Part 2 of our team’s trip down memory lane with the Sonic The Hedgehog brand sees regular reviewer T.A.Black take on the task of laying out his own personal Top 5.
When I was asked to look back across 20+ years of Sonic the Hedgehog to celebrate the 10th (and final) year of Sonic Wrecks, I looked back across many years of Sonic and his friends. I thought long and hard about the highs, the lows, the best points and the worst.
And then I played Mario Kart 8.
But seriously, when I, along with the rest of the LMC/SW staff, was asked about my top 5 Sonic moments, it was a hard thing to pin down. After all, Sonic not only had the games, but the comic books, the TV series and even an OVA. And it’s not only the hoggy hero that has been in the limelight, with a vast collection of characters to pick from. However, I have picked my top 5 moments of Sonic the Hedgehog. You will probably disagree with my choices, but as they say, variety is the spice of life. So sit back, relax, and enjoy my top 5.
After games like Sonic 06 and Shadow the Hedgehog, it seemed like Sega was on the way out with its famous mascot. Even decent games like Sonic Unleashed or Sonic and the Secret Rings were marred either because it was no Sonic 3, or by odd design decisions. It seemed like, whatever Sega did, nothing would go right for them. And then Sonic Colours appeared.
Sonic Colours is a fast, detailed and energetic game that excels in everything it does. It captured the spirit of the older games, added in some modern twists, and make one of my favourite games of the Wii/PS3/360 generation (somewhere between Rayman Origins and Persona 4 Arena). And finally, it showed that Sega can make a Sonic game that pleases everyone, a feat that was repeated in Sonic Generations. Pretty much everything about this game captured the essence of the original games as well as keeping the superior Day stages from Sonic Unleashed.
The 7 worlds are bright and varied, echoing the diverse zones found in the more traditional Sonic games. From the peppy Tropical Paradise to the beautiful (and equally ravaged) Planet Wisp, each zone was entertaining and it showed that Sega hadn’t lost their touch (it was just stuck under the sofa for many years). But one of the best parts for me was the voice cast. After the varied quality of the vocal performances, Sega had finally got down some of the bigger names in voice acting to voice their characters. Roger Craig Smith and Kate Higgins made their debut as Sonic and Tails, with the former now striking up a strong vocal partnership with the Mike Pollock; who reprised his role as Dr Eggman (and has continued to this day). To finally enjoy a Sonic game’s vocal work for the first time since Sonic Adventure 2 was a huge relief and, to me, made the game that much better.
And although it hasn’t got a single moment that makes it more awesome to me than the other entries in this list, it is a personal highlight of the series, and a sheer joy to play. And what could be better than that for a Sonic game? Well, 4 things I guess…
Sonic & Knuckles was the final part of the “Death Egg” saga that defined some of the greatest Sonic moments, and although I could fill the entire list from those games, I decided it was the grand finale that deserved the plaudits as one of the most memorable moments in Sonic history.
The entire “Death Egg” saga was a way to tell a story without the need for spoken cutscenes, instead showing the player what happens instead of telling. Personally, this is a much better way to tell a story as it negates the issue of the language barrier, and you can do so much more with it. Throughout the game, there were subtle nods to the grand finale that could have been made way too obvious (such as in Sonic Adventure when they tried to do the same thing, but it didn’t work quite as well). And the final battle is not only a moment of awesome for Sonic, but also Eggman. Throughout the game, Sonic has been defeating Eggman to try and stop the third re-launch of the Death Egg, to no avail.
However, after beating the final standard mecha in Death Egg zone, Eggman decides to go all out to try and win with a remodelled version of the Death Egg Robot, using the Master Emerald as its power source. And facing him is the same blue hedgehog that has bested his plans many times before. And as the battle wears on, you not only see Sonic lay waste to one of Eggman’s most powerful machines, but also the desperation of Eggman, literally tearing apart the Death Egg to beat his nemesis. And then, if you’ve got all the Emeralds, you face off against Doomsday Zone and the true final boss. A fast and speedy flight through space as you chase Eggman to reclaim the Master Emerald. In nothing says “epic conclusion” quite like this, I don’t know what is. And when you take the Eggman down for the final time, the success is that much sweeter.
The whole experience is a joy and what final bosses should be. The music is simply fantastic and fitted the mood perfectly. The difficulty is neither too hard or too easy, striking a very good balance between the two. And most importantly, it is very memorable. Not many final bosses in Sonic match up to this titanic battle, and I still think to this day, no game has yet matched it.
