Y’know what my favourite Sonic game of the past decade has been? Sonic Generations, an opinion most Sonic the Hedgehog apologists like myself probably hold. So when Sega and Sonic Team went back on saying they were going to make a sequel to it and announced Sonic Forces, I was suitably… Excited is too strong a word. Mildly optimistic is better.
I’m under no delusion that most Sonic games don’t have problems. The main reason I still follow the series is out of a dogged loyalty to my childhood nostalgia. I’m not going to go around telling everyone “No wait, this one’s good! I swear!” As long as I enjoy it, that’s the main thing. But you see, after Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations, there was another lull. I never finished Sonic Lost World, not did I even play anything from the Sonic Boom o’verse.
It was late last year that we had not one, but two Sonic the Hedgehog games announced for 2017. Despite being the bigger budget game, Sonic Forces has been pretty much an afterthought when compared to the retro throwback, Sonic Mania, on the horizon. That was until the first real reveal trailer dropped for Forces the other day. Oh boy. In this most recent trailer it’s been revealed that Sonic Forces will allow you create a custom character and play as them throughout the game. I have very mixed feelings about this.
Don’t get me wrong, I can really see the appeal of the idea. Millions of pages of DeviantArt will prove interest is there (and that seems like an understatement), and the Sonic OC creators are probably still in the throws of some sort of subculture based bliss session. Plus, it worked for the Dragonball Xenoverse games. As flawed as they were, I still had a lot of fun with them. The problem is, this is giving me flashbacks to the Sonic Adventure/Heroes era of the franchise in a way I’m not too comfortable with.
The thing about those games, specifically Adventure and Adventure 2, was that it started to cram the franchise’s side cast into the limelight in a way that I, and a lot of other people, didn’t really want. Knuckles/Rouge’s treasure hunt sequences were dreadfully boring. Tails’s mech sections from Adventure 2 were even further removed from the early games and Big the Cat… Just Big the Cat. They started cramming too many gimmicky characters to the ever expanding cast when, at the end of the day, all I was interested in playing were the Sonic levels.
If the game just allowed me to play the regular states with these characters, I might not have too much of a problem with it. The thing that specifically bugs me about the trailer is the mention of “gadgets”, and game play showing a character grapple hooking and shooting a flamethrower. It’s looking like a throwback to a time I don’t really want to be reminded of. I just want a fast paced platformer with beautiful art design and a great soundtrack. I don’t have a real issue with the side characters of the series in themselves, but I always feel like they take away from the aspects of the games I do still care about.
Despite the talk of the created characters, the trailer still confirms that there will be Sonic portions of the game too, both Modern and Classic Sonic sections in the same style as Sonic Generations. Not that I’m complaining, but if the gimmick of this game is the created characters. Why is Classic Sonic making an appearance? The throwback aspect of Sonic Generations was great, putting the old and new style of Sonic game play and applying them to new and old stages. Having that make a return, but then adding the Custom character thing into the mix seems weird to me.
It’s almost like the devs don’t have enough confidence in the idea that they couldn’t just make it the focus of the game. If we hate the created character aspects, we’ve still got Sonic Generations 2 in there to keep us occupied (although it looks like they’ve done Green Hill Zone again, C’mon, where’s Emerald Hill?). Then again, maybe the created character aspect of the game is the smaller section and the main bulk of game play is The two Sonics. I’ll have to wait till more info comes out of the woodwork, but currently I’m apprehensive. Watch this space I guess.