Sega has released too many Sonic games. In particular, bad ones. It's not just us saying so, this is according to Jurgen Post, SVP of Sega Europe. But the good news is, there's a new internal policy to strive for quality in Sonic games. There's a novel idea. Looks like it's paying off, with Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 scoring 9/10 in our review and currently 'all in the green' on Metacritic. But, amazingly, Sega's going further and delisting the crap ones.
'Delisting' means it won't be restocking retailers with new copies, presumably with the likes of 2006 abomination Sonic The Hedgehog and possibly even the half-decent (literally) Sonic Unleashed, so you'll only be able to find those in the pre-owned section or on eBay. Worryingly, it seems they're delisting some great ones too, if Jurgen's statement is to be taken literally:
“We could make a lot of money on back-catalogue Sonic titles, but let’s keep the number of Sonic games available under control. Otherwise you can have cannibalisation. If there are ten Sonic games on the shelves, with people seeing Sonic Rush DS or Sonic Rush Adventure, this may not help our overall strategy.”
Yikes. Sonic Rush was most people's Sonic 4 until... well, Sonic 4. Still if Colors is going to be that good then bring it on. We have had the past five years to play this little lot:
Above: Too many Sonic games in the last five years? No idea what you're talking about.
The point of the exercise is to increase the value of the brand, which has arguably been diluted to the point of impotence over recent years. Sega's US vice president of sales and marketing, Alan Pritchard, said:
"If you look at all of the Sonic releases over the last four or five years, there's a real mixed bag out there. A Sonic game can sell if it's a 60-percent Metacritic game, that's not an issue. But is that really what the consumer wants? Is that what we should be doing as a publisher and a developer? We should be bringing much higher quality products to market to deliver a better experience for the consumer."
So from now on, we can expect nothing but 80+ metacritic averages for Sonic games. It's working for Sonic 4 Episode 1 (released today on PSN and tomorrow on XBLA in the UK) and looks likely for Sonic Colors on Wii. And with the rumour of a 20th Anniversary fan-pleasing remake on the cards, the future does look bright for the old hog.
Step one: Wipe the slate clean, start again from Sonic 4's excellent foundation.
Step three: Profit?
13 Oct, 2010
Sources: Official Nintendo Magazine, MCV and CVG