The saga of the latest two Sonic games has to be some of the oddest handling of PR I’ve seen in the industry in a long time. First, Sega made a huge deal of teasing Sonic 4 through its Project Needlemouse hype campaign, with the reveal of a new 2D Sonic game met with renewed hope by longtime series fans. A few months later, without any fanfare or hype build up, Sonic Colors was announced. It was almost as if Sega was embarrassed to mention Sonic Colors. And with the announcement that it would be a 3D platformer with new gimmick characters in the colored alien wisps, many fans were perfectly content to ignore the game and put their full attention on the hedgehog’s return to 2D.
Then E3 came around where we actually got to play both games, and Sonic Colors was freakin’ amazing. At least for me personally, easily a contender for Game of the Show.
But I wasn’t the only one who took notice. Across all manner of gaming blogs and news sites, Sonic Colors was gaining a lot of attention. After all, by all accounts it was the 3D Sonic game fans had been waiting for: fast, fun, only Sonic as a playable character, and without any of the camera issues or sticky geometry of past 3D Sonic games. Sega replied to the excitement by saying that Sonic Colors was actually a kids game, and that Sonic 4 was the game that core gamers will enjoy. Now, in a recent interview with Game, Sonic Colors lead designer Takashi Iizuka has reiterated that distinction between Sonic for kids and Sonic for the core gamer. When asked about how speed and control would be managed in Sonic Colors, to prevent the game from feeling like rollercoaster playing itself, Iizuka replied:
We know there are sometimes opinions about control from core gamers, but we’re intending Sonic Colours to be played by children of probably between six and twelve years-old.So, with Sonic Colours we have aimed more to make a game that everyone can control and have fun in. So, it’s not really a game for the core gamers. If you take the rail grind, it’s something that’s fast, not difficult but is fun to do and looks great. It’s about making a game that’s right for the core audience of the game.
As I’ve said before, the distinction between Sonic games for kids and “core” gamers is an utterly ridiculous one to make. Sonic games on the Genesis were all kids games when they were released, and Sonic 4 models itself after Sonic 1 and 2, so logic would dictate that Sonic 4 would be classified as a kids game as well. The only difference is the nostalgia factor, but from a pure gameplay standpoint Sonic 4 would attract the same age group audience that the original Sonic games did: kids.
But I think the bigger problem is how Sega seems to view Sonic fans, as revealed in later comments from Iizuka in that same interview.