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SEGA announces ‘An organizational shift’, expect ‘A new Sonic game announcement soon’

In a distinctly uncharacteristic period for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, there has been a pretty major drought of new games for a while. Once upon a time, the series would reliably crank out a new title (of varying quality, natch) once, sometimes even twice per annum, to the point it became something of a fandom in-joke – what new bizarre gameplay style or dramatic tonal shift would we get this year? It was like a slightly twisted potluck. Would it be goofy, dark, somewhere in between? Would it be too short, or too long? Would the reviewers like it and fairly judge its merits, or would they compare it to Sonic 2006 even if the comparison was not remotely appropriate? Would it have Sonic transforming into something totally different – a toxic mutant or rabbit, perhaps – or would he be carrying a weapon of some sort? Would we not even be playing as Sonic at all? Would they get BioWare to throw together a clunky DS RPG? Hell, would they throw a total curveball and give us a middling tennis spinoff or a (far better) kart racer instead?

At times it felt as if SEGA were chucking darts at a board of ideas, and to be frank, despite the wild inconsistency of Sonic’s mid-2000s output, there was a comforting regularity to it all: no matter the divisiveness or abject lunacy of whatever the Blue Blur’s next project was, there was safety in the collective knowledge it wouldn’t be too long before the lid was blown off and we all got to see Sonic Team’s newest concoction.

But now the speedster is turning thirty, and aside from a fairly credible leak of a potential Sonic Colors remaster, we’ve seen hide nor hair of any new announcements. Not counting Team Sonic Racing, an insipid 2019 racer which itself is pushing two years, we’ve not had a new mainline title since 2017’s Sonic Forces, adding up to almost four years of absence for the platforming legend. Many veterans within the fanbase will recall a similar gap of time between 2013’s Lost World and Forces – which, to be fair, was bridged somewhat with 2014’s Sonic Boom offshoot, but, at least on the game side of things, that’s something most of us would prefer to forget (the show, however, was ace, and gets a lot of traction these days from the writers sharing clips on social media – hi Alan!) This wait generated a lot of impatience and only served to heighten the disappointment when Forces turned out to be as milquetoast as it’s possible for a character with no affinity for milk nor toast to get. Here we are again, then, in much in the same scenario, and I suspect the fandom may be far less tolerant of such a gap on this occasion. Once bitten, and all that.

The truly dedicated among you will recall this was the first in-game image we saw of Forces. Ah, the naiveté of youth.

Today, however, the silence has at last been broken. So starved have SEGA fans been of news regarding their boy in blue, that a single offhanded sentence from a translated interview with an overseas employee (and one not directly involved with any potential games’ development, at that) has been enough to turn heads. As MyNintendoNews reports, prominent Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu has published said interview, and it’s with SEGA Chief Strategy Officer Shuji Utsumi. Utsumi seems to have wanted to address the rising irritation amongst fans about the company’s radio silence, and not just in terms of Sonic; explaining it as being largely due to “an organizational shift,” during which they are “revising various lineups [of titles]”. It therefore isn’t a leap to assume that when whatever has caused this shift – changes in management, financial issues, the omnipresent impact of COVID – has settled, we’ll see a return to a more familiar rate of output.

Utsumi made sure to emphasise that these changes aren’t going to be felt in the short-term just yet, which makes one wonder if there aren’t bigger things going on with SEGA than any of us could suspect. He does, however, reassure the interviewer that things will “resume steadily” as they’re able to, and – strap yourselves in folks, here comes the proverbial firecracker up the proverbial backside – that “a new Sonic game announcement might be coming soon”.

Well. Though the operative word there is ‘might’ – and it’s more operative than any operative word I’ve ever seen operating round these parts – that’s about as blunt as it gets. Talk about a mic drop. We’ll be sure to jump right on any more news that comes of this, so stay tuned to all our usual channels.

Just hang tight, folks. It won’t be long now. That new expansive Sonic sports management simulator stroke survival horror is right around the corner. Ah, the good old days.

Are you looking forward to whatever comes next for Sonic and SEGA? Are you used to playing the waiting game, or would you rather see a return to quantity over quality? Let us know below!

Bobby Mills

Motor-mouthed Brit with a decades long - well, two decades, at least - passion for gaming. Writer, filmmaker, avid lover of birthdays. Still remembers the glory days of ONM. May it rest in peace.
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