Sonic the Hedgehog: What went wrong?
Sonic the Hedgehog is remarkable. It’s a hard thing to deny if you’ve played the original games from the early 90s. Simply put, I love Sonic the Hedgehog as much as a man can love an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog without it bordering on bestiality.
I have spent countless hours playing and debating every major Sonic game released (and a lot of the obscure ones too) over the past 16 years. The only thing I can draw is Sonic. The very first thing I did on the internet was look at Sonic stuff. In fact, on my death bed you will see a black, 3 buttoned game pad clutched in my hand and a look of content on my face.
So with that wealth of information about my past, I think I can properly convey to you, the reader, how sincere and knowledgeable I am about this statement: Sonic the Hedgehog games of late have sucked. Hard.
Back in 1991 when the original Sonic the Hedgehog was first released on the Sega Mega Drive (or Sega Genesis if you lived in the United States), the game rocked the world, and established Sega as a major competitor to Nintendo and their SNES.
The concept was simple – run fast, get rings, and roll into bad guys.
Consequently, the sequels didn’t add much to this formula. Sonic 2 added the Spin dash move and the ability to transform into Super Sonic. Sonic 3 & Knuckles introduced a few types of shields to the mix. Sonic CD had Sonic moving backwards and forwards in time every now and then.
But the main formula stayed the same. Go fast. Have fun. And it accomplished this with the greatest of ease. Everyone loved Sonic, everyone loved to play Sonic.
And although the Mega Drive still lost out in the end, people still enjoyed it, primarily because of Sonic. It was shortly after this overnight success that things started going sour for Sega, with the Sega CD and 32X add-ons to the console not being very successful.
The only notable games on each were Sonic games (Sonic CD and Knuckles Chaotix respectively), but despite such great games, and even with Sonic CD having been voted the best Sonic game ever, they ultimately failed.
This is where the seeds responsible for the decline of Sonic were sown. After Sonic and Knuckles was released, completing Sonic 3, no new ‘real’ Sonic game was made until 1999. This is when Sonic Adventure was released on the ill-fated Dreamcast, skipping out on a whole generation.
Although praised at the time, looking back at the game now, the glitches and flaws are very apparent. While they were originally glossed over by the initial amazement over the title, said awe has had time to pass.
To put this into perspective – Super Mario 64, when it came out, revolutionized the platformer genre. The game was fantastic, and without it, 3D platformers may not be the same today. If you went back to it now, you’d be hard pressed to start noticing flaws and bugs, and certainly none of the enormity that plagued Sonic Adventure.
Despite these apparent issues, the game was still fun. The introduction of the homing attack was genius, keeping the flow of the game fast. And the sequel was decent as well, even if the introduction of Shadow did seem a bit ‘moving with the times’.
I am teh anti-hero
However, after the failings of the Saturn, the public eye wasn’t so easy on the Dreamcast, and it was dropped by Sega halfway through the previous generation as the media’s attention shifted to the all-dominating PlayStation 2. Which is a shame, as the console had many other fantastic titles other then Sonic, notably Crazy Taxi, Shenmue, Chu Chu Rocket and Power Stone.
After this happened, Sonic games eventually went multi-platform… and downhill as fast as the titular super-sonic hedgehog can run.
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