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Is this a relaunch?


Badnik Mechanic
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Whilst everyone is going ape right now over in the Sonic 4 topic... there is something seperate that I want to talk about.

Is this a relaunch?

About a month ago, an Alton Towers PR person released a statement about a Sonic themed roller coaster... in this statement he said...

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you but I have been on holiday. I am sure that you will have picked up press reports by now relating to Spinball Whizzer and the fact that we are in partnership with Sega resulting in a retheme to the ride to coincide with the relaunch of Sonic. We hope that the retheme will be complete for our February half-term opening.

Some people dismissed it saying that he wasn't Sega, so it didn't count. I wasn't so sure, he's carefully chosen to use the phrase "coincide with the relaunch of Sonic" had there discussions with Sega not been along those lines, surely it would make more sense to say "To coincide with the new game." Not to mention, had he used the phrase "new game" then it would ultimately be wrong. ASR isn't out in February, but the needlemouse/Sonic 4 announcement has come just before half term, the date that the new ride is due to open. If you ask me... I think during the many meetings between the Merlin organisation and Sega. Sega have told them their plans for announcing Needlemouse, and they've used the word "Relaunch."

Not to mention, around this time last month, nobody was saying the words Needlemouse and Sonic 4, (at least without being told "Stop being silly" like I had to me). Had this Alton Towers PR guy been in the same boat as us, he would have had no idea as to what Needlemouse would have been, let alone if it were to be a relaunch or a reboot.

If you ask me... Sega have told Merlin that this is a relaunch.

So... in the last 24 hours whats happened... We now know that Needlemouse is Sonic 4 and we've seen a tiny bit of it in action. It's a 2D side scroller. It certainly looks like it's a return to form, and given all thats occured, with all the community challenges and the artwork teasers, it certainly feels like it's a relaunch.

Sega Europe have release also released a statement. At no point in do they use the words reboot or relaunch. So as of yet theres nothing official out to say if it should be taken as a relaunch/reboot, or just another new game. (Unless of course theres some obscure blog entry which states otherwise that I'm not aware of).

With all that in mind, and with everything thats happened in the last month, the excitement, the hype and all the tidbits of information. Even the Alton Towers announcement, are we taking todays announcement as a relaunch of Sonic? Or a reboot?

Why do I want to talk about this... because typically when 'the next big' Sonic game comes out, as long as I can remember, it ultimately becomes 'the reboot' or 'the relaunch.' We called Sonic 06 a reboot/relaunch... but did Sega ever outright say it was that? Same with Unleashed, that too has been called the relaunch so many times... but have Sega ever outright said that... Go to any mainstream videogame site and ask how many reboots/relaunches Sonic has had... they'll all say "Loads." But has it? Has it really ever had that? So far it seems that it's just progressed as the technology has, I don't consider Sonic Adventure to be a reboot/relaunch, it was just a new Sonic game on a very powerful console (for the time), it certainly could have been a relaunch, given that Sonic R and Sonic 3D were not the stunners that the 16bit titles were.

So is Sonic 4 a reboot.... no. it can't possibly be. The very fact it's called "Sonic 4" means that it can't be, it's chronologically the sequel to Sonic 3, so everything that came before it has happened, and could potentially be referenced. Dare I say, even characters in those 3 games could appear. A reboot would mean a total cleansweap.

So is Sonic 4 a relaunch.... Well... I think it is, whilst we're not had the outright official, 'yes this is a relaunch' from Sega, the events of the past month, the alton towers thing, the community challenges, the hype, the rumour, the speculation. Has any other Sonic game had this? I don't even think Unleashed has this much hype and sense of awe about it.

Or... should Sonic 4 just be considered another Sonic game. Not to diminish the quality of whats been shown so far or what it maybe like, but from whats been shown, you couldn't do that on a megadrive console, and I doubt you could do it on a Saturn either. it's a technological step up, but we've gone back to the original method/presentation. Think of it like this, Sonic CD was not a relaunch/reboot... but it looks and feels so much more advanced than any Sonic game on the Megadrive. This in a way feels the same. It's a tehnological step forward, but potentially it need not be a relaunch. It's a little oxymornic, you feel like a relaunch should be a big 3D tite with a big 3D world, with lots of big 3D levels, yet this has in a way taken a step back, but using more advanced technology.

So what say you, how are you classifying the new Sonic age that we live in?

