A Quick Review of Sonic the Hedgehog (2020 Movie)

(Yes, this is the actual movie, not the recently-released movie tie-in special. Review for that comes later.)

Well, I was planning a nice, long, in-depth opinionated review of the Sonic Movie like I’ve done for a few games, where I would staunchly defend the purity of this thoroughly fun experience against the evil critics, professional and amateur alike, who seek to make it a failure. But…apparently the movie is a runaway success? The best-performing videogame movie of all time? So there goes that motivation. Without it, making an in-depth analysis without being able to reference the source material second-for-second as needed…sounds too hard.

So, I’ll keep this extremely brief. This movie was fun. A lot of family movies try to be fun. But in my opinion, this is one of the few that have wildly succeeded. The critics will tell you that it’s a movie for kids, and enjoying it as an adult would be invalid. Well, either they watched the wrong movie, or they just watched it wrong. The entire film is designed to draw you in to Sonic as a character. Is Sonic a child? In this instance, yes. But last I checked, a person being young doesn’t automatically preclude them from being relatable. Quite the opposite, in fact. A child relates to such a character for being like them, and to the success of that, I can’t necessarily speak. But an adult relates to a child character not for being like themselves, but for being what they remember being. Sonic doesn’t just appeal to kids. He makes you feel like a kid. He makes you wonder when you attained the emotional maturity to make decisions like that—or if you have at all. He makes you ask yourself, “Why can’t I have fun like that?” There’s an inevitable conclusion to that question. And if you reach it, you’re going to have fun right along with him—only to realize that you genuinely care for him as a character when things go wrong.

But maybe, that’s just me, speaking as a Sonic fan. Maybe my brain defaults to caring for Sonic as a character because I’m already programmed to do so. But that wouldn’t quite line up. In my conscious mind, at least, this iteration of Sonic had to be built up from scratch. If you go into the movie expecting this to be the same Sonic that you know and love, that’s going to be your most likely source of disappointment. No, this is a completely new character, and preconceived notions don’t go nearly far enough to justify how much I loved him by the end.

Is the movie perfect? Far from it. Are there plot holes? Oh yeah. Was I way more interested during the first 5 minutes of the movie than I was at any point afterwards? Absolutely. I don’t think anyone’s calling this movie a masterpiece, and I have to agree on that front. But I can’t say it enough. This movie was fun. Getting caught up in its own minutiae probably would’ve interfered with that. It may not be the perfect, flawless Sonic experience, but hey, it got us here, right?

-And please, five stars.

Opinion Piece: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020 Movie)

Hey there, everyone! Long time no see! Way…too long, actually… Heh heh… When was my last post again? September? Yikes. Well, no need to worry, I’m not dead, and neither is the Chaos Project. I’ve just been taking it slow with the writing for life reasons. And video game reasons. Which are basically my life, so…

Anyways, who doesn’t love sequels!? Today, we’re looking at the follow-up to my previous analysis of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, published back in May. Oh, geez, have I still not published that Sonic ’06 review I talked about at the beginning? I don’t have time for that anymore!! *ahem* Anyways, after waiting many long months to see the much-anticipated character redesign that they delayed the movie half a year to do, an official trailer showcasing the new design has finally been released!

And there he is! What a difference it is! This new Sonic is—wait a minute…what do you mean, ‘I said that I liked the old design’? Preposterous! Who would say a blasphemous thing like that!? Oh, wait, I did say that, didn’t I?

Untitled

…Let’s talk design. To put it briefly…I’m very okay with this. To be fair, I did choose what is perhaps the most flattering shot in the entire trailer to put above. But I think that shot looks pretty darn good, actually. Sure, this new design doesn’t look flattering from every angle. And sure, I dislike that his stomach is a different color than his muzzle. And sure, I’d rather him have gloves to cover up those freaky hedgehog fingers. And sure, I don’t get why he isn’t wearing socks. But other than that…I don’t see much problem with this design. It looks like Sonic in live action.

Main point, the redesign is certainly shocking at first glance, but there’s nothing about it that makes it “not Sonic”.

No, I wasn’t exactly gushing over it. But given the public outrage I was seeing, I felt the need to express my “okay, whatever” opinion about it. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I would have been fine with it. But with that out of the way…oh, what a difference it is! Basically, what I had in mind with the old design was “choose either tan or white for his non-blue fur (not both), expand the shape of his chin and the whites of his eyes, slap on some gloves (and socks, still don’t understand why those were missing in the first place), and you’re golden.” They did all that and more. And that makes me think…maybe…too much more. I just can’t let up with these controversial opinions, can I?

Untitled

Hard to complain about the face. A “handsome package” it certainly is.

