Finally. We’ve all waited nearly six months for a morsel of information on what SEGA may be planning to celebrate Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th Anniversary. For a character best known for his lightning-fast speed, updates have been almost-controversially slow. But yesterday, SEGA revealed a special livestream taking place on May 27th focusing on Sonic announcements and news. So, what could they have lined up?
Well, lucky for all of us, we at The Sonic Stadium have done the hard work pulling our intel together on this, and have put our thinking caps on (which was significantly harder work) to outline the possible outcomes here. Give the below a good read-through, and let us know in the comments box below (or on the SSMB Forums) what your thoughts are. One thing we can be sure of – tomorrow’s show is going to be a great one.
Sonic Colours Ultimate
Yes, this is definitely a thing. It’s been the worst-kept secret of the last month or so (at least we were subtle about it – that hero image was more than a style choice), but we can say that Sonic Colours is getting a remaster of some sort, under the name ‘Sonic Colours Ultimate’. The original game was released in 2010 on the Wii, ELEVEN YEARS AGO, and is still fondly remembered to this day as a fun, fresh and well-executed adventure for the blue blur (if a little cheesy in the story department). So a remaster is most welcome.
If you’re wondering whether this remaster’s announcement will reduce the chances of a mainline Sonic game being revealed, don’t worry too much about it. Development work on Sonic Colours Ultimate would have likely ended a while ago – the game was originally due to be announced this time last year, but we imagine the COVID-19 pandemic delayed a lot of things logistically. So if anything, treat this incoming announcement as a nice bonus at this point.
New Sonic Collection
We expected some form of next-gen console-compatible Sonic collection might be announced in time for Sonic’s 30th Anniversary – it’s a pretty safe bet. Franchise reaches a milestone, release a package featuring a number of games from its classic archive. Everyone’s a winner. The last Sonic-focused compilations that SEGA released on home consoles were, in fact, Sonic Gems Collection and Sonic Mega Collection back in the mid-2000s – so there’s a whole new generation of gamers for which a modern collection would appeal to.
But this isn’t just us guessing about here. Not only does it just make sense, but a retailer listing leaked the existence of a new compilation heading to PS4, at the very least (we would expect this collection to eventually release on Switch, Xbox and maybe PC as well though, so don’t panic about exclusivity just yet). No doubt this will be unveiled in full during tomorrow’s Sonic Central livestream.
The only question here would be which games could be included in such a package. The traditional SEGA playbook with retro collections is to focus on the Mega Drive/Genesis classics, and we can see this new collection absolutely including the 16-bit Sonic titles (potentially with a reworked Sonic 3 & Knuckles, assuming the company manages to get around the issue surrounding the game’s soundtrack).
But we would love to see the addition of the 8-bit titles too – both the Game Gear and Master System versions of Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic Chaos, Sonic Spinball and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine would be fantastic, as there are small graphical and gameplay differences between the console and handheld versions that die-hard fans would appreciate. Chuck in the Game Gear-exclusive titles like Triple Trouble, Drift and Tails Adventure and you’ve got yourself a nice base for a package, assuming the presentation is up to snuff (Sonic Jam on SEGA Saturn, with its 3D Sonic World hub, remains the gold standard here).
It would perhaps be too much to ask for more than the 8-bit and 16-bit classics in an affordable package, with perhaps the exception of spinoffs like Sonic the Fighters, Sonic R, Sonic CD and Knuckles’ Chaotix. As much as we’d love to see a collection including everything up to Sonic Heroes, we suspect that SEGA might want to break off the Dreamcast era games into its own collection. Unless… SEGA totally flip-reverses on us and this entire collection IS focused solely on Dreamcast-era games. We guess time will tell on that one.
New Sonic the Hedgehog Title
We should be clear here. With Sonic Colours Ultimate and the new Sonic Collection lined up, it’s probably unlikely we will get a full blowout reveal of the next mainline Sonic the Hedgehog game. But we reckon there’s a good chance that a teaser of some kind will be held back as a ‘one last thing’ at the very end of the stream.
For one thing, SEGA’s 30th Anniversary ‘Unstoppable’ trailer includes a montage of Sonic games at the end, and fans have already noticed this small segment which doesn’t seem to match up with any previously-released Sonic game:
Now, this could just be a red herring – we all know SEGA’s Sonic Pillar loves to throw those around – and may be a shot of a remastered Sonic Colours (the location seems to line up with Planet Wisp, and the model of Sonic used here connects as well). But the fact that Sonic’s upper half is obscured here could mean this is part of something new. Could it be a new Sonic title after all?
