotionless for example), for comparission and talking only about Nintendo I think Sonic narrative could fit very well with the StarFox universe, just picture that crossover for a second, then picture Sonic again with Mario and notice the difference.

    Now speaking about gameplay they are from very different worlds, even if both are platformers, again to fit in the same game they would need to make drastic changes to one franchise (or both), if Sonic were to fit in Mario’s world the more than likely outcome is that we would end up with another Sonic Lost World gameplay which was not very well received and would do a big disservice to Sonic in this larger than life crossover, then again you could say they should just do 2 different kind of gameplays but then it would feel like 2 halfs of a game slapped together, and the fact that both narratives, worlds and characters are so different it would only make that feeling more prominent and the game won’t feel bigger than the sum of its parts.

    Last but not least there is the problem of the high expectations everyone will have about this, obviously is impossible to please everyone even if the product is great but given that they will either alter some of the franchises traits and gameplay to make them fit together is undoubtly going to upset more people than it would please.

    I’m pretty sure a lot of people may disagree with me but these are my concerns regarding said crossover, I won’t lie, the 9 years old boy in me would love the hell out of it even if it was bad but the idea of a crossover won’t have as much power today as it would gave a few years back, I would rather have both Sega and Nintendo focus on improving their current Sonic and Mario games respectively than waste time and resources on a crossover that won’t do justice to both franchises names. That being said I’m all in for more Sonic appearances in Smash Bros. and hopefully in a Mario Kart with his trademarked Speed Star car.

    1. Very nice points you made there. I don’t think the two different gameplay styles would mesh that well either. Let’s not forget, Unleashed did something similar, and not everyone was on board with it.

      IMO, the best way to make a full fledged Mario/Sonic crossover would be to make an RPG. Something along the lines of Mario RPG or Sonic Chronicles could work.

      1. Hey! That actually sounds pretty cool! Would love to see something like that! Not to mention Mario stories are more interesting in RPGs and that they could blend Sonic characters in a whacky style similar to how the Super Mario Bros. Z flash series did.

  4. Awesome expecting to see Sonic Project 2017 is a secret new Sonic title we not sure of on Xbox One PS4 & Switch both Classic Modern Sonic’s anything that is all I described.

  5. My main concern is that Sonic Team isn’t sacrificing graphics just so Project 2017 can even run on Switch. From what I can tell from the Switch trailer, it doesn’t seem to have much more power than the Wii U did and if Sonic Team is just porting the game to the console, they’re definitely going to have to reduce the games graphics at least a little bit. I’ve been waiting for a Sonic game to surpass the graphics of Sonic Unleashed for so long, and my one real hope for Project 2017 was that i would be that game. I’m worried that they are going to end up lowering the overall graphical quality of all versions of the game just so you can get the same experience on both the Switch and the rest of the platforms. I’m not usually a graphics whore, but I’ve always just wanted a game to look better than Unleashed. Generations comes so dang close, but it is, at most, on par with Sonic Unleashed.

    Other than that, I like the idea of Sanzaru making an HD 3D Boom game for the Switch. They are great developers and, since they’re essentially handling the Boom games from this point on, they deserve to expand upon the Boom game franchise. I truly think that they could make a fun 3D Sonic game.

    Either way, I’m just happy that I can finally play an actual 3D main series Sonic game on the go (that is, of course, if the game isn’t a watered down “Dimps” port)! That alone has got me super excited for both the Switch and Project Sonic 2017.

    1. Oh, and I’m going to be pretty upset of Sonic Mania doesn’t come to the Switch. That’s just because I am never going to wanna stop playing the game when it comes out. It just looks to perfect to put down.

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