The trailer begins with Sonic in Green Hill Zone (a gorgeous representation of it, I might add). Instant respect right there. I will take any and all references to the Sonic canon I can possibly get, anything to make this movie less generic. But, yeah, yeah, I know, Sonic himself is the only topic of interest on the Internet right now. So what do I mean when I say ‘too much’? Well, one major difference between the two images shown thus far is that Sonic’s spines splayed out a bit more drastically in the original design. Though it’s hard to tell here, the spines themselves were also shortened for the new design. Both were done, I assume, to make the character look more “cartoonish,” which is exactly what people were asking for. But I would’ve been happier with them left exactly as they were. I believe I’ve mentioned this before in comparisons of Sonic’s Modern and Classic designs, but having longer spines allows for more interactions with wind and body movement, which conveys a better sense of speed and a more “cinematic” feel. Given that this is a movie, I’m pretty sure that “cinematic” is a good thing. I also have a bit of a problem with the new mouth. I’ve always felt that Sonic in 3D with his mouth modeled at the center of his face makes it look like he has this weird overbite going on. The old design had a center-mouth as well, but, being linked to a more humanoid jawline with actual lips mitigated that particular issue. I’ll still take what we have over what we might have gotten, but that doesn’t mean what we have is perfect. I’ll also note that Sonic’s serious-face doesn’t look nearly as serious anymore, but given that he’s not being portrayed as a very serious character, I can certainly live with that. I’ll also add that having the fur on his face more messy and unkempt as it was in the original design was one of the best parts of that design compared with the new one. Having it so smooth and shiny as it is in the new design makes it a lot less believable as a creature that could exist in our world, especially when viewed from far away or in less focus, making it look almost too much like the smooth clay-like texture seen on in-game models.

Untitled

So am I psychic or what?

So with that out of the way, we can finally talk about other parts of the trailer. And so…uh…here’s what I said about the last trailer.

Apparently, Sonic now generates electricity when he runs, which sticks to his quills even after they fall off. This is a fact that is constantly brought up throughout the trailer…If you’ve ever had experience with “The Flash,” a DC Comics character, you may recall that this speedster does the same thing…

Untitled.png

And look at this! We have another example of Sonic pretending to be The Flash as he goes into “Flashtime,” slowing the world around him to a pace that even “the speed of sound” wouldn’t be nearly enough to justify.

Glad to see that connection wasn’t an accident. But regardless, this scene’s showcasing of Sonic as a child roughing it on his own in some hole or basement or wherever he lives did a much better job showing him as a relatable character than the first trailer managed to do. Seeing him speeding through the comics of someone who interests and most likely inspires him, seeing him play games with himself and seek other means of amusement, all of it well demonstrated not just a concealed sense of loneliness, but also his happy-go-lucky resistance to such dark feelings. It made him feel like a relatable person, far better that the previous trailer’s brief glimpses of a pile of shoes and an old tape player did. (Not claiming that the movie has been changed in any significant way, I’m working under the assumption that it hasn’t, just trying to say that this trailer was better put-together than the last one.)  Honestly though, the baseball scene that came next was probably a bit too much, the glimpses of him in his home did the same job in less time (and with fewer fart jokes, which is always a plus). Though I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I approve of references. And the use of the Green Hill Zone theme (which is rather difficult to secure the rights to, from what I understand), was, of course appreciated, even if it is rather odd that it wasn’t used when we were actually looking at Green Hill Zone earlier.

Untitled

Ahhhh!

I know I said I was done with the design stuff, but I will note that I find the gaping size of his mouth in this scene to be downright creepy. To have his teeth that far apart, he would most certainly have to dislocate his jaw. Honestly, I never understood the whole “teeth” problem people were having with the old design, but I don’t find this to be any better. But anyways, there’s that Warp Ring again, which continues to show up in several other places throughout the trailer. I hold to what I said about the last trailer, that I’m very interested to see how they go about acknowledging this piece of lore which has never before been acknowledged in the canon. Eh, it’s probably just a meaningless plot device. Still, it’ll be interesting. What else is of interest here is that, despite appearing to be the same  Sonic screaming scene seen in the previous trailer, the context seems to be a bit different, as Sonic was holding neither the ring nor the sack(?) he seems to have now, in the previous trailer. This is the one indication I’ve seen that would suggest that modifications may have been made to the movie beyond the aesthetic since last time. (Also, the close face shots seen above may be the same scene, despite one being on a random desert highway and the other being in Green Hill Zone. I would wager that was not a change made due to the movie’s delay, rather, they showed us an intentionally false setting the first time because they wanted to leave Green Hill as a surprise reveal for later.)

Untitled

Apparently, Sonic is now an alien fugitive.

So the whole “I’m not from your planet” thing was brought up in the last trailer, but they definitely drove the point in this time. Sonic frequently refers to the fact that he is from a planet which is not Earth (even though they very specifically call the planet Earth in the Adventure era fhnwrpslsjkjdrkgksnekngsingl*mashing head on keyboard angrily*). The use of the words “planet” and “Earth” confirms that Sonic does not come from some alternate Earth, and strongly suggests that the distance between the worlds is spacial, not dimensional. Which would mean that Sonic is literally a space alien. I mean, I suppose it’s certainly one way to interpret the whole hotly-debated “two worlds” issue of Sonic lore. It’s not like space travel is taken as a very significant event in the Sonic games, so I suppose I would probably like that explanation better than the more commonly accepted separate universes, or worse yet separate canons. But can we talk for a second about Sonic’s motivations for coming to Earth? He claims that people on his planet are after his powers. What people!? Who in a universe even remotely resembling the games (Eggman excluded) would be after Sonic’s powers!? Could it be that we’re actually dealing with potential antagonists who have absolutely nothing to do with Eggman? I do sincerely hope that this is a question that will actually be answered in the movie. Eh, it’s probably just a meaningless plot device. Regardless, I think I smell a potential plot for a Chaos Project crossover episode… (or maybe that’s just the smell of body spray and an old ham sandwich).

