To see how Sonic Generations is turning out really makes me feel good to be a Sonic fan. It seems that almost every week something new is revealed that raises my anticipation levels. Almost nothing about it looks disappointing in the least.
But if there's anything that Sonic is known for other than his speed, it's disappointment. Following the Dreamcast era, the main console Sonic games featured quite possibly one of the most crippling crashes and burns ever seen in terms of quality. This culminated in 2006 when quite possibly one of the worst games ever made came out titled simply "SONIC THE HEDGEHOG". It was released for the hedgehog's 15th anniversary and it was an insult not only to the fanbase, but to the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles. Nay, it was an insult to video games in general. Nay! It was an insult to the human race as a whole.
Needless to say, people weren't so quick to forgive and forget. Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 was followed up two years later by Sonic Unleashed. Was it a great game? No, not at all. It featured Sonic turning into a Werehog at night to go through beat-em-up levels that were mediocre at best and absolutely insipid at worst. The good thing, though, is that that was only half of the game. You spent the other twelve hours of the day blasting through levels faster than ever before, dodging obstacles and taking down enemies and the way it felt can only be described as absolute bliss. With Unleashed, Sonic became more than just a fast-paced platformer; it became a series based around simulating the feeling of running at the speed of sound, watching everything fly by. Sure, it still had the Werehog, but if only because of how thoroughly SEGA nailed it with the daytime levels, I would say it is a genuinely good game.
But even the fact that Sonic turns into a Werehog doesn't excuse crap like this:
No matter what you think about Sonic Unleashed, the way the reviewer here presents his opinions is simply unprofessional. He begins the review by saying "There's one thing you should know about Sonic Unleashed before spending your hard-earned money on it: It's a big piece of garbage. BIG piece of garbage." As bad of a way this is to start a review of anything, I could at least see where he's coming from if he disliked the daytime gameplay. Much as I love it, I'm gonna be honest: there ARE legitimate reasons for disliking it. But no, he, too enjoys the daytime gameplay. But apparently the Werehog sucks so much that it kills the whole thing. Why? I dunno, it's just bad. Oh, and it makes Big the Cat look like an endearing character. Because I would totally rather go fishing - for frogs - in a Sonic game rather than play a beat-em-up. And the hub worlds are boring. Why? Because they're boring. What's this nonsense about "explaining his opinion" that you speak of?
It doesn't stop there. IGN wrote an article for Sonic's 20th birthday and made a point to mention Sonic Unleashed, calling it "one of the hedgehog's lowest points - ever" and saying "This is the game in which Sonic turns into a stretchy-armed werewolf thing. What else is there to say?" Uhh, how about the daytime levels where Sonic WASN'T a werewolf?
But for as stupid as all this is, you know what? I get it. Sonic 2006 is probably one of the worst games ever made. Not so easy to forgive that. That doesn't excuse such bias, but I can at least understand where such bias comes from. They were mad. We all were. But it's time to forgive and forget. Even IGN praised Sonic 4: Episode I and Sonic Colors, and Sonic Generations is receiving massive amounts of hype for a reason. And yet no one outside of the fandom has forgiven Sonic. What's even dumber is what they blame the franchise's downfall on. These are the same gaming journalists we rely on all the time for news and reviews on the latest games. Such bias against Sonic has extended beyond gaming journalism: tell anyone on the Internet outside of the fandom that you like the series and you'll be accused of having no taste in video games or, at best, you'll have all the bullcrap criticisms of the gaming journalists regurgitated at you. These are people who have never played a Sonic game in their lives and they are repeating the exact same things the critics are saying. This is why I have compiled this list of four common criticisms toward the franchise from people who either don't know what they're talking about or who are blowing things out of proportion. Bear in mind this is only based on what journalists, crtics and non-fans say: you will see none of the memetic "herp derp GREEN EYES" or "RYAN DRUMMOND WAS THE BEST VOICE ACTOR FOR SONIC BRING HIM BACK" complaints from the...less evolved members of the fandom. So without further adieu...
4. The Sonic series sucks because they tried to put it in 3-D! SEGA should only make 2-D Sonic games, that will save the series!
