Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's Half-Past One

What the hell am I still doing up? Well, for the most part, nerding it up on Sonic trivia over at the Sonic Jam wiki. You might be thinking, "Well, what's so interesting about Sonic JAM? It was just a compilation game with a 3D world interface." Yeah, but this cleverly named wiki page is actually just a hub for EVERYTHING you'd want to know about Sonic the Hedgehog... at least as far as the games go. You'll have to look elsewhere for that SOA-Archie trash and the long-since defunct StC crap.

I jest! Comic books are the shit, man! I really want to get my hands on them like 10 years ago, along with a Genesis and a handful of games I never played growing up.

But more on my tragic life and comic books later. Right now, let's check out the Sonic Jam wiki. Bookmark it, save the pages, preserve the contents in .doc format (not like I don't do that to everything), because the makers of this Wiki have a pretty sweet gig going on. If you haven't already dived in take a look, here's what you'll find:

First thing you see are three banners for three different archives of the site: South Island Stories, which is a collection of (almost!) all of the manuals and other related items for each games spanning from the Master System to the current-gen consoles. It also has bits of the story from games like Sonic Battle and the Adventure games. While most all of the japanese manuals I've tried to download are unavailable at the moment, this section is basically meant to represent the consummate chronicles of the Sonic games continuum, whether they agree with each other or not (with the Sonic OVA as an honorable mentions!). There's even a section that discusses which games are most likely to be canon and which are not, and it's pretty detailed.

The second major archive is Angel Island Interviews, and it's got--you guessed it--just about every interview with SEGA/Sonic Team-related personnel from 1991 up until now, including this Mr. Kanata guy I've never heard anyone talk about at all. Who's he, you say? The director of the original Sonic Team around the time of the Mega Drive games? Whoops! Yeah, uh... I guess he's important, right? Right. I haven't gone through this section in it's entirety, as I'm not a full-fledged child of the night; more like a novice owl. But you go ahead! You've got nothing better to do, right? Sleep? Sleep is for wusses and babies. You don't need sleep, fight it!

The third and final archive of the wiki is more or less a compendium of every single nerdy forum discussion with pretentious primary-schoolers and bored, lonely college screwups talking about every single thing that's wrong with Sonic games now and how to improve them using the Mega Drive/Genesis games as a collective lithmus test. See, I'm not a failure. I know what a lithmus test is, and I spell it "lithmus" instead of "litmus" because I'm not a loser who debates about videogame structure and concepts. Nope.

Yeah, I'm being a funny dick. I'm just full of wit and sarcasm.

Honestly, though, it looks like a really cool, well thought-out, and thoroughly researched deconstruction into what made the Mega Drive games kick so much ass back in the day and in the here and now. Furthermore, it delves into suggestions into what Sonic Team may do to improve and so revive the respect and dignity of their team and the Blue Blur himself. I haven't read it yet, but so far it sounds like the same crap I blather on about over at the Find The Computer Room forums (Hey man, shameless plug!). Regardless of your opinion on this whole meaningless shindig, I highly recommend you check it out and submit your comments in the spirit of good discussion if you consider yourself a fan of Sonic. Note I didn't mention any black-and-white nonsense about "true fans" or not. A fan is a fan, and a fan is a person too.

Didn't think about that, did'ja, ya presumptious jerks? Eh? Ehhhh?!

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to call all 10 of you jerks. My apologies.

There's actually another site I've come across that reminds me very much of this one in intent and content, but with a slightly different aim: to discuss the ideal, universal identity of Sonic the Hedgehog and the many denominations of fans and enthusiasts for him and his parent company's divisions: Sega of America (The Western side that ruined everything), Sega of Europe (the side that doesn't matter), and Sega of Japan (God). Yeah, that's right. Sega of Japan is collectively a representation of God because they made Sonic first. It's true. Agree or die by negative labeling.

Ya know, I've gotta be pretty scatterbrained to not mention anywhere the name or URL of the site in the paragraph where it's invariably the subject. You'd think I never took college writing class, but the sad fact is I did. Skipped over the first required class because I payed off the admissions manager, and now it started to show. Shame on me. Well anyways, here's the second site I was talking about: Concept: "Mobius". It's a really slick site, and upon clicking on the link you'll be greeted with a badass anthro-character with the power to generate obscure symbols in his hands.

