Sonic Year in Review 2022: A Banner Year for a New Generation of Sonic

The end of 2022 is now upon us. And boy, what a year it has been! After spending Sonic’s 30th Anniversary mostly waiting for trailers, watching online events and experiencing strange mobile crossovers, it finally feels like this year has been the big global celebration of the blue blur that the decades-long franchise fully deserved.

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Sonic Frontiers Marks a Paradigm Shift in Sonic Game Storytelling

Editor’s Note: MASSIVE STORY SPOILERS are in this article.

I loved Sonic game stories when I was a kid. I loved their bigness, the way they gave the game world a sense of history and tragedy. As someone who hadn’t yet played any JRPGs, they were unlike anything I had ever experienced in a game before. It was so cool being taken into the past and seeing Knuckles’ people, the chaos emeralds and the strange creature that once protected them, the young echidna girl who befriended that creature, and the tragic way it all ended. And while Sonic Adventure 2’s story didn’t dig nearly as deep into the world’s past, I loved the tragedy of Shadow, Maria, and Gerald, the mysteriousness surrounding the Ark and its own connections to Chaos and the emeralds, and how it ended with everyone coming together and putting a stop to a sympathetic revenge plot 50 years in the making. That was then, of course.

These days, it’s much more difficult for me to enjoy those stories without rose-tinted glasses. And the stories that came after…never held the same magic for me. Heroes, Shadow, Sonic 06 were all terrible, and on the rare occasion they weren’t (such as the Rush games) they felt smaller. Maybe I was growing out of them, but I think the real answer is far simpler: Sonic’s stories never had cohesion or direction from game to game, and that ultimately caused them to fall apart. But just as Sonic games were hitting what felt like their narrative low point with Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, I was in the midst of being enthralled by Archie Sonic’s newest headwriter: Ian Flynn.

Flynn worked some absolute magic with that comic. I had been a reader since 1995, but by 2006 I had dropped the comics due to my displeasure with where the stories were going. Ian Flynn managed to impress with his very first issue, 160, and from that point on he rarely produced a dud throughout his run. Over the course of a year, he repaired years of damage done to the comic’s narrative. He recontextualized poorly written characterization, retroactively turning it into part of a character’s arc, or using it to fuel drama that simultaneously makes it feel in-character and gives it a satisfying conclusion. Sonic, Tails, and Sally were all major benefactors of this, but nearly everyone in the comic’s cast got a moment.

Archie Tails had been on the receiving end of some bad stories for a few years before this

I hadn’t seen these characters written this well in years, and I felt like I was welcoming old friends home.  “Why can’t the games be written like this?” I began to ask myself, “Why can’t they just hire Ian Flynn?” Extraordinarily, 15 years later, I have finally gotten my wish. And just as I had hoped, Ian Flynn has done the same thing for the games that he did for the comics all those years ago. Sonic and company are back. No, scratch that: they have finally arrived.

Sonic Frontiers is easily the most well-written Sonic game I’ve ever played. The dialogue has that patented Flynn charm, with solid interactions between Sonic and everyone he comes into contact with. We’ve got genuinely funny jokes, extraordinarily well-written heart-felt moments, and an overall tone that can still be light, but is often quite somber. On top of all that, every character aside from Sonic himself gets some sort of arc. 

Character arcs have never really been a strong suit of Sonic games. While they certainly happen, they can often be poorly written and are only occasionally well-executed. That Frontiers has five of them, and that they are  mostly  well done, is certainly a feat. They each leave the characters in a different place from where they’ve been for years, or even decades.

At the start, everyone is more or less where you’d expect them to be. Amy and Tails are tagging along with Sonic, Dr. Eggman is focused purely on his next take-over-the-world scheme, and Knuckles just wants to guard the Master Emerald. Over the course of the game, through their interactions with the Koco and Sonic, Amy, Tails and Knuckles all go through a change. The Kocos, which are essentially spirits of an ancient race trapped and troubled by the struggles they faced before death, act as conduits for character development, their arcs reflecting the struggles of Sonic’s friends.

Amy, who was once long characterized by her one-sided love-affair with Sonic, is driven to help a Koco find their lost love. By the end of it, she sees a love that transcended time, and decides she needs to share her own love with the world by going on her own adventure away from Sonic. Knuckles helps an army of Kocos trying to fight “the enemy.” Upon witnessing the destruction of their civilization he makes the connection between the Koco and his own people’s tragic past. For the first time I can recall, Knuckles expresses genuine regret over his lonely lot in life as the last of his kind. Sonic pulls him out of his funk by reminding him that he’s got his friends, leading to a truly heartfelt conversation that ends in Knuckles deciding to try out Sonic’s more adventurous lifestyle. Finally, we have Tails, who’s Koco…basically experiences Tails’ story in Sonic Forces. Yeah: this game’s story decides to deal with Tails’ worst moments in the franchise.

I think it’s fair to say the games haven’t really done much with Tails since the original Sonic Adventure, which saw him overcoming his fears, facing down Eggman, and saving Station Square from him. Since then…Tails has more or less remained static, rarely leaving Sonic’s side after Sonic Adventure 2 and more or less returning to the “sidekick who follows him around” role. But then we had Forces, where we go from character stagnation to character  regression. Here, Tails “lost it” after Sonic’s defeat and Eggman’s near total takeover of the planet, something which effectively reversed one of the only bits of development Tails ever got. 

So when it came time for Frontiers to give Tails his arc, Flynn pulled the same hat trick that worked so well in Archie: he took Tails’ decades of stagnation, his low point in Forces, and the many times he came through and melded it all together into Tails’ growth into a hero. This all ends up giving him the strongest and most defined arc in the game, and the plot’s best moments. Tails’ entire arc is him dealing with the fact that despite the strides he’s taken to be his own hero, he still messes up and can still fall back into his own comfort zone. Tails essentially experiences imposter syndrome, ignoring everything he’s done to  earn  his place by Sonic’s because all he can think about are his own mistakes.

This just feels so right for Tails, a character who started out as a lonely bullied kid. It makes him feel more human and complex, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a Sonic game character before. The best and most interesting character arcs are the messy ones, the ones where characters get to mess up, regress, relearn lessons, and genuinely struggle to become the better version of themselves they want to be. With Tails’ arc put in that context, it effortlessly became the best part of Frontiers’ narrative. And what’s really wild is that this simply wouldn’t be possible without Forces’ terrible, terrible story. 

Outside of Sonic’s friends, the most well-defined arc in this game belongs to Dr. Eggman’s AI creation, Sage. While her arc is pretty thin and the weakest part of the entire game, she is able to do one thing no other Eggman companion has: bring out a different side of him. Indeed, I’d say one of Sonic Frontiers other  major accomplishments is showing us a side of Eggman we’ve only gotten brief glimpses of before within the games.

Dr. Eggman isn’t  just  a guy with designs of world conquest, after all. He is a world class genius, a man of science, history, and engineering. Sonic Frontiers lets us see this other side of him, largely through its unlockable “Egg Memos.” The Egg Memos are the best contributions any game has given to Eggman’s character: he marvels at the Ancient’s technology, figures out the Starfall Islands’ numerous technological and archeological mysteries, develops a fatherly affection for Sage, and he even gives his honest thoughts on Sonic, Amy, Knuckles and Tails. We get to hear him talk himself into accepting that Sage is alive, because of course he is smart enough to create life! He even talks about his cousin Maria, and the jealousy he felt over her being given love from his family that he was denied, despite her being gone. These memos manage to give Eggman more depth than three decades of games ever did.