Untitled

Never thought I’d see Robotnik do the Robot.

I’ll say this again as well. I see a lot more Jim Carrey here than I see Eggman. Or should I be saying Robotnik? I was somewhat surprised to hear the Robotnik nomer used, seeing as they seem to have been doing away with it ever since its one offhanded mention in Generations. But, as I said before, the evolution of an eccentric Doctor into the mad genius Eggman is the plotline I most look forward to seeing out of this movie. So anyways, they can shape “Robotnik” however they want, as long as I’m able to recognize him as Eggman come the movie’s end. And I won’t lie, I’ve found just about every shot he’s in to be hilarious thus far. Especially when he got punched in the face. You just don’t get that kind of satisfying slapstick violence in the games. On another note, I am getting more and more curious about Robotnik’s assistant. Is he supposed to be a reference to something? He seems…almost too perfect. You know what? Calling it right now, he’s the true villain of the movie. I got the Flash thing right, so let’s see if my future-telling powers hold out.

Untitled

Seriously though, why wasn’t this a reference to the first boss of Sonic 2?

One interesting change of note seen throughout the trailer is that they seem to have drastically reduced the intensity of the lightning effect used to represent Sonic’s powers. His discarded quills now seem to only glow, rather than having electricity constantly running through them, and the picture shown above has all of the electricity used to knock it over completely dissipated, where it was still going strong at the same point in the first trailer. Not sure that it necessarily means anything in particular, but it’s a change I’m happy they made. I necessarily mind used as a representation of his power, but dialing it back as they did better shows that it’s just a representation, rather than having his powers actually revolving around lightning as the old effects seemed to suggest.

Untitled

Glad to see that some things will actually be taken seriously.

There’s not a whole lot else to talk about from this trailer. It was certainly dedicated much more Sonic’s character than it was to the plot, and rightfully so, seeing as the character is what we all tuned in to this trailer to see. I’ll still reserve judgement on whether or not like this interpretation of the character until I see the full range of his personality, but I’m not gonna lie, his excitable personally, expressive animation, and good-looking new design made me really start to think of him as adorable, which never would’ve flown with the old design…or…any interpretation of Sonic, for that matter. Sonic has never been “cute” to me, but this movie seems to be pulling it off well. That is, of course, until things get serious, which I see as a necessity. Sonic is at his best when he knowingly risks everything to perform a heroic deed, not because it’s heroic, but because it’s right. I saw a lot of people shouting “Super Sonic!” at the picture shown above, and…I seriously doubt it. More likely just him discovering the true extent of inner power or whatever. I don’t see Super Sonic fitting into this movie at all, in all honesty. Even though he’s a blue hedgehog who runs faster than the speed of sound, they wouldn’t want to break their precious live-action realism by bringing magic fur-color-changing invincibility-granting rocks into the fray. I’d love to see it—anything that makes this movie more uniquely Sonic and less generic Hollywood is a good thing in my eyes. But it’s not happening.

Image result for sonic the hedgehog movie promotional image instagram

My boi’s back in the best pose!

So what’s the final verdict? If the old design was a 4 out of 10, this one’s a 9. Not perfect, but pretty darned close. And as to the movie itself, my opinion hasn’t changed much. I expect it to be mediocre at best. But a mediocre movie staring a lovable character can still be pretty good in its own right, so in that sense, I’m more excited to see the movie than ever before. So…

-I have no idea how it isn’t dead, but that’s a cause for celebration!
(And somebody give Robotnik a big fat break. He’s too skinny.)

Opinion Piece: Sonic the Hedgehog (2019 Movie)

Edited to include an unofficial re-upload of the first trailer (after the second trailer was released), because apparently Paramount Pictures wants to pretend the first trailer never happened, and removed it from Youtube.

Gee, just what we needed. Another laughable Sonic installment with no subtitle to identify it by. All jokes aside, hi. It’s been a while. My last opinion piece of any kind was my Sonic Forces review, well over a year ago. Come to think of it, and speaking of missing subtitles, I guess I was supposed to write a Sonic ’06 review somewhere along the way? Did I never publish that? I’ll look into it.

But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here for my take on the Sonic Movie. So I’ll warn you right now. If you’re looking for someone to share your rage and disgust with, you’ve come to the wrong place, and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of that elsewhere. I intend to look at this from as objective of a standpoint as possible. With that out of the way, let’s get started.

Obviously, no one’s seen the actual movie yet, so this is more about my opinions on the trailer than on the movie as a whole. So let’s start from the beginning. Sonic is fast. Even I, as a writer, have a hard time making sure that fact remains important, so I’d call it a good thing that this is what they decide on as the very first thing to show the audience. Human cop. So what? I prefer Sonic’s world with a human population, or at very least, I prefer the games that do so. Given the human inclusion, filming the movie in live action makes sense enough to me. Would I have preferred a completely animated film? Yeah, probably. And it certainly would’ve alleviated a lot of the movie’s fundamental issues as I currently see them. But they’re trying to sell a movie to the masses, and an animated movie about a videogame character just isn’t going to sell as well in that context.

