85: All Hail Sonic!

"Since his original launch in 1991, Sonic has appeared in a new title every year. Some are considered classics of gaming, some are considered sad attempts, and some just aren't considered. But Sonic has weathered time and changes with the same determination, speedy red shoes and carefree smirk that endeared him to millions of gamers all those years ago. If only what he represented had weathered the change as well."

Shawn Williams charts the course of gaming's speediest mascot.

All Hail Sonic!

I actually really enjoyed Sonic Adventure 2. I was young enough not to realize how silly the extreme-ness was but old enough to appreciate the maturity in the plot. I have fond memories of borrowing my friend's Dreamcast to play that game. It was a perfect window when we were 11 and if they could have made a profit selling the game just to 11-year-olds they'd have found their perfect niche.

Aw, man. I had the most amazing response written. I'm talking complete article material, here. You'd reinstate Casual Fridays just for this week, just to stick it on the end of the issue. If TIME ever found out about it, they'd publish it immediately, everywhere, and so many people would read it that they'd make me their king. I would then use its immortal insight to lead the world into an eternal golden age of peace and prosperity. Figures I'd move focus out of the text box, causing the "backspace" key to move me to the previous page, and hitting "forward" doesn't bring it back. Ah well. I'll give you the highlights.

I really am not sure what Sega is trying to accomplish with the Sonic brand any more. In the nineties, it was pretty simple: Sonic was the mascot. Sonic was there to be the sort of character that Sega itself wanted to be seen as. Sonic was fun. He had just the right amount of edginess. He was the upbeat, easy-going wisecracking underdog who made it his business to stick it to The Man, who was unambiguously evil. He had a simple, unique power that was simply too much fun for him to not use it in every part of his daily life. This is exactly the sort of traits that gamers want from their game companies. Sonic was there to be Sega.

Gamers take brand loyalty to levels unparalleled outside of politics. A gamer is nothing if not a person who can imagine the maker of his chosen entertainment as a real, thinking, breathing entity with motivations beyond selling things. A gamer can take something that's really only a handful of lines in some accountant's ledger, and turn it into a soap opera with a real impact on his life. Was it so difficult to think of the Genesis as the dashing, irreverent upstart, and the SNES as the bumbling old guard? But that's not Sega and Nintendo; that's Sonic and Mario. Around the time the Dreamcast launched, wouldn't it have been easy to imagine Sega as the last remaining hero standing up to Sony's colorless, flavorless, robocratic hegemony?

Even if Sony doesn't make a good Robotnik (for example, there are no cute animals inside any Sony products that I've seen), Sega fit right in with the fans' imagined war in 2000. Sega had just gotten all seven Chaos Emeralds, or maybe it was Sonic who had finally found the recipe for the perfect console. And it was just in time: Sony's PS2 flew in like the Flying Battery and made a lot of noise. Things looked grim, sure, but things always look grim in the last couple levels of a video game. All this meant was that Sega was going to begin its final showdown with Sony. Sonic was going to win, no matter what kind of impressive, screen-filling, alpha-transparency-employing, scaling-and-rotating flying spiky deathtrap Ken Kutaragi was piloting this time.

Only, it didn't work out like that. It can be easy to forget that a business is not like a video game character. Video game characters snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It's what they do. When you confront a business with the jaws of defeat, however, it's not worried about snatching much of anything, except a new line of work. That's just the nature of the beast. So, in the end, it wasn't even that Sonic ran out of continues. It was more that he had no rings left after the Saturn, and the miniboss was right ahead, and rather than go on with the fight, he wandered off and asked Eggman if he needed a new janitor. That's exactly what a business should be doing, but what about the video game character who acts as the business' spokesman?

And this is what I can't help but wonder. Did Sega's remaining developers buy as much into Sonic's image as the fans did? Did they also manage to convince themselves that Sega was Sonic? If not, then all this Shadow the Hedgehog crap is just cashing in on an obsolete brand. Nothing to see here. But, if they are (and since I'm a gamer and I love to make game developer politics into my own private soap opera).... Why, that would mean that Sega gave up. They threw in the towel. They went to be Eggman's janitor. They lost, after they came so far, and they didn't even try to stop it. That's not something Sonic does. He might be their biggest brand, but he can't be their mascot any more. And the developers who haven't jumped ship are left going through the motions of being Sonic, of being Sega, while trying to find out just what kind of character they've become. If Sega itself doesn't feel like Sonic any more, then how can their games feel like Sonic games?

Well. That was about the dorkiest thing ever. And all this from a life-long Nintendo kid!

Bongo Bill:
Figures I'd move focus out of the text box, causing the "backspace" key to move me to the previous page, and hitting "forward" doesn't bring it back.

One of the reasons I like the Opera browser: it does bring it back.

Sonic is odd for me. I loved the fast movement that came from the Genesis games, but I was SNES kid back then, so I didn't play it much. The first time I really got into it was Sonic Adventure 2: Battle for the Gamecube. Initially, I was "is this what Sonic turned into"? But as I played, I found that it was fun, at least when I was playing as Sonic(or Shadow). Alot of the game, though, I got the thoughts "why did they bother with this"? With the story, I felt that they were trying to make things too epic. With the gameplay, I felt that they were trying to do too much. It seemed like the developers went into this trying to create the biggest game ever, without the time or resources to pull it off. Everything felt like it could've been done better, and everything else felt like the game was better off without it.

When I got the game, I was assuming I was going to get a new(from my perspective) Sonic game. What I got was a half-assed attempt at something more.

This article pretty much described Sonic and how and why he was cool. And I think Nintendo noticed this. This is why they put Sonic in Super smash bros brawl. The way they have presented him reminds me of how he used to be when he was "good".

