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Even Sonic the Hedgehog wants to be an Angry Bird these days

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David Gregory | 16:02 UK time, Tuesday, 18 December 2012

An angry bird and sonic

If you asked people who don't play games to name a famous video game character who do you think they'd suggest? Mario perhaps? Or Sonic the Hedgehog?

Well Sonic is over twenty years old now and in his twenties he's branching out in a whole new direction. No longer do his creators SEGA see him as a character in games you go out and buy from a shop on the high street. Instead he's being giving a new life on smartphones and tablet computers.

The people helping him make this change work at a small games studio near Coventry. Hardlight Studio is a team of about twenty people looking to push Sonic in new directions. The first and biggest change is phones don't have a controller like a traditional console and the team at Hardlight even avoid having virtual buttons on screen.

Instead you use the tilt function of the smartphone to direct Sonic from platform to platform as he climbs ever higher. Now if you enjoy playing games on your smartphone you might think this sounds very familiar. The hot game of about three years ago was a title called "Doodle Jump" where your little character leapt from platform to platform with the score climbing as he did.

Except Sonic was here first. Back in 2006 there was a Sonic game where you leapt from platform to platform, climbing ever higher in the sky. Sadly that game was a bit ahead of it's time. This time around for this fresh game the reviews are looking good and 350,000 people have already bought the game.

Many of the team at Hardlight have come from a console world and it's fascinating to hear them talk about the feedback they get from Sonic on a smartphone. In the old days on a console once the game is out the door that was pretty much it. But with a smartphone game that's just the start. The team can see just how far gamers get in the game, how often they restart a level and when they stop playing. They can then tweak the games in small or even major ways to make sure they keep on playing. And hopefully even decide to spend a bit more money on purchasing extra content for the game such as new characters.

There are several new studios and small teams in the Midlands now focussing on this market and it's possible we may well see one of them create the very next "Angry Birds" a game that has sold over thirty million copies worldwide. As I said even Sonic would like to be an angry bird these days.


  • Comment number 1.

    I am one of the ones who used to love and play Sonic back during the MegaDrive days. Yes, Sonic was indeed ahead of its time and I remember very well that Sonic was even made into a cartoon for children (I used to watch it too).

    Although I love Sonic and still play it occasionally, I do it because it brings back good memories and I have a deep love for the character. However, because there are so many better games out there, I don't see the new generation of gamers playing something just because it's cute, especially since they have no emotional attachments to it like older gamers do.

    I don't see how Sonic for smartphones will ever revive the game. Simply for the fact that they keep on tweaking the game in every single way as possible, it shows how much they're struggling to make it more appealing:

    I don't see how tweaking the game into smartphones or a hybrid (Xbox + smartphone) will make any difference. If one is bored of playing Sonic on the Xbox, why would they play it on a smartphone? Just because you can tilt the smartphone? You can do that with Nintendo and the PS3 and it's not like smartphones are deficient in good games.

    That's the thing with games: they age. No matter how many tweaks, or the platform they are played on, they'll age regardlessly (people will get bored) and they will get overtaken/forgotten by new game concepts and characters. Angry Birds is great, however, I grew bored of it already and so did many people. They are tweaking it with different episodes like Angry Birds Rio or Angry Birds Star Wars, but the game essence is still the same. At one point Angry Birds will face the same destiny of Sonic. The best punt would be to make a totally different game concept just using the character in order to revive it.


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