What’s even better about all this is that it feels very much in character for him. He still often talks about future schemes for world conquest, laughs maniacally, has a  very  high opinion of himself, disregards the insane risks his own plans pose, and even briefly, excitedly contemplates stealing a defenseless Master Emerald before remembering he’s trapped. His affection for Sage and feelings towards Maria and his own family feel like extensions of the Eggman we briefly saw at the end of Sonic Adventure 2, when he reminisced over his Grandpa Gerald and how he inspired him to become a scientist. Eggman was never a man totally incapable of love; it’s just something the games have almost never explored before. 

Unfortunately, as I said before, Sage’s own arc is thin. She shares just three-and-a-half minutes of screentime with Eggman, leaving their relationship feeling a pretty undercooked, though throwing the memos into the mix does help. But Sage’s relationship with Sonic fares a little better, as most of her actual development comes from observing and interacting with him. Sonic has brought many former adversaries into the fold, but Sage is one of the only ones whose change felt somewhat earned by the plot. Sage is consistently surprised by Sonic’s perseverance, moved by his friendships, and over the course of the game her interactions shift from cold indifference, to curiosity, to genuine respect. Unfortunately, the bulk of Sage’s interactions with Sonic still boil down to her telling him resistance is futile and refusing to explain anything to him, which can get a bit repetitive and boring.

Sonic Frontiers is, in many ways, the Sonic game story I’ve been waiting for for decades. It’s got the lore building of the Sonic Adventure games, the quality vocal performances expected of a modern game, and the writing of Flynn-era Archie and IDW comics. It’s still not entirely where I want it to be: Sage’s story is a bit weak, the tone of the story overshoots and is a little too serious and somber, and the lack of a larger cast leaves the world feeling empty. Future games will need to be willing to have longer cutscenes that give non-player characters like Eggman and Sage the screen time they need. They need to more effectively balance darker, more serious scenes with lighter moments and humor. Finally, future games  need  to have a larger cast, with more supporting and secondary characters in a livelier, more populated world. 

Despite these issues, Sonic Frontiers truly feels like the start of a golden era of Sonic game storytelling. The potential this game opens up for future stories has me genuinely excited! Just stick with Ian Flynn, SEGA, and maybe bring other IDW writers like Stanley and Barnes into the mix too. Give Sonic Team the budget to realize a story with even greater scope. Let what’s been built here flourish and grow, and most importantly, follow through on what this game sets up and let these characters change! 

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Sonic Frontiers Is Big, But It Isn’t Very “Open”

I wandered Kronos Island for about three hours, defeating bosses, grinding on rails, and plucking collectables from the map. I periodically stopped at the Elder and the Hermit to convert my stash into gains, then popped over to an Amy or Sage point to get a few lines of characters self-reflecting. When I defeated the Titan of the region, I had to acknowledge a feeling that had been nagging me the whole time: “Is that all there is?”

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What I Want From Sonic Frontiers DLC

Sonic as a franchise has always been…strangely averse to DLC. In an era where a lot of single-player games can get loads of post-launch content, SEGA has remained rather stingy when it comes to Sonic. Maybe we get some level packs reusing in-game assets, or cosmetics, or if we’re really lucky, some new characters or a couple brand new levels, but we’ve never really gotten anything substantial, even when you’d think a game was built for it. I mean, who wouldn’t have wanted more classic levels re-imagined in Sonic Generations or Sonic Mania?

Continue reading What I Want From Sonic Frontiers DLC
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Sonic Prime Gets Trailer, Dec 15 Release Date

Sonic fans are having a great year for content: we’re less than two weeks away from the release of Sonic Frontiers and less than two months away from Netflix’s Sonic Prime. The new animated series just dropped a one-minute trailer during Netflix’s animation Twitch stream.

The trailer highlights the action in the series along with the main plot. Sonic, having smashed the “Paradox Prism” is transported to a new dimension with his friends including Tails, Amy, Knuckles, and Rouge. The series also received an official release date: December 15. Check out the link below to see the full trailer.

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TSS PREVIEW: Sonic Frontiers Impressions – Cautiously One Ok Rock-timistic

Sonic Frontiers represents the biggest shake-up of the Sonic the Hedgehog game franchise for over twenty years. So naturally, there has been a lot of apprehension from fans about the project since its announcement – especially as Sonic Team has built up a reputation of switching focus with each of its mainline titles since 2001.

Everybody is desperate to finally get a series of Sonic titles that establish (and maintain) a consistent visual, gameplay and narrative design. Will Sonic Frontiers be the start of a brand new branch/generation of Sonic games? Sonic Team has gone on record to say that is their intention. After playing a brief demo of the game at Gamescom last month, I’m cautiously optimistic enough to agree. With some reservations.

Continue reading TSS PREVIEW: Sonic Frontiers Impressions – Cautiously One Ok Rock-timistic
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TSS Review: Spark The Electric Jester 3

With SAGE in full swing, it’s nice to be able to play an original work from a developer of several Sonic fan games who has gone on to succeed with their own creation. Felipe Daneluz is well known in the Sonic community for his fan game “Sonic Before The Sequel” among others. But his gaming career really took off with 2017’s “Spark the Electric Jester”.

Continue reading TSS Review: Spark The Electric Jester 3
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TSS Fan Game Review: Sonic Triple Trouble 16-bit is a Triumph

If you’re reading this, chances are you know that Sonic has a long, storied history in fan games. So much so, that the Sonic community has managed to keep an online event devoted to them – the Sonic Amateur Game Expo, or “SAGE” – going for more than two decades. That event, which is currently ongoing as of this review’s publication, has played host to some absolute bangers over the decades.

Continue reading TSS Fan Game Review: Sonic Triple Trouble 16-bit is a Triumph
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Takashi Iizuka Wants to ‘Connect’ the Sonic Universes and Create a ‘Unified Sonic Experience’ – Sonic Stadium Interview

Sonic Frontiers looks to be the most ambitious entry in the game series yet – and not just in the gameplay department. While Sonic’s latest adventure does aim to reinvent the tried-and-tested format with its free-roaming ‘open zone’ concept, SEGA is also keen to use the game as a stepping stone to connect the multiple entertainment universes of Sonic the Hedgehog together in a unified way. And it all starts with Sonic Frontiers’ story, itself a collaboration between Sonic Team and IDW Sonic comic writer Ian Flynn.

We were given an opportunity to sit down with Takashi Iizuka, head of Sonic Team, for a brief five minutes, to discuss the implications of Flynn’s involvement with the game and what it could mean for other Sonic universes. We also asked about those darn cute Koco as well, don’t worry.

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Impressions: Sonic x Higround Green Hill Keyboard

I’m not a keyboard hobbyist. My day-to-day workhorse is a straightforward wireless Logitech board that I use until it stops working. So when keyboard maker Higround provided us with a sample of their Sonic the Hedgehog line of USB wired keyboards and accessories, I was curious (and a bit skeptical) of what using a higher end keyboard would be like. For me, the shift hasn’t revolutionized how I think about keyboards, nor will it supplant my current keyboard for daily use, but Higround’s design is undeniably quite functional and a beautiful, compact art object.

Continue reading Impressions: Sonic x Higround Green Hill Keyboard
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IDW Sonic Panel Returns to San Diego Comic Con

It’s been a rough few years due to the pandemic, but things seem to slowly be going back to normal. Since 2020, the San Diego Comic-Con has been an online event only. Now, it’s finally back to a live event with many of its popular panels returning, including a Sonic presentation from IDW. The panel, “Sonic the Hedgehog: 50 Way Past Cool Issues and Counting!” will be hosted on Sunday, July 24th from 10:30-11:30 am PST. Here are all the panel details straight from the San Diego Comic-Con website.

