Looking back at 2022: a Sonic the Hedgehog Retrospective
There is no doubt about it… this past year was a excellent year for the Blue Blur.
There has been years that have been cherished by Sonic fans during the franchise’s history, but this year, 2022, has turned to be the biggest year that the Sonic the Hedgehog brand has ever had.
Join me in which I gather up my thoughts on everything that we had, from games to comics, cartoons and a Hollywood film; as well as hopes and speculations for 2023.
IDW Sonic the Hedgehog comics
If there’s a defining aspect that marked the IDW Sonic the Hedgehog comics this year, it was the rivalry and build-up of Surge the Tenrec against Sonic. In the long-awaited 50th issue, the rivalry reached its confrontation, with some pointing it to be one of the best issues so far. I also enjoyed writer Ian Flynn’s characterization of the blue blur’s life style and morals. (something that, by the way, I think also defined 2022 for Sonic).
Surge and Kit are a fascinating contrast to Sonic and Tails’ relationship as friends, and their relationship and implications with Dr. Starline helped to bring it all together. Starline was also another character that got to have his moment, namely in a cool mech battle against Dr. Eggman, in which the platypus got to learn first hand why the evil mad scientist reigns supreme. Overall, it was a very satisfying read.
Tails got another opportunity to shine in the comics through the 30th Anniversary one-shot special, celebrating Sonic’s best friend legacy in the series, and the return of the Witchcarters from the Game Gear’s Tails’ Skypatrol. It resulted in a very endearing and wholesome comic.
Another highlight from IDW Sonic this year was the Scrapnik Island mini-series, which has brought a slightly terror angle to the series, and also blending in more elements from the Classic series to a more modern context, with the return of the fan-favorite Mecha Sonic, to my pure delight.
Sonic the Hedgehog movie sequel
The biggest thing that got to happen to Sonic in 2022, is no doubt to many fans, was the release of the movie sequel. The hedgehog, once more, got to appear in countless collaborations and campaigns, including the world known Super Bowl. The feeling that you get with such a big release coming up is huge, with seemingly the entire world entering a Sonic mood. Sonic has made it to Hollywood, it’s still very surreal to think about it for me.
The movie also got to build up and further advanced what made the original film interesting, with more game elements being adapted, memorable moments, and great character interaction. Idris Elba as Knuckles was such a delight to hear, bringing a vocal style to the character that wasn’t heard often before. Jim Carrey went full-on Eggman with the film, featuring a shaved head and a huge mustache, and a even more manic performance.
Ben Schwartz continued to show his acting chops as Sonic, with a huge charismatic portrayal of the character. Possibly one of the most impactful events regarding the community was after months of fan speculation and campaigning, Colleen O’Shaughnessey was confirmed to be playing Tails, after voicing the character in the original film’s post-credit scene.
With the post credit-scene confirming the appearance of fan favorite Shadow the Hedgehog for the third film, the Sonic movie series seems to be more healthy than ever. We can only wait eagerly for what Jeff Fowler and his crew will be cooking up.
Out of everything that was released in this year, it seems that Sonic Origins held a bit of… controversy? Which is understandable in some ways, given how it gave the impression that some aspects were seemingly rushed. I would say it was a essentially a repeat of the same scenario that happened with 2021’s Sonic Colours Ultimate, where the game was released with bugs and glitches, signs that it needed more time in the oven, and patches being released at a later date after the game’s release. Just like Ultimate, it made people wonder why the release date couldn’t have waited for the fixes (most likely not wanting to pass the opportunity of releasing Origins during Sonic’s birthday).
But in terms of official releases, it is the best way one can play the Genesis Sonic games. The cutscenes animated by Power House are stellar, which gave a bigger insight into the world of Sonic during the classic days. It showcased how Sonic met Tails and Eggman, and featured amazing characters interaction (And hey, the cutscenes were written by Ian Flynn, showcasing once more how he defined this year for Sonic as well). The bonuses that the game offers is a sweet incentive to the player, with missions and some concept art that wasn’t shown before.
The games themselves were built on top of the well-received Christian Whitehead ports of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2, which came after years of silence if the mobile remakes would ever get a console port. While there are indeed some fan-made projects worth tons of praise; when it comes to official releases, this might be the definitive way to play the Classic Sonic games.
It has been five years since the release of Sonic’s last main game, Sonic Forces, which has divided fans and generated a seemingly endless debate on what to do next with the Sonic games. The anticipation for Sonic Frontiers‘ release was a true rollercoaster ride, which was not helped by June’s IGN First videos, which lead to a confusing path in regards to SEGA’s marketing of the game.
If there’s ever a redemption arc if I’ve seen one, it’s Sonic Frontiers. The way the hype for the game slowly built over after it hit rock bottom in fans’ expectations around June, is nothing but awe inspiring. Slowly everything came together, and now that the game is out, yeah, it’s good!
Some would consider Frontiers a little divisive, but has been more widely well received by fans and critics, with some fans hopeful for the next installments, and how they’ll build over what Frontiers has laid out.
