I’m a lifelong Sonic the Hedgehog fan. I have been since the glory days of the Mega Drive (or Genesis, depending on your geographical location). Like many of you, I’ve been through all the ups and downs. For me, Sonic was at his absolute best back on the Dreamcast with Sonic Adventure I & II. Those games, as bug-ridden and as poorly voice acted as any game can be, remain the finest in the long running series to date. The pacing was great, Sonic was actually fast and each and every sequence just made sense and stood out in their own way.
Not to mention the soundtracks. Live and Learn will stay with me for the rest of my life. Then we get Sonic Unleashed, arguably the worst Sonic game ever to waste the space on a disc, challenged only by Sonic 06 – to which mine is still loading to this day. It’s not really, but if you’ve played that game, you’ll get the joke. Since release of these games, Sonic the Hedgehog has been up and down throughout the years. We’ve seen some truly memorable titles and some truly questionable ones, Sonic Generations and Sonic Forces, respectively.
It doesn’t help that gimmicks keep getting stuffed into each new addition and these rarely work in favor of each experience. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Werehog or an Avatar, they never really add up or stand tall. The only real gimmick that’s ever stuck is that of Classic Sonic back in Sonic Generations. This allowed the pacing of the game to break up a little bit as players switched between Modern Sonic level design and Classic Sonic level design. Not only did that help with the pace and keep things interesting, it made sense.
The problem that Sonic Team faces today is that due to Sonic’s speed, the levels that they craft need to be long. Game development is as expensive as it ever has been today, so this is a particularly nasty obstacle for them to be faced with. Take for example how short the levels are in Sonic Forces, even when using the Avatar they can be nuked in three minutes flat. Though, let’s look at the success of Sonic Mania. This game goes back to the Mega Drive / Genesis era and all in all, that game went on to be a commercial and critical success.
This game had no gimmicks and didn’t stuff in a bunch of needless characters, yet still went on to be the highest rated Sonic game in over a decade. Does that not tell you something, SEGA? Sonic the Hedgehog needs to get back on track in-house. We don’t want gimmicks and we don’t want characters that are just there for the sake of filler. Fans have been asking for a Sonic Adventure III for years now. Following the fairly passable reception of Sonic Forces, now is as good a time as any to get back to the drawing board and start working.
Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure II worked so well because of their pacing, the scoring systems and the fun-factor that each level promoted. Fishing, Treasure Hunting or Chao-Raising, for example, gave players a reason to take a break and enjoy other parts of the game. Boss encounters, if not tense, were also interesting and proved to be quite thrilling. Little additions like this upheld the overall experience and above all else, broke up the pace, which seems to be Sonic’s true nemesis. Tackle that Sonic Team, and you might have a shot.
I wont lie, I quite enjoyed Sonic Forces to some degree. Our very own Jamie gave it a decent score too, showing that he enjoyed it as well. Though, for me, it didn’t quite scratch that Sonic itch that’s been raging since Sonic Adventure 2, largely for the reasons outlined above. Can you imagine, with online functionality, how fun it would be to see Chao-Raising returning? Alongside their original racing and battling abilities? I know I’m not alone when I sit there and ponder the potential that this would have, alongside multiplayer support.
Yet still, here we are, generic installation after generic installation. Sonic, as said in the title, needs to get back on track. We have Sonic Team Racing to look forward to this year. However, we’re not sure what lies ahead for our favorite blue hedgehog in regards to the canon releases. It would be nice to picture something inline with his greatest hits, but I wont hold my breath. What about you? What would you like to see from Sonic? Would you like to see a Chao-specific game? Sound off in the comments below.