Where Should Sonic Go Next?
Thursday, 26th July 2018, 1:22pm (UTC), 0 Comments
Sonic Mania was released in 2017. Gaming specialist site IGN gave the series a healthy 8.7/10 score, commending Sonic the Hedgehog on returning to his 2D side-scrolling roots. Indeed, the instalment in the series reminded the original set of Sonic fans just why they became enamored with the electric blue speedster initially. But development on a sequel is slow and developers are focusing on 2018's release, Team Sonic Racing.

Racing Game as a Reboot

Introducing a racing game in a series is always a way for developers to buy some time and keep fans happy while they work on narrative and characterization for the next official story title. Crash Bandicoot received Crash Team Racing while the leap to PS2 was being ironed out. The Super Mario series introduces racing games for new platforms to ensure fans are connecting with the brand still. So a racing game as Sonic's next move is a sensible move. With 15 playable characters in the game, fans might be able to go back into the series and find the more obscure ones. Playing a racing game is like a compilation album or episode of TV - it helps remind fans of the game why they loved the characters, and is primarily led by characters.

Cross-Platform to Reinvigorate

But Sonic producers could have gone a different way with the franchise. As Pokemon Go showed us - taking the extremely iconic gameplay of Pokemon and adapting it for another platform helped breathe new life into the flagging series. As William Hill shows, Worms has been given the cross-platform approach in order to appeal to a different set of fans. Indeed, the original Worms audience who played the game in 1995 are likely to make up the audience playing the Worms Mania slot. This shows how nostalgia and reinvention of a series in a slightly different way may reinvigorate the franchise and connect to a new audience, while reminding the older audience of their existence. Franchises jumping from platform to platform could be classed as a reboot, such as when The Sims was briefly playable as a console game.

Complete Reinvention

Sometimes in order to reinvigorate a franchise, it goes through a complete reboot. Often, as with Syndicate and Fallout, this is because there has been such a long time between the games that recreating the sequel in the image of the originals would be impractical with the developments in gaming and graphics. Other times, as with Crash, the reinvention is a complete overhaul, yet retains the features people know and love. The cleverness of the Crash reboot with Crash N Sane Trilogy is that the gameplay is identical, but the graphics different enough to keep fans happy and give them something new to play that they would likely have forgotten about.

Sonic Mania's dust is settling still and excitement is abound for Team Sonic Racing. Perhaps the popularity of certain characters and settings will inspire producers to take the game down different routes. Or perhaps the return to the 2D side-scroller game will be permanent. Regardless, we are definitely excited about the last 25 years of Sonic and eager to see the next 25.
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