Alex is a School of Visual Arts graduate with a passion for media, writing and animation. He writes reviews for film, television, and games.
After a secret casting change and the sixth generation of video game consoles being developed, Sonic Team decided to go through an experimental phase on many games that would celebrate the franchise's fifteenth anniversary.
There were a few games that helped earn some recognition. Dimps made a 2.5-D side-scroller on the Nintendo DS that introduced a new fan-favorite character. Sonic Team also made two different racing games around the same year. One was an extreme-sport stylized game that gained a cult following and another was a more simplified yet tolerable racing game with cooperation from another developer on the Playstation Portable.
Unfortunately, two 3D mainline titles were the crowning achievements of disappointments that dragged Sonic into a dark age of declining quality. The first was a spin-off game starring Shadow that was so "dark and edgy" that it ended up as a joke than serious. But, the other game being made for a new generation made things worse. It started out as promising resetting Sonic and his friends in a realistic and physics environment. However, because of Yuji Naka's resignation, splitting the development team after failing to port onto the Nintendo Wii, and stressfully rushing the game in time for the holiday season, that ambitious project became widely regarded as one of the worst video games of all time.
True, both of these games were commercially solid, but the numbers alone couldn't save the embarrassment intended for a historical milestone. Sega and Sonic Team would have to rely on new ideas and get back to the old drawing board to get Sonic back on his feet. During Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)'s development, two teams were made. One small team finishes the game themselves with no time to waste while the other team was tasked to work on an original Sonic game for the Nintendo Wii. It was time to open the book, both figuratively and literally, for a new chapter into the world of the Arabian Nights. This is the tale of Sonic and the Secret Rings.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. Please do not harass anyone associated with Sega mentioned in this article, and please respect their privacy, especially if anything mentioned here is something they do not wish to talk about.
Sonic and the Secret Rings (2007)
As Sonic enters the world of One Thousand and One Nights, an evil genie known as the Erazor Djinn plans to take over by collecting the seven World Rings. With a curse placed on him and assistance from another genie named Shahra, Sonic must gather the World Rings before it's too late.
With the Nintendo Wii making its rounds for launch, Sega wanted to create a Sonic game that would fully emphasize the Wii Remote's motion controls. Once the development team for Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) was split after canceling its Wii port, game planner Yojiro Ogawa was in charge as director, producer, and writer for the new Wii project. Because of the change, production would take over a span of approximately a year, despite the team being larger than previous Sonic titles. From his experience working with Sonic Team since Sonic Adventure, Ogawa "already had this basic idea (of Sonic constantly moving forward) in [his] mind" and believed this would suitable for the Wii's hardware.
In an interview with Nintendo Power, Ogawa said:
When we first started thinking about it, the system was still called the Revolution. So we thought we should revolutionize Sonic. I wanted to do something that people haven't seen in previous Sonic titles.
— Yojiro Ogawa, director of Sonic and the Secret Rings
The game had many different names during development: "Sonic Wildfire" during E3 2006, "Hyper Sonic" at one point, and "Sonic and the Secret of the Rings." Sega was considering "Wildfire" as the final title but later changed and modified it to "Sonic and the Secret Rings" to fit better with the Arabian Nights theming.
Read More From Levelskip
As the first "Storybook" entry in the series, the idea and art direction of placing Sonic in the Arabian Nights were heavily inspired by games, such as Prince of Persia, God of War, and Shadow of the Colossus. Unlike previous Sonic games, the majority of the cutscenes were hand-painted with static imagery, which was based on classic art through paint on parchment.
Story veteran Shiro Maekawa wrote the basic outline, but Ogawa had to rewrite half of the story. In order to differentiate itself from other games, other main Sonic characters appear in the form of famous figures from One Thousand and One Nights. For example, Ali Baba from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves was portrayed by Tails. The legendary Sinbad the Sailor was played by Knuckles and Dr. Eggman as King Shahryar.
Funnily enough, Sonic isn't the only character who wound up in the book. In a similar method to Sonic Adventure 2, Big the Cat would make cameos in several levels ala "Where's Waldo?". The only difference is that the player would have to stop Sonic in his tracks in specific areas (since this is motion-based), wait a few seconds, then the game would cut to Big being spotted at a distant location before continuing. If you manage to find Big, you will unlock journal pages on how Big ended up here.
