2017 – A Year In Supersonic Review

2017 – A Year In Supersonic Review

by December 28, 2017

2017. It was the busiest year that Sonic has had in a long time. But if there is one word that could describe 2017, it was “contradiction”. Where as Sonic united with Sonic Mania, it divided with Sonic Forces. SEGA hyped up some games at the same time they ignored others. And yet, somehow, a year that was busy for SEGA was also quiet. SEGA didn’t really do many interviews. Television commercials for their games never happened. You wouldn’t even think SEGA had done anything, were it not for the internet and word of mouth. Still, there is a lot to talk about. So with that said…

Welcome to the 8th annual installment of the “Year In Supersonic Review” series! Every year, we take a moment to look back at the year that was and look towards the year that will be for SEGA and Sonic. I reflect on SEGA and Sonic’s year and predict what the new year will bring. As some of you may know, depending on how long you have been reading on TSSZ, I have been doing this for a few years now on TSSZ, and I began the series as a whole on Sonic Paradox in 2010. Normally, this is where I let loose with my opinions and go wild. 2017 will be no exception. If you want to see previous installments of this series, here is every single one of them:

2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016

So, it is time to get started. Let us begin by taking a look back at the top 10 Sonic/SEGA news stories of the year.

Top 10 Sonic/SEGA News Stories of 2017

10) The Sonic Boom Cartoon Mismanagement Continues – Another season of Sonic Boom came and went this year. It was also another season of mismanagement by Cartoon Network/Boomerang. I don’t think any more needs to be said here. But it was one of the major topics of discussion that occurred this year.

9) SEGA Forever Is Born – Nintendo has the Virtual Console, and SEGA has…this. It was something that had been heavily rumored for a while, but it didn’t become official until two days before Sonic’s 26th birthday. It didn’t launch smoothly, though. In fact, if there was one theme that SEGA seemed to pull off often this year, it was screwy launches and pre-launch goofs. Nevertheless, SEGA Forever is still being supported. Golden Axe was released a few months ago, and Gunstar Heroes a few days ago.

8) Mario Odyssey Is Best Sonic Game – Nintendo had a fantastic 2017, and Super Mario Odyssey was one of the many reasons for this. What does this have to do with SEGA and Sonic? Simple. The game spawned many comparisons to Sonic games. Sonic Adventure was one game that got compared to Mario Odyssey often. Things such as Mario’s roll move and a song in the game that I’d spoil by talking about any further are just two of the reasons for this.

7) The Ongoing Antics Of The Official Sonic Live Streams – Sonic dolls lurk in the shadows, but the Sonic PR team certainly didn’t. It can be argued that the main source of news came not from interviews or articles, but from the official Sonic PR live streams. During the period where Archie went silent on the Sonic comics, this was the only place that gave any kind of information on what was going on. One thing is for sure. Expect many more antics to come from their streams in 2018.

6) Mobile Sonic Takes A Backseat – What is most ironic about the SEGA Forever mobile initiative is that Sonic barely has a presence there. Only Sonic 1 is there. In fact, SEGA really didn’t acknowledge Sonic on mobile at all this year, despite the fact that 2017 saw the release of two new Sonic games on mobile devices. A couple of tweets about Sonic Runners Adventure is really all we got. Sonic Forces: Speed Battle wasn’t even mentioned, outside of a small press release. Maybe it was the strange road leading up to these releases (more on that later) that did this, but it really stood out.

5) Super Sonic Is Now DLC – There is a reason I wait until the final few days of the year to write these up, and this is why. You never know if something big will appear at the last minute. And sure enough, this year saw exactly that. Unfortunately, it wasn’t well received. That’s because the arrival of Super Sonic in Sonic Forces was stuck behind a DLC wall, soon to be a pay-wall. For the first time in 25 years, Super Sonic has to be downloaded separately in a console Sonic game.

4) Fan Characters Are Now Canon – No doubt about it, the biggest thing that Sonic Forces had was the “Custom Hero”, or “Avatar”, gameplay. Just like SEGA Forever, this is something that had been rumored for a while. Even then, it didn’t diminish the impact that this announcement had.

3) Sonic Embraces DRM – Sonic Mania had been just about flawless with spawning hype and excitement in the road to its release. Then came the discovery of DRM on the PC version. And people flipped out. It was later discovered that Sonic Forces has it too, but learning of Mania’s DRM left a sour taste in the mouths of gamers.

