Sonic 2 Is Proof That There’s Nothing Wrong With Human Characters

The Sonic series has had a difficult history with human characters. Out of nowhere, they just started appearing in Sonic Adventure and we all had to follow suit. I guess in the mystical land that contains the Green Hill Zone and Bidadari Island, they have been here all along. Hell, we only got a proper explanation of how this all worked earlier this month.

This awkward setting leaves the human characters in a strange place. Of course, Eggman was there from the start, but he’s so cartoonish that he’s a lot better suited to animals than his human counterparts. Humans are completely at odds with Sonic and his friends, or they just don’t care. There is no opinion that a walking and talking hedgehog can run at the speed of sound.

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In turn, Sonic fans rarely respond well to a human sidekick joining a gang. Robotic Maria, first introduced in Sonic Adventure 2, is a rare exception – and she was dead when we found out. Plus there’s Chris Thorndyke from Sonic X, and Princess Elise from Sonic ’06. Chris, many would say, is too annoying. Meant to be an insert for kids watching the show, he didn’t even fit into his intended audience. Think Wesley of TNG, but also a child of a trust fund. He just rolls over having a house full of talking animals, and doesn’t do much else.

Then there’s Princess Elise, who needs no introduction. She may have potential as a human sidekick, but that is thrown out the window when she switches gears and becomes a lover. Nobody wants to see that. Well, some do, but that’s another thing.

This is a bigger problem with their introduction. They saw Sonic and his friends as a spectacle, or acted as if it wasn’t strange to make out with the jungle creatures in front of his other furry friends. Then finally, Sonic 2 came along and proved that this isn’t a problem inherent in human’s best friend. It just depends on how you write them, and how they interact with the world.

Tom and Maddie are the perfect human companions for Sonic and the gang. Their scenes are uninteresting, and they get into animal crime easily. Every human character walks a fine line between being a real person and a cartoon character – and that’s a good thing. Hell, the whole wedding subplot was hilarious, and it didn’t just make us beg for Sonic to come back on screen. And when you’re competing for screentime against Idris Elba, it’s not bad.

This is because they are not characters who insert themselves for the audience – a role the series never needed. Speaking as someone who has been involved in this stupid franchise for far too long, if we need a POV character, we’re going to make one ourselves. No, we wanted people for Sonic to bounce, and that’s exactly what we got with Tom and Maddie. Hell, they’ve done humans so well this time around that Sonic fans are now demanding that Agent Stone be added to the game. I can’t remember the last time we all agreed that a new addition to the series was actually good.

While he’s definitely not Sonic’s best friend, Stone is the best example of how to make a human right. Sonic in the real world can be pretty boring, so why not give Eggman a girl he’s cartoony falling in love with? Who publicly described what she looked like in a maid outfit? The world of Sonic doesn’t need a straight guy (ha), it needs to embrace how stupid that is. Sonic is so uncool, and he works best in a world that just goes along with it and fits into his madness. Not boring like Chris. Not trying to be a romance like Sonic ’06.

This looks great for human companions in the series going forward. Sega was never quite sure what to do with them in the game, but the movies provided them with the perfect inspiration. Hey, better yet, you’ve got a fan who’s already making Agent Rock concept art, and an actor who would probably love to reprise his role as the character. Sonic 2 has breathed new life into the fan base, in more ways than one, and it should really inform how the game’s story is written in the future.

Oh, dan spoiler warning, Shadows here now. Everything revolves around humans, thus giving us balance again opportunity for real bad guys.

With Sonic Frontiers being an open world, it needs to lean into the world the film is made of. After years of struggling to find his identity, it feels like we’re finally there. Let’s bring back the courageous spirit of adventure games, and embrace the new world that fans have adopted with ease.

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