When it was announced that Paramount Pictures had picked up the rights to a Sonic The Hedgehog movie back in 2017, it was greeted with an understandable amount of skepticism. After all, movies based on video games had rarely (if ever) turned out well, and upon hearing that the film would be a live-action adaptation, I think most of us gave up all hope right out of the gate.
Then we started to get news about who would be involved. Deadpool director Tim Miller would serve as an executive producer, Parks and Recreation‘s Ben Schwarz was perfectly cast as the voice of Sonic, and finally, in a genius move, Jim Carrey was announced to play animal kidnapper Doctor Ivo Robotnik. Suddenly things didn’t seem so bad, right?
But then the trailer dropped. And boy, did it drop. While Jim Carrey seems to be having the time of his life with a performance harking back to his zanier 90’s outings, he was completely overshadowed by an absolutely horrendous redesign of Sonic himself.
The internet, as the internet is wont to do, was quick to let Paramount know exactly how it felt. What’s with the teeth? Why is Gangsta’s Paradise the theme tune? Why does he have human legs? Sonic was just horrifying to look at. How could a film about a blue cartoon hedgehog possibly drop the ball this badly?
To Paramount’s, and director Jeff Fowler’s credit, they responded quickly and took the unprecedented move to push the film’s release date back to February 2020 and announced they will work on a complete redesign of the character. “The message is loud and clear,” Fowler tweeted. It’s a brave move from a major studio, and the additional work needed to fix the Sonic movie will not be cheap.
The thing is, Sonic The Hedgehog is no stranger to terrible reinventions. To say that Sega has done a disservice to the character over the years would be an understatement. Many have called for the movie version of Sonic to be burned with fire, but there are many games that should enter the furnace along with it.
So while we’re waiting on Paramount to reveal the redesign, here are 5 terrible Sonic games that make the Sonic the Hedgehog Movie not look so bad.
HONORABLE MENTION: SONIC’S SCHOOLHOUSE (PC – 1996)
This only gets an honorable mention as it’s hard to really consider this a proper Sonic game (you don’t even get to play as Sonic!). Sonic’s Schoolhouse is an educational game designed to help young children learn mathematics, reading, and spelling while somehow incorporating the gameplay mechanics of Doom and Wolfenstein. Confused? This ‘game’ has mostly been forgotten, and for a good reason, but at least it holds the dubious honor of being the first 3D Sonic game to have a voice actor for the titular blue spikey speedster.
5. SONIC THE FIGHTERS (Arcade – 1996)
Originally released in Japanese arcades in 1996, followed by a limited run in North America, Sonic the Fighters evaded us Europeans for many years until 2005 when it was included on the Sonic Gems Collection compilation for the Playstation 2 and Nintendo GameCube. However, it wasn’t until it appeared on the Xbox 360 marketplace in 2012 that I would finally get the chance to play it myself.
I downloaded the game out of curiosity more than anything else, expecting to get a couple of hours entertainment out of it at most. I did not. Sure, it had an impressive roster of fighters, and the game was mostly praised for its cartoony visuals (for its time, at least), but that didn’t stop this from being a dull, sluggish experience and one quick match was all I needed to understand why it took so long to reach our shores.
4. SONIC 3D: BLAST / FLICKIES ISLAND (Genesis / Mega Drive – 1996)
I tried to like this game, I truly did. The 1984 Flicky game by Sega is genuinely one of my favorite arcade games ever, and the original Sonic Trilogy is pure platforming perfection, so crossing the two games over could have resulted in something exceptional. But with the newly released Sony PlayStation introducing the world to 3D platformers, Sega decided to try their hand at a 3D Sonic game.
The change in perspective came at a cost, most notably the speed for which Sonic had become renowned for, replaced instead with a bland fetch quest to find 5 Flickies to progress from each level. Where the original Flicky game made finding the titular creatures
3. SONIC BOOM: RISE OF LYRIC (Wii U – 2014)
Sega, why? Why must you insist on destroying the legacy of one of the most beloved video game icons of all time? The Sonic franchise had already long been on a downward spiral following years of misguided attempts to bring the World’s Fastest Hedgehog into the 21st century, so when Sega announced yet another reboot, we had our fingers crossed that they had finally learned from their mistakes. Instead, we got Sonic Boom.
To appeal to a new, younger audience, Sonic Boom was created as a whole new franchise consisting of a TV show, toy line, comic books and a new series of video games, in which Sonic and his friends were given a complete makeover. Although not garnering quite as much hate as the recent movie trailer, it wasn’t far behind. Most notably, the new design for Knuckles came in for most of the criticism, with a new top-heavy look that did not sit well with long-serving fans of the franchise.
But appearances aside, at least the first game in this new iteration of Sonic could be quite fun, right? Nope. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric currently boasts the accolade for the worst-reviewed Sonic game of all time, with many criticizing the broken graphics, irritable and unfunny dialogue, and appalling level design. The fact that Sega refused to send reviewers copies of the game before its release speaks volumes and currently, it is lowest selling game in the entire Sonic franchise.
2. SONIC GENESIS (GBA – 2006)
A Game Boy Advance remake of the original Genesis /Mega Drive game, what could possibly go wrong? Well, everything apparently. Graphically, the game was a mostly faithful recreation of the 1991 classic, but that’s about all this trainwreck had going for it. The framerate was choppy at best, the music and sound effects were constantly out of sync with the gameplay, sprites would just straight up disappear for no reason, and the game would grind to a halt if one too many enemies appeared on screen at the same time. If you couldn’t tell already, all of this made Sonic Genesis an unplayable mess.
1. SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (PS3 / Xbox 360 – 2006)
Released on the same day as the previously mentioned Sonic Genesis, 2006 was clearly not a good year for poor old Sonic. This is the game in which Sonic finds himself a human girlfriend. That this creepy sub-plot is not the worst part of 2006’s attempt at a reboot is pretty remarkable.
In the first hour alone, players were subjected to countless glitches including, but not limited to, the opening cutscene video being out of sync with its audio, getting stuck in and on walls, being able to access areas you’re not supposed to, standing upside down, walking through closed doors, and awfully long loading times. Not to mention a glitch which gave Knuckles the ability to jump to infinite heights, allowing players to skip the majority of levels.
Although a patch was eventually released to fix the “Knuckles Jump,” it was too little too late. Sega eventually pulled the game from retailers, along with any other Sonic title that scored less than average on Metacritic, in an attempt to increase the value of the franchise; but for many, the damage was already done.
So as you can see, the Sonic movie isn’t the first time the franchise has been on the receiving end of major criticism and unfortunately, it won’t be the last. I dread to think what Sega will decide to throw at us next…