Editorial: Sega of the Union

On June 23rd, 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog was released for the Sega Genesis, and June 23rd, 2016 will mark the 25th anniversary of this date. Since this point on, the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise has supplied about ten if not more years of mediocrity to the extreme. While some can argue that there were some notably alright titles such as Sonic Colors or Sonic Generations, the overwhelming truth is that the best part about being a Sonic fan right now is following his official Twitter account that occasionally doles out some real gems. This editorial will discuss three topics, The Sonic Cycle, Sonic titles released within the past five years, and the future of Sonic as a character.

Does a better home await you? In the sky? Or with a better developer?

Will the circle, be unbroken? By and by? By and by?

First up, the famous image that took the internet by storm and even caught the attention of the producer of Sonic Colors, which thankfully was not too bad in all honesty. While the cycle itself is theoretically endless, the first slide to explain will be “First Info on new Sonic Game.” This is marked by a lack of friends (annoying side characters most of the time) in the screenshots, fan’s hopes being raised, and subsequent claims that Sonic is back in full force. This is then followed by “More screens and info on new Sonic game,” these include old friends coming back along with new ones and fans then starting to lose hope. Last, but not least, “Game released,” where reviewers greatly criticize the game and everyone is disappointed while fans say they shall not dare be fooled again. While this cycle was painfully accurate at the time of upload back in April 2008, things have changed but unfortunately not the better. Back in 2008, Sonic Unleashed was released which was infamous for having the Werehog, a modified version of Sonic that changed the game into a genuinely not fun and repetitive brawler with poor platforming; not to mention an inaccurate name, bad premise, and all around ridiculous design. However, it is also known for having surprisingly good day stages where “normal” Sonic is playable. The cycle proved its point as many were excited for and the inclusion of the Werehog crushed all hopes of overall positive reception. This cycle was then corroborated by the release of Sonic and the Black Knight where Sonic is then the star of an on-the-rails sword-fighting adventure in medieval times, the second entry in the short-lived “Sonic Storybook” series. For better or worse though, this cycle has recently been broken a tad thanks to Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. While the previous title, Sonic Lost World did fall into the trap of the Sonic Cycle due to it being compared favorably to the promising and cancelled Sonic Xtreme. Despite this, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric did a great job of breaking the Sonic Cycle as barely anyone saw the reboot as being favorable due to terrible character designs being revealed from the very start. This, coupled with videos of glitches and poor design choices led to even the most passionate of Sonic fans throwing in the towel and calling bullshit. Further destroying this cycle is the soon to be released Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice which so far has raised practically no hoopla or fanfare thanks to previous handheld entry, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal which was critically panned but somehow had better reviews than the console entry.

The game severely drops in quality after the player is done playing the levels included with the demo. Sneaky bastards.

Do not be fooled by these vibrant colors and imaginative design.

Now that the Sonic Cycle has been analyzed, it is time to take the DeLorean for a spin and look at entries that were released in the past five years not counting the obvious throwaway titles like Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, bleh. Starting with Sonic Generations and ending with Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is a wild ride, but if Sega can make it, it is possible readers can too. So, Sonic Generations was made as a way to appease both modern and retro fans of the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise as well as commemorate its 20th anniversary. The game decided to take nine stages from previous games and create a 2D as well as 3D version of them, to make them playable with both generations of Sonic. The entry received moderate praise however a common complaint was found in frame-rate drops during gameplay. While this title did not necessarily break the Sonic Cycle, it was an ok title that left more fans surprised at the quality than disappointed. Next would be “Sonic Lost World” which is bad with a capital B, riddled with confusing level design, painfully simplistic boss fights, and annoying dialogue. Sadly, this game did fall into the trap of the Sonic Cycle as fans were comparing it to the previously cancelled Sonic Xtreme along with the acclaimed Super Mario Galaxy due to its planetary motif only to be greatly disappointed and angered by the final build. Last was Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric which was hated by every sane person in the known galaxy because it was the ultimate of trash games. It was an unfinished product that was pushed upon the masses in full force with a handheld adaptation and a weird as hell tv series to boot, all with terribly redesigned characters and horrendous writing. What could have been a new take on the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise instead appeared as a very expensive fanfiction. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is proof that mankind is being punished by God because we refuse to let Wilford Brimley die already.

