Everyone knows the Sonic series has gone into the crapper, and it's a damn shame. This series was once of the best, if not the best in the eyes of many gamers. It was routinely taking on Mario, and in some cases, beating it handily.
But then, something happened, and the games... well, they just stopped being good all together. And a lot of people just stopped caring about the series, which is a shame. There's still much potential to be had in the Sonic series... but Sega just isn't using it. It's like they don't know what the hell to do.
So, out of a bit of boredom and a bit of hope that maybe someday, somewhere, someone from Sonic Team or Sega will see this and take the advice, I present to you some of my ideas on how to fix the Sonic series for the better.
To begin with, we undo what Sonic X slightly tried to do - tie together the comic and game series. In fact, we go a step further - this new Sonic is a retcon of the entire series. Storyline wise, it dumps just about everything after Sonic 3. In a sense, it's Sonic the Hedgehog 4.
Yes, you heard me. Almost all of the garbage after Sonic 3 goes away, though some elements and characters will remain. This new Sonic would be much darker, and in fact, would be more in line with the comics and Saturday morning cartoon that was on ABC way back when. on top of that, the
Game play style, the entire series is shifted back to what it was before; a pure, speed-based adrenaline rush through each level with loops, spirals, pits and traps strewn throughout, with a heavy emphasis on the more traditional parts, including platforming elements and multiple paths through a level. The key, though, is wrapping all of this up in a way that not only flows, but delivers a sense of speed and challenge. Ever since Sonic Adventure's first level, except for tiny parts of both Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic and the Secret Rings, the series has lost its way on consoles. On handhelds, it's a different story, but they're also putting those games out in 2-D, much like the days of old. That won't fly on the current generation of consoles, sadly.
The best way to do that is *gasp* to put the game a little more on rails and a little less on 3-D roaming. The second you hit a rail in one of the newer games and come to a sudden stop, you lose the sensation of speed. By restricting our movement a bit more, we can help restore that sense of speed and control that Sonic has without running into such issues. On top of that, incorporating rumble more into the game, so that your controller really starts vibrating wildly when you're at full speed, will help the gamer feel more of a sense of speed. When he goes fast, slow the world around him down, because in the wonderful world of physics, that's what things appear like. Make the world around him blur like crazy... he's supposed to be the fastest thing alive, dammit!
When it comes down to characters... well, there's too many of them taking the focus off Sonic as the main character. Here's an interesting thought, Sega: most of the best games of 2007? They did not have 8-12 playable characters. Galaxy had 2. Prime 3 and Halo 2 had 1. Call of Duty 4 had three, but there was little difference. Mass Effect? There was only Sheppard, but you could customize him/her as you wished. They relied on other characters to help flesh out and tell the story, not to directly tell it. So, in order to help make Sonic better... we've got to do some cutting.
These are your core characters:
Amy Rose (as a NPC)
Cream the Rabbit (as a NPC)
Rouge the Bat (as a NPC and potential boss)
Eggman/Robotnik (as a NPC and The Final Boss)
Metal Sonic (as a Boss)
Shadow the Hedgehog (not sure if he will be playable or not yet... but leaning towards no)
As you can see... that's pretty much the core group of the Sonic series. Most of the auxillary characters are removed completely from this storyline (maybe some will have cameos as background, non-speaking characters like Team Chaotix), but it eliminates part of the problem that has plagued Sonic recently: there's just too many damn characters. Sonic needs to focus more on the title character and his two long-time allies in Tails and Knuckles.
The remaining major characters would be pulled from the pool in the comic/animated series. Princess Sally, Bunnie, Antoine and Rotor get the nod here, as well as Snively, who appeared in both the comic and cartoon as Robotnik's nephew. And while we're speaking of Robotnik, we're going to be using the comic/ABC series version of him, replacing the bumbling fool demeanor with that of a sadistic, twisted dictator. Eggman appears in the comic, too, but he and Robotnik are not one in the same: Eggman's actually the evil robotic version of Robotnik, but we can put that off for another game. And no, there will be no ultimate power beyond our friendly doctor. We'll leave that whole "more power villain than the last guy" thing to crap like Dragon Ball Z.
And yeah, you can do the whole dual realities thing: The Legend of Zelda series is already pulling it off, because for all intensive purposes, there's no other way to explain the order of the Zelda games and the histories contained with each of them.
What else gets the axe? The entertaining, but unnecessary Chao Gardens do. Same with putting Sonic in the real world with loads of humans about. Put him back on Mobius, where he belongs. The Mario series is proof enough that you don't have to have a game in the real world for it to be a success, and when you do move these kinds of games onto planet Earth...
Yeah, moving on...
Sonic games should not be pumped out every year, like they are right now. Take your damn time, Sega, and put out games when they are done so we don't have issues like really bad camera angles or god awful scripts. Also, in the same vein, cut down on the spin-offs. Axe Sonic Riders to focus on one Sonic game for all three platforms, and don't rush it. You won't lose money if you wait and make a great game. You will if you rush and make a crappy one.
The music... it needs to improve. Enough with the lyrics. Give us something cool, something instrumental like it was back in the day. I could honestly do without the pop rock crap we've gotten in the last few games. You're making a game, not a top 40 record.
Maybe I'm completely on the wrong path here. Maybe I'm not even close to figuring out what needs to be changed in Sonic, but those are just a few somewhat-rough suggestions I'd have for Sonic Team and Sega. Maybe if they considered some of them, their next Sonic game wouldn't suck... but I'm sure it will, anyways.