Sonic Frontiers: Five reasons why Sonic fans love the new game

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Sonic the Hedgehog games are rarely, if ever, critically acclaimed. 3D Sonic games in particular are considered spotty at best, and just bad at worst. On review aggregator Metacritic, “Sonic Frontiers,” the franchise’s latest entry, earned a 72 for its PlayStation 5 version, with particularly harsh reviews pointing out the game’s technical flaws (including the most egregious instances of pop-ins seen in the last decade of video games).

But if you look at the dedicated Sonic fan base – YouTubers and Reddit commenters who still love “Blue Blur” and its games regardless – you’ll find that “Sonic Frontiers” enjoys near-universal acclaim, despite mere consensus. wider average review. There’s something Sonic fans see in “Frontiers” that others just don’t. It’s not all nostalgia: Sonic fans are notoriously divided over several games, including the latest mainline title, “Sonic Forces,” and even the original Sonic Adventure series that debuted on the Sega Dreamcast a while ago. more than two decades old.

I am a dedicated Sonic fan and have lived in these communities for years. I’ve played and at least moderately enjoyed all of the Sonic games, even the ones I recognize are pretty bad. So, as a fan, I think I have some authority as to why “Sonic Frontiers” is an absolute win for fans, despite the lukewarm reception from mainstream audiences. Just look at Sonic fans like longtime YouTube creator Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil, who said in his recent video, “I absolutely loved Sonic Frontiers.” Me too.

1. It’s a real return to the “Adventure” formula

“Sonic Adventure” was released in 1998 at the forefront of the 3D revolution in digital entertainment, and it blended two different playstyles for Sonic – much like “Frontiers”.

Much of the game saw Sonic racing on carefully constructed tracks meant to evoke the 2D platforming levels of yesteryear while giving Sonic more room to roam freely. Developer Sonic Team almost succeeded in doing just that; the controls and graphics are the only things that really needed improvement. This formula has been a constant staple in most Sonic games since, including “Frontiers.” The other most frustrating parts were the open hub areas. They offered little engagement and only underscored how Sonic’s fast-paced gameplay clashed with the exploration and freedom offered by other 3D games at the time, such as the vast vertical spaces of “Super Mario 64”.

In “Frontiers”, this problem is solved by turning the central area into a playground filled with jungle gymnasiums for Sonic to roam. The camera locks into fixed angles once the player enters a sequence of jumps and obstacles, eliminating camera headaches while navigating. This is the first game to allow players to experience the beloved animated introduction to “Sonic CD”, with the hedgehog bouncing off cliff faces and tearing open fields. And it’s the first game since “Sonic Adventure” to reward player freedom.

YouTube creator Chaomix, who does weekly Sonic video trials, said in his review of the game, “I haven’t felt this much freedom since playing Sonic Adventure games on the Dreamcast. Sometimes I would turn off my brain and I entered a state of flux.

2. “Frontiers” has an evocative and respectful storytelling

Storytelling in Sonic games has never been a strong point, and some fans feared that “Frontiers” would continue that trend. Comic book writer Ian Flynn, who wrote about ‘Frontiers,’ told IGN that the dialogue he was working on was crafted in response to the characters, arcs and plot beats he was provided with. by the developers, leading some to believe that Flynn – a beloved and respected writer in the community – may not have been instrumental in the game’s story. The final product says otherwise.

In the 1990s, the character of Sonic was marketed in the West as having a punk attitude. But in the original Japanese story, her irreverent attitude was just one side of her personality. Sonic’s core as a character was that he was a free spirit with a can-do, proactive attitude that would step in if he saw anything wrong, such as damage to the environment or other animals. “Frontiers” plays like a game that honors that original intent.

Sonic’s eternal sidekick Tails is finally talking about becoming his own person independent of Sonic. In the past, longtime Sonic lover Amy Rose has been portrayed as someone obsessed with Sonic; in “Frontiers”, their dialogue makes them sound like emotionally intelligent old friends. And Dr. “Eggman” Robotnik is more than just a crazy cartoon villain; he seems genuinely intrigued by the science surrounding him in the game’s environments. He also steals the show as the emotional core of the story as he develops a fatherly relationship with his build of AI Sage, a new character in this game. We even finally get an explanation of why Eggman is called Eggman.

Beyond that, the dialogue makes several references to past events throughout Sonic’s three-decade career in games. Sonic becomes nostalgic for past places he has visited; Tails recalls the logistics of ancient battles. The story of “Sonic Frontiers” may seem like nonsense on the surface level, but for longtime fans who have paid attention to its games, it’s more than just fan service: it’s confirmation of their commitment. It even goes back to the original Adventure series over two decades ago to finally tell the origin story of the villains in those games.