Of course, it wouldn't be an Arabian Nights adventure without its own original characters. The game's deuteragonist is Shahra, a.k.a. the "Genie of the Ring" who serves as Sonic's guide and aids him with special abilities throughout his journey. Some would say she is a spiritual successor to Tikal from Sonic Adventure where she would sometimes appear in a ball of light and provide the player with hints. Though not officially confirmed, the idea of Shahra was based on the original story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp where the evil sorcerer tricked Aladdin with a ring with a genie in it. Her name was also derived from the character and narrator, Scheherazade.
With Dr. Eggman not serving as the game's antagonist, that position was filled with an evil genie character known as the Erazor Djinn. Erazor was originally the genie of the lamp from the story of Aladdin who now seeks vengeance on humanity after years of imprisonment. His name is a pun on both the words "eraser" where he is literally trying to erase the Arabian Nights stories and "razor" which his weapon resembles a razor blade. While Erazor calling Sonic a "rat" may sound like a recurring gag, it is actually a reference to how Aladdin was insulted in the original story, or a "street rat" if you count the Disney adaptation.
When Ogawa conceived the idea of Sonic "constantly moving forward", he literally meant it with the Wii Remote's motion controls. The Wii Remote had to be held horizontally where the player would tilt Sonic in a predetermined path along with jumping and braking using correlating buttons. The gameplay would occasionally use rail grinding, which was also inspired by Ogawa's experience working on the Panzer Dragoon series. One of the team's accomplishments during production was tweaking the camera system, which was a recurring problem in previous 3D titles.
In each chapter, Sonic must perform a series of missions in order to retrieve each of the seven World Rings, whether from defeating a boss or randomly earning it after completing a mission. These missions would include defeating a number of enemies, going through a stage without getting hit/earning rings, or racing against another genie. Every now and then, Sonic would find hidden collectibles known as "Fire Souls" which would unlock bonuses in the game's "Special Book" section. This book includes development documentaries, interviews, concept art, game cutscenes, music, and more. It was one of the first 3D Sonic games to feature this amount of content outside the compilation games.
With Shahra at his command, Sonic has two exclusive special abilities that help him and power up his "Soul Gauge" on his adventures. The first is "Speed Break" where Sonic would require enough soul energy to rush through the stage faster. The second is "Time Break" where Sonic would temporarily slow down time for fast incoming obstacles and effectively take down bosses. On top of that, the game added an RPG element where Sonic would earn "Skill Points" through leveling up that would improve his attack and control capabilities.
The main reason why the development was larger was that the game modes were made by two different teams. Sonic Team primarily handled the main game's campaign while the "Party Mode" was made by another Japanese developer Now Production. This private studio was known for making several games for several companies and platforms. In fact, Sonic Riders was the previous Sonic game that the studio helped work on.
Now, this wasn't the first attempt of Sonic having a party game with minigames. That began with Sonic Shuffle on the Sega Dreamcast where Sonic and his friends had played minigames through the Dreamworld's board games using cards. It was Sega's attempt to capitalize on Mario Party's success. Ironically enough, that game was produced by Hudson Soft, the same studio that made Mario Party. Unlike Mario Party, Sonic Shuffle was deemed an "inferior clone" by critics for its complicated and poorly explained minigames, and excessive loading times. Though, the cel-shaded graphics were appraised.
Back to Secret Rings, the Party Mode took some influence from Sonic Shuffle where the minigames were turned-based events but rely more on motion controls. Besides the Wii Remote, it is also exclusively compatible with the Nintendo Gamecube controller. For up to four players, the default characters are Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy. But, if you collect more Fire Souls, you'll unlock Shadow, Cream, Silver, and Blaze as secret characters.
In terms of the in-game graphics, Sonic Team built the game using the PhysX engine while the occasional CGI cutscenes are provided by the 3D animation studio, Anima Inc. This studio would later be known for making the cel-shaded computer-animated cutscenes in the Fire Emblem games.