I came out of Sonic Frontiers very pleased with it, it’s definitely Top 5 material in my opinion, you can feel every ounce of energy the game has, with its’ graphics, music, the (occasional) dynamic cutscenes, the writing, gameplay, and the amazing Titan boss fights.
The way Sonic controls in the open world is the best he has ever felt controlling in a 3D space, a total opposite on how he was like in the boost games, which proved itself to be very refreshing. If it’s there a world I can describe Frontiers with, it’s “refreshing”. It’s a breath of fresh air the series needed to avoid constant stagnation.
The story itself is one of the strongest the series has had since 2009’s Sonic and the Black Knight. The characters’ dynamic was front and center, thanks to Flynn’s understanding of what made these characters so appealing to begin with, and bringing that to its’ full potential.
One can’t talk about the plot and also not mention Sage, an amazing addition to the Sonic cast, and I’m personally very excited to see what direction the next game will take given the development it showed for the characters.
The music is also another absolute highlight, it’s impossible not to sing along when Undefeatable kicks in, or to be touched when hearing One Way Dream. I’m Here is a great theme music, getting the game’s story across very well. Vandalize by One OK Rock is also very memorable, with its’ release on YouTube considered to be a very cool moment in the fanbase. The music fires from all cylinders, and it’s one of the greatest Sonic soundtracks we’ve ever got. Tomoya Ohtani and his team deserves all the praise they can get.
At the end of the day, Sonic Frontiers managed to make fans in general more hopeful for Sonic’s future, and given the fact that director Morio Kishimoto (which has provided tons of interactions with fans on Twitter) has shown to be taking all the feedback he can, and the fact that free DLC is coming in 2023, this only means good news for Sonic’s future in gaming.
One can remember how weird the advertising for Sonic Prime initially went, not only with Netflix making tweets and deleting them right after, but extremely short snippets of it not giving a super big insight into what the show was about. Over the months, it became clear that Sonic joined the multiverse craze that has taken over recently over fictional media, with Sonic exploring the “shatterverse”.
With the cartoon’s first eight episodes now out, it also has been met with positive reactions with fans, specially the animation, and I must agree, Sonic and his friends never moved this good before in a CGI context since 2008’s Night of the Werehog. The action is very well done, and I think a big improvement over what 2014’s Sonic Boom offered.
One of the biggest points of debate between fans was the new voice cast that the characters would receive with the show. Deven Mack, the newest Sonic voice, interacting with fans on social media and was received with open arms. The new cast has been an interesting new way to get to know these characters.
The cartoon itself keeps finding fun and new inventive ways to reinvent the characters we’ve all known for a long time, with a special big shot-out to Nine and the way he contrasts with the original Tails. Shadow also has been a show stealer whenever he appears, and the jokes regarding him wanting to punch the lights out of Sonic that came from the fandom are very funny as well.
The heart of the series itself seems to be centered on Sonic learning to value his friends more, and through the adventures he goes through, ends up with a newfound appreciation to what he has. It’s a sweet message, a little overplayed, sure, but a fun away to centre the plot beats for this cartoon.
The year of 2022 is one that is going to be looked at fondly by Sonic fans, there’s no doubt about that. But part of the experience is also from the fanbase, with their fanart, discussions and amazing projects, such as Sonic and the Fallen Star, Sonic Triple Trouble 16-Bit, Sonic Sea3on, and much more.
But with 2022 wrapped up, fans still have a lot to look forward to in 2023, specially with the recently revealed Sonic Frontiers roadmap to 2023, hinting that fan favourites Tails, Knuckles and Amy will finally be playable in a 3D mainline Sonic game in 16 years. It still feels surreal to know that this is on the way.
The Sonic cinematic universe also will keep fans warm during their wait for Sonic the Hedgehog 3, with a new spin-off TV Series for Paramount Plus featuring the movies’ version of Knuckles the Echidna as a protagonist, with Idris Elba returning to voice the iconic character. The series will follow the tradition of being a mix of live-action and CGI, expected to release in 2023.
Of course, there are still more Sonic Prime episodes to be shown, given that the series was confirmed to be 24 episodes long. Multiverse hijinks aren’t still over for our blue hedgehog, and one can’t help but to look very much foward to the promised Sonic and Shadow fight at the cliffhanger of episode 8.
And the Sonic comics will always be present to keep fans entertained, with the year beginning with Issue 56, showing that Surge is not quite done with our heroes.
Sonic Prime planned to debut in mid-December, according to unreleased official documents
Sonic Central recap: New Sonic Frontiers animated special, Origins gameplay, Prime preview, and more
“31 Days of Sonic”: Tails’ Channel and IDWSonicNews announces the return of the month-long Sonic fan artwork celebration for 2022
Exclusive: I found an unused Knuckles render in the official Sonic movie sequel poster. Here’s how it happened.
While I do hold a lot of nostalgic feelings for 2011, and how it felt to me to be a Sonic fan back then, I won’t lie, objectively, 2022 is no doubt the best year the Sonic franchise has ever had. It really feels to me that the SEGA mascot is returning to his popularity levels of the ’90s. I can only hope that the blue blur manages to keep that momentum going forward. If that’s to be believed, then the best is yet to come for Sonic.