Pffft. Amateur n00b recolor.

The site is hosted by TechnoGuild, which is "an exclusive 'think-tank' community for artists, writers and designers who have a main interest in the science and technology found in genres such as Sci-fi and Anime," and their purpose is as "a community for people who want to develop new concepts, sharpen their creative skill, and strengthen their intellectual prowess, regardless of theme or genre." Sounds pretty spiffy, if you ask me. Like, if YOU were a member, I'd think you were the shit. Whoever drew that whatever-it-is up top certainly is, I'll tell ya that (she goes by Shanella).

Well, that's all I've got to offer for tonight. Or this morning, as it were. It's a very, very early morning. o.o; G'nite, guys!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My First Blog Post!

So Arun told me about this Sonic fanblog he was starting up, and seeing as how we're already collaborating on something Sonic-related, I figured, "Why the hell not?" I love to talk. Here's my chance.

As you've already read from the title, this is my first blog post. I'll say it again:

I now have a blog post.

It sounds like I'm a proud owner of a sign meant to ward off travelers from bogs, but the bloody sign-maker blundered into mispelling the damned 3-letter word beyond all epxections. "Beware of Blogs."

Feeble attempt at humor aside, I'm a huge fan of Sonic, and I'm also a recent newcomer to the fandom that is fascinated with SEGA. My fandom literally started some time in the past year-and-a-half, going from Tails to Sonic. I dunno how I got to Tails, but being that he's such a cute bastard and I have a friend who loves him, I eventually got hooked. That's how I remember becoming a fan for the first time. From then on I picked up a Genesis emulator and went nuts with all the awesome Sonic games to play, although I still haven't gotten fucking Knuckles Chaotix to work. Did you know Metal Sonic's in it? I didn't. I hear he turns into some giant red demon Metal Sonic as the final boss. Good shit, I'm getting on that game soon.

Now that's not to say I never played the Mega Drive in my youth. There was that one time I watched my brother playing Sonic 1 (probably Sonic 2) on the neighbor's system for like about a level or two. Eh... that doesn't count as playing, but that's most of what I did when I was 4, or 6, or something. Besides that, I was raised on mostly Super Nintendo, then N64, then PSX, and it pretty much stopped at PS2 and GameCube. Yeah, I haven't taken the dive into the next-now-current-gen on the basis that I'm an insufferable spendthrift. Either I wait for a nice price drop, finish all the games I've got so far, or get a job. So far I'm gonna stick with playing games and doing something interesting with my time 'till the next college semester. Chyeah. G'luck with that, Rave.

Have fun at Isolated Island Zone (TM)!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gametap's Sonic Retrospective

This was put up earlier in the year. Yeah, I know, I know, I'm slow for not getting up sooner. But I wasn't working on this blog back then. Cut me some slack. Embedded the entire playlist; hopefully the formatting doesn't get screwy. Compared to the one I wrote (first post), I thought this was a great retrospective. Not like IGN's shitty overview of the series (which actually amounts to Sonic 1 was the only good Sonic game. Seriously.) Gametap's retrospective was well researched and seemed to, more or less, be quite respectful towards the series and property without saying anything particularly negative about, well, anything really. The game's may not be perfect, and do warrant some criticism (though I tend to only see the fans bitching like they know better), but some of the hate directed towards the franchise is just ridiculous.

Azure Blue World...

I've been meaning to start this thing forever, but hey, why not start now? On Sonic's birthday (and Shadow's too!)? Yeah, I know it's ridiculously nerdy (if not plain silly) to celebrate a fictional character's birthday, but what kind of fan would I be if I ignored it all together?

No, I'm not one of "those people," the so-called "true fans" who either live and die by the Genesis classics only or the irritating as hell "I'M A TRUE SONIC FAN BECAUSE I BLINDLY LOVE EVERYTHING SONIC'S FACE APPEARS ON!!!" I guess if you had to call me something, it might be well-informed fanboy. Too much? I have my insufferably nerdy moments too (believe me), but I try not to let that take over too much...

Anyway, enough about me, this is SONIC's day, isn't it?

