Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Tale of Two Sonics

The original Sonic the Hedgehog sped onto the small screen 25 years ago today, June 23, firing what many consider the first major shot of the 16-bit Wars. Until the blue blur hit the scene, Sega had been only a small thorn in the mighty Nintendo’s side. Sonic put Sega on the map, and the Genesis in the hands of millions of gamers.

But as the 16-bit Wars gave way the PlasyStation era, Sonic started to lose his luster. The last great Sonic game was Sonic and Knuckles, released in 1994, and the last tolerable Sonic game was made in 2001. Sonic '06 came out 10 years ago, and became what many consider the final nail in the series' coffin. A shell of his former self due to the increasingly criminal decisions of his parent company, Sonic has spiraled into irrelevance in the last decade.

Why does this always happen to child stars? Were he real, Sonic would likely have joined the ranks of Macaulay Culkin and have his own E! Hollywood True Story by now.

But let's not concentrate on Sonic in whatever alleyway he has chosen to become intoxicated in today, let's remember his greatness of years past.

Ah, but wait – there HAVE been good Sonic games in the last decade. Danny, a friend of mine, pointed that out to me today.

“I feel like people are a bit too hard on Sonic,” he wrote. “No doubt there are some serious misfires, but Sonic Colors was really great and Sonic Generations is easily the best Sonic since Sonic and Knuckles.” He added that he enjoyed Lost Word, and “only Sonic Boom since Sonic Colors is worthy of scorn.”

Ok, Ok. So sometimes I say mean things about Sonic that aren’t entirely deserved. (See implications of alcoholism and homelessness, above.)  But that’s because no one takes Sonic seriously anymore, even with decent games like Generations. Sonic needs three or more hits in a row now, triple A titles, to make some kind of a real comeback. Maybe Sega should give him to Kojima, or just do something radically different and fun, like Resident Evil 4 did.

I haven't cared about Sonic since Dreamcast and I know I’m not the only one. It's going to take more than Lost World and some other meh games here and there to change that.

But are Generations and Colors those games? For some, yes.

So where do you stand, reader? Did Sonic’s career slow to a crawl, or is there still some star power in those red shoes of his?  

In any event, Happy Birthday Sonic!

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