A Decade In Supersonic Review: The 2010s

A Decade In Supersonic Review: The 2010s

by December 31, 2019

Introduction

10 years ago, it was December 2009. At the time, my introduction into the world of Modern Sonic was still ongoing. Earlier that year, I bought a little game called Sonic & The Black Knight. The 2000s were coming to an end. Looking back, I really didn’t have a single clue what Sonic was at that time. The more I think about it, the more that the signs of what the 2010s would bring for Sonic were very much there.

You see, 2009 not only marked the end of the decade, but it can be argued that it was also the end of the “dark age” of Sonic. Sonic Unleashed had come and gone with the promise of hope, but the seeds of Sonic’s next 10 years were already being planted. For example, I remember that Sonic & The Black Knight’s quality in 2009, like a lot of the games in the 2010s, depended on who you talked to. And there was a very curious project SEGA teased at the end of the year, which was only known at that time as “Project Needlemouse”. We didn’t know what it would be, other than Pikachu wearing a sombrero, but SEGA was clearly hyping it up, like it was something big. The thought never came to me that it could be Sonic 4: Episode 1. I don’t think it came to anyone back then. But, deep down, you never knew. I mean, SEGA and Nintendo had become very friendly with each other by the end of the 2000s, something that us older Sonic fans never imagined would happen. Mario and Sonic appeared in an Olympic crossover title for the first time a few years prior, and its Winter sequel had just come out. Even crazier, Sonic was playable in a Smash Bros. game for the first time.

So, sure, there were signs. But never in my wildest Classic Sonic dreams did I ever expect what SEGA would do in the 2010s. See, the Classic Sonic era may feel over-saturated now, but back then? Not so much. The Classic era got Modern touch-ups, such as the Sonic Advance games, as well a a few ports and collections, sure, but that was still not enough. There were plenty of nods given to the Classic era, too. But it wasn’t the same. But the demand for a new Classic title was huge in 2009. It didn’t have to be a Sonic 4, just….something. Part of it came from nostalgia. Part of it came from a time when people felt “Sonic was good”, something that really took off as the dark age of Sonic progressed. But Classic Sonic fans had a huge voice back then. We had come of age now, and we had something to say. It didn’t take the 2010s long before we got SEGA’s response.

Beginning A Decade With A Bang

The 2010s were not even 2 months old when Sonic 4: Episode 1 was announced. We all lost it. There was only 5 seconds of footage, but wow. This was the very first time when the Sonic fanbase said, in one voice, “SEGA actually did it”. It wouldn’t be the last time either. Just a year later, in came another teaser. It was crazy enough that Sonic 3 & Knuckles got a sequel, but now we get to see Sonic speeding through a Green Hill Zone void of color and then…Classic Sonic himself appears? I had been fully introduced to Modern Sonic by now, and I was now Sonic Paradox’s news reporter, but now an old friend of my childhood had come to visit. Classic Sonic. I still can’t believe it, even today. You had to be there to understand.

In between both of those games was Sonic Colors. For the first time in years, a Sonic game was seen very positively. We now had a brand new cast of voices, with only Mike Pollock still around for his role as Eggman. SEGA clearly wanted the new decade to have a clean slate for Sonic, and it was showing. Gone were the days of mediocrity. Gone were the days when Classic fans were ignored. Gone were the days of gimmicks. Gone were the days of Sonic games being rushed out to meet deadlines. Sonic was back. And that felt amazing. But, the decade, as we all know now, wasn’t perfect. In the post-Generations world, SEGA got experimental. It may have looked good on paper, but the results were anything up.

Things Get Messy

Sonic had a fun time racing with other SEGA characters, and both of those games gave fans a fun time. But as the decade hit its middle years, Sonic got experimental again, which coincided with a Nintendo-exclusivity deal that didn’t go that well on the struggling Wii U. The boost formula was dumped for the parkour system of Sonic Lost World, and SEGA decided to test the waters with a separate branch of the Sonic universe that was called Sonic Boom, which debuted in 2014 with a cartoon and two video games. The former resulted in feedback that was all over the place, and the cartoon was the only thing good that the latter provided. A third game released in 2015, but the damage that Rise of Lyric did had already been done. With the disaster that ensued, the death knell for Sonic Boom had already been sounded. Fittingly, after a few years and a second season of the cartoon ended, Sonic Boom quietly faded into the night, never seen again.

