Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sonic: The Wonder Years

Sega, many years ago, decided to create a blue hedgehog as their flagship video game character. They named him “Sonic”. If all of this sounds new to you and you think I’m just making this up, you should probably stop reading now.

Many Sonic games have been created since then. Most fans of the series would say that the games have, surprisingly, gotten progressively worse, even as the technology behind them has improved. Part of this could be attributed to those now in charge of Sonic games at Sega not really fully understanding what made Sonic games enjoyable. Recent examples of this include their decision to introduce an “urban” gun-totting companion hedgehog named “Shadow”, and a general trend to include strange, elaborate, but terrible back-stories to each game.

The back-stories recently took a particularly bad turn in the recently released (and creatively named) “Sonic the Hedgehog” for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. I had the bad fortune to watch the short CG movie that the player is rewarded with upon completion of the game. This video is available on YouTube, but I will not link to it, because, well, trust me, I’m doing you a favor.

In this video, Sonic is apparently dead, or sleeping, surrounded by what appears to be regular, somewhat realistically rendered people. In some horrible Sleeping Beauty story gone wrong, a woman kisses Sonic and revives him with a flashy light show, and Sonic and Shadow go off to live with these humans, happily ever after. Or so it would appear. My description, however, does not do this short clip justice. I somehow managed to convince a co-worker to view this movie, and what follows is a chat-log captured as he watched the clip:

A: WTF. It’s like FF, except with Sonic instead of Aerith.
A: He’s dead, or something.
Me: yeah
A: Oh god, she’s GOING TO KISS HIM
Me: See, I warned you
A: She kissed him, and he turned into Super Saiyan Sonic
Me: ta-da
A: Have they gone totally mental at Sega?
Me: Yes, yes they have.

The thing is, Sonic, like many cute, mascot-like video game characters, really doesn’t need any sort of back-story. He’s a blue hedgehog who spins into a ball and likes to run really fast. There’s your back-story.

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