2023. It was surprisingly busy! That’s not something that can be said often about Sonic, especially recently. A franchise that used to have years of downtime in-between major 3D releases isn’t getting those anymore. It’s great news for Sonic fans, especially when the content hasn’t even that bad!
Even as many of SEGA’s other IPs have started to rise from the grave, just about everything related to Sonic the Hedgehog got some kind of new content this year. Mobile devices, music, video-on-demand via Netflix, 3D Sonic, 2D Sonic, even the world of the Sonic movies had some headlines despite a pair of Hollywood strikes delaying things. Sonic is back to having at least one significant game release a year, and SEGA fans in general got to experience a lot of dreams coming true as many IPs have been resurrected, with more to come. It’s a great time to be a SEGA fan, and the future is looking very promising!
But let’s not look at the future just yet. After all, another 12 months have come and gone and there’s some reminiscing to do! It’s time to look back at what was and look forward to what will be once again, and I welcome you all to a yearly tradition I have been doing for 13 years now! Every New Year’s Eve, I take an opinionated journey of reflection at the last 12 months for Sonic and SEGA as a whole. At the same time, I also begin to look to the future and what that will bring. Although Sonic gets a little emphasis in these articles, it’s not strictly limited to that. Other SEGA franchises are covered here. Sometimes I even drift into some Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony talk too! If you’re curious, you can take a look at every single installment of these articles right below this paragraph.
Now then, it’s time to get started! I always spend the first half of these articles by reminiscing, so as always, it’s time to begin by taking a look at what I feel where the top 10 Sonic and SEGA news stories of the year:
Top 10 Sonic/SEGA News Stories of 2023
10) Sonic Movie 3 Filming Begins – The road to the third Sonic Movie’s release began in 2023, though it didn’t do so smoothly. Filming was supposed to begin in the summer, but things were halted when the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) simultaneously went on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Both strikes have since come to an end, and filming of the Sonic movie has begun as of last month. It’s highly likely that we’ll learn more about the movie in the coming year, but I’ll get to my predictions later!
9) Samba de Amigo Returns – SEGA’s 2023 began on a major note. On February 8th, it was announced that there would be a new Samba de Amigo game. Samba de Amigo‘s last release was a 2008 Wii port/update of the 2000 Dreamcast original, meaning that this was the first game in the series to release in over a decade! Little did we know, this was only the beginning of what would be a major year for reviving SEGA IPs.
8) Microsoft Considered Acquiring SEGA Years Ago – There were a few rumors of this over the years, but they got confirmed true when emails surfaced showing that Microsoft was interested in acquiring SEGA, as well as Bungie, as recently as late 2020. Obviously neither of these ended up happening. And it’s very unlikely that SEGA would ever be acquired by another gaming company as they’re already owned by SEGA Sammy and they’re not struggling financially anymore. Still, that hasn’t stopped the “what could’ve been” theories from flying!
7) Sonic 2 Lost Level Footage – Every year, we get a least one major discovery in Sonic’s 16-bit history, and this is no different. For the first time, some scrapped zones from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 were visually recreated, and we even learned of a scrapped zone not known before!
6) Sonic Origins Plus – This was another early-2023 announcement from SEGA, and out of all 3 Sonic game releases that happened this year, this was probably the one that got the most division. Still, it did add a bunch of content. Is it worth the price it had though? Was the content enough? Well, it depends on who you talk to.
5) Sonic Dream Team – SEGA really was announcing stuff throughout the year, but Sonic in particular was a steady stream of news and announcements. Even in November, SEGA wasn’t done. Sonic Dream Team, a new mobile game, was announced. Sadly, it’s Apple exclusive, so it’s not widely available. But it ended up being a better game than I think a lot of fans expected!
4) More Sonic Prime Episodes – It might be hard to believe, but despite all the Sonic Prime news we got this year, there was very little that actually released. We got 8 episodes in July and… that was it. The season will finally finish in January, when the remaining episodes are released. But thanks to the ending of the last batch of episodes, there’s a lot of hype and anticipation on what’s to come.
3) Sonic Frontiers Updates – The state of Sonic Frontiers has changed a lot in 12 months. 3 updates with additional content and options have been released, and all of them have been received rather well. In fact, I think the only noteworthy criticism was the significant difficulty spike in the third update. Sonic Frontiers still has issues, but I think there’s a case to be made that there aren’t quite as many issues now as there was this time last year!
