The original version of this post went live on May 13th. This new version expands on my thoughts and references the most recent news on whether we’ll get a new game or not.
As per Sonic Stadium’s news piece, SEGA of America’s Chief Branding Officer for Sonic, Ivo Gerscovich, previously shared that there are some exciting things in the works. To be more precise, he said:
“Yes! We have some exciting news that we can’t wait to share. But you’ll have to stay tuned for details…Stay tuned our friends, Sonic’s just getting started.”
Now, this is all hinting towards the plans for Sonic’s 30th Anniversary next year. What could it be? Well, given the success of the Sonic Movie, I fully expect there to be some non-game stuff. Maybe a new cartoon or a confirmed movie sequel. It should be safe to assume that there will be at least one new game too though. I’d kinda like to see a few. Maybe a new 2D game, a remaster of an old classic, a Sonic Maker style game, and a brand new modern game.
Now, there is absolute confirmation that we’ll see some new games. As per NintendoLife, SEGA’s licensing source says of Sonic:
“30th Anniversary, 2021: A year of celebration – new games, digital content, events, major announcements and a tailored licensing programme.”
What could they be? Well, putting aside what I want to see, I suspect we’ll, realistically, be looking at a new modern game and a mobile game. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing though! I personally enjoy the modern Sonic games. There are certainly things that could be done to mix the system up a bit though, and maybe even move the fans away from the current mixed reaction that the games have been getting. So, I figured it was time to put together my wishlist for a new modern Sonic title. As such, you’ll find my ‘Top 5 Things I’d Like To See In The Next Modern Sonic Game’ below.
More Open Level Designs
I don’t expect Sonic the Hedgehog to be a fully open world. It is not – nor does it need to be – trying to emulate the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But, the level designs could still be a little more open than they have been. When you look back at Sonic 3 & Knuckles as an example, the levels were deceptively large and featured multiple routes to run through them. In more recent times, Sonic Forces certainly had levels with multiple routes, but it was all really much the same thing when it came to 3D exploration: fixed camera, keep moving forward.
There are plenty of Sonic fan games that have already experimented with larger, less linear designs, and they show a lot of promise. What I’d like would be for size and variety to be taken into account when it comes to design. Utilizing a modernized equivalent of the Sonic Adventure camera system and allowing players to backtrack and try out different things would give the levels much more scope, in my opinion, so that would be a good start.
Being able to replay levels, like in Sonic Forces, would also be a useful addition to this as a concept too. I think that the focus for each level should be on having a ‘preferred’ route. When you look at Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, the levels were designed with specific characters and skills in mind. That really has to be the first focal point in the design. Throwing in other routes that require different skills though would give us a reason to explore.
Multiple Characters/Gameplay Variety
Now, I think that Sonic Forces attempted to lean into this a little. The wisps meant that the Avatar character’s playstyle could move beyond the now-familiar boost-style Sonic gameplay. When you look back through the history of the franchise though, we did once have more variety than this. And part of that was due to the different characters at our disposal. In the most recent times, Sonic Mania Plus is perhaps the best example, with the five playable characters each offering new mechanics. We’ve seen in it not only Sonic 3 & Knuckles but in the Sonic Advance series too. When it comes to modern style games, I’d say Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle are also fine examples of the franchise giving us multiple characters with different play styles.
So, what I want to see is the full roster available, even if it means some appearing as DLC. Give us boost style gameplay with character tweaks for the likes of Sonic, Shadow, and Silver. Give us exploration from Knuckles and Rouge. Let Tails, Amy, and Blaze take us in a different direction still. Give us chao and wisp gardens with mini-games featuring Cream. And keep the Avatar too, that was fun! This game doesn’t need to be the second coming the Adventure series, but it should borrow the best parts of it.
As stated in my first point, each level should be designed to allow a preferred character and route to be used in the story mode, but also let the different character types find different routes and secrets when you replay them. The only thing I don’t want to see in the game would be wholly 2D levels. These have always worked better in the 2D games, and I’ve found the ‘Classic Sonic’ levels in the recent modern games to be very hit and miss. I want consistency among the characters and how they handle.
A Big Story With Decent Characterisation
I know people are mixed on them, but I’ve enjoyed the modern storylines. I like that the lore is growing a little and that the writers are having fun with it. I don’t want to see that simplified, but rather tidied. The story should be as important as the gameplay. I’m not expecting ten-minute long cut scenes here. Bar maybe an epic opening and ending, much of the story should be told in short bursts and through talk moments during the levels. I do expect us to see the characters being themselves though.
In particular, I want to see Knuckles be the useful echidna he used to be. Of course, he was always naïve, and that’s fine. But he has been reduced to being either a complete moron or simply a bystander of late. This is the echidna that once punched Sonic out of his Super Sonic form. He can be that badass again. And the other characters too don’t have to be reduced to fan-servicey cameos. They should each play an important role.
How do they resolve this? Well, while I don’t dislike the work of the current writing team, I think we could get things moving in the right direction with some fresh blood. How about teaming Shiro Maekawa (SA2: Battle, Sonic Heroes, Sonic 06, Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity) and Ian Flynn (IDW and Archie comics)? We’d get two franchise veterans, both of whom are very capable when it comes to storytelling.
The map system in Sonic Forces was easy enough to navigate, but I did miss the hub world of Sonic Unleashed. It allowed us to learn a little more about Sonic’s world and encounter some nice little NPCs. In a way, this would tie in well with the other wants above. It would provide opportunities to interact with the other Sonic characters you aren’t playing as and, in doing so, flesh out the story a bit.
What would be nice would be to have it a little streamlined though. No running around to find multiple openings to levels. Perhaps a system where there are only one or two places you can visit to actually enter a level, and therein you can select which you are going to play and as who.
Chaos, Super, And Sol Emeralds
Other than as a brief Easter Egg, the only time we got to see the Chaos Emeralds in Sonic Forces was when you used the Super Sonic DLC. What I would like to see here would be a return of the Chaos Emeralds as collectable items that you have to actually find in the levels. Again, this ties into the previous points. Having the emeralds hidden in the levels themselves and having you need to switch up the characters to find them would be a nice touch. It’d be like the old Master System games but with a modern playstyle. The bonus stages worked well in the 2D games, but if we’re to get an exploration-based system for this, I’d want the emerald hunting to tie into that.
On top of that though, I would like to see the other emeralds from the franchise appear. The Super Emeralds from Sonic 3 & Knuckles allowed you to turn into Hyper Sonic, and it would be great to see him return. Meanwhile, the Sol Emeralds are Blaze’s equivalent to the Chaos Emeralds and allow her to turn into Burning Blaze. Throwing these into the mix would open up even more options for how to traverse levels, especially if other characters can gain Super forms. I mean, come on. Super Tails and Hyper Knuckles were awesome, but who wouldn’t want to see a Super Amy?
So, that’s my wishlist for the next Sonic game. But what about yourselves? Are you excited to see where the franchise goes next? What would you like to see in the game? Let me know in the comments below!