Sadly, this will be one of, if not the, defining legacies of Sonic’s past 10 years, the other being Sonic Mania. While the Sonic brand has not completely recovered from 2014, the year that SEGA once proudly declared the “Year of Sonic” that will bring about a “renaissance for the Sonic brand”, it has been getting there. The Sonic community have since moved on, but they haven’t forgotten, either. But, as I said, the damage had been done. SEGA had been forced to restructure themselves, I joined the team here at TSSZ in time to witness the whole Sonic train wreck unfold, and Sonic was back to square one. 5 years of rebuilding Sonic’s reputation was gone. For some, it felt like deja vu all over again. As if SEGA was back to their old dark age ways. But, just as SEGA did when the decade began, they responded by wiping the slate clean once more.

Sonic Mania Day 2

By now, Classic Sonic had become a mainstay in the franchise. Sonic Boom came to an end, and SEGA was about to bring their next main series Sonic title. The impatience in the Sonic community was huge. For a lot of fans, it wasn’t necessarily because of the excitement for a new game. Remember when I said that fans have moved on from Sonic Boom? Well, fans were more than ready to do that in 2016. I admit that I was one of them. Then, Aaron Webber came back to the world of Sonic after being away for charity work, and boy did he let us know he was back. Live streams began, and Webber would give us little teasers and crypic hints about Sonic’s future. Something was happening behind the scenes, but we had no idea what it was. Little did we know, it wasn’t just one game. It was two. And one of them, Sonic Mania, had us feeling like we had just seen Classic Sonic in that Generations teaser trailer all over again.

In fact, 2016, 2017 and 2018 were more magical than it seemed. Sonic was in LEGO Dimensions! SEGA endorsed ROM hacks and modded Sonic content! Sonic appeared in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the biggest gaming crossover ever seen. And now, for Classic fans, our biggest dream of all came true. A culmination of the events of this decade. An actual Classic Sonic game. Wow. Oh yeah, and there was Sonic Forces. For a lot of fans, it was a game that was…there. And that’s it. Then, SEGA endorsed fan characters with this game. People were thrilled yet again. Then, Sonic Forces came out and, sadly, the feedback for the game wasn’t the best. It didn’t help that the Archie Sonic comics era came to a messy end either. And a movie that had been announced was about to make things even messier.

The Big Screen Goes Fast

It is kind of fitting that the last major Sonic news story of the 2010s would be the trailers for the upcoming live-action/cgi hybrid Sonic film. Sonic on the big screen? Yet another thing that my December 2009 self would have never imagined happening, but I have quickly realized that dreams really have been a theme of the 2010s. Unfortunately, I also wouldn’t have imagined things to go this badly. And yet, here we are. But the film did not make its November 2019 release, and it will now be the first major Sonic release of the 2020s. We sit on the verge of a brand new decade with many questions. The second Sonic movie trailer offered a little hope, but is it enough? It’s hard to say. In 2009, we at least had “Project Needlemouse” to speculate on. 10 years later, SEGA is silent. A deafening silence, pierced only by the calls of a movie that is nearing premiere.

For Sonic fans, it has been a topsy-turvy ride. For SEGA fans, however, it has been…kind of great. The only thing that went wrong for SEGA was Alien: Colonial Marines in 2013. And, as with Sonic, SEGA fans got to see their dreams come true. Shenmue 3 was part of a trifecta of bombshell announcements at E3 2015. HD re-releases of its predecessors were released in 2018. But, perhaps, the biggest saga for SEGA fans has been the fate of Phantasy Star Online 2. Japanese SEGA fans have been able to enjoy the game since its release in 2012. For those in the west, however, it is an understatement to say that it has not been as enjoyable. 6 years later, after a series of the game is not available in western regions. Once again, E3 came to the rescue. PSO2 fans got the announcement they have been waiting for, with a release in North America coming next year. It is our only real idea, other than a Hatsune Miku game on the Switch, on how SEGA will begin a brand new decade. But, as we head into the 2020s, there’s something that feels very familiar about the state of Sonic. We’ve seen it before, but this time, a different branch of Sonic games may be seeing a comeback of its own.

