Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sonic Generations

So as some of you might know, and as most of you will undoubtedly not know, I have been the biggest Sonic tool since I was two. Back in the preschool days my weekends started with the unforgettable intro to the SatAM series that spawned what is probably my favorite incarnation of the hedgehog as he ran through barren wasteland Robotropolis to assist the Freedom Fighters of Knothole village. Even as a child I had the hots for Princess Sally.

This song is the embodiment of my past, present, and future.

When the Freedom Fighters retired for the evening, or what was better known in our world as "noon," I would lose myself in my uncle's Sega Genesis. Robotnik fell at lightning speed, my chubby little thumbs zipping over the controller from buttons A-through-C, buzzsawing my way to victory. Sonic 2 was my game, as I'd always had a strange adoration of Tails, Sonic's twin-tailed cohort.

Also because Chemical Plant Zone had the best music since "Fastest Thing Alive."

If that wasn't enough Sonic to soothe the savage beast which dwells in my heart, I popped in an overrun tape of that horrible little monstrsotiy known as "the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog." Despite the glaringly different tone this show took from the glorious masterpiece I mentioned above, I loved just about anything that featured blue hegdehogs and the voice of Steve Urkel.

Up, over, and gone!

At some point Sonic fell into a slight canyon of oblivion in my childhood. I still danced like a little girl infront of a locked bathroom door everytime the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog graced the television in my pediatrician's waiting room, but my priorities had switched to bigger and better things.

It wasn't until sometime later, when I received my Nintendo GameCube in fact, that I was reintroduced to the blue blur. I hadn't even known Sega had dropped on their knees before their old rival, so when I opened the outrageously large Christmas box my grandmother had sent me and found myself staring at a shiny new copy of "Sonic Adventure 2: Battle" my jaw hit the floor. And all of my teeth fell out on impact.

SA2:B was a new take on the hedgehog for me. No longer was he mowing down unkempt fields or jogging briskly through fungi-infested forests. Sonic had taken to the city, and he was enjoying all the highlights that urban life had to offer. Which includes being revered as some kind of superhero by the entirely human population. Sonic was ditching the muddy roots of Mobius (or is it Earth?) and taking to the stars to confront the most badass character my ten-year-old eyes had ever beheld: Shadow the Hedgehog.

Believe it or not, this guy used to kick ass.

I don't care what anybody has to say. "Sonic Adventure 2" was by no means the death of good Sonic games. At that point both Shadow and Rouge were more than likeable as characters, and the mecha levels were not only fun in my inexperienced pre-adolescent eyes, but they are still fun in my way-too-old-to-be-playing-this-crap adult eyes. This game singlehandedly defines my pre-teen years. To those who know this game: I unlocked Green Hill Zone. Twice.

The next few years are a bit of a blur. I played through "Sonic Adventure DX" a couple of times, falling in love with E-102 Gamma, and learning to tolerate Big the Cat (who does become a better character in all of his appearances from Heroes and beyond, haters shut your faces.) I demolished the first "Sonic Advance" and became besties with Cream the Rabbit in its sequel. Around this time I was starting to wonder what happened to the ol' Freedom Fighters. The memories were getting to me, and I was desperate for some Sally. And then one day, I found this:

You have no idea how happy this cover made me. There she was, in all of her green spacesuit glory. Princess Sally Acorn. The only love for Sonic the Hedgehog. And that art. I had never seen these characters drawn like this before. So sleek, so slim, so lithe. It was like something out of a dream. I tore through the pages of these comics like they were going out of style (which they probably were.) My interests became so regular at the local shop that the clerk would turn the revolving rack so that I could walk right on up to my blue idol.

These comics never grew tiresome for me, and if money wasn't so tight these days, I'd gladly be subscribing to both the main series and the extended Sonic Universe. Unfortunately my funds are quickly burning into nothing, and I don't even pay bills. Where the heck does this stuff go?

In any case, as I grew older my hero seemed to fall into a weird limbo. The quality of the games took a sharp decline, in both gameplay and story. The Chaotix were reintroduced, only to become two-bit rodeo clowns. Shadow came back to life but fell prey to the typical cashcow monster. New characters stepped on screen, the only one worth salvaging being Blaze the Cat, who co-starred in the older brother to Sonic 4.

Yet despite all of the doubt I should have in Sega's ability to produce anything worthwhile for this franchise, I always seem to get excited whenever they announce anything that involves their spinequilled mascot. It's my dirty little secret and my media weakness. So you can imagine that when I caught wind of Sonic Generations, and saw the short clip of Mickey Mouse Sonic tearing across Green Hill Zone like Pixar had given him CPR, I was a little bit excited.


Despite the excitement I felt upon first viewing this trailer, I noticed a heavy ball of what was probably that thing my school called "lunch" slowly climbing its way up my throat. The past five years had been a disaster for the blue blur, and while I admittedly haven't picked up "Sonic Colors" yet, it's hard for me to have much hope for this game. Particularly considering how Sonic 4 turned out.

So while I was intrigued, and mildly hopeful due to the incredibly awesome surprised of "Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing," there was still some great and terrible fear lurking in my gut that this will be the end of my rodent racing superstar. There's no way to tell until the game is played. Sega always seems to get the aesthetics right, but then something happens at the last second that explodes the gameplay right in their face. Maybe they should consider moving into the movie industry.

These fears were all slightly subsided when I saw the latest gameplay demo, which displayed a pretty accurate revision of the first act of Green Hill Zone, complete with familiar-looking physics. Then they all came back when I saw the 3D portion of the game. The merging of two-dimensional and three-dimensional gameplay has never sat well with me. And I strictly mean gameplay. Sidescrolling games that take advantage of 3D graphics are always welcome, and sometimes turn out to be the best game ever.

Yes yes YES

Of course there's all sorts of early criticism floating around the internet, also accompanied by a great deal of speculation. Supposedly Knuckles, Tails, and Shadow are all going to make an appearance as the game is going to cover Sonic's twenty year history in its entirety, but exactly what role these characters will play has yet to be seen. I will say, though, that seeing Classic Shadow would make my day. Even if he does look like a fat angsty ten-year-old, it's obviously going to be superior to this piece of trash.

I'm a little concerned as to what will happen as far as creating a story for this game. At first I thought it was just going to be reimaginings of the greatest levels in Sonic the Hedgehog history, but at some point along the way I started hearing that the guys who penned out the script for "Sonic Colors" was working on a story for this game as well. While I admit to being curious about what they can come up with, especially since there was talk of a new villain, I'm terrified of some kind of "Turtles Forever" plot. While nothing was wrong with "Turtles Forever," I actually really liked it, it's been done now, and it's been done well. Something far more original can be done, and I'm hoping they manage to achieve the expectation.

To my many fellow hedgehog junkies out there, I wish you all the best! Race long and prosper!

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