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Friday, June 1, 2012

Classic Sonic vs. Modern Sonic

Look up the terms broken base and unpleasable fanbase on TVtropes and you'll find a spot for each one for Sonic fans. The Sonic fanbase has often been called the worst group of fans in gaming and that's a statement that's tough to argue against. This is a fanbase that will find anything, anything wrong with current Sonic games no matter how trivial and complain about it. True, not all Sonic fans are like this, but they are easily the loudest of the bunch and are the reason the fanbase gets the rap that it does.

When Sonic Generations was announced in early 2011, it brought the promise of two Sonics, both classic and modern, each representing two different play styles. Classic Sonic's levels would be 2D while modern Sonic would go through stages in 3D. As good a premise as that was, it was responsible for driving an even bigger wedge between the Sonic fanbase. The mere inclusion of classic Sonic was like driving up to a raging fire and dumping barrel after barrel of gasoline on it. It's no secret that many modern Sonic games haven't been on the same level of the best classic Sonic games. So to many a nostalgic fan, classic Sonic was just another reason they'd have to slam modern Sonic games as a whole, some going as far as to make idiotic claims that classic Sonic is "the REAL Sonic." Give me a break.

Classic Sonic has been in bad games? No, that's not true!
That's impossible! Search your feelings. You know it to be

I love classic Sonic. I grew up playing Sonic games where his eyes were black and he had a pot belly. Heck, I bought a few classic Sonic figures (along with modern Sonic) to celebrate the 20th anniversary last year. But I'm not so blinded by my adoration for him that I forgot that he also had sucky games. When most classic-loving Sonic fans think of "the good old days," they're only thinking about four games: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD. Four platformers on consoles. Classic Sonic was in far more games than just those mentioned. He also stared in a line of platformers on the Game Gear and as well as some spin-off titles on the Genesis, Game Gear and Saturn. Sonic's Game Gear platformer outings aren't too shabby, and despite a few sharing the same name as the console titles like Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, these are in fact, original games, not ports. But most of Sonic's Gear Gear spin-off titles are pretty forgettable. Sonic Labyrinth is an awful isometric game, while Sonic Drift and Sonic Drift 2 are terrible Mario Kart clones. You'd think Sonic Blast, a 2D platformer that lets you play as Sonic or Knuckles would be as good as Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble. Instead, it's a disaster of a game that's far too short and has sprites that are just too huge.

"But those are spin-offs!" the irrational fanbase will cry out. Yeah, and? If we're gonna dis modern Sonic when he has crappy spin-offs like Sonic Free Riders, why should classic Sonic be excluded when he's had tripe like Sonic Blast? It makes no difference. A bad Sonic game is a bad Sonic game, regardless of what system it's on or if it's a spin-off title. And speaking of bad spin-offs, Sonic 3D Blast has got to be one of the worst ones classic Sonic has ever been in. It looks and sounds great on both the Genesis and the Saturn and those are really the only good points about the game. Sonic 3D Blast has you running around isometric worlds freeing Flickies with frustrating platforming elements largely thanks to the view. I actually got a headache playing the game thanks to the awful mishmash of colors in one of the zones when I played it on the Sonic Mega Collection years ago. Even analog control couldn't make that game enjoyable for me. It was quite simply one of the worst experiences I've ever had with a Sonic game. And it stared the fat, blacked eyed version of Sonic, the one so many fans believe has never had a bad game. Select memory is funny that way.

Sonic kept his modern design for both episodes of Sonic 4.
To the whining fans I say, get over it.

There's seething hate for modern Sonic based on the rotten apples that are Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic 2006, and Sonic and the Black Knight among others. The very look of Sonic has been connected to the quality of his games. This is why classic fans go ga-ga over classic Sonic and bare their teeth at modern Sonic. Again, many seem to forget that classic Sonic has had his share of craptastic titles. Would Sonic 2006 have been a better game if classic Sonic was in it? Would the fans have overlooked the flawed physics of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I if they'd been playing as classic Sonic? Of course not. The way Sonic looks has no bearing on how good the game will be.

Sonic talking. There seems to be no end to the bemoaning on this one. Perhaps because it's such an easy criticism to make, but you'd think that Sonic learning how to use his mouth was the end of the world for some fans. OK, I admit some of his taunts can be annoying in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but he sounds a heck of a lot better in that game than he did in Sonic CD. What's that? You didn't know Sonic spoke in Sonic CD? Well he didn't say much, but what little he did say sounded pretty friggin' terrible. I suppose we can blame primitive technology on that, but if Kefka can manage a good laugh on 16-bit hardware, I guess there's really no excuse for Sonic's lousy voice in one of the best Sonic games and on 32-bit power, no less. There's enough silent protagonists in gaming as it is and Sonic speaking isn't all that bad. If Sonic never said a word it would have made telling a story for the Archie comics pretty tough as it would have the Sonic cartoon series from the 1990s. Sonic Colors was not just a great modern Sonic game, but a great Sonic game in general and it gave the blue blur some of his best lines. There is absolutely no way Sonic's retort about copyright laws stopping him from trashing Eggman's robot would be even remotely funny had Sonic remained silent.

Classic Sonic with green eyes.
I can dig it.

The Sonic Genesis story line from last year in the Archie Sonic series spanned four issues and payed homage to to the first two Genesis Sonic titles. Some fans were expecting Sonic to be drawn with his classic look to further reflect the games. And he was, but not completely. He had the pot belly but he was given long legs and his modern green eyes. I thought it was a great compromise and payed respect to both era's of Sonic.

I kinda wish there was no labeling placed on the two Sonics. Really, Sonic is Sonic to me, no matter what he looks like. He can be short, tall, have black eyes, or green eyes. I like both of his designs and he'll always be one of my favorite video game characters. Neither Sonic has a spotless track record. Both have good and bad games. That isn't gonna stop a good chunk of the fanbase from being irate, but in my eyes, if no on else's, Sonic will always be a likable fellow, be it classic or modern.


Zack said...

Hey I'm sorry this isn't on topic but would you be interested in a link exchange? My blog is at

Reggie White Jr. said...

No prob.