Sonic the Hedgehog will soon be racing to a theme park near you, reports Andrew Kiya of Siliconera. Japanese blogger Ryokutya2089 leaked the contents of an upcoming Famitsu special ahead of the franchise’s 30th anniversary. The column includes interviews with SEGA art director Kazuyuki Hoshino and Sonic the Hedgehog producer Takeshita Iizuka. The physical copy of the issue officially releases on July 8, with a digital edition hitting social media 10 days earlier (June 28).
Ryokutya2089 sourced an incomplete statement, so until the magazine is published, details remain scarce. SEGA is presumably imagining a Sonic the Hedgehog amusement park in the same vein as Super Nintendo World, a life-size Mario level with themed snacks, interactive attractions, smartphone app capability, obligatory merchandise, and several moving parts, creating the ultimate gaming experience. Visitors take on the role of Mario, bumping crates, slipping inside pipes, and “shrinking” upon contact with enemies. To take advantage of the park’s various offerings, fans may purchase Power-Up Bands outfitted with amiibo technology. These interact with attractions and decor, and can collect coins for use later and record the details of a visit. Fan-favorite Mario “characters” like Bowser Jr., Goomba, Piranha Plant, Koopa Troopa, Bullet Bill, Chain Chomp, Boo, Pokey, stars, Shy Guy Bom-omb, Yoshi, special blocks, Koopa shells, and Thwomp Trap feature, with Toad and Toadette leading the pack as hosts.
The whole place is designed to replicate the games’ Mushroom Kingdom, including several notable locations as Peach’s Castle, Toad’s House, and Bowser’s Castle. There’s even a Mario Kart section where visitors can play for real. The Mario-themed funfair opened in Universal Studios Japan in March. Functional and eye-poppingly picturesque, it provides executives with a good model for future video game parks, including Sonic the Hedgehog’s. Imagine a Sonic theme park where visitors can skate along tracks, simulate levels by going on high-speed, curving rollercoasters, and interact with rings. That is the future. Check out the sneak peek on Super Mario Land on Nintendo Direct below:
The box office success of Jeff Fowler’s live-action Sonic the Hedgehog emboldened SEGA to take the franchise in places it’s never been. The company is reportedly turning everyone’s favorite big blue fur into a VTuber — a virtual YouTuber fans could freely communicate with. The company intends to have Sonic follow in the footsteps of up-and-coming VTuber Kizuna AI, a computer-animated social media personality curiously bundled into the body of an anime girl. The original character is voiced by a real actor and responds to comments in real-time, giving rise to the most engaging of fourth-wall breaks. The channel allows anime fans to finally live the dream, so to speak, a feat executives hope to accomplish for video game stalwarts. After all, when a character like Sonic propitiously challenges the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s track record of releasing the highest-grossing superhero films since 2010 — and actually wins — there’s nowhere else to go but up. Sonic’s VTubing will reportedly be streamed live.
SEGA is currently working on a new Sonic the Hedgehog video game that will capitalize on “the future evolution” of the series and introduce a version of Sonic that hasn’t been attempted before. Iizuka will elaborate on the project in Famitsu’s 30th anniversary piece. The game is scheduled for a 2022 release date and will come out on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. The nextSonic film finished shooting on May 12. It hits theaters on April 8, 2022.