Untitled.png

References. I approve of references. It’s the one easy way to appease fans in a way that makes no impact on the general audience. Not sure why they went with “Green Hills” instead of “Green Hill,” but that’s hardly worthy of complaint. And if you’re going to complain that Green Hill Zone is overused, you can leave now. Obviously, this isn’t Green Hill Zone, visually, musically, or otherwise, it’s just a reference to a memorable location. And speaking of references, sound effects. The use of classic sound effects for rings, for spindashing and jumping, goes a long way in helping me personally connect this movie to the franchise that I grew up with. And it’s not just Classic, either. I could be mistaken, but I believe at about 1:32 in the trailer, as a harpoon is being shot into the truck, a jump sound effect out of the 2000’s era games can be heard.

Untitled.png

Apparently, Sonic now generates electricity when he runs, which sticks to his quills even after they fall off. This is a fact that is constantly brought up throughout the trailer. Not exactly consistent with Sonic’s representation in the games, but I’d call it well within creative liberty. If you’ve ever had experience with “The Flash,” a DC Comics character, you may recall that this speedster does the same thing. In fact, The Flash learns to harness this power to throw lightning at his opponents. And while it’s not exactly good realistic physics, there is a certain understandable logic to the idea that static electricity could build up on someone who runs fast enough as they rub against particles in the air. But that might not even be the answer here. As demonstrated a bit later, this could very well be the origin story to Eggman’s use of animals to power his robots, a central element to the original Sonic games. It could be that, by this movie’s explanation, all animals from Sonic’s world (or planet, or dimension, or whatever they’re going with, more on that later) generate this natural energy regardless of whether or not they can run fast, and Eggman learns to use this over the course of the movie. After all, even combined with a sonic boom, static electricity would hardly be enough on its own to knock out power to a whole quadrant of a country. It would seem there’s more going on than just that.

Untitled

Alright, this was bound to happen eventually. Let’s talk design. To put it briefly…I’m very okay with this. To be fair, I did choose what is perhaps the most flattering shot in the entire trailer to put above. But I think that shot looks pretty darn good, actually. Sure, this new design doesn’t look flattering from every angle. And sure, I dislike that his stomach is a different color than his muzzle. And sure, I’d rather him have gloves to cover up those freaky hedgehog fingers. And sure, I don’t get why he isn’t wearing socks. But other than that…I don’t see much problem with this design. It looks like Sonic in live action. I’ve seen plenty of attempts to “fix” this design, but a vast majority of them end up looking even worse to me. Lets rewind a bit. A few months ago (and I’m actually kind of surprised that I never commented on it at the time. In fact, this movie’s been announced since before the Chaos Project even started, yet I don’t think I’ve ever once mentioned it on the site. Anyways…) some concept images for Sonic’s style in this movie were leaked out. Here, look for yourself.

Like anyone else, I was a bit shocked at first glance. But, to be totally honest, it was that depiction on the bottom left, which may look a bit familiar to some people, which really sold me on the viability of Sonic’s separated-eye, human-like proportions style. And since then…they made it even better. There is the issue of the stomach color, but other than that, I think they improved the shape of the eyes and muzzle, decreased the awkward prominence of the eyebrows, and just overall improved the body shape. Main point, the redesign is certainly shocking at first glance, but there’s nothing about it that makes it “not Sonic”. I certainly prefer this over certain fan interpretations I’ve seen of how Sonic might look in live action that came out before this movie was ever a thing.

Look familiar?

Gotta go fast. There’s the other thing about this particular scene in the trailer. Cringeworthy? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh hysterically. Combine that with Sonic pretending to be a cat when discovered by a human, and the possible universe-crossing implications that the trailer gives off, and you’ve got yourself a nice pile of Sonic X references. And as I said before, I like references, especially when they’re in regards to my personal favorite non-canon interpretation of Sonic. I suppose we should also start talking about the voice here. I like it. It’s clear that they’re going for a much younger interpretation of Sonic, one who can be called a “child,” I’d guess perhaps 13 or 14. And, given that, this new voice works very well. It remains to be seen whether or not I prefer it to Roger Craig Smith, but I think that the potential is there. A bit hard to compare either way. Moving on…

Untitled.png

Next up, Eggman. Or perhaps I should be calling him Robotnik? I actually find it rather odd that they never confirmed one way or the other in the trailer. But as the trailer goes on to show, it seems that this entire movie may be dedicated to the transformation of an eccentric scientist into the evil genius we now know as Eggman, so a name change to go along with that would certainly be fitting. How do I feel about him? Obviously, he doesn’t look much like Eggman in the picture above. But the end of the trailer shows how that changes. As I said, they’re starting him off as a normal, if eccentric, scientist, and I don’t mind that they put their own design to that. He’s practically a different person. But if we actually get to see this person become the Eggman we know, I don’t see that as anything but a good thing. At least he has a mustache. But what about his character? Well…to be honest, I personally see a little bit too much…Jim Carrey (the actor for the character) in it. It’s hard to explain exactly, but I just felt like a proper Eggman needs to be just a bit more threatening. Maybe threatening isn’t the word, because I felt like even Sonic Boom got it just a bit better. Hard to explain. But regardless, if that part of his personality is brought in more strongly over the course of the movie, I see no problem with it.

