Reasonable Assessment: SEGA Doubling-Down on Classic Sonic

Reasonable Assessment: SEGA Doubling-Down on Classic Sonic

by August 29, 2016

The first Sonic game I ever played was Sonic Adventure 2. The second was Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

My first experience with Sonic involved a healthy dose of both Classic and Modern Sonic. Both black eyes and green eyes. I say this because I want to be clear that I am not a raging fan boy of either incarnation of Sonic. I love them both, and don’t hate the other.

But something ain’t quite right.

During the 25th anniversary party, I was beyond hyped to see a true return to form with Sonic Mania. Heck, I’ve raved about it already on this site. A new, pure Classic Sonic experience looks absolutely amazing.

Then Project 2017’s teaser came on. We saw Modern Sonic standing in a post-apocalyptic world. My body was ready.

Then Classic Sonic jumped out. If I’m being honest with you, I was actually disappointed.

So what’s up? I’m a man who loves Classic Sonic and loved Sonic Generations. Why wouldn’t I be happy to see Classic Sonic return in 2017?

Well, things aren’t always that black-and-white. My thoughts on Sonic 2017 are a little deeper. (Spoiler alert: My thoughts are mostly positive and I’m hyped for the game, so no need for pitchforks). Let’s explore my opinion, both the good and bad.

What I’m hyped for: The Tone

There’s a lot of hubbub and discussion regarding what tone Sonic the Hedgehog’s stories should take. Let me start off with this: Sonic stories don’t have to always be serious or always be funny. I think a Sonic story can have moments of both. When Sonic Colors first came out, I actually quite liked the game’s writing and tone (don’t kill me, yet. Hang in there). After Sonic 06 and Unleashed (parts of it), it felt good to have a simple, goofy story. The scale had been tipped too far in the other direction for so long, it was refreshing to tip it the other way for once. It was the first game with the new American writers, Ken Pontac and Warren Gaff; the character interactions felt like they had more personality than they had in a long time. They didn’t feel like second hand translations. But over time, Pontac and Gaff’s style began to feel off to me. I started to miss the days when Sonic games actually had high stakes. I missed when the games weren’t Saturday morning cartoons. I missed when the games weren’t afraid of having some serious moments. The scale was tipped too far to one side again. I want balance. Give me both sides.

Oh look, a Sonic game that isn't afraid make me feel invested.

Oh look, a Sonic game that isn’t afraid to make me feel invested.

If Sonic 2017’s teaser is any indication, the next Sonic Team game won’t be afraid to raise the stakes again. Eggman will actually be a threat again, not just a Snidley Whiplash. While many will scoff at the thought of Sonic having any ounce of “seriousness” (please open an Archie comic sometime), I am very excited to learn more about Sonic 2017‘s story. The tagline of “Join the Resistance” has me intrigued as it nods back to the Freedom Fighters of Sonic SatAm. As long as it doesn’t feel misplaced and overdone, I welcome this tone. Looking at the ruined post-apocalyptic city in the teaser, two complimentary conclusions can be drawn.

  1. “Seriousness” is returning to Sonic.
  2. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the entire game will be constant “edgy” cringing.

The burning city is only one location in this game. Don’t worry people, you’ll still have your grassy-forest level. As long as there is balance, my body is ready.

What I’m concerned about: Classic Sonic

If I’m being honest with you good people, I was actually disappointed when Classic Sonic was revealed in the teaser. I love Classic Sonic. Let me say that again for people who are preemptively writing angry comments: I. Love. Classic. Sonic. 

But I don’t love Classic Sonic being in Project 2017. Or at least, I’m having a hard time loving it.

When Classic Sonic was included in 2011’s Sonic Generations, it was awesome! It was the first time we’d seen Classic Sonic return since the 1990’s. It was hype! Sonic Generations served as a celebration of the Sonic franchise/history as a whole, so it was perfect for Classic Sonic to be included.

Bryan from Nerdword Entertainment asks "What is he [Classic Sonic] doing here?" during his reaction video.

Bryan from Nerdword Entertainment asks, “What is he [Classic Sonic] doing here?” during his reaction video.

But when Classic showed up in this new teaser, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of, “What? Again? Why are we doing this again?”

It doesn’t feel genuine anymore. Classic Sonic teaming up with Modern Sonic has lost its novelty. You can’t do it twice (at least not this soon). We’ve had our celebration; now, let’s get back to business. Furthermore, it feels especially weird, when we have a fully-fledged Classic-Sonic-only game coming out in a few months. Why do we need Classic Sonic in Project 2017 when we have Sonic Mania?

Man, Sonic Mania looks so fun.

I think SEGA is doubling-down on Classic Sonic. It’s almost as if they aren’t confident in Modern Sonic enough for him to stand on his own. They think we need Classic Sonic there to hold him up.

They saw that we really liked Generations, which has Classic Sonic in it. Perhaps now they think we always need to have Classic Sonic in their games. Not true.

I didn’t like Generations just because it had Classic Sonic in it. I liked it because it is a great game. Classic Sonic’s inclusion felt like a one-time novelty as a tribute to the fans, and I didn’t expect him to return. In fact, Classic Sonic’s stages weren’t even a highlight for me. They’re not bad by any means, but they’re not as fun as the Modern stages. If anything, I assumed we could afford to lose Classic Sonic. Apparently, Sonic Team has different plans.

So I don’t know quite what to think of Project 2017 as of right now, but I’m excited to learn more. My thoughts are generally positive and I am definitely looking forward to the game. (The fact that they skipped a 25th anniversary release date in favor of more development is already a great sign). But I feel odd about SEGA’s inclusion of Classic Sonic. We know very little about the game right now, so I can’t make too many assessments. But there’s one assessment I can make: SEGA seems to be doubling-down on Classic Sonic. And I think that is a reasonable assessment.

What do you think? Are you as iffy about Classic Sonic’s 2017 appearance as me? Or am I insane? Are you HYPED for Classic Sonic? Let us know in the comment section, my good friends.

Noah Copeland is a somewhat-interesting human. He makes music, makes films, and stands at exactly average height. You can find him on his TSSZ author page, or on Twitter @NoahCopeland, where he posts his creative works and slightly less-thought-out essays of 140 characters. He is currently working on a comedy film about nerds, and you should totally donate to its crowdfunder