With every new addition to the catalogue of modern Sonic games, the dumpster fire just seems to be getting more and more fuel. This is an exaggeration, of course, but the truth of the matter is their games aren't quite up to the standard that we expect of them. As a belated present for the blue blur's 27th birthday, here are some ideas I had on improving his image.
forget the story
Sonic Forces was the epitome of how ill-suited Sonic and friends are to darker and grittier stories. The writing and tone simply don't fit this cast of characters well. The next game should bring it back to a simpler story akin to something like Sonic Colours. The idea of enslaving aliens and using them as sources of energy is actually rather dark when you think of it, but this is best left unexplored. A light-hearted story sets the scene for a fun adventure in a bright and colourful world just begging to be traversed. I would also say to not worry about staying consistent to the timeline if it limits the potential of the project. And while I do actually like Sonic's friends, the gameplay should focus solely on the blue blur. Once they've proved themselves, we can consider multiple playable characters. In fact, this time SEGA can almost reimagine and redefine each character as they see fit. I always saw him as someone like Spider-Man or Nathan Drake; enjoys the thrill of the adventure but knows when to be serious. Capitalising on characterisation can make up for a simpler story. As for writing, the Sonic Boom TV show is actually a really good basis. It's genuinely funny and not just because of its wall-breaking glory, though I could definitely see that working in-game as well.
A concept I had for a possible Sonic game saw Eggman turning Sonic into a toddler and trapping him in his "Egg-Cot". The game then consists of him trying to break out. This would invite unique level design and gameplay opportunities.
make levels fun
This is a simple statement but many factors contribute to this. The levels should be unique and fun. Tropical Resort from Sonic Colours is nothing like every Green Hill Zone ripoff we've had in most other 3D games, thankfully. Each level in that game differ greatly and have certain aspects of the level design exclusive to their own levels. Going off of my idea, each level can have this childlike whimsy to boot. We could go through a playground or a library. These are ideas not really explored in Sonic games before, which is something I would like to see. The team should just have fun with it.
how sonic should feel
Exploration and experimentation
What would be even easier is to simply have a modern 2D game. These had a tried and tested formula that was received quite well, actually. If none come to mind, think the DS games: Rush, Rush Adventure and Colours. Sonic Rivals and Sonic Rivals 2 would also count. Surely, fans would be okay with a Sonic Rivals 3 as long as it plays well and whatnot. It could be like Rayman Legends; an excellent 2D platformer, with some combat additions. I know I would be fine with that, but with a fanbase as volatile as this one, why take the risk? Nobody liked it when Paper Mario became an action-adventure game. Just give the fans what they truly want; as uncertain as us fans may be, we clearly want a good 3D game.