Popular Fangame Stirs Minor Controversy After Changing It’s Vision

When SEGA and Sonic Team are hard at work creating the next Sonic experience, some fans of the series are left to fill the gaps with their own creative endeavors. One of the more promising fangames is the impressive “Project Hero” which showcased the possibilities of a fully 3D action platformer that incorporates the best qualities of Sonic gameplay throughout the years.

It had garnered a lot of deserved appreciation and enthusiasm from fans over the past few years, but after a huge make-over, that excitement may have waned for some.

After some development screenshots were leaked, project leader Hero confirmed that the entire fangame was to be retooled to fit the aesthetic of the Classic Sonic branch of the series, particularly the charming OVA Movie from the mid-90’s. In essence, Knuckles has a hat, and we’re all for it.

Well, for the most part.

While many showed their support for the change, a number of fans who followed the project expressed grievances and disappointment, in some cases dropping interest in Project Hero altogether. In absolute fairness, most of the disappointed comments express just as much support for the project, however this instance does highlight an ever-growing division between the two designs in the fandom. Indeed, why did they have to change it from Modern to Classic?

It’s not uncommon for a project like this to undergo a such a radical change; Steve Taylor’s Sonic Islands went through a similar retooling from Modern/Adventure aesthetics and movesets to a much more focused 3D Classic Sonic experience, and even the posterchild of 3D Classic fangames, Sonic Utopia, started development using Modern Sonic assets.

Supposedly, the main issue is that Classic Sonic has been sharing the spotlight with the standard “Modern” Sonic as a separate character for nearly ten years now, and it’s understandable that fans who were introduced to Sonic during the mid 2000s might be tired of seeing their Sonic being usurped by a retro one from an era they couldn’t care less about. People tend to associate the visuals of the older Sonic games with certain gameplay philosophies that they are related to, and with a Classic aesthetic replacing the Modern one, there’s a collective sigh of frustration that the sort of gameplay experience they were expecting is now uncertain.

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One other potential consequence of a promising Modern Sonic engine being retooled to a 3D Classic one reinforces the mentality that Classic Sonic is replacing “their” Sonic, and there is one less project out there representing him. While Modern Sonic games and media have recently outpaced Classic content with Team Sonic Racing, Forces Mobile and the IDW Comic, the very presence or mention of Classic Sonic still poses a concern to some. Now it’s taking hold in the fangame community.

That said, Project Hero was far from the only “Modern Sonic” fangame engine in the works. The Bumper Engine would be used to create Sonic GT, and Sonic Encore brings Modern Sonic into the 3rd dimension as well. Then there’s Green Hill Paradise 2, Sonic Spirits Revamped, The Infinity Engine’s Sonic 2020, Sonic Adventure 3 and Sonic World, among others.

Ultimately, Project Hero belongs to Hero, and they should be allowed to exercise their creative freedom however they want. While we can certainly sympathize with those who were enjoying the fangame before the announcement, at the end of the day it’s more important for fans to help build each other up and encourage one another in a time where the quality of the main games are never certain.

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And come on. Knuckles has a hat.

Published by

Indigo Rush

Indigo Rush (Alex) is a longtime member of the Sonic Stadium's message boards. If you're into memes, check out his Meme Bean account on Twitter for shenanigans of the Robotnik variety! https://twitter.com/memebeanregime

24 Comments

  1. I myself was very indifferent to this change, I was beyond disappointed even. but now, it’s kind of grown on me. I’ll still prefer the modern aesthetic from before this change, but I’m happy that Hero is happy with what he’s doing now. I hope that this change is at least worth a try.

  2. Not gonna lie. While I don’t hate “Classic Sonic”, I can’t really feel the same enthusiasm as I did before. I also would prefer it a lot more if Project Hero had stayed in its “Modern Sonic” aesthetic. But its Hero’s fan game and he is free to do whatever he wants to it, hopefully this will still be good to play.

  3. We’ve hit a very, very strange era if people are genuinely rooting for Modern over Classic, 3D or no. Especially after Mania and Forces side by side viscerally proving the difference between the responses to one and the other.

    1. RIGHT. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. These are the kind of things I’ve always wanted. Even knuckles with the hat is cool,I mean why not?? What’s so wrong with it. I dunno,I guess it’s true what they say about Sonic fans.

