Sonic the Hedgehog – Sega finally “gets it”?

Sega’s Takashi Iizuka on making a Sonic game Sonic fans might actually want to play.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, October 5, 2010

Something strange and unusual happened to me last week: I looked a Sonic game in the eye – two Sonic games, in fact – and didn’t wince. The games in question were Sonic Colours for the Wii and DS, and Sonic 4 for Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and WiiWare. I hadn’t given either title much attention hitherto, possibly as a result of some unconscious self-preservatory instinct after the terrible scarring pain of seeing Mario pip the Blue Bolt in the hundred metre sprint, but boy oh boy, do I ever intend to give them some attention from this point on.

Sonic doesn’t entirely deserve all the opprobrium that’s been heaped on him. Sure, sharing a box with Nintendo’s plumber is blasphemy of a sort we’d thought extinguished alongside Sodom and Gomorrah, and yes, the 2006 release was so horrible it could have featured in place of the death-video in the Ring film, but let us not turn a blind eye to the solidly entertaining Sonic Advance and Sonic Rush games on GBA and DS, nor the promise visible through the flaws of Sonic and the Secret Rings. Let’s try to remember that once upon a time, Sonic games were among the best you could play, and that this is the reason (well, part of the reason) Sega continues to make ‘em.

Sonic 4's Lost Labyrinth Zone. If screenshots had ears, we'd be saying filthy loving things to this one. Hell, we might do that anyway.

The company seems happy to meet us halfway on that front – finally. Here’s a snippet from an interview with Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka, conducted by our man in the street (we don’t pay him enough to cover flat rent) Rupert Higham.

“While Sonic 4 is revisiting what classic Sonic has been and always should be – creating the best classic 2D Sonic possible,” Iizuka explained, “Sonic Colours is looking at the well-received parts of 3D Sonic and also adding something extra, new surprises to it.” There, in a sentence, is everything fans of the MegaDrive and Dreamcast games have been clamouring for since Big the Cat rose to infamy in the otherwise passable Sonic Heroes.

Speaking of Big the Cat, the moronic fat bastard appears to have been given the hoof – alongside Cream the Rabbit, Shadow, Amy, Pokemon-lite, beat ‘em up interludes and extraneous, baffling crap in general (with the major exception of cutscene storytelling, sadly). Here’s Iizuka on rediscovering the focus: “With Sonic Colours we wanted the stage to start with high-speed Sonic action and end with high-speed Sonic action. We didn’t want to break it up by introducing other characters or other kinds of action.” Your babies, sir – the gentlemen here at VGD would very much like to have them.

Sonic Colours: big on surreality and theme parks, small on sidekicks. Result.

Pinches of salt ought to be applied, of course – first rule of game previewing: trust nobody except the guys plugging in the demo pods – but I can safely say nonetheless that I haven’t seen the old hog riding on quite so much positive energy for a decade. Rupert will be along shortly with the complete interview and a Colours preview. Bate your breath.

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