2014. It was a year defined by Japanese vocaloids and Sonic redesigns. But it goes much deeper than that. It was a roller coaster ride that went more topsy-turvy than I think any of us ever expected and culminated in what can be argued as the craziest week the Sonic franchise has had in a good while. Where do I begin? Where do we begin?
Well for starters it would probably be wise to welcome all of you to a yearly project I’ve been doing since 2010 over at Sonic Paradox. Every year on New Year’s Eve I’ve made a Sonic and SEGA article reflecting on the year that was and predicting on the year to be. It’s where I loosen up for one project and just let my opinions run rampant after holding back on them for twelve months. I also tend to source things. A lot.
Coincidentally TSSZ articles ended up being my main source of links to provide. Never would I have imagined that twelve months after I reflected on 2013 that I’d be writing this year’s edition on both Sonic Paradox and the very site I turned to. That doesn’t mean I didn’t turn to anyone else, mind you, but with the increased workload that these articles take and the ton of sourcing I provide I always went to TSSZ first. The quick and user-friendly search for articles came in handy for a writing like this. This year is no different from last year with one exception. I’m trimming down the predictions. I will only be making predictions for SEGA as a whole and the Sonic franchise from here on out. Why? Because it doesn’t make any sense to predict the future for the Sonic fanbase and my own projects on Sonic Paradox as I would do in previous years.
My only wish? That this year was a more positive one to report on for the blue hedgehog. Before I get into that, I think it would only be fair if I linked to the previous editions of the year in review articles and see them for yourself. It’s up to you though.
So now we get to the main event…time to reflect and predict. Firstly is the reflecting. For the fourth year it is time to look back at what I feel were the top 10 Sonic and SEGA news stories of the year. The ones that helped define 2014 and set the stage for what has been the most chaotic year since 2011.
Top 10 Sonic/SEGA News Stories of 2014:
10) HFC’s Sonic-A-Thon Charity Stream – This one may come off as biased considering I took part in this but there’s two reasons I felt it was one of the defining moments in 2014. It was largely viewed. Probably the most viewed Sonic charity stream I’ve seen in a long time. But it was also very successful during its two-week run. Its $9,000 goal was shattered and the entire event went on to raise $20,724.10 for Child’s Play which is a feat I don’t think I’ve ever seen before for Sonic streams. Congratulations to everyone who worked hard to make sure that this event went well and a huge thank you to all who donated, watched, and spread the word! You are the real stars!
09) Sonic X Gone From The Airwaves – One announcement that came and went with a whisper despite its significance: the end of Sonic X‘s run on television and, until Sonic Boom‘s time slot was announced, the end of the Saturday morning cartoon era. After eleven years on the air the show was taken down to help pave the way for a new block on CW. In May came the announcement but it went largely unchecked until the last-minute when Sonic X airings ground to a halt on television listings. This wouldn’t be the last time something significant in the Sonic franchise went under the radar.
08) Zelda DLC In Sonic Lost World – Case in point. Sonic Boom overshadowed everything this year. Even the free and optional Legend of Zelda DLC that came out for Sonic Lost World back in March. In fact it’s the last DLC the game has received since. Afterwards the game as a whole dropped from the spotlight and Sonic Boom took over.
07) Sonic, Mega Man, Pac-Man, & Mario – Sonic’s arrival in Super Smash Bros. For 3DS/Wii U on its own isn’t much after the hedgehog had previous been in Brawl. Who he would face off against, however, became very significant. For the first time ever Sonic, Mario, Mega Man, and Pac-Man were in the same game and a real clash of titans could happen. It was something no one would have ever imagined and excitement for the newest installation of Smash increased even more. In fact Smash may very well be the only game that gave Sonic Boom a run for its money in attention this year.
06) Hatsune Miku’s American Arrival – For the Sonic gamers it was Sonic Boom. For other gamers it was Smash Bros. For everyone else, depending on how much they cared, it was Hatsune Miku. I don’t think fans of the Japanese vocaloid expected her to go this far in just the span of one year. From a new art exhibit to opening Lady Gaga’s Artpop Tour and then a fall appearance on The David Letterman Show that properly introduced her to an American television audience. That doesn’t count her games but even TIME felt that she had a big impact this year. Miku may have a busy 2015 ahead of her!
