The year is 1996: Britpop rules the airwaves, the National Lottery is must-see TV, and everyone knows the Macarena. Oh, and if you happen to be a kid, SegaWorld is the place to be.
Ensconced on the top floor of the London Trocadero, the indoor amusement arcade felt like a cola-soaked disco in the sky. Only here, the sounds of synths were replaced by space lasers, Formula 1 engines, and gunshots.
At the foot of this unfettered pleasuredome stood the statue of its beloved mascot: Sonic the Hedgehog. Instead of a disco ball, the blue speedster spun a globe on the tip of his finger. It was fitting because, if you were a kid in the Nineties, SegaWorld made you feel like you were on top of the world.
Now, more than 20 years after the indoor theme park’s closure, Sega is bringing back the original statue. The Japanese gaming giant has expertly restored the royal blue figure, which was at risk of being lost for good.
Get ready for a blast from the past 🕹️
We're thrilled to announce that the iconic Sonic statue from SEGAWORLD London has been found and restored to its former glory! Don't miss the chance to see this piece of gaming history at our booth at #gamescom after more than 20 years 🎉 pic.twitter.com/sUI11TRSlo
— SEGA Forever (@SEGAForever) August 21, 2023
Sonic will make his glorious return at Sega’s booth at the Gamescom 2023 gaming convention. The three-day event kicks off this Wednesday, August 23, in Cologne, Germany.
In a timelapse video shared by Sega on Twitter, the recovered statue makes for a sorry sight. Caked in dirt, and missing part of his globe-spinning arm, Sonic looks like a neglected relic from a long-forgotten past. The clip then plays like a nerdier take on The Repair Shop, with a team of what we can only assume are restoration experts cleaning, buffing, and painting the statue and restoring it to its former glory.
With his glow-up complete, maybe Sega will take Sonic on the road. Here’s hoping he finds his way back to London at some point. The Trocadero may be an empty shell of its former self, but there are plenty of other venues that would make a good home for the fleet-footed hedgehog. The Science Museum’s permanent Power Up video game exhibition would be an ideal candidate.
At its peak, SegaWorld attracted a reported 1.1 million customers over the span of five months. Said to be larger than the Royal Albert Hall, the theme park was split into six zones, each with its own rides.
Long before the metaverse became an online joke, SegaWorld’s attractions plunged attendees into virtual reality worlds. When children weren’t busy splurging their pocket money on coin-operated arcade machines, they could hop into the VR Space Mission attraction to deliver vital intel to the fictional planet Basco.
Although those games have faded into the past, Sonic’s footprints remain etched all over modern pop culture. The spiky hero has played a part in reviving the once-cursed video game movie, has his own Netflix series in Sonic Prime, and recently starred in his first open-world game with the release of Sonic Frontiers.
If anyone is deserving of a statue, it’s Sega’s instantly recognisable hedgehog. Welcome back, old friend, and thanks for all the memories.