IDW’s Sonic The Hedgehog comic book reaches its 50th issue this summer, a mind-blowing face-off with Sonic and Tails facing their twisted counterparts, Surge and Kit. IDW editor David Mariotte, artists Gigi Dutreix and Adam Bryce Thomas, and writer Daniel Barnes provide a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a milestone and tease what’s next for the Blue Blur!

I’ll be there to cover the panel along with any other Sonic news coming out of Comic-Con. If permitted, I may even be covering the panel live here on the Sonic Stadium!

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Today’s Sonic Origins Streaming Schedule

Sonic Origins is out, and we’ve got a packed day of showing it off! If you’re not busy playing it yourself, if you’ve got any specific questions about the game, or if you just want to hang out and chat about it, join us on Twitch or YouTube as we take requests and experience a bit of Sonic Origins together!

Twitch feed: https://www.twitch.tv/sonicstadium

No-Cutscene-Spoilers Overview (PC / Steam Deck / Switch)

8 AM PT / 11 AM ET / 3 PM UTC
(about 60-90 minutes long)

We’ll be checking out all the core features of the game, answering your questions, and taking your requests as we JUST check out the games, settings, and bonuses in the collection! If you plan on getting the game later and don’t want to get spoiled on the new animated sequences, this stream is for you.

Extended Story Mode Gameplay

10 AM PT / 1 PM ET / 5 PM UTC
(until ???)

If you want to check out the game’s story mode including cutscenes, we’ll be playing as much of it as we reasonably can! No guarantee that we’ll complete all three games, but rest assured we’ll at least be rushing through a bunch.

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TSS REVIEW: Sonic Origins

Sonic has been running for 31 years now, and yet of all of his adventures to date the original Mega Drive games still remain fan favourites. It’s no wonder that most of these timeless classics have been re-released in countless compilations over the years, but Sonic Origins stands out by daring to do something a little different this time around.

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Sonic’s New Frontiers: What We Still Need From Sonic’s First Open World

The IGN coverage thus far has left a lot of unanswered questions. Unsurprisingly, ten minutes of lightly edited gameplay footage without narration or context hasn’t proven itself to be a great way to premiere this game for the first time. We’ve seen a bit of the combat, we’ve seen a little world traversal, and we’ve seen more sky grinding than Final Rush and Rail Canyon’s unholy lovechild. But there’s some BIG aspects we still don’t know about. Big aspects like what the game is.

Continue reading Sonic’s New Frontiers: What We Still Need From Sonic’s First Open World
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Sonic Frontiers Gameplay Impressions

So, Sonic Frontiers gameplay has finally been unveiled, thanks to two videos this week that outlined two key concepts; exploration of the open world, and advanced combat techniques. Now that we’d had a chance to digest and absorb all the information, our gut reaction is… we didn’t… hate it?

Continue reading Sonic Frontiers Gameplay Impressions
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How the Xbox Series S/X Redeems Sonic Unleashed (Sort of)

For as polished as Sonic Unleashed’s graphics are, its biggest visual flaw is its framerate. The Xbox 360 version played at a mostly steady 24-30 (capped) FPS, while the PS3 version was worse for wear despite an uncapped framerate that would bring the game up to 48FPS on occasion, but dropping to 24FPS or below ruining the flow of the game.

In many ways, the game’s graphic-intensive “Hedgehog Engine” was a bit too ahead of its time. It couldn’t keep a steady 30 FPS on the most powerful system of that era. It would take 2011’s Sonic Generations to iron the kinks out. While the Werehog levels weren’t affected too much by the framerate, several daytime Sonic levels dropped frames horribly. Jungle Joyride became a slideshow at times. Now, in 2022, Sonic Unleashed’s full potential has been unlocked thanks to the Boost Mode on the Xbox Series S/X, bringing the game to a steady 60 FPS.

To me, this brought the game from a guilty pleasure to a legitimately good Sonic title. Sonic’s daytime levels run as smooth as silk, giving you better handling and control. Even the Werehog levels feel less cumbersome as Sonic now feels faster and more responsive. There seems to be less blur as well. The high framerate allows for a faster response time. I can honestly say I was actually enjoying the Werehog levels for a change.

That doesn’t mean the game’s old flaws aren’t still present. Medal collecting near the end game is still soul-crushing, the Werehog levels are still a bit too long, and having the camera suddenly change position when you’re balancing across a steel beam is still as irritating as ever. That said, if you love this style of Sonic gameplay, it’s never looked or played better than it does on Series S/X.

The Series S/X boost mode also improves other Sonic titles as well. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed gets a 60 FPS boost, and Sonic Generations runs at both 4K resolution and 60FPS.

To see Sonic Unleashed in action on the Series S/X, check out our gameplay video below.

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Guide to ALL Sonic Content in the KartRider Rush+ Crossover [UPDATED MAY 5]

Since 2020, I’ve played (to my knowledge) every Sonic crossover collaboration in a mobile game. I beat up Mad Max rejects as Super Sonic in Fist of the North Star, I summoned Sonic as a demon in Shin Megami Tensei, and had an epic battle with my wallet in Cookie Run: Kingdom. However, of all the mobile games I dipped my foot into, only two ever took hold for more than a month: Ulala Idle Adventure, and KartRider Rush+. KartRider’s Sonic content has been broader and more involved than any of the other games I just mentioned, but if you want to get started with it, knowing where to find all the Sonic content is tricky (and potentially expensive) business.

[UPDATE] As of May 5, Tails and Chao are now available via the Monthly Pass, and the Dr. Eggman event has started. At this time, there are no future Sonic collaboration content updates we are aware of. However, if any do happen, we will update this article.

What is KartRider Rush+?

KartRider Rush+ is a mobile version of a very popular Korean kart racing game by Nexon (who you might know as the publisher of MapleStory). It features a cartoony style, a variety of game modes, a lengthy story mode with English-dubbed voice acting, and is free to play without timer restrictions. However, as it is a free to play game, many cosmetics, including many of the Sonic cosmetics, are only available if you pay for them. The game has gacha systems for certain cosmetics, but not for any of the Sonic content.

This is not an exhaustive tutorial of the game, but this guide will cover how to access the Sonic content, and how much it will cost.

What can I get for free?

Until May 10, you can redeem this code for Tails Headgear (a Tails face that hovers over your head, a Tails license plate, and a Chao license plate. To enter it, go to Settings (gear icon) > Account > Voucher Code. Passwords are region-specific.

EXPIRED: Until May 3, you can redeem this code for a free Sonic backback and “headgear” (a Sonic face that hovers over your head). To access code entry, go to Settings (gear icon) > Account > Voucher Code. Passwords are region-specific.

Until May 31, you can complete missions to collect “Sonic Letter Shards.” These shards can be exchanged for a Sonic aura, a Sonic Skateboard, a Ring Headgear, a Sonic Driftmoji (special effects that appear when you drift), Sonic Balloons (which are consumable when you equip them in item races, so be aware), and Ring decorations for your character’s home. The missions are daily, so you will need to play multiple days and complete them multiple times to collect every item.

The missions can be accessed from Events > Sonic Collection. The rewards can be accessed from Banquet > Sonic Collection.

Until June 16, you can unlock Sonic himself as a Kart (and a Sonic face mask) by completing special missions that will reward you with “Nitro Shards.” The mission screen then lets you convert a small number of Nitro Shards into a larger number of Ring Shards (yeah, I know, it’s bizarrely indirect). And as you collect more Ring Shards, more rewards unlock. Some missions repeat daily, and some repeat weekly.

