The career of Sonic the Hedgehog has been rather bumpy since the phenomenon he sparked back on the Sega Mega Drive. Since he faced the dilemma of transition from 2D into 3D he’s never really found a sure fired footing to work with. However the series fan base and appeal remains huge to this day with many having stuck with the mascot through his unbalanced life and even forgiving him his most glaring failures (and Sonic 06 really was truly unforgivable). Now thankfully after almost a decade he’s entered quite a pleasant period again, yet even after such positive releases such as Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations the momentum of the series is still unable to pick up and each subsequent release, in one way or another, leaves us at a full stop. When playing Sonic’s earlier adventures, one could utilise the Spin Dash for an immediate boost of speed, an invigorating feeling that kept the pace going when we remember that in the original Sonic the Hedgehog it was a struggle to climb a slight incline without a run up. However it’s not always a clear path ahead when we let our Spin Dash go; sometimes there’s a Badnik off-screen who’s just revelling in the spoils he’ll receive in the next few moments. When this happens it can be quite frustrating to see all that powerful momentum stopped in its tracks when all one wanted is to progress. Fortunately the original games were rather well designed and as such these moments were few and far between. But that level of frustration when the Spin Dash fails to gain momentum is what can spoil the experience, because one will think how many times to I have to start this again before I get to enjoy myself. This analogy is therefore precisely the issue with the currently string of Sonic the Hedgehog releases
For example, recently Sonic Jump Fever was released on our apple and android devices as a sequel to the surprise success Sonic Jump back in 2012 and within the game there’s so much potential to be found it becomes difficult to accept that ultimately all that momentum has been stopped in its tracks. A new fever mode, Chao gardens and a comprehensive competitive multiplayer system make the game feel like that burst of speed the Spin Dash provides. However that metaphorical Slicer is waiting just off-screen, eagerly poised to stop us in our tracks; the game drops many of the features that made the original game a hit. There’s no single player experience to be had and no in level goals to achieve making the jump seem rather a pointless set of obstacles that require no thought or cause in overcoming. In a nutshell, while the sequel provides many interesting new features, it still strips away what made the game enjoyable beforehand; which is just so frustrating.
This frustration creeps over into the main series releases too. Sonic Unleased while having its own flaws finally provided us the 3D Sonic experience we could get excited about. The ultimate wish from the release became if Sega removed that Werehog stuff and concentrated on this Daytime stage idea, we could finally have something really good on our hands. Two years later and that game became Sonic Colours which perhaps is the most complete 3D Sonic game to ever be released. That potential seemed to have been realised and the Spin Dash unleashed without that Badnik crossing our paths. The game just didn’t quite have that grand factor Unleashed had on the HD consoles, the speed of the Spin Dash somewhat slower than we hoped, and thus while Sonic Colours succeeded in so much it left us feeling we haven’t received the whole package yet. Thus Sonic Generations was that package. The celebratory title brought Sonic Colours out into the grand scale Unleashed gave us and a collected sigh of relief was breathed because finally Sonic had succeeded in a good game. That longing to keep the momentum going seemed finally to have come true… if only the game wasn’t so short. However knowing how much extra treatment Sonic Unleashed and Sonic 06 received through DLC one felt safe in the knowledge that Sega would keep the momentum going on this one…
Sadly this was not the case and even Sonic Generations was stopped in its tracks from being everything it should have become. The fact with all these releases is that each provided so much potential for the Sonic the Hedgehog series, but the consistency has never been truly realised causing all that Spin Dash momentum to come to an abrupt halt. Sonic Lost World could have provided that overall package but suddenly the control scheme was tinkered with and thus again all the good ideas plugged into it were again tainted by this lack of consistency between titles. That frustration of being unable to unleash a full speed Spin Dash is being realised in every subsequent Sonic the Hedgehog release. If Sega’s business mantra is give and take with the consumer, then congratulations guys you’ve succeeded in that, but as a pretty big Sonic fan myself its finally gotten to the point where I can’t be optimistic anymore. It’s not that the games are bad these days, they just seem to disappoint when all is said and done. Thus the Spin Dash fail is realised through the more recent main series Sonic the Hedgehog games. Each game has the momentum to go far, but is stopped in its tracks because the consistency between each release isn’t there. While Sonic games have improved dramatically since his rock bottom in 2006, the series will not survive unless Sega provide the same service and quality in each title, because it’s gotten to a point now where all momentum seems to lead only to disappointment and unrealised potential. Sega will have to ask their fans, how many times the Spin Dash have to fail before one decides to stop playing.