Sonic Kaboom

Sonic. Back in 1991, this guy was on duvet covers, backpacks, lunchboxes and t-shirts across the world... kids wore the brand while parents swore at the TV!

Sonic the Hedgehog: arguably one of the most recognisable game characters ever. I grew up playing his Megadrive/Genesis games, and absolutely loved them.  No corny stories, no locate all of the [fill in the blank] missions, just get from point A to B then beat a boss.  The Sonic formula was a winner - in fact, it was obviously good since SEGA managed to make four games (Sonic 1, 2, 3 and Sonic & Knuckles) in succession without having to change much.  When the original Sonic games started to get stale and SEGA released their final console, the SEGA Dreamcast, Sonic returned in the Sonic Adventure games, which not only brought more characters to the Sonic Universe, but expanded on the gameplay, bringing Sonic into the 3D realm of gaming rather excellently.

Nowadays a Sonic game consists of one main characteristic: an overused gimmick.  Gimmicks aren’t necessarily a bad thing, they just have to be done right and not overdone. Some of these games, which I am going to call ‘gimmick Sonic games’, weren’t too bad in some respects but were bad in others. An example of a good game, in my opinion, which focused on a gimmick, is Sonic Heroes. It offered a refreshing mix to the Sonic series, didn’t expand too much on it, and even brought back some characters that we could have nearly forgotten.  In contrast to this, Sonic Unleashed, one of the newer ‘gimmick games’ of the series overuses the gimmick.  It’s not a bad gimmick, just overused.
Allow me to explain…

In Sonic Heroes, although the gimmick is in EVERY level, the levels still feel like a Sonic game; they are fast paced, fun to play, and still have the essence of the original games all whilst adding new features.  In contrast, Sonic Unleashed was comprised of about three night time levels to one day time level.  (That is until the final area, where to ratio goes from 3:1 to 5:1.) Not too bad, I hear?  Wrong. Each night time level is about ten minutes long and doesn’t feel like the Sonic most gamers are used to. They are slow, and of a completely different genre, whereas the day levels are fast, energetic and fun like the Megadrive games. Unfortunately, like the Megadrive games, these levels still only take 1-3 minutes to do, so in the final area you have about fifty minutes of gimmick Sonic to three minutes of traditional Sonic.  Annoying.  Especially if it’s the traditional Sonic that you love about the game.  The only people I have ever heard to like the Werehog Sonic levels are kids who aren’t old enough to know what it means to play a “real” Sonic game.

SEGA have promised that "Project Needlemouse" will return to the traditional 2D side scroller with an emphasis on speed.

Now about half way through 2009 SEGA released word that they were creating a new Sonic game, one for all of us who remember the “good old days”; the days where Sonic was fast and fun. It has been given the code-name Project Needlemouse.

The trailer they used to reveal this knowledge seems to promise a 3D version of the original Sonic games. Let’s hope they do this right. Little has been released about it but the reveal trailer promises us an all new “2D adventure built from the ground up” They can’t go wrong with this can they? All they need to do is make an updated version of the classic Sonic games and there will be thousands of Sonic fans worldwide who will be satisfied. This could be the game that all the hardcore Sonic gamers have been waiting for and most hopefully will be a game to remember.

SEGA, please bring back the Sonic we love!

Last five articles by GL Guest Writer



  1. Victor Victor says:

    Welcome to the family, Nicholas. Very entertaining read about your love for Sonic. I don’t want to alarm you, but I was always a Mario man. Hopefully, you will get the Sonic game you are hoping for.

  2. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I have an in-built disdain for both Sonic and Mario, because I believe they firmly put the gaming industry into that “Tony The Tiger” approach to lazy development. Whenever Kellogg wanted to resurrect interest in their Frosties they didn’t need to come up with a snazzy new idea and indulge in some forward thinking… they simply roped in a new cartoonist to play on the original mascot in some new scenario and have him roar something groundbreaking like, oh I dunno, “They’rrrrrre grrrrrrreat!!” as he thrusts a spoonful of cereal into his mouth (and never swallows).

    Sega and Nintendo are the same, as far as I’m concerned. Hey guys, we’re introducing a new console in a few months time… we need a brand new awe inspiring launch title, so everyone get your thinking caps on and we’ll meet back here this time next week to discuss.

    This time next week…. *wavy dream sequence*

    Guy 1: So… what have we got

    Guy 2: What about… a new MARIO game!!

