I’d like to tell you all a story of passion, jealousy, and a little blue hedgehog. The first Sonic the Hedgehog game was released for the Sega Genesis in the summer of 1991. It featured only Sonic and a number of enemies, and its bare-bones story was stop-the-villain-from-taking-over-the-world. That was it. And it was beautiful.
As the series evolved, it took on new forms. There were new 2D platform games, 3D games, arcade games, comics, novellas, and several cartoon series. Sonic met friends and rivals. The tone of the story diverged, becoming sometimes darker and sometimes funnier. At some point, Sonic became a werewolf. As we all know, different presentations of a series will beget different fans, and this is where we run into trouble.
Hey, Sonic fans? Why all the hate? We all love the same series, so why are we fighting like Madonna fans vs Gaga fans? Different headcanons* can coexist. Heck, different canons can coexist. Isn’t it better to come together over something we love rather than squabble over differences?
Let’s take the most controversial element of Sonic’s evolution: werewolf Sonic. While that is SO far out of my headcanon that I refuse to acknowledge it, I know that he might have served as a gateway for werewolf enthusiasts into gaming. For that, I owe werewolf Sonic a “thank you,” because the more young gamers we have, the stronger the fandom will be. Also, the bigger the market, the more money gaming companies will have, and thus they’ll develop bigger and better games for me to play. While I personally dislike werewolf Sonic, I have no hard feelings towards those who love him.
Why does it matter if people recolour Sonic and Sally to make their own OCs? I had my own pretty-much-a-recolour OC when I was a kid. It would snobbish and ironic if I flamed against where the fandom is going. My first Sonic game was “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” and it wasn’t Sonic that lured me in. It was Tails. I liked Tails because he was cute. That’s it. Kind of a lame reason, but for me, that was what sparked my interest in gaming. I have seen people on the Internet ranting against Tails because they see him as a thorn in Sonic’s side, and these folks wax nostalgic about how they miss the good old days when Sonic was a lone hero.
I have played the first Sonic game. There were no elemental shields, no Sonic Sting, and no friendly sidekicks. It seemed… primitive. I remember that feeling, and so I understand why younger fans demand their Chao and their Shadow and their unnavigable 3D maps.
My advice on Sonic, and on any evolving fandom, is to live and let live. In my world, Sonic games do not come in 3D. He is not a werewolf. There is no Rouge the Bat, nor Shadow, nor Silver. Therefore, when I come across these things online, my reaction is to pass on by and keep searching for what I actually want to find. I don’t have time to stop and flame someone younger for liking something I don’t, or to bash someone older for being satisfied with an earlier incarnation of the game we all love. It’s a big fandom and there’s enough room for everyone.
*Headcanon = the canon that exists in one’s head, ie, one fan’s personal interpretation of the series plus any alternate stories or characters they thought of themselves.