Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the world’s most popular and successful video game mascots, having burst onto the scene in the early 1990s as SEGA’s answer to Nintendo’s Super Mario on their home consoles. However, the quick-witted blue hedgehog struggled with the jump from 2D to 3D gameplay at the end of the decade, and his series has descended into the frustrating, comical, and downright farcical at times. But, with this week bringing two whopping announcements that have taken the gaming space by storm, could 2022 be the year Sonic finally finds his mojo again?
Sonic Frontiers Coming To Consoles
2017 was the last time a 3D Sonic adventure came out with Sonic Forces, but Sonic Team have dropped the first announcement trailer for their next entry to the series with the first reveal of Sonic Frontiers. 3D Sonic games have always been a bit hit-or-miss, and the likes of Sonic Forces and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric were far from hyped titles from their initial teasings, but, in Frontiers, it finally looks like SEGA have a title that is set to enter next year as one of the most hotly-anticipated titles of the year.
Frontiers looks like an exceptional title in the making, with its Sonic CD-styled opening cutscene and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild-inspired open-world helps make this look like one of the most ambitious titles the company have ever produced. The graphics look incredible, the tone is back on point for a Sonic game and, most excitingly the return of Ian Flynn as writer, have all rejuvenated the community’s hopes for the series.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Looks Great
Paramount Pictures deserve a lot of credit for listening to the fans and redesigning their version of Sonic ahead of the release of his debut on the big screen, and the final result was a genuinely good-feeling fun film. Buyoed on by the success of the debut film, Paramount announced the film’s sequel all the way back in May 2020, with the first trailer dropping earlier this month.
And with the studio finding the winning formula, this sequel (scheduled for April 2022) looks to be a huge leap forward for Sonic fans. The introduction of Tails (voiced again by Colleen O’Shaughnessey) and his Tornado plane, a more game-resembling Dr. Eggman, the Chaos Emeralds and the first glimpse of Idris Elba’s Knuckles (more on him later!).
Pride In The Franchise
The inconsitencies in both tone and quality of the Sonic games over the years has led to a lot of fans feeling that the series had completely lost its way. Sonic the Hedgehog used to be the franchise a cool older brother turned to, but games like Rise of Lyric and Sonic Forces, with all of their sappy themes about friendship and sticking together, had taken things to the almost cringeworthy at times.
Thankfully, Frontiers looks set to return the series to where it should be with its Sonic Adventure-esque size and tone. There’s a sense of scale to what Frontiers appears to present in its inital tease trailers. Sonic seems to be back to his heroic self and the actual star of the show, with the game’s stunning visuals presenting a world with flavour and a pallette that should make the game feel like an entry players cannot afford to miss out on.
Knuckles Is Back
Knuckles has been a near-ever present in the Sonic series since the early 1990s, but has consistently struggled to find a place since his debut. Often shoved aside as a background figure for fans to go: ‘Oh look, there’s Knuckles’, he’s gone from an intimidating but admired character in Sonic 3, to a goofy meathead in the Sonic Boom spinoffs, to a mushy walking cliche in Sonic Forces, it’s been a messy saga for the Echidna.
But, with the Sonic the Hedgehog 2, it looks like things might finally changing for fans of Knuckles. His reveal in the initial trailer was one of the most talked-about moments from the entire reveal, with the legendary Idris Elba delivering a ‘who says I need your power?’ line that would have been plucked straight out of Sonic and Knuckles, had that game actually held dialogue.
After years of wasted potential, 2022 looks like it is bringing back the best of Knuckles to the Sonic franchise.
Gaps From The Competition
The announcement of not one, but two hugely exciting Sonic titles has caught everyone off guard, and both have arrived just in time to capitalise on a lot of the dormant competitors the franchise has. It’s been a quiet couple of years for Super Mario since the release of Odyssey in 2017, and even the likes of Rayman, Donkey Kong and Crash Bandicoot, some of the Sonic’s biggest competitors during his heyday, have struggled to steal much of the thunder in recent times.
Detective Pikachu lay the inspiration for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, but there’s yet to be a live-action video game movie to be released in the wake of its release. With Paramount wasting no time in striking whilst the iron is hot, Sonic the Hedgehog could carve out a spot as being the go-to mascot for this new subgenre.
Regardless of how influential the next two big Sonic titles end up being, there’s no denying 2022 is going to be a year where all the talk is about the blue hedgehog.