Other than the brief dabble in handheld titles on a long travel, I can't say I've played with the spiny blue bastard recently.
Maybe I'm jaded. Perhaps Sonic 4, despite being Sega going all-out, 'old school cool', wasn't quite enough. Could this have been the axe to break a link in that infamous 'Sonic Cycle'?
It was a reboot. A rehash. A final cry. Sega banked on our nostalgia for the 'good old days' and woefully fell short. Now, with the series ever seemingly closer to an all-digital, app-based future, I'm beginning to doubt if my interest will ever be piqued again.
..but the thing is, Sonic games haven't been good for coming up to 20 years now. Don't get me wrong, I loved Sonic Adventure 1 and 2; heck, when I'm sure nobody else is looking I'll whip out Sonic Heroes, singing along to the cheesy J-Pop-Rock anthems as I do.
Yes, Crush 40 are one of the few guilty pleasures I afford myself in life - what can I say? I have a terrible taste in music.
But do these games even remotely compare to the majesty that was the 16-bit era? Heck no.
'Insert long, rambling soliloquy about Sonic 2 here' right? Actually, nope. The 16-bit sonic game I absolutely adore above all else is the dark horse in the pack, Sonic CD. It's unique focus on level exploration, interesting time travel mechanic and a fucking kick-ass soundtrack (from BOTH the J/EU and A releases, thank you very much) won my heart completely over. It was beautiful; it truly saddens me that Sega's abhorrent handling of the Sega CD meant this game couldn't reach as many people. Buy it, borrow it, emulate it, if you learn for old-school sonic action and haven't played it yet, damn well do so. You won't be disappointed.
I've also always maintained that, in the absence of any key Sonic title for the ill-fated system, CD should have been ported to the Saturn because, quite frankly, not launching the console with a Sonic game was a crime. As the Saturn readily lost its brief grasp in the console market, Sonic X-treme, an unreleased project, was shelved after development hell; the lack of support for the series during this time was the true nail in the series coffin, not weird human-hedgehog inter-relations, and certainly not the color of his fucking eyes.
The series lost momentum, and with that loss of momentum, comes a great loss in interest. Suddenly, that little blue mascot who shook Nintendo's monopoly on the gaming market, who challenged the gaming market and set an absolutely massive trend for mascot-based games, had lost his world renowned audacity.
Now let's whizz forward a few years.
Aged 12, my hands trembling with anticipation, I opened my birthday present. A grin spread across my face - after a somewhat ill-fated session playing the demo in Woolworths, I had gotten what I wanted. I had gotten none other than Sonic Heroes.
My fate was sealed: I was to enter the turbulent world of Sonic fanboyism.
In the period between Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog, I eagerly swallowed every piece of media I could find. I was possessed. Probably falling on the slightly archetypal whims and desires of an adolescent girl, I practically pissed myself with excitement when Shadow's titular debut was announced - Shadow was dark, deep and brooding character, what wasn't to love?
Yeah, I'm not fucking proud of my teenage self, okay?
Aged 13, I opened my Christmas present. Finally, I could learn more about my favorite, troubled, black hedgehog, play from his perspective...
Oh. Okay then. This story makes no sense. Uh, the controls are also a little broken, I guess?
Come to think of it, why does the Ultimate Lifeform need a gun? Or a car for that matter? Doesn't his speed rival the blue blur himself?
Okay, I'll put my hands up in the air and admit it: The game was dreadful.
Although now lacking somewhat in enthusiasm, I did actually play '06. I was at the halfway point when my brother accidentally deleted the save data.
I can't say I was too upset at this excuse to stop.
Eventually, my love for the series waned; despite affirmation that some elements of Unleashed were pretty good, I was apathetic. I watched, I did not play. That cloud had already been and gone across my skyline.
Yet, every so often, I'll still type 'Sonic the Hedgehog' into wikipedia. I'll still scroll down to the bottom to see if anything new has been announced. This both is and isn't the sonic cycle: On the one hand, I have no more expectations with the series, on the other, that excited, 12 year old girl doesn't want to quite let go.
Maybe that's the issue. Maybe in each and every one of us there's an excited child, clinging onto memories of holding that clunky, black controller in our hands and running through Green Hill Zone. Dunn-Dunn-Dunn-Dunn-DunDun-DaDaDa...
Admit it, you read that to the tune of GHZ, you fucking fanboy.
Admit it, in each and every one of us, there is a Sonic fan.
Admit it, the spiny blue bastard may be easily pushed off of shelves, but we'll have a much harder time pushing him out of our hearts.
We're all Sonic Heroes.