2020. Don’t come back. Ever again. Please and thank you.
I think that shares the feelings of a lot of people right now. We were not welcomed into the new decade with open arms whatsoever. 2020 changed a lot of things, and the world that entered this year is not the same world that is about to exit it. Ironically though, for Sonic it had been kind of…decent? In fact, I almost want to say that it had been kind of…good. For Sonic fans, there has been an ongoing silence of Sonic game news, but other than that, a lot of the blue blur’s headlines have been very…positive.
Not all of them, though. This is, after all, 2020 we’re talking about here. For example, there is an obvious elephant in the room right now. I’m writing this on a different site than the one you’re used to seeing these on. But…well, I’ll touch upon that later. For now, let me welcome you to a yearly tradition I’ve been doing in the Sonic community for a decade! The “Year In Supersonic Review” series began on Sonic Paradox, moved to TSSZ, and now it’s on Last Minute Continue. A re-launched Last Minute Continue, that is! Every New Year’s, I take the time to look back at the year that was for Sonic and SEGA and look to the future, giving my on thoughts on the state of Sonic and SEGA and making predictions for the net year along the way. If you want to see previous instalments, including my decade-in-review post, here’s a list of all of them:
Normally I’d say there’s a lot to go through this year…but in many ways, thanks to a certain pandemic, there really isn’t. For some of the sections of this year’s installment, I had a very tough time coming up with stories from this year that I wanted to mention. And it didn’t help that I’ve been dealing with a move building up the entire year, only for it to finally happen this past week, as I’m writing this. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from doing this installment. I love doing these, and I’m going to keep doing them, no matter what Sonic site I write them for. I managed to fill in the gaps as best as I could, but seeing as how the pandemic shut down a lot of things that would’ve happened in a normal calendar (i.e. SXSW), things were more dry in the news cycle than usual. That said, let’s get started.
Top 10 Sonic/SEGA News Stories of 2020
10) TSSZ Shuts Down – If you had told me at the end of last year that TSSZ, a site I worked for for 6 years, would close in 2020, I wouldn’t have believed you. And if you told me that the sequence of events that led to that happening were…all that…I wouldn’t have believed that either. But both happened. Fortunately, all my work had been saved, and you can see my TSSZ articles right here on Last Minute Continue. And then some! It still feels a little odd that I’m not writing stuff for them anymore, even 7 months later, but I’ve pretty much moved on. Nevertheless, this had been a major event in the Sonic community this year (I quickly learned that people had been discussing the entire situation everywhere) and I felt it had to be included here.
09) IDW Sonic Gets A New Character – IDW Sonic had to deal with some delays of issues due to the pandemic, and Comic Con events had been pretty much closed, but for the majority of the year, it felt like it had been business as usual. The Bad Guys mini-series continues as of this post’s writing, the Metal Virus saga came to an end, and they even announced a new addition to the cast of IDW Sonic: Belle. Of course, fan reactions to the character depend on who you talk to.
08) The Sonic Prototypes Keep On Coming – The game development cycle of Sonic titles is just the gift that keeps on giving. Especially when they’re prototypes of those games. Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Spinball, and Mean Bean Machine only just had some prototypes released yesterday, as of this article’s writing, and more are on the way.
07) Beta Sonic Music Surfaces – SEGA themselves also joined in on releasing behind-the-scenes material from game development. They released beta music of Sonic Adventure 2. But the biggest batch of beta Sonic music that came this year had been the OVA music. It had been just a production demo, but the OVA’s main theme, Look-a-Like, finally had a full release, and there had even been songs not heard before! There’s still more progress that needs to be made, but this had been a large step forward to finally getting the OVA’s soundtrack.
06) Aaron Webber Gets A Promotion – SEGA of Japan got a new Director Of Strategy, Studio & Community Relations person, and it’s none other than Aaron Webber. He had teased and hinted to what would be the news of the promotion this time last year, but the confirmation wasn’t officially made until August. It’ll still be a bit before we find out what this means for SEGA as a whole, but so far, so good!
05) The Pandemic Cancels SEGA’s Event Schedule – Yeah, this was a constant theme of the year, and not just in the gaming world. No E3, no Tokyo Game Show, no SXSW, nothing. These events either became a digital online thing or didn’t happen at all. It’s going to be a big question how things go in 2021 as vaccinations continue to roll out and normality can hopefully return later in the year, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
04) Sonic Movie 2 Confirmed – This time last year, another Sonic movie didn’t seem like a done deal. But after the first one broke records and became a hit, there had been no more doubt. There’s going to be a sequel. All we know for now is that production is slated to begin in spring of 2021, and a lot of the production team and cast are returning. Rumors have also surfaced suggesting that Tails and Knuckles are going to appear, but well, those are just rumors.
