And not just because I don’t like the title song “Fist Bump.” Please note this article will have spoilers for the Sonic Forces end game.
Today (or yesterday in the UK) Sega released a piece of free for a limited time only DLC for Sonic Forces that rings as a pretty strong slap in the face for Sonic fans. You’ll recall in my review of Sonic Forces that I actually enjoyed the game a great deal, and found all of the fan and critic hate to be disappointing to say the least. Even so, I am far from a biased or blinded fan, and will continue to call out shoddy decisions when I see them.
One aspect sorely missing from the new Sonic Forces was the expected opportunity to transform into Super Sonic to open up a major can of whoop a** on a terrifying final boss. Sonic Forces presented one of Sonic’s scariest villains yet, then proceeded to remove him from the occasion and possibly kill him off camera (I still have no idea what happened to Infinite). Now, I may be in the minority for liking this game, but I can’t be the only one who had a chill run down their spine upon hearing Infinite’s cruelly delivered “Well well well, if it isn’t the little blue saviour…” line.
In Infinite we had a dark villain that would have been welcome in the SatAm universe, a villain who had no qualms with killing and had the ability and potential to drag our heroes through their worst nightmares. Instead though, he became an absolutely pathetic “You’re not even worth killing” sort who would routinely get caught monologuing and went from untouchable to beatable in the space of a cutscene with zero fan fair. All of that tremendous build-up amounted to a guy who used his powers to do little more than conjure up illusory weapons and talk in a gravely voice sometimes.
At a certain point in the narrative, Infinite traps both Sonic and the player character in a dimension from which there can be no return. Stuck in this never-ending world of illusion, Sonic and the player are meant to wander for all of eternity until they die, while Infinite slays everyone else the heroes hold dear.
But, instead, Sonic and his buddy run really fast for like a handful of seconds and then they escape because friendship. Which don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for a game about being friends and working together to conquer darkness, especially in a period of release years of next to nothing but dark dark and more dark. That being said, with the disappointing and unearned ending Forces had, this scene gave me a very interesting idea when I first played the game last month that I was certain Sega would do.
Now before I go on, let me give you a brief history of how amazing Super Sonic levels have historically been to better illustrate why this DLC that consists of nothing save the ability to go super is so disappointing.
The first time I recall playing a Super Sonic boss fight was in Sonic 3, and was blown away by how cool it was to watch Sonic transform into what was essentially a Super Saiyan (no we are not going to argue about who did it first or bring up release dates versus concept dates) and fly around doing battle against this epic, huge and terrifying foe.
Another major instance of Super Sonic being a big deal was in Sonic Adventure, transforming to fight Perfect Chaos:
After watching Station Square get annihilated by this powerful beast, Sonic has to transform and throw down in an all out Hail Mary hoping to have the power to defeat a skyscraper sized monster before it wipes out the world. Sonic Adventure 2 raised the stakes even higher:
By bringing Super Shadow (I grew up with the name Hyper Shadow but evidently that’s wrong) into the mix in a fight against a massive lizard monster in outer space!
For years now, Super Sonic has been an exciting staple of Sonic the Hedgehog titles, and an epic final fight with a super transformation has become expected. Rather than giving us this, Sonic Forces gives us a robot that looks like a cross between Baymax, BB-8 and a spider that is supposed to be positively untouchable…which we then jump into a few times and watch asplode:
And then we’re given post launch free for a few weeks DLC for Super Sonic that consists of collecting 50 rings to auto transform, and nothing more. Oh, also you “get” to listen to Fist Bump’s instrumental the entire time. Joy.
Now back to my theory. Infinite is the deadliest foe Sonic has faced in a game yet, and the most sadistic. Till he becomes mega lame. He becomes your typical “No way, I can’t believe this!” villain near the end until he is unceremoniously presumably killed off or turned into energy or something.
But, what if Sonic and the player character never actually escaped the The World That Never Was?
What if instead, since it made zero sense that Infinite hyped up this inescapable realm of despair that was dealt with in about 15 seconds, Sonic and the hero never actually escaped? What if everything after that point had just been a dream, a fantasy, the wishful desire to have overcome the darkness and save the day?
Your hero goes from sniveling awkward coward to Captain MacGuffin/walking Deus Ex Machina in a heartbeat, the entire war is averted, and the world is saved all in one or two levels. I had developed a theory that perhaps Super Sonic had been held back for some kind of amazing post game DLC story where Sonic and the hero start realizing as little things glitch or aren’t what they should be, that they never actually made it out of Infinite’s dark world. For a moment we’d see them begin to give over to despair, until they realize they’ve got to pull themselves together and find a means to escape for real this time.
What if then, fueled by the outrage of their friends’ suffering, Sonic and the hero transform and break out of the illusory world (and don’t say only hedgehogs transform; Knuckles and Blaze did it and if we can have two exceptions we can have three)? Then we could have a few extra stages as them being normal leading up to realizing they’re trapped, then an escape stage breaking free, and finally a well deserved massive final showdown between Infinite and our transformed heroes.
This was the reason I thought the Super Sonic DLC was being held back; to create an exciting finale that would tie up some massive loose ends and give you an ending the game actually earned. But alas, twas’ not meant to be.
Plus, making Super Sonic paid DLC in a handful of weeks was a dirt bag move by Sega to boot.