Before Mario, Mega Man, and even Pokémon captured my young imagination, there was a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog by the name of Sonic. As a young lad, I played every Sonic the Hedgehog game I could get my hands on, read all the Sonic comics my parents would buy for me, and wrote enough Sonic fan-fiction to fill a couple volumes (good thing nobody will ever find it). While I never permeated online forums to argue over the correct shade of Sonic’s eyes or the shape of his shoes, I am a big Sonic fan.
Sadly as a Sonic fan, the most recent decade hasn’t been so kind to the Blue Blur. Sonic’s good name has been run into the dirt thanks to unnecessary gimmicks, poor spinoffs, and unfinished products among other bad decisions on both Sega and Sonic Team’s parts.
After the horrendously incomplete Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric tanked in sales and bombed critically, Sega decided that it was finally time to revamp Sonic the Hedgehog for the better. The 3DS exclusive Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice was delayed a year in order to refine the gameplay and avoid a repeat of the mediocrity that was Shattered Crystal. While Fire & Ice’s delay was a nice first step, Sega and Sonic Team finally showed their hand during Sonic’s 25th anniversary celebration back in July with two brand new games — Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017.
For classic Sonic fans like yours truly, Sonic Mania looks to be the return-to-form many have been hoping for. Sonic Mania is a brand new 2D adventure featuring original levels, remixed classic levels like Green Hill Zone, smoother sprite animation, and Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles as the playable characters. Watching the reveal trailer or the snippets of gameplay gives me chills as I remember all of my wonderful memories springing through giant casino slots in Casino Nights Zone or snowboarding down the perilous slopes of the Ice Cap Zone. Coming from the passionate developers responsible for enhanced ports and unofficial HD remasters for classic Sonic games like Sonic 2 and Sonic CD, Sonic Mania is in good hands.
Plus, the collector’s edition for Sonic Mania is any Sonic fan’s wet dream. The 12-inch Sonic statue with Sega Genesis base, the metallic card with the download key, the classic Sega cartridge which holds the series’ iconic golden ring, and a stylized box to house it all. I don’t care if it’s $90 for a downloadable game — by God, it’s worth it to me.
While Sega has been upfront about Sonic Mania, there isn’t much known about the tentatively named Project Sonic 2017, outside of its teaser trailer. Considering the inclusion of classic Sonic, this new project seems to be a continuation of Sonic Team’s work on Sonic Generations, but not an outright sequel. The weird apocalyptic imagery has me worried that Sonic Team might be taking this game in a serious direction, which hasn’t worked well in the past *cough* Sonic ‘06. Set to release during the 2017 holiday season for all current-gen platforms including Nintendo’s NX, there’s still time to find out if Project Sonic 2017 can redeem the Blue Blur’s reputation.
After years of disappointment, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations came along during Sonic’s 20th anniversary and gave me and many others hope that Sega and Sonic Team could turn things around for this failing franchise. Unfortunately, Sonic fell faster than it took to rise from the ashes. All thanks to the dumpster fire known as Sonic Boom.
Now, we’re in the same situation with Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017. Can Sega and Sonic Team finally deliver? We won’t know until 2017, but I’m not sticking around if this revival fails.