Spoiler-free review of Sonic Prime, which premieres on Netflix on December 15.
Netflix has cultivated a magnificent collection of animated series based on video games in recent years. Arcane, Castlevania, Dota: Dragon’s Blood… each one hovers between good and great thanks to what seems like a great understanding of what makes a given property unique. This trend continues with Netflix’s upcoming Sonic Prime series.. Full of classic references, excellent dubbing and vibrant animation, it is one of the best series for the whole family released this year.
Sonic Prime follows the life of Sonic (Deven Mack) and his friends as they protect their home from Dr. Eggman (Brian Drummond). Set sometime in the future in relation to the game series, the inhabitants of Green Hill are seasoned heroes and have thwarted all the evil plans. By now, the fights are routine and everyone knows it. However, things take a turn for the worse when an overconfident Sonic falls into an obvious trap. The result is the destruction of the Paradox Prism, a powerful artifact that can manipulate time and space, sending you to new worlds.
What follows is an entertaining walk down memory lane. The new worlds and enemies Sonic encounters have a unique design. That being said, the look and feel is clearly inspired by the franchise. The vibrant environments that Sonic runs through could easily have been featured in any of his games. The brightly colored character models are near-perfect in proportion – no need for a social media outcry over “human teeth” as everyone from Sonic and Knuckles to Big the Cat and Amy Rose they look great. Even the new characters fit together visually thanks to a strong adherence to a unified look.
The nostalgic journey does not end there. Sonic Prime is full of clever Easter eggs. Some are more hidden than others; for example, Tail’s secret keyboard code is from the year he was introduced to the series. There’s even a reference to Sonic Frontiers, which was released last month. The sound of Sonic picking up rings, dynamic camera moments (mimicking side-scrolling and/or third-person views from games), changes to pixelation, and the exaggerated nature of battles are all tailor-made for gamers. fans of this iconic franchise. That’s not to say there’s nothing for newcomers. Beyond the nods to previous content, Sonic Prime also offers a fresh and fun take on a familiar premise.
Being the sixth animated series based on the speedy hedgehog, it should come as no surprise that it is another series dedicated to the ongoing conflict between Sonic and Dr. Eggman. However, Sonic Prime slightly elevates that premise. While yes, it’s largely about Sonic fighting to stop the latest machinations of an evil scientist, the series is also looking to improve the character of him. Moving through different worlds and meeting different versions of his friends, Sonic is constantly aware of how his actions (or lack thereof) can negatively affect those he loves. Despite everything, Sonic Prime is a series for the whole family, so jokes and silly humor often prevail. That said, these fun aspects don’t supersede the importance of the episode’s message. Essentially, Prime shows the growth from a hot-headed teenager, always running headlong into danger, into the mature hero/friend Sonic is meant to be.
Those who are concerned with the overall tone of Sonic Prime need not. Though It’s not as light-hearted as other recent portrayals, nor is it overtly dark.. Rather, the mood changes slightly based on the state of each world; the goal is to offer a fun and entertaining ride regardless of what happens in the plot. One of the main environments, for example, is ruled by a group of evil villains. The animals that live there are oppressed, living in a constant state of fear as Badniks of all sizes fly around in an effort to maintain “order”. Their only hope lies with an underground hero group made up of alternate versions of Sonic’s friends. Things are not looking good. But thanks to Sonic’s heroic (and sometimes clumsy) efforts, there’s always just enough lightness to liven things up.
Deven Mack fits the iconic role perfectly, making his portrayal of Sonic a new franchise staple.
The cast of Sonic Prime in its original version does a magnificent job giving voice to his various characters. Deven Mack nails the iconic role perfectly, making his portrayal of Sonic a new franchise staple. Brian Drummond’s Eggman is just as enjoyable, with lines delivered with just the right amount of swagger and swagger. Ian Hanlin does a great job with Shadow and Big the Cat. Ashleigh Ball, Shannon Chan-Kent, and Adam Nurada are also good as Tails, Amy Rose, and Knuckles, respectively.
Sonic Prime manages to pack an interesting story and a big dose of nostalgia in a fun and (most of all) lighthearted package. Nevertheless, there are some problems, one of the main ones is the rhythm. There are episodes that undermine the whole due to their viewing order; It can be hard to take an interest in the “new” characters when they are introduced right after a cliffhanger. And while their presence makes sense overall, as each episode’s subplot ends up converging with previous events, there are times when a given episode feels like filler.
there is also the abrupt end of the season. Apparently, there will be 24 episodes divided into three seasons of 8 episodes each. The problem is that this batch of episodes ends in a way that feels incomplete, almost as if this season is destined to have more episodes than are currently available. The sudden ending doesn’t tarnish the whole experience. However, it spoils what is otherwise a great series.
Sonic Prime is a fun and entertaining family show. Halfway between The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (1992) and Sonic the Hedgehog (1993) -which has a similar tone of “freedom fighters trying to overthrow a cruel leader”-, it offers an exciting look at the past while presents some new ideas. It has some pacing issues and the abrupt end of the first season doesn’t do it any favours. Having said that, Sonic Prime should be well received by both new and long-time fans of the franchise..