"Blue Streak! Speeds By! SONIC THE HEDGEHOG! Too Fast! For the Naked Eye! SONIC THE HEDGEHOG!" I love Sonic the Hedgehog. Seriously, don't even get me started. The speed. The attitude. The music. The story, where applicable. All of it. Following the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has been a wild roller coaster ride with its share of highs and lows. The true blue hero hit the ground running at top speed in 1991, but he lost a lot of momentum as he tripped and stumbled through his transition to 3D. With the "success" of COLORS, he seems to be gaining back some steam and hopefully Sonic Generations, the project being released to celebrate their 20th Anniversary, provides him with another much needed boost. As I brace for the arrival Sonic Generations, I remember all of my favorite moments with the hyperactive hedgehog. I could ramble about those, but a list that extensive could crash the server. So instead, I think I'll ramble about a few of the times where the Sonic franchise failed to deliver as expected.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

"Sonic is finally back!" It was impossible to find a review for Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 that didn't include those words in some shape or form. It wasn't until I played it that I realized that everyone was being sarcastic. Play Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic 4 back to back for five minutes each and it should be apparent that something vital is missing. I thought that it would a smart move for Sega to go back-to-basics, but they probably should've reviewed their basic physics first. A Hedgehog in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force. How viscous is the atmosphere on Mobius that Sonic loses all momentum the second he goes airborne? And what's the coefficient of friction on that grass that it takes Sonic a half an hour to get up to top speed? And what was the blood alcohol level of the reviewers who enjoyed this game? Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Immediately after turning off Sonic 4 I played Sonic 3 and Knuckles to recover, so in a roundabout way the game did deliver the nostalgic thrill it promised.

Sonic X

This anime debuted in Japan shortly after Sonic Adventure 2 just finished kicking ass on the Dreamcast. For those that forgot, SA2 was a game that featured Dr. Robotnik blowing a piece of the moon off as a warning shot to Earth. Also featured was Dr. Robotnik's grandfather's execution, where he sentenced the entire planet to death (by meteor!) as revenge for the military killing his granddaughter, Maria. So naturally when I heard that there would be a Sonic anime that included the cast from the Sonic Adventure games, I assumed it would have the same somewhat serious tone as the games. Finally, a worthy successor to Sonic SatAM. Right? Not quite. Instead of the maturity and gravitas of the Adventure games, they focused instead of the ever expanding cast of ridiculously cute critters. They transported Sonic and Pals to the real world, where they met their equally saccharine supporting cast of humans. The anime itself loosely followed the plot of the newest games at times, but with lighter and softer shenanigans and a much wackier and more comically incompetent Dr. Robotnik, complete with idiot robot sidekicks. Not nearly on the same level as the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Robotnik, but still... Obviously aimed at a young audience, I couldn't help but wonder if there was a way to split the difference and appeal to fans who grew up with the games and younger generations alike. I also wondered if Sega and Sonic Team owed Disney and Square Enix any money for using Sora from Kingdom Hearts in their anime.

Sonic Ice Cream Pops

Where do I even start? First of all, I read that the flavor was supposed to be blue raspberry and cherry, but I only ever tasted blue food coloring. His nose was blue, not black. His spines were always mutilated and deformed. The gumball eyes were never in the right place. Never. The flavor of the gumball eyes was the only thing they nailed, because nothing runs out faster.

Sonic's Restaurant

Seriously, what is with this place!? I eat there every time I go down south, but I've yet to see a sign of the eponymous hedgehog. Not so much as a single blue quill. It's like they don't even know he exists! They do have some delicious golden rings (called onion rings on the menu, oddly enough) and chili dogs, so at least that's something. And service is fast, but nowhere near the speed of sound. The roller skates on the waitresses are a nice touch, but I'd rather see them replaced with some the trademark red and white Soap shoes. I'll admit that seeing Jaleel White working there was a pleasant surprise, but that might've just been an unfortunate coincidence. Luckily, all of those slip-ups are now behind us and the Sonic franchise, much like the hedgehog himself, never looks back. But it does look like Sonic Team is FINALLY starting to learn from its mistakes. This gameplay trailer for Sonic Generations looks amazing. They've combined some of my favorite elements from the recent Sonic games: the boost meter and trick system, grinding, beautiful level design, and, most importantly, speed. Glorious speed. I would still love to see some more innovation from the franchise, but every time they try to make a huge step it's always in the wrong direction, so I'll take what I can get. Maybe what Sega and Team Sonic needs is some new blood to design their next game. I just so happen to have a ton of brilliant ideas, whenever you're ready to develop a revolutionary Sonic game, give me a call guys. I'm waiting. -JD