Can Sonic Have a Happy Anniversary?

Original Article

Sorry, but with that new logo, I’m already slightly worried:

It’s a little bit sterile looking compared to the original logo:

If Sega can’t even create the basic logo with as much charm and character as the one from the original 2D game, I’m not entirely optimistic it understands how to get the same level of charm and character in the actual game itself—especially given the recent history of pretty bad Sonic games, or at least ones that lose what made the original so simple, intuitive, appealing, and fun in the first place. And I really don’t want a soulless imitator of the original, classic, and still pretty great Sonic The Hedgehog.

The level in the background of that new logo looks pretty decent, I think, but to me it’s all the little details in terms of visuals, design, and gameplay that make the difference. And I question if the guys at Sega who are in charge of making this new Sonic game really understand those little details anymore.

Sometimes I wish I had a magical power to take what is in my head and instantly bring it into the real world, because here’s how I’d approach a new Sonic game for the 25th anniversary (on the HD consoles at least):

I’d basically take the original game’s 2D assets and recreate every single one of them at about five times the size/resolution of the original SD sprites/tiles (but still in actual pixel art). That way, when you run the game on a modern HDTV it will be exactly the same as the original in overall look/appearance, including the exact size of everything. Sonic would be that lovely big sprite on the screen, and in his original design too. But it would all be at a much higher pixel density so it would appear much smoother in general. You’d still have that lovely clean, bold, and colourful pixel-style art, that scales brilliantly, but now at a resolution that would look great next to other modern HD games, and at a glance it would be the original, awesome, and classic Sonic game that many of us grew up with and absolutely love.

The original game honestly still looks great:

I bet many of you didn’t know the original Japanese version of Sonic had superior parallax effects in many areas compared to the western version. Just a cool little observation. 🙂

I know some modern gamers will think the pixel art makes it look dated and ugly, but that’s really just because they can’t separate tech from artistry.

So, back to my idea: Obviously, I’d also run this rescaled version of the game in widescreen too. So you would automatically get to see a bit more of the level ahead of you, which would just be a nice added benefit of fitting it to modern displays, and especially when you are running forward at full speed. Overall, however, it would look and feel basically exactly like the original. I wouldn’t change anything else to that main game. It would be the same levels, same controls, same overall design. Although, I would probably add in a second “bonus pack” with some additional levels built on the same design principles as the originals, just for fun. Some of those extra levels could be based on ones from later games in the series, stealing a few layouts from Sonic 2 and 3. I’d maybe even add in Tails as an extra character you can unlock, and possibly also give people an option to play as a sprite based version of the new Sonic design, if they really want to (the one with the green eyes). I might additionally add the two player race mode seen in Sonic 2 just for the hell of it (which could be played classic split-screen or online). But, at its core, it would still be basically a remaster of Sonic 1 with a few extras that you can access away from the main game, almost like DVD bonuses, just for fun.

I’d honestly go for something like that personally, and it would end up being much like what AM2 did with the re-release of Sonic for 3DS as part of the Sega 3D Classics range:

Sega 3D Classics Sonic The Hedgehog article

Or, I’d just build a brand new 2.5D/3D Sonic game, which is what most people expect. But I would really try to capture that look, feel, and spirit of the original Sonic The Hedgehog again, even down to that very particular cartoon/comic look most games had back in that era, except now it would be rendered in proper 3D. You know, the same as how Ni No Kuni II looks almost exactly like a genuine high quality 2D animation–I’m talking Studio Ghibli level of quality here–but is in fact running in full 3D:

But the classic Sonic look really is lovely (even with it being low-res pixel art):

I certainly wouldn’t even try to make a game that does something completely new and different just for the sake of it, adding in stupid gimmicks and crappy new character designs that dilute the core Sonic experience (like a werwolf Sonic, anything in Sonic Boom, or junky motion controls), because I don’t think there’s anything at all lacking from the original game in terms of either artistic vision or gameplay design. I personally think it holds up really well, and is just as much fun to play today as the day it was released. It’s also still extremely accessible to absolutely everyone in terms of basic controls and gameplay mechanics.

I think most gamers (old and new), if presented with a updated version of the 2D remade/remastered Sonic game I described above, would absolutely love it. The 3D version I mentioned is far harder to visualise and describe, and that could work too, but to keep things easier and more attainable in a realistic timeframe, I think I’d go with that 2D remake/remaster for now (for the 25th anniversary). And I’d make the 2.5D/3D game later on.

I’ve no idea what I’d do for the portables though, the likes of the 3DS or smartphones/tablets, as AM2 has already redone a couple of the original Sonic games about as well as I could imagine with its Sega 3D Classics versions, as I mentioned before. And its version of Sonic does look brilliant—I imagine the stereoscopic 3D really makes it pop—and its added some great bonus features and options in there too:

Maybe I’d get AM2 to do something like this for the portables:

It’s like the classic Sonic games but new, without being too “new”, if you catch my drift.

Anyway . . . I don’t know if Sega can give us a 25th anniversary Sonic game that would make me personally happy, but I have a pretty good idea of  what I would genuinely like them to do—and now we just wait to see what we actually get. . . .

😉

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