2) Sonic Superstars – Sonic Mania‘s success made it all but inevitable that a new ‘Classic Sonic’ game was going to be released. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when. I didn’t think we’d see one until 2024, but SEGA clearly said otherwise! And when we were introduced to Sonic Superstars in June, there was definitely no shortage of surprises. The game released in October, and the results were… interesting. Still, Fang’s back!
1) SEGA Activates A Power Surge – This was easily the biggest announcement from SEGA this year. In fact, I think it can be argued that it was the biggest announcement from SEGA in years. Jet Set Radio, Shinobi, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and Crazy Taxi are all getting new games. Some of these IPs haven’t seen new games in decades! These games are slated to release over the course of several years, so time will tell when we’ll learn more about them. But SEGA fans have plenty to be excited about!
Honourable Mentions: The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog, Summer Game Fest 2023
With that done, there’s still one more aspect of the year’s news headlines I like to touch upon. I’ve talked about the good, the bad, the ugly, but not the weird! There’s always at least one thing that happens that results in a “WTF” reaction from people. Sometimes it comes from SEGA, sometimes it comes from the fandom. The weirdness stays the same though. So, it’s time to look at this year’s Sonic and SEGA oddities! There’s only one this year, but it’s a strange one. Well, to me anyway!
Sonic/SEGA 2023 News Story Oddities
The Year Of Amy Rose That Wasn’t – One thing about 2023 that was rather interesting was that a certain hammer-wielding pink hedgehog got a very unique spotlight, so much so that it felt like, for the first time, she was truly a part of the main cast!
Amy Rose became a playable character in Sonic Origins via Sonic Origins Plus, she became a playable character in Sonic Frontiers thanks to the “Final Horizon” update, she was playable in Sonic Dream Team and Sonic Superstars, she was the starring character celebrating her birthday in an April Fools game called The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog. She ended up being one of the major cast of characters in Sonic Prime, and she starred in a one-off IDW Sonic comic called Sonic the Hedgehog: Amy’s 30th Anniversary Special.
That, combined with the fact that it was Sonic CD‘s 30th anniversary this year, made 2023 a golden opportunity for a “Year of Amy Rose” marketing initiative. Yet, for some strange reason, SEGA never did. We’ll probably never know why. It may just simply be SEGA deciding that they didn’t want to do one. But it’s one part of Sonic’s 2023 that has perplexed me more and more as the year progressed.
Now that I’ve talked about the news cycle, there’s something very obvious to bring up: the games themselves! Despite them branching out into all forms of media now, SEGA is, at its core, still a video gaming company. So, let’s take a look at their Sonic releases this year, followed by an (opinionated) report card on how SEGA did this year. My “negative/mixed/positive” ratings for the year’s Sonic releases are based on the initial reception that a Sonic game receives from the fanbase and gaming media reviewers when that game releases. What the reception is now will more than likely change in a few years. I only look at the initial reception, however, as that influences a game’s sales and will ultimately dictate the direction Sonic Team decides to go for their next release. As for the ratings themselves, here’s what they mean:
Mostly Negative – The Sonic game is all but unanimously considered bad at release. Games such as Sonic 06 and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric fall into this category.
Negative – The Sonic game is considered bad by a majority at release, but there’s still a sizable minority that enjoyed the game. Games such as Sonic Forces fall into this category.
Mixed – The Sonic game has no clear consensus on what people think of its quality at release. It’s a divisive game. Games such as Sonic Lost World and Team Sonic Racing fall into this category.
Positive – The Sonic game is considered good by a majority at release, but there’s still a sizable minority that disliked the game. Games such as Sonic Colours (the original 2010 version) belong here.
Mostly Positive – The Sonic game is all but unanimously considered good at release. Games such as Sonic Mania/Sonic Mania Plus and Sonic 3 & Knuckles go here.
2023 Review For The Sonic Franchise
Sonic Origins Plus
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Positive
Sonic Dream Team
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Positive
The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive
2023 SEGA Report Card
Summary: SEGA’s 2023 was, for the most part, really good! In fact, it was so good that I very nearly gave them an “A” grade, which would’ve been tied for the highest grade I have ever given the company at the end of a year. However, 2 things held me back from doing so. Yes, SEGA is finally bringing back a lot of their old IPs. Yes, Sonic had a surprisingly very busy year and it wasn’t even a bad one either. And of course, SEGA in general was pretty busy.
