A new Sonic title is being announced at San Diego Comic Con this year, and coming with it is a new movie partnership with Sony Pictures. We assume that means Sonic will be hitting more than 3DS (A new Sonic Boom is set to release this year) and we may even get a full blown experience to boot. So where do we hope Sonic goes? Glad you asked.
A Whole New Adventure
The Sonic Team needs to look at a title like Shadow The Hedgehog (stick with me here, I’m not saying re-make Shadow) and go in a new direction again. Core audiences probably won’t be too thrilled that old dynamics are being changed, but that audience also isn’t selling record numbers of units. Instead the focus should be on an entirely new, modern adventure. Do we need to throw guns on Sonic? Probably not, but I don’t see why a Ratchet and Clank style approach can’t be done.
Ratchet and Clank continues to be a great platforming standard, and platforming in a massive world with goofy enemies is what Sonic needs. The character doesn’t need to be taken seriously in the slightest, it is a hedgehog in a world of talking animals after all. Sonic has the edgy style that Ratchet has, and his abilities make him ripe for fun platforming action. I don’t think a major dashing roll needs to be implemented in the game because it would be hard to control, but a quick dash to bounce back enemies would be perfect. Sonic could also utilize friends or gadgets other than actual guns to take on enemies.
Sonic honestly needs a whole new image and changing his game entirely is what would go in that direction. If they really wanted to they could implement special stages that fulfil that nostalgia factor for core fans. Similar to how the new Doom allows you to unlock parts of classic stages by finding secret rooms. They need the Mario 64 of Sonic, not a safe attempt at a new side scrolling adventure.
(Plus let’s be honest here, those core fans are probably already complaining about the new game and it hasn’t even been shown yet. They will complain no matter what happens.)
Sticking to What They Do Best
Another option is to go in the total opposite direction and do another “generations” approach on the franchise. Keep 2D worlds with 3D aspects, and a killer story to boot. A major area that needs to be addressed if they go this route is solid animation backed up with good voice work. A lot of games they have made have been absolutely weak in this department. Give Sonic some character, give his enemies some character, and make the entire experience worth enjoying.
If they go the 2D route, I hope to see a Sonic CD approach as well. I want a less linear experience with a lot of exploration. Multiple endings, and a special stage that is totally different. I’d like some new ideas implemented that perhaps don’t veer too far off from the core mechanics, but still make it worth talking about. It would be neat if they utilized this game as a bridge to something new with Sonic slowly breaking out of the “old” and entering a new modern world by the end of the game.
Remember The Fans
By now everyone that grew up with Sonic are in their mid-20’s or older. The audience that will get excited for this game are adults. A problem with some of the recent Sonic releases was Sega’s failed attempt at appealing purely to kids, or a casual Nintendo crowd. That didn’t turn out so well because those of us that love Sonic are not kids! There needs to be a blend. Sonic needs to be modernized and hip for the new crowd, but he can’t be a kid friendly hedgehog. Sonic is supposed to be edgier and with a good writer they could create a proper character that throws out jokes making adults laugh and physical humor that kids love.
Stop Giving Up
A problem with the franchise as a whole is that every new game seems to introduce new mechanics, but then the next release forgets all about it. If we go back to Sonic 1-3 we can see a franchise that is growing. New mechanics were added and kept in the next installment. They were strengthened, and by 3 we had a really solid game.
If Sega does something new in the next game that fans actually like, they need to expand on it with future games. They can’t stop ideas for flourishing just because their game didn’t exactly flow the way they expected, and then add in new gimmicks to call it something new. We need to see a new franchise that grows with time.
It Needs To Be Fast
Something that a lot of fans seem to agree with is that they enjoy Sonic when it is fast paced. That doesn’t mean you need to be dashing through entire levels, but thinking on your feet and figuring out puzzles quickly in all forms. How do I approach this next group of enemies? How do I dash across this platform? These are the types of questions that the developers should be asking when making this game.
There needs to be a blend of thinking on your feet, and quick action sequences.
What We Don’t Want
There are a bunch of routes we hope the new franchise doesn’t go in too. We hope they are not adding even more characters, we don’t need them. There are plenty of characters in the Sonic universe as-is that can be exploited for future stories. We don’t need a slightly different “dark” Sonic that turns good again. We basically already have 3.
Don’t try to be “realistic” or dark. Sonic should be full of color and vibrant, with an edgy attitude to balance it all out. Make it functional, as-in have a good story but remember that we actually have to play the game to see that story. Remember the mechanics shouldn’t be broken, and the level design shouldn’t be a clunky mess. Overall don’t rush out another Sonic title for some quick cash, actually take time to develop this one. It’s getting a movie after all so this might be the biggest push by the studio for a new game. If all else fails, hook up with Sony or Microsoft to secure an exclusive agreement to pump some cash into the studio, and release the game when it’s worth looking at. Sonic could be great, but I’m unsure if the studio can break old methods to actually achieve that greatness.
Overall we want Sonic to be awesome again and it needs a new approach in some way to really hammer home what made Sonic an icon to begin with. It’s time to stop with the half assed ideas and fully exploit the character for all it is worth.