Sonic CD is probably in my top 3 Sonic titles of all time. It’s fast, fluid, gorgeous to look at, and has two awesome soundtracks for the price of one. It also offered some tricks that were unique for platformers in that era; in particular the concept of time travel. The idea of moving back and forth in time and affecting the level layout and what foes there were was an idea that, in all honestly, should be used more often in games. But for me, the best thing about Sonic CD was the fact that it has possibly the best intro to a game in that era. At a time where full animation in games was very limited and of varying degrees of success, CD’s opening animation blew the rest of the water. And although it lasted for less than a minute, it summed up Sonic CD and how different is was to be from other games.
Although I played Sonic CD for the first time as part of the Sonic Gems Collection, it was that intro that stuck in my mind when I first played the title. I can’t really say why it appealed to me a lot, only that it was so memorable. To see Sonic actually perform all his game moves in a way that, to me, has yet to be replicated in the 3D games was very impressionable. Plus, the fact we get the best intro music to a game – the US soundtrack’s Sonic Boom (no sports tape or scarf here, folks). All of it combined meant that as soon as I saw it, I knew that Sonic CD was going to be something special. And even after all these years, I still think that intro is one of the best ways I’ve seen a game start (equalling the intro to Dual Destinies and Super Mario Galaxy).
Although there were many grand points in the game, it is still that intro that defined what Sonic CD was to me. It’s fast, full of character and unique – all things I associate with this gem of a game.
I think I speak for most of us that the general mood when Sonic was announced in Brawl was this: grinning like a maniac with “Ode to Joy” playing in the background. Or to give it its proper name: Peggle.
What most of us weren’t expecting when the announcement was made was that Sonic would end up getting possibly one of the most awesome roles in Subspace Emissary (Brawl’s story mode). To recap: the entire story involves heroes from many worlds facing the Subspace Emissary; an army tasked with taking over the gaming universe where the tale is set. From Mario to Samus; Link to King Dedede and many more, everyone is involved in the final battle in the Great Maze. And at its centre – the leader of the army; Tabuu. A god-like being that can “trophy” (i.e. KO) a fighter instantly.
And then Sonic appears as a blue blur; causing him the first damage and weakening him to an extent where the other fighters can actually start attacking him.
Now, in a game that has hyped up the possibility of Sonic vs Mario, it did rob us of a story mode battle between the two. However, this more than made up for it. To see Sonic actually make his entrance in the final boss battle is a fantastic way to introduce him. And whilst other characters had their own moments of awesome (including Kirby and King Dedede), the entrance of Sonic is still one of the most memorable. And it’s saying something that another company managed to give Sonic enough respect with his character to give him such a pivotal performance. And, of course, his inclusion into the game itself was a huge success. So it’s no surprise that he’s back in the new Super Smash Bros game.
But for me, Sonic’s involvement in Subspace Emissary is my greatest Sonic moment. “But T.A,” I hear you type, “Why is the greatest Sonic moment if it’s #2?” Well, because my best moment in any Sonic game or medium belongs to another person – and possibly one you might not expect…
- Sonic vs a Black Hole. Although futile in the end, who didn’t love Colours’ scene of Sonic almost managing to out-run a black hole?
- Sonic vs Metal Sonic – both the classic and Generations versions. The first taste of a foe that can match Sonic for speed as well as determination, and the sublime remastered version that is equally awesome
- Sonic R – In my opinion, possibly the Sonic universe’s version of “So Bad, It’s Good”. Mario Kart this is not, but it can’t stop you smiling because of just how broken and cheesy it is
- Mike Pollock. Because if taking a role that was defined by a single VA and making it his own isn’t awesome, what is?
- The music. In the majority of Sonic games, the music is simply awesome and it is very hard to single out a game which has the best soundtrack
#1…Best Sonic Wrecks Moment
Yes, I know I’m getting off topic here. But I can’t do something to celebrate Sonic Wreck’s 10th anniversary without giving what my top moment of the site was. Sonic Wrecks has done much in its 10 years, from humble beginnings to…well, slightly less humble endings. But in between that, SW has had a podcast that stretched for over 6 years, a thriving community, a top webcomic, and even involvement in big projects like Sonic Brotherhood and Summer of Sonic.