With the 4Kids actors reprising their roles, Bella Hudson (a.k.a. Blaze) was cast as Shahra while Pete Cormican supplied the voice of the Erazor Djinn. As for the Japanese language, both characters were voiced by well-known anime actors. Shahra was voiced by Mai Nakahara, who would later portray Juvia in Fairy Tail, and Erazor's actor Masashi Ebara is recognized as Might Guy from the Naruto franchise.
When it was time for the soundtrack, the music was composed by Fumie Kumatani, Kenichi Tokoi, and Seirou Okamoto. The music retained the rock style from previous Sonic titles but also blend it with Middle-Eastern music to authenticate the game's theme and atmosphere. Runblebee, who wrote theme songs for Sonic Riders, came back as the vocalist and wrote lyrics for many of the stages' songs throughout the game. These songs include: "Let the Speed Mend It", "The Wicked Wild", "The Palace That Was Found", and more. Additionally, Bomberman composer Jun Chikuma also provided some music.
Compared to past 3D Sonic games, the main theme "Seven Rings in Hand" was used more than during the final boss fight. It plays during the menu screens and whenever a level is completed. While Runblebee wrote the lyrics and music being conducted by Tokoi, the song was performed by musician Steve Conte, who had a history of contributing tracks for several anime. Conte also sang the final credits song, "Worth the Chance."
Reception & Legacy
When Sonic's new storybook adventure opened up on February 20, 2007, in North America, on March 2nd in Europe, and two weeks later in Japan, Sega's wish to redeem Sonic came true...somewhat. Upon release, critics and audiences praised its visual style and declared the game to be an improvement over the negative reception the past 3D titles received. The level design was mixed where they enjoyed the aesthetics yet found their missions tedious and repetitive (though helps add replay value). But, the core of the criticisms goes to the motion-based controls themselves which polarized players. On the one hand, the controls do take time to get used to, and the leveling up and customization gradually improve them. On the other hand, since playing the game requires a comfortable distance from both the TV and sensor bar, not controlling Sonic would lead to hitting obstacles, leaps of faith, missing targets, and moving backward with the camera locked in place. Like Sonic Shuffle, the Party Mode was also criticized as "unoriginal" and too similar to Mario Party.
Even though the game is critically average at best, its commercial run earned Sega some riches. The game was the thirteenth best-selling game worldwide (and the fourth best-selling Wii game) during the first month of release with 83,000 copies, it topped sales in the U.K. and earned a "Platinum" sales award from the ELSPA with at least 30,000 units. Overall Sonic and the Secret Rings made a total of 1.2 million copies worldwide.
Later on, "Seven Rings in Hand" would be used as backing for the Green Hill Zone stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, was complied with Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz as a Wii "fun pack" re-release, and both Shahra and the Erazor Djinn would appear as rare "Buddies" in the Sonic Runners app.
Today, most fans and players wouldn't rank Secret Rings among the best nor the worst Sonic games either. True, the game was a step-up from the dark age that the franchise went through and has some enjoyable elements, like the graphics and some catchy music. Yet, this game came out at a time when companies wanted to capitalize on the system's motion controls and others found it "gimmicky", especially since they were difficult to control. Then again, there are those that do get the hang out of it with enough practice and would get some entertainment in the end. With the game being a financial hit, Sonic Team would eventually continue the "Storybook" series whether better or worse. But, for now, Sonic made a noble attempt on his first Wii adventure as we close the chapter of this Arabian tale.
While Sonic Team was busy working on home consoles, Dimps assisted them by heading back to the Sonic Rush series on the Nintendo DS yet, but this time, Sonic and Blaze are setting the high seas with Sonic Rush Adventure.
Sonic Rush Adventure (2007)
When Sonic and Tail wound up in Blaze's dimension through a storm, they must help her find and retrieve the Jeweled Scepter before robotic pirates do.
Development began when sound and motion designer Sakae Osumi, known for his work on the Super Monkey Ball series, came up with an idea for an oceanic environment after being inspired by adventure novels, films, and television shows. That decision led him to become the sequel's director, while planner Yukihiro Higashi was assigned as co-director. Akinori Nishiyama, the first game's director, took the role of the game's main producer alongside Kouichi Sakita.
When planning the story, the writing team began to wonder: "What if Sonic ended up in Blaze's world?" since the first Rush game centered on Blaze lost in Sonic's world. They decided to make the main setting take place in Blaze's dimension full of its own worldbuilding and inhabitants.
