TSS: What to expect at E3 2005

TSS: What to expect at E3 2005

As The Sonic Stadium is to be covering E3 2005 almost from the inside out, SONIC NEWS has made room for a TSS article to collate everything that’s already been said, what’s been confirmed, what’s been rumoured. E3 can be a very confusing and somewhat dangerous place for those who haven’t been catching up, so allow this article to hand you all the current information we have, so you get some background knowledge on what Sonic Team has and might be offering.

First of all, let’s base things on SEGA’s Official E3 Lineup. On the Sonic Team side, you have two titles; Phantasy Star Universe and Shadow the Hedgehog.

Phantasy Star Universe is, as the name suggests, the true sequel to Phantasy Star Online. It’s the “next generation” of PSO games. Sonic Team first revealed ‘PSU’ at E3 2004, but raised more questions than answers.

It appeared back then that Sonic Team weren’t sure whether to continue the PSO style of gameplay or revert back to a 3D form of the classic Phantasy Star games of yore. It appears PSU, as it stands, will be a mixture of both styles, offering the same online ability and freedom as PSO while information states that battle won’t be real-time.

Whether this will mean we get turn-based battles akin to PSO Episode III is hard to tell, as Sonic Team are being pretty vague about it. And with good reason, E3’s only just around the corner. Characters will be even more customiseable than before, with your average bloke clearly satisfied with being able to adjust the size of female character’s breasts. PSU is only slated for a PC and PlayStation2 release at present.

Shadow the Hedgehog, on the other hand, is a game fans know plenty about by now. When it was notoriously announced at the Walk of Game celebration, many fans didn’t take kindly to it. Even TSS went on the defensive, believing this to be the next game in the Sonic series. As it stands, Shadow is a mere spinoff title, but it simply plays similar. As time has gone on, the game has gotten to be quite interesting, with several unique abilities open to Shadow.

The plot’s been milked more than a cow farmer’s wife, but if you ignore that you have a game with multiple endings, based entirely on your actions during the game. Shadow can use Chaos Control abilities to do massive DragonBall Z style explosions and zoom past treacherous space, but the most controversial aspect of play to this day is the ability to weild “real life” weapons and shoot the crap from unfamiliar enemies. GUN makes a return, what a surprise, never saw that one coming either. One to watch, whether you intend on getting it or not. Confirmed for all major console formats.

The most interesting aspect of the SEGA Press Release is the line: “…on the first day of E3, SEGA will announce two new additions to the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise“. Depending on which raving fansite you believe, these two new games are going to be titles that have not so much as been talked about by official sources. Message Boards and other Sonic sites are rife with guesses which they believe to be “dead certs” or big fat definites.

The truth is, nobody really knows. If you put it into context, two of the most popular vague guesses, “Sonic Gems Collection” and “Sonic Rush” (details on these below), haven’t had so much as a real official word from SEGA nor Sonic Team. The best we’ve had is the odd Iizuka and Ogawa quip, but you know how much Sonic Team love to play with our minds – just cast your minds back to the Tokyo Game Show some years back, where a release schedule mentioned NiGHTS 2 in it’s timeframe.

Warning: The below information is rumour, and is not official nor verified. When rumours survive for a length of time, more and more fabrications and guesses are added to make it seem more appealing to the fans. Or fanboys. In any case, the following information might be correct, but is likely not to be. The only sources this infomation is gathered from is hearsay.

Sonic Gems Collection:
The Rumour: As mentioned above, the most popular (and apparently plausible) Sonic game to be announced is “Sonic Gems Collection”. In a similar vein to Sonic Mega Collection, Gems will, according to rumour, focus on all the Sonic games that Sonic Team missed out, including Sonic CD, Sonic the Fighters, SEGASonic Arcade and even Knuckles Chaotix. It’s a big title for Sonic fans to believe because Sonic Mega Collection did feel slightly cheap and easy for the long-time Sonic fan.

The Facts: SEGA America has patented the name “Sonic Gems Collection”, along with a logotype.

