And while the games have definitely played a large part in that (I have very fond memories of playing multiplayer with a friend on Sonic 2 for the Genesis back before said friend moved away), I have to admit it was probably the TV series that really got me into the franchise, originally. The series I remember the best from back in the nineties when I was just a little kid looking for Saturday morning cartoons to watch was the old "Sonic The Hedgehog" series, better known as "SatAM" among the fans (I don't recall ever seeing much of anything of the slightly older "Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog" that came before it until many years later). Though I look back on that show and am very quick to point out it's various flaws and moments where it could be better now, as well as tease the fact that it pretty much ignored game continuity so to tell its own tale, I was always rather taken with the universe it created and it's style and flare. It had, for a brief while, brought a sense of order to what was other a nebulous continuity to the franchise, one that still to this day has had a lasting impact on the franchise.
But as I already implied, while there were a lot of great things SatAM did, there were many more it could have done better, and one thing in particular was meld itself a bit better with the game franchise than it actually did.
Sega, perhaps realizing this, has attempted it before, which resulted in the Japanese-made Sonic X. They were mostly successful...up to a certain extent, but now, for me, the show had a new set of problems, namely with some poor storytelling, imbalanced characters, still a muddled continuity that's not even explored to its full potential, and above all, was an anime at heart. This is a bad thing for me, because while I'm okay with the anime art-style, when it comes to TV shows, I don't like them, because they tend to be redundant with poor story telling and bearing little to no factual research at all and I'm not here to diss animes so I better stop there.
Anyway, Sonic X was successful enough, but it ended mid-2000s-ish, and since then Sonic hasn't done anything new on the TV screen worth noting. Me, in thinking about what I'd like to see in a Sonic TV show, started thinking the time was now for a new show.
Apparently, the folks at Sega were thinking the same thing.
But first, they finally came clean on this "new" take on the franchise, and revealed what the new characters would look like:
Appearances aside, though, I was more interested in the show's intended overall approach in terms of storytelling, characterization, and voice acting. Lucky for me, the above image was just the tip of the iceberg, 'cuz they also released a trailer that I have included for your viewing pleasure, if you haven't seen it already:
Next is the attire, namely the excessive use of tape or bandages or whatever you want to think of them as. This is a little weird, but studying the development images that had been teased (some of which can be found here) it's not hard to see that this was done for thematic reasons; apparently the Sonic Boom universe is going to be much more robust and worn, somewhat akin to SatAM (in fact, it would not surprise me if that was a source of inspiration some, given its reputation), so all the tape was given to try and apply that to the characters too. Quite effectively too. So I can overlook that. As for the rest of the apparels, there really isn't anything THAT different about them, and seems to me was really only done to give the characters a bit more detail. And Sonic doesn't REALLY look all that bad in a scarf. Tail's mechanic get-up was a obvious move, and Amy's outfit is pretty much the same as it's always been, it just buttons up differently and is a bit more "practical." Knuckles isn't really wearing anything different from what he usually wears. So that just leaves Eggman. But...in my opinion, I actually like Eggman's new duds. Stylish, fresh, and new, while still looking very "Eggman." Besides, Eggman has always had a different appearance with every TV show, I can't see any reason why that tradition can't continue.
And anyway, it makes them markedly different from their in-game appearances, which will be important, but more on that later, because I want to address something else first: the blue arms.
Yeah, apparently the blue arms are a thing. The new "green eyes" as some have begun calling it, because like always, the fans are all up in arms about any minute change done to Sonic.
But here's what I found funny: I hadn't even noticed. And probably wouldn't have by now if it weren't for all the fans pointing it out. And I think that alone says OODLES about how important the matter really is.
If you can't guess, it's not at all. Really, it isn't. So is arms are blue instead of peach. Anatomically speaking, they probably ought to be anyway (which leads to the question on why are Sonic's arms usually peach anyway? Does he shave them or something?). In fact, there's lots I could say about the fanbase's rather predictable and unfortunate reaction to this, and to sum it all up, I'm going to compare them to Trekkies. And what have the Trekkies been riled up about lately? The JJ Abrams reboot. Why? Well, I've done some asking around and it largely all boils down to the same thing: it's different. In other words, they can't take a few changes. They aren't being open-minded to change. Don't think change might, in fact, be a good thing every now and then. Which is exactly what the Sonic fans are doing. They can't take change. They don't want change, which I would argue is part of the reason why Sonic has been struggling so much as a franchise anyway, because they keeping wanting an old system that, frankly, as nice as it was, is now dated and probably won't be as successful used again and again as the fans seem to think, and Sega, despite their better judgement (why do you think they keep messing with the formula?), keeps trying to pander to them. Resulting in the mess the blue hedgehog has been in for the past decade or so, success-wise, or so I'll argue.