03) The 30th Anniversary Build-Up – Lots of merchandise. Lots of it. That has been the bulk of the 30th anniversary build-up so far. But there had been a tidbit telling us that the anniversary’s going to include “games”, of course, but we don’t know what they are just yet. But hey, we got the emblem.
02) Sonic’s Coming To Netflix – More about this in a moment, but this had been a sudden announcement that…ended up not being intentional at all. Even though there have been rumors. And the details we got were very little and vague. Just another thing that summed up this year, really.
01) The Sonic Movie Succeeds…Big Time – There is no doubt. This had to have the top spot. This had been the defining story of Sonic’s 2020. A movie that had seen development hell, delays, bad PR from a poor Sonic design, only for it to have perfect timing in releasing, break sales records, and make hundreds of millions in dollars. It is a crazy comeback that you don’t see often in movies. For a lot of Sonic fans, seeing the blue blur on the big screen had been crazy enough, but to see the movie doing so well…it felt really nice. Sonic had re-entered the mainstream again, something not seen in years.
Honorable Mentions: SAGE 2020
Next up is those very strange Sonic and SEGA news stories. Every year, you can count on one happening. Sometimes it’s a weird business decision by SEGA, other times it’s some fan activity that makes you go “WTF”. So let’s take a look:
Sonic/SEGA 2020 News Story Oddities
Yeah, it’s time to look at that Sonic Netflix story again. Because…geez the way that ended was weird. Out of nowhere, the official announcement got deleted. And then nothing. Even today, there has not been an explanation given for the deletion, and it’s unlikely we ever will, due to legal reasons. But it’s still odd that arguably the biggest Sonic news story to happen during the last couple of months of this year had been nothing more than an error and premature reveal.
2020 Review For The Sonic Franchise
Usually, this is the part of the article that I’d look back at the year’s Sonic releases. But this year had just one problem: there were none. Not even any mobile releases, unless you count Sonic At The Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020. So, nothing to review here. It’s very likely that’ll change next year, but for now…moving on!
2020 SEGA Report Card
Summary: SEGA’s 2020, all things considered, could’ve gone much worse. I mean, yes, the company had to cancel a lot of events this year, and there’s no doubt that the pandemic likely did put a dent into their production. But their mascot starred in a big screen movie that did amazingly well. In fact, I can’t think of a single game from SEGA and Atlus this year that failed, and they released a lot of them this year. They even got to see Phantasy Star Online 2 release in the west at last. I can’t say the same for SEGA’s parent company though. SEGA Sammy has lots of money, so nothing alarming as of right now, but the pandemic has definitely had some impact on their yearly income. At least SEGA can say that they had a financially successful year, and surprisingly few poor business decisions. They’ve been very transparent and communicative towards fans throughout the pandemic, and that is, bar none, the best thing SEGA did during 2020. Let’s hope that this good momentum can carry into 2021.
And now we get to the…very interesting part. Reviewing my predictions from the previous year is always interesting, but for obvious reasons, looking back at 2019’s predictions is going to be something else entirely.
Reviewing Last Year’s Predictions…
Sonic: Sonic’s 2020 won’t be too surprising, but the build-up to his 30th anniversary in 2021 will begin. In some ways, it will be similar to 2016. The first 2 months of 2020 will be dominated by the Sonic movie, which will release in February as planned. Will it do well? I don’t think it’ll be the sales success I previously predicted it would last year. It’ll do okay. Regardless of how the movie does, the news cycle will shift in March. That’s because SXSW will have another Sonic panel. Other than a little IDW Sonic news and maybe another Tyson Hesse Sonic animation project, we may get a smidge more information about the next main series Sonic game. Sonic 2 SEGA AGES will finally release by April. I think it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a new Sonic television show could be announced by the end of the year, although it’s unlikely. Nevertheless, by mid-2020, the countdown to Sonic’s 30th anniversary will officially begin. We’ll see what the anniversary emblem is, and we may begin to see little teases and hints about what is on the way. If we’re really lucky, June will give us our first look at the next Sonic game. It’s very hard to say what the game will be like and how it will play, but the next Classic Sonic title will be revealed around the same time. Sonic Mania 2 will be announced, and it will be a completely original title with all the zones being brand new. Both Sonic titles will be announced for multiple platforms, including the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. However, they won’t release until 2021. In the meantime, we might get another spin-off Sonic title for 2020 to pass the time until then, or a Sonic game ported to the PC, but that’s unlikely. IDW Sonic will keep going strong. Overall, Sonic’s 2020 will be more busy than 2019.
SEGA: SEGA should have a pleasant 2020. Another IP will get revived. They will have an alright E3, like usual. There won’t quite as many game releases as there was in 2019, but it should still be rather impressive. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix will release in 2020 as planned. Phantasy Star Online 2’s western release will also occur in 2020 as planned. We may get a game or two that is ported to either PC or the Nintendo Switch. The SEGA AGES and SEGA Forever line of games, especially the former, will keep going strong. Overall, SEGA’s 2020 will be slightly more peaceful than 2019, but not by much.