2) Sonic Returns To SXSW – It may be hard to believe, but by this time last year, Sonic Forces was ‘Project Sonic 2017″ and all we knew was that Modern and Classic Sonic were in it. That, and there seemed to be a burning city. Fast forward to March of 2017, and SEGA returned to SXSW to host a Sonic panel that contained plenty of news on both Mania and, well, Forces. It was at this panel that the name “Sonic Forces” was revealed to the world. Memes based on the name went wild, and we got our first look at gameplay. It set the tone for Sonic’s 2017.

1) RIP Archie Sonic – I never would have expected that 2017 would result in the Sonic comics going the route that it did. It feels so distant, but in late-December of 2016, there were absolutely no indicators of the chaos that was to come. Then came the delays in solicitations by Archie. Then came months of no new comics coming out. Then came no info whatsoever. Finally, after 6 months of uncertainty, confusion, and anger…Archie Sonic was coming to an end. Not with a bang, but with a whisper. It has been almost a year since Archie Comics last mentioned Sonic. No one has gotten their money back for the sudden cancellation. As for IDW, the uncertainty hasn’t ended with the Archie Sonic cancellation news. IDW is not saying really anything about the comics, even today. We don’t really know much about them, other than when they start coming out and that Ian Flynn is the head of the IDW Sonic team. It has been a train wreck, easily one of the most mismanaged, disgraceful, and depressing things that the Sonic brand has seen. There is still room for optimism about where IDW Sonic will go, but there is no question that 2017 was a historic year for the Sonic comics, and things will never be the same.

Honorable Mentions: Sonic Revolution 2017

So, we now return to that segment, where we look back at Sonic and SEGA news stories from the past year that were just odd or outright wrong. These oddities were so odd that you simply can’t look back at the year without these becoming some kind of topic of discussion.

Sonic/SEGA 2017 News Story Oddities

Omelette Is Born – Omelette, or Eggette, was a strange phenomenon spawned by an upside down Eggman sprite from Sonic Mania. In a year where fan characters had been officially endorsed by SEGA in Sonic Forces, it was Sonic Mania that ironically got the better reception of the two in fan characters.

The Phantom Mobile Games – We touched upon Sonic Runners Adventure and Sonic Forces: Speed Battle earlier in the article, but how we learned about these two mobile titles are a topic of discussion on its own. Because these were the strangest releases I have ever seen from any Sonic title. We learned about Sonic Forces: Speed Battle from the Philippines App Store, where it randomly showed up. Sonic Runners Adventure came about via a series of blunders by Gameloft, including the leak of a reveal trailer that we never saw again, even when the Sonic PR team announced the game many months later. Both games underwent completely random soft launches before actually coming out for real. These two mobile games were clearly known throughout the Sonic community, but it seemed like all effort by SEGA and Gameloft went into pretending they didn’t even exist. They received just about no promotion whatsoever. Since then, the Sonic community has largely forgotten them. These two games are phantoms.

Sonic Forces Sonic To Partner With Hooters – So this happened. I still don’t understand why. Nevertheless, this was somehow the biggest Sonic news to come from Tokyo Game Show 2017. And it was the biggest laughing-stock that Sonic Forces got pre-release.

Now it’s time to look back at SEGA’s Sonic releases this year, and how well they did.

2017 Review For The Sonic Franchise

Sonic Mania
CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

Sonic Forces
CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

Sonic Forces: Speed Battle
CRITICAL RECEPTION: No Interest At All

Sonic Runners Adventure
CRITICAL RECEPTION: No Interest At All

So what’s the final grade for SEGA this year? Read on!

2017 SEGA Report Card

Summary: Last year, I gave SEGA a B+. It seemed like there were just nailing it on all fronts last year. So what happened? Sonic Mania and Yakuza 0 were successes. But that’s it. SEGA didn’t really promote anything right. Poor business decisions seemed to be the theme of this year. Nobody wanted DRM in Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces. Sonic Mania’s PC version was randomly delayed a couple of weeks. Sonic Forces is arguably the most divisive Sonic game in years. The Super Sonic DLC for Forces was a poor decision. Season 2 of Sonic Boom was not acknowledged by SEGA for half the year. I already explained how the mobile Sonic titles went. SEGA isn’t cleared of any involvement in the Archie Sonic fiasco either. I’m sure I forgot some things, but were it not for the massive success of Mania and Yakuza 0, they would’ve easily gotten one the lowest grades I’ve given them so far. They had an opportunity to prove that the things they said in 2015 interviews were from the heart, and they blew it.
Grade: C-

