The head of Sonic Team, Takashi Iizuka, has stated that 2022 has been "the biggest year in Sonic history," while promising that fans of the blue blur have"a lot more" to look forward to keep the "momentum going" during 2023.
Speaking with Famitsu, he noted that the hugely successful movie sequel, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, kicked off the year the right way, with the subsequent Netflix show Sonic Prime also launching this year. I believe both the film and the series have been successful, with Sonic 2 proving even better than the original, focusing more on the core Sonic characters and lore than the first movie did.
Similarly, Sonic Prime was a decent outing; while lacking a lot of the humour of its predecessor, Sonic Boom, its overarching story and stunning visuals brought something a little more SatAM to the table compared to Boom's Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog.
The video games, on the other hand, I have mixed feelings about. Both Sonic Origins, a repackaging and remastering of the original 2D era Sonic games, launched on PC, next-gen consoles and Nintendo Switch this year, while the first AAA game in some time, Sonic Frontiers, set to redefine the genre by copying Zelda: Breath of the Wild and getting inspiration in gameplay mechanics from Ubisoft games.
Even though Frontier's repetitive, grind-to-win gameplay and uninspired levels are not my cup of tea, it's proven popular with fans. The good news is Iizuka wants to keep that momentum going next year. "We are preparing a second wave to keep the fans happy and maintain that momentum going into 2023. We already announced additional content for Sonic Frontiers, but there is a lot more outside of that, so please look forward to it."
And perhaps the good news for fans like myself is that Sonic Team's director, Morio Kishimoto, believes that Sonic Frontiers "still has a long way to go" too, and that the entire team were "checking out the opinions of the critics and players" and that the team "will take this seriously as a global playtest."
On the other hand, it's also likely to be the defining format for Sonic games going forward, unfortunately. Iizuka stated that he sees the transition as transformative as the one from 2D to 3D with Sonic Adventure in 1998.
"Our goal with Sonic Frontiers was to evolve the linear, stage-clearing 3D action that began with Sonic Adventure in 1998 into a new action-packed adventure game where players have the freedom to explore the environment around them." He added that the new gameplay style will be the cornerstone for future games, stating that the "brand-new approach marks another defining moment for the franchise".