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How to fix Sonic the, REALLY!

Once upon a time, Sonic went toe-to-toe with Super Mario Bros, one of the most popular videogame franchises of all time. In fact, there was a season when the SEGA Genesis was actually outselling the SNES in the USA and in Japan. This was due, in large part, to the popularity of Sonic the Hedgehog. Since the 16-bit era, Sonic had fallen down. Hard. We're not talking about skinned knees here. We're talking about falling down a tall flight of jagged concrete stairs, across a busy street, getting struck by several moving vehicles, only to Sonic-Spinball down an open manhole and into a river of sewage.

Time and time again, Sonic Team promises to "go back to Sonic's roots" and deliver a Sonic experience that is worthy of the name. Time and time again, the fanbase ends up disappointed.


I'll tell you why: because SEGA has no clue what made Sonic so good in the first place. Nowadays, Sonic is all about being cool. He's all about "gotta go fast". He's all about crazy loop-de-loops and colorful bosses and levels that are arranged like a rollercoaster track.

But that isn't what made Sonic good.

Sonic was great because of three things: special abilities, level design, and excellent controls.

Remember playing with Tails and discovering not only did Sonic the Hedgehog 3 support co-op (awesome!) but tails could pick Sonic up and carry him around! WHAT?! Remember discovering the Bubble power, or the spin-dash (which was a welcome addition in Sonic 2). Remember when you finally got all of the Chaos Emeralds and turned into Super Sonic? The Sonic games had so many powerups, so many cool set-pieces, so many secrets. And speaking of secrets...

Something that SEGA has totally forgotten is how their level design used to be. Sonic isn't about going fast or zooming through roller-coaster tracks. Sonic is about exploration and finding secrets. Granted, there are parts where you zoom through a level, but a large part of the game's charm comes from investigating all the nooks and crannies of the level. Modern Sonic games have totally lost this aspect of the older games. Take the new Lost World, for example:

What the heck IS this? What is this level? Where does this take place? There's no continuity here. It's just a big, disjointed carnival setpiece. There are no secrets. There are no cool areas to explore. There's no reason to Sonic dash up a ramp in hopes of flying high enough to reach that far-away platform. People forget that older Sonic games weren't just about speed for the sake of speed. In the older Sonic games, going fast meant that you could build momentum and launch high up into the sky, often landing on a floating platform with a free life, a powerup, or a Chaos Emerald bonus level.

This is Marble Garden from Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It is one of the most sprawling, secret-packed level in the entire series. (link to map: To think this was running on the Genesis is INSANE. How do modern Sonic games compare? They don't. There's no exploration. There's no need to ramp up to higher platforms or use a Fireball to shoot across a gap (or through a wall) because the secrets simply aren't there. If SEGA wants Sonic to be interesting again, then they need to stop worrying about making too-cool-for-school Shadow the Hedgehog or giving Sonic a scarf or giving Knuckles steroids. They need to begin by making the levels interesting again.

Levels in Sonic the Hegdehog used to be huge, with hidden paths and secrets all over the place. Not to mention, they each had a very cool theme that tied the world together (like the Carnival Zone: These maps give you so much freedom of exploration, it's no wonder that Sonic was so popular. There aren't many platformers that give you so many areas to explore in one level! Nowadays, Sonic is on rails because the developers don't want you to miss a single setpiece. But back then? The devs rewarded exploration.

Last but not least, the controls in the Sonic the Hedgehog series are phenomenal. The momentum was weighty, and yet you always felt in control of your jumps and your attacks. The ability to fine-tune controls is apparently something that SEGA has lost, because every new Sonic game controls like crap. Either Sonic is moving too fast (gotta go fast!) for the player to react, or he's having trouble making precise jumps on platforms. It just isn't the same. Plenty of recent platformers like Donkey Kong Returns, Rayman Origins, and New Super Mario Bros (among others) have shown that a modern platformer can still have excellent controls. Did SEGA miss the memo?

I think that if SEGA could pull their head out of their you-know-where, they could make a fantastic Sonic the Hedgehog game. Sonic Colors was pretty decent, and Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was a step in the right direction. However, if they want to bring Sonic back to his glory years, then they need to remember what made Sonic so great in the first place.

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seany11011303d ago (Edited 1303d ago )

Well said (except maybe the opening paragraph).

Finally someone took these games seriously like the industry should, and offered an original solution to the series' plight that for once isn't a deliberately offensive article to fans.

shame that because it's level-headed, well-written, and goes against the stereotype of the series, it will go under the radar.

Geekman1303d ago

Just make him run. Simple as that. No Werechog, no sword, no younger version of himself. (The colors are ok from what I've heard.) I haven't played a Sonic game in ages. Just make a simple Sonic Game with a simple story and simple platforming, like Mario or Rayman.

SegaGamer1303d ago

Then you have no right to complain then. If you haven't played a Sonic game in ages then you have no idea how good or bad it is.

I am fine with it as it is. As is most of the hard core Sonic fans. It's the casual fans that have a problem with Sonic.

memots1303d ago

People just like to complain about everything these days.

I think Sonic is doing fine, Yes the original Sonic was good even great but i think Generation and Episode 1 were fine.
If your a fan of gaming Sonic has its own style and i think its fine. They could make it great like explained in this blog but are they going to try ? That's another question.

Geekman1302d ago

Good point. Though it's not exactly "ages." My last one was colors. I played Unleashed and Black Knight.

AKR1302d ago (Edited 1302d ago )

I've played basically all the major Sonic titles except 06 (don't want to touch it either). And I have to say; he's changed drastically through the ages.

Too be fair, ever from since the daytime levels in Unleashed; it seems like Sonic Team was getting somewhere. Unleashed was the property, Unleashed was the foundation, and Generations was the actual building.

Then they changed it.

To be honest; Lost World is actually rather nice (when it works). It gives you that sense of "exploration" that was found in the older titles. Instead of moving in a straight line, like Unleashed, Colors and Generations; most of the levels tend to open up, and allow you to take multiple pathways to the end. One level can have 3 totally different routes; all with different hazards and sense of danger, similar to the Genesis titles.

That's why when I look at Sonic Boom; I'm intrigued. There's no telling exactly how it's gonna be; but it certainly looks like it's going to be the most expansive Sonic title in eons.

isarai1302d ago

Honestly i think Unleashed was a step in the right direction, and i think Generations was honestly the best 3D sonic to date. Also i think people are taking Sonic Boom the wrong way, Sonic Boom is not really the next big installment in the sonic franchise, it's not even made my Sonic Team or even Sega for that matter. It's just something Sega is allowing some external studio to do to go along with the new animated series. Calling Sonic boom the next step in the Sonic series is like saying Star Wars Clone Wars animated series is the next big Star Wars Sequel

Klonoa-dreamtraveler1301d ago

I agree with everything you said except the comment on sonic the hedgehog 4 that s**t wasn't worthy to have that title name.