The 1991 Sega cash chow franchise Sonic The Hedgehog will finally be hitting the big screen in 2018, according to Sega CEO Hajime Satomi. However, with fan reception of the Sonic series beginning to dwindle, a film may not be the best way to salvage a franchise some are considering is on its last leg.
According to Satomi, “Sega Sammy Group is currently planning with Sony Pictures to create a live-action and animation hybrid ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ movie scheduled for release in 2018. Like with this CG animation production, we would like to expand our business into other entertainment areas beyond what we are currently involved.”
This won’t be the first time Sonic has been on screens, having 2 cartoon series in the 90’s that, while still holding a nostalgic value for some, have not exactly withstood the test of time. Let’s just say it was obviously made to sell more copies of Sonic and not actually make a good cartoon.
The transition to a story-telling medium has never been kind to Sonic in the first place. In addition to the cartoons, we’ve seen games in the franchise try to flesh out the world of Sonic and give it a more complicated plot and story. When this happens, however, we get games like the universally hated Sonic ’06 and Sonic Boom. The problem is that Sonic started out as a game just about running, collecting rings and smashing robots. It was simple, but it kept kids coming back. It felt fun to go fast, and no other game had that kind of rush and adrenaline up until that point. It wasn’t super involved, but by keeping it simple it kept Sonic as a character from getting too annoying too quickly.
Sonic didn’t talk very much, and was meant more to just be a cool and simple design for the gameplay, which was always the emphasis of the early games. Of course, video games have to evolve. Sonic would have never survived if all the games were like the first and never gave us anything interesting, but an emphasis on plot had drifted the series away from its core.
Kids would much rather play a game where they just get to run around, go fast and collect things rather than go through missions and quests. The fact that the original Sonic game was only running, whereas 2014’s Sonic Boom only had running in a few parts of the game illustrates that the core of the series has gotten away from what it once was.
Since complicated plot seems to be the destroyer of Sonic games, a movie is the worst medium to take Sonic to next, especially a live action/animation hybrid movie. Not only does this mean that Sonic is going to be some weird CG creature (which will put his lovable design to the test) but he’s going to have to find a way to be fun and simple with a plot for an hour and a half. It’s hard for a Sonic product to hold a complicated plot and still feel faithful to the original series, because having to make Sonic slow down and do specific tasks takes away from the fast-paced and action packed gameplay that made people like him. No one played Sonic to get a game with an amazing plot and story, they just wanted to have fun. If the past Sonic games show anything about the way the series is headed, a movie may not be the way to make up for the poor sales and bad reception the series has gotten in the past years.