Untitled.png

Alright, so let’s talk about the plot. It feels like very typical Hollywood-type reinterpretation stuff. Such and such magical or otherworldly creature winds up in a world that is otherwise identical to our own, the police/government/whatever wants to kill/study/whatever it, but the friendly human character teams up with the creature to get them back wherever they came from so they can be safe again. There’s obviously some sort of save-the-world plot going on behind that, but that’s nothing new. “Nothing new” seems to describe this movie in a lot of ways, actually. So there, putting it flat out, I’m not excited for this plot in the slightest. I don’t see anything wrong with it, you might even call it “tried and true,” but it doesn’t garner any interest from me. That’s probably the closest thing to hate you’ll be getting out of me today.

Okay, let’s see here, what else? Umm…Eggman’s got himself some boss mechs, that’s cool…wants to study Sonic, talked about that already…ooh, and he gets his tiny glasses for a hot second. He didn’t even have those at the end when he looked transformed into the proper Eggman. Then…Eggman licks Sonic’s quill, gets shocked, more eccentricity, then…ooh, here’s something.

Untitled.png

Warp Rings! That’s what I’m talking about! For some strange reason, I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about how “that’s not what rings do in Sonic games,” or, even worse, “you may be surprised to know that Warp Rings are actually from the comics where people could use them to teleport between Zones.” Oof, that one made me groan. I’m not sure how people missed that Warp Rings are are a recurring element that played pretty important roles in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and even the recently acclaimed Sonic Mania. A giant floating ring that teleports you to Special Stages. They’re all over the place. They’re the origin of the even-more-frequent Goal Ring. Rings are not a single-purpose item in Sonic games! But what they are is an unexplored plot element. 20 years of 3D Sonic history, and the only mention of any kind of ring in a story was an offhanded reference to the regular gold rings in Sonic Generations. But now here this movie goes, apparently putting a story behind a gameplay element of the Classic games that even the real games haven’t dared venture into. That not even I have dared yet venture into. I’m very impressed, and I’m interested to see where they go with it. Could this be how Sonic got to this planet in the first place? Is our Earth actually just another Special Stage?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the whole “planet” thing. People seem to be taking it to mean that Sonic is a space alien, and…sure? I mean, it could be. But it seems much more likely to me that it refers to the typical Sonic X explanation of Sonic’s world being different from Earth (which is a planet that is not the planet that Sonic comes from). Either way, at least they’ll be putting an explanation to it, instead of randomly deciding that Sonic sometimes has humans and sometimes doesn’t.

Untitled.png

And look at this! We have another example of Sonic pretending to be The Flash as he goes into “Flashtime,” slowing the world around him to a pace that even “the speed of sound” wouldn’t be nearly enough to justify. Either Sonic grows exponentially faster as the movie goes on, or they just randomly decided to get him moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light in one scene only. One is inclined to believe the second thing I said. But, on the brighter side, we have a nice nod to Classic Sonic’s idle animation. And I can’t deny, it looks like a pretty epic scene that shows off a lot of personality as well.

Untitled

And finally, here’s that end clip of Eggman I kept talking about. Goggles on bald forehead, red outfit, long wiry mustache, this is plenty close enough to the Eggman we know. If they spend the movie building up to this, I’m good with that. But wait…that background…is he in Mushroom Hill Zone!?!? Probably not that specifically. But that would be a very satisfying reference if it was.

So, final conclusion? This movie’s not exactly my dream come true. In fact, it might even be described as a train wreck. But that won’t stop me from seeing it, and, most likely, enjoying every minute of it. There’s some weird stuff mixing around, but it can’t exactly be called “bad” just yet. So, in the surprisingly apt closing words of the trailer…

-“It smells like body spray and an old ham sandwich.”

Opinionated Review: Sonic Forces

Yeah, I’ve been holding out on this for a while, even though it’s the whole reason I started these reviews in the first place. This game…was something. And I’m honestly not going to be sure what something means until I’ve finished writing here. When I first finished the game, I was unsure of what to think, and while my opinions have solidified a little more since then, I was hoping to have a better idea by now. So here we go—even I don’t know where.

Continue reading

Sonic Forces: A Few Words

With less than one week remaining until this game comes out, I thought that I would take a moment to really think about what the game is promising and how likely it is to deliver, as compared to my initial thoughts from the game’s first announcement. Yeesh, what did I even say when this game was first announced? Let’s see here… I think it will be easiest to start with my thoughts on gameplay.

“…I was hopeful that [the Adventure-like narrative] would mean the gameplay could be closer to Adventure era as well. Although, they start with “team that brought you Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations,” which are pretty far off from adventure-style gameplay. ”

“…this was confirmed as a game in the style of Sonic Unleashed, Colors, and Generations. If they think that they can get an Adventure lover like myself to love that formula, I’m glad to see them try.”

“As for the 2D…meh. If the 3D is good, then having the 2D certainly won’t ruin the game, it will just mean having less time enjoying the maximum that the game has to offer.”

