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Old 02-17-2012, 05:47 PM   #1
paynemeister
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Sonic the Hedgehog, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Mortality

HIGH The music in the Marble Ruins zone
LOW Gambling on picking up a ring and dying
WTF Should I blame modern gaming for my new found ineptitude regarding this game?


I am a new member in this forum, and this will be my first post, so please, give me a chance if this comes across as the ravings of a madman.
Anyway! A little bit of background. Recently, through a series of mishaps (and a touch of incompetence), I am without an Xbox 360. In fact this is a saga that has lasted a whole year. 2011 really was a dark year. First of all my 360 got the disc drive error and not the red ring of death, so instead I tried to fix it myself. That didn't work out, nor did my second hand Xboxes off eBay. Finally, I got one that worked and then 3 months later...Red Ring of Death and I find it is out of warranty. I am broke and I simply cannot continue down this dark path.

So, in my time of need, I gathered my Playstation 2 materials, which were tucked safely in my wardrobe. Good old trusty Playstation 2. Now in addition to some games I owned that I hadn't got around to playing yet (I may write about those later), I decided to buy some more, and lo and behold! I found the Sonic Mega Collection for a pound (I'm British)! I snapped it up; I had only good memories of those games, and it wouldn't even be the first time I had dipped my toe into the waters of nostalgia with Sonic. In fact I've gone back to these games several different times in my life, for example I had the same collection for the Saturn. So I had no worries about whether I would enjoy playing these again or not. I loaded it up, and little did I realise the experience would change me forever...

One of the first things you notice is that, despite its age, it is still a perfectly pretty game. It reminds you that part of the reason the original game was so successful was because of how it looked. And I don't just mean the graphics. Everything seemed designed to charm, to exude cool. This was the age without reams of cut scenes and dialogue to tell a story, all personality would have to be achieved otherwise. I think this is best personified by how Sonic acts when you leave the joypad alone for a while, his expression at you, the player, is priceless. Through such a simple piece of animation everything you need to know about Sonic is expressed. This permeates throughout the rest of the game. The attention to detail is just fantastic, it’s all just perfectly animated. How about the game play? Well despite its reputation built on the speed of Sonic, I feel the player spends most of his time battling it. Or maybe that is just me. Running across the screen at full pelt is a one way ticket Losealllyourringsville. The more recent and terrible Sonic games have perpetuated this myth, with its press a "direction and watch" game play. Of course I know the idea is to replay the levels, memorize them and find the quickest route to tear through it, but I have just never been able to play it this way.
The ring system is still a marvel in terms of design; I think it was this simple aspect that put the game above all the other nameless platformers for me. It creates quite a lot of tension, namely hording all your rings in the search for the magic hundred for that much needed extra life, and choosing to gamble with your brief invulnerability after losing your rings just to pick up that loose flashing ring that is bouncing away. Then dying as a result of that rather stupid gamble.

Now it is time for my confession. I just hope this doesn’t destroy my reputation before I have a chance to make one. Now like I said I had played these games several times before, and at various stages of my life, without ever having trouble with them. The first level went fine obviously. Then I hit the Marble Ruins level. I struggled though the first act, dying several times. Then when I hit the second act I completely hit a wall. I lost all my lives and when I went through my first continue I gave up in frustration. I returned to it several days later, thanks to the modern miracles of saved games. Again I struggled. The rather gorgeous Marble Ruins theme turned into an instrument of torture. I began to doubt myself. I have been playing games since I was 4, and I am now 27. The last time I had played this game was for the Megadrive (Genesis to you guys) when I was 23, and like I said I had no trouble then. So I tried it again a few days later, convincing myself it was just tiredness. Another fail. To be honest I have touched it since. Did I fail because games just hold our hands too much now? Did I fail because platformers are a dying genre, one that I never had much interest in anyway?

Or maybe I was just simply getting older. Being quite neurotic I stuck with this answer, though it was probably a combination of the first two theories. Days of fretting about myself ensued. I looked at myself hard in the mirror. I realised I wasn’t the boy I used to be. My hair is thinning a little, I have a bit of a beer belly. Hell, I have hairs on my shoulders. So thank you Sonic the Hedgehog for giving me a premature mid life crisis. I now find myself doing a workout every day in order to cling onto my youth. I also find myself trying to write for a website I greatly admire, so I suppose I should thank Sega and Sonic for this insight. I have to thank those Japanese guys for making me realise that I will die someday. So I wish I could talk more about the game, the always entertaining end of level bosses, the rest of the impressive soundtrack and the always interesting level design, but alas I cannot, I would simply be doing this from memory, and that just wouldn’t be fair. I cannot even give the game a score. I just hope you can all forgive me. If you like this I promise to write a proper review for my next game.
Thanks guys,
Gareth
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