Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog has taken plenty of knocks in his post-Genesis career. His transition into 3D was bumpy and it seems that the further away we get from those Sega Genesis glory days, the less that Sonic Team and its partners seem to know how to handle the franchise. Sonic Generations was the best thing to star Sonic in a very long time and long-time fans practically cried out to Sega that it was the Classic Sonic elements that made that game work so well. Sega followed up that title with the poorly received and rapidly developed Sonic Boom series, so it seemed that hope was lost for the company to learn the right lessons from Generations. Thankfully it now looks like good things come to those who wait as Sega had announced two new Sonic games that look like they know what they're doing. For me, the one to be most excited about is Sonic Mania coming in 2017 from Sega, Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, and PagodaWest Games for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, and PC which follows on from those excellent conversions of Sonic the Hedgehog for iPhone and Android as a 2D (actually 2D, with sprites!) side-scrolling title feature new zones and reimagined classic levels. Just look at this trailer and try not to smile. I don't think you can resist.
Remember a few years ago when Sonic fans said that Sonic Team should go back to the Genesis roots with a side-scroller for consoles and Sega responded with Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and everyone kinda felt like we'd made our wish on a monkey's paw? I'm just judging by the trailer here, but it looks like Sonic Mania is the game we all thought we would be getting during that interval between hearing that Sonic was going back to pure side-scrolling and actually seeing how Sonic 4 ended up. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are the only playable characters just like nature intended. I know I'm risking being caught up in the Sonic Cycle again, but I really want this game to be solid and the title that fans have wanted for such a very long time.
The other announcement is for the untitled Project Sonic 2017 (due out in, yes, 2017) for the PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo NX. It appears to be closer in nature to a hypothetical Sonic Generations 2 with its promises of giant Robotnik robots and Classic Sonic tagging along with Modern Sonic on a new adventure. There's a teaser trailer for this game as well and at a risk of being burned twice over next year, I'm optimistic. Sonic the Hedgehog is a classic character from the 16-bit glory days and he deserves so much better than what he's endured overall in the past fifteen years. Maybe this is the happy balance we didn't know we needed: the cartoon-based Sonic Boom series for the the kids with all of Sonic's new friends and wacky adventures can go one way (which, by the way, there's another of those games coming up soon too) and then there's Sonic Mania for older fans who grew up with Sonic and don't want to deal with half-baked gimmicks.