Fans of the Sonic franchise were eating very well on the night of December 9th, due to what went down at the Game Awards. Not only did they get a trailer for the sequel to the highly successful movie that has pretty much everyone excited, but SEGA even showed off a brief trailer for their 2022 Sonic game, which also has everyone very excited. There were good premiers and trailers all around but it’s safe to say that, aside from Aerial Powers saying “Jenshin Impact” when announcing the beat mobile game, SEGA won the night by a landslide.
However, I want to talk about the game in particular, Sonic Frontiers, and how important this game is for SEGA going forward.
Sonic Frontiers – Game Awards Trailer 2021
The Game Awards trailer for Sonic Frontiers starts off more or less like the first teaser shown at Sonic’s 30th anniversary livestream event earlier this year: Sonic running in what seems to be a forest-like area. This time we’re able to see what he’s running from, which is a dust cloud formed from something chasing him underground, launching projectiles like homing missiles.
The blue blur hears a voice beckoning him and immediately runs to his left, then the projectiles follow and dive after him, exploding on contact with the ground in a purple blast.
He manages to barely outrun the explosion in a burst of speed, leaving behind a trail that’s glitchier than his usual blue streak. He then bursts out of the foliage and turns to face the camera, and it’s then that the trailer shows us what we’re dealing with; the Sonic franchise finally has a fully open world game. Fans saw the shot of Sonic looking over the huge landscape and went berserk. Now, why is this so important, you might be asking?
A Trend since 2017
Games have been taking on a trend ever since the release of a particular 2017 title that you may or may not know, called The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Another franchise shortly came along with its own open-world game in the following months that you also may or may not know, called Super Mario Odyssey. Jokes aside though, both of these games were huge successes by their franchises’ standards, and it’s no doubt due to the scope of gameplay and exploration being far wider than they usually are.
Pokémon even tried doing the same thing with their Wild Area in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. While the games received mixed reviews overall, many believed that the Wild Area, tree and all, was the best part of them. Now it seems like they’re trying to take that concept to the next level in their upcoming game, Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Even Kirby is trying it out, straying from the usual 2D formula to create an expansive world in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, shown off in Nintendo’s September 23 Direct earlier this year. There are many more games that tried to take on Breath of the Wild’s vision, the most notable of them being Genshin Impact, which was directly called a shameless rip-off of by many viewers prior to its huge success in the mobile gaming industry.
And now, here we are in the present, with news of an open world Sonic game in the works. It’s time for me to drag out the question I’ve been hyping up for a little while longer: why is this so important?
The Sonic formula
If you’ve looked around the internet well enough, you’d know that the Sonic franchise has grown a reputation of having games that just aren’t very good, or flat-out bad, when they stray away from the usual side-scrolling formula. The franchise could never really shake the impression that any new entry in the series would just be a waste of time.
Even the first teaser trailer for Sonic Frontiers left people feeling this way, especially when they heard the team behind Sonic Generations and Sonic Forces were behind it. Of course, the team behind the decisions of some of the games that brought about this impression aren’t blameless; while they don’t deserve as much negativity as they’ve been getting, it seems like they’ve never picked up on what made some of their older games great, and are just banking on nostalgia while dishing new things out in hopes that the older fans and kids will buy their games. They always seem to be taking one step forward and two, maybe one and a half, steps back. But with this new trailer and concept, that seems to be changing.
Before the announcement of Sonic Frontiers, I couldn’t tell you the last time I was excited for a new Sonic game prior to its release, and many others can say the same thing. But with this new trailer, all it took was Sonic on a rock to hype up millions. Several commenters on videos about the trailer are talking about how promising the game looks and how excited they are, and to be fair to them (and myself cause, I’m one of those people), the world Sonic was looking over, as well as the separate shots panning over its many areas, appeared very beautiful and vast.
But other than that, not much at all was shown off (it was revealed, however, that the story would be written by long-time Sonic comics writer, Ian Flynn). It just goes to show how the idea of an expansive open world combined with a classic intellectual property is enough to make fans go crazy over new games. It also shows us something that we haven’t had the pleasure of seeing for the longest time: SEGA is finally learning and growing.
This alone doesn’t mean that the games are automatically going to print money, of course. Some games that tried to copy Breath of the Wild’s style didn’t turn out very well. But there’s no denying that its style brings excitement and intrigue out of people, and SEGA used that to their benefit, which is fantastic. It shows a sense of maturity and care that the other games were lacking due to that nostalgia factor they clung onto.
If this game is a success, Sonic can finally get the praise he’s deserved since the Adventure series, and SEGA could finally move towards losing that awful reputation. They can expand on this concept and move away from the side-scrolling formula without fear. They can give fans the feeling they’ve wanted from the games for so long: a sense of true adventure and control.
That’s why this game is so important. Sonic Frontiers is to SEGA what Pokémon Legends: Arceus is to GameFreak; they need it to be good, or else they’ll probably never be able to recover. Fans of the Sonic franchise need it to be good too, because they’ve deserved better than what they’ve gotten for the longest time now.
When will Sonic Frontiers release?
Sonic Frontiers is set to release during the holiday season of 2022 on all major platforms. It’s funny, this year isn’t even over yet but the end of the next one can’t come soon enough. All that being said though, what do you think about Sonic Frontiers? Are you excited? And how do you feel about Sonic games in general? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Also, we need more open-world games from more franchises. “Every game doesn’t need to be Breath of the Wild” is an ignorant reason to be against it.