Since many fans have been waiting for a fantastic Sonic game, I've examined the series and came up with the formula for the perfect Sonic the Hedgehog title, or at least one that would have very positive reviews. In the hopes of eventually joining the Sonic Team, I decided to devote my time to analyzing the series, and this is what I believe makes the series stick out.
1. Gameplay is more important than the story.
In the Sega Genesis titles, you played one stage, then you moved on to the next. There really weren't any cutscenes, and if there were, they were like maybe seven seconds in length. Ever since Sonic Adventure, Sonic games have tried to really push the story. This is especially true in the cases of Sonic Unleashed and Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. However, since Sonic is a video game franchise, gameplay is more important to the franchise than story. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be a story, but if there should, don't flesh it out with too much detail. Take the case of Super Mario Galaxy in the Mario franchise. It keeps the tone of Mario games with the gameplay, and the story is something you'd expect from a Mario game while giving it a twist. However, since gameplay is more important to the Mario franchise, the story is short and sweet, while the game itself is a blast. Sonic games should also do the same.
2. Gameplay shouldn't be based off of perfection.
Ever since the ranking system was introduced in Sonic Adventure 2, it would judge the player's performance based off of score, rings, and time. However, there are some cases where it's so specific that even the tiniest mistake can cause you to go down to possibly a C-Rank. On the other hand, take a look at the older Sega Genesis classic titles, where you'd get points for destroying enemies, completing the stage in a certain amount of time, and finishing with a certain amount of rings. However, you weren't judged based off of your performance. You were simply given the points. Points would eventually reward you with extra lives. Granted, this is still kept in Sonic Adventure, but that game really didn't focus on gameplay as much as it should have, so score seems relatively small. The gameplay in general shouldn't be too difficult, but shouldn't be extremely easy, either.
3. Sonic should stick with the Modern-most abilities.
Sonic Adventure was a building-block for Sonic's gameplay, and it took a drastic step in the right direction with Sonic Unleashed. However, I'd say that the gameplay in Sonic Unleashed (at least the daytime sections) is a prototype of what it should be. Sonic Generations basically nailed it. I loved how Sonic controlled in that game, and if all of his games were to play like this in the future, I'd have no problem with that. It's definitely a step in the right direction, and adds more challenge than the Adventure titles do. However, there are some things that should be removed from the Modern gameplay. First, levels shouldn't be split into platforming sections and drifting corridor sections. In the original Sega Genesis titles, speed level designs and platforming level designs were balanced evenly, which gave a great flow. Modern titles should also do this. Second, there shouldn't be any quick-time events. I can't tell you how many times that I've fell into a bottomless pit just because I didn't press a button in time. Seriously, it's stuff like this that turns me off to the Modern-style gameplay. I love how in Generations, you can do combos to gain boost ability, which is a step up. Third, no more Red Ring hunting.
4. Sonic should be the main focus in the gameplay, and any other characters should be either in the story or available elsewhere.
You're playing as Sonic, and you're running really fast, you're dashing off of dash panels, you're side-stepping, trying to get to the end of the stage as fast as you possibly can, and you feel a rush. Since this is the main gameplay mechanic, wouldn't playing as anyone else be a downgrade? Sure, you can play as Tails, but he can't run as fast as Sonic, nor are his reflexes as good. Knuckles can climb and glide, but that'll break the game in certain aspects. Flying in a Sonic game takes away the platforming, and staying on the ground allows you to platform. Since you're already on the ground with Sonic, that means that there wouldn't be any use to play as another character without downgrading.
MINOR TWEAKS THAT WOULD IMPROVE THE EXPERIENCE
1. Since Sonic is known to be able to stay underwater a short period of time before needing air, it doesn't make sense for him to lose a life upon touching it or running out of boost. If he does go under the water, there should be a way back out, or there should be underwater areas to explore.
2. Bottomless pits shouldn't be a threat. I can't tell you how many times I've lost a life just because Sonic air-boosted too hard and went flying into a bottomless pit that wasn't even on course. Also, this would be a good reason for Sonic stages NOT to take place so high up in the air, which Sonic Heroes did a lot.
3. It's not that 2D sections aren't fun, but when you're playing as Sonic with all of his abilities, it would be fun to run around freely in an open space. When the game switches to a 2D perspective, he loses the ability to move freely, and ends up moving along a flat plane.
4. When you lose a life, you shouldn't lose all of your points. You should just simply go back to the latest activated checkpoint with the amount of points and time you had when crossing it. That's what lives are for, to continue when you mess up. I've always raged when I'm very close to the end to get a rank, then I lose a life and lose all of my points. Luckily, the Sega Genesis titles didn't do this unless you got a Game Over, and I believe that this is a good feature.
THOSE ARE MY IDEAS.