At this point, I want to bring up that many collectables in this game are time-limited. I was annoyed by this at the beginning, but the game will throw a lot of time limited karts and clothes at you, so don’t take the limitation too seriously. By the time one free kart expires, you’ll have a different cool free kart to play with. Items list the number of days they’re available, or “Perm” if they permanently stay in your inventory.

Three tiers of unlocking Sonic are 30 days, 90 days, and permanent. If all you want is to dip into the game for free, try it out, play as Sonic, and then drop it, then 30 days might be good enough. Only you yourself know if it’s worth coming back every day to creep towards unlocking Sonic permanently.

This Sonic event can be accessed from the Sonic the Hedgehog icon on the main menu.

Until May 31, you can earn Dr. Eggman (Racer) as part of the “[Dr. Eggman] Secret Base” event. By completing missions, you’ll be able to flip over up to two of the cards on the grid and get rewards, including a Knuckles License Plate, Shadow/Tails/Sonic/Chao decals, Sonic balloons, and a 30-day unlock of Dr. Eggman himself. If you flip over all 20 cards, you’ll permanently unlock Dr. Eggman.

You can access the event via Banquet > [Dr. Eggman] Secret Base from the main menu.

Until May 31, you can earn Chao (Pet) as part of the free monthly Activity Pass. By completing weekly quests, you’ll earn Pass Points that increase your Pass Level (100 points per level), and unlock new rewards at each tier (up to Lv. 80). You can earn a 7 day unlock for Chao at Lvs. 2, 40, and 60. At Lv. 80, Chao unlocks permanently. At Lvs. 5, 25, 45, 65, and 77, you’ll earn Tails Balloons.

You can also earn a time-limited version of Tails (kart) at Lvs. 10, 30, 50, and 70, each adding 7 days and letting you play as Tails for free up to 28 days. You will need to purchase the Honor Pass in order to unlock him permanently (more below).

To access the Pass and Quests, go to the Pass icon on the main menu.

What do I have to pay for?

As of May 1, unlocking all available Sonic content costs a flat sum of $39, and requires actively completing missions and quests throughout the month.

If you want to unlock Tails (kart) permanently, he is available via the monthly Glory pass for $2.99. Once you pay, you immediately get a 7-day Tails unlock. As mentioned above, you need to complete weekly quests to gain Pass Points, gaining one level for every 100 points. Once you get your pass to Lv. 80, Tails will unlock permanently.

To access the Pass and Quests, go to the Pass icon on the main menu.

Things get a bit more involved from here on out:

Until May 31, you can unlock Knuckles and several other cosmetics via Red Star Ring Packs, which have a set price. The packs can be accessed from Banquet > Red Star Ring Pack.

Pack A is $8.99 and contains a different Sonic aura, Shadow balloons, some items, and a single Red Star Ring.

Pack B is $8.99 and contains a Dr. Eggman mask, a Shadow license plate and decals, some items, and another Red Star Ring.

Pack C is $17.99 and contains Knuckles (who is a driver, not a kart), Knuckles balloons and decals, and one last Red Star Ring.

To unlock Shadow (Kart), you’ll need the Red Star Rings from all three packs above. This puts Shadow’s price at about $36, though you’ll also get Knuckles and all the other Red Star Ring accessories and items.

Until May 31, you can unlock Dr. Eggman’s Egg Booster (Kart) by collecting ALL the other characters (which adds it to that $36 price tag to get Shadow and Knuckles, the temporary versions of Sonic, Tails, Chao, and Dr. Eggman are enough to unlock their part of the list). You can also earn 1up balloons, a Sonic avatar frame, a Knuckles glove on a wand, and a Sonic Team title on the path to completion.

The Egg Booster event can be accessed from the Final Battle vs. Dr. Eggman icon on the main menu.

Summary

I’ve personally spent more time in this game than I spend with many other full priced games I’ve purchased, and in that sense, I’ve felt justified in buying the Sonic cosmetics. However, I know not everyone is willing or able to simply spend $36+ on a mobile game. Hopefully this guide has helped anyone interested in the collaboration understand the costs involved, what you can get for free, and if the economics of this game are worth it to you at all.

For those who are interested in looking at the content but not buying or playing it, Sonic Stadium will have coverage of all these collaboration items on our YouTube channel as the event progresses. We’ve already started with Knuckles, Shadow, and the driver cosmetics:

The Sonic Stadium may link to retailers and earn a small commission on purchases made from users who click those links. These links will only appear in articles related to the product, in an unobtrusive manner, and do not influence our editorial decisions in any way.

7 Movie References In Sonic the Hedgehog 2 You Might Have Missed

The second Sonic the Hedgehog Movie is absolutely jam-packed with references to the games and even a nod to one of Ben Schwartz’s previous shows, Parks and Recreation. In addition to these, there are a plethora of movie references and tropes featuring throughout the 2-hour run time. While some of these are very obvious (such as Officer Wade Whipple’s referral to Ghostbusters’ infamous candy Kaiju, The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man), some will only have been spotted by the most avid movie buffs!
Below are our 7 favourite subtle movie references in Sonic’s latest cinema outing…

Be warned – movie spoilers ahead!!!

Klaatu Barada Nikto!

Before Knuckles makes his appearance through the ring, Dr Robotnik welcomes the three nameless warriors with the very strange greetings of “Klaatu Barada Nikto!”. Classic sci-fi fans will know this as the famous phrase that originated in the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still – uttered to pacify the giant robot Gort and prevent him from destroying the world. Ironic considering the final act of the movie!

That Slide

Sonic sets about trashing the Wachowski household minutes after Tom and Maddie depart for Hawaii, starting with a slide into the living room with his back to the camera. Those with a keen knowledge of 80’s coming-of-age flicks will recognise this as a homage to the underwear dance scene from 1983’s Risky Business performed by a young Tom Cruise, in which Cruise’s character Joel has also just been left home alone in his parents’ house.

Witching Hour

Margaret Hamilton, the mother of Hamilton Meserve, plays the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz.”

When Robotnik returns to Earth at night and confronts Sonic in the Wachowski house he threatens Sonic, finishing his line with “…AND YOUR LITTLE DOG TOO!”. The quote references the threat given by the Wicked Witch of the West to Dorothy in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. The threat is often used as a trope when a villain wants to prove how evil they are.

The name of the Wachowski family dog? Ozzy, of course.

Cast Away

Robotnik’s descent into complete madness when he is exiled to the Mushroom Planet is staved off when he creates a replica Agent Stone out of, well, a stone. This bears semblance to 2000’s Cast Away, in which Tom Hank’s character Chuck creates an inanimate companion, Wilson, from a flotsam Volleyball after being marooned on a remote uninhabited island.

“It’s derivative!”

Knuckles and Robotnik’s navigation through the Labyrinth Zone sees the two antagonists chased down corridor by a huge boulder. While this has most certainly become an adventure movie and video game trope, the idea originated in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones movie. The trope doesn’t go unnoticed by Robotnik, as he says “I refuse to die like this; it’s derivative!”

The 8th Wonder

During the fight between our heroes and the Death Egg Robot and shortly before the destruction of the biplane, Robotnik begins to mockingly swipe at Tails as he manoeuvres around the mechanical juggernaut. This is of course a tribute to the 1933 classic King Kong, in which the final scene sees the colossus batting away attacking Curtis Helldiver biplanes.

Home Run

The second Sonic movie ends where the first started in the Green Hills baseball field, with our protagonist getting his wish of having others to play with. After Knuckles’ “Power bump” that sees him hit a home run, a familiar horn riff plays as declares his conquering of the bases. Soundtrack enthusiasts will recognise this as the theme to 1983’s The Natural, Barry Levinson’s love letter to one of America’s favourite sports.

