Guess who! Speedy! I’m a big Sonic fan, if you didn’t know, and I love most of the games in the franchise – as you may have guessed as there were two of them in my top ten games and one in my top ten handheld games. Whether it’s Megadrive Sonic, Dreamcast, Gamecube or PS2 Sonic or it’s Wii, Xbox 360, PS3 Sonic, or even Game Boy Advance, DS or 3DS Sonic; I don’t care, as long as it’s good, I’ll play it… Well, actually, I did do the suicidal thing of ignoring the critics and EVERYONE’S OPINION and persevere in buying Sonic 06 on the PS3; and I learnt that not all Sonic games are great with that piece of crap.

A great idea, son.

The thing is with that game is that it sort of killed anyone’s respect for the franchise other than die-hard Sonic fans; and to be fair, it was pretty crap. Well, incredibly crap if I do say so myself: and immensely disappointing for the naive me of 2012. Because I grew up with Sonic, and he was pretty much my role model as a child; he was fast, blue, spiky and cool — and he was friends with Shadow, the coolest guy around. I loved the games (and still do) and so the series is one of my favourites if not my absolute favourite. Sonic the Hedgehog through to Sonic & Knuckles were platforming masterpieces, and games I would spend hours on end attempting (and failing) to perfect back on the Sonic Mega Collection on the Gamecube. But those games weren’t the best, no, that would have to be Sonic Adventure 2: Battle – also on the Gamecube.

That game, to this day, is the best flawed game. Some may take the flaws too much to heart, and say the game is crappy; but I for one would argue for the game’s brilliance. It’s a timeless classic, and in the genius Sonic and Shadow levels it’s a 3D platforming masterpiece — and the soundtrack and the brilliantly cheesy final boss can’t be beaten. However mediocre the Tails and Robotnik levels are, and however rubbish the Knuckles and Rouge levels are, everything that is amazing about the Sonic and Shadow levels, the classic story, soundtrack and chao garden will overwhelm it all the time.

Perfect.

And then there’s the other two great Sonic games from that era, Sonic Adventure (DX is the one I played on the Gamecube) and Sonic Heroes (also Gamecube). Both also flawed games, and ones that could either be considered crap by skeptics or timeless classics by fans; but Sonic Adventure’s flaws make the game all the better, as without Big the Cat throwing up the word “froooooooooooooggy!” all the time and the overbearingly large mouths of the characters in the terrible cutscenes: it wouldn’t be the same game it is. And then with Sonic Heroes, I do admit it’s not a brilliant game in its fundamentals – far from that; but it’s a game that has brilliantly over-complicated level design and everyone’s favourite foul mouthed Knuckles.

Looking good, Sonic, looking good.

Don’t think I’ll skip spin-offs! Shadow the Hedgehog can’t go without at least a passing mention. That game is pretty bad, yes, but for a 7-10 year old boy, it can be the best game there is. Going back in time to the glory days of the Sega Saturn (I know it wasn’t just my brother who got one!), there was the horrifically flawed racing game that should have been played in cars, Sonic R! It may not have been the most riveting gaming experience, but if you take a step back you’ll see there’s some stupid fun to take from it.

The last spin-off I’ll mention is Sonic Riders (on the Gamecube): a gloriously flawed game. A fantastically presented game, though, for what it is, and one that can be good, rewarding fun. Even if you’re in the situation when you’re leading a race by miles and you’re impossibly overtaken by the ultimate douche that is Jet. Again, for my younger self, this game was amazing; and I’m gutted that Sonic Free Riders was an Xbox 360 Kinect exclusive, because it meant I couldn’t play it — that could have been good.

About to overtake, are we?

Sorry, but we haven’t got to the modern era just yet. Before that, let’s delve into the rich caves of the handheld consoles. Sonic games have been a prominent part of handheld consoles’ game libraries ever since the Sega Gamegear; with games spanning across all corners of the handheld world, earning appearances on the Neo Geo Pocket, PSP and the DS to name a few, and with games such as Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, Sonic Advance and Sonic Rush. So I’d like to inform you – if you weren’t aware already – that it’s not just not-quite-as-good versions of successful home console releases; in actual fact those have been released, and they can be great – with Sonic Generations on the 3DS being a blast, but they are released alongside handheld exclusives. These handheld exclusive Sonic games have always been great, with Sonic Rush being a fantastically fast paced and fun game (although I lost it a couple of years ago) and the Sonic Advance games being classic Sonic games up there with the best home console releases in the series. Actually, the Sonic Advance games are especially good and are good enough to be my favourite games on the Game Boy Advance.

Now that’s a cool move you’ve got there.

Now we’ll get on to the modern stuff. By modern I mean what’s considered to be ‘modern era’ Sonic, which is Sonic Unleashed and everything after it, or maybe Sonic 06 and everything after it, but that was before Unleashed‘s change in graphical and gameplay style – and Sonic 06 was a monstrosity and shouldn’t be mentioned. Guess what. I’m gonna talk about Sonic Unleashed! First, I got the game on PS2. It was pretty good, I managed to complete it.

