This is not a story I ever expected to write.
Sonic the Hedgehog has been a joke for years now, thanks to a string of terrible games that tarnished the Sega icon’s legacy. The brilliance of Sonic Mania earlier this year offered some respite for fans, but the recent release of Sonic Forces marked a return to poor form.
The blue hedgehog’s most ardent fans will defend his exploits no matter what, and now counted among their number is none other than legendary filmmaker John Carpenter: the man behind Halloween, Escape From New York and The Thing.
“I even like the one where he turns into a werewolf,” he told FACT Magazine, referring to 2008’s Xbox 360 and PS3 title Sonic Unleashed.
“Back in the early 90s, I got hooked on Sonic The Hedgehog for Sega Genesis [Mega Drive outside North America] and I just couldn’t stop playing it… I loved the game. I loved everything about it,” he explained.
“I especially loved the music. There was something about the whole sound and feel of the Sonic games and suddenly I’m so much younger and it’s the ’90s.”
Carpenter explained how he originally bought the 1991 game for his son Cody but got hooked on it himself in spite of the game’s difficulty. “It didn’t have a memory card so I’d have to start over every time. Those games were HARD, man.”
Of all the game’s stages, one left an impression on the director. “The underwater level. Oh god,” he said. “I’d die every time. And then have to start back. It was so frustrating, but there was something so intensely addicting about that.”
Carpenter even played and completed Sonic Mania: a colourful, retro-style ode to the series’ 16-bit heyday and a wonderful reinvention of its essence. “Oh hell yeah,” he said when asked if he had beaten Mania. “It took a while, these things are hard to beat.
“I just keep wanting to play Sonic games – because they’re fun. I hope they keep making them.”
Carpenter’s in luck. It seems the Sonic series is impervious to criticism, with sales seemingly good enough and the fan-base large enough for new games to be made at an annual rate.
Sonic is even heading to the big screen. Paramount Pictures picked up the big screen rights to the character in October with the team of Deadpool’s Tim Miller and debut director Jeff Fowler bringing the film to life as a blend of live-action and animation.
Maybe there’s a role for Carpenter too?