Have you gotten a chance to play Sonic Frontiers yet? I’ve played it for a bit and it’s alright. Much better than Sonic Forces to me, but I got my gripes. Still, I’d say it’s a fine game. Though, I’m not sure if my opinion is the minority or not. The discourse around the game has been so split and a little volatile since the release. Those who like it call it the first good 3D Sonic game (even though we’ve had Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, Sonic Generations, and even the daytime stages of Sonic Unleashed). Those who hate it say it is not a Sonic game and have a laundry list of complaints. While the discussions around these games were tame (by the standards of Sonic fans/haters), that changed thanks to a little Youtuber you may know: VideoGameDunkey.
I’ve watched Dunkey for a long time, back when he did League of Legends videos and random “music” videos. His brand of entertainment has netted him 7M+ subscribers on Youtube. And if his view counts mean anything, and it’s given him substantial influence. I’ve always seen him as an entertainer, even when he’s reviewing games because I don’t take his reviews serious. Some games I may check out if they look interesting, but very rarely will I take his recommendation. But there are several people who look to him and think that a game he’s showcasing is good or bad. The first time I noticed his influence was in a thread about Persona 5. Seeing someone say that it must be good because “even Dunkey liked it” was strange to me. Dunkey’s opinion never resonated with me. The next thing I knew, he was trending every time he talked about a new release.
A more recent example would be Xenoblade Chronicles 3, a game Michael and I love despite the poor optimization and so-so ending. Now, those who watch him know he doesn’t like JRPGs. It’s safe to assume this would be no different. When it came to pass that he dumped on the game, it was trending and his opinion was everywhere. I have several Twitter accounts and people across all those accounts were talking about what Dunkey thought of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Now, he’s stirred the pot again with Sonic Frontiers. But this time, it seems he stirred a little too hard. There was a section at the end of the video where Dunkey compares the user score of Sonic Frontiers, which was an 8.8, to other game’s scores as if to insinuate that it didn’t belong there with the likes of Mario Odyssey or Elden Ring.
Whether you agree with that is up to you, but that one section would start a strange review bombing war where Dunkey fans began bombing it with 0’s while Sonic fans were bombing it with 10’s. At the time of writing, it sits at a solid 8.4 for PS5 according to over 2,000 ratings. Not a bad score, but I wish I could have seen the scoring war live. The other side effect this had was a real critical look at Dunkey and his gaming taste. A while before this mess, Dunkey announced his publishing company BIGMODE where most took away that he’d only greenlight games according to his taste of games. That caused a stir in the gaming community as people malded over how Dunkey hated “x” game, so how could he know what he’s talking about?
I’ve missed a lot of Dunkey discourse, but it seems that this year it was unavoidable. It’s shown that his influence means something in the gaming landscape, which is fascinating. In this sea of gaming YouTubers, Dunkey is one of the loudest voices out there. It doesn’t happen every single time, but when he talks about a game people listen. His consistent views say that much, with most review videos getting at least 2M views. Why that is, I can’t say for sure. Perhaps it’s luck and timing. Or perhaps it’s because he’s been at this for so long that it’s a natural progression. Whatever the reason, how much farther his influence can go.
I only hope it doesn’t get too much worse than this. I don’t want him to become less popular, but I do wish his opinions didn’t put people in such a rage or encourage people to do stupid things like review bomb a game over one man’s opinion. That’s wild to me to know that a group of people saw that silly video as a call to action. That’s a one off silly little thing that will never escalate beyond that. And to be clear, I don’t blame Dunkey for that review bombing. He shared his opinions and some fans took it too far. It goes to show what kind of clout he and YouTubers like him have. This was a big enough situation where people can look at it and see how ridiculous they were so this doesn’t happen again. I guess we’ll see when the next Sonic game comes out.