Sunday, 3 July 2011

What would you do if you were Team Sonic? - Ben Winterton

So, let’s be honest; Sonic has become a complete joke. I’ve never been particularly big on Sonic games, as for me the concept of combining high speed gameplay with precision platforming seems destined to fail. However, there are still legions of gamers who bore me with tales from the glory days of Sonic, before he started contracting lycanthropy and fighting Monty Python characters 
Sonic and the Black Knight
I'm not saying the Black Knight isn't a decent villain, but I bet he doesn't have a Death Egg.
You see, my rule of thumb with most things in life is that they are probably flogging a dead horse when their genuine ideas are worse than my joke ones. To be honest, I think “Sonic Adventure” was pretty stupid (Taking a game franchise built around the appeal of one character and only putting him in a small fraction of the game? Brilliant. Maybe Team Sonic should start making “Devil May Cry” games), and that’s considered to be one of the better ones. I mean, seriously, who thought a game based around the Olympics was in dire need of a dated 90’s hedgehog?

On reflection, I think we can therefore all agree that things aren’t going well for Sonic. The best game he’s been in of the last 5 years was “Super Smash Bros Brawl”, and even then he wasn’t the star of the show. You know things are bad when you get overshadowed by obscure Kirby villains. So, the question is; what should Team Sonic do?

Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Seriously, The Sandbag has more of a fan base in this game than Sonic does.
Your first thought is to stop making Sonic games once and for all. Will this stop bad Sonic games (tautology?) being made? No. It just means an even crapper developer will buy the rights and give us “Sonic: Turbo Alpha”, “Tails vs Rapelay” and “The Clone Wars, featuring Sonic”. No. Just no. [

A lot of people would suggest a return to Sonic’s roots, which is something Team Sonic seem to be tending towards of late. Personally, I think this is both cynical and naive, a combination of traits I had previously thought impossible to simultaneously possess; cynical, as such a manoeuvre is a blatant attempt to make a cookie-cutter game that will please fans, and naive, because the idea of re-running former glories is destined to fail, if only due to the law of diminishing returns.

Sonic Generations
Although we're promised a return to the classic style Sonic, are we really that bothered?
You see, despite all the jibes, I genuinely admire Team Sonic for repeatedly trying to take Sonic in a new direction. Granted, the ideas they go with seem to be the product of the managing director deliberately asking designers to come up with the worst ideas possible and then surprising them by shouting “That’s the one!”, but it’s still a step in the right direction. I think Sonic should really push that intense, flow-inducing experience, and create a game that breeds a demanding, high-concentration, but eventually rewarding, gaming experience. Sort of like “Bejeweled Blitz”, but maybe with more platforming.

Ultimately, yes, Sonic has gone in some stupid directions. But it has experimented way more than reliable franchises such as Zelda, and in that regard, if in no other, I think that is a victory for Sonic.