Sonic the Hedgehog is a familiar part of the childhood of many a college student. Hundreds of collective weekends spent back when Sega actually made platforms making that little blue ball zoom around like a Hot Wheels car on those plastic tracks. Sonic may not have outsold Mario, but is still a lasting bit of culture from what many consider the golden age of gaming.
To the collective excitement of the gaming community, new Sonic games were announced, as well as a tie-in TV show called “Sonic Boom”. When some promotional material was released, however, the reception was decidedly less than positive. While Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are not unrecognizable, the reimaging has made significant changes. Most immediately apparent are the long limbs –– an informal infographic reports that Sonic’s legs have gone from 12 percent of his height to 28 percent –– and Knuckles looking like a permanent IV drip of hedgehog steroids was installed since the last time he appeared in a game.
While the Sonic franchise has always been geared toward children, it isn’t surprising that fans of older Sonic titles aren’t reacting favorably to the redesigns, and other, more subtle design changes have roundly been mocked throughout Internet forums. Sonic’s new scarf has attracted comparisons of him to a hipster, and his hand wraps came to their predictable end with images of a mummified Sonic shared left and right. Without a doubt, Knuckles’ new muscles have received the largest amount of scorn.
However, it is more than understandable that Sega would take a new direction to capture a new generation of gamers, being fresh and new is undeniably important to succeeding in the market. The TV tie-in will certainly help in that aspect, this will be the first exposure to Sonic a sizable group of young kids, and cross-promotion is a very common way to spread word about a franchise. The real test of the redesign is not what 20-somethings on Twitter think of it, but how the parents and children of the target demographic choose what video games to buy and which TV shows to watch.