Sonic the Hedgehog, SEGA’s mascot and hugely famous videogame character, hasn’t been doing that well in recent years. Whether its because of games like Sonic 06 or Sonic Boom isn’t entirely agreed upon. However if you manage to sieve through all the generic “Sonics Dead” and “I want the real sonic back” comments you’ll find what the real concern is: The way Sonics constant reinvention stops all of the games from being as good as they could of been.
To help explain, think of the Super Mario franchise. While there are many changes between games they aren’t scared to make them similar. Either way we absolutely love it. The reason for this is because they polish up the existing mechanics and add new ones on top. This is obviously something Sega has rarely been able to do.
However the problem itself is not the main focus of this article. The undeniable truth is that reinvention has never killed sonic and probably never will. In fact it didn’t start recently like people seem to believe with the Wii spinoff titles getting the most hate, it was actually present from the very beginning.
The period between the release Sonic 1 and Sonic 3 and Knuckles seemed more of an experimental phase. While the 3 main games followed a similar formula games like Sonic CD and Sonic Spinball were released as well. Not to mention 3 Japanese only children’s arcade games on top of that.
Then came a huge Spinoff phase from 1995 to some point in 1998. Other than Sonic blast Sega were throwing sonic into alot of different genres. Notable games were Knuckles Chaotix, Tails Adventure and Tails Sky Patrol, Sonic (the) Fighters and Sonic R (R=Racing). However alot of these didn’t get positive feedback.
The spinoff phase ended with the release of Sonic Adventure, Sonics first non spinoff 3d game. It was unbelievably different from the 2d counterparts in many ways from more new characters and gameplay to minigame known as Chao garden. I heard some people were already claiming Sonic was dead even back then.
2001 was when both Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Advance was released. Sonic Adventure 2 was incredibly different again even compared to the previous game while Sonic Advance was a return to 2d. The time between then until early 2006 was similar to the experimental phase in which spinoffs where mixed in with the main titles (namely Sonic Advance 2 and 3).
This ends in 2006 with the surprise release of Sonic 06 as Sega decided that they should make a much more realistic game and while it had great potential the cons far outweighed the pros. Sega didn’t release a game anywhere like that again though and thus started the current constant reinvention phase and probably why most people recognise this as the start of Sonics downfall.
Almost every game since then save for a few like Sonic Generations have been vastly different from each other (especially the Wii titles). Its gotten to the point where Sega doesn’t even care about its successes anymore. Its almost ironic that one of the most hated Sonic games aka Sonic Boom gets a sequel while we’ll probably never get a Sonic Colours 2 or the much begged for Sonic Adventure 3 (I want Chao garden revived).
Overall while people may have been half right it’s obvious that Sonic probably won’t be going anywhere soon, especially considering his 20th birthday recently happened and a mobile game called Sonic Runners was released as celebration. All we can do is hope that whatever Sonic game Sega makes next will make most of us happy.