And now the fun truly begins. It’s that time of the article once again where we look towards the future and what things will be like for Sonic. But before we do, let’s take a look at the predictions I made for 2017 one year ago. I had periodically been looking through them during the year, and for good reason…

Reviewing Last Year’s Predictions…

Sonic: If 2016 was the launch of the space shuttle that is SEGA, then 2017 is the flight to space itself. 2017 will see the outcome of 2016’s Sonic announcements. January and February will be quiet for SEGA, but with one exception: Sonic Mania will get a release date, and the game will come out in March or April. Sonic Project 2017’s official name announcement will depend on how much SEGA is involved with the upcoming Nintendo Switch event in January. If they’re involved, we’ll get an announcement then. If not, we’ll probably have to wait until February at the earliest. Either way, the official name will come in the form of a new trailer were we will get our first true look at the game. The game itself will release in November. Sonic Boom will survive, but the cartoon will be the only pillar of the branch remaining. The games did not sell well, and merchandising sales have dropped. Because of this, the cartoon will finish season 2 next fall. However, sale failures will prompt SEGA to move on from the vast majority of Boom and, unfortunately, continue low promotion of the cartoon. With the Boom branch’s significance diminished, Sonic’s state will serve as a Classic branch and a Modern branch from 2017 onwards. As for new Sonic announcements, maybe a PC port. It’s still possible that Colors could be ported, and with Sonic’s 25th anniversary in the books, SEGA can move on to other things. Summer of Sonic won’t happen in 2017, but the Sonic Boom event may return in some form. A mobile Sonic title is not out of the question, with Runners now dead, but SEGA will be focusing more so on other franchises for the time being. But most importantly, we should get more information on the Sonic movie. In fact, it’s possible that we could get a trailer of some kind late in 2017, as the movie will release in just a year’s time by that point. Regardless of SEGA’s non-Sonic IP activity, Sonic will likely have an even busier year that 2016 with both Mania and especially Project 2017 releasing, with the latter driving the reigns of 2017 after Mania’s release.

SEGA: Expect a lot of games from SEGA, if SEGA Sammy’s reports have been anything to go by. Hatsune Miku and Yakuza will once again be the non-Sonic franchises that dominate the year. The former may see a new title announced sometime in mid to late-2017. However, they’ll be getting some more help. SEGA will announce a few new titles, and two mobile games. Re-releases/reboots? I think one is possible. But I think feedback from surveys SEGA has been doing will result in an IP making a return in 2017. We may see a PC port or two from the company as a whole. E3 for SEGA will continue to be subdued, but SEGA’s convention/expo visits as a whole will continue to be high. Overall, SEGA will have another busy year, maybe even busier than last year.

Looking back at my predictions scares me. They were more accurate than I ever expected. Indeed, 2017 saw the outcome of 2016’s announcements. January and February were, indeed, largely quiet for SEGA. However, a miscalculation on my part resulted in not noticing warning signs of Sonic Mania’s coming delay. As a result, I was off on its release date. The release date announcement didn’t come until March. There were more good predictions, though. Sure enough, SEGA’s lack of involvement in the Switch event did dictate when they would unveil Sonic Forces, which was March and thus “February at the earliest”. The official name did come in the form of a trailer, but it wasn’t a new one. And our first true look at the game was just 30 seconds of footage, not really a trailer. Sonic Forces did release in November, and the Sonic Boom cartoon did end up being the only thing in the Boom branch that has even been occurring this year. Season 2 did finish this past fall. As for the cartoon promotion, SEGA did increase it to a degree. We got episode previews during the live streams, and there were special sneak peeks for some episodes. However, it could’ve still been so much more. Indeed, Sonic has basically become a Classic branch (Mania) and a Modern branch (Forces). Sonic didn’t really get any PC ports, especially a Colors port, although there was a false alarm back in August. Summer of Sonic didn’t happen at all. The Sonic Boom event did return in some form, ala the Sonic SXSW panel. Not only did we get “a mobile Sonic title” but we got two of them. And one thing is for sure, SEGA Forever definitely suggested that SEGA wanted to focus on other IPs on mobile for the time being. What is most strange is that the Sonic movie still hasn’t gotten a trailer. We did get plenty of information about the movie though. It was delayed to 2019, and Paramount Pictures is now handling it. And, indeed, Sonic had an even busier year. Forces did “drive the reigns of 2017 after Mania’s release”.

