Jeff Gerstmann: Sonic Makes Sense

Jeff Gerstmann: Sonic Makes Sense

by January 6, 2009

Still Says “It’s a Lost Cause”

Not a week after Sonic was given the dubious honor of’s Take a Break award, one of its founding members says that the hedgehog “finally makes sense.”


It’s true.  Jeff Gerstmann makes the admission in a story published on GiantBomb yesterday, using the frame of Judson King, who legalized hedgehogs as pets recently in Lawrence, Kansas.

But the once embattled reviewer for Gamespot, alleged to have been fired over a poor review of Kane & Lynch: Deadmen, used the story to ultimately make a case against Sonic for older gamers, but for children.

In his comments, Gerstmann admits he played a “meaningful chunk” of Unleashed, but hated it, and hasn’t been fond of 3D Sonic going back to Sonic Adventure:

I played a meaningful chunk of it, and I sort of hate it. It reminded me that I’ve sort of hated almost every “new” Sonic game that’s come along since Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast, and even that was only really a novelty due to the newness of polygonal Sonic. “Boy,” I kept thinking, “Sega sure doesn’t seem to be able to capture what made Sonic fun back on the Genesis.” Sure, I’m not the first to think this way. It’s pretty much become the standard mantra for players in a certain age range. We remember the original Sonic. He was edgy, he was fast, the games were simple but fun. But I was also 15 when the game was originally released. And in the 16-bit era, “edgy” meant “he impatiently taps his foot when you don’t move.” Standards were way, way lower.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder what we all saw in those Sonic games. It was a simpler time. That’s about all I’ve got. So why does Sega keep trying to push out more Sonic games? Well, the answer’s probably pretty simple: Sonic isn’t for me. It hasn’t been for quite some time. While those of us who remember the early days keep expecting the series to grow up alongside us, Sonic has been squarely aimed at its core market–kids–all along.
Of course, there’s a danger to what I’m saying, because you could argue that I’m making the assumption that kids don’t know any better when it comes to good and bad games, or that they aren’t as good at games as, say, I am. For the record, I think that kids who play a lot of games probably know the difference between good and bad, but if they’re anything like I was back then, they’d rather play a bad game than no game. Also, being a fan of a property can go a long way, regardless of age. If you were some kid who was way into the Sonic cartoon or something, you could probably look past a lot of Unleashed’s flaws. But then, I’m guessing. Because just about the last thing I want to do right now is watch a Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon.
To that end, I think I’m going to stop playing Sonic Unleashed. Kids’ games really aren’t our specialty around here, and writing one more review that says “HEY GUESS WHAT THIS SONIC GAME PRETTY MUCH TOTALLY SUCKS AND WHILE I’M AT IT LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW MANY THINGS I REMEMBER FROM SONIC CD” doesn’t do anyone any good. But, for the record… hey, guess what? This Sonic game pretty much totally sucks. And while I’m at it, let’s talk about how many things I remember from Sonic CD. It was awesome. And you could travel through time. And it was the last truly great Sonic game for most people of our relative age group.
So to those of you who keep spending valuable blog time trying to “save” Sonic with a bunch of “great ideas about how Sega should reboot this ailing franchise,” just get over it. It’s a lost cause. Sure, the games should be a better than they are, but it seems totally obvious to me that they’re not even attempting to reach players who remember the original games in the series.
Gerstmann’s comments essentially confirm that a bona fide review of Sonic Unleashed will likely never appear on the website, despite GiantBomb receiving a review copy of the Wii edition.
We thank Adambomb89 for pointing us in the direction of this via our News Tips system.  If you have a news tip, let us know by clicking News Tips above.