I’m going to be honest here, and I’m sorry to anyone who I might offend. I don’t like Boost formula. Personally, I find it’s tendency towards straight hallways to be intrinsically inferior to the open, yet still high-speed, exploration that the Adventure formula encourages. In recent times I’ve come to understand that Sonic Generations, Seaside Hill in particular, finds a pretty good balance. And I respect that. Of course, Sonic Generations as a whole was still plagued by far too much 2D as compared to 3D, and I don’t like that. But the point is, I’m not really in the position to analyze Forces’ gameplay as compared to other Boost games. In terms of control, I can understand the desire to have full control during quickstep sections (I hate those too), rather than being locked into using only the quickstep buttons, and I understand that as a flaw of this game compared to Generations, in addition to the missing drift ability and automatic turning. But any more specific than that, and it all seems kind of the same to me. Rather than complain about it, I’ve learned to accept that that’s what I’m getting. Based on my understanding, these specifics of the Boost formula is the primary source of legitimate dislike for this game. If the only thing worth complaining about in this game is something that I can’t realistically complain about…does that mean that this actually is the perfect Modern Sonic game for me? I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it’s a place to start. Moving on…

“Anyways, the existence of Classic Sonic pretty much removes any possible chance of other characters being involved.”

“I just find it so unfortunate, and it stands in the way of so many possible gameplay, and more importantly, story opportunities.”

Did I say that? Well, I was very wrong. It’s actually kind of insane thinking of how I went from “No possible chance of good story” to “Best story in over a decade.” I never would have thought that Classic Sonic and good story could go together in the same sentence, but here I am. It’s very hard for me to figure out what to say right now, because I feel like they’ve just made it so self-demonstrative. Obviously, the chance always exists that the full details of the game will shatter these Ruby Illusions of mine, and the story will turn out to be horribly anticlimactic. But…even if we’ve somehow already seen parts of every single cutscene in the game, the sum total will still be better than Colors. And Generations. And Mania. I’ll hold judgement on Lost World, because even though its story sucked too, it at least had some very good character going for it. What was I saying again? Oh, right. Somehow, Sonic Team has done the impossible by bringing back Classic Sonic, yet maintaining a cohesive story that doesn’t depend on his presence. I mean, imagine Sonic Rush, except that even though it is thoroughly explained how and why Blaze is there, a full, complex and enriching story existed separately from or only indirectly related to that explanation. It isn’t the obvious thing to do. It isn’t easy, either. But the results could be and are spectacular. And that’s all just the story. The other thing I mentioned was characters. Now, I’ll admit. It’s still kind of ridiculous that the playable characters of this game are Sonic, Sonic, and the opposite of Sonic. The Avatar (still waiting on that canon name, and no, Corvin the Bird doesn’t count) is slow, blandly-designed, and lacking in character. And even though I’m still not entirely sure how good of an idea the create-a-character deal is for Sonic…I’m okay with it. I see the appeal, not just for fanfic creators like myself, but for any child out there who dreams about going on an adventure with Sonic. It’s clear that the partner dynamic is going to be more than a little emphasized. On one hand, they’re really giving Tails the shaft, even going far enough to call the Avatar Sonic’s new sidekick. On the other hand, it’s opening the opportunity for a completely new, role-reversal type dynamic between Tails and Classic Sonic. What’s that? A character dynamic for Classic Sonic!? It’s actually happening! By the way, anyone else notice how Tails is taller and more mature than Classic Sonic, and yet he’s still considerably younger?

So, what’s the conclusion? Is this the perfect Modern Sonic game? No. Take the control and level design of Sonic Generations, flip the 2D-3D ratio the other way around, further expound on the intricacies of the level design, and slap on the story and creativity of Forces, and there you would have it. As Forces stands, it needs more 3D, more intricate level design, and more…something. Since the Avatar already plays so differently from Sonic, I feel like more creativity in that department would be appreciated. The addition of another playable character with more specific abilities could do it. As much as I would like that, I’m perfectly happy with how the characters are presently being used. To be totally honest, I don’t think we even need as many characters as we have in this game, as long as the characters used have variety, play important roles, and don’t get periodically forgotten. Back on topic, there is one very particular word I can use to describe my feeling about this entire game. Content. No, not like game content, like I am feeling content. Is it perfect? No. But accepting the fact that the gameplay will never be perfect for me, I derive serious satisfaction from almost everything else.

-So before I say goodbye to you, one more last fist bump!

I Know You’re Supporting Me

I almost cried. I literally almost cried.

Shadow in Sonic Forces has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. When he first appeared in gameplay footage for Sunset/City Heights, I was very, very excited. When the Villains trailer dropped the next day, the hype died quite a bit as I learned that Shadow was a villain, but I was still craving an answer as to why, far more so than I cared for Infinite at the time. When Enter Infinite came along, I shoved Shadow aside and never turned back, as I was far more interested in Infinite after that. I was accepting, if not satisfied, of the fact that Shadow would do whatever the heck Shadow does, and we would still get an interesting character out of Infinite either way. As we learned that Infinite is just another creation of Eggman’s, I became a bit less interested, but then this happened. I suppose I should post that last video as well. (Edit: Official English version.)

