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What's in a number: Why Sonic 4 is kind of important, for better or worse

Since Sega announced Sonic the Hedgehog 4, a lot of people have been talking about it. Some people are very excited. Some people are very angry. A lot of people say, "Why should I care?" These people say that it's just another 2D Sonic game - it isn't like there haven't been a few of those fairly recently - and they don't understand why everyone's getting so worked up about it. This post is addressed mainly to those people, who ask a valid question; from a certain perspective, Sonic 4 hardly seems a significant enough game to attract as much attention it has. The answer starts with the name. Far less would be riding on this release if it were not called "Sonic the Hedgehog 4". I've seen some say that this is a meaningless distinction, but I think its importance is paramount.


Remember when? Ah ha ha... ha...

To provide a bit of perspective, I know I'm biased. But I have a view that I really want to put out there. The majority of gamers on the Internet these days don't know what it was like to be a Sega kid. To look at the aggregate of content on the Web devoted to gaming, you'd think the early 90s console war never happened. The SNES's classic games are enshrined, gushed about endlessly, have whole webrings and songs and movies and art dedicated to them. The Genesis's classics, meanwhile, are mostly forgotten. Awesome games like Streets of Rage, Rocket Knight Adventures, Toejam and Earl. In a recent "best game ever" contest on GameFAQs, the imbalance was easy to see. People on the boards openly mocked the Genesis. A post on Kotaku.com had a poll asking "Is the SNES the best console ever?" The only option provided was "Yes."

Coming from where I do, this revisionist history hurts. I'm not going to try to argue that the Genesis was better than the SNES - that would be missing the point. The point is that the 90s were a hell of a time to be a gamer, with awesome releases left and right, and it was all due to the intense competition of two great consoles. It's a time I'll never forget, and back then, most kids took sides - few could afford not to. I'll admit that there were times when being on the Sega side felt like getting the short end of the stick. But when there was a new Sonic game out, it was the complete opposite. Even your SNES-having friends would be wanting to come over to play it. I loved so many games on the Genesis, but to the Sega kid, Sonic was the center of your universe. I watched the lousy cartoon, had all the comics, ate chili dogs, and ran around in the yard pretending to be fighting Robotnik. That kind of fandom dies hard. I still want to give it at least one more chance.

That number four can't make me a kid again, but if it's used right, it can pick up something special where it left off. Here's hoping.
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About tim333one of us since 5:53 PM on 12.11.2007

Regarding my 1001games project: There's only one deadline. I haven't hit it yet!

I'm a 90s gamer and Sega kid for life. I like platformers, adventure games and JRPGs. I'm not that into first-person shooters or sports games.

I spend more of my time playing older games than new ones. I do have a PS3 now, though, and I like buying games on PSN. I like the Wii and have a ton of games for it. I'm encouraged by some of the stuff out on Wiiware - to me, games like Bit.Trip Beat are more appealing than the "triple-A" titles coming out on the HD consoles.

Some of my all-time favorite games are Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Dragon Quest III, Heroes of Might and Magic III, The Curse of Monkey Island, and Dance Dance Revolution.