Sonic's 30th birthday bash includes uncanny mashups and themed bling

It's a very good year to be a Sonic fan.

Sonic the Hedgehog is turning 30 years old this year, and Sega has about a thousand plans to celebrate. The company live-streamed its first-ever “Sonic Central” event today with a sneak peek at what’s to come for Sonic and his pals — and Sega managed to fit a lot into that 12-minute presentation.

Sonic’s 30th birthday celebration will include, as you might expect, plenty of Sonic games, both revitalized classics and brand new titles. There are also some very, erm, strange mash-ups where Sega has brought Sonic characters into unusual circumstances. Like Two Point Hospital, a game where you’ll be able to play as a doctor dressed up as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles. Yes, it’s just as uncanny as it sounds.

Other highlights of the stream include new Sonic merch (toys and jewelry, mostly), a new full-length Sonic game coming to next-gen consoles, and a very brief teaser for some sort of untitled Sonic project coming in 2022.

Play as a human playing Sonic — Sega began today’s livestream with a very interesting announcement: Sonic will be coming to existing game series for free as part of the 30th-anniversary celebration. But not exactly as just Sonic himself — in two of these instances you’ll dress up in some sort of Sonic character suit. Or, at least, that’s what appears to be happening. It’s all very strange and confusing.

Paging Dr. Sonic.

In Two Point Hospital — a 2018 sim where you plan and run a hospital — you’ll be able to add doctors dressed up as Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles to your staff starting July 30. We’re not sure who decided this was the best way to celebrate Sonic’s birthday, but it’s certainly a choice!

Well, you see, Sonic himself wouldn’t be able to compete — but a man in a Sonic suit, that would work.

Tokyo 2020 is receiving a similar Sonic treatment, also free for existing players. You’re not playing through the Olympics as Sonic, exactly; this one is also some sort of Sonic suit. Gotta go fast? That one’s out June 22.

Sonic on your phone — Some of Sonic’s most popular games as of late have been on mobile gaming platforms, and Sega’s going to capitalize on that for the series’ 30th anniversary. Sonic Dash will introduce Pirate Sonic and Captain Shadow; Sonic Forces: Speed Battle will include two new characters (Super Sonic and Sonic the Werehog) and a limited “Party Match” event for private races. And Sonic Racing, which is available on Apple Arcade, will see two new gameplay elements this year: “Classic Sonic” and a Green Hill Zone event.

Sonic on your console — Sonic would be nothing without his console roots, though. To that end, there’s a full-length new game called Sonic Colors: Ultimate, which is coming to next-gen (and current-gen) consoles on September 7. It looks very much like a classic Sonic game, with plenty of dashing and superpowers.

Sonic Origins, a classic games compilation, will also be coming to consoles this year. It’ll include Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, and Sonic the Hedgehog CD. That’s a lot of Sonic.

Subscription console services are getting some Sonic, too. Sonic Racing and Sonic Mania are available now on Amazon’s Luna service; those two and Sonic Forces are coming to PS Now later this year.

Sheep for scale.

Oh, and Sonic is coming to Minecraft at some point. We don’t know how (or why); Sega simply said more Sonic collabs would be coming soon and then cut quickly to what appears to be a very large, pixelated Sonic.

Sonic on your TV — Are you tired of Sonic yet? Sega sure hopes not, because that little blue guy is also coming to your television. Sega announced today that a new short-form animated series called Sonic Colors: Rise of the Wisps will be coming later this year. It will feature lots of running around and the whole Sonic voice cast.

Sonic on your neck — We’re not done yet. There’s also a bunch of new Sonic merch coming out this year, including new plush toys and Sonic bling, which Sega says is “for the fans dialed into hip-hop culture.” You can’t make this stuff up.

Sega ended its first Sonic Central with a but wait! there’s more! bit that teased some sort of untitled project coming in 2022. We have no clue what it is, but it looks high-budget for sure.

Not sure what’s going on here but it looks cool, right?

It is a very good year to be a Sonic fan. And if you’re not — well, you can commiserate with Input editor Ray Wong.