We’ve recently reported on Sega planning a change of direction, but could that also infer Sega finally letting go of the Sonic franchise? Just 490,000 copies of Rise of Lyric for the Wii U and Shattered Crystal for the 3DS combined were sold. The release concludes as the least successful Sonic game. Sega have been suffering from a Sonic identity crisis before, as there’s been a struggle in providing fresh, exciting and innovating gameplay for Sonic. This isn’t something new, it’s been an overwhelming issue that’s continued for more than ten years now – Sonic just isn’t interesting in modern gaming anymore.
Arguably, the most enjoyable Sonic gameplay in recent years has occurred from the smartphone platform. Sonic the Hedgehog introduces younger audiences to classic Sonic, whilst Sonic Dash has become an entertaining game, breaking the standard Sonic formula, even though it mimics many other endless runner smartphone games. Sure, smartphone gaming has allowed the franchise to refresh itself to modern audiences, but it isn’t a successful alternative and what fans truly want. What the fan-base requires is console gaming with riveting gameplay, which is perhaps why Sonic Generations was a modern-Sonic success.
Unfortunately the other endless attempts to reboot and revitalise the franchise has perhaps degraded the status of Sonic. We’ve seen too many unsuccessful Sonic games within the years that gamers just expect to be filled with disappointment for another Sonic game. Even with Sonic Boom, online forums often predicted and discussed the inevitable downfall of the game – not just because it was Nintendo exclusive – but because it’s become an expectancy that Sonic will fail.
In fact, joining with Nintendo was perhaps the best direction. For many years in the past, there was a rivalry between the two companies. But as the Sega consoles declined, a relationship blossomed with Nintendo. The Mario & Sonic series, featuring in Super Smash Bros and more made Sonic slightly relevant to modern gamers. After all, both the Super Mario and Sonic franchises are both very much alike. Perhaps had more effort been focused in bringing the spark of Generations to Boom, Sega would’ve proved that a modern Sonic game could still very much work.
Nevertheless, Sega and Nintendo shouldn’t break-up. The Platinum Games produced Bayonetta was finally made a sequel thanks to the Nintendo-Sega relationship. Nintendo took the Sega franchised game and managed to fund the Wii U sequel. It was single-handedly the best decision made between the two publishers. Just because Sonic is dying out, doesn’t mean that Sega has to too.
Instead, there should now be a focus on enhancing further Sega franchises, with Nintendo being their moral compass in guiding and supporting other Sega published games. Yes, we know that mobile gaming is now becoming Sega’s biggest concern, but it doesn’t mean that console gaming has to be dismissed completely. Nintendo is the key in keeping Sega’s console spark alive.
We’re not alone in these thoughts. Whilst this article itself was originally drafted earlier, some websites claimed the same view before we managed to publish this article. Even so, articles such as from The Verge expresses that “Sonic the Hedgehog needs to die” suggesting that he “just doesn’t know when to retire”.
It’s evident that the reign of Sonic is long gone, and Sega needs to rebrand themselves with new flagship content.