Still Unstoppable After 20 Years
Sonic’s 20th Anniversary in 2011 saw the release of two major Sonic projects, Sonic Generations and a remastered version of Sonic CD that was developed by Christian Whitehead using his Retro Engine. Sonic Generations put players in the shiny red sneakers of two Sonics: the green eyed, fast talking Modern Sonic, and the younger, chubbier Classic Sonic. Both Sonics played as expected, with Modern handling the 3D/2D hybrid stages that were introduced in Sonic Unleashed, and Classic rolling around in strictly 2D stages, complete with slopes, hills and shuttle loops.
Modern Sonic was a blast to play as in Generations, and had some of the best level design of any 3D Sonic game. While Generations didn’t nail Classic Sonic’s physics exactly, it was really cool to see the little guy back in action. However, the Sonic CD remaster that I previously mentioned featured perfectly replicated Genesis physics, all thanks to Whitehead’s amazing Retro Engine.
Seeing these two games made me want Sega to focus on two styles of Sonic the Hedgehog games. One would feature Classic Sonic and co. as we know and love them,with development being spearheaded by Whitehead and his team. Sega and Sonic team’s previous efforts at recreating what made the Genesis games special had been kinda hit or miss. While the Sonic Advance games are great, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I showed a clear lack of understanding of the level design and momentum from the old games. And like I said, as amazing as Generations is, even it didn’t manage to perfectly replicate the physics.
So, what better way to revive the Classic Sonic gameplay style than to give it to somebody who has, time and time again, demonstrated a great passion for 2D Sonic, and a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of the Genesis games? I mean Sega clearly knew he was onto something, as they allowed him to create remastered versions of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 after his work on Sonic CD.
Bringing In The Fans
As of 2016, this dream has become a reality. Christian Whitehead, Headcannon and PagodaWest Games are developing Sonic Mania, an authentic Classic Sonic experience. Whether or not these teams will be allowed to create more Classic Sonic games after the release of Mania is currently unknown, but I’d be shocked if they weren’t, (unless Mania absolutely bombs critically and commercially, which is unlikely).
As far as Modern Sonic is concerned, he’s definitely not going anywhere. Many people have been worried that with the recent focus on Classic Sonic and Sonic Boom, Sega is slowly phasing out Modern Sonic, but this is not the case, as evidenced by Project Sonic 2017. There’s still so much we don’t know about Sonic 2017, such as whether or not it’ll return to the Boost gameplay style, but it’s safe to say that Modern Sonic is here to stay.
A Classic Revival
Earlier I said that I’ve wanted Sega to put out two styles of Sonic games for some time. In reality they had been doing this during the entirety of the 2000’s. One of the more recent trends in gaming has been a 2D revival of classic franchises. Mario, Donkey Kong, Rayman, these and many others have taken part in this. Heck, even Sonic tried it with Sonic the Hedgehog 4.
But Sega had been producing 2D Sonic games long before this. In fact, 2D Sonic games only ever really stopped coming out during the space between Sonic’s Genesis and Dreamcast games. Sonic Pocket Adventure, the Advance games, the Rush games, Rivals, all of these were 2D Sonic games that were released in conjunction with Sonic’s big budget 3D console titles. So really, I just want Sega to go back to this release schedule. The Sonic fan base has proven before that they want and can support 2D and 3D Sonic games, so why not give it to them?
Two Proven Concepts
I don’t need a 3D Sonic game every year, nor do I need a Classic Sonic game every year. There should be space for these games to breathe, so that by the time the next installment rolls around, fans are excited to play it. Another good thing about these games being spaced out is development time. Sonic games are notorious for releasing on a rushed schedule, but with two different teams developing two completely distinct games, this should no longer be an issue, especially with Sega’s recent statements about bringing quality and care back to Sonic games.
Both teams also have a proven track record with the type of games they are developing. Everybody who is involved with Sonic Mania has experience working with Classic Sonic games, and although they stumbled with Sonic Lost World, Sonic Team showed with Unleashed, Colors and Generations that they could make excellent 3D Sonic games.
In my opinion, Sonic’s future is looking bright. I’m excited about Sonic Mania, and cautiously optimistic about Sonic 2017, but I genuinely believe that 2017 and beyond is going to be a great time to be a Sonic fan.
Are you excited about Sonic Mania? What do you think of Project Sonic 2017? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to follow me on Twitter to stay updated on all the latest posts. Thanks for reading, and be sure to have an awesome day!