18 years ago today SEGA launched its "Mario-killer" on the SEGA Genesis (or the Mega Drive for the European/Japanese fans) to much acclaim. A franchise was soon born and Sonic soon started blazing through from sequel to sequel, quickly becoming video gaming's superstar icon. He even managed to overshadow MICKEY MOUSE at one point! Seriously, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG was more recognizable than MICKEY MOUSE (HOW I don't know, but that's what happened)

Sonic kind of hit a rough patch in the 32-bit age, with Knuckles stealing the spotlight on the 32X (in some ways, I don't think Sonic was too mad given it WAS the 32X we're talking about here) and the only thing close to a mainstream game was Sonic 3D Blast on the Genesis and Saturn (the latter version came about due to Sonic X-Treme's untimely cancellation, a decision that led to the Saturn's demise). He made due with Sonic Jam (the first of many compilation games) and Sonic R (a racing game, but not the first) but was soon redesigned and relaunched in a big way in 1999 (for the US) with the Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure. 2001, Sonic's 10th Anniversary, was SEGA's last year in the hardware game and thus Sonic's departure from first-party mascot to third-party licensed property, but he went out with a bang with Sonic Adventure 2. The following year, many believed hell had actually frozen over because Sonic started showing up on NINTENDO consoles (starting with the re-release of Sonic Adventure 2 and also Dimps launching the Sonic Advance series on the Gameboy Advance).

Many like to say that Sonic is either dead or is really having a rough time (read every freaking review since Shadow the Hedgehog and you'll see what I mean), but it can't possibly be that bad. 2003/4 (depending on your region) saw the release of Sonic Heroes, Sonic's first multi-platform game (Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox). 2005 gave Shadow his time to shine in a spin-off game that used guns (a game many hate, some love and others think it was OK). 2006 was sort of the "dark period" because of the release of the unfinished, unpolished next-gen title SONIC the Hedgehog (or Sonic '06). But, at least from my perspective, after a rough three year period of decent to terrible games (unfortunately, I'm glossing over most of the great handheld games just to get through this brief and shoddy history lesson. Gametap did it better...), Sonic is slowly getting back on track. Sonic and the Secret Rings for the Wii was declared by many to be the best 3D Sonic game ever (considering the act it was following, it couldn't be too hard for it to be better). Later that year, of all the things we would have expected to happen, Sonic appeared alongside Mario for the first time ever in gaming history... at the Olympics. Well, beggars can't be choosers, but it was a start. 2008 was called "the Year of the Hedgehog" (technically the year of the rat, but we all know how touchy Sonic gets about being called a rat) with just a slew of great things to come. Sonic guest starred alongside Metal Gear Solid's Solid Snake in the Wii platform-fighter Super Smash Bros. Brawl (boasting speed that put Captain Falcon to shame), following up later in the year with his big console comeback Sonic Unleashed, for the 360, PS3, Wii and PS2, a game some feel (or maybe it's just me...) that things are finally looking up for the hedgehog, even if the critics will continue to hate. BioWare even jumped on board to create Sonic Chronicles: the Dark Brotherhood for the Nintendo DS, Sonic's first RPG. 2009 saw the release (so far) of Sonic and the Black Knight, a game, like Unleashed, many either love or hate (hate mostly being directed towards the concept: Sonic uses a sword).

Now it's summertime, but what's next for the blue blur? Archie Comics continues to publish their comic book series (holding the record for the longest running comic based on a video game) with the regular monthly series and the new Sonic Universe series (I'll probably be doing write ups on the first four issues soon!), and SEGA has announced Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing (why not just "SEGA All-Stars Racing" I'll never know) which puts Sonic behind the wheel again and will have him race other SEGA characters like Tails, Dr. Eggman, Samba De Amigo, and many others (to be released 2010).

So Sonic has turned 18 (Shadow's 8), the franchise has seen things both good and bad, and while Sonic may never quite achieve the kind of superstar status he had when I was a kid, he'll still hold the top spot for me. Personally, even though Sonic Unleashed wasn't a perfect game, it was one of the most polished efforts to be released in years and with a lot of smart decisions being made in the course of its development, it was easily a step forward in the right direction. I see this trend continuing in the future and maybe one day we'll have a game that perfectly blends the speed and platforming we once saw in the Genesis classics.