They said it couldn’t be done. They said it would take too much time. But then indie developer Twisted Pixel turned around and, BAM, made a game that was worthy of being placed alongside the likes of the Genesis Sonic games and Sonic CD. The plot twist? Twisted Pixel hadn’t made a Sonic game, but a new IP.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am very aware that I’m not the first person to liken Splosion Man to Sonic, not by a long shot. But every site or comment that has said it has only done so in passing, not really expounding on the similarities. That is what I plan to do in the following paragraphs, as it seems everyone has forgotten what made a Sonic game good.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
In the original Sonic the Hedgehog, your moves were quite limited. The A button made you jump, as did B and C. You could move left and right, and that was what you were given to beat the game. Similarly, in Splosion Man, the learning curve is nonexistant. The A button makes you splode, as does the B, X, and Y buttons. Pretty fuckin simple. Now, if it’s not immediately apparent to you what the benefits of having such a limited moveset is, allow me to educate you. In recent days, a character is given a shitton (more like ten shittons) of abilities, and the game consists of segments where you have to use Ability A or Ability Z, and not much else. When you only have one move, developers are forced to employ solid level design to keep the game fresh, which you can see in both Sonic the Hedgehog and Splosion Man.
Speed May Be Jesus, But Platforming Is God
In the aforementioned link, Sega’s Vice President of Marketing actually said “older, die-hard Sega fans who grew up with the franchise and the first Sonic the Hedgehog associate Sonic more with 2-D side-scrolling super fast”, which demonstrates the biggest problem with Sega’s moden mindset. I don’t know if any Sega execs have played a Genesis Sonic game, but it’s not a game where you “side-scrolling super fast”. It is a platforming game where, if you play flawlessly, there are portions of stages that you can run through extremely quickly. Such is the way in Splosion Man. If you have a level memorized, yeah, there are parts of it where you can fly through seamlessly. But, try to play most of the levels on Splosion Man by going full speed in a direction and sploding at the right times. Chances are, you aren’t going to make it very far.
Don’t Alienate Those Outside Of Your Target Market
It is no argument that Sonic was a game marketed to children. If you need any proof, just look at the TV show (the Jaleel White one) and the comic series (the Archie ones). However, Sega was wise enough to not make Sonic cutesy enough to scare off any adult gamers interested in the series. This is not the case nowadays, as seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, when you’ve got Sonic and this princess girl (I’m not even going to give that game enough respect to Google her name) that are pushing the absolute boundaries of the human/bestial relationship, and to be quite frank that is just too awkward for me, and most people I know. Kids might be too innocent to make the connection, and God bless their souls for it, but I just can’t deal with it. Likewise, no one is going to argue that the art style and mood of Splosion Man is anywhere near mature, but it’s not juvenile either.
A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
This point goes hand in hand with the last one. While both Sonic and Splosion Man are lighthearted games, they pack plenty of challenge. In the later levels of both games, if you are not good at your reflexes and timing, get ready for frustration. Splosion Man is a little less difficult, as it allows you infinite tries and the skip-a-level mode if you really suck, but the levels themselves are still appropriately challenging. At least it’s harder than the recent WereSonic and the Legend of the QTE.
So, as sad as it is, Sega may not ever put out another quality Sonic game. As sad as it is to say, maybe they are just too far removed from their fans to know what we really want anymore, or then again, they may just not care. That is why we have to support smaller, upcoming devs like Twisted Pixel who have the motivation to make quality neo-retro titles. Thanks guys, for giving me my last dance with Mary Jane..er, Sonic.