Alright, so lets get the obvious bit out of the way. I got a lot of things wrong. No one thought that a pandemic would halt pretty much everything for the vast majority of the year. That said, I’m actually amazed (and very confused) that I managed to get some things right. More than I thought I would after all that happened in this awful year.
Indeed, the first 2 months of 2020 had been dominated by the Sonic movie, and it released in February as planned. And despite me being very off on how much of a success it ultimately became, the news cycle did shift in March to SXSW. Sort of. By then, the pandemic impacts were already being felt around the world and the cancellations had been underway. It became less about them announcing things at a Sonic panel and more on how they could even do one in the first place. And…they didn’t. But by then, the news cycle shifted anyway as Sonic Movie 2 got officially confirmed.
Anyway, there had been “a little IDW Sonic news”, as predicted. And Sonic 2 SEGA AGES did, in fact, release before April (it released in February). And, somehow, despite low confidence in this prediction at the time, I got the “new Sonic television show” prediction too. Unless you don’t consider Netflix “television”…but at least I got the 30th anniversary prediction right. Teases and hints related to the anniversary began around the middle of the year, and the anniversary emblem did get revealed, in September.
As for SEGA as a whole, a little more success there. If you count Alex Kid in Miracle World DX, there’s a revived IP right there. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix released as planned, and so did Phantasy Star Online 2. Overall, I can’t complain. My predictions had been made in a normal pre-pandemic world, but I did better than expected.
But it’s time to make some new predictions, this time, for 2021. Obviously, just because it’s a new year, the pandemic isn’t going away immediately. Fortunately, vaccinations are starting to roll out, and hopefully some sense of normality can return by the spring. That said, before I begin, I’m making my predictions with the hope that we can finally get some form of normality beginning in either March or April, with normality being back entirely by June or July. I’ll explain in my predictions how this’ll impact Sonic and SEGA’s 2021.
2021 SEGA/Sonic Predictions
Sonic – If all goes well, and normality begins to return in March, we could see SXSW happen, and it’ll have the big unveiling of Sonic’s anniversary plans. If normality returns a little later than that, then E3’s close by and they’ll likely do it there. I think, no doubt about it, we’ll know by late-June. I still think there’s going to be 2 games, one of them being Sonic Mania 2 for multiple platforms, including the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X. Sonic Mania 2 will release around the middle of the year, maybe June. The next Modern game will release in November. I think there’s going to be a proper reveal of the Netflix series at the same time that the pair of games are revealed. Another IDW Sonic mini-series could start late in the year, and maybe there’s another character added to the cast. I think Sonic’s anniversary is going to dominate the vast majority of the year’s news cycle. The only exception to this is going to be when production of Sonic Movie 2 begins, resulting in a little back-and-forth between the two. Overall, Sonic’s 2021 starts as a continuation of 2020 until March, then rapidly picks up momentum and steam as normality returns and the anniversary approaches. By the end of the year, I think we’ll feel like Sonic’s 2021 had been a busy one.
SEGA – SEGA’s 2021 should have the same activity as this year had, if not a little more quiet. I think there should be something Yakuza-related and something Persona-related getting releases on consoles at some point. For once, I don’t think an IP is going to be revived, but if there is, it could be a Jet Set Radio-related title or a new Super Monkey Ball game. Nevertheless, their main PR thing of the year is going to be Sonic’s anniversary. Nothing Hatsune Miku-related for the time being, maaaaybe a DLC at most. The Phantasy Star Online 2 DLC should release as planned. I think Tokyo Game Show will be able to return in its normal form, allowing SEGA to make some announcements there.
That’s everything! I’m so glad to see this year gone. It had been pure misery the entire time, and I’m sure I’m far from being alone. I hope you’re all looking forward to 2021 too. Here’s hoping that this pandemic can finally be controlled, and things can get back to normal soon. It’s not over yet, but at least there’s a light that can be seen at the end of the tunnel now. Thank you to all the the nurses, doctors, health experts, and so many more that have done all their best to control this pandemic and make sure people can live and be taken care of. Thank you to all the gaming companies that had made people’s safety a top priority above all else, including money, and did the best they could to communicate with fans about what was going on. And thank you for reading all of this! Thank you for supporting me, especially during the TSSZ situation, even though I feel that I don’t deserve it. But most of all, thank you for keeping your head held high throughout this entire ordeal of a year. I think I’ll just link to this tweet I made in June that sums things up:
Please don’t stop doing that. Please have a healthy, safe, socially-distanced and Happy New Year. I hope 2021 is a good one. <3