We start with one of the complaints that is, in a way, the most grounded in reality, as it is true that Sonic's 3-D entries beyond the Dreamcast era are the most infamous games in the series. However, this complaint is still uninformed and quite frankly annoying to hear, and I don't only say that because I'm a fan of a few of Sonic's 3-D entries. Sonic Adventure came out in 1999 for the Dreamcast. It had flaws, but it received great reviews across the board by people who somehow enjoyed speeding through colorful, well-designed environments in the exciting new third dimension - in (at the time) stunning graphics. For whatever reason, this tends to baffle some of the game's detractors who either say that it's aged terribly or was never that good in the first place. I think I'll let GamesRadar talk for me here:
"But people still seem to think this is the blueprint for a good Sonic game. It is not an exceptional game. It was slightly above average and adored solely because it looked worlds better than its competition,"
- Top 7 Games That Don't Deserve Nostalgia
"And then, because Mario did it in Mario 64 and everyone liked that, Sega made the worst decision in its history - creating a Sonic game in 3D. The screenshots showed glorious forest and temple levels we couldn't wait to run around - but the game's camera was awful and you spent more time battling the controls than Eggman/Robotnik.
Fast things and 3D just don't work. Mario is fine in 3D as he's a slow fat man. Sonic, with his bouncing around and breakneck pace, just ends up dying and getting stuck on lumps of scenery. Even now, we wish with all our hearts that Sega would see sense and make a proper, big-budget, all-new Sonic game in 2D. Imagine that. If we all wish for it really hard, perhaps it will happen."
- The Ups and (Many) Downs of Sonic
You know, I could talk all day about how biased even the titles of the articles are, but I think I'll just talk about the content of them, particularly the second one. Now, much as I love Sonic Adventure, there are legitimate reasons to dislike it - a lot of them. The camera can be quite the annoyance, you have to go through four levels of fishing - for frogs - with a purple cat who appropriately has the intelligence level of Barney the Dinosaur, the voice acting and dialogue suck, and, while it's aged considerably better than, say, Final Fantasy VII, it's not exactly aged gracefully either. So, they do mention the camera, but according to them you also "spent more time battling the controls than Eggman/Robotnik". I'm sorry, are we talking about the crappy port for XBLA and PSN? No, we can't be, the date this article was posted on is September 18th of 2007, three years before the port came out. In the Dreamcast version of Sonic Adventure, Sonic's controls are only jerky during its fastest moments, and those moments are usually either scripted or taking place in confined areas that don't allow death from poor control. If you're playing the game on XBLA or PSN, the controls are floaty to the point of being nigh-on unplayable. I can't speak for the GameCube version, but in the Dreamcast version, this is far from the case. (Also, if fast things in 3-D don't work, I guess that every 3-D racing game ever made has completely sucked, right? I love flawed logic.)
And then we have this sort-of preview of the 3DS version of Sonic Generations:
"On consoles, half of Sonic Generations is going to take place racing through 2D classic levels (which look fantastic), and half of the game will take place in 3D in behind-the-back chase sequences (which look on-par with the series’ typical behind-the-back chase sequences). We’re going to say what everyone is thinking: why don’t they just cut out those generally lackluster 3D levels entirely? Lucky for 3DS owners, the handheld version is going to do just that.
Yeah, all those 3-D Sonic games look really lackluster. Totally don't look fun at all.
Oh, and by the way, this is the 3DS version of Sonic Generations. Tell me if it looks as much fun as the HD version:
Nope, didn't think so.
3. There have been no good Sonic games since the Genesis/Dreamcast days!
Remember this guy?
It was pretty much everything you loved about the Genesis games on Nintendo's handheld, and it's arguably more worthy of the title "Sonic the Hedgehog 4" than the game that officially received it. It also had two younger brothers, and while they weren't quite as good (Advance 2 especially), they were still pretty decent games. And now I raise you the Rush series on Nintendo's later handheld:
What Unleashed's daytime levels did for Sonic in 3-D, Rush had already done for Sonic in 2-D. It allowed you to tear up every stage at mach speed in rollercoaster-like levels, and both games were a crapload of fun if a bit easy, boss battles aside. Oh, and need I even mention that all of these games came out even before Sonic 4: Episode I and Colors? I understand that this is probably the most opinionated item on this list, but all five - five - of these games received very positive reviews from critics as well. Sure, they were all handheld titles, but does that somehow make it so that they don't matter?
2. The Sonic series sucked ever since the introduced characters other than Sonic and Eggman!
We're back to IGN again, here:
"When were Sonic games awesome? When it was just Sonic the Hedgehog on Genesis. As soon as Tails, Knuckles, and the slew of other weird, furry folks showed up, things started getting iffy with this franchise. SEGA needs to pull a Mega Man and get back to basics -- dump the dead weight, and give us a 16-bit sidescroller when we tear through a level on a quest to stop Robotnik and get wings. We don't want 3D, we don't want guns, and we don't want werehog. You can either put all the arbitrary characters into a bus and have Robotnik blow it up or just never mention them again. Either way, we'd be happy and the franchise would be saved."
- Videogame Characters That Should Die
I'm sorry, but weren't Tails and Knuckles introduced in Sonic 2 and 3 (respectively)?Which are universally considered by fans and critics alike to be some of the best games in the series?