Then I decided to buy it again, but on the PS3, which of course was quite a different game. This version implemented Sonic’s new style, of design and gameplay; which added boosting and a more, sleekly designed, faster moving style of 3D and 2D platforming in one — excelling in both. It was a completely new experience for Sonic fans, and one some preferred and others disliked; but it was one that evoked memories of the old Sonic, with the 2D platforming springing back to life. But the day levels, as they were called, were not the only part of this game; as everyone will surely remember, the werehog came stumbling in when nobody wanted him to, in the dreaded night levels. The infuriatingly easy, but at the same time difficult, hack and slash levels would make Sonic fans all over wretch at the thought – including me. Although they were sort of alright to play, they ruined what could have possibly been one of the best Sonic games ever: this, along with the tragedy of Sonic 06 and the widely received as rubbish Sonic and the Black Knight sparked a feeling of distrust and disrespect for Sonic games, and would unintentionally give itself a bad name.

Thanks for ruining a potentially great game, mate.

Nonetheless, after they tried with Sonic the Hedgehog 4, a good game which went largely unnoticed, Sega came back firing on all cylinders with the fantastic game that was Sonic Colours, an exclusive to Nintendo’s Wii. It was indeed colourful, and was a brilliant, fun game that put gameplay over story for the first time since Sonic CD: keeping the successful style of Sonic Unleashed, but expertly slowing it down a frame or two, reducing the amount of boost available to the player and exhibiting fantastic, unique level design, focusing sometimes more on 2D, and sometimes on 3D, creating more of a balance that Unleashed ever had — and the colour powers gave the game that bit extra, which was also lacking in its predecessor. I love Sonic Colours, as you may know if you saw my top ten games list, and to this day it is my favourite Sonic game – even conquering the legendary thing that is Sonic Adventure 2.

Looks delicious.

Consequently, it brought shards of hope back to large portions of Sonic fans and regained itself a little bit of that much needed respect. Even though I had stuck with Sonic through those times and never once gave up hope in Sega’s much beloved — but anyway, not everyone was the same. But Sonic Generations carried on with Colours‘ trend. Generations is, I’m sure we can all agree, a pretty damn good nostalgia trip, with the return of the classic style of Sonic the Hedgehog on the Megadrive and brilliant redesigns of classic stages; in a brilliant, fun, fast and exciting game – though short. It was good enough to get into my top ten games, and I’m pretty sure it got other Sonic fans happy too. See my review.

Thanks, Sega!

Finally, the last of the modern era of Sonic games: Sonic Lost World. This game was released on both the Wii U and the 3DS, and was the first game within Sega and Nintendo’s exclusivity deal. I can’t really play the Wii U one, so I’ve got the 3DS one. It’s a bit rubbish, unfortunately. But I do hear the Wii U version is actually a great game – from reliable sources. And so I’m a bit gutted I’ve missed out on the superior version of the new, exciting Sonic game… But never fear! It’s coming to PC! Hooray! I’m actually pretty excited about this, because it means I can actually play it; so, thanks, Sega!

You know what’s coming next, don’t you. Yep. It’s Sonic Boom.

Sonic Boom, the awful; Sonic Boom, the terrible; Sonic Boom, the atrocity. In all honesty, I haven’t play it, but I can tell. Oh I can tell. Mostly because of this picture:

It was a spin-off, yes, but people don’t know that! No one knows that. If you look on any comment section on IGN or any other website like that, everyone will be saying stuff like “This is what Sonic has come to?”, “Sonic is dead, so am I”, “I hate Sonic”, “This is the best Sonic game in years”, “Because this is rubbish, so is every other Sonic game”, and what I say to that is “Kill me”. That’s because this horrible, horrible game has made everyone completely disrespect Sonic – and Sega – and forget about all the fantastic Sonic games through the years. And so, there seems to be a considerable bias towards Sonic and his games. All because of a crap spin-off based on a TV show. Sonic R was a pretty crap spin-off, and did that have the effect Sonic Boom did? No. Why? Because people knew it was a spin-off. This time, everyone thinks this is the end of Sonic, and that this is the representation of a great series — which they now think sucks.

It seems clear IGN have got in on the act, too. They did a top 100 games thing in the last week, and, guess what. There was no Sonic game anywhere on the list. Not one. Not even Sonic the Hedgehog, or Sonic the Hedgehog 2, or 3, or Knuckles. And an editor and one of the main contributors to the list actually said “Sonic games aren’t very good” in the comment section. Now that’s bias if I’ve ever seen it. He, and the website, are ruling out that any one of the great Sonic games since the first are any good. Seriously, why do you think Sonic was so popular in the 90’s? Why do you think it competed with Mario so well? And, if you played Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2, 3 or Knuckles, can you say you didn’t like it? Can you really? I don’t think you can; or at least you can’t if you’re a fan of classic and/or platforming games.

Tell me you don’t like this.

Sonic the Hedgehog has gone through a lot along the years. From his glory days in the 90’s, to the unstable times of the 2000’s and finally into the Sonic Boom marred 2010’s. But through all of these times, he has never failed to deliver. The original four games were innovative platforming masterpieces, Sonic Adventure 2 is the best flawed game to date, and Sonic Colours and Generations are to many back to a high quality – to me they may well be the best. Consider why he has such a loyal fan base, and consider why he was Mario’s best competition, but don’t consider thinking about Sonic Boom. It’s a spin-off, just as Shadow the Hedgehog is. So please, please show Sonic some respect, and think back to the good times you may or may not have had playing his games; and, if you haven’t before, play one of his best games, because they will surely make you a fan, through and through – just as I am.

– Speedy.

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2 thoughts on “Sonic the Hedgehog: A History and an Angry Message

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