DAMN YOU SEGA AND DAMN YOU BIG RED BUTTON!

As the gun touches the head of the hedgehog, he is not afraid, for he knows the Lord will welcome him in death.

Ok, last in this hellscape is a much shorter paragraph about the possibilities of Sonic’s future. Honestly speaking, it does not really look great considering the titles that continue to be released including crappy mobile titles that just get canned down the line. Over the years, it looks like Sega has been continuously experimenting with different genres and styles in order to appease fans to no success. This has in turn created a ton of different variations of Sonics which have still in 25 years not managed to find a successful footing like Mario has. While Mario is allowed to experiment with mechanics, Sonic is instead punished for it not just because some of weird as hell ideas like the Werehog, but also because it is hard to keep fans when the developers are changing the themes of the game in almost every entry. Ultimately the future of Sonic is unpredictable as hell but fans can only pray that at some point Sega finds out what to do with him as their current strategy sure as shit is not working. But hey, at least, Sonic might have invented Doodle Jump only to have to piggybank its success years down the line with Sonic Jump, right? Yeah.

That was it, a long and painful examination of the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise that will probably keep Adeki awake at night in fear of betraying his own childhood. What did you think of this editorial? Are you emotionally ready for the next one that will most likely be about Nintendo pre-E3? Or do you have suggestions for future editorial topics in this format or another? Make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

8 comments on “Editorial: Sega of the Union”

  1. Since this point on, the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise has supplied about ten if not more years of mediocrity to the extreme.
    Hahaha! But, it’s true… :(

    While some can argue that there were some notably alright titles such as Sonic Colors or Sonic Generations, the overwhelming truth is that the best part about being a Sonic fan right now is following his official Twitter account that occasionally doles out some real gems.
    NOTABLY. ALL RIGHT. — notable for just being ALL RIGHT. The bar is set high, folks!

    Also, re. the Twitter account, it’s all true.

    Ok, last in this hellscape is a much shorter paragraph about the possibilities of Sonic’s future.
    (Appropriately short paragraph on Sonic’s future.)

  2. @Lusipurr It’s pretty sad when you all you have to celebrate is mediocrity. :(

  3. What is the opinion on Sonic The Hedgehog 4? All I care about from Sonic is 2D platformers, but I haven’t seen or touched that one.

    There could be so many cheap mobile games in Sonic’s future, like Sonic Diner Dash, Sonic vs. Zombies, Sonic Farm, Sonicraft, or the team could make up titles and try to fit a game around it like Sonic Jam, Sonic Buzz, Sonic Dope, Sonic Shapes, and Sonic Heaven. While Sonic Team dithers on which word(s) fit best next to his name, I think he’s got a few different sports to try, like Sonic Chaotix Ping-Pong Party, Sonic Basketball Transformed², Sonic All-Stars Zero Gravity Rollerblading, and Dr. Robotnik’s Rockin’ Box Lacrosse, as well as some new enemies to face up against, like Sonic vs. Moon Men, Sonic vs. Puppet People, Sonic vs. Ghibli, and Sonic And Knucles Meet Dracula. Furthermore, I think the franchise could really benefit from a new TV show that’s a little bit educational, chock full of wacky and imaginative adventures, and puts all his friends in the same play area as Sonic Babies. The possibilies are just endless for the Blue Buzzword.

  4. Scratch all that. Sonic metroidvania, completely inspired by the classic 2D 16-bit era level design, look and music, but all in one large continuous world. It would have to be named some senseless bullshit like Sonic Saga: Land Of The Dark Wizard, but it reveals at the end that the titular magician is actually Dr. Robotnik!

  5. @Dancing Matt Sonic the Hedgehog 4from what I’ve gathered opinion-wise and played for myself (only episode one), is an attempt at recreating what 1-3 did well but ultimately fails. I wouldn’t rank it as necessarily being a bad game by itself, but to those who grew up playing 1-3, its a disappointment. I think it had potential, but should have been released as a full game and not in an episodic format.

    Also, I’d play a Sonic version of Crossy Road if it had a bunch of the characters.

  6. Sonic 4 is the best Sonic game since Sonic 3. But the entire Sonic franchise is less than stellar and, if you are looking to recreate the feeling you felt when you were an uncritical child playing Sega Genesis in front of the TV, there is not, and never will be, a Sonic game that can deliver on that expectation.