Have we missed any subtle movie references in Sonic 2? Let us know in the comments!

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Roblox, Mobile Events, and LOTS of Music: This Week in Video

Hoy all, it’s been a VERY busy week for video content on Sonic Stadium, and while we used to simply round up everything we’ve been doing on Twitch, we’ve been pushing forward on getting more YouTube content together, and we’d like to highlight that too! Here’s our inaugural This Week in Video!

On Twitch

These and all our Twitch streams can be found over on the Sonic Stadium Twitch Channel!

Sonic Talk Podcast – Sunday, Apr. 24 – 4PM PST / 7 PM EST / 12 AM GMT

It’s nearing the end of the month, and thus it’s time for Nuckles87, Shigs, and GX to round up everything in Sonic news this month in a brand new Sonic Talk podcast! Expect plenty of Sonic Origins discussion this week.

Almost Every Sonic – Tuesday, Apr. 26 – 4 PM PST / 7 PM EST / 12 AM GMT

On Tuesday, Almost Every Sonic returns, and will be checking out the Sonic events in KartRider Rush+ on mobile. We may also return to Sonic Speed Simulator to check in on its latest updates, time permitting.

SegaSonic Radio – Friday, Apr. 29 – 4 PM PST / 7 PM EST / 12 AM GMT

As always, GX is digging deep to find plenty of great SEGA and Sonic music for SegaSonic Radio. It’s the weekend, so chill and enjoy some Sonic hits!

On YouTube

Our biggest project is that we’ve finally uploaded our ENTIRE 30 episode backlog of SegaSonic Radio!! You can check out the entire 2021/2022 series thus far via this playlist, or just start from our latest episode here:

We’ve got plenty of gameplay uploads this week! To start, Nuckles87 played Sonic Venture, a very impressive fan game demo made entirely in the PS4/PS5 game creator Dreams!

In Roblox, GX took a look at both the Nickverse Sonic 2 event and plenty of Sonic Speed Simulator.

Nuckles87 also spent some time in Sonic Dash and Sonic Forces: Speed Battle for the Sonic 2 movie events, and brought us gameplay footage of Movie Tails and Movie Knuckles:

If you’re yearning for more, Nuckles posted video of the lead-up, collecting Knuckles emblems in Sonic Dash, and completing Tails missions / Knuckles Challenges in Sonic Forces. Go check ’em out!

One More Thing

Starting next week, we’ll be uploading the archive of another of our streaming series, Winter Wonderworld, where GX begrudgingly plods his way through the entirety of Balan Wonderworld. Each in the nine-episode series will go live Thursdays at 12:00 PM EST.

We’re also preparing to upload our entire backlog of Almost Every Sonic. If you like Sonic longplays, obscure games, and weird mobile crossovers, stay tuned over the coming weeks!

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Bats, Family, and Outer Space: What Knuckles Should Do in His Paramount+ Series

*** SPOILER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PLOT DETAILS FROM THE END OF SONIC 2 ***

I am a Knuckles fan. His name is my online handle, which I’ve been using consistently since the early days of the SEGA forums. I love his moves, his lore, and even his weird comic series. So, naturally, I was excited when Paramount announced a Knuckles-centric TV series a few months ago, starring the red, dreadlocked knucklehead. It wasn’t long before my worry over Sonic 2 fumbling things tempered that excitement with anxiety, but now that I’ve seen the movie that anxiety has given way to enthusiasm. Knuckles was the best thing in that movie and I am ready for a show about him.

But…what exactly will the Knuckles series be? All we know about it is that it’ll be a live action series on Paramount Plus. I can’t imagine something like that being done without a sizable budget akin to Disney+’s MCU and Star Wars offerings. That is an assumption I will be running with for this article. What do I want from the Knuckles series? A lot, but I’d like to think my hopes are at least somewhat realistic (yes, including this first one.)

It’s Time to Go Off-World

The Sonic movies have been consistently teasing us with a larger universe. We’ve been given brief glimpses of Sonic’s home and the mushroom planet, Tails has talked about a “village,” and Knuckles’ introduction was even preceded by strange masked aliens, initially introduced in the Sonic 2 Pre-Quill comic.

It’s high time the Sonic Movie Universe make good on those teases and actually take us somewhere. A planet hopping space adventure would be the perfect backdrop for a TV show. Likewise, a TV show is a great place to flesh out multiple locations beyond Earth in the Sonic Movie Universe. I wouldn’t expect most of these locations to be especially fantastical or grand for purely budgetary reasons, but I will definitely take “generic desert planet” and “rusty cheap-looking backwater planet” over “Knuckles goes to New Jersey.”

Make it Knuckles, Sonic and Tails’ First Adventure Together

Yes, this is a Knuckles show, but that doesn’t mean Sonic and Tails can’t get in on the action! Sonic 2 served as an origin for the trio coming together as friends, but there is no better medium for their first proper adventure than a TV show. Explore their chemistry. Let them talk and explore their interactions outside of the context of a movie climax. Let Sonic be the fish out of water as he’s taken to places Knuckles is more familiar with.

As fun as Knuckles is, I think he was at his best when he had Sonic and Tails to bounce off of, so it’d be a shame to separate them for his small screen debut. Let Knuckles have the main plot and the spotlight, but allow Sonic and Tails to tag along for the ride.

Bring Back Knuckles’ People…and Make Them the Bad Guys

Look: I don’t care what Knuckles said, Longclaw didn’t wipe out his entire tribe. They are alive, and if they are meant to be dead, undead them, because they would make the perfect villains for this series. It is already firmly established in these movies that the echidnas are the power-hungry aggressors. They were the ones who created the Master Emerald, they were the ones who used it for war, and they were the ones who hunted down the owls and attempted to take Sonic’s power. They can certainly be three dimensional villains. Giving them a reason to be so power hungry would only make them more interesting. But ultimately, Knuckles needs to come down against them.

So how could this work? Have them abandon Knuckles. When they went after Longclaw and failed to capture Sonic, they began searching the universe relentlessly for him and the map to the Master Emerald rather than return to him. This would not only demonstrate how far his people have fallen that they would rather hunt for power than go back for one of their own, it would also allow the SMU to explore a different kind of familial loss, and the differences between family by blood and family by love, and why one is more meaningful.

Heck, Tikal could even be introduced as an unwilling pawn of her people. When the Master Emerald is used at the end of Sonic 2, the echidnas learn that Knuckles has it. Tikal is sent under the lie that she’s looking for their people. Knuckles, upon discovering they are alive, agrees to help her find them. Sonic and Tails won’t let him go alone. This gives us the motivation for the planet-hopping adventure as they go from planet to planet, searching for clues, Tikal subtly pointing them in the right direction. This was, in reality, done to separate the Master Emerald from its protectors.

Some version of this, where the story potential for Knuckles’ people is utilized, and Knuckles is made to see the truth about them, feels like the perfect place to take this. It wraps up standing plot points, gives Knuckles a unique group of villains who are personal to him, strengthens his newfound bonds, and gives our tri-colored trio their first test as the Master Emerald’s guardians.

If You’re Going to Focus on Humans, Focus on the Wachowskis

I am going to say something potentially controversial: Tom and Maddie Wachowski are the only decent human characters in the Sonic movies. Everyone else is an annoying cartoon caricature of a human, Jim Carrey worst of all. But even if I liked Carrey, he shouldn’t be here, as Knuckles ought to have his own villain. So since a live action Sonic tv series will inevitably need to spend time with humans on Earth for budgetary reasons, they might as well flesh out the best ones.