    Guy 1: Mario eh? I like it, go on…

    Guy 2: Well, we could take the same old tired Mario and adjust a couple of pixels and maybe chuck in something vaguely different to spice things up a lot. Well, a little.

    Guy 1: LOVE IT!!! What about we take an existing game and shove Mario and his friends into it and claim it’s an entirely new game rather than regurgitated dross??

    Guy 2: Was just going to say the same thing. I love you

    Guy 1: I love you too *shy smile*

    Guy 2: Let’s spoon :)

    OK so maybe I’ve exaggerated a little there, but it’s just always annoyed me how they don’t get their innovative marketing team to come up with fantastic new characters every time a new console is out rather than flogging the same gasping horse. I’m being tad hypocritical considering I’ll always go along to whatever new Batman movie comes out, yes I even saw Batman And Robin (unfortunately) even though they also run the risk of regurgitation.

    Still… each to their own. I think Batman is grrrrrrrrrrrreat!!

  3. Victor Victor says:

    What? Why do you say such incredibly hurtful things. Your rant may be appropriate for Sonic games, but Mario games until Super Mario 64 always had the distinction of pushing the envelope of game development. SMB3, Super Mario World, Mario 64, the gameboy versions of Super Mario. All of those games brought something new and exciting to the table. Be it more colour being displayed on screen than ever before. Mode 7. Or even the freaking third dimension. Maybe they could have brought in a new character, but they chose to introduce new elements into a recognized universe.

    But if you want to think of completely cynical design by committee, there are far, far worse examples than the House of N.

  4. Nicholas says:

    It’s great to be a part of the Gaming Lives family. And I take no offence to someone preferring Mario, I like him also, it’s just Sonic always wins for me. And I have to agree with Victor on this argument Mario has usually brought something that works for the series and used it to all of it’s advantages. Something that I wish they would do with Sonic. Although I can see where Markuz comes from, they can sometimes be very similar.

  5. Rook says:

    I’ve never been a fan of Sonic, this may be due to the fact that I didn’t own a Sega console until the Dreamcast and wasn’t impressed with the 3D Sonic. I’ve had the odd go on the traditional Sonic games, but they never held my interest.

    Like Van, I have always been a Mario fan, and have played most of the Mario games many times over. Although, what Markuz says is true about re-using the Mario formula. I would like to play Mario Sunshine again as I’ve only played through it once but can’t say the same for Super Mario Galaxy. I haven’t beaten the DS Mario Brothers game or even picked up the new Wii Mario. They’re just not doing it for me anymore.

    As for the Mario conversation, one of those guys would have to be Shigeru Myamoto. And I can’t imagine him spooning, wait, let me rephrase, I don’t wnat to imagine him spooning.

  6. MrCuddleswick says:

    I enjoyed reading this very much. I’m a bit confused about something though. Is this new Sonic game going to be 2D, 3D, 3D but played in 2D or something else? Or do we just not know yet?

    I’d like to see it rendered in 3D but played in 2D. If that makes any sense.

    Like Shadow Complex! That’s what I mean.

  7. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Yeah, the few statements I’d read from Sega after I read this article have suggested that the graphics will be 3D rendered but it’ll be back to the 2D scrolling (or was it parallax scrolling?) from the original Sonic. I’m sure it’ll make for some pretty gorgeous looking gameplay, especially if they can pull off some of the speeds they’ve talked about.

  8. Lorna Lorna says:

    I enjoyed both Sonic and Mario games, though personally aside from pretty colours, varying power-ups and a Yoshi to ride, I fail to really see how vastly different the Mario games were – aside from 2 which was bizarre. (yes, I know when it went to the N64 it went all 3D etc which put me right off tbh) Just more platformers though – rescue the tediously kidnapped pink princess AGAIN, etc…that and I have developed an odd irritation for the Mario character himself for some reason mean that while there were some great games, I suppose I don’t feel as misty eyed as other folk…perhaps it is my current gaming ‘bluegh’ attitude though :)

    I loved the speed and look of the original Sonic games…HATE the new look Sonic shit. Let’s make it 3D…let’s make it shit. Maybe I’m too much of an old bitch now, but the 16 bit Sonic was the ultimate Sonic…I despise the new character design. They were good games although now have fallen to the curse of fiddling and diminishing sequels. Ah well.

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