One of the most exciting elements seen throughout the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series is the large amount of colorful characters, most of which have been playable at some point. From running at the speed of sound as Sonic, to soaring high as Tails, and even to fishing as Big the Cat, many of the characters bring unique play styles that greatly shake the games up. In this blogger’s personal opinion, the more characters and gameplay mechanics, the better. There is one character, however, who has become rather pointless. This pointless addition to the series’ roster is none other than Classic Sonic.
One could argue that “Classic Sonic” is actually the first ever character to be playable in the series, and they’re technically not wrong. In Sonic Generations, Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic team up to stop Dr. Eggman and a creature known as the Time Eater. This game was used to celebrate the history of Sonic the Hedgehog by allowing gamers to play on some of the most beloved levels from each era of the series. Classic Sonic was playable on the classic levels and Modern Sonic was playable on the modern levels. It was a design choice that worked perfectly for a game like this, and tying it all together with a new time travel storyline only made things better.
Classic Sonic then appears as the protagonist in Sonic Mania, which is a direct sequel to the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games. It takes place during his era, so it makes sense that he’s the version of Sonic that’s playable. That’s where having the two distinguished versions of Sonic should have ended.
The problem with Classic Sonic becomes much more evident in Sonic Forces. The plot of Sonic Forces has Sonic and his friends form an alliance against Dr. Eggman who has succeeded in taking over their world. The game has the player switch between three different characters: Sonic, an original customizable character, and Classic Sonic who traveled from his time to present day for unexplained reasons. He just sort of does. Outside of Tails, who becomes weirdly obsessed with him, no one really interacts with Classic Sonic in the story. This makes him feel extra pointless. There’s already an interesting premise about a resistance of superpowered animals fighting against a super-genius overlord. Why did Classic Sonic need to be included at all?
The only thing that having both Sonics in one game really brings to the table is their difference in play style. Classic Sonic doesn’t have a homing attack while Modern Sonic does. The same can be said for the slide tackle and dash attacks. Classic Sonic is playable in 2D levels while Modern Sonic is playable in 3D levels. Classic Sonic is ultimately a stripped down version of Modern Sonic. This makes sense since the games have only added mechanics over the years, but it further adds to how pointless it is to have Classic Sonic playable alongside Modern Sonic.
The most frustrating part of Classic Sonic being playable in a game with Modern Sonic is that he’s used as a replacement for other playable characters. One of the best things about Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, Sonic Heroes, and other games is being able to play as Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, and plenty of others who have unique and creative abilities. It’s much more fun to have the variety of colorful characters than multiple versions of the same one. It’s been a handful of games since we’ve been able to play as more than just Sonic (and Classic Sonic). It’s time SEGA returns to games that allow so many great characters to be playable and to keep Classic Sonic in the past where he belongs.