The Future

So, what now? I did say that there were signs of what the 2010s would bring in 2009, but are there any signs of what the 2020s will bring in 2019? Actually…yes. And it leads me to make the biggest Sonic prediction I have ever made. It will be my only one for this article, but it’s a doozy. You may call me crazy for it. And I will understand why. But I’m going to say it. By the end of the 2020s, I predict that SEGA will have released Sonic Adventure 3. There. I said it. And I’m sure I’m not helping the “rabid” nature of fandom that is associated with that game title by saying what I’m also about to say, but I’m going to say it.

It’s time. But why do I think that this crazy thing will happen? Well, quite frankly, the similarities between the road to Sonic 4 for Classic fans and the present time for Adventure fans is striking. It’s as if things are trending towards a full-fledged Sonic Adventure game. Like Classic fans in the 2000s, Sonic Adventure fans have come of age in the 2010s. They grew up with Chao Gardens, master emerald shard hunting, and writing that had its own brand of storytelling. They got to see the generation of Sonic fans before them finally have their dreams come true in this decade. And now they want a say, too. SEGA is aware of Sonic Adventure’s appeal. They have released Sonic Adventure-type games over the years, just like the Classic-type games that SEGA put out in the 2000s. And when there weren’t games, there were nods to them. Lots of nods. Just like with Classic Sonic.

But, just as Classic fans said in the 2000s for those very same things, it’s not enough. It’s not the same. I also noticed that Sonic Adventure 1 & 2 modding has become an entity of its own, with the 16-bit modding scene not the powerhouse it once was. There’s plenty of signs. But one thing is for sure. SEGA knows. There is no way they couldn’t know. The demand is there, just as it was in 2009 for Classic fans. And it helps that there are a few people at SEGA, especially Aaron Webber and Nakamura, that are spreading the word to the rest of Sonic Team on what fans are asking for. And even then, you could say that Adventure fans have asked for Sonic Adventure 3 more than Classic fans asked for Sonic 4! And you know what? Even though Takashi Iizuka has been repeatedly saying that they aren’t interested, I can’t blame fans for still trying. Takashi Iizuka could always change his mind. He’s done it before with other things in the past. For example, Iizuka said in an interview in 2010 that future Sonic titles would be more laid-back and not so serious in writing. 7 years later, and we got Sonic Forces, a game that’s more serious and not quite as laid-back as other games.

But think about it. In 2009, SEGA wasn’t listening to Classic fans either, despite years of feedback. And then they suddenly…did. If this decade has shown one thing, it’s that SEGA does, in fact listen. It may not be immediate, but the more persistent fans are with SEGA, the better the response is. A new generation of consoles begin in 2020, something that SEGA will no doubt take advantage of. It’s only a matter of time before Sonic Team gives it a shot. And the 2020s will be when this happens.

The 2010s were the decade for Classic fans. And I think the 2020s will be the decade for Adventure fans. That doesn’t mean that Classic Sonic should be shoved aside, but I do think we’ll see Adventure Sonic get some love too. A few years ago, I said on TailsChannel that SEGA shouldn’t make Sonic Adventure 3 because of how rapid the Adventure fandom is, and how risky it would be. But Adventure fans don’t seem to be so rabid anymore. Definitely not as rabid as they used to be. Even then, let’s admit it. At first, Classic fans started off on a rabid note too. And it came to a gigantic climax in the Sonic 4 era. And, thinking about it, SEGA is no stranger to taking risks, good and/or bad. It’s in this company’s blood. And, you know what? I think it’s time for Adventure fans to get their turn. Let them experience what Classic fans got to experience with Sonic 4, Generations and Mania. I would love to see the fan reactions to it. I don’t see why not. But I do hope SEGA learns the lessons from Sonic 4. Because Sonic Adventure 3 means a lot to fans, just as Sonic 4 did for Classic fans 10 years ago.  And, just as it was for Classic fans when Generations was teased, all it takes is one teaser trailer…and you can make fans go crazy. I really do think the time has come for SEGA to make an Adventure game called Sonic Adventure 3. I just wonder if SEGA agrees. We’ll see.