P.S. As a prize for reading this post... please accept this video of

Edited by Casanova
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What does 'relaunch' even mean?

I don't think it matters much. No definitive retcon seems to have occurred, there's been no drastic change in style, we can't know about Sonic 4's quality until it's released... SEGA can call it whatever they want, but this 'relaunch' can't be much more than a big marketing push at this point. Whether that means something is another matter, but in every way that's really important, nothing's changed.

What we know about the game's place in canon is too ambiguous to call it a reboot, at least. It takes place after S3&K, but does that nullify Adventure or just fill in the gap between the two? No word, really, and I think that's deliberate. If classic fans who were turned off by Adventure's direction enjoy Sonic 4, they can count it as the last part of the series. If they liked Adventure, then it's just filling in the blanks a la the Metroid Prime games. I'd be surprised if this was ever clarified; better to keep everyone happy.

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What does 'relaunch' even mean?

When it comes to Sonic... who can say? I don't think theres ever been a universal 'yes this is relaunch' line from sega for any sonic game. There was that whole "Welcome to the Sonic Age" thing a while back. But typically it pops up at some point, wether it'll last is another thing.

But with this game it feels slightly different, mainly because for the first time theres signs from an official body that it is a relaunch, and it's not on a 'new' console either.

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Reboot, relaunch, belated successor call it whatever. It doesn't mean anything. They're just words that are trying to give the game a niche of its own. I say who cares. Even in a franchise, (and especially in this one) each game stands on its own. Sonic 1 was a game. Sonic 2 was also a game. Connect them however you please, it doesn't change that they are different titles with different goals. Besides, Sega in particular isn't good at throwing around these terms. Honestly, I can't remember the last major Sonic title where Sega didn't market it by saying he's going back to his roots.

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I think that Sonic 06 was intended to be a sort of alternate continuity, based on the previous continuity but not actually continuing it. Chaos Control worked differently, there was no mention of the master emerald, no specific allusions to evens in past games, a completely different tone, and it's the only time since Heroes that they changed Sonic's design.

Sonic Unleashed is harder to nail down, Hashimoto said a number of times in interviews that Sonic Unleashed wasn't connected to any previous Sonic game, but never explained what he meant by that. Unleashed once again never alludes to any previous games.

On one hand, them returning to the Death Egg story mildly suggests it, but if it was actually a relaunch, I would have expected them to change more things. You could probably count on one hand the number of vertices different between this model and the Unleashed model. And no, it isn't shorter. It might appear shorter because the very Rush-esque animations they're using have him bending his knees. As I've said elsewhere, I get from what we've seen so far that this game has a very Rush-esque flavor to it, and that's not what I would associate with a relaunch. I was on skype with a lot of people when the trailer hit, four or five of us all independently came to the conclusion that it looked a lot like Sonic Rush.

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Sonic Unleashed is harder to nail down, Hashimoto said a number of times in interviews that Sonic Unleashed wasn't connected to any previous Sonic game, but never explained what he meant by that. Unleashed once again never alludes to any previous games.

Ah - but it does! The most explicit allusion was quite obscure and barely noticeable - and oddly enough, it alludes to a post-reboot Soleanna.

Ciccio

Natalia's husband, a talented shoemaker. For 20 years, he's fussed over ever instep and insole.

Not long ago, Ciccio heard about wondrous shoes that turn their wearer into a speed demon, and would give anything for a peek at them.

...what the directory is inferring to, of course, is Robert's Custom Shoes from Sonic the Hedgehog. When Sonic bumped into Robert in Soleanna Castle Town, he made note that his Custom Shoes were a recent invention of his, their debut to the public being a day after the Festival of the Sun (Sonic giving them a final test-go to see if they worked). Ciccio has only recently caught wind of the shoes, and seeing as he's quite the shoe fanatic, I would place a small gap between its creation and Ciccio's being informed of it (Spagonia and Soleanna also appear to be implied to be neighbouring countries from a cultural standpoint.)

In addition to this, it is heavily implied that Wentos may be Soleannan. He's got a prominent "SOLEANNA" sticker on his suitcase, and Chao speaks with an Italian accent (Soleanna being based upon the real-world location of Venice, Italy). He is also the only character to not have a listed nationality in the Directory.

So, if these are anything to go by, here's a possible vague timeline.

1. Sonic travels to Soleanna to observe the Festival of the Sun. Wentos, a Sonic fan (evident via Sonic sticker on suitcase), either lives here or was traveling.

