In the last five-ten years, I think there has been about three original movies released into theaters. Nowadays, it's all either crappy sequels (or the yet-more-enraging prequels,) re-makes, "based on a true story, based on a book" or some other nonsense that lends itself to not thinking particularly hard. It's easy to see that a trend of nostalgia has swept the media: it's only good if it's already been done or reminds us of something. That's why the Smurfs have their own movie. I'm pretty sure nobody actually liked The Smurfs when it was originally made; how relevant can it possibly be now?
Sonic 2 was the first video game I ever played. Needless to say, I've been a lifelong fan of the franchise. Sonic certainly has seen better days, getting pretty universally panned in many of his recent 3D efforts. After several flops, ranging from OK to the worst video game ever made (I'm looking at you, Sonic The Hedgehog '06,) the creators decided to listen to their fans. The results? Two much-improved games. Sonic Unleashed was an average game, but it was a sign of an improved ideology on Sonic Team. Sonic Colors absolutely blew me away: it was brilliant from start to finish, with my only complaints regarding the game's difficulty (or lack thereof) and the Super Sonic mode. Somewhere between these two titles came the Wii DLC Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1--remember how we talked about sequels? Debuting around 15 years after Sonic & Knuckles (the second half of Sonic 3,) Sonic 4 is a 2D side-scroller featuring only Sonic.
Sonic 4 is pretty shameless in it's use of nostalgia, each of the four stages are a conglomerate of similar stages from the first two games, featuring the visual style of the more popular one and gameplay elements from both. For example, the beginning tropical stage is a mash-up of Green Hill Zone and Emerald Hill Zone, with the style of Green Hill. Repeat for the bumper (casino-type,) water and fortress levels. On the whole, it's a short, easy game that you feel like you've already played. There are some interesting new features, such as a torch-lit section, boulder-balancing and the presence of playing cards in the casino zone. However, the game overall is a shameful whoring of the game's origins (and the exact progression from Sonic 2 told over again.) It was certainly not worth the $15. I do not intend to bash Sonic, as I love the franchise, but am merely using this as an example of the nostalgic excrement that has been propelled into the mainstream. You may find similar elements in just about any long-time franchises' recent developments: Super Mario Galaxy's music consisted of several themes from the Mario series remixed (again.) The Legend of Zelda has had some interesting departures with the gameplay of Majora's Mask and the sea setting of Windwaker, but at it's core, has remained pretty much the same game since it switched to 3D.
I am looking forward to the new sonic game, Sonic Generations, however, I am wary that it is going to be another nostalgia-based mash-up game. One set of levels is purely classic Sonic gameplay--none of this homing attack in a 2D game crap--and the other half is the same formula that made Colors brilliant. Now all I have to do is find a PS3 by the time this thing comes out. I'm now accepting donations of gaming consoles to the Ophiuchus Fund. The Ophiuchus Fund: it's money...for me!