[WARNING: SPOILERS FOR LOST WORLD FOLLOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK]
Anyone who comes to this site knows about Sonic the Hedgehog. After having a grand entrance into the gaming world, he's fallen hard from grace due to a team that just didn't know what they were doing. And while some recent efforts have restored some of Sonic's glory, the future of the series remains uncertain. The latest game, Lost World, has people divided as to whether or not it's a good Sonic game.
However, the last three Sonic games have a taken a route that I really hope the series keeps pursuing:
Say what you will about Colors, Generations, and Lost World, but these games have done something to me that I didn't expect them to do. While playing or (with Lost World) seeing them, I laughed a few times.
You see, I recently saw the cutscenes for Sonic Lost World, and I gotta say, I love the new approach to storytelling with its self-effacing, silly tone. To illustrate, let me quote one of the interactions Sonic has early on in the game with the Deadly Six member, Zazz:
Zazz: "I've been itching for a fight all day!"
Sonic: *sniffs* "I think you've been itching because you need a bath!"
Zazz: "Are you disrespecting me?"
......Okay, that's not exactly Bob's Burgers funny, but you gotta admit, it definitely helps give the game some personality.
Another instance is when Sonic talks to Zeena, seen below.
This would seem annoying with any other character (and maybe it is for you), but the thing is, this is Sonic. Mr. Attitude himself. This level of sass completely fits with his character and it works.
Some of the humor also comes from the Deadly Six themselves, even if they're old jokes, with Zomom being the traditional derpy glutton, and Zor, who's pretty much a parody of goths, commenting on how much life sucks, and how Sonic should give up like he has with everything, even questioning why he's even fighting the blue blur in the first place.
There's one last scene where Tails avoids being turned into a robot slave by using his tail to grasp a needle and using it to reprogram the computer. This is something that we would see in a Looney Tunes or Disney cartoon. It's funny, silly, and fits in with the tone of the series.
As stated, this isn't the only Sonic game to take this approach. The first Sonic game to really take the humorous approach was Colors, with the Wisps nicknaming Eggman "Baldy McNosehair", to Tails' early attempts at translation of the Wisp language, to the running gag involving Cubot's missing voice chip. But the real cream of the crop has to be Eggman's public announcements involving the rides and events, one of which includes his most pitiful attempt at trapping Sonic. (02:28)
Sonic Generations continued this trend with Sonic commenting on how this adventure wasn't any more absurd than their previous ones, to the cast commenting on how Classic Sonic's physique was so different (i.e., chubby).
While none of these games transcend Saturday morning level humor, it does help give the series some charm. The humor seems reminiscent of quality shows like Darkwing Duck or DuckTales, which had characters that also had their own level of sass and snark.
You gotta admit, this kind of cheesy humor is pretty funny. To illustrate that point, let's look at another game with a similar approach; Kid Icarus: Uprising. At one point, a mercenary by the name of Magnus is accompanying Pit, and we see Pit go into a hot spring. Magnus asks why he's going in with his clothes on, with Pit responding that it's a rule for angels to ALWAYS keep their uniform on no matter what. He also adds he doesn't want to "steam the sacred buns." After that, Magnus immediately ends the conversation. It's a cute joke that's funny enough on its own, but it really reaches some nice heights when Pit later confesses, in one of his many conversations with Palutena, that he made it up, and that it helps him save on laundry.
While the humor can be quite cheesy, the games are aware of it and gleefully roll with it. Unlike earlier iterations, instead of trying to play these absurd stories with a straight face, the latest games embrace the absurdity of their plots. While this may not be for everyone, something with this level of cartoonish charm is something that's rather lacking in a lot of AAA games these days. And honestly, these attempts at telling a tale beat the stuffing out of earlier attempts, like with Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic '06. Do any of us really want to go through that mess again?
And in this day and age where most AAA games try to present "tough" or "manly" characters, don't you think it's refreshing to see a mainstream title not take itself too seriously?
Whatever route future Sonic games take, I really hope that it keeps the approach to story like these last few games did. If the series is gonna die, at least it died with a funny smile on its face.