What I Think Sonic Fans Really Want

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.


  1. Ben Obsidian

    The only problem I can see with Sonic games having a story line is that games later down the line would somewhat require players to have played older games in order to understand the characters and the universe which would create a similar problem. Nonetheless, I have no ideas on how to to any better, and I agree with your ideas. Like the article, and going to go back and read some of the older ones!

    • There’s always that potential problem with continuity, but I think it can be done if new gamers are always considered.

      The Archie Sonic Comic continuity is extremelly welcoming to new readers in spite of the amount of history it has. Almost every issue has at least one published letter from a fan that only recently got into the comics and loves them.

      Basically what I’m saying is more of the Archie guys should be on Sonic Team 😛

  2. B.M.

    Awesome, I love it. And you were referring to Robotnik being called Eggman, right? (I’ve been out of the Sonic loop for awhile) Didn’t they work around that in Sonic Adventure by having Eggman be his name and Robotnik just what Sonic called him? Might be way off there, it’s been awhile. Speaking of Sonic Adventure, I think they need to revisit that. That was Sonic innovation that worked. There was characterization, some semblance of a story, and new gameplay. Sure, things could have been better, but it did give us the Chao, and who doesn’t love Chao’s?

    • Yeah they seemed at first to be trying it out as an insult that Sonic used, but for some reason they decided to have Robotnik embrace the moniker at some point.

      I liked what they were trying to do with Sonic Adventure, but the setting was all wrong. Sonic just looks too damned stupid next to humans.

      I miss Chaos, but my free time thanks the fact that they haven’t been around for a long time 😛

  3. Andrew McDonald

    So you essentially want a Sonic game that is actually GOOD in every aspect. Yeah, me too.

  4. Joshi

    None of the Sonic fans I know agree with any part of that. They want to play a silent 2D game like the Genesis ones, for the most part.

    Well, okay, they don’t disagree with the Robotnik/Eggman thing, most of them just don’t care.

    Also, that’s a remake of Sonic 2, not Sonic 1. Just FYI.

    ..Man, seriously, the thing about a story: What? I.. what? Mario has plenty of story and depth (He has several successful RPGs under his overalls, for example), but that doesn’t somehow make the silent games bad, by any metric. There’s room for both, in Mario AND in Sonic. Just because SEGA added voice acting to SA1 doesn’t mean they’re required to add it to every following game. It’s SEGA thinking they do, in part, that’s kind of at fault for how ridiculous some of these games have been.

    I applaud SEGA for finally cutting back on story in Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. I applause them for finally getting back to platforming instead of solely “GOTTA GO FASTER.” I especially applaud them for /actually/ delivering on the “back to his roots” claims that SEGA trumpets for every single Sonic game, considering that’s what most fans honestly want.

    • The stories of Mario’s RPGs are fun, funny and move their respective narratives forward, but I wouldn’t call them deep.

      I didn’t mean to imply that the Mushroom Kingdom is somehow a bad setting because its so loosely defined. That’s what’s great about it! It’s chaotic and goofy! It can withstand even the craziest of scenarios for Mario to be placed in.

      The point I’m trying to get across with this article is that while simply recreating the old Genesis games is one way to go, but it isn’t the best way.

      I think Sonic has a lot of potential for more than just running to the right and jumping. That potential just needs to be realised.

  5. I also disagree with pretty much every point. I think people really do want and “old school” Sonic game that isn’t complete shit: the main problem has always been with the physics, which have just never been right since Sonic Adventure (this is what Sonic 4: Episode I gets wrong).
    I am as diehard as they come, but even I stopped playing these terrible games after Sonic Unleashed. I think what Sonic ‘needs’ is to be left to age gracefully, to be honest.