Moments into Sonic Frontiers you’re asked what you want the starting speed to be, with the cursor sitting a dangerously low 45 out of 100. I scoffed at such a low number and turned the bad boy all the way up to 11 (well, it was 100, but you get the reference). This is a Sonic game and I’m here to go fast. I haven’t been this fast since Saints Row 4.
As soon as I was released into the open world and sent Sonic flying into a wall at Mach 10 after lightly pressing the boost button, I realized why this might have been a little cocky of me. Guys, I hate to spread rumors on the internet, but… hell, Sonic the Hedgehog is fast.
It shouldn’t be surprising considering that’s Sonic’s whole deal, but Frontiers is the first time Sonic has ever had the chance to stretch his legs outside of carefully crafted levels, most of which throw you on some rails and hope you’re okay. This is the most control we’ve ever had over Sonic and the biggest playground to do it in, so seeing his power unleashed like this made all the mid-tier games in the series we’ve had to suffer through over the last few years worth it . Yes forces, I’m looking at you.
Despite the game practically begging me to free Amy and uncover more of what’s going on in the Starfall Islands, the first thing I did in Frontiers was run through the fields as fast as I could. Controlling like a dream, Sonic is effortlessly able to swing, jump off hills and fly off cliffs to his heart’s content.
Seeing Sonic move so fast made me think of a game I didn’t expect – Saints Row 4. The sense of speed and momentum shown in Frontiers reminded me of watching the Boss push cars aside simply by running in near them and asked up walls easily. All Sonic needs is some Haddaway and a dildo bat and he’s set. There’s a fun Google search for you.
Aside from racers and the occasional gem like Neon White, there aren’t that many games out there that handle speed well. Nothing since Saints Row 4 has felt this good or this fast. It makes me a little sad to think about the Third Street Saints considering how 2022 has treated them, but let’s look back at the good times.
Most people usually point to Saints Row 4’s story as its main way of upping the ante to a ridiculous degree, but it was really the gameplay that sent it over the edge, from a third-person shooter with some scary guns to a superhero simulator. As cool as throwing ice cubes and being able to slide was, the standout power was super speed.
Holding down the sprint button basically transformed the boss into The Flash and let them run faster than any car in the game, destroying anything stupid enough not to move out of the way. Perhaps A-Train is more appropriate than The Flash here. At first it looked like Saints Row 4 had just beat out Sonic in terms of speed, but then I discovered the boost mode in action and realized that Saints had nothing on my blue guy.
The boost mood activates after maxing out your ring gauge, kicking Sonic into overdrive and putting him at the corresponding max speed stat. Blue Blur is so fast in this mode that it almost feels like you’ve hacked the game, which is exactly how you want a Sonic game to make you feel. Going full speed makes a few tasks more difficult, like making circles with the Cyloop ability, but that just adds to the charm and makes Sonic feel really fast. It also honestly leaves Saints Row 4 in the dust as my speed game.
The only thing Saints Row 4 still has over Sonic Frontiers is the level design. As a true open world game rather than “open zone”, Saints Row 4 lets you run around without interruptions, except for buildings and cars. Frontiers has a little too many boost pads and rails in the way of that kind of freedom, but considering how on-rails most Sonic games have felt lately, it’s still a step in the right direction.
I’m only on the third island of Frontiers right now, so I still haven’t quite gotten Sonic to max speed, but if he’s already that fast at halfway, I’m excited to see what his full potential looks like, even if not involving Haddaway. Oh, how I wish it involved Haddaway.
Next: MultiVersus’ first season of characters didn’t miss a beat