Sonic's celebrating more than 20 years as a video game icon. So it makes sense that Sega's giving their furry blue mascot a bit of a facelift — nothing drastic, mind you — along with a new game and TV show in the hopes of keeping the hedgehog moving at top speed.
You might be squinting to see what's different with ol' Sonic. The red scarf is the biggest change and he's got a bit of athletic tape wrapped around his wrists, hands, feet and ankles. It's part of Sonic Boom (trailer above), the new cross-platform refresh for Sonic, announced by Sega today at a press event in New York City. It starts with a previously announced upcoming animated series set to air on Cartoon Network, coupled with new games for the Wii U and 3DS.
Sonic's co-stars will all get visual tweaks, too. Knuckles is much bigger than the others, as the brawn of the crew. Tails looks more like an inventor, with a tool belt and wrench. Amy has a big hammer and looks to be the brains of the group. The show and games all share the same name and will be accompanied by new toys by Tomy, who also make the official Pokémon toys.
The Sonic Boom games are being made by separate entities, with BigRedButton — a studio founded former Naughty Dog developer Bob Raffei — working on the new Wii U game and Sanzaru doing a 3DS sibling. The game serves a prequel to the TV show and will reportedly dovetail with it in some way.
A glimpse of the Wii U title — which will be a two-player co-op affair in the main campaign and will have modes that support four players — gave a look at new locations, which seems less linear than previous games and includes an energy bungee cord power that you can see in the aforementioned trailer. During its reveal at a NYC event today, Sega producer Stephen Frost said that the game will center on an adventure in an ancient land, with lots of exploration and melee combat along with the high-speed traversal that have been a Sonic hallmark. The console version of the game's being built on CryEngine 3. The portable Sonic Boom will sport a different story and level architecture but happens in the same world.
There's going to be a focus on teamwork in all of the Sonic Boom stuff. A brief teaser video of the game showed sequences with all four characters and moments where you controlled them individually. We'll be seeing expanded roles for Tails, Knuckles and Amy, who all get special abilities that link up with Sonic and, presumably, each other. In a clip from the show, Sonic faced off against a new robot from Dr. Eggman, with Tails providing air support from a plane overhead. During the battle, Tails extended an energy tether that Sonic grabbed onto in midair to swing around and kick the robot to pieces. It looked exactly like kind of thing that would show up as part of a local co-op game.
Series executive producer Evan Pailey described episodes of the show where an overprotective Sonic fires Tails from sidekick and Eggman applies, Eggman tries to get into Modern Lair Magazine and, after losing again to Sonic for the umpteenth time, the archvillain fakes an injury and takes Sonic to court. The new co-operative play mechanics in the games and show will also be seen in the toys.
This is clearly an effort to get Sonic in front of younger audiences while trying to hold onto the fans who've given him such longevity. Sonic's a character with a dedicated but fickle audience and a move like Sonic Boom can either get them excited or worried. We'll have more on Sonic Boom as info becomes available.