If I could become part of Sonic’s circle (like Chris from Sonic X), sure, I would race to my favorite stages in the series — preferably those where neither altitude nor chemical threats are a factor — but I would also share lessons I’ve learned over the years. “Never trust Tails with a Chaos Emerald!” I’d yell. There was Eggman’s larceny in Sonic Adventure, having his “foolproof” plan go bust in Sonic Adventure 2, and (my favourite) losing one after getting shot down in Shadow the Hedgehog. After which point, the door linking me to my new friends would summarily close, as if a re-creation of losing to Metal Sonic in Sonic CD. Since accessing another world is a concept I can only realize through Secret Rings and Black Knight, I settled on a state of reflection for Sonic’s 25th anniversary this week rather than a far-fetched sky chase. And for this end, I received much prodding.
If you’re not up on the hedgehog titles, the Sonic Humble Bundle offers unbeatable value. For $10, you can build your own compilation covering multiple eras in the style of Sonic Mega Collection and Sonic Gems Collection, but with a more modern emphasis. Twenty-five dollars more, though, will unlock an illustrative Green Hill Zone-themed T-shirt from Fangamer. I told myself I’d need 35 reasons (one for every dollar) to justify it, since the bundle offered virtually no new acquisitions, although I have no objections about owning a third copy of Sonic CD. Ten would be a reachable benchmark. But 35? Not doable when Sonic 4 and Lost World have a curbing influence.
Amazon prepared a nice treat for the anniversary, too: a video chronicling Sonic’s history, one game for every year of his more-than-two-decade history. Apparently there’s an easter egg tucked somewhere in the video, but my attention rests more with the chosen games. They were willing to break the one-per-year format for Sonic Dash in 2013, yet Sonic Runners, the superior mobile game, was ignored for 2015? More stunning was that Sonic Shuffle got a mention, and it was at this point that I knew SEGA wasn’t leading this initiative.
SEGA’s rendition of a timeline video — posted on the deep humor well that is the Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter channel — has fewer surprises, but it also feels more fitting tonally in the way it directly acknowledges the community. Brilliantly, their way of representing Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) — often regarded as a stain in the series’ history — is not with a bogus, glowing description, but instead a simple yet bold acceptance of the negativity surrounding the game. And of course, there’s an obligatory Sonic Boom mention, but it goes to the chummy, comedic stylings of the TV show. Oddly, Lost World goes without mention (ironic, since the music is from this game), which I find hard to believe was a deliberate rebuff.
Since we’re on the subject of strange omissions, the selection for the Anniversary Selection album (released in Japan last week) was impressive because it drops some usual suspects (Seven Rings in Hand, Starlight Carnival) for less prominent but still deserving picks, like the stage themes of Red Mountain, Aquarium Park and Levitated Ruin. Still don’t understand why SEGA prefers rehashing Seaside Hill (in audio and stage form) rather than the more beautiful Ocean Palace, and anyone who’s listened to Lost World‘s bright soundtrack would agree that “Sea Bottom Segue” deserved to represent the game on here.
Another highlight from the week: seeing Nintendo and SEGA engage in a Twitter rally to promote the Wii U version of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. As much as I’ll enjoy seeing a temporarily non-aggressive Shadow participate in rhythmic gymnastics, or a life vest-equipped Sonic compete with his fears in freestyle swimming, the fan service of these Olympic games cap at the great remixes (e.g., Crazy Gadget, Battlerock Galaxy). These soundtrack goodies are what I’m most looking forward to… but not for $75 (the game’s nutso price in Canada).
Compared with the above festivities, there’s a more lively celebration for Sonic’s 25th anniversary happening with my memories — of nostalgic merchandise, rewarding unlockables, potent story developments, memorable lines and blissful stages. Moments of dismay and letdown are in there, too, but as I reflect on my lasting ties to the fandom since the first Sonic the Hedgehog, the more I realize I wouldn’t take it back.