This morning Sega released a brand new teaser to fans of Sonic the Hedgehog on their Facebook fan page. As part of the 20th Anniversary celebration of Sonic, Sega is embracing every aspect of the blue blur’s history, from his classic blast processing, spin dashing roots to his current acrobatic and speed boosting reputation, all at the same time. That’s right, the new trailer displays not one but two Sonics running side by side, one representing the beloved Genesis era hedgehog and the other a familiar face from the series current style.
Sonic fans are some of the most dedicated Internet soldiers online. With each game that Sega unveils, hordes of gung-ho fanatics flood message boards with speculation and begin judging the game months before it’s out in stores.
The critical nature of these Sonic fans has become a learned behavior, for years now a phenomenon known as the “Sonic Cycle” has plagued these players.
The Sonic Cycle is an ever-repeating loop of PR surrounding the franchise; it begins when a teaser for a new Sonic game hits YouTube and ends shortly after the game receives enough reviews from the press that a public opinion is made and usually it’s fairly uniformed.
Once fans have seen the teaser, wild speculation will begin on the focus of the game, which consoles it will appear on, and the core gameplay. Over the months before release, Sega will wine and dine the media, assuring that this Sonic title will be much better than the last, this game is more like the classic games that players first fell in love with, the only Sonic titles that are universally regarded as successful.
As more and more media of the game comes out, hopes for the quality of the game will raise and then news comes of less desirable features: Sonic’s ever expanding posse of colorful animal friends are also in the game, and there are new friends as well. The Sonic universe is brimming with secondary characters that the fan base would rather not remember or play as again. Once the game is confirmed to have similar gameplay and characters as previous disaster titles, hopes for the game hit a low point.
Eventually the game is released to the public and the press starts rolling out their reviews of yet another Sonic game. Typically these reviews are negative and cement the public opinion that Sonic the Hedgehog may be just another washed up video game mascot.
But then the Sonic Cycle begins anew. Lately there has been more reason for high hopes of quality Sonic titles. Every year now Sega seems to be increasingly responsive to fan’s demands on the franchise. Sonic Team and Dimps, (Today’s usual Sonic developers,) have to balance developing new ideas and concepts while at the same time appealing to a fan base that just wants to hit the reset button.
Last years Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was an attempt to win over these fans by creating a direct sequel to the beloved original trilogy of Sonic games. Sega even went as far as to delay the release of the game in order to re-work the design after receiving some negative feedback from fans. It seemed like this could be the one to break the cycle…
But what resulted was a poorly executed platformer that shamelessly mimicked Sonic’s past success while not accomplishing much else. Reviewers unanimously criticized the games physics for being tremendously poor. This escalated to the point where fan site Sonic Retro held a contest for the best screen captures of the games spotty physics in action, the prize being the amount of money the game was selling for, considered a “refund.”
Last winter’s Wii title Sonic Colors did much to separate itself from the Sonic Cycle, and in return was met with positive reviews across the web. Sonic Colors shows that there is still hope for this classic franchise and while Sonic may be reaching the 20 year mark he is still capable of catching a second wind.