Not the games. Well, maybe the games. The games are difficult, but I meant the franchise in general.
You may have read Kotaku’s article regarding what Sonic the Hedgehog may look like in the upcoming live action film (it’s entirely debatable what is considered live action these days. Just look at The Lion King) but all I could find myself doing was stare and occasionally blink. Questions raced through my head, it’s Sonic. He’s not that hard, right? You can draw him easily enough. I can draw him. Can’t you? Don’t answer that. And don’t Google Sonic fan art. After internal screaming and bawling internally, I stopped and asked a serious question. What is so hard about the Sonic franchise?
On FGC Podcast, Josh and I are both fans and we typically discuss our favorite games in the series. The first Sonic game placed its stamp on the video game landscape. It’s main rival: Mario. Nintendo had been making this game for over a decade and it had been very successful at it. On the heels of the first game was Sonic 2, which is arguably the best game in the franchise in my opinion. It had laid the groundwork for so many of its own games afterward such as Sonic and Knuckles and Sonic 3. The highlighted feature was cartridge lock on technology and you could complete all of Sonic Team’s vision by plugging in Sonic 2 & 3 to get a robust action packed, high speed game. So the question is how do you top of the most successful games to come out in the mid 90s? 3D.
Many games in the late 90s ventured into new territory with virtual landscapes that technology could provide. Many platformers, like Mario thrived in this space with super Mario 64 and newcomer Crash Bandicoot. Sonic’s 3D environment couldn’t translate well in games like Sonic Blast which came out for the Genesis and Sega Saturn. Then comes the Sonic Adventure series, which to be honest, it is a great series, however there are some logistical obstacles in place with a character that moves faster than the speed of sound.
It should be noted that regardless of the “bad” games that have been released, the fandom of the Sonic franchise has always been strong. Just look at Sonic memes for reference. Memes exist in part of the subject matter’s popularity. Movies like Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph features Sonic and he looks and sounds amazing. This is a sign that somebody that doesn’t own a property, can look at a subject objectively and reproduce great work. Fun Fact: Sonic Mania was released by Sega and Sonic Team and featured Christian Whitehead who grew up as a Sonic fan and began making his own games featuring Sonic sprites. He was eventually picked to port over the Sonic games to mobile platforms with touch controls. He was elected to lead development of Sonic Mania which featured new intro cartoons that have baked in the goodness of 90s retro gaming. Coincidentally, led to a short series that was released on YouTube. While I find it entertaining, I believe peak Sonic in the television medium is Sonic X.
This brings me to my final point.
Look at it. It’s soul crushing. Like a bad college friend that was paid good money to go back in time and kick you in the gut and ridicule and humiliate you.
Why does this exist?
I’ve always said (in regards to poorly produced films): how does a concept like this get passed a board of people? Does no one know or ever seen Sonic? Was everyone on their cell phone when this was approved? What needed more attention than this? Did the design team that created this monstrosity have an expert debater stating why this Sonic would be better than the canonical Sonic? Did someone lose a bet?
Thank goodness the internet has come to save the day. As always, I typically reserve judgement until I see the film in question before I critique it, but one can help but wonder; do you have to reinvent the spin dash? It’s such a perfect move.