As for SEGA as a while, the good predictions continued. A lot of games did come from SEGA. Miku and Yakuza did dominate the year. Yakuza got Yakuza 0, and Miku got Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone on January 10th. As for a “new Miku game”? Sort of. It was announced that Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone DX, a physical version of the newly released Future Tone game from January, would be coming out in November. It’s…confusing. But Future Tone DX released in late-2017, so that counts, maybe? Technicalities aside, SEGA did announce a few new titles and two mobile games. There have been plenty of re-releases. Reboots? Not really (if you don’t count the return of Bubsy), but a remaster of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap did come out on Steam. Speaking of which, SEGA release two PC ports on Steam, Vanquish and Bayonetta. E3 wasn’t as subdued as expected, but convention/expo visits were, indeed, high. SEGA’s year was busier than last year, for sure.

The fact that I got roughly 85% of my predictions right shocks me, and I highly doubt something like that will ever happen again. But it’s time to move on. There’s only one thing left to do. It is time to make a new set of predictions for the next 12 months. 2018. What will happen? Let’s do this.

2018 SEGA/Sonic Predictions

Sonic: There really isn’t a whole lot I can predict for Sonic in 2018. For the first time in a few years, we are going into a year where there isn’t anything major on the horizon for the Blue Blur. There may be a mobile game or spin-off Sonic title that releases sometime during the year, just to avoid a vacancy in Sonic releases, but expect a very quiet 2018 for Sonic. With Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces now but a memory, all eyes will turn towards IDW and the Sonic comics. They will release in April, as planned. We might find out the fate of the Freedom Fighters in January or February, depending on if/when solicitations come out. Another Sonic SXSW panel could happen if they have enough news to share, but don’t expect it. The Sonic movie will continue to get very little info. Our first look at the movie depends significantly on whether they finally get on the ball with producing this thing and releasing it in 2019, as planned. If the movie is going well, expect a late-2018 first look, maybe via a trailer or screenshot. If development hell continues, expect another year of little info on this movie. As for Sonic Boom, the cartoon has finished for the season, so expect the Boom branch to be all but non-existent in 2018. There currently are no signs of a third season in the works, so I’d be shocked if we got one. Sonic Adventure’s 20th anniversary is in 2018, so expect the Sonic PR team to acknowledge this in some way.

SEGA: The quiet year that Sonic will have in 2018 will stand out in comparison to SEGA’s as a whole. Although Japan got the game in 2016, Yakuza 6 is coming out everywhere else in the world on March 20th. I think there is still a brand new, original Hatsune Miku title in the works, and we may find out what it is mid-2018. We will likely get a couple of non-Sonic mobile games and a couple of PC ports. SEGA will continue to support SEGA Forever throughout the year. E3 will be okay for SEGA, but expect somewhat of a decrease in convention/expo appearances as a whole. SEGA as a whole will have a busy 2018, but it won’t be as busy as 2017.

Epilogue

That’s everything. That was a lot to cover, which is rather fitting considering all that has happened this year. As you guys might have noticed, In-Depth articles have stopped. This is because I simply ran out of ideas. So, because of that, they have unfortunately come to an end. Other than that, I hope you guys enjoyed this article and our content this year. TSSZ had a busy year, not just with articles but with live streams. I will never forget the Sonic SXSW and IDW coverage streams. Thanks for sticking with us as we covered the Archie Sonic mess and the Sonic Boom cartoon ratings, two things that nobody covered like we did.

So what is there to say about Sonic? It’s hard to find the words. The problems in the Sonic brand have not really gone away. Sure, Mania released and it was very loved. But clearly, Forces didn’t go the route it needed to go for a satisfactory result for the brand as a whole. It doesn’t help that the Sonic comics had the year it had either. Sonic was all over the place in 2017. Perhaps a quiet 2018 is needed, I’m not sure. But, as we’ve seen, 2017 was a busy one. And I don’t think, as gamers, we’ll ever forget it.

I hope you all have a fantastic 2018. Happy New Year!

~Donnie