That’s all very interesting, and I’m excited for the story, but we’re talking about Shadow right now. Shadow who stood back and watched while Infinite beat Sonic to the ground. Shadow who didn’t even appear in the above story trailer. Shadow who, after Sonic Boom, had me very, very afraid for what Sonic developers really thought of him. But all of that changes now. Free DLC for all players, which includes a new playable character and 3 prequel levels to go with him (besides the “over 10 Modern Sonic-based stages” he can also play in) as well as a new side of the story. Story! I say it a lot, and I mean it! Supposedly, these new levels chronicle the fate of Team Dark (apparently that’s now an official term outside of the comics) and teach the player about the true nature and origin of Infinite. That is really exciting.

But that does bring up some concerns. Are they seriously telling me that you don’t actually learn about Infinite’s origin in the actual main game? If so, that’s a pretty bad sign for the game’s plot as a whole. I’m glad that they’re telling us at all (that’s more than we got for Lost World), but a story with a powerful villain who never gets an explanation in the main story sounds a bit lackluster. Additionally, that seems to confirm that Rouge and Omega don’t appear in any significant role in the main story, which isn’t necessarily bad, but removes the possibility of some good character interactions that could have gone on with Shadow.

And…there’s something else I haven’t mentioned yet. Even though I’ve been waiting to play as Shadow again for the last ten years, this isn’t exactly what I was hoping for in terms of gameplay. I was kind of hoping that I would never have to see Shadow in 2D. There goes that. And canonically giving Shadow Boost gameplay severely, severely decreases any future chances of him playing in the Adventure style in any future games where they might choose to bring back separate playstyles. The level design that they just showed us…looks okay at best. If they wanted to get us hyped, they should have cut the footage time in half and showed us 3D gameplay instead. Unless…Shadow is almost all 2D. *shivers* I don’t really want to think about that. But these days, who knows? Seeing as Shadow, unlike Sonic and the Custom Hero alike, has only ever appeared in 3D, it seems like this would be the correct opportunity to make Shadow’s levels, like the tag team ones, entirely in 3D (guess I never talked about tag team on this site either. Gameplay style looks like a fun changeup, all-3D levels looks and sounds very nice.). Anyways, I’m sad that it had to happen this way, but I’m thrilled that it’s happening at all. After ten years, Shadow finally gets his chance to shine. Let’s hope that Kirk Thornton doesn’t screw this up too badly.

-Until next time, let’s hope we won’t be losing Shadow before long.

Opinionated Review: Shadow the Hedgehog (2005)

As I mentioned on the footnote of Shadow of Time, I published it to celebrate something very special to me. For the first time in my near-15 year experience with Sonic games, I can finally call myself an expert at one of them. I completed Shadow the Hedgehog’s “Expert Mode” (with 90 lives to spare at that. Thanks, chicken gun.), a feat which I assume most players never even get the chance to attempt. (Just a few days later, I finally got the seventh Chaos Emerald and experienced the final boss for the first time in Sonic Heroes. This has been a really good week for me.) Anyways, in working towards getting an A-rank on every single mission of the game, I got an excellent chance to really analyze its core gameplay elements, while, writing for Shadow of Time, I’ve gotten an equally appropriate chance to analyze the story. Normally, I wouldn’t want to review a game that I first started playing over a decade ago, but these are special circumstances. Additionally, with Mania done and Forces on the way, I am interested in establishing a baseline of comparison between classic games, Adventure-style games, and modern games. Now, since this game came out 12 years ago, it would be unfair of me to compare it directly to modern games (unlike Sonic Mania, which came out last month). So, most comparisons will be made to Sonic Heroes and other Adventure-era games. So, without further ado, let us begin.
Continue reading

Opinionated Review: Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania is now 1 week old. Yeah that’s right. Sonic Mania. Last I really spoke on this topic, I did nothing but whine and complain that “indie” developers are biased against Nintendo, and wouldn’t make a game for the Switch as a result. I still don’t have a very high opinion of indies, but since that time, they not only announced that it would come Switch, not only that the Collector’s Edition would come to Switch, but I, being the Sonic nerd that I am, couldn’t resist buying said Collector’s Edition (it’s pretty nice, but I’m a little disappointed in the statue. Its chin is totally flat, it barely looks like the picture at all! And then, why wouldn’t they let you put the fake Mania cartridge into the fake Genesis? Seriously. Such a wasted opportunity. I also wish it came with a soundtrack, but now I’m just rambling). So, I’ve got it, I’ve played it, and I’m prepared to make a full, detailed review, from a perspective that you shouldn’t expect to find anywhere else on the internet. I am one of an insanely small handful of people, probably in the world, who can appreciate the classic games, not hate on them just for being old, while also not being completely and utterly blinded by nostalgia. Be warned if you haven’t played the game, as the following review contains immense spoilers. It is also very long, so click the “Read More” tag to show the content.

Continue reading

Fun is Infinite with Forces!

Another new reveal!

