Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It's that Sonic time of year ago.

It's that time again, everyone. Sega's started dropping hints about a new Sonic game, and so, the yearly cycle commences once more.

Not This Cycle

A cycle in which more cynical minds in our community descend en mass to proclaim how this game will just be another disappointment. Upon its release many will then proclaim that, "It's kind of decent," before a year passes and they state that there has never been one "good" Sonic game with only a vague understanding of what they mean by good.

In Sonic Generations' case, replace decent with "9/10, the cycle is broken —Game Trailers" before people returned to returning to that old incoherent cycle once more. And there were some youtubers who thought they took courses in Sonic 101 who said that Sonic Generations was actually not very good at all and Sonic still has never been good.
Because no one can pontificate what a "good" Sonic game actually is.
 Because it's actually quite impossible for Sega to recapture that magic they created in the Genesis days and even those games weren't perfect. Most certainly only two (three if you don't count Sonic 3 & Knuckles as two halves) of those games have aged particularly well. Because for every Sonic 3 & Knuckles, there were overrated gems like Sonic CD and Sonic Spinball, whose novelty relies in a time travel gimmick in the former's perspective and  nostalgia in the latter. It was an interesting experiment, and I do appreciate that, but I still view it as overrated.

If you stack the top original Genesis games next to the modern games, their superiority is obvious. Only problem is, any beloved retro video game franchise is better then the modern Sonic titles. No one says Sonic Generations is better then The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. No one would even imply that Mario Galaxy 2 is nothing to the perfection that is Sonic Colors.

Of course, my argument is based under the assumption that, what many value as a good Sonic game in the wider fandom is any game rated among or better than the original Sonic games on the Genesis. Back then, the release of a new Sonic game was something people looked forward to. At one time, Sonic was bigger then Mickey Mouse.
He was a Macy's Parade balloon. The first video game character too. First and last, unfortunately.

No  one is looking for a decent or even pretty good Sonic game. Hell, I doubt they will be satisfied with an excellent one. They want a Sonic game that's perfect in every aspect, and they want that opinion echoed from every major gaming website.

Even Sonic Generations isn't good enough.

I've come to the conclusion that an announcement for a new Sonic game doesn't matter at all anymore. And I suppose that goes double when the worst Sonic game in years was the last game released. Keep in mind wasn't developed by the original creators, but no one gives a shit about that. They don't think Sonic was ever good.

The only comfort my cynical mind has is that this new game will be developed by Sonic Team themselves, it's been about three years since their last game and  that can only mean, it could be either a decent or great title. After all, the worst Sonic games were always rushed. A fully cooked Sonic game would always be at least decent, which some find really terrible for some reason.

Decent means a company has no other place to go but up, provided they can stop reinventing the wheel and stick to refining the formula. And I'm pretty sure using the same engine for four games counts, right?

I sometimes wonder, what if in some alternate universe, the Genesis formula was the only formula. What if Sonic 06 played like the Genesis games, but nothing was changed. The  gameplay stayed exactly the same, but the story telling, redesigns, addition of characters, all of the elements of modern Sonic were still there. Would that make them better games?

I'm reminded of a franchise that did that exact thing: Megaman. From the first game all the way to ZX, do you think those games stayed consistently good in public opinion? If that franchise was beloved as it was in it's heyday, we would have seen a third game to turn ZX into a trilogy instead of new sequels to the original Megaman. Keep in mind all these games take place in the same canon.

If you went by mainstream opinion, Megaman and X were all there ever was. Personally, I loved both the Zero and ZX series of games and I'd love to see these franchises return. Unfortunately, we can't always have nice things.

So even if Sonic never changed, we'd still be in the same predicament; just look at Sonic The Hedgehog 4. Sure, the physics for the first episode were heavily criticized, but even after they were fixed in the second episode, that did not make that game better or even remotely close to the quality of the Genesis trilogy. It was more of the same, but that was one of the major issues people had with those games. 

Otherwise, it plays great, but it's boring and dull; fans were expecting more. You can't even make Sonic good by stripping away the story bloat and secondary characters. 

So maybe it's possible, that Sonic was never that good, but was simply good enough. Which is better then decent and probably not perfect. That childhood magic we had back in the '90s can't be recreated. 

So, can we at least get a Sonic game as good as Generations, or is that not good enough? 


Appendum: So, Sonic Boom exists and it's very likely it will continue to exist in the future. Sega has stated that Classic (Legacy?) Sonic will still exist. It's best to think of Boom as the Battle Network of the Sonic Franchise—a spin-off with it's own ideas and, apparently, developers.

While we will probably see a new game where Sonic isn't wearing a scarf and covered in sport's tape, one would have to learn to live with his lanky alternate universe step-brother.

Personally, I really hope this game drops and people can shut up about assuming Boom!Sonic is some reboot and we can treat it exactly what it is. An offshoot of the modern franchise. I just hope they fix the tone issues to better differentiate both franchises.

1 comment: