“Join the Resistance.”
The year is 2017. Donald Trump is president of the United States and the country has never been more politically active. Young adults, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Juggalos, and professional athletes are all uniting under a common banner — RESIST.
The newest addition to their ranks? A blue hedgehog who likes to go fast.
Sonic the Hedgehog has a twenty-five year history in video games, some of which contain storylines diving into some pretty dark content — government conspiracies, alien invasions, the unleashing of ancient gods upon the earth — but 2017’s Sonic Forces promises our hero’s lowest point yet: Sonic has been defeated, and the evil Doctor Eggman has taken over the world with the help of some of Sonic’s greatest foes. Now, his colorful animal friends must unite to stop the dictator’s reign of terror, calling themselves “the Resistance.”
The parallels are obvious, but they go even deeper. Not only must Sonic call on the strength of his friends like Miles “Tails” Prower, Knuckles the Echidna, and Silver the Hedgehog (no relation), but now, he calls upon a new ally — you, the player. In Sonic Forces, players can create their own customizable avatar with a variety of looks and weapons to assist in the war effort, which explains the game’s tagline of “Join the Resistance.”
Could this be a reference to the real-world struggle against the corrupt government under Trump and his Russian friends? More than ever, political activism has spread via social media, with the message that each person can make a difference; there is now an increased emphasis on the strength of the individual and how one’s behavior can create change. The Sonic Forces trailer manifests this idea with an army of avatar characters, each unique and customized.
Eggman isn’t working alone, of course. He’s joined by Shadow the Hedgehog, Metal Sonic, Chaos, and Zavok, all enemies from Sonic’s twenty-five year history. No president can single-handedly doom a country, but by empowering those who were previously silenced (white supremacists, Nazis, threats we thought we defeated already), he has built a force of his own. How can one fast hedgehog possibly defeat so many villains?
But Sonic isn’t only joined by the player. He’s getting a little help from his own past. “Classic Sonic” is a younger version of Sonic who has travelled through time to assist in the fight against Eggman. While this is first and foremost a fun gameplay gimmick, Classic Sonic could also represent the modern political desire to look to the past for solutions to the problems plaguing us now. What would be the actions of those who marched on Washington? Those who protested for Rodney King? And what did we do the last time a president fired someone investigating him? Classic Sonic defeated Eggman before; so, too, did America triumph over tyranny in its past. Only time will tell whether Sonic will triumph once more, but his track record is pretty solid.
The New Sonic Game is a Reflection of Trump’s America was originally published in NYU Local on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.