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Can a savvy Twitter account save Sonic the Hedgehog?
The Twitter account has undergone some major changes, and gamers are flipping out.
It hasn’t been easy for Sonic the Hedgehog the past decade or so. The blue blur who once went toe-to-toe with Mario is now broken and defeated. Barring a decent swan song in 2011, Sonic Generations, Sonic the Hedgehog and its various spinoffs have been in a tailspin.
Things are in such dire straits that the community is willing to give freelance consultation to Sega on ways to redeem the classic franchise.
YouTuber Good Blood recently put out a video highlighting just how badly Sonic has fallen. Seeing side-by-side comparisons of review averages of Sonic games versus Super Mario, it’s apparent that where one has failed miserably, the other has succeeded. He also went on to give Sega his ideas on what he thinks could save Sonic, which has started a lively discussion in the YouTube comments.
Regardless of his opinions on the matter, it’s clear that something is happening at Sega. After the release of Sonic Boom, easily the worst-selling Sonic game ever—even worse than Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)—Sega knows it needs to change course. And what better way than a Twitter account.
Earlier this month, the person who managed Sonic’s Twitter account left after seven years of work.
At first it didn’t seem like much had changed. The tweets were your normal PR fare, promoting Sonic stuff while also giving fans a daily dose of nostalgia. And then around June 9, the official Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter account suddenly became aware of its odd role within niche Internet gaming culture.
The account started to answer fan inquiries.
It also started taking jabs at its previous games, which were plagued with loading screens.
For the first time, it really felt like Sega knew and understood its fans, as well as the terrible rap music from Sonic Adventure 2.
@BrentTerco101 Unlike Sonic, Knuckles doesn’t chuckle. He’d rather flex his muscles. But we’re at Pumpkin Hill. You ready?
— Sonic the Hedgehog (@sonic_hedgehog) June 9, 2015
The Twitter account has just been rolling with it.
And then the unthinkable happened. The account acknowledged Sonichu.
Sonichu was made by Christian Weston Chandler, a man who became the victim of vicious Internet trolls back in 2007. He created this mish-mash of Sonic and Pikachu, while feeling it was completely his own creation. He felt so strongly that he claimed Nintendo and Sega ripped off Sonic and Pikachu from him. When trolls found out they could take advantage of him, many did just that.
An acknowledgement of Sonichu means that the person running the account is likely a purveyor of 4chan’s video game board, /v/, as well as other odd factions of Sonic Internet fandom.
Sonic fans are having a field day with the account.
There was even acknowledgement that the best game in the past few years was 2011’s Sonic Generations.
The Twitter account is now being bombarded.
The account also acknowledged Nintendo’s “wigger” blunder from April.
The account was getting so creative that people were questioning if the new Sonic Dash and Angry Birds crossover mobile game was real. It’s very real.
It started giving relationship advice.
And started tweeting more terrible fan art, coupled with inside jokes.
Beyond the Internet jokes, it does seem that Sega is trying to make an effort to not replicate past blunders. Even Sonic’s official Tumblr page announced the new Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice is going to be way better than the first one.
But can good PR make a good game? The answer is no. A good game takes time and cooperation between a publisher and a developer. That’s not the situation with Sonic Boom, in which Sega failed to give developer Big Red Button enough time and resources. YouTube channel Unseen64 Tamaki did a great job uncovering what exactly went wrong.
Either way, it’s clear Sega is doing everything it can to win back the favor of gamers. Fingers crossed that Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice will at least be playable.
Imad Khan is a gaming and esports reporter. His work has been featured on Digital Trends and ESPN.