Last week, forum dwellers of Sonic Team MIDI collection site ESPIOKaos.com hit pay dirt on Sega's press site, scavenging assets for what appeared to be a new, unannounced installment in the publisher's hallowed Sonic franchise. In the wake of the find, a cacophony of near-unintelligible information followed, with fansites and forumites claiming to have it on good authority that Sonic would be a werewolf, Sega was dumping untold dollars into the project, and the game would be out by the end of the year.
At long last, Sega has lifted the curtain on Sonic Unleashed, and it appears as if at least some of the rumormongering has proven true. Sonic Team will indeed be delivering a new game featuring its iconic blue hedgehog in a high-speed platforming adventure to thwart the nefarious Dr. Eggman's latest grab for the chaos emeralds. And, while today's announcement made no specific mention of lycanthropic tendencies from its blue streak, Sega did say "both day and night play different, yet important, roles in Sonic's newest quest...as the sun sets, a new adventure awakens."
Breaking slightly from the franchise's traditional platforming roots, Sega said that Sonic Unleashed will feature melee combat, as well as a host of new gameplay mechanics and features not previously seen in a Sonic game. Sonic Team will be rolling out its new proprietary Hedgehog Engine for Sonic Unleashed, and the game will feature both 3D and 2D gameplay.
As initial reports indicated, Sega is positioning Sonic Unleashed as a return to form for its critically maligned hero. "It is an exciting time for the Sonic franchise as we look to reinvent our hero while staying true to the spirit of what made him an industry icon," said Sega of America VP of marketing Sean Ratcliffe. According to Sega, Sonic Unleashed has been in development for three years.
Sonic Unleashed is currently penciled in for a holiday 2008 worldwide release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and Wii.