Recently I played through Sonic 1 and 2 on both the Master System and Mega Drive, I also recently completed Sonic Adventure. In amongst a slew of other Sonic games I’ve played through (Some not completing yet!) in recent years and in my lifetime I felt compelled to write about Sonic from my own perspective.
I say from my own perspective because you often hear the perspective of people criticizing Sega for a number of it’s 3D titles, however with the exception of Sonic (2006) and I haven’t played Sonic Boom. I actually think the others a decent 3D platformers. But I’m mostly here to talk about Sonic as a whole and what the mascot means to someone who wouldn’t necessarily call himself a ‘super fan’, in fact I wouldn’t call myself a ‘super fan’ of anything. But I really really appreciate the Sonic series as a series that evolved as I evolved, and grew up. A lot of people feel this way for the Mario franchise. I also have many Mario memories however missed years and years of it after the NES era, but Sonic stayed with me (Mostly because Sega released Sonic games on PC and I was a poor child so only had money for a PC for study and gaming!).
However I did have (and still do have) a Master System and I played Sonic 1 and 2 numerous times on it. I wasn’t that good, but I loved it, I had numerous other games to play on the console, yet I always felt compelled to play Sonic. I didn’t know Sonic was Sega’s mascot at the time, nor did I know Sonic for the Master System wasn’t the first Sonic game (For years I didn’t know this!), but I knew I wanted to keep playing it because it was fun and had a catchy and memorable 8-bit soundtrack.
I actually didn’t play the Sega Mega Drive Sonic’s for a number of years. In fact I’m pretty sure I didn’t play it until I got the Sonic PC Collection which I’ve since sold. However in retrospect it was an incredible collection that rivals any and all Sonic game collections till this day (in fact whilst writing this, I bought it again because I decided it simply needed to be owned). But my Dad got a few second hand Sega Mega Drive’s which I played Sonic 1 and 2 on and well for me it wasn’t the same because it was around mid 2000’s and although it was awesome, I was and still am more nostalgic for the Master System Sonic’s.
However between my time playing Sonic for Master System and Sonic for Mega Drive. The kind folks at Sega released Sonic 3 and Knuckles for Windows in 1997, and I played it more often than anything. It was released as the Sonic and Knuckles collection and although I no longer own it, it is hands down the most memorable Sonic game of my childhood. Having not played Sonic 3 nor Sonic and Knuckles for the Mega Drive I often just played start to finish through both titles which this collection lets you do, as if it was one game. Playing as Sonic or Knuckles or Tails, so I could go through the areas that only each character can go and see the differences etc. To this day it may be my favorite and possibly the best Sonic title in my opinion in terms of game play, content and replayability.
At this point I got into the games on the Sonic PC collection where I played Sonic Adventure, Sonic Heroes and Sonic Riders for the first time and then I bought numerous Sonic games on Steam and Sonic Colours for Wii (When I bought a Wii… in 2012 of all years). Sonic Generations being a stand out favorite of mine out of the more recent Sonic games. Lost World was okay, I liked it better than most, definitely better than Sonic Forces which I own on the Switch.
More recently I got into console collecting and for the first time had the opportunity to play Sonic (2006) and Sonic Unleashed, games I’ve always wanted to play but couldn’t afford to buy a console to play at the time. Sonic (2006) is okay just really buggy, Sonic Unleashed seems perfectly fine to me, but I completely understand the Werehog being a problem for many people. I think maybe if Sega supported some of it’s buggier games with patches and updates etc. Maybe it would solve alot of problems in terms of public opinion.
…and I know many would say that Sonic’s venture into the 3D world was a disaster and they maybe shouldn’t have done it, or that they just can’t make a good Sonic game anymore. I really enjoy most Sonic 3D platformers, Sonic Colours was great as was Sonic Generations. Some obviously aren’t as good, but Sonic does have business being in the 3D world. Sonic Adventure I played through recently is a very solid 3D Sonic game and the first 3D Sonic that was made (I am excluding Sonic 3D flickies island for Mega Drive and Sega Saturn… and Sonic Jam and Sonic X-treme if you want to get technical). However if you then consider the masterpiece that is Sonic Mania, then there’s no debate. You can’t debate on a game that feels exactly like very next game in the Sonic series after Sonic & Knuckles with no tangible reason to feel any different aside from the fact it was released 23 years later and between such times many many MANY Sonic games existed of varying degrees from slightly worse to significantly worse.
I think the problem is that Sonic games have their roots as very fast paced side-scrolling platformers and Sega has struggled to address this since departing from the formula after Sonic Rush Adventure on the Nintendo DS and attempting to address the formula from Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I onwards through numerous games, and kinda missing the point. The point being, for many, they want 16-bit graphics. Personally I don’t know if that matters to me, but I just want Sonic to move with the same physics as in the original Sonic games. However this never really happened and they introduced gimmicks and additional things to do and hub worlds and racing type things, and different characters and various 3D elements, when people just wanted Sonic running through a platforming level at high speed jumping on enemies and defeating Robotnik. For many that’s a 16-bit side scrolling platformer which they delivered with Sonic Mania and hopefully Sega got the picture with its success. However for me I just want fast paced gameplay where the key to success is knowing when to jump when to speed up what enemies to jump on to maintain such speed through the level and how to defeat Robotnik without dying. Not how do I adapt my knowledge of Sonic games to this new Sonic game with different physics and a buggy 2D/3D environment.
Now like I say I don’t care if Sonic games are 3D and I don’t care if 2D Sonic games are in modern graphics or 16-bit (I know many do). I just want a solid game that plays like a 16-bit Sonic game, and if the only way to do this is with 16-bit graphics and collaborating with a Christian Whitehead amongst others, then I want this forever. If not I will always find comfort replaying old Sonic games and 3D Sonic games which I enjoy, Sonic games do have plenty of replayability for me and sometimes it’s nice to just relax and run through a few levels jumping on enemies and defeating bosses, like I’ve been doing the past 27 years of my life.
Featured Image and Post Images: All taken by the Author of Gaming Detour except for Sonic and Knuckles Collection which is provided from this source the image is copyrighted however is being used solely to illustrate the object in question which qualifies as fair use.