Long-time fans of Sonic the Hedgehog may be familiar with the phenomenon known as The Sonic Cycle, seemingly a constant in the development of new games starring the blue blur. It's something the producer of Sonic Colors is confident his newest game will avoid.
For those who aren't familiar with The Sonic Cycle, it represents a Sonic the Hedgehog fan's emotional rollercoaster from Sonic game announcement to Sonic game release - at least for those fans who have something against Sonic spin-off characters and hangers on, like Shadow the Hedgehog and Big the Cat, or cartoon hedgehogs that carry swords or guns.
Sonic Colors, series producer Takashi Iizuka claims, will break The Sonic Cycle. He's worked on a long list of Sonic the Hedgehog games, from Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles to Shadow the Hedgehog to 2006's Sonic the Hedgehog.
Iizuka might be right about Sonic Colors. I enjoyed the levels that I played at E3, as did Stephen Totilo, who played it at PAX. The title's colour-based power-ups, which let Sonic spin like a drill or zip around levels like a laser, feel like a good fit for the character.
"With Sonic Colors, we've focused on Sonic and made sure that the only character you get to play is Sonic, not other secondary characters," Iizuka said. "This time I think we're delivering a game that will break that cycle."
Even in the game's two-player mode, both players will control Sonic. One real, the other a "Virtual Hedgehog", as Iizuka called it.
Iizuka also believes that Sonic Colors will not only please fans but can find a new audience.
"With respect to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise popularity, the series does very well overseas, selling very well to kids in the US and Europe," he said. "Domestically in Japan, the popularity is not as high. In the case of Colors, I feel strongly that the game will appeal to kids in Japan as well."
How? Iizuka believes that the new characters introduced in Sonic Colors, the tiny alien life forms known as Wisps - those multicoloured characters that give Sonic his colourised super powers - will appeal to Japanese children.
Sega has revealed five of the Wisp powers and their corresponding colours featured in the Wii version. Cyan and Yellow wisps allow Sonic to bounce of reflective surfaces and drill through soft terrain, respectively. With the Pink Wisp, Sonic can transform into a pink spike ball and stick to surfaces. Green lets Sonic hover and dash through lines of rings.
There are more Sonic Colors powers left to reveal, but Iizuka wouldn't say what they were. He did confirm, however, that those remaining powers would not let Sonic transform into a werewolf werehog or let him carry a sword.
Maybe the Sonic Cycle is finally broken.