05) Alien: Isolation A Success – As one SEGA franchise stumbles another has gotten off its feet. Alien: Isolation has helped pull the Alien franchise out of the ashes that came from Colonial Marines. The scandal itself is still ongoing but has evolved mostly into finger-pointing. Despite this the games have pushed forward under Creative Assembly and Alien: Isolation has completely turned around the franchise with awards, critical and fan praise, and discussions for a potential sequel have already started. Downloadable content is still schedule for the game into the new year so it looks like we may still be talking about Alien: Isolation even in 2015.
04) SEGA At Tokyo Game Show 2014 – This may not seem so significant but the event that would confirm Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric‘s release date also showed a side of SEGA no one else really gets to see. Compared to E3, SEGA’s Tokyo Game Show appearance was huge. Hundreds of thousands of people saw SEGA’s TGS stream. They had loads of games and merchandise to show. It showed that SEGA was still very much alive and kicking. Not just that, but SEGA is very huge in Japan. More than people think. And they’re selling tons of games and merchandise there. It is so much so that it could be argued that SEGA has quite a business empire going in Japan! These were the things I learned from this year’s Tokyo Game Show. In a year full of surprises and disappointment for the company there’s always those few bright spots that shine in a veil of darkness.
03) Sonic X-Treme Finally Releasing – The most infamous Sonic game never to be released will see its final build be released. An accomplishment that, yet again, I think no one saw coming. While it will still be a while before it does come out there has been the occasional minor update showing off a bit more of the game. No doubt will Sonic X-Treme be one that we’ll be talking about in 2015. Whether the build will be released in 2015 or not is still very uncertain.
02) Sonic To Get Own Big Screen Movies – E3 in June was a slight improvement from last year’s. SEGA got a lot of live stream time and there was a decent library of games this time. For the Sonic franchise, however, the biggest announcement from that week wasn’t Sonic Boom related at all. On the first day the expo doors opened it was announced that a series of big screen Sonic films were in development. It’s not just a cameo for Sonic anymore. It’s not an hour-long project that gets released to DVD. It’s Sonic and friends starring in their own film to play in theaters! Since then not much has been announced other than that more announcements are coming in 2015. It will be a busy year for the hedgehog, no question.
01) Sonic Boom Revealed To The World – February 6th was the busiest news day in my Sonic news reporting history. Possibly the biggest day the franchise has had in years. And it all began the night before when it was discovered that SEGA would be holding a press-only gathering to reveal their 2014 plans for Sonic around lunchtime the next day. The result? The Sonic Boom branch of the Sonic franchise was announced, the character redesigns were unveiled, and what turned into a three-hour bombardment of news began. I covered the day’s events live on stream too:
Sonic Boom and Knuckles trended on Twitter worldwide. It seemed like new details were emerging every minute. And it was just the beginning of what turned out to be a hectic year for Sonic. It all came to a head in November with the premiere of the cartoon and the release of the games. What a day. What a year.
So the highlights of the have been covered. But what about the lowlights? The stories that turned out false or just plain weird? That’s what the next segment is for.
Sonic/SEGA 2014 News Stories That Were Off:
There were a few of them. Unsurprisingly, the majority were related to Sonic Boom.
Sonic Boom Games Releasing In May – This was one of those bits of info that emerged from the month that the Sonic Boom universe was revealed that just didn’t turn out to be true. In fact it so was untrue it was confirmed to be just that later that day.
Sonic Boom Only Coming To The West – Remember this? It was confirmed the same day as the games. And boy did things change. Only one question can be asked and it’s a question that could apply to this year as a whole. What happened?
The Sonic X Dance – January was that calm before the storm. Not much took place in this month. Except one. The discovery of a very strange Sonic X video where Sonic mascots danced to various songs. Even watching this now I can’t help but laugh in confusion at it!
A quick little side segment is nice but now comes the ultimate question: how did the Sonic franchise do in 2014? You guys are still able to chime in on that with the current TSSZ poll until January 1st. As for how I feel? Let me explain.
2014 Review For The Sonic Franchise:
Let me start with the year’s releases along with the reception the majority has given them. Afterwards will be the 2014 report card for SEGA.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U)
CRITICAL RECEPTION: Negative
Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (3DS)
CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Negative
Sonic Jump Fever (Mobile)
CRITICAL RECEPTION: Neutral
This doesn’t count the well received cartoon and comics.
