Sega turns to Sonic

2003 will be the "Year of Sonic", apparently

One of the most famous videogame character franchises of all time, Sonic the Hedgehog, is to be revived by creator Sega in a series of new moves designed at reinvigorating the brand.

Outlining the company's plans for the franchise at a briefing in Tokyo today, series producer Yuji Naka announced that a new animated series, Sonic-X, will launch in Japan next month, airing on the popular TV Tokyo network, and that plans are afoot to bring this series to Europe and the USA.

Several new Sonic games are also in the pipeline, and two new titles will be unveiled at E3 in May, with two more to come by the end of the year. This, Naka-san proclaimed, will be the "Year of Sonic", promising that the new games will "reinforce the coolness of the main characters, the frantic speed of gameplay, and appeal to both younger and older players."

Sega's plans for an animated series to promote the franchise are a clear nod of the head to a tactic which has worked stunningly well for companies such as Nintendo, Bandai and Konami in recent years. Franchises such as Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh and BeyBlade have successfully used animated series to boost their profiles, and the tactic has proved surprisingly successful not just in Japan - where animated TV is a core part of culture for most youth age groups - but also in Europe and the USA.

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