This article sums up my disappointment with sonic. I was a fan since the original MegaDrive game, but the last few titles have been insults to the fans, and barely resemble the game they are based on. All the physics that made the original titles so unique and fun are being ignored in favour of Psychic abilities and vehicle sections.

The only thing I approve of in modern sonics is the A-Rank system. SA2 kept me playing for 2 years trying to get them all. (over DC and GC versions, which is why it took so long. >_> )

I know that saying anything good about Sonic is a sure way to get flamed to a crisp, but I'm constantly amazed at how savagely Sonic is getting attacked these days for things that Mario has been getting away with for ages.

Hm.. I enjoyed Sonic Adventure 2: Battle very much. Yes, it was a lot more serious than the series had been, but I see no problem with that. I might have been waiting for the series to take a more "realistic" and serious tone, partially because I found Sonic & Knuckles (which was the second to first game I got, and has thus played to no end) to be quite epic in its seriousness.

Admittedly, though this is not what you're pointing at, I feel the connection is important. Shadow was, as you might expect, something that filled a certain hole for me; a darker Sonic plagued by his struggle. In a way, a more human version of Sonic, and, perhaps, a hero more like me.

The main thing I have to agree with is how Sonic's new style has destroyed all that symbolized what he was in the olden days. A certain playfulness combined with the serious concept of possessing such power, as well as using this in his own reckless way to save his friends, despite seemingly appearing a rather selfish being. This is further put forth in the TV series "Sonic X".

At the same time, I have to say I probably enjoy even the crappier, newer Sonic games produced. I just love him so darn much, I can even accept these changes. Plus, I do love changes. Sure, it would be awesome if he found his way back to being Sonic, and not some stereotypical icon, but I can also find this development inevitable.

I'll always hail Sonic, keeping my love for him intact despite the mistakes of his developers, since I can still enjoy most of the games still released. Most are still fun, in my opinion. o/

Higurashi:

I'll always hail Sonic, keeping my love for him intact despite the mistakes of his developers, since I can still enjoy most of the games still released. Most are still fun, in my opinion. o/

Sonic and the Secret of the Rings would be one of many exceptions.

And this is coming from a Sonic fan. I still cry myself to sleep occasionally.

I bet I would feel the same if I allowed myself to play it. Many things about Sonic Heroes was very disturbing, but all in all, I had to admit it was a rather fun game in the end. The best of the relatively new Sonic games might be Sonic Battle. Now I'm just dying to get my hands on Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood ^_^ *drools*

i think that ultimately sega forgot what made sonic fun. im not saying they should make a game that looks like its from the 90s like mega man did, but i think they should look at the sonic adventure games and see what they did right.

now they have all sorts of gimmicks, like a team mechanic that didnt work, guns that felt like they were literally added at the last minute, going back to "2D", creating a game where sonic used skateboards, a game where sonic runs on a set path like in a rail shooter, and a lot of other stuff.

the adventure games were fun because you could actually go fast for a while. in the new games you dont even get enough running distance to reach full speed. you get just a connection between short jumping puzzles and fight sequences.

sonic is the equivalent of a washed up celebrity, someone who used to be at the top of the world but now is living in a box and saying "hey remember when i used to be famous"? but sega wont just let sonic die. his games still sell enough to make a profit, so they either are getting lazy or, like i said before, dont seem to see what makes their games fun.

edit: on later thought, this seems to happen with a lot of games that get changed a lot, probably why the nintendo serieses havent changed. also, i think halo will be the next victim of sonic style aging.

I love sonic games...I can't stand how I keep hearing from people about how the games aren't good,only because of a bad camera angle!And most of the time,people haven't even played the games,or watched the show or read the comic!And so what if SEGA has made Sonic do different games!They have to so that they will have backup and/or have something to test to see if it will make the Sonic games good!It is tiring hearing how Sonic games are c*** all the time,and how the few people in this world get made fun of because of it!So what if it is a game that doesn't have violence in it!At least your child isn't learning to kill people for the fun of it!Sonic is still what he was 18 years ago,fun and awesome.~Miles

It is good to see another fan.And I own sonic Heroes,so I don't get what you mean by it being 'disturbing'.To me it is simply fun,though it is extreamly hard to get all seven Chaos Emeralds!I only have two.But then again,one of the things that made Sonic games fun is the fact that they are a challenge!I didn't even get why XPLAY put down Shadow The Hedgehog until I got Sonic Heroes....Sonic Heroes' had better graphics,and it was made 4 years before Shadow The Hedgehog!And I STILL do not get why people put down Sonic The Hedgehog 2006,I have played it,seen the cut-scenes,and all of that stuff!So it has a bad camera angle...well guess what?Just do what I did,learn to use the camera angle joy-stick.Sorry if this sounds like hate mail but I need to tell someone,I tried to post nearly the same thing on my blog but it didn't post and had nothing but a mess.~Miles

MilesPrower:
I love sonic games...I can't stand how I keep hearing from people about how the games aren't good,only because of a bad camera angle!And most of the time,people haven't even played the games,or watched the show or read the comic!And so what if SEGA has made Sonic do different games!They have to so that they will have backup and/or have something to test to see if it will make the Sonic games good!It is tiring hearing how Sonic games are c*** all the time,and how the few people in this world get made fun of because of it!So what if it is a game that doesn't have violence in it!At least your child isn't learning to kill people for the fun of it!Sonic is still what he was 18 years ago,fun and awesome.~Miles

Have you even played Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis? (mega-drive if you're a European) Sega kept adding worthless shit to the formula, and as a result ruined the franchise completely. You would have to be completely stupid to like any of the new sonic games (except for Sonic Rush obviously)

*although to be perfectly honest, i liked Sonic Unleashed. I just found it a bit tedious and repetitive except for all the Sonic bits.

 

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