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Commercial success of Mania to determine Sonic’s future?

Sonic Mania is gearing up to be the best Sonic game of the year based on recent gameplay trailers and a basket of Best in Show awards it caught at E3. In an interview with Metro’s GameCentral, Takashi Iizuka boasted confidence about both Mania and Forces, but there’s a catch: Both games are targeted at different demographics–older fans who prefer 2D Sonic, and younger fans who like 3D Sonic (I’m on the latter side)–but only the success of Mania might determine the path Sonic will take  from there on in.

In the past two decades, Sonic games have been trying to target a broader audience from kids to adults. And Forces has that same idea, so that means a wider range of characters that we know children like. Even if other fans may not be quite as keen.

But for Mania it’s kind of like a new approach. To target specifically 2D fans. So we don’t know whether it’ll be accepted positively in the market. We’ll find out after the game’s released, and we can figure out the direction of future titles after seeing the reaction.

Therein lies the rub. Sonic fans are applying the double standard by saying that they love Sonic with a passion, yet turn around and claim that classic Sonic games are better than modern Sonic games, especially such infamous games like Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic ’06, and Sonic Lost World–each of them graphically and mechanically different in their own right. With two Sonic games releasing within such a shorter time window this year than ever before, fans are treating Sonic Forces with the highest level of scorn imaginable while cheering on Sonic Mania for utilizing designs thought to have been left behind upon the dawn of the Adventure era. All we got from the Forces demo was the Classic Sonic boss fight against Egg Dragoon, the Modern Sonic level where the objective was to find Shadow, and the Custom Character level, and in my eyes, they’re perfectly fine.

There’s absolutely no reason why Sonic should be at a crossroads based on the critical reception of Mania and the massive condemnation of Forces, especially four months, give or take, before the latter game is even released.

Reading Metro’s interview with Iizuka, I took it to heart that Sonic Team will make future Sonic games revolve around Classic Sonic in lieu of Modern Sonic. I pray to God–or Aurora, the Mobian deity in the comics–that’s not the case because, as great as the classic Sonic games were, there’s no progress for the franchise going backwards. Yes, the Sonic fanbase is divided over which incarnation of Sonic is best–traditionalists have been begging SEGA for a new classic Sonic game for years like a little boy tugging at his mother’s skirt for a shiny new R/C monster truck at Toys ‘R Us on Black Friday, while those of us who have been playing Sonic since the Adventure era, as I have, have been begging them to not fuck up a new modern Sonic game–but both versions comprise the brand as a whole, no matter what era we’re in. I’ve seen Classic Sonic merchandise being sold in Hot Topic, Spencer’s, and even Macy’s–I’m sporting a Sonic shirt from the latter retailer as I’m writing this–and I don’t see it as “Oh Lord, Classic Sonic seems to be better than Modern Sonic.” Far from it. It’s just ’90s nostalgia trending in the fashion industry right now.

Forces should be worthy of the same praise Mania is receiving for experimenting with new features, NOT punished. Whatever critical reception Mania gets in comparison to Forces, Sonic Team shouldn’t retire the modern Sonic formula in favor of the traditionalist party–Sonic as I’ve known him for nearly 15 years has been punished enough already. Mania and Forces should be boatloads of fun, because gaming in essence is about having fun and fairness, not a war between the ages.

 

Cristina Alexander

Cristina Alexander has been an avid fan of Sonic the Hedgehog since 2003. Her favorites include "Sonic Adventure 2," "Sonic Heroes," "Sonic Advance 3," "Shadow the Hedgehog," "Sonic Riders," "Sonic Unleashed," and "Sonic Colors." Her favorite video game franchises outside of Sonic include Kingdom Hearts, Pokémon, and Just Dance. She's currently studying Multimedia Journalism at Florida Atlantic University.

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  • Joe Douglas

    Brilliant article. Totally agree with your points. I’ve been playing Sonic games since the Mega Drive era, bit I still really enjoy Modern Sonic. I don’t even mind Lost World all that much. I rather angers me when so called “fans” cast a modern title out of hand before even playing it. How can you even judge something you’ve not played? For my own part I’m equally pumped for both Forces and Mania and hope Modern Sonic sticks around a lot longer.

  • Joaquim Gonçalves

    If Sonic Dies for good. Me waiting for XBOX Classic SEGA Games to release.

  • McHenryGames

    Grew up with “classic” Sonic in the 90s but embraced Sonic Adventure when it came on the Dreamcast and been enjoying 3D Sonic titles since then. I guess I’m the minority. I’d say I’m equally excited for both Mania and Forces, but honestly I’m a bit (but just a little bit) more excited for Forces. In any case I’m glad Sega decided to bring them to the PC.

  • Russell Loasby

    Well written article. I like the modern Sonic games apart from the obvious bad eggs already listed (don’t forget Sonic Boom, Black Knight and Secret Rings!). I remain hopeful for all modern Sonic titles. As long as the gameplay is solid and the story doesn’t completely jump the shark then i’m on board with it. I think the reason most “fans” write off any modern Sonic title is due to being burned numerous times with the aforementioned bad eggs in the article, which surely everyone can agree on were rushed and poorly developed. I’m hopeful Forces is a strong game, though the footage I’ve seen so far hasn’t really proved any of this (to me) so far. Nintendo afaik haven’t released a bad Mario game yet.

    I’d love to see more “Mania” esque games and of course more (well made) modern 3D Sonic games.

    • Matt Bennion

      Adventure 1 – Not bad, awful camera
      Adventure 2 – Not bad, awful camera
      Heroes – Not bad, awful camera
      06 – crap
      Shadow the Hedgehog – crap
      Unleashed – Ruined by Werehog
      Secret Rings – crap
      Black Knight – crap
      Colors – good in parts
      Boom – crap

  • Matt Bennion

    The modern Sonic game mechanics have never worked properly. Without the rose tinted nostalgia goggles on I’d even go as far as saying they didn’t work in the Sonic Adventure games.

  • Gamer707b

    Ive played Sonic from the very beginning ( yes I’m that old lol ) and I’ll say that Sonic was just one of those games that never quite transitioned well into 3d. So if Sonic Mania does well, Sega will start focusing on the strength of Sonic, which is 2d.

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