But questionable business decisions with Sonic Superstars and especially Sonic Origins Plus, such as Denuvo DRM and pricing controversies, were also a thing. And above all, SEGA tried to take some very anti-union measures this year, in a year where companies were being very disrespectful of developers. 2023 was filled with layoffs, union-busting allegations, reports of dev crunch, and more. This is not something that I can ignore at all, and it resulted in me bringing down SEGA’s grade by a decent amount.
Finally, it’s time to begin looking at the future. It’s my favorite part of these articles, where I take a look at my Sonic and SEGA predictions from the previous year and see how I did. Then, I make new predictions for the new year. Sometimes my predictions are good, sometimes not so good. So, how did I do this year? Well, let’s take a look at what my 2023 predictions were!
Reviewing Last Year’s Predictions…
Sonic – Sonic’s 2023 will be busy, but slightly less busy than 2022. SEGA has already announced that Sonic Frontiers will be getting 3 parts of additional content post-launch, so I’m predicting that we will get part 1 around February or March, part 2 in June, and part 3 by November. Meanwhile, I expect Sonic Prime’s next 8 episodes will release in the first half of the year, followed by the season’s remaining 8 episodes in the second half of the year. I think IDW Sonic will see another miniseries announced in mid-2023, as well as the confirmation of a new character or two.
As for Sonic Movie 3, I don’t expect to hear anything about it, as it is currently planned for a premiere two years from now. However, I do expect that we’ll learn more about that Knuckles series by April, including a trailer or sneak preview. I could also see a November or December premiere, similar to what happened with Sonic Prime this year. And as for any potential video games? I think Sonic Colours Ultimate will finally be ported to Steam, and that will get a mid-2023 release.
Other than that though, I don’t expect any new games announced. The best-case scenario I can see is a new Mario & Sonic Olympics game, but with Sonic Frontiers still getting support and just about every other form of media still seeing new content releasing, I think a spin-off Sonic game won’t happen next year. I do, however, obviously expect more in-game events to happen in the Sonic mobile games. As for the Sonic news cycle, I’m expecting the main headlines to frequently switch between Frontiers and Sonic Prime throughout the year. I also expect a Sonic game to be added to Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack’s SEGA Genesis library, and I think the most likely candidate is Sonic 3D Blast.
SEGA – With Sonic going strong but not quite as busy as this year was, I expect SEGA’s non-Sonic IPs to get even more time in the spotlight in 2023. Company of Heroes 3 and Like a Dragon: Ishin’s remake will release in February as planned. The upcoming Nintendo Switch Persona ports will also release as planned. I’m also predicting that we’ll hear some more about this “Super Game Initiative” that SEGA Sammy keep teasing.
Part of that initiative is apparently rebooting old IPs. I already mentioned that Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio are getting that treatment, and I think the second half of the year is when SEGA might tease something about it. Football Manager 2024 will be a thing, of course, and release in late-2023. I could see SEGA announcing the next Total War game as well. Overall, regardless of how busy the Sonic franchise ends up being in 2023, I think SEGA will be busy in general anyway, due to their non-Sonic IPs.
Well, my Sonic 2023 predictions were just one giant bust! I got almost everything wrong here. It turned out that Sonic’s 2023 was even busier than 2022. Sonic Prime‘s second 8 episodes came out on July 13th, which was obviously not the first half of the year, and the final 8 episodes aren’t even releasing until January 11th. A new IDW Sonic mini-series was announced, but not until October, long after the mid-year time frame I gave. There wasn’t really any new Sonic IDW characters either.
As for Sonic Movie 3, I completely botched this. We’ve been hearing about it here and there throughout the second half of the year. Information on the Knuckles spinoff series has been very little in general, let alone anything involving a trailer.
Nothing threw me off more than the releases of Sonic Dream Team and especially Sonic Superstars though! In hindsight, I should’ve known. Sonic hadn’t gotten a new mobile and 2D game in a while. And SEGA did say that Modern and Classic Sonic would be 2 separate branches going forward. That Mario & Sonic Olympics game announcement never happened, by the way. Actually, neither did a Sonic game being added to Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack’s SEGA Genesis library, let alone Sonic 3D Blast. I didn’t even get the Sonic news cycle right, thanks to, again, Sonic Superstars and Sonic Dream Team.
It wasn’t all bad though! I did get a couple of things right. I accurately predicted that Sonic Colours Ultimate would get ported to Steam, and it happened not even 2 months later! Sonic Frontiers’ first update released in February/March, as predicted (March 22nd to be exact), and the second update released in June (June 23rd – of course), as predicted. The third update released in September (the 28th), however, not December. And I did predict that in-game events would occur in Sonic mobile games. That, sadly, was it though.
