Xenoblade Chronicles and Governor of Poker don’t have a whole hell of a lot in common with each other, but one trait they do share is that they both took up a fucking disgusting amount of my time. 106 hours and 70 hours, respectively! So for my next 3DS experience, I knew I wanted to play something short and sweet. After cycling through the yet-to-be-beaten games on my system, I eventually settled on Sega’s 3D port of the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
Here is a fact that might surprise you: This is the first time I have ever played all the way through this game! Much like I am today, I was a staunch Nintendo loyalist as a kid, and therefore never owned a Genesis. I played Sonic from time to time at friends’ houses or wherever, but I don’t think I ever actually made it past the Marble Zone. This time, I finally got to experience the Spring Yard Zone and beyond…
And doing so finally confirmed the vague suspicion I always had as a kid: Sonic the Hedgehog sucks.
Sorry guys, but Sonic sucks as a game. It fucking sucks. Back in the day, I always thought the character was cool and that the visuals were impressive, but there was something about the gameplay that always felt a little off to me. I finally figured out what it is. The problem is that, as you know, Sonic’s character design is built around him being able to run really, really fast – but the level design is not. The levels are built like those in most other 2D platforming games – they offer multiple paths and secrets, and reward careful and meticulous exploration. Now that’s just fine, and it’s pretty much exactly what I usually want from this kind of game, but does “careful and meticulous” jive with what Sonic should be all about? I mean, it’s Sonic the Hedgehog, right? GOTTA GO FAST!! BLAST PROCESSING!!! TO THE EXTREME!!! But try to actually run fast in this game and you will slam right into a pile of spikes or a shitty flying bee, or you will zip right past the power-ups you ought to be collecting. Sure it’s fun as hell to go around those loops – I would never dream of denying that – but that doesn’t even begin to make up for the rest of the frustratingly incongruous gameplay. And all those problems come into play before the game even starts dropping you into shitty, awful underwater levels.
I mean, what the fuck? Is this an issue that is improved upon in further sequels? Is the whole idea of fast-paced gameplay in Sonic nothing more than a marketing gimmick that has been mythologized since the early 90’s? Someone educate me please, because really, what the fuck??
In the interest of bringing a little bit of positivity into this write-up, I will say that I found the final encounter with Dr. Robotnik to be pretty interesting.
Leading up to the actual boss battle is a chase sequence where you must escape a rapidly approaching Robotnik as he destroys and alters the stage layout. It kind of reminded me of the Bowser encounters in some of the more recent New Super Mario Bros. games, and it struck me as a concept that must have been pretty original and ahead of its time in the early 90’s. But dammit, it still wasn’t very much fun to play!
If forced to dole out another nugget of half-assed praise, I’d say that the newly-added 3D effect is pretty cool, particularly whenever this happens:
Other than that, whatever. But in spite of all these complaints, I did manage to make it through to the end of the game, mostly because it’s an extremely short game. Then, when I beat it, I was presented with this as a reward:
Fuck you, man. I’ve since learned that to get the “good” ending, you need to collect all the crystals in the unbearable between-level minigame mazes. That just sounds awful, so I don’t think I will be trying again, you fucking piece of shit.
Guys, I want to like Sonic. He’s cool-looking and his world is interesting, and he has a very cool superpower in theory. Are there any games in the series that actually take advantage of his much-ballyhooed speed? Or are they all like this crap? Let me know, because I really hate hating Sonic!