Back in the glory days, Sonic and Mario were fierce rivals. The great Nintendo/Sega war was vicious indeed in schoolyards worldwide. Names were called, and sexuality was relentlessly questioned if your allegiance differed. The early Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog titles certainly rivalled the quality of the portly plumber’s exploits, remaining celebrated to this day. Since then, he has lost his way rather dramatically. But why was gaming’s wunderkind (think Mozart, only with less youthful piano skills and more running stupidly fast) and his reputation shat on from such a towering, vertigo-inducing height?
With the blue beast’s move into the third amazing dimension, terrible gimmickry made its way into the games. Sonic and the Secret Rings for Wii insisted on making you ‘steer’ around on-rails levels with the controller. At the time, motion controls were the peak of innovation. We watched, astonished, like an OAP befuddled by their newly-purchased DVD player (which they’ve mistaken for a toaster). We came to our senses in time, and recognised this direness for what it was. Later in the series, Sonic took it upon himself to transform into the Werehog. Where this notion came from, nobody knows. Or cares to, because it was unneccesary and sucktacular.
Over the years, we have also been introduced to the hedgehog’s odd menagerie of friends. This term, I can only assume, serves as a euphemism for terribly-designed, unemployable wretches. The likes of Big the Cat, a big blue cat, makes me weep for the once-proud minds of the creators. You can practically hear the remnants of their imaginations dribbling out of their ears. Perhaps melted by the heat in Crappy Gimmick Hell, where these guys now appear to reside. Tails and Knuckles were acceptable, an echidna that can climb walls with its amazing claw-hands (careful in the men’s room with those lethal buggers) is something I can get on board with. Since then, though, bad times indeed.
But there is hope. Amongst the clichéd cretins and utterly, unspeakably shit talking swords, some quality offerings have surfaced. The whole wheat from the chaff idea comes to mind, only with the chaff being a full-sized model of Mount Everest fashioned from pig crap. The wheat, meanwhile, is the size of a pea. A damn small, pygmy pea at that. Sonic Rush resembled the good old days of the Genesis, while Sonic Generations offers two seperate iterations of the blue dude to play as. Retro Sonic’s prominence there shows some recognition of the demand for his return, and this can only be a good thing.
Most importantly, the hateful ‘attitude’ he appears to have developed needs to be excised. With a shovel to the face, if necessary.
Celebrate/curse the heavens for 20 years of hedgehog-flavoured gaming below.
Article by Chris Littlechild