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SEGA VP: Repairing Sonic will take time

Reckons "the kids" loved Unleashed.

SEGA's Sean Ratcliffe has said that Sonic's "quality is something that will be fixed over time" after a string of unsuccessful attempts to restore the hedgehog to his 16-bit glory.

"It's not something where you wake up one morning and say, 'You know what, we're going to improve our quality on this franchise,' and it magically happens," Ratcliffe, who is VP of marketing for SEGA of America, told IndustryGamers (thanks Kotaku). "A lot of hard work goes into striving for quality."

Sonic did quite well critically in its Dreamcast instalments, but things went wrong after SEGA went third-party, with the PS3 and Xbox 360 reboot Sonic the Hedgehog a particular low point.

Things got a bit better on the Wii thanks to Sonic and the Secret Rings, but Sonic Unleashed (including its marginally better Wii incarnation) was another mixed bag, as was Sonic and the Black Knight.

But Ratcliffe sees some positives in all this, pointing out that Unleashed "was very well received by the kids", who apparently liked the werehog option, slower pacing and emphasis on combat.

"I think older, die-hard SEGA fans who grew up with the franchise and the first Sonic the Hedgehog associate Sonic more with 2D side-scrolling super fast, and they liked the daytime gameplay, but when it came to the slower-paced gameplay they were fairly critical of that, and that's fine - they have their opinions," he said.

Despite Sonic's struggles though, there are plenty of bright spots for SEGA, like Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, one of the Wii's most successful new franchises, and critical acclaim for the character's DS outings, including Sonic Rush Adventure.

Ratcliffe has also been encouraged by the hedgehog's performance on download services like the iTunes App Store and Xbox Live Arcade, and believes that those platforms represent an opportunity to revitalise Sonic and satisfy people who preferred him in his youth.

"That's a big part of our strategy, in terms of taking classic IP and making it available digitally, rather than spend a huge amount of money trying to re-imagine that IP on 360 and PS3," he said. "There's a lot more financial risk attached to that."

Hopefully that means we'll see new 2D instalments on home consoles and not just handhelds, although Ratcliffe clearly wasn't promising anything. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Xbox Live Arcade, incidentally, is Ellie's favourite game of the last 10 years. Probably not even ironically.

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Sonic and the Black Knight

Nintendo Wii

Sonic and the Secret Rings

Nintendo Wii

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Sonic The Hedgehog

Android, iOS, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Android, iOS, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii

Sonic Unleashed

PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, Nintendo Wii

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About the Author
Tom Bramwell avatar

Tom Bramwell


Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.