Certainly an enigmatic introduction. First of all, I’ve been hearing this character called “Infinite” since day one of his reveal, even though I have no idea where that name could have come from. Well, however it was known, it is correct. His voice sounds vaguely familiar, but I can’t put my finger on it. One of the first things I noticed was the quality of the game-rendered cutscene, this being the first we’ve seen from this game. I think it kind of hit that uncanny curve for me. It looked good enough that the flaws that existed were really strongly emphasized in my perception, so the whole thing came out looking a little weird. And the colors all looked a little bright considering the darker tone of the scene, but it would make sense that I would think that having just recently spent a lot of time playing and watching Shadow the Hedgehog. On the positive side, the usage of black-and-white certainly suggests flashbacks, which can be a  very strong indicator of a good story. I have nothing more than trivial complaints, but those are far outweighed by the actual story! The initial reveal of this character made him seem more like a force of nature than a character, but this scene starts to suggest otherwise. And speaking of character, he has a character theme.

What the scene suggests, this song shouts at your face. And I love it. It is no longer a question of if, but how deep they are willing to go with his story. “I was born with this pain, it only hurts if you let it.” Sounds like the answer is “pretty deep.” I also note the implication of an eventual, final, one-on-one confrontation between Infinite and his enemy, presumably Sonic. “Who is gonna save you now?” Does this mean that Sonic’s friends will meet with a terrible fate? Or perhaps that he can’t really trust them? Could the Hero character actually be a traitor? Or in a surprise twist, could Infinite actually be talking to Hero, not Sonic? And that’s just the lyrics.

The song itself is…wow. Fist Bump disappointed a bit, but this absolutely did not. The initial tune is catchy in and of itself, but the moment when the guitar starts was just so exciting for me. The directness of lines, like with Fist Bump, was a little jarring, but in this case I feel it was executed a lot better, in addition to being more worth it for telling the story of the character. I suppose even Eggman’s theme from Adventure 2 didn’t execute the direct, first person song quite as well. Speaking of which, I have no way of knowing for certain, but I feel like I can hear Jun Senoue’s contribution to this composition, as it reminds me quite a lot of his work in Shadow the Hedgehog. Now I might be a little blinded by all the excitement right now, but, balancing that with nostalgia from long ago, I can confidently put this in my top five favorite Sonic songs of all time. And that’s all I can say for now.

-So until next time, remember what it takes to be Infinite.

Fist Bump!

(Ugh, I can’t believe I just said that.) *clears throat* What I meant to say was, because Sonic game music matters so much to me, I’ve decided to do an entire opinion piece on the Sonic Forces announcement made today. Take a look.

Since I already brought it up, let’s talk about that title first. I guess I can see what they’re going for? They want it to sound cool, and hip, and teen-like, right? Because I have some news for them. Fist bumps aren’t cool. The line which the song title appears in, “One more last fist bump” made me cringe just as much as seeing the title for the first time did, mostly because a solid 70% of the song otherwise sounded pretty good. To move along with the negatives, the first two lines, “I can’t do this alone / Even though I am strong” made me cringe almost as much as the previously mentioned line. As someone with experience writing lines to represent Sonic, having Sonic praise himself in such a context, even when asking for help, appears pitiful and out of character to me. Of course, it’s not too far off from what we’ve been seeing in the past few Sonic games with Roger Craig Smith, but everything we know about the game so far has been leading me to believe that the writers might actually be giving him back his less obnoxious, more serious character seen in games like Sonic Unleashed. Now, what these two negative factors do heavily remind me of is Sonic’s character in the Sonic Boom series, a caricature of the already less-than-desirable modern personality. Then again, I don’t think that character would even be humble enough to admit the need for help, even if praising himself while doing so. I hope I’m on the side of the majority here who wouldn’t want to see the Boom personality in a real game, right?

Now for the stuff I’m not really sure what to think about. As I mentioned before, I like about 70% of lyrics, but the first and last lines are so bad that I don’t know if I can call them good lyrics as a whole. All the stuff about working together and sharing a belief, it fits perfectly for a Sonic song. Nothing particularly special about it, but fitting. I could say the same about the singer. Apparently, the singer, Douglass Robb, sings for a relatively popular band called “Hoobastank.” That news surprised me, because I honestly felt that the singing skill sounded a bit on the amateurish side. I’ll also take this moment to say that this Douglass Robb person sounds close enough to Crush 40 that they should have just gone with Crush 40. I mean, seriously, Jun Senoue is still on the music team for this game, that’s half the band already. Even if the lyrics themselves would still have taken some getting used to (I can say that about plenty of other Crush 40 songs), Crush 40 would have left me with no qualms about the quality of the singing, and could have easily hit the nostalgia cord for myself and hundreds of thousands of Sonic fans like me. Anyways, the sum total of this song sounds…kind of like a fan dub of the instrumentals to me. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, fan dubs can have some pretty high quality when they try hard enough. And this felt like one of those high-quality fan projects to me, good and thorough, but lacking a certain professional touch. Sort of like good fanfiction, but in song form.

Even though it’s just a song, and songs have had some weird and false implications for Sonic games in the past, I feel the need to analyze the lyrics. Over and over again, it refers to two individuals. Not three. Two. So who’s getting left out? Does this mean that Sonic doesn’t interact much with the Hero character, meaning that this Hero has his own separate story? Or does Sonic not count Classic Sonic because they’re essentially the same person? I’d say either is possible. Either way, I still love the music, and I’m still excited for the Solaris Phase 2/Perfect Dark Gaia style final boss remix.

-So, until next time…one more last fist bump?

(I still don’t get it.)