One character, in particular, that Sonic and Tails would encounter and eventually aid them on their adventure is Marine the Raccoon. She was chosen to have an Australian accent that would convey her loud and enthusiastic personality. The accent itself wasn't the only component; her pigtails also resemble boomerangs that would visually identify her. On top of that, she is friends with a team of engineering koalas known as the Coconut Crew. In the Japanese version of the game, Marine speaks in an Osakan accent instead. Even so, she doesn't have a voice actress, despite playing a major role in the story.
Since this is about Sonic and Blaze traveling and visiting islands across the seas, it wouldn't be an ocean-themed adventure without some pirate baddies. The primary antagonist of the game was Captain Whisker, an evil yet clownlike robotic pirate determined to take the Jeweled Scepter to control the world's seas. Whisker also had two tiny parrots named Mini & Mum as his minions. Given his design from a visual perspective, let's say his resemblance...seems familiar to an extent.
The secondary villain was Whisker's right-hand man, Johnny. With the character designed as a mix between a shark and torpedo, he is visually characterized as a feisty and hotshot rival for Sonic. Consider him as the "Metal Sonic" of Blaze's dimension. Unlike last time when Sonic would traditionally enter a Special Stage within an Act, Sonic must race Johnny in a series of waterbike races in order to collect each Chaos Emerald.
The core gameplay mechanics from Sonic Rush remain intact whereas both Sonic and Blaze are playable, with 2D or 2.5D level design highlighting high-speed platforming like the Genesis games, speed boosting, performing tricks using the Tension Gauge, and boss fights rendered in 3D. As a sequel, Dimps and Sonic Team updated the original Rush game engine where the presentation was also enhanced. These new additions include a dynamic camera system, 3D elements during gameplay, and making the cutscenes more cinematic.
However, the huge selling point for the sequel is the archipelago in Blaze's world. In order for players to progress through the story and access levels, they must travel to islands using water-themed vehicles, since Sonic can't swim. These vehicles include a waterbike, a ship, a hovercraft, and a submarine. Each vehicle has its own powers and functions. The development team put more focus on the DS's touchscreen where players can draw paths, fend off enemies, and race Johnny, using the stylus while traveling. Some would say that the sea venturing is reminiscent of the cel-shaded Zelda games, such as The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass
Another important factor is the hub area, Southern Island where the game adds RPG elements like side-missions and material collecting. For the latter, players would collect materials by completing stages or missions on each respective island and would use them to upgrade either the vehicles or the island itself. Sonic would upgrade his waterbike to outrun Johnny for the Chaos Emeralds while Blaze would collect Sol Emeralds through special missions, which collecting both require the extra ending.
Alongside the 4Kids and recurring actors, Captain Whisker was voiced by Tokyo-based music producer and actor Lonnie Hirsch in English and anime voice actor Shinta Fukumatsu in Japanese. Johnny was performed by Christopher Pellegrini in English and Kota Nemoto in Japanese.
Originally, Hideki Naganuma planned to reprise his role as the composer. However, due to his commitment to working on the voice and sound editing on the Yuzuka series at the time, his boss didn't allow him. So, veteran composers Tomoya Ohtani, Seirou Okamoto, and Mariko Nanba took his place. They did preserve the hip-hop music from the first game while mixing it with tropical elements to give players that adventure feeling. Teruhiko Nakagawa handled the duties as sound director where he recruited the voice actors and provided the sound effects. Like before, some of the stages' music would include some vocals, and the main theme "A New Venture" was performed by musical artist Tahirih Walker.
On a side note, despite being published by Sega worldwide, Sonic Rush Adventure was the first Sonic title to be published by Nintendo in South Korea only. During the European localization, the game was initially rated PEGI 12+ for occasionally using the word "bugger" since this was a swear in the UK. However, it was changed to 3+ after removing the word. When promoting the game, Sega released an Abode Flash browser game where players would demo the boating minigames.
