A Love Letter to All That Made It Great – Grass Pants Muses on Anniversaries (Mostly About Sonic Generations, Though)

So, I am a weak man and the Steam sale has done more damage to my wallet than throwing it in a fire. One of the (many) games I’ve picked up this past week was Sonic Generations and something struck me. A lot of games are hitting milestones lately. Mario and Zelda recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, Kirby’s gearing up for his 20th, and Generations was a giant love letter to the past twenty years of Sonic. So I figured it would be fun to take a look at the way these big, important years were handled.

First, let’s talk Mario because it’s probably the most polarizing of the bunch. All Mario got for standing the test of time were some wallpapers and a direct port of a SNES compilation. Now, don’t get me wrong. I picked it up about the time it came out and it was worth the price, setting me back about 20 bucks. The soundtrack and little booklet absolutely made it for me and the box is proudly on display here at Grass Pants HQ. But… I can’t help but be a bit disappointed with how Nintendo handled it. No real fanfare, no big exciting stuff.

Zelda, on the other hand, had a huge multi-media campaign. Orchestras (including a CD), the first ‘real’ swordplay game in the series (courtesy of the Wii Motion Plus), and even a nifty little accessory in the form of the golden, Triforce-branded Wii Remote. I’m admittedly surprised they didn’t release a compilation, since we haven’t had one since… Wind Waker came out, if I’m not mistaken? And it didn’t even necessarily contain the best of the best. The fanfare and presentation was definitely better than Mario, but outside of a in-game reference (see the line in Skyward Sword about it being the Sky Knights’ 25th anniversary when the game begins), there wasn’t a whole lot of gaming stuff to celebrate it. They definitely handled it better than their Mario anniversary, though.

I can’t say a huge lot about Kirby, but this gives me an excuse to write a small paragraph so hey why not! Kirby’s anniversary collection looks like the right way to do a compilation game. They’ve got all the classics (conveniently enough the games I covered in my Kirby retrospective series a few weeks ago!), but it’s not just four or five ports. They’ve included brand new (to my understanding) challenge stages and even a little Kirby Museum which gives a timeline of the Kirby series and some other nifty stuff that happened that year. Also, the game comes with a soundtrack and a little booklet, much like Mario. If you haven’t seen the trailer, take a look.

Now, compilations and giant multi-media campaigns are nice and all… but is that really the way to celebrate twenty (or twenty-five) years of success? By throwing together some stuff in a box, adding some nifty sidegames and information, and calling it a day? Shouldn’t an anniversary celebration like this be a love letter to everything that made the series great? Yes. Yes it should.

And that’s where Sonic Generations comes in. Sonic Generations is a love letter to everything that made the series great. Sega, after years of producing ‘just okay’ titles, finally put out something truly memorable. It was a heartwarming experience seeing modern and classic Sonic work together and noticing all of the little background details and hearing that horrible running out of air music. Actually that last one was terrifying, but this is truly how you celebrate something as big as this.

My favorite moment in the game had to have been at the very end. Not the gameplay, not the dialogue, but the hundreds (or so) Sonic fans who came together after the credits rolled to wish Sonic a happy birthday. It really shows the love that the fans have, being willing to stick by something they care about this much after all the gimmicky gameplay and annoying characters. It shows the love that the company has that they’re willing to completely abandon the gimmicks, no I don’t count two Sonics as a gimmick, and not adding in any new characters, no Time Eater doesn’t count, and just put forth a giant love letter to everything that made Sonic great. I really hope people pay attention to what Sega did with Generations, because if you’re gonna celebrate something, celebrate it right. Anyway, that’s me for now. Thanks for reading and have a good’un.

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