  7. So full disclosure: I admit to being a Sonic fan. I’ve been playing the games since 1991, and the original Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Genesis was indeed my very first video game. I also watched both 1993 cartoons and read the comics up until 2003. I hold those original games in very high regard, so obviously my judgement on said games is clouded to say the least.

    That being said, I’ve pretty much all but given up on the blue blur. I played through Sonic Generations and loved it as expected, but aside from that, I hadn’t really gotten into a Sonic game since Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Advance. I also don’t expect the series to get any better frankly, as SEGA continues to reinvent the gameplay of each game, leaving the results unpolished and in some cases, downright abysmal.

    At the same time it makes sense however, as Sonic was really always intended to be a selling point for SEGA consoles, most specifically, the Genesis. At the time of the SNES and GEN, the SNES was technologically superior to SEGA’s 16-bit machine in every way besides one: the Genesis had a faster processor. To take advantage of this, they made a fast game, which turned into the original Sonic the Hedgehog. The entire game was designed with speed in mind; if you played Sonic well, you could race through levels quickly and skillfully, and if not, you’d be slowed down. This central mechanic stayed the same all the way through Sonic 3 & Knuckles in 1994.

    Then something happened: Games made a full jump into 3D. For certain games this made the experience more immersive and enjoyable. This was not the case for Sonic. I remember very clearly playing Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R on my Saturn trying to adjust to the very shoddy controls. The situation had completely changed; Sonic had previously represented the Genesis’ strength, but was now representing the Saturn’s greatest weakness: 3D graphics.

    It seemed that things were beginning to turn back around in 1999, with the release of the Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure. My 11 year old mind was blown to the Moon upon laying my eyes on it for the first time in Toys R Us. However, looking back on it nowadays, it was clearly the beginning of alot of Sonic’s problems: Melodramatic story, annoying friends that suck, levels that feel like you’re just riding a roller coaster killing any difficulty, horrible camera, etc. These problems only got worse with Sonic Adventure 2 and onwards. By the time of Sonic Heroes and Sonic ’06, it was clear that SEGA had basically thrown any cares for quality to the wind, and were plastering his name on everything they could find in order to fill their coffers.

    The Sonic that I remembered from my childhood had changed completely, and although for a while I had hoped with every release that Sonic would return to form, it never happened. After a while, I had basically given up on it. Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colors are, from my understanding, decent at most, but I couldn’t get into them.

    All in all, I’ll be celebrating Sonic 25th anniversary playing through some of my favorites in the series, but honestly I’m not really interested in the future of the franchise, because to be honest, Sonic isn’t going anywhere. SEGA is going to continue to plaster that hedgehog’s face on whatever they can til the end of time, long after we’re all dead and gone.

    tl;dr A Sonic fan comes to terms with what’s happened to this franchise, and moves on with the happy memories.

  8. @Lusipurr Honestly I’d disagree with Sonic 4 being as good as Sonic 3, especially if you’re talking about Sonic 3 and Knuckles which *might* be the best of the 2D Sonic games.

    @S.T. I completely agree that one of the main problems with the Sonic franchise now is that they continuously reinvent the gameplay in order to sell product rather than refine what is already there. And as for being a mascot for SEGA, I think that might have been another mistake on SEGA’s part for putting all the effort into the one hero whereas Nintendo has multiple protagonists like Link and Mario to stand on. Then, when it comes to the 3D Sonic games, Sonic Heroes and Sonic Adventure end up seeming like warning of the future. And I think you’re exactly right with the criticisms you mentioned of them.

    When it comes to Sonic Colors I’d most likely rate it as being slightly above decent (around a B – B+), because I really liked the music, gameplay, visuals, and it had a much simpler story without all the side characters. Sonic Unleashed on the other hand is like a C in my book just because of the damn Werehog levels. As for the 25th Anniversary, I probably won’t be celebrating just because I didn’t get involved with the franchise until Sonic Advance 2 and have never been that devoted to it. However, I’m glad that you’re able to move on with happy memories rather than feel enraged or disappointed because of the current state Sonic is in.

    Thanks for leaving your comment though! It was nice responding to a fellow fan and it’s even better that I agree with you! :P

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