2. Robert debuts shoes.

3. Soon after the Festival of the Sun, all the games between Sonic Rivals and Sonic Rivals 2 happen (lol no Chronicles). Ciccio learns of the shoes within this time frame.

4. <Sonic World Adventure story progression>

5. Wentos travels to Spagonia soon after Sonic arrives.

Yeah, I gathered this all from NPCs, side missions, and character infos. I'm pretty pathetic. I'll take it that Sonic Unleashed takes place soon after the time reboot of Sonic the Hedgehog.

EDIT: Oh shi- Forgot to factor in Sonic Rivals-Sonic Rivals 2. Sonic Riders: Shooting Star Story actually took place a few months after the original Sonic Riders, so that's not included.

Fix'd.

Edited by HunterTSF
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Didn't the press release say it was a direct sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles?

I'm going with that.

Ditto.

I don't think it's a relaunch. For a start, even if it's a main title in the series, DLC is hardly a massive fanfare, attention-grabbing way to go about it, is it? I'd say the closest thing the series had to a relaunch was SA1 back in the day, and that still kept the old continuity.

No matter how major a title it is, DLC-only stuff is always relatively low-key compared to full-blown disc releases. I don't think they ever advertise DLC stuff on TV and such, do they?

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Ditto.

I don't think it's a relaunch. For a start, even if it's a main title in the series, DLC is hardly a massive fanfare, attention-grabbing way to go about it, is it? I'd say the closest thing the series had to a relaunch was SA1 back in the day, and that still kept the old continuity.

No matter how major a title it is, DLC-only stuff is always relatively low-key compared to full-blown disc releases. I don't think they ever advertise DLC stuff on TV and such, do they?

Exactly. I don't think there's ever been a "relaunch" in the "let's ignore everything that came before and start the series over again" sense.

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I think it's just a sorta New Super Mario Bros. type thing where they go back to the original gameplay, but that doesn't mean they've given up on the new gameplay and stuff. Also, even if it is a reboot or a relaunch(I don't really know how thats different)it'll still be a good game.

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I hope that a time paradox occurs in the next Sonic title (after 4) that completely erases everything that (chronologically) happened after Sonic Adventure 2.

Okay, so it wouldn't be a total reboot, but hey; it would effectively remove all of the shitty games from the series' continuity, so it could only be a good thing, right?

Edited by Extaticus
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Okay, so it wouldn't be a total reboot, but hey; it would effectively remove all of the shitty games from the series' continuity, so it could only be a good thing, right?

Urm... no...; because they still exist in the real world... they still happened no matter how much of a spin you try to put on it.

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Who's to say Sega won't release the next 3D Sonic game next year despite Sonic 4 coming out this year? After all:

2009: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

2010: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Different company, granted, but the situation is similar. Someone at Sega even stated that they will continue to make disk-based games alongside Sonic 4, and they will obviously be 3D games.

Edited by Icecoldfrieza
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This started as a simple post and turned into, basically, a manifesto. IT IS HUGE AND I APOLOGIZE. Prepare for wall-o-text. And probably an unpopular one, at that. But here goes:

Story is the hated bastard amongst developers of most long-lived franchises. They provide far more problems than it's worth. This is why so many well-established "mascot" or "pillar" franchises of the industry vary wildly in their storytelling. Unfortunately for them, those are the kinds of series that have attracted countless fans, all of them wanting to connect the games of their childhood with the games they hold in their hand today.

Miyamoto knows this, which is why Mario games are all (with RPG's as the obvious exception) so simple in terms of the story being told. In the case of games that have more of a problem with story and continuity, the Zelda series is the perfect example, in my eyes. The idea of trying to link together Spirit Tracks with Twilight Princess with Ocarina of Time and all the rest gives me a massive headache. The developers wanted to make a brand-new game with a narrative that wasn't restricted by a previous story or event, so they pay little attention to the specifics (or the entirety in some cases) of the plots that came before. This has been true of most games in the series. Suddenly, similarly-named locations look entirely different, histories don't match up, etc. And, to me, it's the same deal whenever someone tries to place the entire Sonic series in any sort of chronological order.

