Sonic the Hedgehog 4, as its name suggests, was slated as a return to Sonic's 2D roots. Its first episode proved successful, bagging a coveted Eurogamer 9 in October last year. "In short, this is the game SEGA should have made 15 years ago" said Ellie of the game (360 Edit: WTF Eurogamer?).
With Sonic busy stuffing his face with cake while he celebrates his 20th anniversary this year - and while he also busies himself with the promising looking Generations, a medley of the SEGA mascot's finest moments - the next episode is set to release sometime next year.
"This year, 2011, is the anniversary, so we're focusing on the celebration title" Sonic Team's Takashi Iikuza told Eurogamer. "But moving forward to 2012, Sonic will still be going, so I'd hope to provide Episode 2 then."
Going the episodic route is normally an indication that there'll be a quicker turnaround than there is in a normal sequel cycle - so was it always the intention to have such an extended hiatus for Sonic 4?
"It was always the plan" said Iizuka. "We knew about the anniversary year and Generations was planned way in advance. It was always our plan to release Episode 2 after Generations."
Valve found itself in a similar situation when it opted for an episodic route for its Half Life 2 successors - and it looks as if the chances of a third Sonic the Hedgehog 4 episode are as slim as seeing an imminent return from Gordon Freeman.
"We can't say if there's going to be Episode 3 or not." Iizuka said when asked if there would be such a long wait between the second and third takes on Sonic the Hedgehog 4.
SEGA was unable to comment on when the new episode would be released, or whether it would be the last we'd see of Sonic 4.
I feel this amplifies and validates the idea (I had in another thread) that Sega should have just focused on one single game as opposed to going Episodic. I suppose this is disheartening news for some though it does illustrate the herculean (and resource consuming) effort that's going into Generations. I guess Episode 2's primarily happening because of Episode 1's (one million plus) sales. I'm going to make an educated guess here and say that Sega are waiting on Episode 2's sales before they give the green light for another sequel.