Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Virtua Sonic #1: Where to Begin

Blue Streak speeds by, Sonic the Hedgehog! If you blinked, you missed him! Blast processing was ready, but only just barely when our favorite blue hedgehog hit the scene in 1991! He went from a simple hood ornament in Rad Mobile to blasting through the Sega Genesis in his debut self titled game! Sonic the Hedgehog hit the shelves in 1991, boasting some of the most beautiful graphics of the 16-bit era, especially as an early Genesis title. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was soon to follow late the very next year. It was also a rousing success, garnering favor between gamers and critics alike. With a third game rounding out the already legendary library for him, Sonic really seemed like he was going places.

We all know what happened next. New systems meant new studios, along with third party developers who didn’t know how to handle the character as well. Over the course of the next few decades, our hero was not treated with the most delicate of hands, and he suffered a lot through the ages. With titles out front such as Sonic The Hedgehog (2006) and Sonic 3D Blast, the little rascal just had a bad run of things. That’s not even mentioning the other mediums that were butchering the Blue Blur. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Underground were handling the beating to his credibility in the hand-drawn aspect. So, it's par for the course at this point.

Then you have the wondrous other medium that he seemingly was not meant for. Sonic in the 3D rendered world would have an amazing score were it in golf terms. The numbers coming in were dismal bears. Nothing seemed to work, not even slowing down the game to a snail’s pace while making him into an uncharacteristically goofy werehog seemed to work. Yeah, that was sarcastic, because that game was a dumb idea to begin with. Fight me. 

Still, no one can convince you that Sonic on Sega Saturn was a good idea. You can only convince yourself and those who are already convinced. Sonic Racing (or Sonic R as it is marketed) was not in a lot of Top 10 lists when it came to quality, that was more a list when it came to lack of quality. The controls were awful, the racing mechanics were questionable, and the glitches made stitches in bitches. However, it was still fun for some people. Bad controls, yes, but also entertaining as all hell. Not to mention, anyone that enjoys playing it will also tell you that the amazing soundtrack is smooth to the point of therapeutic.

When asked about Sonic 3D Blast, you will get no real details out of me. To become very subjective in my journalism for a moment, I despise this game. Sonic moves like he weighs a ton. The graphics are not terrible to look at, they even remind me of Mario RPG for the SNES, but they were so poorly rendered in their execution when it came to movement. The one thing that Sonic is known for is his speed, first and foremost. To those of you who enjoy this game, kudos for that, because I love Sonic, and I love the Saturn, but this game was way out of line when it came to expectations. Still, we take the hit and we move on. We are Sonic fans, afterall.

Then there came the biggest smash in the face for all Sonic fans. After a long history of hits and misses, he seemed pretty beat up, but otherwise staying rather strong with a good foundation for a fanbase. We still loved him for when he shined, and accepted his flaws. However, Hollywood stepped in and decided to choose the ugliest Sonic character design they possibly could with the most horrific CGI makeup you could fathom. Even his fur color was off a few tones! Rightfully so, the fans were absolutely outraged! The shape of his body was awkward and muscly, not even close to his origins! Memes flooded everything, vlogs scattered all through social media as all Sonic fans joined hands and literally retaliated! After such an initial fan revolt, the director of the movie released a statement to Twitter. He expressed their shared concern for the fan’s outcry and promised to fix it very soon. After that, there was talk that such a change would cost the production company a great deal.

Yeah, let’s talk about that for a moment. You're someone who has the responsibility of literal millions of dollars at your disposal, and you failed to take a look between two pictures for two seconds? That is the only explanation there could be, because anyone with even half the eyesight of a mole could see that someone had their i’s crossed. There is no excuse for this. The texture on the design was complete and the voice work was done, you could have saved millions if you just took 2 seconds to listen to someone who actually knew what they were talking about. 

Revamp or not, it’s clear that priorities have gone awry in the communities of both movies and games. Sonic is just a victim of poor management, since his gaming licenses didn’t pan out quite as well as fans had hoped. A lot of costs were cut, and sometimes developers were making two sonic games at a time, KILLING the quality of the game itself. Whatever the reason, it spells trouble for Sonic fans, and since we are fans, we should probably keep a close eye on this. For once, they listened to us, but that’s not saying that they would do so again. We have no clue what he’s going to look like next. Slightly off or dead center, we should probably be thankful, but otherwise, yeah, we’ll play it by ear.

That’s not to say Sonic has been abused throughout his whole late career as Sega’s Fronthog. He’s had some awesome games since Sonic & Knuckles and we’re bound to see some more in the future! They even got one detail in the Sonic movie amazingly right! Who could have thought that Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik was exactly what every fan could have wanted? You really can’t go wrong with casting Ace Ventura in your 90’s nostalgia flick. So, kudos for that.

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