At South By Southwest earlier this year, Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka spilled the news that the next mainline Sonic the Hedgehog game was in development. I met up with Iizuka at E3 last week and asked about the future of the franchise.
When I ask directly about the game mentioned at the South By Southwest panel, he’s evasive, saying that he can’t tell me anything about the game or when we can expect an update. However, once I ask about 2017, which saw the release of Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces within months of each other, he delivers a tiny tease.
“2017 was a big year for Sonic,” Iizuka says. “The next big year for Sonic is 2021. That’s the 30-year anniversary for Sonic. We are now preparing.”
I told him that in past anniversary years, like 2011 where we got Sonic Generations, Sega released big milestone games to mark the occasion. When I ask if that might be the case for 2021, he chuckles and lets out a soft, “Maybe.”
Next, I brought up Sonic’s drop dash move, which was first introduced in Sonic Mania. Months following Mania’s release, Classic Sonic could perform the same move in Sonic Forces, then again in the Sega Ages version of the first Sonic the Hedgehog on Switch. According to Iizuka, the retroactive inclusion of that move in the Sega Ages version was something he wanted.
“Drop dash on Sega Ages was my request,” he says. “Drop dash is very [well-liked] now because of Sonic Mania. That’s why I requested it.”
While on the topic, I brought up whether or not the drop dash will now appear in Sonic’s arsenal going forward, much like the spin dash was in most Sonic games following its introduction in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. “Yeah, I think so,” he says. “We had a good reaction for Sonic Mania, so that’s why we implemented it to Classic Sonic in Sonic Forces.”
Iizuka also mentioned the inclusion of Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel as playable characters in last year’s Sonic Mania Plus. “Those two characters were famous characters,” he says. “Very fan-requested to me, so that’s why we decided to use those characters.”
2019 was set to be a fairly big year for the Sonic the Hedgehog license, as the blue blur was scheduled to make his silver screen debut in a live-action film. However, due to fan backlash and negative reaction to the trailer, the film has since been delayed to 2020 so the team can fix the much-maligned character model. It sounds as though we won’t know much else about the next mainline Sonic game that was mentioned by Iizuka at South By Southwest, but at least we now have some small details to go off of.