September 2009: The Sega Leak
The first instance this game was "announced" (unintentionally of course) was in the infamous Sony/Sega leak of 2009 when someone from Sega uploaded minutes to a meeting with SCEA to Sega's FTP. Here's a reminder of what was said.
[Discussion Topic of the Meeting] Sonic Anniversary
[We] could put out a collectors edition with all old sonic games on one [blu-ray] disc.
[We could also have a] "Best of Sonic" [release] for around $99.
SCEA would love PSN exclusive power ups/different game modes (like Castlevania's flip it over/backwards) [for the game]
Extremely little information here though what we can gather is that Sony realises and recognises that Anniversary could be a substantial enough release for it to be given time as a topic of discussion in a quarterly (and therefore somewhat rare) meeting. Sony attempts here to one-up Microsoft by asking for console exclusives in the form of Sony-specific DLC. Sony also suggests charging us a ridiculous amount of money for the classics included. For Sonic Anniversary to be included in such an official meeting with SCEA more than year before the game is even spoken of insinuates that the title is already in development as of (at least) 15 months ago. Furthermore Sony shows they give a damn about it and even at this early stage indications are that this is fan-service ergo a game for us. Also given Sega's recent attempts to "repair" Sonic for the hardcore fans (with differing levels of success) Sega are clearly giving this title some effort with an estimated development time of at least two years judging from this leak and Sega's expected early 2011 potential announcement. I'm going to do a Nostradamus here and say that Sega's is probably shooting for a Summer 2011 release (obvious of course given June is the anniversary).
Hype level so far: Interested. Curious. Want to know more. Much more.
June 2010: Crush 40 Lets The News Slip
Next we have the legendary Crush 40 letting slip that they're working on a "big" game for 2011. It is important to note here that this conversation took place in the context of Sonic, with the following question being about their appearance at Summer of Sonic 2011.
[Crush 40] Next year, 2011, we're doing a big game, brand new game together, it's very quiet, shhhh, can't tell anybody.
[TSSZ] Gioeli, touring separately with Axel Rudi Pell in Germany, was asked by Fabian about future projects with Jun Senoue and Crush 40. He briefly noted in a response that work is underway for the next game, and it appears the whole of the group will be involved.
The fact that Crush 40 emphasises a level of secrecy about the game and also speaks of their involvement is something to be both assured and content about. This reasserts the inclination that Sega do see this is as an important game. A remastered orchestral version of Green Hill Zone. Perhaps this may be too much to ask for.
Hype level so far: Crush 40 being involved is more promising news (depending on your stance on the band).
August 2010: Iizuka (Almost) Confirms Sonic Anniversary
Another day another interview with the contraversial Sonic producer. This time Iizuka cryptically tries to "tease" us on the Sonic Anniversary game which also acts as the first official acknowledgement that the game exists.
[Iizuka] We've already announced Sonic Free Riders for Kinect, but if you look at 2011 that's the 20th Anniversary of Sonic. So you might just be seeing something special for that.
Not much to go on here though the fact he uses the word "special" could (and I mean only could) mean Sonic Team at the very least sees the twentieth anniversary for Sonic as somewhat important. This is the first word from a real source that we have (beyond the probable game's extended development time) that Sonic Team really give a damn about the title and that to be honest gives me some hope.
Hype level so far: Slightly increased. Concerned however Sonic Team may be setting us up for a fall. Important to keep our expectations in check (something I personally did not do with Sonic 4 which did affect my experience with it).
October 2010: Classic Levels Greatest Hits (Remastered)
One of the most concrete reports we have is from Gamefest 2010 where Izaskun Urretabizkaia (seriously what kind of name is that) a Marketing Director for Sega reported the following in a conversation to two Sega fansites:
[TSSZ]The next Sonic will be a compilation of the best classic levels, from Sonic the Hedgehog's Green Hill Zone to Sonic Adventure 2, updated for current generation consoles. That means there will be a mix of 2D and 3D environments adapted for the game. How that mix will be adapted–be it 2D updated to 2.5 or even 3D, vice versa, or some combination of both–couldn't be disclosed. What was disclosed is that game will be coming to the Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, the Nintendo Wii, and the Nintendo DS. An Xbox 360 port could not be confirmed at the show, but that may be soon to come.
