In the heart of San Diego as the blood from the San Diego ComicCon pumps through the city, the House of Blues was bumping last night with the ’80s Hair Guitar stylings of Crush 40 belting out fan favourites and all new tracks, and a grand outpouring of love for the spiky Blue Blur from all 800 or so in attendance.
And Sonic Retro was there in force to experience it.
After a little meetup at a nearby Yard House with some of our older members and a few other fans, we made our way to House of Blues to discover that the line was already stretching around three corners of a block with people eager to attend Sega of America’s Second Annual celebration of all things Sonic. And while those of us in line joked about the stranger sides of the fandom, we ran into a familiar face frantically scurrying around the block to make sure the line was moving: Sega of America’s Sonic Generations Brand Manager Aaron “Ruby Eclipse” Webber. After some small talk, we left him on his way to continue making sure the line was moving at a steady pace.
As a little bit of a game after letting him go, a few of us wagered on a social experiment: if the six of us belted out loudly the first four lines of Live and Learn, how many people would join in? The result was far greater than expected and can only be truly enjoyed by the video captured of it. Keep an eye out here as we’ll post it once I’m able to get on an Internet service that can handle video uploading.
With that, we went inside the club.
Machines were available to try the demo of Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed, though they were in very rough states as the PlayStation 3 systems running them would constantly lock up and crash and the icon for the demo was a screenshot from Sonic X. However, attention soon turned to the Crush 40 concert, featuring several fan favorites such as Open Your Heart, Sonic Boom, and Live and Learn. The band additionally performed two of their songs off the newest EP, Sonic Youth and Rise Again. The show definitely fired up the crowd, with Crush 40 merchandise selling out really quickly. Members of Cash Cash, brothers Alex and Jean Paul Makhlouf also teamed up with Jun Senoue to perform several songs from Sonic Generations, Reach for the Stars, and their own song “Party in Your Bedroom“.
Following the concert was a Q&A session with Sonic Team head honcho Takashi Iizuka and Sumo Digital’s Steve Lycett, which saw strange questions to Iizuka about whether Sonic and friends have ever had their shoeless feet drawn (they have. The question drew a response from Iizuka of surprise that someone really asked that question), if there’s an official atlas of Sonic’s world showing the location of every zone (there isn’t), if Marine the Raccoon will return (there are some plans, but nothing concrete. Fan reaction toward her was rather mixed.), if Sonic should have a established timeline (games form their own little timelines, so try not to think about it too hard), and if Iizuka will ever make a Sonic Adventure 3 (echoed by a crowd chant so strong, even Iizuka was floored by it. No plans, but they hope with fan support it might happen one day.)
After a cosplay contest won by a rather impressive Mecha Sonic (pictured, who admits the costume took months to put together), the next activity on tap was a trivia game pitting a team of fans lead by Sonic 4 Brand Manager Ken Balough against another team lead by Lycett. While very few of the questions were brain busters, we do admit we weren’t following the trivia as well as we should due to our chanting out in support for Balough, Lycett, Webber (who was off-stage), and Enchiladas (which occurred after a flub by the moderator of the contest when pronouncing “echidna”.) We will admit, though: “The Knuckles Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good” is an amazing game name and needs to happen in some capacity.
Around the event, fans had a chance to meet Iizuka and Senoue for photos and autographs. While most attendees got their complimentary Sonic Boom 2012 shirts signed, others offered games, music CDs or pieces of their own artwork. It’s only unfortunate the photos didn’t come out well for the artwork pieces as they were very impressive.
Towards the end of the event is when Sega began to unravel special surprises for their fans. First included the reconfirmation that NiGHTS, Reala, and a NiGHTS stage will appear in ASRT, which included a special appearance by one of the NiGHTS community’s top fans, TRiPPY. A U.S. release date of Nov. 20 was also confirmed for the game.
Next, Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore came out to confirm that Sonic the Hedgehog will be in the upcoming Disney-Pixar film about video game life, showing off a snippet of the movie where Sonic warns of the dangers of dying in a game that is not the character’s own. To ease worried fans, current Sonic voice actor Roger Craig Smith is reprising his role for the movie. As a pat on the back, Lycett joined Moore on stage to confirm that Wreck-It Ralph will be joining the cast of ASRT as a fully playable racer. It wasn’t confirmed if he would be exclusive to one console or available for everyone.
Finally, Balough took the stage and confirmed that two Sonic games are in the works; games that fans have demanded to see updated and brought onto modern consoles. A new trailer ran featuring Sega mocking themselves for every instance a Sonic game’s existence has leaked early to the public and the company finally officially confirmed that “Sonic Adventure 2” will be arriving to download services later this fall, an announcement met with an eruption of cheers and elation.
With that, Sega and House of Blues’ staff wished everyone a good night and the band of people clanned in blue-felt Sonic quill hats scattered across the bustling San Diego downtown area, delighted at what Sega has planned for the rest of the year.
But what of the other project Balough mentioned? Only time will tell… or at least until someone outside of Sega goofs up and leaks the project.
To all of you who hung out with us, it was a real blast and we hope you enjoyed hanging out with your favorite lovable group of misfits as well. See you at Boom 2013!