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Sonic The Hedgehog Retrospective

https://www.gamesradar.com/sega-reveals-two-new-sonic-mania-projects-at-sxsw-one-game-and-one-animated-series/

https://www.gamesradar.com/sega-reveals-two-new-sonic-mania-projects-at-sxsw-one-game-and-one-animated-series/

Ben Valentine, Writer/Polls

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         It’s 1991. The Genesis and it’s blast processing is on the minds of millions of kids. Where Nintendo has Mario, Sega has Sonic the Hedgehog, the epitome of cool in the ‘90s. Sonic the Hedgehog represented the thrill-seeking free-spirit of the late 20th century, and that resonated more with kids than a fat Italian plumber. This remained true, at least, it did for a while. While Nintendo pumped out quality Mario games like clockwork, Sonic’s treatment didn’t seem to resonate as well. Nintendo seemed to nail every new quirk and powerup that Mario was given, while Sega more often than not had trouble finding their footing. This chronicles some high and low points during the gradual decline of the blue blur and really aims to explain why some people love the series, despite its numerous flaws.

         The golden age of the hedgehog, for many people, seems to encompass the early years of Sonic games. This age included the main trilogy, Sonic 1, 2 and 3, and the Genesis titles made around the same time, like Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic CD. These games were quality, and near-perfect in the eyes of the wider audience. For Genesis owners, Sonic games were almost always a must have. They weren’t niche, and were, at one point, just as mainstream as Mario. However, as the decade went on, consoles grew up–and so did Sonic. As many other franchises made their successful jump to the 3rd dimension, Sega did the obvious thing and created a new Sonic game for their recently released Sega Dreamcast. While Mario and Zelda thrived in 3D, the blue blur struggled. With his breakneck pace, tricky platforming and slippery controls, the road to the third dimension was not a smooth one. For many longtime fans, this is where the downfall began. Enter the Dreamcast era.

         While Sonic’s early years on the z-axis are often referred to as the Dreamcast era due to their similar play-styles, the fact remains that most of these entries came out long after the Dreamcast’s demise. Starting with Sonic Adventure in 1998, this game, while scoring quite high and being solid for what it is, still polarised many long-time fans. With this new dimension, the blue hedgehog was given a more lanky and streamlined design, in order to fill the demand for a cool mascot. Due to the sudden variable of the z-axis, Sonic’s breakneck playstyle had to be changed in order to fill a massive 3D game. In order to compensate for his speed, the game introduced multiple play-styles unique to multiple characters in order to compensate. This style of game continued up until the release of the once again polarising Sonic Heroes. While controlling similarly to its predecessors, Sonic Heroes had the player take control of a team of three characters, all at the same time. This, to many, was the beginning of the massive quality dip that led to the disaster of 2006. For his 15th anniversary, developers rushed out a broken, unfinished game that shocked the fanbase. This game was Sonic the Hedgehog, or Sonic 06. The game nearly tarnished the entire reputation of the series, and Sega had a huge hole to dig themselves out of with the next game. They had to reinvent the hedgehog, and fast.

         This is where our current era begins. The boost formula, first shown prominently in Sonic Unleashed, was the seeming answer to the hedgehogs rocky transition into 3D. Now focusing more on speed and high-stakes action than platforming, the series finally found a nice place to settle. While many still hope for a new title in the vein of Sonic Adventure, Sega seems content to play it safe and not repeat the monumental disaster of 06. The future of the series is unknown, however, with the newly released Sonic Mania catering to the wishes of fans after many long years, it looks like the hedgehog is looking up.  

About the Writer
Ben Valentine, Writer/Polls

I like to be creative, but I'm also lazy so that doesn't happen a lot. I have a lot of neat ideas but will never implement them.

1 Comment

One Response to “Sonic The Hedgehog Retrospective”

  1. Daniel Anderson on November 5th, 2018 2:58 pm

    it seems that all good 90’s games have a rocky transition fro 2D to 3D, such examples include, DOOM, Mortal Kombat, and Wolfenstien. All brutal yet fun games today.

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Sonic The Hedgehog Retrospective