Sonic the Hedgehog has been a gaming icon since the early 1990s, epitomizing the very essence of youth – attitude, determination and a willingness to help others. The blue blur, as he’s come to be called, is now 20 years old, and some gamers may feel that he has far overstayed his welcome as a relic of an age gone past. I refute this wholeheartedly, especially now that the games are fun again.
I wasn’t always so optimistic about the hedgehog’s future, especially during the dark ages of Sonic gaming, spanning from Sonic the Hedgehog (PS3, 360, or as it’s called now, Sonic ’06) through Sonic Unleashed. During this time, gamers coined the term “Sonic Cycle” – no I’m not talking about a motorcycle. This refers to the cycle of screenshots and initial details for the game being released, massive hype from the Sonic fan community, a ripping apart of the game (often revealing level lists, music, etc) by the hardcore fans, and finally, the release of said title – followed by mass anger and disappointment.
With the release of Sonic Colors and Sonic the Hedgehog 4, this was finally broken. Sonic Colors was basically what gamers had desired all along from the franchise – an emphasis on speed, recentralizing the game to revolve primarily around Sonic, and a lighthearted, comedic feel. The game’s characterization of Sonic and Tails in particular were spot on. It captured the feel of Sonic as an older brother to Tails perfectly. I would compare Sonic’s personality in Colors to Spider-Man, always ready with a snarky comeback to his opponent, even in the most dire of situations.
As for Sonic 4, like it or hate it, it did return the series to its 2D roots. A common complaint with the game is that the physics didn’t feel exactly the same as Sonic 2 or 3, but again, it’s a different game and an entirely different engine. There’s no reason to expect the same physics after a 15 year hiatus from the numbered series.
The future of the franchise is equally bright with the upcoming Sonic Generations later this year. It combines the behind the shoulder game play of the modern generation, as seen in Sonic Unleashed (the day stages) and Sonic Colors, with the more traditional 2D side-scrolling present in the genesis era. It’s a shining tribute to the hedgehog’s 20 year history, and perhaps will remind gamers why they loved Sonic in the first place. To make matters even better, the vast cast of Sonic characters will remain where they belong – in the background, offering support to Sonic but non-playable.
Events such as this year’s well-attended Sonic Boom convention, which took place during E3, tend to reject the idea that gamers are tired of Sonic. To this day, gamers still listen to Sonic soundtracks and are known to remix and remaster these catchy tunes, such as with OCRemix’s Project Chaos. I’ve embedded my favorite remix from the series, “Walk on Water”, a remix of the Hydropolis theme from Sonic 3.
One also cannot refute the presence of Sonic in perhaps the most popular crossover game not to be produced by Capcom, Super Smash Bros Brawl. He’s one of two characters chosen out of hundreds of possible choices, and fans voted for him to be there. With support like this from fans and an impressive future ahead of him Sonic is here to stay, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Dustin Steiner is Gamezone’s E-Sports Correspondant and Freelance Editorial Writer! Follow him on Twitter @SteinerDustin