To preface, I’ve been going on a nostalgia trip recently, starting with the Super Mario 3D All Stars, and culminating in 100% completion of Sonic Adventure 2.
They’re undeniably flawed games, but (and this might be my rose-tinted glasses speaking) they have a lot of charm and character.
But none more so than the blend of Arthurian legend, Aladdin and Sonic.
For those of you not in-the-know, the Sonic Storybook series was simply the exploration of cultural history through the medium of a Sonic game. It had two games in the series: Sonic and the Secret Rings, which was a modern interpretation of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp; and Sonic and the Black Knight, a mix of Arthurian legend and the Sonic world.
The biggest draw to this, for me anyway, was the blending and redefining ancient mythology and legend with modern mythos. I’d argue most people who play video games understand Sonic’s tropes and characterisation, if not by playing them directly, through cultural osmosis.
You’ve got Shadow; the dark rival; Knuckles, the guardian of the Maguffin; Amy, persistent love interest/stalker ; Eggman, the erstwhile enemy. These are cultural touch points that we can understand, because
1) They’re eminently simple.
2) They’re inherently flexible character tropes.
So, in the living example of Sonic and the Black Knight, you have Shadow as Sir Lancelot, rival knight to Sonic; Knuckles as Sir Percival, the knight seeking the grail; and Amy as the Lady of the Lake. Two out of three ain’t that bad, anyway…
Most of the characters in the Sonic Mythos aren’t characters as much as they are character Archetypes. The ability to pick and choose what archetypes fall where can be an incredibly attractive creative endeavour.
And they’re educative. I can likely trace back my love of mythology and the desire to study history, language and mythology to Sonic and the Black Knight
If SEGA were to return to these ideas, there’s a veritable cornucopia of ideas they could choose from. Instead of Celtic mythology, how about Norse? I’d love to see Tails as Baldur, the god of Innocence.
How about Egyptian? Greek mythology? Hell, let’s go older, ancient Sumerian! You could take epics and add them in, the Odyssey, or Dante’s Inferno. The exploration of ideas is virtually limitless. Sonic joins the Argonauts, Sonic meets Gilgamesh, Sonic beats the shit out of Horus and steals his eye.
I’d love to see this series revitalised and reborn, especially for a new generation with such an accessible amount of information at their fingertips.
And Sonic as a series is generally known for hit-and-miss gameplay exploration, bringing in and dropping new mechanics between games. The potential for new gameplay styles between games is enormous! If Sonic does join the Argonauts, bringing in a sailing/running on water mechanic. Boss fights would be varied, and have the potential to be incredible. Just… maybe keep the more ridiculous parts out of it, no one wants to see Eggman as Zeus as a Swan engage “attack” mode.
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