So what’s my best part of Sonic Wrecks? Is it the Metal Sonic arc? Is it the sheer size of the Sonic Wrecks depository? Does it involve a wrench and people getting out of my way? Actually, it’s a bit more unique.
Way back many years ago, I found Sonic Wrecks and really enjoyed what it did. When the site finally got a forum, Entherial Online (remember that, folks?), I ended up joining and getting into the SW community. And in particular, I got to know two people that became some of my best friends. You may know them as Blake Draco and Ram the Dragon. What started as a common interest in gaming and Sonic Wrecks soon became the focal point for two of the strongest friendships I’ve made. I’ve never had a dull moment with these two, whether it’s been tossing around ideas for stories or playing games together (believe me; you’ve never experienced anything until you’ve played Ticket to Ride with these two). They’ve also inspired some of the best, and maddest, moments of my time with SW, including my many stories, Blake and mine’s “Entherial Online Project”, the “Yoshi Translator 2.0” and their personal highlight on SW – Dragon’s Den. And despite our highs and lows, and out personal disagreements (*coughStarfoxAdventurescough*), it has been great to share ideas and opinions with two people .
More than that, it has been special to see their relationship grow. From simple beginnings linking webcomics and art became a strong friendship between the two. And, eventually, their real-life relationship. They have shown that distance cannot keep love apart and, regardless of the pitfalls and problems that might occur, if you keep at it, you’ll get there. And to see these two together at last is one of the biggest “Crowning Moments of Heartwarming” I can remember from SW.
I feel honoured to have known these two from the beginning, and I look forward to our many years of friendship in the future. So yes, it’s a personal moment for my top moment of Sonic Wrecks. But it is a damn special one.
And yes, my top moment in Sonic history goes not to our hero, but his nemesis.
Dr Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik has had many flaws and problems in his 20+ years for global domination. From flawed mecha designs (seriously, if your only weakness is the giant glowy things, try to, you know, protect them) to ill-conceived plans (sure, the ancient evil from years ago won’t go out of control and try and kill you – honest), Eggman is one of the weaker bad guys in the list of evil do-ers. However, he got possibly the biggest moment in any Sonic game, and possibly the most memorable for me.
And it’s THAT scene in the ARK.
To recap: Eggman is collecting Chaos Emeralds to try and create the Eggman Empire with his doomsday weapon, the ARK cannon. Sonic and co are, of course, there to stop him. However, Tails’ grand plan of taking his Chaos Emerald and a fake designed to nullify the cannon was flawed…by the sheer fact he brought the real Emerald with him. Anyone else see a massive flaw with this plan? Anyway, Eggman catches on and decides to plan a little trap for Sonic: kidnap Amy and demand her release for the Chaos Emerald. But it doesn’t go that way: first, he traps Sonic in an escape pod rigged to explode. Second, he tricks Tails to revealing the real Emerald by a very clever piece of wordplay. Third – he jettisons the escape pod, leaving a piece of Deus Ex Chaoscontrol-ina as the only way Sonic is saved.
Now, why is this my top Sonic moment ever? Firstly, it has Eggman in it, my favourite Sonic character. Seriously. Secondly, it shows him using his 300 IQ outside of creating tons of robots on what is probably a shoestring budget. By taking the logical steps after discovering two Emerald signatures, Eggman managed to create the perfect scenario for him to succeed. And after so many years of failure and stupidity, it was magnificent to see Eggman finally be villainous to levels of a Ganondorf nature. Third, the scene was just perfect. Although parts can seem a bit over the top at times, it still sticks in my mind as one of the pinnacles of the Sonic series. Deem Bristow and Ryan Drummond are excellent in their parts, and they give the scene the extra gravitas it has.
And finally – it’s from my favourite Sonic game. Where else could it be but number 1? And okay, Eggman’s plan with the ARK might have been flawed in the end, and okay his victory was short, but for one moment, Eggman won. And although he had other mini-victories (such as in Unleashed), none ever had the same impact on me than his first – and greatest – success.
And that is my top 5. Feel free to argue amongst yourselves as to where I’m categorically wrong, but this is my opinion. A view that is, admittedly, warped by playing as another blue-coloured mammal for far too long. But for all its highs and lows, Sonic the Hedgehog has always found ways to be awesome. And as all the staff have shown, way too many to be placed into a top 5 list.