  4. I’ll admit I was surprised at the sudden change in aesthetic but at the same time early iterations of the project were definitely leaning more towards the classic style of gameplay with the momentum, shields and tighter platforming style of play. While I did primarily appreciate that it feels like a natural progression of how modern Sonic could work, it’s still a fantastic project in it’s own right and the artstyle at this stage is still wonderful. I honestly wish Hero all the best with this and hope it becomes what he and his team have envisioned thus far.

    1. Well this is Sonic fanbase we’re talking about so it doesn’t always seem to be obvious…

      …well at least the main thing is that the game still plays well, official or fan product regardless.

  5. well its disappointing to hear and i’ll probably lose interest in yet another classic sonic themed project, regardless of how long ive been following the Hero project. it looked really good with the modern sonic aesthetic.

  6. Wish they they just made both modern and classic versions of characters available for people to choose from, this does feel like a weird change to make after getting so many people invested in the original concept.

  7. You do realise the difference between 3d classic sonic games and modern sonic games right? 2 almost entirely different types of sonic games.

        1. Feel free to support Sally if you like, but you shouldn’t bring her in topics like this that has nothing at all to do with her.

  8. My take is that someone put all this effort into their engine, and they want it to stand out. This article even lists the many other engines in the works, and I’m sure if someone takes a poor screenshot, maybe a lot of people would go “I think it’s this engine, but it might be that engine.”

    Meanwhile, this will now have a distinct OVA style that will make it stand out of the crowd. If I put as much effort into a project I intended to give away to people, I would at least want exposure. Standing out is one of the better ways to do that.
    So I don’t necessarily see it as being a specific Sonic camp so much as a way to stand out. And I think it’s a clever way to do it. Imagine if other Indies tried to capture the Archie comics aesthetic or some other versions.

  9. I think people are upset (myself included) because most people felt the adventure era spirit but more refined and cared for in this modern day, when they saw the demo. It felt like a statement was made to everyone; Sonic does work in 3D. Not only does he work, but he is a blast to play and a sight to behold!

    Now that we have classic reveals, it feels like that spirit was taken away. Classic doesn’t need to make a statement; we already know he’s awesome. Modern Sonic is the one that really needed this win.

  10. I mean, I get both sides here. A good engine is a good engine, no matter the aesthetic attatched to it. It’s still one of the best ones out there (it was never my number 1 Modern Sonic fan engine tbh, but I still saw potential with it), and it can be used to make some great stuff.

    On the other hand, yeah as a fan of that mid-2000’s era of Sonic I actually do share the sentiment of some bygone version of the character usurping “my” version of him. Especially concerning is how now with Mania teasing the possibility that maybe some people from Sega actually might be paying attention to some fan games and some fan developers, small changes or trends like this where Classic is the 3D staple suddenly might convince them that all they need to do to please “everybody” is to just make “Modern Sonic” “Classic” again, and that’s it.

    I don’t mind the distinction between Modern and Classic, I was really jazzed by the possibility of a new Mania-esque classic title every other year between modern ones, and I still am. But stuff like this might actually further deepen the divide between factions of the fan base that some people have been pointing out has been widening a bit over the years. This kind of feels close to having Classic getting shoehorned into Forces, it feels almost unnecessary and random.

    I mean who knows, maybe my thoughts will change after a while when this engine gets even further developed, I mean I can’t say I’m against a Junio/OVA-styled Sonic engine, and this one does feature more than just Classic Sonic at least. I guess I just liked the idea of certain design principles being applied to Modern Sonic in a way that combines the best of both Classic AND Modern, not simply favoring one over the other because nostalgia. I just really hope this doesn’t end up wiping Modern/Boost Sonic off the board.

  11. I understand being concerned about an overhaul in gameplay mechanics but it’s completely bizarre to me how upset some people are by the change in character design. I love both Sonics and those models look fantastic.
    Sonic is Sonic, i love our blue son be he long and lanky or short and pudgy.

  12. I agree!! I think what’s really at play here is modern/adventure fans are VOCAL, not that everyone hates the design change. I can’t blame anyone for disliking something they truly aren’t interested in, or for being disappointed. But I think a lot of modern fans lately are just very loud about their disappointment with Mania and their desire for a “real” 3D modern Sonic game.

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