2014 SEGA Report Card:
Summary: The Sonic Boom games turned into a mess but remember that they didn’t start out that way. In fact Sonic Boom was a public relations success when the Boom universe was shown off in February. Not only did Sonic trend on Twitter in February twice but he trended again when the cartoon premiered, the latter of which is doing very well with ratings and reception. Alien: Isolation was a huge success and SEGA is doing very well in Japan. That’s where the positives end, however. SEGA of Europe had more layoffs back in April. The Alien: Colonial Marines lawsuit fiasco continues. Sonic Boom, whether you like the games or not, did turn into a mess as previously stated. Sonic just did not have a good year and I wish I could say otherwise. Unfortunately the year Sonic had really did overshadow everything else. 2015 will be interesting for multiple reasons. I’ll get to that soon.
What To Expect In 2015…
The best has been saved for last. It’s my favorite segment out of the bunch. It’s time to look back on my predictions from last year and make the predictions for next year.
Sonic 4: Episode III will likely be held off from a release until mid 2015. As a result we’ll probably get a spinoff Sonic game that will dominate the year while Sonic Lost World’s fate is decided upon. I do not think it will be a storybook game, though. E3 2014 will be another lackluster year and I do feel like this year shouldn’t see any lawsuits being such a thorn in the company’s side. The DLC train for All Stars Racing Transformed will pick up through the course of the year and we’ll probably get Ryo Hazuki in January. I think the Zelda DLC for Sonic Lost World will be released sometime in early to mid February. Overall I think 2014 will be the year Sega takes a step back for a bit and lets ASRT and Sonic Lost World chug along while the next Sonic game is cooked up. I think more characters will be announced and added to Sonic Dash too. I think Smash Bros. 4 will get delayed to later on in 2014, meaning it may not be until late summer or early fall until people can play as Sonic in that game.
These were my 2014 predictions. My goodness was I accurate about the “spinoff Sonic game” prediction. I don’t think it’ll be Sonic 4: Episode III that is being held off though. Sonic Lost World did have its fate decided upon but only slightly. E3 did turn out to be somewhat lackluster and, although the Colonial Marines lawsuit continues, it didn’t end up being the thorn in SEGA’s side. Indeed we did get the Ryo Hazuki DLC for ASRT, if you haven’t forgotten about that game, on January 14th. I was wrong about the Zelda DLC, however. It came out a month later. I correctly predicted that SEGA did take a step back but for the wrong reason. Not to mention they stepped back more than I realized. More characters were added to Sonic Dash…somewhat. And wow did I get the release dates for Smash 4 down well. As it turns out Smash not only got delayed but the first Smash 4 game to release out of the two was in early fall. It came out on September 11th in Japan and October 3rd in North America. I got a few things wrong but overall I was more accurate than I expected.
So what about the predictions for 2015? Here goes.
2015 SEGA/Sonic Predictions:
January will likely be another quiet one excluding one thing: more details on the recently announced Sonic Runners mobile game. I think February will once again be the month where the next Sonic game will be announced: a main game for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 that will dominate 2015 and release in November. We’ll probably find out more on the Sonic movie that same month. We might see a trailer later in the year. The Sonic Boom cartoon will likely return with new episodes sometime between late January and early February. E3 will be a decent one for SEGA. The Sonic Boom convention will return at a different location and occur in October. The Sonic Amiibo will sell. Big time. As for the Sonic Boom games? I think SEGA will move on. No patch, no DLC, nothing. As for other games I think Yakuza 5 will do well when it releases next year and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next Alien game was announced late in 2015. A new Hatsune Miku game should be announced later in the year for the main consoles while Project Mirai 2 releases on 3DS sometime in mid to late 2015.
2015 is a critical year for Sonic. A good game would really be helpful and it would be wise, in my opinion, to move on to better things. 2014 is a lesson learned. If it can happen before it can happen again. But it won’t just be critical, it will be busy. A new mobile phone game, Sonic Runners, has already been confirmed. There’s a lot of questions about what the Sonic movie will be like. The biggest question of all? The next Sonic title. What will it be? How well will it do? We’ll be entering 2015 with a lot of uncertainty. It will be one heck of a ride. I hope you’ll be joining us for it.
For the time being that’s it! It was a long article that took days to write but it was all worth it. I always enjoy making these. Feel free to chime in the comments on your opinions of 2014 and any memories of the year that you may have. I’ll have an end of year statement to make tomorrow, the 30th, on what you can expect from me for 2015. I’m not sure if Tristan will be doing one of his own but if he does I wouldn’t be surprised if he had plenty to say. A new TSSZ poll will go up on January 1st and then we’re moving forward with a brand new year.
With that I leave you with a minute long recap video made by Loor101 that sums up the year in a nutshell. Happy New Year!
This post was originally written by the author for TSSZ News.