Sonic the Hedgehog has had a rough time lately. Sega's fast furball may have shared a degree of the fame of Nintendo's Mario in the '90s, but for more than a decade the scores for the games he starred in have been so low they could pass for autumn high temperatures in Fargo, North Dakota. Worse, an outrageously snarky official Twitter account consistently proved more entertaining than the actual games. But something wonderful happened last night during Sonic's 25th birthday celebration at the San Diego Comic Con: Sega revealed not one but two upcoming Sonic games, and they look like they might actually be good.
But we've been here before, many times. The kind of enthusiasm tends to accompany every Sonic reveal, and as Jim Sterling shows in the video below, the actual livestream for the reveal event was a horror of mysterious hummings, dropped audio, and dedicated awkwardness. Much like some of the more recent Sonic releases, the heart was there, but the actual production was the stuff of regretful embarrassment.
But somehow, through it all, Sega gave us something worth dreaming about. Consider the reveal of Sonic Mania, a 2D game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in the style of the Sonic games from the days when there was a Clinton in the White House. Like so many ostensibly new releases in nerd culture these days, it banks heavily on nostalgia, introducing new zones and bosses while dishing out the same gameplay and art style many of us fell in love with over two decades ago. This is what Sonic fans always say they want, so maybe they'll finally get it.
There's also a new game in the works with no other title besides Project Sonic 2017. It's 3D, it features gigantic robots wrecking cities, and it looks like it's channeling Sonic Generations. Naturally, it also doesn't really feature any gameplay, but it does show the blue bolt making a superhero landing before rushing off with another blue companion to save the day and presumably hoard a few golden rings.
It all looks so cool, so promising, so ambitious. But the truth remains—when it comes to Sonic, the hedgehog has shown us it's wise to hedge our bets.