Sonic limits was a bold move for the franchise, and like so many reinventions, it had a good mix of good ideas and concepts that could use some polishing. It is a solid foundation, but with some changes, Sonic Frontiers 2 could be a more complete game with fewer caveats.
Keep the Open-Zone Style
While alluring in theory, roaming open plains at ridiculous speeds was actually more appealing in practice. Sprinting around aimlessly and zoning out while collecting items and completing small puzzles was relaxing, and something a sequel should focus on again next time. It beats the sense of speed a Sonic game should have, and the mindless nature of a checklist-driven open world is a good excuse to experience that speed again and again.
However, Limit‘s deserted islands can also put players in a trance, but not in a good way. More colorful and vibrant worlds in keeping with Sonic’s aesthetic would be suitably mesmerizing and another way a sequel could improve on the open-zone concept explored in this first post.
Polish and Cut
Roaming freely, boosting Sonic, and battling huge Titans as Super Sonic were all a blast, but they could be even better. Sonic Team should throw more collectibles, secrets and stat upgrades into the world to make free roaming more rewarding. Diversifying Titan’s moveset and reducing quick events a bit would also lead to more bombastic boss fights. Both are highlights, but are held back by a few bad decisions.
But while some parts just need to be tuned, others need to be cut completely. Early puzzles should have as much variety as the late games. The Koco minigames, which revolved around collecting and guiding these stone-like creatures to safety, were inconsistent at best and terrible at worst, so scrapping them entirely would lead to a better flow. Borders also has a nasty bit of pop-in that could use fixing. All that, combined with a little more overall polishing and time spent on quality assurance, and Borders‘ sequel could be something special.
Get more old friends with you
Calling back old friends can be controversial, as there was certainly a time when Sonic’s many friends were seen as one of the triggers that led to the series’ dark period in the mid-2000s. The IDW comics have done quite a bit of work improving the perception of this surprisingly robust cast, but outside of cameo appearances, most of Sonic’s friends have seemingly been removed from the main games. Even so, many of them have retained their popularity in the fanbase, and their return would be most welcome.
This would serve as a great opportunity to fill in characters that haven’t been seen in ages, like Team Chaotix, Rouge, or even Silver. Bringing in more obscure characters like Bean and Bark or making Fang the Sniper a prominent rival would also be unexpected and open the doors to new types of narratives. They all have distinct visual designs, so a bit of character refinement is frequent Sonic writer Ian Flynn could make some truly triumphant returns.
New game, new friends
But Sonic Team should not just indulge in nostalgia, as it would also be smart to push forward and create more new characters. Sage and her interactions with Eggman were some of the most satisfying parts of Borders‘story. And while the unlockable Egg Memos didn’t just build on Sage and establish something of a Sonic canon, they also threw in some nice shout-outs to forgotten games. Taking advantage of its history and introducing more characters like Sage is a good move and will move the series forward in the way it deserves.
Borders also wasn’t afraid to take its characters and story beats seriously, which was one of its best features. Colorful anthropomorphic animals are inherently harder to take seriously than humans, but they Sonic the series has still had some interesting stories. Sonic clearly does not need to hit the heights Pride and Prejudiceeven more narratives that don’t flash at the audience every few minutes would be a good start.
Coming out of the shadows
Once upon a time, Shadow the Hedgehog was at the center of Sonic‘s best storytelling and not just a bastion of edge. It’s time for Sonic’s famous rival to return to the spotlight, as his attitude could once again be a welcome contrast to Sonic’s spirited personality. Rumors have swirled that Sega is strangely protective of how Shadow’s character is written today – which is very surprising given 2005’s Shadow the Hedgehog — but giving Flynn free reign with him could bring the character out of the edgy phase he’s been relegated to.
Back to Form
Borders‘ aforementioned dreary environment can be explained away narratively, but going back to a more stylized environment reminiscent of early entries would be much more appropriate. Charming robots instead and saturated levels are better suited to Sonic and his cartoonish anthropomorphized friends; there’s a symbiosis there that the realistic stage design and terrifying deathbots can’t achieve.
The same goes for the music, which wasn’t quite as memorable Borders. Its tunes were more suited to the story and aesthetic, but they weren’t nearly as catchy either. Some subtle or subdued songs are fine, but they need to be balanced with some new ones Sonic earworm (and a few new Crush 40 songs for good measure). Return to the energetic and exciting tones that defined Sonic for so long would bring the soundtrack to life in a way more appropriate for the series.
The Return of the Chao Garden
Many hardcore Sonic fans will want Chao Garden back, and it would be a solid addition for newcomers as well. Like a ridiculously detailed and adorable mini-game that appeared in Sonic adventure and Sonic Adventure 2Chao Garden stood out, even people who don’t care about it Sonic the series itself.
It could probably be a standalone game, but it could easily fit into a sequel Sonic limits. Raising a bunch of strange little creatures, racing them against each other, and hunting collectibles in hubs are all systems that could sit next to the core and run and jump. Having a less frenetic part of the game would be a more calm way to engage in it with low energy and could lead to a more even paced experience.