Their plot? Well, jumping off my previous point: have them be the ones protecting the Master Emerald while the furballs are out in space. Maybe a few different parties, one of whom were hired by the echidnas, are after the gemstone and they need to go on their own adventure to keep it away from them. They can be hunted by those weird masked bird people from Sonic 2, some random humanoid aliens in make-up, and maybe eventually a certain…bat jewel thief.

Alternatively, if Knuckles and co need a human companion, Maddie can go with them and get some much-needed screen time, and Tom can get paired with Rachel and they’re made to hash their whole thing out.

Bring in Rouge

So if you ignored this article’s spoiler warnings, chances are you already know that Sonic 3 will have Shadow, effectively setting it up to be an adaptation of Sonic Adventure 2. You know who you can’t leave out of any version of SA2? Rouge. Problem is, with Sonic 3 set up to be a story about Shadow, Rouge will almost certainly take a backseat, much like Tails did in Sonic 2. That’s why Rouge absolutely needs to be in the Knuckles series.

There are multiple reasons to introduce Rouge here: she is the closest thing Knuckles has to his own adversary and rival in the games. They are both treasure hunters, and both have an interest in the Master Emerald. So bringing her in as a villain for Knuckles to eventually deal with only makes sense. With the Master Emerald and GUN now present in the SMU, Rouge also has something to do in regards to her own plotline. She has a jewel to hunt and a faction that can employ her skills for covert ops on Earth.

Bare minimum, the Knuckles series ought to lay the groundwork for Rouge’s role in Sonic 3.

Heck, Bring In Some Other Sonic Characters Too

The great thing about TV shows is that you can give a character or group of characters a complete story in a single episode’s run time. The Knuckles series isn’t just a good place to set up some stuff for Sonic 3, it’s a great place to set up stuff for the franchise as a whole going forward.

You know what would be cool? An episode where Knuckles just had to work with the Chaotix. While Sonic, Tails, and whoever else is with them go off to explore a planet or check out its local cuisine (mostly off-screen), Knuckles hires the bumbling detectives to find the next clue for finding his people or whatever he’s doing. Hijinks, of course, ensue.

A few episodes just establishing characters while Knuckles is on his adventure is a stellar way to bring new Sonic characters into the franchise.

Let the IDW Creative Team Work on an Episode or Two

You know who’s been consistently producing the best Sonic stories for the past four years? IDW. Yes, they’re busy people. Ian Flynn is working on a friggin game. I don’t care. Flynn has experience working in TV, Evan Stanley’s been doing great work at IDW for years, bring one or both of them in for an episode or two. I’m sure you all can work it out.

Nothing would make the fandom more excited for the series than their involvement, and they’re input would be nothing but a net benefit for the show. Please make this happen!

Dive Into the History of the Chaos Emeralds

Sonic 2 remained fairly vague on the details regarding the history of the Master Emerald and the Chaos Emeralds. Since Knuckles is the character most directly connected to the gemstones, a series about him ought to dive deeper into their history. How did the echidnas get their hands on the chaos emeralds? How did they create the Master Emerald? What other sorts of conflicts were the emeralds involved in? Heck, where did the Chaos Emeralds come from? SEGA has always been cagey about the Chaos Emerald’s origins, but that’s no reason for the movies to not touch on that in some way.

Whether its Tikal, Knuckles’ people, or a plot exposition fairy, the Knuckles series is the perfect opportunity to dive deeper. And if this does happen, Chaos and the chao ought to also be brought in, at least in some capacity. Chaos was the original Master Emerald guardian after all, and we know he wasn’t inside the Master Emerald in this universe. Maybe when the echidnas took the emeralds, he was imprisoned somewhere or something?

Basically, Make This a Weird Sonic Adventure Adaptation Set in Outer Space

I mean, this is basically what this whole article has been leading to, hasn’t it? Sonic Adventure was, in many ways, basically Knuckles’ story. His people, home, and the Master Emerald all sit at the center of the game’s events. It is the perfect game to mine for Knuckles-centric plot elements, and the many changes the SMU has made to the echidnas makes the game’s plot elements all the more enticing for a Knuckles TV series.

As I’ve been writing this, I’ve expected that Paramount already knows what it wants from a Knuckles series. So far, their Sonic writers have had a decent idea of what to take from the games. They’ve already grabbed bits and pieces from Sonic Adventure. I just hope they go back to that well again for this.

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Sonic Movies, Baseball, and Found Family Dynamics

*** SPOILER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PLOT DETAILS AND SCREENSHOTS FROM THE END OF SONIC 2 ***

When I went into the first Sonic movie more than two years ago, I wasn’t expecting much. I was incredibly cynical about the whole affair, in fact. “Sure,” I thought, “they made the design better. But plenty of terrible movies can still look nice.” Then, the Paramount and SEGA logos rolled, and the movie spent the next 13 minutes winning me over, before one moment finally sealed it. It demonstrated this movie was going to be more than pop culture references and Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey. This was a movie about a lonely kid that, shockingly, had a heart. Here, SEGA’s cool blue mascot was in a bad place, and desperately needed to find a way to move forward.

By the end of it he did, and it all started at a baseball field.

After giving the audience a tour of his adopted home, Green Hills, Sonic goes to a baseball game. A team wins, and they celebrate together, something Sonic is clearly envious of. Later, after nightfall, Sonic takes to the field and uses his speed to pretend to be an entire team. As a scene, there is a lot to like here: it features a creative use of Sonic’s speed, it shows what he’s capable of, and it also gives more screen time to establishing his character. The personalities Sonic gives his “teammates” are cute, and Ben Schwartz does a superb job bringing the whole thing to life. But then Sonic hits the ball, fails to catch it, “wins” the game by a hair, readies himself for the same sort of adulation he saw earlier only to experience…nothing. Because he’s alone.

For a moment, his cheerful façade cracks, and Sonic does something he never does in the games: he loses his cool. Overwhelmed by his loneliness, he unleashes all his pent-up frustrations by running laps around the field. This leads to a power outage across the entire Pacific Northwest, which naturally gets the attention of the US government and leads to Sonic getting discovered. More importantly, it also starts Sonic on a two-movie-long journey to finally experience what he saw on that field.

Two years later, Sonic was playing baseball again, but this time he wasn’t alone. He had an entire family to play with, celebrate with, and go off for ice cream with. As a scene, it acts as a very effective bookend to Sonic’s journey to end his loneliness and find his place in the world. Years after losing one family, he’s found another.

The through line these scenes book end ultimately make up the emotional core of these otherwise fairly trivial popcorn flicks, which makes them probably the most important ones of the entire film series so far. As cool as any of the action sequences are, and as effective as the characterization is for Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails, it would all mean next-to-nothing without that emotional core. Enjoyable movies aren’t built on action, pop culture jokes, weird Jim Carrey antics and Olive Garden gift cards. They are built on character, more specifically making audiences care about those characters.

Caring about Sonic and wanting to see him find that family he so desperately needs gives those action scenes weight. They make the bad jokes and Jim Carrey antics bearable. They make Sonic feel like a character and not a walking collection of dated references, and they give him a means to connect to characters like Tom, Tails, and Knuckles, creating the most effective and impactful scenes across both movies.

Of course, plenty of movies do the “found family” thing better, with Pixar’s Luca and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy executing it more effectively. The concept is also nothing new for Sonic as a franchise. Tails is Sonic’s little brother in the games, and the Freedom Fighters are basically Sonic’s surrogate family in both SatAM and Archie. Regardless, if someone had told me a few years ago that I’d get a little emotional at a scene in a Sonic movie where Sonic called a human “dad,” I’d call you a damn liar.

