Sonic the Hedgehog is getting a movie. A movie that blends live action and animation. And it’s going to have the Sonic Boom redesigns.
Reader, let me reassure you of this. Though I typed that previous paragraph with my own two hands, it makes even less sense to me than it does to you. I tried everything within my power to reconcile my mind to the information that was being presented to it. But I can assure you that nothing helped. I stared into the abyss, the abyss looked back, and I blinked.
Okay, let’s take a step back here and try and figure out what’s going on.
Sonic the Hedgehog was a popular series of platformers in the 90s for the Sega Mega Drive. It had three/four – depending on how you categorise Sonic and Knuckles – main series titles to its name, and a horde of spinoff titles. It was about a blue hedgehog with 90s style radical ‘attitude’ who distinguished himself from other platformers about moving from left to right by being games in which you ran REALLY FAST from left to right. Unfortunately, Sega had troubles keeping up with advances in technology, and while more solid entries emerged, like the Adventure series for the Dreamcast, Sega’s shift into third party development signalled a dark age for the Blue Blur.
Sonic became bloated down with a massive, unwieldy cast, increasing technical problems, and a brief flirtation with DARKER and EDGIER in Shadow the Hedgehog. The franchise placed all its eggs in the one basket, a launch title for the PlayStation 3 and 360. Called only Sonic the Hedgehog, but known to gamers as Sonic 06, it was the franchise’s attempt to escape mediocrity. It was rushed for Christmas, five words that have become a byline for ‘quality product’ if taken from the dictionary of the guy who made Pokemon Vietnamese Crystal. All odds were against it changing anything, but it worked! Because it was one of the most buggy, incomprehensible messes that one can imagine, a vessel that actively hated the person playing it and that did everything in its power to destroy them.
Why am I bringing up a diatribe that has seemingly little to do with the movie? Well, here’s the thing. In late 2014, Sega released the first instalment of the Sonic Boom line. It was a reboot of the continuity, throwing out much of the bloated cast. It featured redesigns of the core team, and different characterisations for various characters. It was going to be on a new console. And it was… Rushed for Christmas.
In the punchline that you all saw coming from miles away you very clever souls, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was terrible. It was an even more buggy, still more incomprehensible mess, more so than even the reviled Sonic ’06. It changed the core gameplay mechanics, it changed characterisation, it was an unfocused mess, and it had no business being an unfocused mess. Because Sega had firsthand experience of how bad Christmas rushing was, and they still did it anyway, to a game that was supposed to relaunch their flagship franchise!
What’s worse is that they had already managed to reverse the descent into mediocrity. While the nighttime ‘Werehog’ stages, which were an actual thing, were terrible, the daytime stages of Sonic Unleashed provided the answer that had eluded Sega all along. Namely, that a game that involved Sonic running very fast from Point A to Point B was what Sonic fans had wanted all along!
The next two games in the series continued the trend of Sonic running from Point A to Point B with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. These introduced, respectively, helpful gimmicks that improved gameplay, and massive doses of nostalgia. Things were looking up for Sega, and then they rebooted the series. This is something like finding a pony made of diamonds, then driving the pony off a cliff. While putting bandages on it.
So what’s the point here? When there’s an announcement about a Sonic the Hedgehog movie, nothing that Sega has done with the franchise to this day fills me with any confidence about it. But what about the other side of the equation? Can Hollywood prove that they can treat a gaming franchise right? Can they?
Stuart beheld Satan as he fell from Heaven like LIGHTNING and he invites you to pose ways that this concept could be saved in the comments.