In recent years, many people, fans and critics alike agree that many of the newer Sonic the Hedgehog games have fallen a little flat. They just seem to be missing something. Most of the time the gameplay is usual that we’ve all come to expect, but it takes more than that for a game to be good.
On the other hand, the Sonic the Hedgehog comic books have a beloved spot in fans’ hearts and have been continuing for almost as long as the games. In fact, the stories from the games have been featured in comics at times and yet have still received positive reviews. So what's the difference? Here are ten things that the comics have that the games desperately need.
10 Compelling Storylines
Sonic games often have extremely simple stories. Sonic and friends simply have to go from Point A to Point B. The overarching goal is simply to stop their nemesis, Dr. Eggman. In contrast, comic books have much more detailed stories. Everyone has a role to play, characters rarely are left to fall by the wayside, and things are a bit more complicated than just going from one place to the other.
There are often many subplots going on and drama between characters is well-written and has an impact. You are drawn in and want to find out what happens next rather than simply waiting for the formulaic cutscenes to end so you can get back to the game.
9 Superior Writing
A part of the games that often receive ridicule is writing. The characters fumble through the plot, with the solution to their problems literally falling into their laps at times. The dialogue (apart from tutorials, obviously) often leaves much to be desired.
Writing in comic books is much better, with the problems and their solutions being well-thought-out. Dialogue between characters actually evokes feelings in the reader, be it giggles from a snappy remark to a sympathetic “Aww…” when characters are in the midst of drama and say hurtful things to one each other. The creators of the games could benefit greatly by employing some of the comic writers.
8 More Mature Themes
All Sonic the Hedgehog games have ESRB ratings no higher than E 10+. This means that the subject matter in the games is rather light. Death is not heavily talked about and if it occurs, it happens off-screen. True emotional, life conflicts do not take place in these games.
However, in the comics, Sonic and his friends deal with a bevy of heavy, real-life problems. They deal with loss, in-fighting, sacrifice, betrayal, trauma, and more. Every character handles these difficult situations differently, though not always correctly, and they help each other through it. Having more mature themes in the games could not only keep older players who have outgrown simple “Good VS. Evil” plots invested, it could teach younger ones valuable lessons about life.
7 Deeper Lore
The lore of the games tends to run a little shallow; there are collectibles that give you little snippets of trivia but the player is mostly expected to take the word at face value. The comic books are a stark contrast. Each storyline in the comics adds another layer to the deep and complex lore that has been building up over the years. Nearly everything is explained in detail.
When the comics take on storylines from the games, they tend to fill in the gaps and plot holes that left us with questions and provide the answers. Lore makes any series more interesting, as fans can use it to piece together a more complete picture of the world.
6 Established Continuity
As previously mentioned, lore helps people form a complete picture of a fictional world and helps establish continuity. The games are severely lacking in a concrete continuity. Several early games form a very loose string of events, but after that, things get rather hazy.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 was meant to be a reboot of the games, but the end of the game effectively undoes everything that took place. It is an established fact that in the games Sonic is 15 years old, ALWAYS, despite the fact he has a birthday party in Sonic Generations! The comics, however, have extremely clear timelines and we follow the characters from childhood to adulthood. There is very little argument as to what is canon in the comics, unlike the games.
5 Beloved Characters
The Sonic games, despite having a decent roster of characters, often fall back on the main four: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy. Even when more of the cast is brought in, many fans want to see some of the great characters from the comic books.
Characters such as Bunnie Rabbot, a half-robot, half-bunny female who is a charming Southern belle that kicks serious butt, or Sally Acorn, a princess, tactician, leader, and one of the characters that have affections for Sonic. These are just two examples of characters that are interesting, dynamic, and, if introduced, could bring a lot to the stories and gameplay of the games.
4 Character Coupling
Something that Sonic the Hedgehog games seem to actively avoid is coupling characters. This is most likely due to the child-friendly rating of the games, but many fans want to see this. The comics are full of couples and it brings drama, development, and extra flavor to the storyline.
As mentioned earlier regarding more mature themes, the couples in the comics often have to deal with serious problems that real people deal with, such as differences in ideologies, trust, heartbreak, and stepping back when things get to be too much or when they grow apart. This is an element that could further enrich the games and give them more depth.
3 Character Development
Speaking of depth, there is a striking lack of character development in the games. Characters are quite two-dimensional and can be summarized in a handful of words. The comic book versions of the characters, even Sonic the Hedgehog, are drastically different and more complex.
For instance, at the beginning of the comics, Sonic was quite rash and fast to act. He would cockily charge into situations and end up endangering himself and his friends. After several hard, painful lessons, he realized his behavior was harmful to those he cared about and. over time. has matured and become more responsible. Sonic still has his trademark attitude, but it's tempered by his experiences.
2 Interesting Villains
Often times, the Sonic games have one villain: Dr. Eggman. If it's not Dr. Eggman, the villain is either linked to the scientist or is just dull. The comics have no shortage of interesting and deep villains to adapt to the games. One such fan-favorite would be Scourge the Hedgehog.
Scourge is an evil version of Sonic from a parallel, evil universe. The exact opposite of our favorite hero in every way, Scourge has an interesting backstory and the two characters clash frequently with the evil-doer commonly resorting to tricks and psychological warfare. Crafty, ruthless, and dangerous, Scourge would be a far more interesting and threatening villain than the bumbling game-version of Eggman.
1 Higher Stakes
Last but not least, one of the final things that makes the comic books far more engaging than the games is the higher stakes. The games have such low stakes, it becomes boring and predictable. For much of the comic books, it has been Sonic and his friends who are on the offensive, as much of the planet was controlled by Eggman.
If they were caught by him, they faced the threat of Robotization: a process that strips the free will of a creature and turns them into a lifeless robot slave. Every mission was life and death, and many of the villains would attack to kill, making fights far tenser. Occasionally characters would be seriously injured in a way that had lasting consequences.