By the fans, for the fans. Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to Sonic Mania, a game does the unthinkable in 2017: get everyone excited for Sonic the Hedgehog again. And by everyone, we’re not talking about just fans of series, but folks who have been withdrawn since the days of the Genesis, people who haven’t considered playing a Sonic game since 1995. And there’s good reason for that too, after a year of development, Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, PagodaWest, and a whole gaggle of friends, members, and family from Retro and beyond have created one of the series best entries ever.
Welcome to the first Sonic Retro Sonic Boom round table, in which Retro writers will share their thoughts on the Sonic Boom TV show premiere! This week we have the episodes “The Sidekick” and ”Can an Evil Genius Crash on Your Couch for a Few Weeks?”. What did we think of the premiere? Read on!
God, where do I even begin?
Sonic Lost World for the 3DS is the latest in a recent trend of handheld Sonic games – while there was a long string of completely original Sonic titles, from many of the Game Gear titles all the way to the Advance and Rush series, the last couple have instead been downscaled versions of their console counterparts: Colors, Generations, and now Lost World. Why this is the case, I don’t know, because it will invariably result in comparing these games to their consistently better big brothers, and in every case they fall short, including this one. Which is tremendously worrisome, considering the Wii U version of the game didn’t exactly set a high bar to begin with.
(SPOILER WARNING: This review contains unmarked spoilers. The game is over a decade old and well-known amongst our readers, so we deemed it unnecessary to refrain from spoilers. If you’ve never played the game before, you’ve been warned.)
In a franchise like Sonic that has been on such a rollercoaster of quality for the past twenty years, Sonic Adventure 2 somehow sticks out in the franchise as possibly the most polarizing game in the series. To one part of the fanbase, it’s the pinnacle of Sonic. Because it was the first major Sonic title on a Nintendo platform, many people cite SA2 as their introduction to the franchise. And yet to others, the game symbolizes the start of everything that nearly killed the franchise forever. So as I review Sega’s recent digital rerelease of Sonic Adventure 2 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, I feel it’s necessary to frame the game in context.
Outside of the broader fanbase context, I – like many others – have my own personal relationship with SA2. I was but a wee child when it first came out for the Dreamcast in 2001, and I spent a frightening number of hours engrossed in the game. It wasn’t my first exposure to the series; that title goes to Sonic 2 on the Genesis, whose predecessor and sequels received a similarly obsessive amount of my attention. In fact, the sole reason I asked for a Dreamcast for Christmas in 2000 was so that I could play the original Adventure. So, being the fanatic little child I was, Sonic Adventure 2 earned a special, fuzzy, nostalgiatastic place in my heart. The question, then, is: eleven years later, can it keep it?
Sonic 4: Episode II taught me a lot of things: the power of teamwork and friendship. The soft bigotry of low expectations. The fact that WHITE CASTLE! SYLVANIA PARK! jokes never get old. But is this spiritual successor to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 a Hidden Palace or just lost somewhere in the courtyard?
Let’s level here for a second–if you’re a Sonic fan in any capacity whatsoever, you’ve heard of Sonic CD, the tried-and-true cult classic of the original Sonic “trilogy,” as it were. Released in 1993 for the SEGA Mega CD, spearheaded by Sonic’s original character designer Naoto Ohshima and developed by a completely different team than the first Sonic the Hedgehog game, the game has received wildly mixed views as both the best and worst Sonic game–and in some cases, platformer in general–of all time. Sporting surreal and immersive environments, a heavy focus on puzzles and exploration and an absolutely killer soundtrack overseas (courtesy of the collective genius that is Masafumi Ogata and Naofumi Hataya), Sonic CD stands out in a lot of ways from virtually every Sonic title that came after it. This is likely due to the fact that game designer Hirokazu Yasuhara had no involvement in it whatsoever, contrary to the original Sonic and the two sequels that followed it. Still, love it or hate it, Sonic CD has left a longstanding impact on those who played it–both good and bad.
It’s been 3 weeks now since the console version of Sonic Generations was released, and now trotting on behind comes its little brother, the 3DS version. Differing from the console version in level selection & development team, a single question needs to be answered – is it any good? Let’s find out.