Takashi Iizuka: 2021 Will Be The “Next Big Year” For Sonic The Hedgehog

Sonic Mania Plus

Sonic Mania Plus (SEGA)

Back at South By Southwest, Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka confirmed his studio was working on their namesake brand’s next mainline installment. Game Informer‘s Brian Shea caught up with Iizuka last week at E3, and the SEGA figurehead elaborated on their mascot’s future.

Iizuka was naturally reluctant to delve into a discussion about his team’s next project – it hasn’t been formally announced yet, after all – but he did speak of big plans for the multimedia brand. 2017 was a significant year for Sonic, with two core platformers, Sonic Mania and Sonic Team’s own Sonic Forces, having released during that timespan. Iizuka acknowledged that significance, and affirmed 2021 will be the Blue Blur’s “next big year.”

“2017 was a big year for Sonic,” Iizuka said. “The next big year for Sonic is 2021. That’s the 30-year anniversary for Sonic. We are now preparing.” When asked if Sonic Team would publish another celebratory, large-scale title as they had for prior anniversaries, Iizuka reportedly chuckled and said, “Maybe.”

Sonic Forces Key Art
2017’s Sonic Forces was the last title in its series Sonic Team developed in-house. (Image: SEGA)

Shea also asked about Sonic’s new Drop Dash technique, which debuted in Mania. Classic Sonic retained the move in Forces, and M2’s SEGA Ages re-release of the original Sonic title incorporated it too. According to Iizuka, he asked M2 to implement the contemporary ability into the Sonic 1 remaster. “Drop Dash on SEGA Ages was my request,” he confirmed. “Drop Dash is very [well-liked] now because of Sonic Mania. That’s why I requested it.” (Speaking as someone who enjoyed Sonic Mania, I appreciated the Drop Dash and how it loaned itself well to the series’ pinball-esque, momentum-based gameplay.)

While on the topic of Mania, Shea also inquired about Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel, two long-forgotten characters dedicated fans missed. Both heroes were reintroduced in the Sonic Mania Plus expansion. “Those two characters were famous characters,” he said. “Very fan-requested to me, so that’s why we decided to use those characters.”

Along with SEGA’s unannounced projects, a live-action film based on the iconic series is currently in development by Paramount Pictures. It was originally slated for release this year, but was delayed to retool Sonic’s design as a response to fan criticism. In the meantime, fans can enjoy the series’ latest release, SUMO Digital’s Team Sonic Racing, which has garnered a positive critical reception.

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