After Generations, where does Sega go next?
We’re just a week away from Generations, and the hype is massive. Videos and reviews have started pouring in, and the early feedback is genuinely positive. Not just about the gameplay, either; it’s clear that people love Sega’s characterization of Classic Sonic, a retro nostalgia overload of excellent animations and in-joke classic references. He brings with him plenty of 3D stages reimagined into more Genesis-oriented affairs, and there’s a number of people that would be happy to see the series continue with Classic’s style and gameplay exclusively.
But let’s be honest here: to ignore the fans of the Modern series would be to blatantly throw money into the fire. They’ve supported the series for over a decade, they like the more dramatic storytelling and extended cast and boosting Sonic gameplay, and while you may not agree with their tastes, Sega can afford to part with them even less than they can afford to part with the 2D die-hards.
Generations was a fantastic way to bring the more divisive fans from each side together, and by accounts so far, has pulled off the execution very well. The unfortunate thing is that this gimmick would wear thin presented over and over, particularly as the source material dried up. The logical thing would be to use each Sonic to address a different audience: Classic Sonic is used for strictly 2D travel through goofy landscapes, and Modern Sonic continues on his 3D/2D hybridized path, free to explore more dramatic plots, different gameplay mechanics and the extended cast. But Iizuka has been insistent from very early on that Classic Sonic would not be appearing after this game. This is a one-time treat for Classic fans. There’s a lot of theories one could develop from this decision. Perhaps Iizuka is worried about splitting the very profitable audience, pitting fans against fans in a way not officially supported before. It might be that Sega’s directors, or even Iizuka himself, do not think the design belongs in a modern market, and had to be strongly convinced that this would be a one-time reappearance. Or it could be even that with Iizuka’s newly-promised devotion to the series, and a title like Generations, he could be planning a big shift for the series, possibly a big style reinvention like they did for Adventure, and what was attempted for Sonic’s 15th Anniversary. Wouldn’t be the first time a toy company spoiled something…
We will find out very shortly if Generations’ ending has any major surprises, if some talented hackers haven’t already divined it from the recent demo. I personally hope Classic Sonic isn’t abandoned so quickly; while I don’t dislike Modern Sonic and generally don’t mind his sometimes-bland attitude, seeing Classic Sonic bounce around happily, speaking volumes with his actions without saying a word, is too much fun to watch. There aren’t many mascots like that anymore, and it’s fun to see one alive and kicking in 2011.