Sonic Team (or anyone else who's had a chance at making a Sonic game) clearly does not let anything established in the past prevent them from trying something different or telling the story they want to tell. So many different hands within so many individual teams touch these games that it's only natural for almost two decades' worth of titles to veer in completely different directions. As a result, the developers leave gigantic holes or conflicts that are filled or patched-up by fan speculation. It can be done, but only by taking extraneous materials as gospel, making impressive leaps in logic, and transforming assumptions into evidence. As a result, the fanbase can't agree on which games are to be ignored and which are to receive the "official canon" seal.

At the same time, the developers also include little nods or references in a half-hearted manner that *I* certainly identify as a way of simultaneously avoiding specific restrictions from the past and placating fans who don't want what may be their favorite game to suddenly be wiped away or ignored. As an easy example that was mentioned in this thread**, somewhere out there is a fan who loved Sonic'06, so Unleashed gets a small Soleanna sticker placed on an NPC's suitcase. It's so unnoticeable or so insignificant to the vast majority of players (and the rest of Unleashed as a game) that it might as well not be there at all. A unanimous opinion on how Unleashed relates to Sonic'06 relates to the rest of the franchise won't ever really happen-- and neither game really hinges on such a connection to begin with. At the risk of repeating myself and getting yelled at again, so many things are altered in either large or small ways from game to game that it almost makes any passing connections seem arbitrary and forced. To me, at least, it certainly does.

It's the construction of what is ultimately a confusing and wildly erratic narrative rather than the Homer-level epic some people might think. I can only speak for myself, but I try to enjoy each game or adventure as a stand-alone story, just as the developers are treating them. It makes them better when you don't bog them down with forced continuity. I fear that a large portion of the fanbase might get caught up on story discrepancies within Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and will look too hard for connections to SA1 and end up hating or dismissing the game for reasons that are, by and large, insignificant to the game as a whole.

Of course, those are my priorities. I know a lot of people pick these games up for the story exclusively (which helps explain how certain titles of late can reach average-to-impressive sales figures despite undeniably shoddy mechanics or gameplay). I'm not going to step on anybody's good time if that's their bag. It just confuses me personally and is frustrating to watch.

tl;dr

Linking every Sonic game together, when so many of them inarguably vary so wildly in style, tone, design, and story, makes the entire package confusing and unstable as a franchise. It's ultimately a detriment to the identity of the characters and the ever-changing universe as a whole.

(**And no disrespect intended, Hunter. You do some impressive research work that I genuinely tip my hat to and enjoy.)

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Ah - but it does! The most explicit allusion was quite obscure and barely noticeable - and oddly enough, it alludes to a post-reboot Soleanna.

...what the directory is inferring to, of course, is Robert's Custom Shoes from Sonic the Hedgehog. When Sonic bumped into Robert in Soleanna Castle Town, he made note that his Custom Shoes were a recent invention of his, their debut to the public being a day after the Festival of the Sun (Sonic giving them a final test-go to see if they worked). Ciccio has only recently caught wind of the shoes, and seeing as he's quite the shoe fanatic, I would place a small gap between its creation and Ciccio's being informed of it (Spagonia and Soleanna also appear to be implied to be neighbouring countries from a cultural standpoint.)

In addition to this, it is heavily implied that Wentos may be Soleannan. He's got a prominent "SOLEANNA" sticker on his suitcase, and Chao speaks with an Italian accent (Soleanna being based upon the real-world location of Venice, Italy). He is also the only character to not have a listed nationality in the Directory.

So, if these are anything to go by, here's a possible vague timeline.

1. Sonic travels to Soleanna to observe the Festival of the Sun. Wentos, a Sonic fan (evident via Sonic sticker on suitcase), either lives here or was traveling.

2. Robert debuts shoes.

3. Soon after the Festival of the Sun, Sonic fights Eggman's giant space armada. Ciccio learns of Robert's shoes in this time frame as well.

4. <Sonic World Adventure story progression>

5. Wentos travels to Spagonia soon after Sonic arrives.

Yeah, I gathered this all from NPCs, side missions, and character infos. I'm pretty pathetic. I'll take it that Sonic Unleashed takes place soon after the time reboot of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Pretty sure th bit about the shoes would have been referring to these: SpeedShoes.png

It seems strange to me that Unleashed would make so many references to 06. I got the impression that Hashimoto didn't like the game, unless his "Is this really the Sonic that fans want" was directed at ShtH.

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tl;dr

Linking every Sonic game together, when so many of them inarguably vary so wildly in style, tone, design, and story, makes the entire package confusing and unstable as a franchise. It's ultimately a detriment to the identity of the characters and the ever-changing universe as a whole.

