|"uh uh uh, that's not how you fuck a woman"|
Mr. Needlemouse as he was called during development or Sonic the Hedgehog as he is now known, is an interesting series. Sega wanted a character to represent them in the same vain as Mario to Nintendo. After initial research was completed, Sega of Japan sent everything over for Sega of America to publish. Problems arose when Sega of America worried that Americans wouldn't know what a hedgehog was. Countless mishaps such as this started a trend in what I believe led to Sega's demise. From changing character names and redrawing all of the artwork for a more "American feel" , Sega's Japan division shook their heads constantly over the years.
So let's take a quick run down of some interesting notes on the series of Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic's game design came from the creator playing around with Super Mario Brothers on NES. He was interested in seeing how fast he could complete the first level. While Sega took the idea for sonic and tried to build a plat former around the idea of completing the level as fast as possible, later levels of most of his games would be more challenging. The speed was a reward for knowing the levels well and predicting enemy placement.
Sega's emphasis on speed was novel but they designed it as a plat former at it's game plays core. As soon as you got past the first few stages you had an emphasis on platforming which meant slowing down and making more accurate jumps. Slowing down was not advertised. Every Sega commercial showed sonic zip zappin doo dippin through loops and the like!
In terms of games like the excellent Sonic Cd, there's one big loop that has a nice effect but essentially was the player holding right and seeing sonic do the loop himself. Essentially you could say Sonic games featured the first quick time events. Mind you, there was only the right direction to hold to see Sonic do something like run up and around a loop or see him simply run.
One astounding point for the series is the music. Michael Jackson himself had involvement with Sonic 3. It's speculated that he didn't want to be credited because of the Genesis' poor sound quality not delivering what he had in mind. He didn't like how they sounded considering the guy was a perfectionist. The ending theme to Sonic 3 is actually the instrumental of what would become Jackson's song Stranger in Moscow .
Somewhere after Sonic and Knuckles was released there was a serious drought of true Sonic games. In 5 years we had Sonic Jam which was a Sega Saturn compilation of Sonic 1,2 and 3, Sonic R which was developed by travelers tales as well as Sonic 3D blast both of which where half hear-ted attempts. These games where not really seen as advances in the series as the main Sonic development team had no part in them. Sega became a company of empty promises
You can really only blame the poor sales of the Sega Saturn and 32X. A true sonic 3d plat former was planned for the Genesis after Sonic and Knuckles and then pushed towards the 32X under the name Sonic Mars. Mars was the code name for the then unreleased Sega 32X add-on. The 3d environments and models proved to be too taxing to the 32X which was already failing in the market. Development was moved to the next Sega console, the Saturn under the code name Sonic X-Treme.
Imagine a kid in the mid-nineties is reading all the game magazines and seeing that there's new sonic games on the way. Screenshots are shown of the new Sonic Mars game coming out for the Genesis! Now it's delayed and announced on the expensive 32X. You beg your parents for one for Christmas, it isn't cheap at $160. You see more screenshots in your monthly gaming mag and the game is moved now to the Saturn. So you beg your parents for a Sega Saturn ($400) and lo and behold Sonic Jam, Sonic R and Sonic 3D Blast ( a port of a genesis game, mind you) are released and poof, Sonic Xtreme is canceled. Wait! Yells Sega we have a real Sonic 3D game! Sonic Adventure! Just buy the Dreamcast! It's coming out in 2 to 3 more years! Shut up Sega.
|Go ahead and ask Pop-Pop for this. This looks like a field mine from Nam! Crimeny!|
While we're looking at canceled games, have a more in-depth look at Sonic Xtreme, mind you this was around Mario 64 era gaming when everyone was expecting a true Sonic 3D experience. Why didn't Sonic Xtreme release? Multiple faults all correlating into one main reason, disagreements and politics within Sega of America and Sega of Japan.
What of the series now, after the Dreamcast was discontinued and Sega got all buddy buddy with Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony? Well, I don't think Sega has the money to really push sonic in a new direction. They really keep putting him in newer, flashier sonic adventure style games. That and sonic tennis, sonic kart racing, sonic medieval storybook games, sonic riders and well, they're trying new things but he just doesn't seem to fit. There was a BioWare developed RPG for the DS around 2006 but I never heard much about it after release.
Sonic has seen some interesting platformers as of recent but where's the new? Sega simply seems content with listening to fans who want reboots of Sonic 1, 2, and 3. The series really did shine then but it's a by-gone era. Sega just does not have the resources like Nintendo to invest in new ideas such as Mario Galaxy. It's a shame. Overall, I think we're looking at a company that is lost in nostalgia for something that was only truly there for a short while by chance.
It just seems that they don't know what to do with him anymore.
All art provided by the wonderful http://www.sonicretro.org/ database