This is obviously awesome and hype-inducing news. Should the right people be behind Sonic Anniversary (and by right people I mean anyone at Sonic Team with a discerning eye in choosing which levels to convert) we could be looking at the adrenaline-pumping music of Ice Cap Zone scoring a 2D/3D snowboard-prologued rush through Ice Cap's undercaverns leading us out to the winter wonderland that is Ice Cap Zone Act II. Obviously there is the fact that going this route means you will please some fans and dismay others however if Sonic Team hit the obvious contenders and throw in some surprises (hopefully ones that facilitate the game's longevity) we could all be delighted. Even Sonic Adventure 2 conversions could be incredible. I for one would love a HD recreation of City Escape or Green Forest though of course time will tell and we shall see.
Also it should be noted that we are looking at potential (though let's be honest here, extremely unlikely) Sony and Nintendo exclusivity. I say unlikely because as we know new Sega is also about maximising revenue and ranking highly as a third party publisher. Microsoft is destroying Sony in the US which is (one of) Sonic's strongest markets along with Europe. A release on the 360 is inevitable (in this author's opinion). The fact that this game is hitting so many platforms is also however more promising news given that this clearly demonstrates a level of effort on Sega's part. I hope that they do a Sonic Colours here and not let us down.
Hype level so far: Pretty damn excited. Extremely curious to see what levels are planned.
December 2010: Sega has Two/Three Sonic Announcements Dropping Early 2011
In an interview published on CVG (British games magazine) Sega's Alan Pritchard tells of an expected timeframe for when Sonic Anniversary (and potential details) will be officially announced. We're looking at early next year.
[CVG] Sega has "two or three big Sonic announcements" planned for early 2011, the firm's marketing boss has revealed.
[Sega/Alan Pritchard] We're looking to improve the quality and focus of a pure Sonic platform gaming experience. But to your point, we have some announcements in the early part of next year that will further support and add to this strategy. There will be two or three big Sonic announcements in the early part of next calendar year.
Obviously Alan didn't mention Sonic Anniversary by name though given Crush 40's comment and the fact Anniversary has been in-development for so long with rough calculations (and necessity) indicating Sega are targeting a summer release we can assume that Anniversary is among them. The others? My educated guesses would be Sonic 4 Episode 2 and something in theme with the Mario and Sonic franchise. Rumour has it that Mario and Sonic will be a non-sports themed title though that's a discussion for another topic. Sega have gone back and forth on the "we're slowing down with Sonic" and "now we're speeding up with X more titles" though given my experiences with Sonic 4 Episode 1 (liked it, didn't love it) I can honestly say that Anniversary is the more anticipated title of the three. The fact that news/leaks seem to be ramping up as the year progresses is also a strong indication that Sega's planning on making the official announcements and deploying the first marketing wave soon.
Penultimate hype level: This news does add to the anticipation to some degree given we're receiving more than just Sonic Anniversary. A little disheartening to see that Sega are still pumping the Sonic titles like their lives depend on it though at least we now have solid confirmation of the time we can expect to hear more.
Above I have compiled the notable leaks and information on Sonic Anniversary. Anything I have missed I have intentionally left out on the grounds that the topic is spindashing into the region of TLDR. The purpose of this topic is to have a means of discussion for Sonic Anniversary on the first page of the forums and facilitate a positive debate on what we would like to see from the game. I would like to re-edit the post as we receive more information and do pledge that I will update the topic should anything further come to light. The conclusion is here is that this could be the game we have been waiting for. This could be the fan-service we need; and this could be the game that gives us the experience Sonic 4 tried to give but (in this author's opinion) failed to deliver.
Final hype level: The game is promising. Very promising. Awaiting new announcements with excitement.
Let the discussion begin (PS. I hope you enjoyed reading my first ever post).