At one point in your life, for whatever reason, you’ve probably muttered the iconic Star Wars line: “Luke, I am your father.” The funny part is, that line is never actually said in any Star Wars film ever. Sometimes our memories can play tricks on us. I believe this to be the same case with Sonic the Hedgehog.
I have a lot of fond memories playing on my Genesis, and a lot of those consist of playing Sonic games. I played the heck out of them, beating them on a daily basis. I’m talking borderline addiction here. But as we all know, Sonic’s success didn’t last. But why?
I bet every fan at one point has thought that they could easily make a successful modern Sonic game. Even critics have laid it out plainly on what’s working, and what isn’t in our Sonic game’s today. But nobody seems to be listening. We just keep getting games that miss the mark on what we remember the series to be.
The common focus for most people is: “Sonic is about speed!” I recently sat down with Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection with some surprising results. It isn’t all that fast.
In fact, almost an overwhelming majority of stages after the first (Green Hill Zone) are littered with walls, barriers, spikes, and other things that serve one purpose: stopping your speed. Starting as early as the second world with Marble Zone, the natural flow of the level forces virtually no running. There’s a lot of waiting around for platforms to reach you, riding slowly across lava pits, pushing blocks, and timing perfect jumps. This trend continues through to the end of the game.
For some reason people have this image of playing Sonic games where you’re blasting from the left side of the screen to the right until you reach the goal. But if you really sit down and play them again, your memory will be refreshed and reminded that this franchise was still just a platform game at its core. It still had gaps to be jumped, inconveniently yet perfectly placed spikes, bad guys to avoid, and rings to slow you down.
So perhaps the reason we’ve failed to receive what we want out of Sonic has something to do with us as fans. Maybe we want something that never really existed in the first place.
However, with that said, we’re not all crazy. It’s just something to think about. I mean, at the end of the day all we really want is a good Sonic game. So let’s hope the recently announced Sonic the Hedgehog 4 hits the mark, whether it’s how we remember it or not.