…very likely to be “Still Gonna Suck Sonic”.
Sonic Generations is continuing one of the new traditions of the Sonic franchise, and I’m not talking about the “Sonic Cycle“. This new Sonic game, being hyped for bringing back the old Sonic, which everyone seems to love more than the new Sonic, is being made for the HD consoles. Now, this might end up on the Wii, both Unleashed and Sonic 4 were initially announced as HD games, and a Wii version was announced later, but it’s still continues a disturbing trend.
Sonic ’06 vs Secret Rings
When this generation started, Sega created a new Sonic game which they thought would herald the next age of Sonic the Hedgehog, so much so, they had the gall to call it “Sonic the Hedgehog“; of course they wanted this to be the next big thing, so they went all out with cinematics and HD graphics. The Wii could not do HD graphics, so a side project was made, Sonic and the Secret Rings, which used an on-rails style of game play; it was different, it was quirky, and it clearly wasn’t supposed to be as big as the HD game.
Well we all know how this turned out, Sonic ’06 sucked; rushed out to make a Christmas release, it was buggy, had loads of loading, and then the really eerie romance between Sonic and a human girl. Secret Rings, while not great, was at least playable, and fun when you got the hang of it. This is actually besides the point, Wii owners just got lucky they didn’t get the crappy Sonic ’06, but HD owners were supposed to get a true Sonic game that would lay the foundation for Sonic’s future. (Which it kind of did.)
Naturally, Secret Rings outsold Sonic ’06.
Sonic Unleashed was promoted as Sonic getting back on track, hoping to put the disaster that Sonic ’06 turned out to be behind them. It would be the new start that Sonic needed, it would be glorious, returning to 2D, and would obviously need HD graphics. (sigh)
Again we know what happened, Sega just couldn’t stick to the plan and stuck in the “werehog” portion, which sucked the life out of it, but again, their love with HD graphics meant this game was going to the HD consoles and ignoring the Wii. Unlike Sonic ’06, Sega did get another team to make a Wii version, but it was missing some of the content from the HD games; it was clear that the HD versions were the ones getting the AAA treatment, while the Wii (and PS2) version was the second string effort.
Despite getting a weaker version, guess which one sold more? The Wii version outsold the HD versions combined.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4
Once again, we have Sega making the next restart of the Sonic franchise, this time copying Nintendo’s philosophy with New Super Mario Bros. and making a new entry in the old series. By now, Sega should’ve tipped onto something, Sonic games have been selling very well on the Wii, and Nintendo hardware in general since they went third party; but no, they didn’t learn their lesson. One of the first things revealed about Sonic 4 was that it would also be in HD.
Like Unleashed, a Wii version was later confirmed, but Sega continued to tout HD graphics as an important element. Sega, let me spell this out for you:
YOU ARE MAKING A GAME STARRING A CARTOON ANIMAL!!!
I personally don’t think HD graphics adds much to the experience of any game; it’s a nice luxury when you can afford it, but Sonic is very cartoony, he isn’t a realistic depiction of a furry like Star Fox, or the Na’vi from Avatar. HD graphics doesn’t add anything to Sonic, all it does is drive a wedge between Sonic, and the fans who love him the most.
Sonic 4 was also released as a downloaded game, and appeared on the iPhone, which also isn’t HD, but this also suggests that their real focus with Sonic 4 was not with his Wii owning fans. Sega was trying to jump on the iPhone/smartphone fad.
Now there is a new Sonic game coming, and by tying the new Sonic with the old one, it’s clear Sega is hoping to revitalize Sonic, again. And once again, they want this to be big, so they want HD graphics, and are again ignoring the bigger, more loyal fan base on the Wii.
This is a problem with the industry as a whole, does anyone remember 3D Dot Game Heroes? That was a game based on old 8-bit games, Legend of Zelda in particular, and used an art style where everything is made of blocks, which makes everything look like 8-bit sprites in 3D on steroids. The developers were asked why they didn’t make a Wii version, and said it couldn’t handle the graphics. Now Silicon Studio is a middleware company, who were trying to make a new engine, 3DGH was more a demo of their engine rather than a game franchise they were trying to make, but still, their focus was on the graphics and technology, and created a game while ignoring who would actually want to buy it.
Developers love things like HD graphics, DLC, and the “hardcore” market, and reject Nintendo for following none of those things. This causes them to act in a way that even when there is evidence they should be supporting Nintendo, they shut their eyes, cover their ears and yell “La La La HD, La La La hardcore” hoping that Nintendo will just go away.