These movies had everything going against them from the beginning. From out of touch executives, to the terrible track record of video game adaptations, to how regularly terrible movies with cartoon animal sidekicks usually are! And yet, somehow, Sonic was able to find box office, audience, and (modest) critical success. Twice. Some will put the credit on the redesign and “listening to fans,” but the actual reason is much more fundamental: the movie’s writers were smart enough to give the characters heart, rooted in a game of baseball, that sprang forth into the most successful video game film franchise of all time.

As we move forward into a wider cinematic universe, I can only hope the Sonic Movie Universe’s creatives don’t lose sight of this. That heart is something that must be built upon and expanded, in order to keep audiences invested in these characters and their adventures.

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Sonic Talk Podcast: Sonic 2 Movie Spoilercast Special

Everyone on Sonic Talk has finally seen Sonic 2, and we’ve brought our thoughts to the podcast alongside our guest and boss Dreadknux!

With five different views, good discussion is guaranteed! But of course, with loads of people comes a lengthy discussion, as we dissect and debate the entirety of the movie and its characters in depth. So be sure to grab a snack and drink before hand, or save us for when you’ve got some chores or work to do! Either way, check us out below:

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Sonic Talk Podcast 85: My Favorite Sonic Character is the Olive Garden


Sonic Talk episodes are finally returning to our Youtube, and we’re starting with the latest episode, recorded March 31. In this, we talk about the Sonic 2 Pre-quill comic, the last bit of Sonic movie news before the release of the movie, and Tails’ debut as a Vtuber, among other things!

But first, we talk about the latest things we’ve been playing, including Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Mario Kart 8’s DLC. Check out the episode below:

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TSS Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

You’d be forgiven for wondering if the success of the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie was a total fluke. After all, were it not for intense community feedback (and eventually the artistic talents of Tyson Hesse), the blue blur’s big-screen debut would have surely flopped. But with a car crash swiftly avoided, and the fanbase on-side as a result, it would have been easy for Paramount to rest on its laurels and phone it in for the sequel. Especially with the introduction of rival Knuckles the Echidna to automatically guarantee fan support.

Continue reading TSS Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
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RUMOR: Sonic 2 Happy Meal Toys Coming Soon?

It’s been almost two decades since Sonic and friends have been part of a McDonald’s Happy Meal promotion, but it looks like Sonic will be returning to the Golden Arches very soon. Yesterday, several images hit Twitter showing three (out of six) Sonic 2 Happy Meal toys. Tails, Knuckles, and a yet unknown Eggman robot. The images were quickly taken down due to a copyright claim.

Now, McDonald’s just started a Stitch Happy Meal promotion, so if this is true, don’t expect to see the toys for a few weeks, and it may depend on what country you are in. While we’re putting this under rumor, the images being taken down quickly due to a copyright strike would suggest that they could be the real deal.



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Sonic 2 Chinese New Year Posters Show Brand New Renders

It may be the Year of the Tiger, but for us Sonic fans, it will always be the year of the hedgehog. Paramount Pictures Malaysia has just released some new advertisements celebrating the Chinese New Year. You can see these new renders down below. Sonic 2 hits theaters on April 12 and April 28 in Malaysia.



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Streaming Schedule for Week of Jan. 24, UPDATE: Streams Cancelled

We’re back and ready to Twitch!

Continue reading Streaming Schedule for Week of Jan. 24, UPDATE: Streams Cancelled
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Sonic Meme Round-Up: Doc Ock Floats His Way into Sonic Twitter

So, we’re trying something new today: a round-up of all the Sonic related versions of the latest meme craze on Twitter. For anyone who doesn’t frequent social media (or wisely has their media preview setting switched to “off”) the internet is obsessed with photoshopping various things onto this image of Doc Ock altered by twitter user @Rawbertbeef. He removed Doc Ock’s mechanical arms, making him look like some sort of all-powerful being.

For context (and for assisting Sonic fans in their own meme-making) I’ve got the original, unaltered image below:

If you want a version without a background, you can find it here.

If you make your own, link it to us in the comments! If you find someone else’s on Twitter, link to the tweet (not the image).

Anyway, check out what horrible things the internet has wrought below! In an effort to make sure people are credited, we’re only embedding ones we’ve found on Twitter. If any of these don’t belong to the posters, we’ll try to correct it, but please don’t take this too seriously! We’re all just trying to enjoy some fun memes here!

First, we’ll start with the obvious one, created by my boss, which is his most popular tweet of all time, apparently. Because he’s my boss I’m obligated to say its the best one (it’s not):

When all is said and done, this tweet is what Dreadknux will be remembered for.

And now the rest!

If you find one on Twitter, link to the tweet (not just the image) in the comments. If you make one, feel free to share it in the comments. Keep it PG, please!

Not Sonic related, but here’s one more:

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2021 was the Year of Online Events

Sonic’s 30th may have been a slow year for Sonic games, but it didn’t stop SEGA from celebrating the event with videos, performances, and other fun and/or incomprehensibly weird features.

Continue reading 2021 was the Year of Online Events
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2021 Was the Year of Weird Mobile Crossovers

Sonic is no stranger to the FOMO demon that is mobile game limited time events. He’s hung out with PAC-MAN, he jammed with Taiko no Tatsujin, and Puyo Puyo Quest… is also a thing. That happened. And I really, really wish didn’t.

Pictured above: A mistake.

Anyhow, SEGA went mad with Sonic guesting in mobile games left and right. Here’s the breakdown:

Ulala: Idle Adventure

Ulala is an idling RPG where you and three other pre-historic adventurers team up to travel many lands, grinding experience and taking on bosses in automated battle. You’ll incrementally upgrade your fighter with equipment, abilities, and animal friends. This was one of the few games I legitimately enjoyed my time with and continued to play regularly for six months. You get some pretty significant benefits chipping in about $5 a month. If you’re after event cosmetics, the cost is miserable, but if you just want to play the game, it’s pretty generous.

During the Sonic event, the blue boy himself has been thrown into this world by a portal, and he’ll need you to recharge enough energy to send him home by playing a very basic Sonic Dash-like minigame, and then inflicting as much damage to Eggman as possible. Your reward for completing tasks (and/or spending heaps of premium currency) is Sonic and Eggman cosmetics, the coolest of which is Eggman’s mustache, which lets your character pilot the hovercraft between encounters.

Fist of the North Star LEGENDS ReVIVE

I’m a bit of a Shonen Jump fan, and my heart leapt at the thought of just how profoundly asinine this would be. I was not disappointed.

Legends Revive is a gashapon (or gacha) character collecting RPG following the events of the Fist of the North Star manga and anime, where expert martial artist Kenshiro walks the wasteland of the post-apocalypse and punches brawny Mad-Max rejects until they explode into viscera. So yeah, perfect game to add Sonic to. There’s no context to why Sonic’s there. He just is, bringing along a bunch of music that either doesn’t quite fit the tone of the game, or fits it perfectly.

The game itself is a mess of a design. The RPG part is simple, just tap your characters in the order you want to attack, do it at the right time to maintain a combo, and occasionally pop off super moves. But there are so many menus and modes and stores and daily missions stacked on top of it. The menu is awash in icons, it’s barely navigable and incredibly disorienting.

It’s not a good game, not in the slightest, but it had me hooked for a solid month on the novelty of running through the story and watching an extremely overpowered Sonic go super with his 1980’s beefcake anime buddies as Live and Learn blares out my tablet speakers.