As for SEGA in general? I did much better! Ironically, while my Sonic predictions were largely failures, my SEGA predictions were nothing but successes! Company of Heroes 3 and Like a Dragon: Ishin‘s remake did release without issues. The release of the Persona Nintendo Switch ports also went smoothly!
We also did get a bit more insight on the “Super Game” initiative. In fact, I even accurately predicted that we’d learn more about SEGA’s various IP revivals in the second half of the year, though I didn’t expect we’d get 5 of them! Football Manager 2024 did end up being a thing, releasing in November! (Not a massive stretch, Donnie! – Kevin) I even accurately predicted the announcement of a new Total War game, thanks to Total War: Pharaoh being announced in May and released on October 11th. As for SEGA in general having a busy year? I got that right too!
That all said, what will the Sonic franchise and SEGA as a whole be like next year? it’s time to speculate that with some new predictions!
2024 SEGA/Sonic Predictions
Sonic – Sonic’s 2024 will be less busy than 2023, but it won’t necessarily be quiet either! The final 8 episodes of Sonic Prime‘s season will release in January as planned. I think that, by the end of the year, we’ll also know whether Sonic Prime will get another season or not. Sonic Movie 3 news will ramp up as filming comes to an end, and it will release in December without any issue. I think the first trailer will be posted in the summer, followed by a second in the fall. I think the Knuckles spinoff series will finally premiere, and it will do so in the spring. IDW Sonic, meanwhile, will come back from its break by the summer and continue normally.
As for Sonic games? I think we’ll get a Sonic spin-off title, though I don’t know what. I think we might hear a little more about future plans for Sonic on mobile devices, maybe even the announcement of another mobile game. I also think Sonic Superstars will get 2 more costume DLCs, one coming in January/February, and another coming in the spring. As for whether the game will get a “Plus” version, I don’t think that will happen. So then… what about Nintendo’s next console? If 2024 ends up being the year it releases, I don’t think a Sonic game will release on it until 2025 anyway. That said, I think this is the year that will decide whether they still want to make Mario & Sonic Olympics games. I think we’ll get one and it’ll release by November of 2024. But if we don’t, that’ll be the biggest sign yet that they’re moving on.
Overall, I think the Sonic news cycle will begin in 2024 with Sonic Prime, transition into Sonic Movie 3 throughout spring, and then simultaneously be about Sonic Movie 3 and whatever Sonic game release SEGA has planned for the rest of the year.
SEGA – SEGA’s 2024 is going to be similar to Sonic’s: less busy than 2023, but not really quiet either. I think we’ll finally see what SEGA’s “Super Game” is, including gameplay. As well as some more info on the 5 IP revivals that SEGA announced earlier this month, but I don’t think any of them will release yet – and any information we get will be relatively small.
We’ll get another Football Manager game, of course. We might also get a teaser of a new Persona game, but that’s it. I think 2024 will be a year where SEGA announces games but doesn’t release many. Maybe another IP that hasn’t had a game in a while will get a new game, like Hatsune Miku or Super Monkey Ball. But I think that will be it. Other than that, if we do get anything of note from SEGA, I think it’ll be something completely new that isn’t an established IP. Still, I think SEGA fans will be happy by the end of the year. There will be a lot to look forward to!
And that’s everything! That was a lot to get through! I’m used to Sonic having a busy year, but not only did Sonic get that, SEGA in general was even busier! Still, I’m not complaining. I’m glad that SEGA has finally managed to consistently release good games. Even Sonic Superstars, despite having flaws, isn’t really seen as a bad game.
I’m genuinely curious to see what’s in store for 2024. There’s a lot we don’t know, and there’s many games already announced that are waiting in the wings for their time to shine. Oh, and the possibility of a new Nintendo console is only making things even more interesting. It’s going to be quite interesting to come back to this a year from now. I fully expect to get predictions wrong again, but oh well! I have fun! This article very nearly ended up being a belated one, by the way! My modem died on the 26th, resulting in a multi-day internet outage, and I only just got back online on the 29th. So, I was quite worried that I wouldn’t be able to post this in time for the new year. Thankfully however, I was able to finish it.
That all said, I can’t thank you all enough for all of your support! My depression has gotten really bad this year, and seeing all your support and encouragement really helps me keep going. It never ceases to amaze me that people not only tolerate me, but actually support me. I hope I’ve earned your continued support in 2024, and I hope you enjoyed reading this! Of course, I’ll be back with another installment of this next year. For now, I hope you all have a great 2024.
Happy New Year!