The opening to the above trailer really “gets it” when it comes to the quality of the Sonic franchise. Speeding through Sonic’s history, it eventually hits a point where everything begins to rewind, and an admission that things haven’t been so great flashes up on the screen. In an odd moment of sobriety, SEGA realizes that what made the Sonic games so iconic are locked up in the 90s.
So here’s Sonic Mania, which appears to be taking a page from Mega Man 9 and 10’s book, and that kind of announcement is coming at what may be the most crucial time for this franchise. Generations was a hit, and Colors did well for SEGA, but the goodwill earned by those two titles was quickly undone by Lost Worlds and Sonic Boom. The latter of which marked a record low in sales for the franchise. If Sonic wasn’t on life support before, that certainly put him there.
Mania shows promise, though many could cite the “Sonic Cycle” as being in full effect here. However, Christian Whitehead, who spearheaded the HD remake of Sonic CD and the iphone ports of Sonic 1 and 2 appears to be closely tied to the project, and that’s the key element that might just set this thing apart. Sonic CD was incredibly well handled, and what was even more impressive about it was that Whitehead essentially had to remake the original physics engine from the ground up. While I haven’t played the iphone versions of Sonic 1 and 2, they are also held in high regard. Whitehead tried to remake a cut level and additional final boss stage for CD, but his efforts were shot down. He later got his chance to make a brand new level in an official capacity in the form of Hidden Palace Zone for the iphone release of Sonic 2. It looks like now he’s going to be able to do a whole lot more, as Sonic Mania will not only feature remixed versions of classic levels, but will have brand new levels with original assets. Even Sonic’s sprite has undergone a redesign of sort, though it retains just enough of the charm that made the original 90s design of the character work.
Sonic Mania will release in Spring 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Pictured: A Sonic that is much better than any that has been produced by SEGA in the past 10-plus years.
Let’s face it: After Jet Set Radio Future, there was nowhere to go but down. The Yakuza series aside, SEGA’s output has been almost nothing but shovelware for over 10 years. That’s a really long time to coast on brand awareness and nostalgia, and it seems even SEGA is figuring that out.
Haruki Satomi, CEO of SEGA Games, said the following:
I’ve been talking to employees about how [Sega] should start putting serious consideration into quality from this point on. Particularly in North America and Europe, where it’s always been more of a focus on schedules.
I believe that if we can’t maintain quality, it would be better to not release anything at all. We did our best to build a relationship of mutual trust with older fans of Sega but, looking back, there have been some titles that have partially betrayed that [trust] in the past 10 years.
Of course, nobody knows if they’ll actually stick to this sudden change of heart, and stop making garbage games. Given that Sonic Boom was both absolute trash AND the worst-selling Sonic game of all goddamn time, maybe that was the kick in the asshole they needed. Or maybe the games will continue to suck. Maybe. Probably.
The numbers are in, and it looks as though Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal failed to push more than half a million units, combined. Comparatively, the Wii exclusive Sonic Colors sold just over 2 million units, with Sonic Lost World managing to push a meager 710k. It’s safe to say that, financially (and creatively) the Sonic franchise is on a hell of a downturn.
Sega isn’t ready to pump the brakes just yet, as Sonic Runners, a free-to-play mobile game, is due out later this month in Japan, and sometime during Spring in the US.
We’re starting a new weekly livestream called The Witching Hour, where I’ll be showcasing quick looks at old games, and previews of new releases. Check it out by visiting www.twitch.tv/atomicoldman, every Monday at 12am (MST).
But, hey, if you can’t watch it live, we’ll be archiving every episode on our youtube channel. Three episodes are up already, including a “speedrun” of Resident Evil HD Remaster, a disastrous look at Gat Outta Hell, and a look back at some of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games. This week I’ll be playing some real turds from the NES library, like Hudson Hawk, M.U.S.C.L.E., and Gremlins 2.
[The Witcher series will not be played, as George has no tolerance for them. Sorry for the possible confusion. — Ed.]
is kind of a disaster, and that’s already pretty well documented
. From numerous bugs to lackluster slow-paced gameplay, it’s a reminder that Sega’s mascot is still perfectly capable of hitting new lows. It may be hyperbole, but I’ve already encountered quite a few comparisons to Sonic 06
If you’re so inclined you can watch youtuber Paraxade0 beat the whole game in an astonishing 51 minutes
. On the day it came out. Granted it’s through exploitation of the games technical shortcomings, but that’s not exactly a mark in Sega or Big Red Button’s favor.
All-in-all, it’s been a real bad day for those looking forward to Sonic Boom (see: lunatics.)
What do you get when a developer recognizes mistakes they’ve made in the past, and seeks to redeem themselves by making legitimately fun games, but then decide to abandon all they’ve learned to showcase that they’re still not above making godawful decisions?
You get a fucked up looking Knuckles that’s what.
Unlike Sonic I don’t chuckle, because there’s nothing funny about this.
Sonic Boom, one of three exclusive Nintendo Sonic games, will be coming to the 3DS as well as the Wii U. The above trailer shows off some of the 3DS version’s gameplay, which is noticeably different than its home console counterpart. Rather than running around in 3D and beating things up, this version of Sonic Boom appears to be focusing more on 2D platforming and speed. In that sense, it looks better than the Wii U version of the game, but this is still a Sonic title so the actual quality is still up in the air.
Like this, but on the big screen.
If you’re like me and you thought the Sonic franchise couldn’t scrape any lower, here’s a reminder that it can and will.
Deadline reports that Sony is working with Marza Animation Planet to produce a series of live action/CGI Sonic the Hedgehog movies, which they intend to bring to the big screen once a year for an undisclosed amount of years. The script will be penned by Evan Susser and Van Robichaux, both alums of the Upright Citizens Brigade. This marks the second time in a week that people associated with UCB are getting behind obvious trainwrecks.
This project joins the Sonic Boom game and television series as part of SEGA’s effort to assault you with Sonic the Hedgehog anywhere you turn. And here I am reporting on it, feeding the beast.