Dx2 Shin Megami Tensei: Liberation

I’ve seen that game’s title arranged about five different ways, so I don’t know what word order is supposed to be the most accurate anymore.

Sonic as a demon in an SMT Digital Devil-style world is conceptually funny, but the game just couldn’t hold my attention very long. Your avatar is conscripted into a war between two factions of fighters, each battling SMT style with digital demons on your phones. Much like the series proper, you’ll be recruiting, fusing, and building elemental combos with various demons, though this edition lets you recruit via gacha.

It isn’t bad. The visual style is very SMT, the characters can get a little wild, and boy is there plenty of story. But I think my hesitance just comes down to my lack of experience with the primary series. If you’re an SMT fanatic and don’t mind juggling your standard free-to-play complications, it seems like it has a touch more depth than you might expect from a mobile RPG.

I’m mad that I like this game. It doesn’t deserve praise, but darn it, it has really solid production values, fun characters, and entertaining writing. It’s also EVERY irritating mobile game design wrapped into a single package. Not only is it a town-building timer-waiting resource-tapping slog, but it’s also a gacha-collecting RPG-incrementing money-dumping grind.

The Sonic content was pretty entertaining, but it was designed for players at a much higher level than you could likely get to in the brief time the event ran. You could get adorable cookie version of both Sonic and Tails, but only by exchanging rings for pulls from a specialty limited-quantity gacha. If you got seven Chaos Emeralds from it, you could unlock one of the two heroes, but it sure seems like that seventh emerald was rigged to be the VERY LAST item you’d nab from the lot.

The production value of the Sonic content itself is great, with Smith and O’Shaughnessey doing voicework for the duo. With the event’s town-building decor, you can fill your town with Green Hill palm trees and chili dog stands. The cookies are cute, and they can do anything that any of the other characters can… but if you wanted them to get you past the third stage of their special Green Hill Eggman Battle stages, you’ll be out of luck. The power requirement jump between each Sonic RPG stage was huge. But don’t worry, for only $20, you could get the big pack that might net you 60% of a Sonic. Or one of the dozens upon dozens of subscriptions and packs in their store. I’d legitimately love to see the story to its conclusion, but I just don’t think I have the patience, persistence, and fortitude to do so.


It was beyond unusual to get a continuous stream of Sonic mobile game guest appearances, but I predominantly have three takeaways:

First, the best crossovers are the ones that are just completely nonsensical and provoke the strongest dissonance possible.

Second, trying to grapple with three Japanese/Korean gacha RPGs across three months is both expensive and spiritually draining.

And finally, Puyo Puyo Quest currently has somewhere in the realm of 2500 characters and character variants, and many of them are deeply upsetting. The Sonic event from a previous year returned, and I got Ringo cosplaying as Shadow. The game is a worse version of Puzzle and Dragon. I’m ending this article with a picture of Arle dressed as Eva Unit 001:

Happy New Year, I guess?

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2021 Was the Year of Waiting for Trailers

While it may still feel fresh in everyone’s mind, Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces were released in late 2017. We are four years divorced from those games (five by the time we get the next major release), with only one Sumo Digital racer and a piece of significant DLC between. We as Sonic fans don’t typically have to wait as long for the next big thing, even if the next big thing is a disappointment. We’re hungry, and we can’t stop thinking about what’s next.

2021 came with multiple new game announcements, a couple new trailers, and in spite of all that, we still don’t have a firm idea on what that next thing is.

May’s Sonic Central was a firehose of announcements, from the first official reveal of Sonic Colors: Ultimate to King Ice’s big gaudy necklaces to putting fictional doctors and athletes in Sonic mascot suits. But wedged in there were announcements for Sonic Origins, a collection of the core 16-bit Sonic platformers, and some sort of game where Sonic runs through the woods with digital effects (we now know as Sonic Frontiers). Despite these reveals, both slotted for next year, we have not actually seen their respective games. We’ve seen messaging, aspirations, and broad genre and style proclamations, but we’ve not seen an actual fully-formed game idea that will clearly go on to become a retail product.

While I don’t think the infamous Sonic Cycle has held real power for over a decade, SEGA’s marketing strategy remains as frustrating as ever: they seed teasers and extremely limited reveals long before they show any context, letting everyone’s mind go wild with possibilities before eventually grounding us in the reality of the game they are actually making. I’ve seen so many fans envision what Sonic Frontiers would be/could be/should be based on slow pans of landscapes and 4chan leaks from 2019, but the hard reality is that we still know very little of what that game is now and what it will be a year from now. The Game Awards trailer only contains three real pieces of information about the game:

1. The next Sonic game is open world.

2. It has open, natural environments with ancient-civilization-style points of interest dotted throughout.

3. There are one or more giant enemies.

At the very least, these core concepts have been around long enough that a CG animation studio (Marza or otherwise) was able to complete pre-rendered cutscenes for the trailer. What they don’t show during this trailer is what Sonic does, which, you know, is kind of important for a game. But the goal here admittedly wasn’t to show the game itself. The goal was messaging, and the message is, “We are working on the next game, and we’re winding up for a big risky swing.”

Weirdly, Origins is an even tougher nut to crack. We’ve either seen 60% of the game already if the collection compiles the Retro/Star Engine remakes (or some modification of them) while finally adding Sonic 3 & Knuckles to the lineup, or we’ve seen literally nothing if they’re using some other engine to recreate these games in 16:9. That said, development must have been incredibly early when SEGA announced it, since the Sonic Central reveal contains no actual video of the collection itself (as denoted by the “Original Gameplay” disclaimer in the corner and all the 4:3 footage of Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles).

In the same vein, we still know precious little about next year’s new animated series, Sonic Prime, save for some concept art we weren’t supposed to see. We know it’s some manner of multiverse show coming from Man of Action and WildBrain, two groups whose outputs vary wildly in quality and demographic aim. If there’s any room for more definitive feelings about a future Sonic project, the one space where we did get a trailer with plenty of information was for Paramount’s Sonic 2 movie. It’s more Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey antics, but with game references and Idris Elba. You probably already have a sense of whether or not that appeals to you.

I’m left excited and anxious for 2022, not because I can point to anything and say “I think this will be good” or “I think this will be a trash fire.” I just need to know. 2021 wasn’t an appetizer, it was looking at a menu and imagining the best and worst possible scenarios. Making a satisfying open world game is difficult and time consuming for any development studio, but Sonic Team certainly have plenty of time. Templates for really satisfying open world games exist, such as Breath of the Wild and Shadow of the Colossus, and the Frontiers trailer has an interest in both.

These 2022 projects are still a ways out, it’s worth reiterating that. But who can blame us for walking away from 2021 disoriented. We were told so much, and yet we were told so little. Until we actually have a clear vision of what next year’s games and cartoon are, we’ll be entering 2022 still waiting for trailers.

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What Are These Pins For, And Do They Point to More LEGO Sonic?

Connect the dots, people. And not just the official LEGO theme “Dots.”

Continue reading What Are These Pins For, And Do They Point to More LEGO Sonic?
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Streaming Schedule for the Rest of the Year

Goodbye, normalcy. Hello special events!

Continue reading Streaming Schedule for the Rest of the Year
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Streaming Schedule for Week of Dec. 13

A return to (mostly) normalcy.

Continue reading Streaming Schedule for Week of Dec. 13
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Is This a Reference? Sonic 2 Trailer Edition

Did we notice something in here, or are we just trying too hard?

Continue reading Is This a Reference? Sonic 2 Trailer Edition
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Streaming Schedule for Week of Dec. 6

Including a co-stream of The Game Awards!

Continue reading Streaming Schedule for Week of Dec. 6
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