I basically agree with this. There's no reason to tie individual games' stories together too tightly: I love little references here and there, but I never want to see a repeat of what happened in Adventure 2, Heroes and Shadow. A few references from one game to another would be nice, but the series operates in a very loose continuity at best, and anything more than that would only serve to alienate people.

On the other hand, I don't see much point in making a conscious effort to reboot the series, remove some games from continuity or really make any stand on continuity at all. I enjoy thinking of all of the games as a single storyline, meandering and broken though it may be, and taking any of them out definitively would really just annoy me. Since Sonic games should, as you say, largely be standalone anyway, who are the "undesirable" games hurting in the end?

My feelings about the games' continuity echo this sentiment of James Rolfe's on the subject of the Zelda timeline:

I see fitting all the games together as sort of a brain teaser, although I obviously don't take it too seriously. I don't expect or even really want major connections between each of the games, but there's a certain pleasure for me in making all the connections I can with what's provided. It's a different kind of entertainment for people as OCD about story as me, but it's not something that Sonic Team should be forcing on anyone for them to understand what's going on.

EDIT: Where on earth did I get the word "fromperat" from? I mean, how badly do you have to screw up for a typo of that calibre?

Edited by Octarine
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I see fitting all the games together as sort of a brain teaser, although I obviously don't take it too seriously. I don't expect or even really want major connections between each of the games, but there's a certain pleasure for me in making all the connections I can with what's provided. It's a different kind of entertainment for people as OCD about story as me, but it's not something that Sonic Team should be forcing on anyone for them to understand what's going on.

I totally agree with you, there. It is one of the joys of any fandom to go back and forth with friends, online or off, about speculation and theories and everything unseen that the back of your mind refuses to let go. (Just ask the millions of Lost fans that have been doing backflips and screaming with every new season, for instance! This past week, especially.) It's when that fun and speculation somehow turns into an iron-clad and undeniable truth without any actual authentication, confirmation or substantiation from the developers or the games themselves that it starts to become a disturbing trend to me.

I love the internet theory that Fight Club is a gritty sequel of sorts to Calvin & Hobbes because it absolutely fits using simple information contained in the film and makes the story even more awesome than it was before, but that certainly doesn't make it a universal truth that every fan should accept and adhere to as a rule. And I would never look down on other fans for disagreeing with me. I feel like there's a little too much of that amongst certain fans of things like Sonic the Hedgehog, and the idea that that sort of attitude may potentially cause anyone to ignore or discount the pretty astounding fact that Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a real thing that is happening for real is what worries me.

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Miyamoto knows this, which is why Mario games are all (with RPG's as the obvious exception) so simple in terms of the story being told. In the case of games that have more of a problem with story and continuity, the Zelda series is the perfect example, in my eyes. The idea of trying to link together Spirit Tracks with Twilight Princess with Ocarina of Time and all the rest gives me a massive headache. The developers wanted to make a brand-new game with a narrative that wasn't restricted by a previous story or event, so they pay little attention to the specifics (or the entirety in some cases) of the plots that came before. This has been true of most games in the series. Suddenly, similarly-named locations look entirely different, histories don't match up, etc. And, to me, it's the same deal whenever someone tries to place the entire Sonic series in any sort of chronological order.

For the record, all of the 3D Zelda's ever made have a solid continuity that is pretty much undisputable - Ocarina Of Time happens, and due to it's timeline antics, the timeline branches into two, with Majora's Mask and Twilight Princess exploring the aftermath of OoT on the child timeline, and Wind Waker exploring the aftermath of the sages sealing Ganondorf on the adult timeline, also leading to Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, which dealt with the events of TWW in a similar fashion to how TWW referenced OoT. The 2D games have essentially been retconned, aside from the odd reference to an old enemy or character here or there.

But that's not entirely relevant to the conversation. With Sonic, I've never felt there to be any need for retcon; they basically just pick and choose what elements of the previous canon they want back with each new game anyway. Case in point, the whole SA2-Heroes-Shadow fiasco. Pretty much all of the plotlines of Sonic Adventure 2 were abandoned in Sonic Heroes, aside from exploring the supposed death of Shadow, but then Shadow and 06 came along and brought back so much crap. And Sonic Umleashed was pretty much another clean slate. They reference what they want to reference really.

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