SEGA is finally fixing “Sonic”


Credit: Sonic Frontiers Official Trailer Video

WSPN’s Kris Poole-Evans reviews SEGA’s most recent title, “Sonic Frontiers,” released on Nov. 8, 2022.

Kris Poole-Evans

“Sonic” is a game franchise that means a lot to me. I grew up watching the “Sonic” cartoons and playing games like “Sonic: Unleashed” and “Sonic 06.” Since this game series was such a vital part of my childhood, I desperately didn’t want to lose interest in the games, which have unfortunately seen an obvious decline over the years.

The past few “Sonic” titles, especially “Sonic Forces,” have been unsatisfactory, to say the least. Whether it be their awful, messy plot or overall gameplay, “SEGA,” “Sonic’s” video game company, has had a rough couple of years. So, in order to fully enjoy the next game, “Sonic Frontiers,” I did something I definitely wouldn’t recommend: I set my expectations extremely low. I prepared myself for the worst and was ready to play an awful game in an attempt to salvage my love for that stupid blue hedgehog.

Luckily for me and unfortunately for my wallet, the trailer for SEGA’s newest game, “Sonic Frontiers,” released on Nov. 8 2022, looked amazing. I hadn’t been this excited to play a game since 2019 with “Persona 5: Royal,” so telling my friends about the release of “Sonic Frontiers” was almost a no brainer.

“Sonic Frontiers” starts with an eerie scene of, drumroll please, Eggman’s teeth! In all seriousness, the opening scene is one of the best “Sonic” has had in a while. I love seeing Sonic and his friends, Amy and Tails, interact, and throwing them into a life-threatening disaster was just the on-screen reunion I was looking for. The three of them are flying through the air when they are suddenly sucked into a distortion forming in the sky. Without giving too much away, Eggman, Sonic, Tails, Amy, and a few other characters seem to be trapped in this sort of glitchy metaverse called “Cyberspace.” Sonic, being the wonderful main character he is, isn’t affected by the glitches like Amy and Tails are and sets out on a mission to save them from, well, whatever it is that is hurting them. Sonic traverses through many different terrains, completing puzzles, going toe to toe with sentient mechs and beating up various robotic aquatic animals. So, you know, the usual Sonic business.

The open world, which is the part of the game that the player can travel through freely, is just perfect. Everything from the clever puzzles to the cool bosses had me on the metaphorical edge of my seat, impatiently waiting to see what was coming next. The cutscenes seem to be rendered in the overworld as well, so there are a few bugs. For example, sometimes the flowers that Amy is pointing out don’t load in, and the building Sonic is standing on has a weird-looking texture. These moments reminded me a lot of “Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric,” which, if you know that game, should be an immediate red flag. To be honest, the rendering wasn’t all that bad, so I’m not super passionate about my complaint. The frames, which is how fast the game runs, dropped a few times, but that might just be a Nintendo Switch thing since others who played “Frontiers” on their Playstation 5 seemed to be having a great time.

There are so many things to do in the open world. It’s not a bad thing, if it is a little overwhelming. There are so many different side quests and puzzles and moments where I think, “I wonder where this rail will take me,” and suddenly, I’m in a completely different area. It’s fun but definitely distracting since I usually get derailed, no pun intended, and completely forget about my main objective. After completing one area, the game gives you a percentage of how much you actually explored, and as someone who likes to go 100% on games, I got a little competitive and wasted many, many hours trying to find specific cutscenes, medals and other hidden secrets. These achievements aren’t super important to beating the game.

The play style and mechanics were extremely fun to mess around with, and I spent a lot of time just roaming around the map and beating up any enemy I could get my small, blue hands on.

While you progress in the game, you gain “skill points” that allow you to unlock different abilities for Sonic. The combat and open world aspect give “Frontiers” a “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” vibe, which I was pleasantly surprised by. I’m hoping to see more of these types of Sonic games in the future, and given how positive and successful the feedback from this game was, the “Sonic” future is looking good.

However, “Frontiers” has a lot of callbacks. Were this any other game, it would have been repetitive, but because “Sonic” games have been so lackluster over the years, the countless and constant references to SEGA’s older titles were almost refreshing. While fun to see, these references definitely didn’t go unnoticed. In fact, I started to take note of them around the first portion of the game. I think the reason “Frontiers” has so many past references is because the plot of the game itself is a little weak. But I digress. These additions were nice to see, and I’m glad SEGA shoved every single reference they could possibly add down our throats.

The last time I enjoyed playing a Sonic game was back in 2010 with “Sonic Unleashed,” meaning it’s been nearly eight years since I’ve even remotely enjoyed something from the franchise. “Frontiers” is easily one of my favorite game releases of last year, and has quickly become my favorite game in the franchise. However, I can acknowledge there is much to be desired. This game is so close to being perfect, and it’s definitely a great sign for Sonic games to come. I’m giving “Frontiers” a solid 7/10, and here’s to hoping for more “Sonic” games like this in the future.