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Fadel “Games Cage” Ragheb, a 26-year-old YouTube and Twitch personality who covers all things Sonic, said in a recent video that it’s clear many critics don’t quite understand what the story means for fans, and how much Flynn and the writing staff have respected the show’s legacy.

“There are things and changes that we have understood about these characters that have bothered us for a long time,” Ragheb said. “Tails being a coward, Knuckles being glued to the Master Emerald and Amy being just a sweetheart…these characters have these standards that the show has chained them to for a long time, and it feels like this game wants to break them so badly. “

3. Sonic controls really well

Many “Frontiers” reviewers have complained about the way Sonic controls. As someone who struggled and acclimated to floating and jerky controls in older games in the series, I don’t share that perspective, nor do many other Sonic fans. Considering Sonic’s unusually quick movements among video game characters, it’s a wonder his movements are as legible and clear as in “Frontiers.”

There’s a liveliness and weight to Sonic’s jumps that has been absent in previous games, even recent “Sonic Forces.” In “Forces”, Sonic was falling a little too fast from his highest jumps, and the 2D stages gave him too much momentum, making him hard to stop. In “Frontiers”, not only does Sonic finally feel right in terms of weight and momentum, but the game has options for players to adjust speed, spin rate, bounce height, and on acceleration. This makes “Sonic Frontiers” the Gran Turismo of Sonic games, offering a level of customization never seen before in the series’ history.

As Twitter user and 2D action game developer CryoGX demonstrates in his post below, Sonic is in control well enough for players to use his whole body to write in cursive.

4. The soundtrack honors the modernity of Sonic

If you want a stark contrast between Mario and Sonic, consider the music from both series. Mario game soundtracks often rely on old traditional standards like big band, gypsy jazz, and ragtime piano tunes. Mario is classic and his music matches that tone, like a Scott Joplin record or a catchy Frank Sinatra medley.

In contrast, since its introduction in 1992, Sonic was meant to be the modern face of video games. He was the hedgehog with attitude. Its influence on mascot design is immeasurable: any animal with a cool, irreverent vibe owes the Blue Blur a debt. And even in the 1990s, his music reflected the modern styles of that era, evoking the new jack swing movement so prevalent on radio and MTV. Even Michael Jackson worked on Sonic music.

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“Frontiers” honors this tradition. While 2017’s “Super Mario Odyssey” pays homage to swing music and the big band era, “Frontiers” is punctuated by electronic dance tunes for its linear cutscenes, a quiet jazzy lo-fi trip hop beat for its fishing mini-game, and Mercurial Screamo Metal for its massive boss fights. It’s a diverse and energetic soundtrack that ranks among the best of this current console generation.

Even if the gameplay and the stories don’t quite stick together, it’s hard to find any fault in the compositions made by composers Tomoya Ohtani, Kenichi Tokoi and Takahito Eguchi. Mix any of the dance tracks into a set in a New York club, and revelers would rage, unaware that they were dancing to music from a Sonic the Hedgehog video game. That’s the beauty and appeal of the Sonic soundscape. And speaking of boss fights…

5. ‘Frontiers’ has the best music-synced battles since ‘Metal Gear Rising’

It’s become a popular meme to shout “Nature’s Rules” when electrifying sensational action happens anywhere. It is one of the songs from 2013’s “Metal Gear Rising Revengeance”, developed by the creators of Bayonetta Platinum Games. In this game, the music would react dynamically to your on-screen actions. The singer would suddenly shout “Rules of Nature” as main character Raiden swings building-sized robots before slicing them in half. The meme exists because those moments were unforgettable.

Well, “Sonic Frontiers” has at least three or four similar moments.

The “Frontiers” soundtrack evokes the “Rules of Nature” moment when Super Sonic – the super-powered hedgehog form inspired by the “Super Saiyan” transformation from the animated Dragon Ball series – battles titan-sized robots. The player-driven action game is punctuated by rapid presses of the reaction button at that precise moment with the drop of a metal bar chord, while the voice suddenly kicks in and asks the player to “everything cross and not look down”. “It’s inspiring, life-affirming stuff. These are easily the grandest battles ever staged in a Sonic the Hedgehog game, making “Frontiers” a must-play for any fan of the character.

Yes, “Sonic Frontiers” doesn’t look like a modern big-budget video game. It’s ridiculously simple compared to games like “God of War Ragnarok”. But it also exudes a will to please that’s hard to deny, especially if you’ve been encouraging the hedgehog for years. ‘Sonic Frontiers’ won’t win any awards, and it doesn’t need to. For Hedgehog fans, learning about the game is like winning a lifetime achievement award.