Sonic Forces is one of my most anticipated games of the year. While the famous hedgehog’s reputation has diminished over the years, he still has a place in my heart. Since I was a child, Sonic games were among my favorites. Whether I was playing a mainline game or spinoffs like Sonic Shuffle, Sonic: The Fighters, and Sonic The Hedgehog: Spinball, I adored the character. There’s no denying the fact that he’s stumbled over the years, but one game came out last month that changed everything. Sonic Mania, a sequel to Sonic and Knuckles launched for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
As someone who has played almost every Sonic game in existence, Sonic Mania exceeded every single expectation. Not only did the game adopt the 2D aesthetic, it also *spoiler alert* used elements from other sonic games. For instance, the Chemical Plant Zone boss required players to win a round of Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. As a Sonic fan, this moment caught me off guard. The rest of the game featured fan favorite levels as well as brand new zones created specifically for Sonic Mania. There are multiplayer and time attack modes as well as different ways to play through the campaign.
Sonic Mania is the best outing the blue hedgehog has seen in years. While not many people are talking about it, there is another game in the Sonic franchise coming out this year. Sonic Forces will launch on November 7th. Not only will it run at 4k/60 Frames Per Second (thanks to being enhanced by Xbox One X) it will also feature 3D and 2D gameplay, similar to Sonic Generations. That particular Sonic installment is one of my absolute favorites. It combined the best of both worlds and offered fans a stellar experience that I still play today.
Sonic Forces feels like a proper sequel to Generations, but there’s an ace up its sleeve – The Avatar. This new character teams up with both modern and classic Sonic to defeat Eggman. The Avatar has special abilities and can also use a variety of weapons to eliminate enemies. While you could use E-102 Gamma in Sonic Adventure, weapons aren’t common in the franchise. It looks like Sonic Team is taking just enough risks to make Sonic Forces a unique sequel.
As a fan, it’s unfortunate to see the character become a joke in the gaming community. Sonic The Hedgehog (06 version) was a buggy mess, Sonic Unleashed failed in my aspects, and don’t get me started on the Sonic Boom series. Although I adore Sonic Mania, I feel like the game almost plays it safe. Sure, there are fantastic set-pieces, and it’s full of nostalgia, but the game also feels like just a mere extension of the classics. Sonic Forces seems like a risk. I think this game is trying to propel the series ahead instead of looking backward.
No one knows if Sonic Forces will be great. The footage released so far looks fantastic, but as the saying goes, “looks can be deceiving.” For all we know, this game could be abysmal, just like Sonic 06. It could very well surprise us all and be the best Sonic game since the phenomenal Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. I believe that Sonic Forces is going to be the deciding factor for the entire series as a whole. You have to believe that SEGA will be looking at the reception of this game closely.
Think of it this way. On the one hand, we have a well-received 2D Sonic video game, and then we have a new 3D Sonic game launching in the same year. If Sonic Forces releases and is met with negative reviews, I think it’ll be the last 3D platformer for the character in a while. I believe that we live in a world where 2D Sonic games will be front and center from here on out if Sonic Forces fails. Surprisingly, this upsets me. I like when developers take risks. New games with unique gameplay mechanics are more interesting to me over games that go for the nostalgic factor.
Sonic Forces is bigger than people make it out to be. While I could be wrong, I think this is the last straw for 3D Sonic games. November 7th is slowly approaching, and I’m becoming nervous. I’ll support the game at launch, and I hope other fans purchase it as well. We need to show SEGA that fans still care about the blue hedgehog. If Sonic Forces fails, it’ll be a huge blow for the franchise as a whole, and we can’t let that happen.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89