There was a time where Sonic was associated with a level of platforming comparable to Mario, and the blue hedgehog was the go-to guy for a very specific style of gameplay. It wasn't just that Sonic moved fast at times, or that his enemies had some pretty different ways of attacking. For me, it was the levels. They were expansive, well designed, colorful and actually had some branching paths. In a Mario game the rule was 'go forward' and eventually you would reach the end, or the boss room, but Sonic games seemed to reward me for experimenting, hiding those damnable item boxes in strange locations. Every time a new Sonic game comes out, I can't help but remember those times. I look into the new game, see what it's about, and am always tempted to shell out the cash just in case this one is the Sonic revival I've been looking for.
I'm always excited about the idea of Sega's mascot making a comeback, at least until they reveal what the game's about. The excitement quickly disappears once I hear Sonic will be exploring space or collecting Olympic rings. Sonic Colors was like a well timed sucker-punch, showing me Sonic running at high speeds (what he does best) then immediately showing me strangely colored creatures that fly into the air. Why Sega? You had me at Sonic running. It's unique to see a company that actually manages to deflate my hype the more I learn about a product.
This same natural excitement is the reason Sega will never stop making Sonic games. The fanbase goes back quite a few years, and everyone is excited to see Sonic come back and challenge Mario again. Unfortunately, Sega hasn't figured out that Mario games have always kept the same premise, even if they've introduced gimmicks. Games like Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy introduce new (and bizarre) mechanics, but the core game design remains intact. Sonic games often go on tangents that make no sense, and completely deviate from the game's mood.
Abrupt stop and go gameplay will never stop Sega from trying to figure out exactly what Sonic needs to be a competitive threat to the blue plumber. As long as Sega continues to ignore games such as Sonic Adventure DX, the closest they've ever been to a perfect 3D Sonic game, they'll continue to try everything. It's confusing but expected, and against all odds it doesn't look like they'll ever run out of ideas. Even having Sonic turn into another creature, a game mechanic I used to joke about with fellow nerds, became real. Sonic has become the Necronomicon of the game industry, and each page read spawns a new and terrible beast of a game.
The worst part is no matter how many times I see a new Sonic title, I cannot help but wonder if Sega finally got it right. Perhaps it's just time to let the blue hedgehog finally rest in peace. For now however, Sega will continue to respond to people like me, who're still waiting for the next big Sonic game to actually do the mascot justice. Who knows, maybe it'll happen. There's a chance Sonic Colors could be good. There's also an even greater chance, that it won't be.