Reception & Legacy
As Sonic and Blaze swam ashore to Europe on September 13, 2007, a few days later in the United States, a month later in Japan, and two years later in South Korea, their adventure proved to be better than before. In fact, this was a major boost in quality since the franchise's deriding period. The enhanced presentation and Genesis-style gameplay were appraised as entertaining and fun as ever. The music was also characterized as "catchy" and "well-produced" while the touchscreen minigames were great additions. However, some felt that the replay value was regarded as "weak" when it came to the missions and material collecting getting repetitive, and the story was "tedious" and "boring." Flaws aside, they found Sonic Rush Adventure to be a solid sequel yet "innovated a little."
Dissimilarly, the sequel received lesser loot than its predecessor where it sold 53,000 copies in North America and almost half a million in Europe, making a worldwide total of 1.16 million units commercially.
Afterward, Marine, Captain Whisker, and Johnny would only make appearances in the Archie Comics adaptation, there is an unlockable Mii costume modeled after Marine in Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games, along with Marine herself being mentioned in the DS version of Sonic Colors.
Regardless of how critically and commercially the game performed, Dimps never let the franchise down since Sonic Advance. It was considered a godsend since Sonic had to go through a declining slump. Both Dimps and Sonic Team took what they achieved in Sonic Rush and expanded the quality of the DS's technical capabilities. While not everyone would find the story dragging on and some of the replay value monotonous, the core of the gameplay maintains the essence of what makes a Sonic game fun to play. In the end, Sonic and Blaze's new venture proved that the series still had life in it.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (2007)
Turning back the clock to the year 2001 when Sega retired from making consoles and started their new partnership with Nintendo. While the Sonic Advance games were being made, Sega closely worked on the Nintendo Gamecube game F-Zero GX which was considered an official "crossover" between both companies. For years, everyone has asked the same question: "Would there ever be a crossover between Mario and Sonic?"
Think about it: Sonic was solely created not as a mascot but also as a competitive rival against Mario and Nintendo during the Genesis era. In actuality, both producer Yuji Naka and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto secretly discussed a crossover project between their respective properties in 2005. However, things got complicated when Naka resigned from Sega and the concept lacked one crucial detail: a setting that would give the project "an exclamation point."
It wasn't until Sega received a license to produce an original game for the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics that the committee commissioned them to make a game that would not only appeal to a wide audience but to children as well. So, Sega wondered: "What if Mario and Sonic would compete against each other in the Olympics?" Since both are characters that "young people love and are very iconic", they decided to base them on the Olympics instead of a realistic simulation. Nintendo approved the idea and partnered with Sega in-house for additional quality control over the game for both the Nintendo Wii and DS systems.
The game featured a roster of both Mario and Sonic characters while a selective number of NPCs act as referees. Each character participates in a series of authentic Olympic events whether it requires motion controls from the Wii Remote/Nunchuck or touchscreen controls from the DS.
With Sega Sports R&D (Research & Development) developing the game with Shigeru Miyamoto supervising, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games was released for the Wii on November 2007 while the DS version was launched a couple of months later. Both versions were praised for their presentation and variety of Olympic events, especially with the Wii's multiplayer interaction. However, players found some of the Wii motion controls to be "complex" and "shallow" while the DS lacked any online or multiplayer technicalities.
Other than that, both Mario and Sonic walked home with Gold Medals through selling 7.09 million Wii units and 4.22 million DS units, making a worldwide total of over 10 million copies sold. The Wii version won "Best Wii game of 2007" at the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany, and the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2010 book listed Mario & Sonic as the "Best-selling gaming character crossover."
Because of the game's success, Mario and Sonic would continue competing against each other throughout subsequent Olympic games (excluding the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea) with an expanded roster, guest characters/rivals, "Dream Events", exclusive modes, and more. While some wouldn't officially count this crossover to be part of Sonic's history, it is highly evident that Sega found a clever and entertaining execution of an impossible crossover concept. Mario and Sonic were once considered rivals, but now old and new generations would enjoy some friendly competition between the two. Though not highly critical, this was still a milestone in the Blue Blur's legacy.
Speaking of competition, Backbone Entertainment would cap off the year with their follow-up with more speed, more quality, and more rivals for the PSP. It was time to race and win with Sonic Rivals 2.
Sonic Rivals 2 (2007)
When several Chao have gone missing, Sonic and friends must investigate their disappearance. Along the way, they come across their rivals and race each other.
