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Sonic Boom Wasn’t Made For Me And That’s Okay
After viewing the trailer for Sonic Boom, my reaction really could only be described as complete and utter apathy. I didn’t care about it at all. No excitement, no anger just a sigh and closing my computer. Which now that I think it, was pretty strange. There was a time that Sonic meant something to me and it makes me a little sad that that is no longer the case.
Let me backtrack a little. When I was a wee lass, Nintendo was my life. There was no way that anyone could convince me to abandon the Big N. That was until I played the original Sonic the Hedgehog at my cousin’s house. The minute that I spun that little blue rodent around in the Green Hill Zone I was hooked. And while Sonic fans would agree that the games have fluctuated in quality, I stuck around for a long time before I finally tapped out with Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).
That isn’t to say that I didn’t keep up with Sonic news. I heard the complaints with Sonic Free Riders, I suffered through the Mario and Sonic At The Olympic Games series at times and I tried my best to get through Shadow the Hedgehog. I guess my complaint would be that for some reason, at least in my humble opinion, the controls just don’t feel as tight. Sonic just doesn’t feel as fast when playing modern Sonic games.
Or I’m just not a Sonic fan anymore. Somewhere along the way I parted ways with a character that I really enjoyed. I mean I watched the Sonic cartoons as a kid, yes both of them and not just the awesome Saturday morning one. So what changed? Was it me or was it the series. Have I become too old school? Am I too much of a purist? Or has the series just gone in a direction that is trying to court an audience that I just don’t belong to? Honestly it’s probably the latter.
If you’re a child of the 90’s then you remember the Saturday morning cartoon show and the one that wasn’t as good. While they were popular, they also had nothing to do with the games. That isn’t the case with Sonic Boom. Sega was pretty clear with the fact that Sonic Boom the game and Sonic Boom the show are one and the same. In this case the game is being tailored to appeal to the people (children) who are watching the show. And there’s nothing wrong with that when you get down to it. But it does show that in many ways, Sonic has completed his journey as a licensed property in a way that Mario hasn’t.
Of course Sonic has had good games. Sonic Generations might not have had a great story, but it was one of the better games in the catalog that I’ve played in the modern era. But that’s not what Boom seems to be. Speed isn’t the focus, tight gameplay isn’t the focus, no the focus here are kids.
There have been many cartoon series released over the years. Some have been amazing with gripping stories like Sonic SatAM and some not so much. But I never felt as though the shows were affecting the direction that the game creators took during the development process. In recent years that belief has changed. When you really look at the current lineup of games it’s clear that a lot of the story and gameplay have been influenced by what’s happened in various animated series.
Say what you will about Nintendo’s plumber, even though he has appeared in many titles none of them have been awful. Mario at the very least has an identity. Sonic doesn’t. He’s been so many things when you look back on his game history, a werewolf, a knight, and let’s not forget his turn as a hoverboard expert that it’s pretty clear where Sega’s priorities with the character is. One of the best examples isn’t even with Sonic but with the highly criticized Shadow the Hedgehog game. In Sonic X (the animated series) Shadow was the cool anti-hero. Unlike Sonic, he was dark and gritty a brooding figure who didn’t use his speed to solve his problems. And that’s the game we got.
Ever since Sonic X, many fans have noticed that the formula of modern Sonic games have changed. Their changing to fit what the current viewing audience wants to see. They want games that match the shows and for the most part it looks like that’s what Sega wants to give them. It’s simple supply and demand, Generations was just an aberration.
I’m not breaking any ground here but I don’t think that the goal of Sega is to necessarily just make a good Sonic game anymore. Sonic Boom isn’t going to be a great Sonic game that happens to have a TV Show. It’s a TV Show that just happens to have a game and that’s okay.
On a happier note, the Nintendo Section is holding a contest this week. Please look for our featured “Tales from the Game Shelf” articles where we’ll be sharing our favorite video game stories. If you want your chance to win a copy of Double Fine’s The Cave on Steam then just post your favorite story in the comments of these articles!