There are two new Sonic the Hedgehog games coming out this year, but both include a familiar stage. The classic Green Hill Zone is recognized as one of the most memorable levels in video games, but after its appearance in a new Sonic Forces trailer earlier this week, some are calling for Sega to retire Green Hill Zone already.
Sonic Forces’ version of Green Hill Zone, the opening level of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, looks like more of the same. There’s those same platforms, carpeted with grass; there’s those strange, familiar cliffs and trees interspersed between loop-de-loops galore.
It’s basically a glossier version of a level some of us can play in our sleep. This would be remarkable had there not already been fantastic recreations of Green Hill Zone in all kinds of waysa already. Since Sega brought the level into 3D for the first time as an unlockable stage in Sonic Adventure 2, the company’s been keen on re-using it in Sonic games time and again. Green Hill Zone has appeared in 12 different games since 2001; for context, it’s been used in a total of 16 Sonic the Hedgehog-related titles.
Sonic Forces’ version does include some minor differences when compared to the original level. It’s not quite as picturesque as Sonic the Hedgehog’s Green Hill Zone, as this one’s been devastated by Dr. Eggman’s control over the world. There’s a whole bunch of sand permeating the level to indicate it’s worse for wear. That’s something Sonic Forces will elaborate upon during its story mode, we’re sure, but it’s an immediately apparent deviation from the norm.
The other big difference is that the classic Green Hill Zone music is gone, replaced with a new track. It’s a curious design choice — if Sega’s going to go so far as to use Green Hill Zone yet again, why change up one of its most iconic features?
Perhaps that was the team’s attempt at giving this level some new flavor. From the sounds of Sonic fans online, it doesn’t seem to have worked. Instead, they’re just pretty burned out on Green Hill Zone in any form.
@sonic_hedgehog What is it with modern sonic games all just having the same levels in them? Like, wow Green Hill Zone never played a level like that before— joe lowercase repp (@daJoezenOne) April 25, 2017
@sonic_hedgehog Wait, Green Hill Zone again? Why not Emerald Hill Zone? :(— El Cagaleche Maestro (@emorottie) April 25, 2017
@sonic_hedgehog Since we had Green Hill in "Generations," I was kind of hoping for something else, like Emerald Hill or Angel Island...— Lou Smith (@johnlouissmith) April 25, 2017
@sonic_hedgehog Woah, "Green Hill Zone"? Sounds like an all-new adventure for Sonic!— John Guerra (@johndaguerra) April 26, 2017
@sonic_hedgehog can we not have green hill zone in any more sonic games ever pls— Null Vista (@null1024) April 25, 2017
that would be really nice
@sonic_hedgehog But we already had Green Hill Zone, can't you choose something else for once?— ShadowDragon23 (@Dusk_Dragoon) April 25, 2017
It doesn’t help that Sonic Mania, also due out this year, will include what appears to be a much more satisfyingly retro remake of the level. It also doesn’t help that, as a 2D-style Sonic game, Sonic Mania draws less skepticism from longtime fans than the 3D adventure stylings of Sonic Forces.
Sonic Forces will have plenty of original stages to explore, of course, although who’s to say whether they’ll stand the test of time like Green Hill Zone? The game’s out this holiday season.