Now, I'll admit that the series has gone quite a bit overboard with the characters. We have a purple ninja chameleon, a money-grubbing crocodile, a hyperactive bee, a moronic purple cat, a six-year-old rabbit whose voice sounds like a man imitating a six-year-old rabbit, a telekinetic silver hedgehog who comes from a post-apocalyptic future that was destroyed by some stupid-looking Final Fantasy reject so he has to travel back in time to destroy Sonic because he's apparently the "IBLIS TRIGERRRRRR", and...yeah, we don't really need those guys, and a lot of us don't even like them. I can understand how the overabundance of often annoying characters can get tiring to some people. But to actually blame the series' downfall on their presence is pure ignorance. It's not the characters that made the games bad, nor is it the fact that the series went into 3-D. It was poor gameplay and design decisions that ruined everything, and it's stupid that anyone would blame anything else.
1. No one likes the new Sonic games, so the series should just die!
Okay, there are two reasons why this is incredibly dumb.
For one thing, to companies such as SEGA, video games are a business. Even during his dark ages, Sonic games were selling like hotcakes, as they say. To pull the plug simply because of a decline in critical acclaim would be a ridiculous idea that would cost SEGA a lot of money, and your blind bitterness and hatred isn't going to make them do it any faster. Any thinking human being could tell you this.
For another, does anyone remember this game?
If you ever owned a Nintendo 64, you probably do. It was an amazing rail shooter with tons of replay value, graphics that were stunning (...at the time), and it came with a then-revolutionary rumble pak that actually allowed you to feel the action in your hands! It actually holds up well today...which is why they should have added a LOT more when remaking it for 3DS. But that's something I've already ranted about before. So what does this have to do with Sonic, you may be thinking. Well, I'm getting to that. Anyway, Star Fox 64 was followed up by this game here:
It was initially developed as an original IP by Rareware, famous for making the Donkey Kong Country series for SNES, the Banjo-Kazooie games and Conker's Bad Fur Day for N64, and numerous crappy shovelware games for the Kinect, and it would have been named Dinosaur Planet after the area where most of the game takes place. But Nintendo, realizing that people probably wanted a Star Fox game for the new GameCube console, looked at this game, said "Forget it," handed Rare a big wad of cash, and said "Put Star Fox in this game. Trust us, people will love it." Rare then said "Durr, okay!" and boom, Star Fox Adventures. Needless to say, there are mixed opinions on this game. Some hate it because it's not a real Star Fox game and some appreciate it for what it is, as it is a genuinely good adventure game if you can look past the moronic decisions surrounding it. I probably don't need to say that I'm part of the latter group, and I really think that Adventures wouldn't catch as much flack as it does if it were the only oddball in an otherwise consistent franchise. Unfortunately, it would exemplify the problem that would partially lead to the downfall of the series.
So, now I'm going to ask you if you remember either of these games:
Because they sucked.
To Assault's credit, it did feature rail shooting levels in the Arwing reminiscent of 64, and they were the best of what the game had to offer, but even they were slow-paced and dull compared to the levels of 64 and they took a back seat to ground combat levels that dropped you in an area, said "here's a gun, hunt down X amount of targets", were unrefined and controlled poorly, and just weren't much fun. And even the most diehard of Star Fox fans won't defend Command, which is pretty much what happens when you take the words "bland", "boring", and "frustrating" and give them physical form as a real-time-strategy game - yes, a real-time-strategy game - for DS. Star Fox didn't just go downhill; it losts its identity. Not even Sonic did that. And although Star Fox has fewer games, that just makes the fact that it has a smaller ratio of good games to bad ones that much more inexcusable. If you don't count Adventures, there are only two: 64 and the original Star Fox, and the original has aged so poorly it's almost laughable. I mean, look at this:
Does it look like anything you would see yourself playing now? Compare to Sonic's Genesis titles, which are absolutely fantastic even today.
So, if people are saying that Sonic should die...why does everyone want a new Star Fox game? Is it because we know Nintendo can do better? But if that's the case, then why can't SEGA do better as well? (Not that they haven't done better. I mean, really, Sonic Colors.) Is it because most of us only think of Star Fox 64 when we think of that series? Then why do we think of Sonic 06 when we think of Sonic rather than the Genesis and Dreamcast games? And Sonic Colors?
I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a new Star Fox game. No, not at all. In fact, if it were good, I'd love it just as much as you would. But let's not be hypocrites here: if Sonic is to die because of a decline in quality, so should every other series that ever saw such a decline. Even if it's made by Nintendo.
Edited by T-Man, 25 September 2011 - 06:32 AM.