While Sonic the Hedgehog may have popped up in various styles of gaming over the years, the team behind his escapades is generally kept the same. This means that the Sonic Team of in-house developers has been responsible for nearly every misstep and ill-advised ‘new direction’ that the character has been involved in. We can’t blame them for everything, but we’re getting kind of annoyed here. We genuinely think the Sonic Team has lost its touch.
The case for getting rid of them
Okay, we can’t present a case for actually getting rid of the team. Firstly, that’s just cruel. Secondly, some of the games are pretty awesome.
But then we get to the titles that seem to have been created over a lunch break or two. For example, with Sonic Riders, the game was actually quite promising, and then the Kinect got involved and ruined it for Sonic fans everywhere. It's an example of how a generally quite good Sonic title was ruined by Sonic Team.
There are a number of complaints around the Riders game. However, some players found that it simply didn't work. It literally did not work for them. The awkwardness of the Kinect handset also made it plain embarrassing to be involved with.
The biggest tragedy here? Not quite. There are probably millions of Sonic fans out there that loved the Sonic All Stars Racing title. It was crisp in it’s looks, and very fast. Essentially, it was a viable contender to Mario Kart (which is so legendary it doesn’t need the word ‘racing’ in the title).
Then Transformed was created and released by the team. This was not good news. The game was passable, but it had basically given everything a try-hard feel. The vehicles were now instantly transforming into variants, like a boat or a plane, on the original cars. This was disorientating, and also made it very hard for anyone to like the game much.
While no one expected Mario Kart to be beaten, there was no need to make Transformed, which looked like a desperate attempt to seem ‘edgy’.
Another travesty, this was an attempt to make a Sonic game that could crush Mario Kart. It didn't. In fact, it turned out to be one of the most hated Sonic titles ever.
While it was a racing game and carried the same perspective as Mario Kart did, the racers ran on foot. While this kind of makes sense considering that’s how Sonic stared out, it just meant a title that didn't seem exciting enough. And no one really cared.
Sonic and the Secret Rings
Here’s a game that came out of the blue. The Sonic team effort was particularly bad here, with Sonic running down an endless path trying to locate items. It wasn't incredibly fast, and it wasn't relaxed and effortless in it’s presentation. The whole thing seemed kind of showy, and that wasn’t what the buying public wanted. If we were to be even more honest, we’d say Sonic Team rushed this one out.
Even if Sonic Team had made hundreds of great games before this one, it still wouldn’t be enough to make this problem okay. The Sonic Shuffle game is slow, and that’s the biggest problem.
Sonic was never meant to walk slowly round levels, but that’s exactly what he does here. It’s excruciating to watch, and even worse to play. Even worse, the boss fights, which could have been legendary, turn out to be based on luck rather than any skill you may have.
The real problem
Sonic Team (and we do have to stress here that Sonic Team is not the only development team for the character) seems to want to create money-making titles, games that people will feel intrigued by and purchase on a bt of an impulse. Just like Mario not having many good games outside of the core titles, Sonic seems to be wandering around looking for the next big game that he stars in.
Sonic Team has a huge budget (we imagine) and the ability to create Sonic titles with pretty much absolute creative control. Why it produces such gems as Sonic Shuffle is anyone’s guess.