Whether the above clip forms part of a new mainline title or the reveal of Sonic Colours Ultimate, we do think SEGA will in fact have some kind of tease planned for the next game. Bearing in mind that it has been nearly four years since the release of Sonic Forces, we’re due an update of this kind and will be more surprised if we don’t see anything on Sonic’s next adventure. Whatever happens, we will likely all be extremely excited by what they will show.
The game-related announcements apparently won’t stop at the console level. SEGA’s also planning to feature its Sonic mobile game studio, UK-based HARDlight, heavily in the Sonic Central livestream.
The team is currently supporting its mainline mobile titles, Sonic Dash and Sonic Forces: Speed Battle, so it’s likely that there will be a number of updates to those apps announced that will celebrate the 30th Anniversary in some way. But HARDlight also has a couple of other games in its lineup, including Sonic Racing on Apple Arcade, so it’s possible these will see some love too. We wouldn’t expect a brand new mobile title to be announced here – but if happens, we’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Sonic comics publisher IDW took time yesterday to reveal that it also has a special announcement planned in time for the blue blur’s 30th Anniversary. While the announcement-of-an-announcement came at the same time as the Sonic Central reveal, whatever IDW has cooking won’t form part of tomorrow’s livestream as that news will come in early June.
Having said that, we definitely expect IDW to make some kind of appearance in the Sonic Central event. At almost every public Sonic conference (at SXSW for example), SEGA makes a significant effort to highlight its partnership with IDW – even yesterday’s “Unstoppable” trailer featured prominent Sonic comic artist Evan Stanley.
So, there might not be anything major to come from IDW tomorrow, but we’d wager that there will be some sort of reference or small comic-related news.
It’s been a hot minute since we last heard anything about the SEGA-Netflix Sonic the Hedgehog animation, Sonic Prime. Announced in February, the show aims to tackle multiverse-themed storylines, which has already got some speculating as to what sort of arcs could be possible in a series intended to appeal to fans of all ages.
The 24-episode series isn’t due to hit Netflix until 2022, but the timing of this livestream could mean that we get to see an update of some sort from the animation team. Perhaps a first look at the character design and environments? Some further detail on the story? Even some storyboards would be nice to see. Chances of some kind of mention here is highly likely.
One thing we can absolutely count on is the appearance of merch. Tonnes and tonnes of lovely, exclusive, 30th Anniversary-themed merch.
SEGA’s European office (and its partnership with the Numskull-owned SEGA Shop) has an excellent crack team of licensing pros who have a storied history of creating awesome-looking Sonic products. It would make sense that SEGA would spend some time during the livestream to talk about themed apparel, statues, figures, soundtracks for fans to splurge their cash on.
Ryu ga Gotoku Studio?
What’s this then? As soon as SEGA announced the Sonic Central livestream, this mysterious tweet from the studio behind the Ryu ga Gotoku / Yakuza series was posted…
What could it mean? Well, a number of things, given that the RGG Studio is currently SEGA’s star development studio. The reference to 100 Yen coins could point to something as small as a crossover item/event within an upcoming update to the Yakuza series (if this were the case, we’d wager a Pachinko DLC for Yakuza Like A Dragon featuring Sonic).
But it’s worth noting that RGG Studio has started to take on a little more development work outside of the Yakuza franchise. Not only is it hard at work on a sequel to in-universe spinoff Judgement, but on the same day as Sonic Central’s announcement it was revealed that the studio is contributing significantly to the PS4-exclusive remaster of Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown.
With that in mind – and the fact that RGG Studio founder and SEGA development executive Toshihiro Nagoshi spoke about introducing new Sonic play styles last year – there’s an extremely slim chance that the team could be working on (or helping) a new/spinoff Sonic game project. However, we would imagine this theory would risk spreading the RGG Studio a bit too thin given its other commitments, so we’ll bank this in the ‘wishful thinking’ category for now.
Roger Craig Smith
Come on, you didn’t think we’d miss this voice over, did you? We’re pretty sure this is his narration, but even if it’s just an awfully good soundalike, it does make us think about whether he will have a role to play in this livestream.
The voice of Sonic the Hedgehog for over ten years, Roger Craig Smith publicly announced his departure from the SEGA franchise back in January (not the 30th Anniversary news we were hoping for at the start of the year, to be honest). There’s a good chance that Roger’s final works will appear in a few projects that will be revealed in this livestream… but even if there isn’t and the voice actor is done for good, his VO in the above trailer makes us think that he may make an appearance of some sort in the stream itself. Perhaps a final goodbye..?
What do you think SEGA will announce during tomorrow’s stream? What are your hopes and dreams? Let us know in the comments section below!