Disclaimer: In this article I’m going to say ‘we’ a lot. I’m not speaking for the entirety of the Sonic fandom, nor would I want to. This is what I personally believe Sonic fans want, so take it how you will. If you disagree with me, tell me why in the comments. I also am not at any point stating that as fans we are ‘entitled’ to any of this just because we bought fucking Sonic the Hedgehog(2006). This is purely a cry for change from a devoted fan.
With the release of Sonic Generations upon us, I felt like this would be a good time to offer up my perspective on what it really is that Sonic fans want from his games. Generations is clearly an attempt to capture the positive aspects of both old and new Sonic the Hedgehog games into one game. This is absolutely a smart decision on Sonic Team’s part, but I think this game’s existence is pure evidence that they haven’t really considered the criticism of the series’ most recent disasters.
We don’t want to just play old games again.
You don’t need me to tell you that Sonic’s exploits on the original Sega consoles are some of the most treasured gaming classics of all time, but I truly don’t believe all Sonic fans just want the old genesis titles with pretty graphics. At least, that’s not what they want from a brand new Sonic game. Sonic’s classic adventures are available everywhere. If we want to play the old Sonic games, we’ll track them down. There’s even an extremely cool fan made recreation of the first game in development. While Mario games do tend to run together, at least they’ve managed to consistently deliver the feeling of the classics while still delivering a fresh experience. That is unless you’re talking about Super Mario Galaxy 2.
Sonic Fan Remix is really pretty though.
Feel free to give Sonic new toys, just make them fun!
Experimental gameplay has never really worked out for Sonic up to this point. A lot of critics and fans suggest that Sonic simply shouldn’t do anything other than run. It’s a reasonable assessment. After a certain number of failures it’s best to suggest sticking with what you know, but I don’t think this is true for Sonic. Sonic is a fun character with the potential to be awesome at any number of other gameplay types. Sonic running around with a sword wasn’t awful because it was a bad idea in the first place, it simply wasn’t implemented well. It brought Sonic the freaking Hedgehog to a stop so the game could force the player to do some Wii-required waggling. I don’t think anyone would object to Sonic slicing through his enemies with Excalibur if it had been really fun. The same goes for Sonic’s recent case of lycanthropy. If the nighttime levels of Sonic Unleashed had featured enjoyable beat-em-up combat with perhaps some parkour-inspired platforming instead of a slogging grind through corridors of repetitive enemies, fans would have ate that up. Mario’s fans have accepted him in frog and penguin suits without any question. They cried in joy when they saw the first shots of the returning Tanooki Suit and the new one in which he sports a turtle shell, helmet, and a boomerang. I’d be fine with Sonic picking up a fucking sledgehammer that summoned thunder storms if it was fun to use.
Just saying. You know, if they want to give the storybook idea another shot.
We need a good story and setting.
Sorry, Sega, but Sonic talks now. We could have accepted Sonic as a guy with Mario’s vocabulary (replacing “mamma mia” with “radical” of course) who saved animals because that’s what he does, but Sonic and his friends can string sentences together. That’s your doing so now you have to write us a good story. As the great Game Overthinker once said, Sonic needs characterization. Where does he live? Who are his friends? Why does he feel obligated to trash Robotnik’s robots? Where did he come from anyway? Sonic’s current game universe is somehow less defined than the Mushroom Kingdom. It doesn’t even have a name! Sonic needs a place the call home. We might actually care about Sonic’s world saving if we knew anything about the place he is protecting. Why they haven’t ripped off the exact plot of the Saturday morning cartoon (in which Robotnik kidnaps Sonic’s actual fellow furry friends and tries to transform them into robots) is beyond me. It’s a simple little premise that would actually give us some context to Sonic’s exploits. Go ahead and rip off some of the elements of the Sonic Archie comic series. Want to keep introducing hedgehogs from all corners of the color wheel? All it took for Shadow and Silver to become interesting characters in the comics was a touch of backstory and integration into the overarching narrative. That’s right, Silver is awesome in the Sonic comics. All it takes is an established universe to set the foundation for new characters, adventures, and story arches.
Look! Genuine funny!
His name is Robotnik. IN AMERICA!
Thanks to the backlash against the English dub of Sonic X and the poor quality of Sonic’s many English voice actors as opposed to the same guy doing Sonic’s voice in Japanese since he started talking, there’s a division of Sonic fans that cling to Sonic’s eastern roots. While I don’t count myself among the ranks of fans who refer to Sonic as Sonikku, I’m pretty sure even they don’t want Robotnik to be called by his original Japanese name. Just let them turn on Japanese voices and they’ll be happy. Jun’ichi Kanemaru’s random slips into Engrish are hilarious.
Robotnik is just a better bad guy name.
We’re not asking as much as you think.
The overall point here is that we’re not asking for some kind of mind blowing, culture advancing experience from a Sonic game. We just want to go on adventures with a character we grew up with. Sonic’s games don’t have to be about speed, but they must about a guy who is fast. Sonic Generations looks like a lot of fun and the demo has only heightened my expectations. It’s probably going to be a huge success in comparison to Sonic’s most recent games and it rightfully should be, but attempting to appeal to Sonic’s older fans by simply recreating old gameplay isn’t what we want.
We just want a good Sonic game.