2012 was an unusual year for a variety of reasons, but for video games it was especially notable for its absences. More recent franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty carried on with their big annual releases, but some regulars sat it out for the first time in ages. For the first time in ten years, there was no major Sonic the Hedgehog game released. Sega put out Sonic 4: Episode 2 as a downloadable on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, but that downloadable shuffled out the door with little fanfare at the beginning of the year. It broke a decade long streak from 2003’s Sonic Heroes to 2011’s Sonic Generations. So is the AAA Sonic platformer dead?
The year is young, but right now the only action Sonic is getting in 2013 will be a mobile game called Sonic Dash. “A this time, Sega is able to confirm that we are working on a new mobile game titled Sonic Dash,” said a Sega representative, “We have not announced any specific details on the product but we will be releasing additional information on this exciting, new game in the near future.”
“This exciting, new game” is said to be an infinite runner in the vein of Canabalt, 2012’s Pitfall! for iOS, or any other of the hundreds of games released on mobile platforms that have a character running endlessly as you tap the screen to make them jump.
It’s sad to see Sega and Sonic Team turn away from Sonic’s 3D outings. Since the series hit its nadir with the execrable Sonic Unleashed in 2008, the games have steadily improved, culminating with the excellent Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. It seemed that, after more than ten years of experimenting, going as far back as early examples like Sonic Jam on Sega Saturn, Sonic Team was finally getting the swing of making games for the hedgehog in the third-dimension.
Even as the quality of the Sonic games improved, though, sales began to languish. Sonic Unleashed sold approximately 4.5 million copies across all platforms while Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations both sold just under 2.6 million copies.