Throughout gaming history, there have been many iconic video game figures. Today, I want to talk about the one who has influenced me the most, and the one with arguably the most turbulent history: Sonic the Hedgehog. For those that do not know who Sonic the Hedgehog is, he has been one of the longest running video game characters in history. Being the mascot for Sega, sonic has been in a multitude of first party and third party games. Sonic games have evolved over the years, for better and for worse. In today’s talk, we are going to explore several games that made sonic a house hold name, and games that nearly destroyed the character. Starting from its roots, Sonic the Hedgehog first made his gaming appearance in the self titled game in 1991 for the Sega Genesis and the Sega Mega Drive. Taking a very similar formula to Super Mario, but adding an emphasis on speed and types of levels, the game quickly grew extremely popular. The game play was simple: get from one side of the level to the other as fast as you can and collecting as many rings as you can. This type of simple game play, coupled with an amazing and memorable soundtrack, became a huge hit. From then on, Sonic games were being released consistently, still using the same formula as the original, always touching up on graphical details and adding some new twists such as the use of other characters like Tails the Fox and Knuckles the Echidna. These games rose Sonic to a status that rivaled that of Super Mario.
In 1996, Nintendo revolutionized the world of Mario with their new console, the Nintendo 64 and their new Mario game Super Mario 64, which put the plumber in a 3D open world to explore. In 1998, Sega responded to this when they released the Sega Dreamcast. The Dreamcast was the last system to be released by Sega. One of its launch games was none other than Sonic Adventure. To me, Sonic Adventure and its sequel, Sonic Adventure 2, were some of the best Sonic Games to date. These two games put Sonic and all the characters of the Sonic world in 3D levels, making these games more extravagant than they have ever been. From all the mini games, to the different types of game plays between characters, these games seem to be the last greatly welcomed Sonic games.
After the decline of the Sega Dreamcast in 2001, mostly due to the release of the PS2, Sega and Sonic almost disappeared from the gaming world. After the Dreamcast, Sega no longer competed in the console race. As for Sonic, the icons decline came swiftly and relentlessly. To start it off, one of the games that really murdered the Sonic scene, I would have to say, was Shadow the Hedgehog. The edgy anti hero introduced in Sonic Adventure 2 was given his own game in 2005. This game quite possibly, single handedly ruined the future of the Sonic series. With a confusing and lacking storyline, terrible games, addition of cars and guns to a character that clearly did not need it, this game was a disaster. Sometimes I wonder who game the direction for this game.
Some life was brought back into Sonic games with the releases of Sonic Rush for the DS in 2005, going back to the original Sonic roots but with much nicer graphics. This was all short lived when the infamous Sonic the Hedgehog game was released in 2006. This game really sealed Sonic’s fate. His first release into the current generation at the time. Sonic the Hedgehog was released on PS3 and XBOX360. The game was designed to be very similar to how Sonic Adventure played. Of course I was extremely excited and optimistic about this, until I played the game. Riddled with a crazy amount of bugs, bad game engine and physics, ludicrous loading times for what seemed to be no reason. This game seemed extremely rushed and poorly designed. In this game, you are given the chance to play as Sonic, Shadow, and a new hedgehog name Silver. The games graphics were about the only positive thing worth noting about it. It looked great. Everything faltered extremely hard. From glitchy levels, to some very boring, empty, and uninspiring level designs, the game was a huge let down. This game was truly, truly horrendous and makes me wonder what they were thinking releasing this game in such a craptacular state. Really grinds my gears. The memory of this game still haunts the series today, and wrecked the Sonic team’s credibility. Since the game, Sonic has had a slew of terrible games on multiple platforms such as Sonic and the Black Knight and Sonic and the Secret Rings. Of course, there have been some Sonic games that have shined through, such as Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. These two games gave a new fresh take on the Sonic games, but even they have not been able to truly redeem Sonic.
There is a new Sonic series in the works called Sonic Boom. This new series and games have reimaged Sonic and his crew. Only time will tell whether this new direction for Sonic will seem him rise to glory once again. Sonic Boom is creating his own storyline which has nothing to do with all the Sonic games of the past, creating a new canon for Sonic.
Once can only hope for the best!