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Do you remember when Sonic the Hedgehog was actually considered cool? Nowadays, the iconic blue hedgehog has one of the worst reputations in all of video games.
Sonic has been reduced to a poorly drawn meme and that notorious “Gotta go fast” slogan. As someone who enjoyed my fair share of Sonic games in the past, I wonder what happened.
Sonic the Hedgehog at Its Peak
How could you go wrong with one of the original Sonic games? You’d pop the game into your Sega Genesis, and jam out to the awesome Green Hill Zone music. The simple 2D platformers provided hours of fun as you mindlessly raced to complete each level, collecting rings and smacking enemies along the way.
The games were just as amazing even when the Sega Genesis got phased out. Games like Sonic Advance for the Gameboy Advance and Sonic Rush for the Nintendo DS still had that classic Sonic vibe embedded in its DNA.
Sega also decided to take a risk by creating 3D versions of Sonic games such as Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 in the late 90s and early 2000s. Although some fans of the 2D platformer style didn’t like to see this change, these 3D renditions are solid—they even allow you to play minigames and experiment with different characters. Sure, the concept of these games are much different from the originals, but they’re loads of fun.
In the past, there wasn’t a stigma that went along with buying a Sonic game. It was considered normal for people to be huge fans and to invest time in the latest release. The changes Sega made to Sonic games were welcome, but they ended up taking it way too far.
Sega’s Huge Mistake
In 2006, Sega decided to release a revamped version of Sonic the Hedgehog for its 15th anniversary. Sonic ’06 was met with shock and disgust, beginning the downfall of the entire series.
Sega decided to rush the entire game, resulting in a glitchy gameplay experience. Sometimes, a glitchy game is salvageable, but this game is not. Springboards don’t work properly, you get bombarded with loading screens, and some levels aren’t even completed. In other words, Sonic ’06 is the opposite of a stress-free game.
The plot of Sonic ’06 isn’t well-received either. After the human Princess Elise gets kidnapped by Dr. Eggman, Sonic works with Knuckles and Tails to get her back (notice the emphasis on the word “human”).
This game’s plot ends up turning into some twisted love story involving Sonic and the Princess. If that doesn’t make your stomach turn, I don’t know what will—it’s just plain cringeworthy.
After that disappointing Sonic release, Sega decided to release even more duds. Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Boom, and Sonic Forces all fell short of expectations, digging Sonic’s grave even deeper.
There’s a reason why Sega has released remakes of old Sonic games, and put Sonic on the upcoming Sega Genesis Mini—the company already knows that the old games are the most loved.
Sonic Gets Cyberbullied
Sega made Sonic a laughing stock. The company failed to perfect his games, and even entangled him in some strange relationship with a human. It’s no wonder why gamers took to the internet to ruthlessly make fun of him.
One of the first known Sonic memes is known as “Sanic Hedgehog.” In 2010, a YouTuber by the name of 0nyxheart created a video called “How 2 Draw Sanic Hedgehog.” The user uses Microsoft Word to construct a poorly drawn image of the blue hedgehog, appropriately naming it “Sanic.”
Since then, Sonic hasn’t caught a break. Sonic memes still plague the internet, with the franchise’s own Twitter account taking part in the fun. If the brand can’t take itself seriously, how can it expect that anyone will?
Sonic on the Big Screen
As if Sonic’s reputation couldn’t get any worse, Paramount Pictures just had to take it to the point of no return. The studio decided to create a live-action version of Sonic the Hedgehog, using CG to construct an utterly botched version of Sonic.
Sonic was given an elongated body, fur, and a human-like face that a hedgehog shouldn’t have. Sonic’s appearance received such backlash that the studio decided to push back the movie’s release date to fix the horrendous animation.
The movie comes out in 2020, and we can only hope that it will begin to repair Sonic’s reputation, and not damage it even more.