Thank You

All that said, I want to thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for sticking by us here on TSSZ for the last 10 years as we’ve covered Sonic’s journey through the 2010s. And, for those who have been following my work and rambling in the past 10 years, thank so you much for supporting me. I appreciate it so very much, more than you think. We’ve seen the lows, and we’ve seen the highs. But. no matter what our disagreements, we all share one collective love for a speedy blue hedgehog. It has been a wild ride, and no doubt about it, the 2020s will be one to remember too. I hope you will stick around and join me for the journey that is to come. If you’d like to see me look back at the 2010s, year-by-year, each article is down below. You can also see every Sonic game released in the decade down below, with the reception that each game received at the time of its release included. What’s the ratio of games reviewed positively/negatively? The results may surprise you.

Soon, it will be time to think about what Sonic’s 30th anniversary in 2021 will bring. Until then, have a very Happy New Year, and may your decade be a memorable one that you will cherish forever. <3

~Donnie

2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019

Reception Ratings Scale:
Mostly Negative – The Sonic game is all but unanimously considered bad at release. Games such as Sonic 06 and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric fall into this category.
Negative – The Sonic game is considered bad by a majority at release, but there’s still a sizable minority that enjoyed the game. Games such as Sonic Forces fall into this category.
Mixed – The Sonic game has no clear consensus on what people think of its quality at release. It’s a divisive game. Games such as Sonic Lost World and Team Sonic Racing fall into this category.
Positive – The Sonic game is considered good by a majority at release, but there’s still a sizable minority that disliked the game. Games such as Sonic Colors belong here.
Mostly Positive – The Sonic game is all but unanimously considered good at release. Games such as Sonic Mania/Sonic Mania Plus and Sonic 3 & Knuckles go here.

February 2010 – Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

March 2010 – Sonic Classic Collection
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Negative

October 2010 – Sonic 4: Episode 1
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

November 2010 – Sonic Colors (Wii/DS)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive (Wii)/Mostly Positive (DS)

November 2010 – Sonic Free Riders
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Negative

November 2011 – Sonic Generations
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

November 2011 – Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Positive

December 2011 – Sonic CD 2011
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

May 2012 – Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Positive

October 2012 – Sonic Adventure 2 (HD Re-Release)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

October 2012 – Sonic Jump Remake (Mobile)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

November 2012 – Sonic The Fighters (HD Re-Release)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

November 2012 – Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

March 2013 – Sonic Dash (iOS)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Positive

May 2013 – Sonic 1 Remastered (iOS)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Positive

October 2013 – Sonic Lost World
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

November 2013 – Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Positive

December 2013 – Sonic 2 Remastered (iOS)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Positive

July 2014 – Sonic Jump Fever (Mobile)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

November 2014 – Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Negative

November 2014 – Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (3DS)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Negative

June 2015 – Sonic Runners (Mobile)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Has varied between Slightly Positive and Negative with each update

July/August 2015 – Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom (Mobile)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

July/October 2015 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (3DS)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Positive

November 2015 – Sonic Lost World (Steam)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Positive

September 2016 – Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice (3DS)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

February (3DS)/June (Wii U) 2016 – Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

November 2016 – LEGO Dimensions Sonic Pack (PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One/Wii U)
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

June 2017 – Sonic Runners Adventure
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: No Interest At All

June 2017 – SEGA Forever: Sonic 1
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: No Interest At All

August 2017 – Sonic Mania
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

September 2017 – Sonic Forces: Speed Battle
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: No Interest At All

November 2017 – Sonic Forces
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

November 2017 – SEGA Forever: Sonic 2
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: No Interest At All

February 2018 – SEGA Forever: Sonic CD
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: No Interest At All

July 2018 – Sonic Mania Plus
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mostly Positive

July 2018 – SEGA Heroes
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: No Interest At All

August 2018 – SEGA Forever: Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: No Interest At All

September 2018 – SEGA AGES Sonic 1
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Slightly Positive

May 2019 – Team Sonic Racing
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Mixed

November 2019 – Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
INITIAL CRITICAL RECEPTION: Positive

Number of games viewed positively: 22.5
Number of games viewed mixed: 9
Number of games viewed negatively: 4.5
Number of games viewed with no interest: 6