Sonic Boom for TV and WiiU — but possibly not for girls

The Sonic fanbase is known, for better or for worse, for its zealous reactions to news concerning their fandom. Yesterday was no exception, as Sega unveiled its plans for a new gaiden continuity for the beloved blue hedgehog’s string of 70+ video games.

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Tails and Amy look like they’re fighting across a room.

As it turns out, it’s Sonic Boom — the cartoon that we were teased with back in October. Not only is the show getting two tie-in games (one for the WiiU and one for the 3DS), but the games are a direct precursor to the show’s storyline. Rather than Sonic Team, Sonic Boom is in the hands of Big Red Button, whose members have previous experience with titles such as Jak & Daxter, Crash Bandicoot, and Uncharted.

Trailers of both projects were unveiled yesterday, which then resulted in a fandom-wide meltdown as TSSZ initially reported that this new direction was meant to replace the main canon, rather than run alongside of it. (Of course, correcting this information did little to ebb the flow of pissed off Sonic purists, as we still had blue arms, bulky echidnas, and copious amounts of sports tape to bitch about.) Sega representatives have personally confirmed that this continuity is meant to be a sub-series, not a complete reboot of the Sonic the Hedgehog series’ 22-year history. The endeavor is part of an effort by Sega to launch a Sonic continuity made specifically to appeal to western audiences.

Or at least to half of them, anyway.

The NYC announcement was surrounded by rumors before it even began, largely due to a display that had been leaked from the Nuremberg Toy Fair two days before. In addition to suggesting next-gen Sonic games on the horizon, it had some information on the upcoming Sonic Boom TV show.

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Everything I’ve read so far has been focusing on the left side of this image; however, what catches my eye is on the right. This display specifically notes Sonic Boom‘s audience as being 6-11 year old boys. I find that particularly noteworthy because it’s not what Sega said back in October.

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At some point, “children” became “boys,” according to this display — but before we all put on our feminism pants, I need to emphasize that this information is currently unconfirmed. In response to circulation of the photo, Sega announced on their official forums:

“The recent information coming out of Nuremburg Toy Fair was incorrect. Sega has yet to announce details of upcoming console video games for Sonic the Hedgehog, or further details regarding the new Sonic CG TV series.”

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily tell us anything. It denies the assertions of the image, but it does so in a blanket fashion, which makes it unclear what (if anything) listed is accurate. Just because Sega hasn’t made an official announcement of the information on the display doesn’t mean that they won’t later, but it also doesn’t mean that they will. For the moment, we just simply don’t know one way or the other.

Still, if the engendered focus of the show turns out to be correct, that could have troublesome implications for this entire endeavor. Sonic is no stranger to having a mix-gendered audience, and over the years, the series has promoted more and more female characters in increasingly influential roles. Sega hopes for the Sonic Boom project to become the primary focus of western audiences — but how well will it be able to do so if it is, in fact, particularly geared at boys?

It’s an especially problematic possibility when one considers that Big Red Button is working to make Amy far more powerful and independent than she’s ever been — an update that she’s sorely needed for years. According to Bob Rafei, the head of the Sonic Boom team, the driving force behind Amy’s design has been “to bring more girls into gaming and have them play characters that they can associate with and not feel like they’re created by just a bunch of men.” This means that the game could potentially invite the female audience in, only to have the cartoon turn around and kick them back out if the leak is correct.

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He also said that she’s “like a ballerina.” I must learn what ballets Rafei’s been going to.

Unfortunately, all we have is speculation as of this writing. I can’t say for certain whether or not the game and the TV show will clash in terms of how they treat the girls that want to participate, but I can say that if they aren’t synchronized, it could make for a very wonky launch. Considering how female audiences have the potential to get a “boy’s” show cancelled simply because they dared to be penisless fans, I sincerely hope that Sega sticks with their original plans of targeting kids in general, not just the ones with dangly bits.

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Sonic, Sonic Boom, and all related images are the property of Sega. I am in no way affiliated with Sega or Big Red Button. Any and all references to Knuckles being on steroids in this or any other article is just a joke no matter how much he looks like a neanderthal, so don’t sue me.

Also I’d like to point out one more time that the notion that the TV show has switched its focus to boys is currently UNCONFIRMED. It may be, it may not be, and even if it is, it’s hard to say if that decision came from Sega or Cartoon Network. Either way, someone apparently doesn’t like money with girl-cooties on it if it’s true.

Sonic with blue arms is © all those colorists that accidentally forgot to make them peach in the comics over the last two decades. Expect more lawsuits from ex-Archie employees any day now, Sega.

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About Leedzie

Leda "Leedzie" Clark is a writer and game designer with a sharp eye for detail and a kooky sense of humor. She's been a nerd as long as she can remember, and always seems to notice the wrong thing first in any given situation.

Posted on February 7, 2014, in Feature Articles, Game Characters, Journalism, News, TV, Video Games, Women & Gaming and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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