Because of the financial success and critical feedback of the first Sonic Rivals, Backbone Entertainment and Sega Studio USA would start producing a sequel. Takashi Iizuka reprised his role as the director/writer, and Taylor Miller as co-producer while Keith Palmer took Iizuka's place as co-producer. Same as before, Backbone produced most of the work while Sega Studio USA provided assistance with story aspects.
Like last time, Backbone Entertainment carried over the essence of the racing game where Sonic and his friends would race each other one foot with occasional power-ups through 2.5-D level designs inspired by the Genesis games and boss fights rendered in 3D. At the same time, card collecting has also returned where they can be earned by completing missions and each character would have to up to four unlockable costumes instead of three.
Following what Dimps achieved, Backbone upped their game by adding more variety using the PSP's hardware. Sonic Rivals 2 included a new multiplayer mode called "Battle Mode" where players could compete through six different event types, such as Knockout, Tag, Rings Battle, King of the Hill, Laps, and Capture the Chao. Speaking of the latter, the sequel offered more focus on the Chao characters similar to how the early 3D games revolutionized them. Simply put: Capture the Chao was simply Capture the Flag where players have to steal a certain number of Chao from their opponent's base and bring them back to their own base to win. The only event without racing a rival is where players would explore and find ten Chao hidden in levels.
The main highlight of Sonic Rivals 2 was its extended roster of playable characters. Sonic, Knuckles, Shadow, Silver, and Metal Sonic may be the returning veterans, but more rival characters have joined the race. Tails, Rouge, and Espio were the newest additions. Collecting enough rings would also let each character perform a special move rather than using power-ups. For example, Shadow could use "Chaos Control" to slow down his opponents for a few seconds. While players can freely play as them, the campaign mode decided to split the roster of eight into four teams with their own story perspectives. Think of it like a homage to Sonic Heroes in a sense. These story teams include Sonic & Tails, Knuckles & Rouge, Shadow & Metal Sonic, and Silver & Espio. Throughout the story, Iizuka would combine story elements from Sonic Adventure 2 with Gerald Robotnik as a reference, bringing back Eggman Nega as the main antagonist, and creating their own fiery demon with no connection to Sonic '06 whatsoever known as Ifrit.
Having increased production values, the characters are more fully-voiced in cutscenes than they were in-game previously. Many of the 4Kids actors reprised their roles, except for Carter Cathcart as Vector where Dan Green replaced him instead. Vector would only appear in transmission cutscenes via Espio's story.
While Chris Rezanson once again composed the sequel's soundtrack, Ted Poley & Tony Harnell, who previously provided theme songs for the early 3D games, made a surprising comeback and recorded the game's theme song "Race to Win."
Reception & Legacy
Once Sonic and his rivals race again onto the PSP on November 13 in North America and a month later in Europe, they came with mediocre results. Although critics enjoyed the presentation, the sense of speed, and newly added features, they felt that these changes, lack for a better term, didn't change or improve any of the previous issues, like the controls, trial-and-error level design, and boss fights.
Fortunately, the game sold a bit better than its predecessor where it sold 44,000 copies in North America and 70,000 in Europe. In March 2009, it was branded as one of Sony's Greatest Hits budget line with at least 250,000 units sold, making a worldwide total of 1.52 million copies.
Besides a couple of re-releases on compilations, the legacy of the Sonic Rivals series didn't last as much of an impact as Sega hoped for. Granted, it wasn't as bad as the games during the dark age and Backbone Entertainment put some effort into making a fun distraction for die-hard Sonic fans, with the sequel showing the potential for future installments. Despite the Playstation Portable still lasting longer in its lifespan, Backbone Entertainment dissolved after laying off many of its employees in 2008 and officially closed the following year.
Throughout that year, fans realized that there was never a mainline Sonic game present. Both Sega and Sonic Team showed a marginal tweak with the franchise by launching their first Wii spin-off title, making two sequels, and a crossover between a longtime rival that was historically impossible beforehand. With the exception of Sonic Rush Adventure, many of those games weren't as critically impressive and ended up either as "average" at best or "forgettable" at worst. On the bright side, their commercial sales were enough to help Sega finance and develop future Sonic projects. If they really wanted to restore Sonic's reputation, they would have to "unleash" all their creative energy for the remaining 2000s decade.
To be continued...