Let’s get something straight, right up front. There are two major audiences Sega needs to cater to with each Sonic game: those who are of a younger generation that love the sidekicks and the 3D game worlds, and those of us who grew up with Sonic in the early 90s, and are used to the multiple pathways and high-speed platforming of yesteryear. Sega does plenty of both–look no further than the Sonic Advance titles, or the Sonic Rush games on the DS for proof that they still know how to make an old-school Sonic with new technology–but as far as console releases go, they have stuck more towards appeasing the younger crowd. When a game like Sonic Unleashed comes out and tries to make both fan bases happy, all it does is serve to anger the hardcore, who feel like they were tricked into playing (and paying for) a game they cared about just one-third of the time.
That is why this interview that Gamespot did with Ken Ballough, the associate brand manager at Sega, is intriguing on a few levels. First, there are a few responses that let you know Sega is not about to stop going after the younger audience that loves those sidekicks–and why should they, given the sales numbers of the series?–but there is also a sign–a fast moving, hedgehog-shaped sign, in fact–that Sega wants to make things right with their other fans.
Sonic, back in two dimensions, and with HD graphics. Presumably this puts the game on a console rather than a handheld. Maybe some good has come out of Sonic Unleashed–the love people showed for the daytime levels may have just turned into a brand new (yet old-school) style Sonic game. It’s tough to tell now, given we have nothing to go on, but the fact that it’s 2D will at least force me to keep an eye on this project. “Project Needlemouse” (obviously a working title) has no developer, no platforms and no concrete release date, but my personal hope is that Dimps is somehow involved, given how well their handheld Sonic’s have been received.