A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sonic Forces is the latest installment in the action-platforming Sonic series, which dates back to the 1990s days of Sega and Nintendo. Players take control of the popular fast-moving blue hedgehog (versions of him from different games, to boot) and also, now, have the ability to create their own custom avatar character, which they can accessorize and style more and more as they get deeper into the game. There really isn't any objectionable content, aside from references to Sonic being captured and tortured offscreen as a prisoner of war. Otherwise, on-screen violence peaks with cartoony bopping off enemies' heads and collecting power-ups, and boss fights that are a tad more dramatic but culminate in a similar fashion.
- Parents say
- Kids say
"A 1-Star rating on Sonic Forces? What did SEGA put in it?!?!" *reads review* "O. It got a 1-Star rating because the levels were too short. Bro..." -_-
What's it about?
In SONIC FORCES, the evil Dr. Eggman has conquered much of the world with help from a powerful and mysterious new villain named Infinite. Now, you must assist Sonic and build an army to reclaim the world as they fight against chaos and destruction. You'll fight enemies with blazing speed as Modern Sonic, catapult past perilous platforms as Classic Sonic, and create your very own Custom Hero Character equipped with a variety of power gadgets. Players also have the option to play through stages as other people around the world's characters and to beat the very best times on each stage.
Is it any good?
Unfortunately, what's clearly an attempt to modernize and usher in a new era of games for this storied series is instead a bit of an overwhelming and confusing mess. Bear in mind that what you see will likely be different from what a younger player will feel and see playing Sonic Forces. If you're an adult, the game looks like complete chaos: Your character is the smallest thing on-screen, careening at top speed through stages that end in about two minutes, all while pop-up screens appear with characters shouting at you as upbeat music blares and vivid colors blur everywhere. This is, honestly, the core of what Sonic games have always been -- but this might be the first time no restraint has been exercised. As a result, the lack of focus makes the game feel completely out of control. By emphasizing speed, nothing is allowed to sink in and make much sense.
The game's 30 stages can each be beaten in under two minutes -- twitchier players will love easily doing better than that, and then trying to beat their times. Perhaps anticipating players taking issue with this length, the levels are overstuffed with an astonishing clothesline of daily challenges (changing your character's gloves, and other oddly easy bars to clear for a higher score) and ways to tempt you off your planned route with collectables (hidden red rings, for example). A lot of this, strangely, can be made irrelevant by equipping certain weapons available only to certain characters, which can open up shortcuts allowing you to bypass huge sections of a stage, making an implausible time on a stage incredibly easy to achieve. Simply put, there's too much going on in Sonic Forces, which isn't helped by the game doubling down on speed. Unless you're already a Sonic devotee, you'll be hard-pressed to track where your character is, but even then you'll likely be frustrated by the controls, which occasionally and inexplicably can be floaty and unresponsive. Simply put, there are other games that respect its players far more and are comfortable with letting their ideas breathe, sink in, and let you enjoy them. Play those instead.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dangers of being overstimulated. Usually, playing a Sonic game can be an intense experience, but how does having everything turned up to "11" make you feel? How might real life make you feel that way? What coping strategies would you like to learn and implement to assure a centered life?
Talk about the nature of "media franchises." How do series of narrative art change as they endure multiple decades? How do they prevent other types of stories from being told by the same creators?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sega of America
- Release date: November 13, 2017
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Robots, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.