But the show, not so restrained by that, is daring to be different. And I applaud them for that at the very least. But while change can be good...it's only if it's done right.
So is the show doing it right? Well, obviously it's too soon to tell. We'll have to wait until the show premieres to be able to know for certain, but with what they've presented so far, I'm actually kind of impressed. Not WOWED per say, but to me it seems like a step in the right direction. Like I suggested before, I get kind of a SatAM vibe to it, only with it appearing to stay truer to the game's canon more than SatAM ever did, which is great. Sonic needs shows that stays truer to its game continuity where it can. But as Sonic X proved at times, staying word-for-word true is redundant and tiring if you already know the story, so it still needs some "newness" to it in order to succeed, which this obviously has in spades.
Animation is also loads better than I was expecting previously, and feels almost like it's a cutscene lifted straight from one of the games...which is exactly what I wanted, so that's good. Since Sonic is all CGI in-game, and has been for years, making a CGI TV show has long seemed like an obvious choice to do for awhile now. So I'm glad to see Sega agrees, and is willing to give it a try.
Also the in-game actors are being used, another plus. Especially since the franchise actually has some capable actors playing the roles for a change, and it means Mike Pollock continues playing Eggman, who's really the best guy you can get for the part. That, and his banter with Sonic current actor has previously proven to be quite fun, and as the trailer demonstrated, the show intends to continue to play into this, which is good.
And yes, the characters are superficially different, yes, but for it's a refreshing sort of different. After seeing the characters appear pretty much the same for more than twenty years now, it's actually kind of neat to see them different. And again, most of the differences aren't all that major. Knuckles is probably being the only exception, being so much larger and bulked out now. I'll admit that at first I had mixed feelings about the bigger and hulkier Knuckles, and it will still take a little getting used to, but I can live with that. And I'm already getting used to new Knuckles, especially when I consider that it's fitting he's shaped like this anyway, so to match his strength. In fact, I kind of have to ask now, if Knuckles was really meant to be the strong, muscles-guy of the group since the beginning (which he was), why DIDN'T Sega give him a body that suggested that to begin with? Because he never really has until now, which has made it look a tad awkward really during the rare times when he does demonstrate this ability. So basically, it's a change I'm willing to give a chance. It just might work out.
Now, show's premise is promising and has potential, what little of it we know at this time...but we'll see how well it's actually exploited in the end. Still, I have hope, enough to give it a chance like I'd wish the rest of the fanbase would do. Also western-style storytelling (by deliberate design), which is a good thing for me, as I'm not interested in more anime-style stuff.
So, overall, I'm going to rate the upcoming Sonic Boom show, on a scale of 1 to 10, a cautious six, but maybe a seven or higher if things actually go as I think they might. We'll see.
But we're not done, because we still need to discuss the game.
That's right, there's a Sonic Boom game in the works too, and it's NOT being made by Sonic Team or the rest of the folks at Sega (say whaaaaat?):
But as for the game, claiming to be a prequel of sorts to the TV series, well...
Normally I wouldn't be for a game-based-on-the-tv-show because Sonic's got a befuddling enough in-game continuity as it is, one that I'd really like to see get smoothed over and kept straight to. This admittedly isn't likely to help with that, I'll admit. But setting aside that and focusing on the game itself...I like what I see.
I'm still not one hundred percent sure what it is, but I can't help but feel that something about the game shown in that we really just get a tease of, just feels RIGHT, like this is really the Sonic game I've been looking for all this time. I don't say this lightly. I know this probably sounds wrong to you other fans, and I will be the FIRST to admit that I feel kinda like I'm betraying the franchise by saying it...but I mean it. I think there might be something to this game, something that it has that previous Sonic games have now, so I'll be watching it for now, see how it turns out. If it lives up to my initial impressions of it, I think other fans might want to reassess their own views in the end, but that's just my two bits on the matter. Either way, I think it might be fun to play, and it's going to feature all four characters as playable characters, for the first time in the franchise in entirely too long, so that's something fans can get behind anyway.
So in summary: the Sonic fanbase at large has been relatively negative about Sonic Boom. But don't let that fool you, this new move might just prove to be more successful than fans have been giving it credit. I think it's definitely going to be worth at least checking out in the end, and highly urge ALL fans to approach it with an open mind. You never know, it might just grow on you. *wink*