This is some very sad news. Sonic Yoda, the website that always took a light-hearted, optimistic view of the Sonic franchise, has closed its doors today. The webmaster, Lewis ‘Hairyman’ Clark, has stated that he simply cannot be optimistic about the series anymore following the release of Sonic Unleashed. Before you start, the chap played both current gen and Wii/PS2 versions. Apparently, what he saw and felt doesn’t resonate with what made him a fan of the franchise in the first place, so has decided to bow out rather than continue his fansite.
To be honest, I’m feeling sort of the same really – Sonic’s 20th Anniversary is fast approaching and what we have to show for it are a decade’s worth of games that range from average/fun for a bit to utter tripe. It’s a far cry from the sublime character and level design seen in the 16-bit era, and the situation is compounded by the splitting of the fanbase. Instead of going back to its Mega Drive roots like they probably (read: very much) should, the introduction of the modern Sonic fan has meant we now have a pocket of fans who want the games to stay in this downward spiral of mediocrity. Apparently ‘classic’ play is backwards thinking – nobody wants unique level design and original badniks, unpatronising stories and green hills, while we should embrace evolutions of the series such as broken cameras, boring enemy designs and apocalyptic monsters.
Enough about my ranting though, this is Lewis’ time to speak out. The Sonic Yoda website has been replaced with a page that details why he’s taken the sad decision to drop out of the fanbase:
I cannot continue this hobbie of mine knowing what Sonic has become. When I play Sonic games today, I have to force myself to finish them. I don’t enjoy them anymore. There’s no love in my relationship with the little blue guy. What’s made this worse is the release of Sonic Unleashed; another game which promised so much more than it could deliver. I’ve got to face the fact that Sonic will never be what I loved as a child. Werewolfs, multiple characters, ridiculous speed, guns, the end of the world and Eggman are all things I don’t want to see anymore.
What annoys me more about this than anything is the excuses that SEGA make. Whenever an interview occurs or a public statement is made, they’re always hiding the fact that they don’t know what they want Sonic to be anymore. This results in heavy rivalry in the fan community because people are told to like one thing when others grew up with another. The fans are confused and angry and all they want is a classic Sonic game with well designed, platform-based levels with multiple routes, lots of colour, happy music and Sonic as the only playable character going head-to-head with Dr. Robotnik.
The webmaster will start a brand new website called SEGADriven, which will be similar to another pet project of his, MegaDriven, only it will cover everything SEGA. A good idea, given many people look at Sonic games and judge SEGA as a whole by it. I mean, Valkyrie Chronicles, Yakuza 3, and Mad World to name a few awesome modern SEGA titles. Oh, and The Club. Why did nobody care about that game except for me?
From 2002-2008, Sonic Yoda has been one of the small sites that made it big; an unassuming fansite that didn’t quite get the attention it deserved, but to be honest never really wanted it. It was happy to simply tell the world about Sonic the Hedgehog, one of the best platforming franchises ever created. And it’s fansites like these that have the charm and charisma to stay the distance. We can’t all be fans of the same thing forever, and it’ll pain me to say ‘so long’ to Sonic Yoda. In honour of your retirement, we offer you tea and something to eat. Rest in peace.