The Possibility: Likely. It would seem strange that SEGA would make a logotype for a game they do not plan on releasing. Although it has happened before; companies have patented names for games that have never seen light of day. Apart from an aside by a Sonic Team staff member decaring that it would be nice to see the fans treated to the other classic games, the only thing we have to go by is a trademark. Which, in the big old world of games development, means next to nothing.

Sonic R EXTREME/Sonic Rush:
The Rumour: The other “dead cert”, that has even less grounding than Gems Collection. Many people see this as a sequel to Sonic R; a racing game featuring Sonic running on his diddy legs against other franchise charcters around maps with multiple routes. “Sonic R EXTREME” is listed on US store GameCrazy’s release lists. SEGA denies the existence of such a game and tells SONIC NEWS exclusively that they plan to remove it. The title name has not yet been removed.

The Facts: SEGA Japan recently file a trademark for the name “Sonic Rush”.

The Possibility: The GameCrazy release list incident is quite difficult to use as a basis for ascertaining the accountability of a new Sonic game; many gaming stores and websites such as EBGames.com and GameStop absolutely LOVE to make new game pages on titles that haven’t even been announced yet. Sometimes they just love to live in their own little world and make up games, it seems. A game store, especially a website store, is not even remotely close to accountable researched information. When we quizzed SEGA America about this though, they changed into a somewhat formal mode and requested us to be silent on the matter. Although we’d love to put some kind of conspiracy theory in here, we just don’t know, and neither do the fansites out there.

It appears there’s even a PSP Sonic game being rumoured, the genre of which is “Action/Adventure/Racing”. Again, another game shop release date slip or fabrication. Many people have claimed that because of this the “new Sonic R” will be hitting the PSP. Which, if believed, would conflict with “Sonic R EXTREME”‘s specification for XBOX, PS2 and Gamecube consoles. How are we to believe something from sources who aren’t even sure what platform a supposed rumour is going to be for? Again, the only thing to go by is SEGA’s patent, which is practically dust, news-wise.

End Rumour Mills

So what could it be then? Well, the cunning thing with games companies, particularly SEGA, is that if they don’t mention it in their Press Releases, no matter how many people know about it, then they consider it to be “unannounced”, even if the individual developers (read: Yuji Naka) confirm a game’s existence.

So don’t be surprised if Sonic DS does happen to be one of the “two new” Sonic games. The game has been announced by SEGA for some time now, but we’ve seen nothing and heard nothing about it. Perhaps SEGA are pretending that we’ve forgotten all about their announcement of the game last year.

And going by facts, the second new game could very well end up being the new Sonic the Hedgehog title that Yuji Naka has already announced is in the works. Back in February, the Nak’ster said that a brand new Sonic project has been in development for the Gamecube (the GCN was the only format specified) to UK Nintendo Official Magazine. The problem since then, is that Shadow the Hedgehog has been announced.

Was Yuji Naka talking about Shadow the Hedgehog when he mentioned a new Sonic project in February? Unlikely – Sonic Team Japan is working on the new Sonic title, and SEGA Studio USA (aka Sonic Team USA) is working on Shadow. SEGA America called dibs on revealing Shadow, and it would be safe to assume that they respectfully left Naka-san alone to announce a seperate project in his own good time. That good time could very well be E3.

This being hailed as “The Banner Year of Sonic”, we’re most likely bound to see more revelations as the E3 event continues. The press release states that the first day will see two new Sonic titles, but according to Sonic Team staff, there could be as many as five Sonic projects underway. When you consider that Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic DS and the new Sonic the Hedgehog game on Gamecube will take up three of those slots, there could well be room for more, if the staff comments are to be believed.

If the rumours of Sonic Gems, Sonic Rush and others happen to turn out true or not, then SONIC NEWS will definitely be there with the latest, and TSS first with the commentary. This article was written in mind simply to calm people down about the rumours running about. Many people believe way too much and then things get out of control – remember Megaton? If the rumours are true, great. But just be wary this E3.

You can catch all the latest E3 Sonic Team commentary at The Sonic Stadium starting next week, all the breaking news only here at SONIC NEWS, and you can discuss the revelations that take place in the mature Sonic community, the SSMB Forums.

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Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.