There's a new Sonic the Hedgehog thing going around, which means that the 20-30-something internet is going through a coping process. I'm not really talking about the Sonic fandom here; that's its own amazing, bizarre thing. Search “(your name) the Hedgehog” on Google images sometime. I mean that people who grew up on Sonic look at the new Sonic thing and they say “Oh my god, what are they doing? This is exactly what's wrong with--!!”
And the answer to that question is always “they're trying to sell Sonic the Hedgehog to children, as they have done for over 20 years and will continue to do to varying degrees of success”.
There are two things that I keep thinking about this.
It's okay for a thing to go away.
Did you know that Greg Martin, artist of so many memorable videogame boxes of the 90s, just passed away? Nobody knew the man's name, but every kid who grew up in the NES/SNES/Genesis age owned several pieces of his work, which include many of the Sonic games. The Japanese box art for videogames usually blows the US version out of the water, but that's not what's so interesting about the US boxes. They're pieces of history: often tasked with singlehandedly making these foreign games palatable to Americans, they reimagine based on precious little information. The art is one step into a game of cultural telephone.
See especially Martin's Time Gal cover, in which he redraws an 80's anime game Hanna-Barbera style. This is something that nobody will probably ever have to do again.
The audience grew up and complained louder about this practice, the companies started to move to the original art, this kind of thing mostly went away (aside from say Mobile Light Force), and everybody was pretty much happier for it.
There isn't anyone out there copying that aesthetic (but they will, just you wait), and that's okay. The era's ended.
It's been over 20 years since the highlights of the Sonic series came out (mine is Sonic CD, thanks), maybe 15 if you're one of those people who regards Sonic Adventure as a highlight. The people behind these games have moved on, as they do, and that's okay. Sonic remains a massive franchise character, but the Sonic videogames you played 20 years ago are done. Sonic 4 didn't even get the physics right, remember?
On the other end, Konami was putting out Castlevania sequels in the exact same mold for about a decade, attempting vainly to surpass a masterpiece departure made in 1996. They've moved on to just making boring, edgy God of War copies. The Dracula series is literally undead at this point. Do you really want to see every great videogame turn into a franchise? Do you really want to see those franchises kept on life support solely to turn in yearly, inferior copies of one great game?
Lots of cool stuff goes away. Pinball is coming back in a small capacity now... after being dead since the late 90s. Street Fighter was a dead franchise until SFIV revived the genre. The games you love aren't lost just because it's been a while; most are readily available. I've been playing Space Harrier and Galaxy Force for the last couple months.
If it doesn't move you anymore, it's okay for you to let go.
The series' track record is all over the place, and it's most often in a bad place, but the discussion never really changes from one game to the other. The internet at large had basically the same reaction to the Sonic reboot, a legendary piece of shit, as they do to Generations, which is great.
I think this points to something that has absolutely nothing to do with videogames, which is that you are 20 years older now than when you played Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
The feelings that you had 20 years ago about Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are being experienced by some child right now over something else entirely, like Minecraft or Adventure Time. That wide-eyed passion is also being felt by some child as we speak about something you really hate, like a cell phone game, Call of Duty, or some annoying asshole who screams over games on Youtube.
Will that child look at new Sonic and get that excited over it? Probably not; Sonic was an all-consuming media sensation 20 years ago and few events in videogames will match the release of Sonic 2. And old people don't know what the hell kids like, they just guess until they get one right.
But you are probably tapped out of that feeling with regards to Sonic the Hedgehog. You are not suddenly going to feel wonder and ecstasy and ask yourself “can my life really get any better than it is right now?” when you boot up the next Sonic the Hedgehog videogame. You're not going to walk away obsessed, either. It's not going to matter whether that videogame is good or bad, because it's never going to make you feel that way again. The “Sonic Cycle” is just late-stage, retirement home fanboy burnout.
This isn't to say “you're an adult, stop it with this kid shit,” I'm a grown man who is as we speak desperately awaiting this week's finale of Kyoryuger, which is the damn Power Rangers. I'm saying that if Sonic doesn't move you anymore, that's got more to do with you, and with the passage of time, than with whatever form he's taken now.
That Saturday morning cartoon, after all, was terrible. And I ate that crap up.