At one point, Sonic The Hedgehog was a platformer with mojo, and the quilled turboball had enough snap and color to help make Sega Genesis a success. But these days, Sonic games are a disjointed mess, with lousy mechanics, inconsistent gameplay, squishy responsiveness, and cringingly bad voice acting.
That said, there’s not much point in griping about a problem if you don’t have a solution. That’s the motivation behind Javed Sterritt’s open message to Sega. Sterritt is the creative mind behind the touchscreen game Totome, and he comes from a place of admiration for Sonic, and confidence that the franchise can be fixed.
The presentation opens with some metrics comparing the commercial and critical response to both Sonic and his closest rival, Mario. Sterritt also spends time dissecting who Sonic’s addressable market is, versus whom Sega appears to be advertising to. The argument then shifts to a breakdown of what has worked in the past, what should be scrapped, and what new features could be introduced. Sterritt organizes his observations and recommendations into six key points:
- Recognize your target audience is in its 30s.
- Go back to two-dimensional gameplay.
- Remove all voice acting, and trim cut scenes.
- Redesign Sonic to make him more vulnerable (dial back the ’90s attitude).
- Introduce a basic, but nuanced moveset.
- Replace the “finite lives” system with a currency-based ring accumulation strategy used for solving puzzles.
While it’s unclear if anybody at Sega will see, or care about these suggestions, Sterritt has clearly put a lot of effort into researching his arguments, and he’s clearly coming from a place of appreciation, with hope that Sonic has a more entertaining future ahead of him.