Pat Riley Basketball / Super Real Basketball

 

SuperRealBasketball

“Pat-ichu, I choose you!”

 

PatRileyBasketball

He’s not the Arnold Palmer of basketball, but he’ll do.

 

SuperRealBasketballEU

As opposed to ‘slightly’ real.

 

PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous

PUBLISHER: Sega

DEVELOPER: Sega

GENRE: Sports

RELEASE DATE: 03/02/90 – (JP)

                                             08/90 – (US)

                                             03/91 – (EU)

 

Coach Pat Riley – with his slicked back hair, outstanding posture, and striking jaw – is the cover boy for Sega’s first 16-bit basketball game. As with Tommy Lasorda and Arnold Palmer in their respective Sega sports games, Riley didn’t do anything for Pat Riley Basketball other than provide a stock photo for the cover and appear in pixelated form on the title screen. Thankfully, the game otherwise known as Super Real Basketball is good enough that he doesn’t have to.

 

Pat Riley Basketball (U) [!]000

Almost Ted Danson… almost.

 

Because this is early 1990, options are few and real teams are nowhere to be found. You can either play an Exhibition game or a Tournament, where you sign away your precious free time to Sega in return for all the basketballs you can handle. The team names are hilarious – New York Busters, Denver Jammers, Boston Bashers, etc. – though it doesn’t seem to matter which team you pick in terms of performance. The manual swears there are differences between the teams (“The Busters guards are great ballhandlers,” the author raves), but in my time with New York and Denver, I couldn’t discern any.

 

Pat Riley Basketball (U) [!]002

Coach Bob “the Brush” Komposky is known for his bristly demeanor.

 

To me, the ideal sports game is one that I can pick up and play without fumbling with the controls. Pat Riley Basketball provides this. Whether it’s passing to a teammate, stealing from an opponent, or blocking an opponent’s shot in the game’s cinematic cutaways, I never questioned what buttons performed which actions. The games are fast, but not overwhelming. Even with ten large sprites on the court, the action never gets too busy.

 

Pat Riley Basketball (U) [!]005

The Busters have it all under control.

 

I started on Easy Mode with the Denver Jammers and it didn’t take long to jamma-slam the Boston Bashers into the ground. Normal Mode with the New York Busters against Boston was more challenging and engaging, though I still maintained a lead for most of the game. That being said, I’m generally terrible at sports games. If you’re a virtual baller from way back, there’s a good chance Pat Riley might be too easy for you.

 

Pat Riley Basketball (U) [!]004

Don’t forget: this is a 16-bit game made by Sega.

 

Besides the smooth controls and acceptable difficulty level, Pat Riley Basketball also provides some arcade flash. Make a shot next to the hoop and the game cuts away to a close-up shot of your player alongside a Shot Gauge. Get the white ball in the red portion of the Shot Gauge, and your player will make an epic dunk. These cinematic cutaways also occur during Tip-Off, certain three-point shots, and when you block the opponent from dunking.

 

Pat Riley Basketball (U) [!]003

Almost had it there…

 

Sega’s early Genesis sports output has been hit-or-miss thus far. Tommy Lasorda Baseball is considered a classic by many, but I wrestled with the hard-to-control batting and pitching. Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf is one of the finest, sleekest golf games I’ve ever played. Pat Riley Basketball might be a toss-up for some ballin’ aficionados. If you’re the type of basketball enthusiast who needs depth or SUPER REAL players in a video game to have fun, Pat Riley isn’t for you. It’s hard to argue with the game’s solid pick-up-and-play arcade foundation, however, which allows shlubs like me to have a good time while remaining ignorant of the sport as a whole.  Rest well on Sega’s money sacks, Coach Riley. They’ve done your name proud.

 

B+

The Great Pause

 

SonicPaus

 

Early July is a busy time of the year for the Cornelius household. There’s the 4th of July, my birthday, and our anniversary. Normally after our anniversary, things calm down, but not this year. In addition to all of the aforementioned holidays, family and friends will be visiting us off and on throughout the rest of the month. And since most out-of-townies don’t want to watch me play old Sega games, content might be a bit more scarce around Sega Does than usual. I’m sorry about that, but you know how it goes.

Please expect a Sega-related something from me soon-ish. And, as always, thanks for reading.

DC

The State of the SegaDoes Podcast

 

Some of my more eagle-eyed readers have noticed that the Sega Does podcast Libsyn address is full of 404 links. For those of you wondering about this, yes, I am aware and I am sorry. I haven’t been able to get in touch with Sam for the last couple weeks. He was the one uploading the podcasts to Libsyn. The podcast was recorded on his equipment. Without Sam, there is no podcast. And, until Sam gets in touch with me, there will be no podcast.

There is more to these circumstances, but this is all I feel at liberty to say right now.  I really don’t want the podcast to be over, but it’s not my call.  If circumstances change, I will let you know. For now, the reviews will continue unabated. Thanks so much for your continual support.

DC

Zoom!

 

ZoomJP

Aw, he’s kinda cute…

 

ZoomUS

or he’s an unholy creature found only in the darkest demon’s nightmares. Yeesh.

 

PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous/alternating

PUBLISHER: Sega

DEVELOPER: Discovery Software International (port by Sega)

GENRE: Arcade

RELEASE DATE: 01/13/90 – (JP)

                                              01/90 – (US)

                                               1990 – (EU)

 

I vaguely remember seeing the Zoom! box at Blockbuster as a kid and thinking, Nope. Not now, not ever. Look at that monstrosity of a mascot: a brown egg with bat ears, Mickey Mouse gloves, prescription shoes, and an evil glint in his eye. Such a creature could never endear himself to children. Thankfully, the protagonist-on-trial – known as Mr. Smart in the instruction manual – resembles more of a squashed Q*bert knockoff in-game. I don’t think I could have played Zoom! with Humpty Dumpty’s pervy free-range cousin.

 

Zoom! (JU) [!]001

Skating in the crypt for charity!

 

In Zoom!, you control Mr. Smart around 36 pseudo-3D tile boards. By skating through the gridlines of each tile, you draw colored lines around them. Once a tile is surrounded by colored lines, it blinks and your work with it is done. The goal is to make every tile on the board blink, rack up mad combos by completing several tiles all at once, and move on to the next level.

 

Zoom! (JU) [!]002

Zoom!, now with Booger Blaster DLC

 

Across each board are creatures called Space Phantoms, and they hinder the promise of a colored tile paradise. The disembodied hand known as Rowdy Fingers chases you ceaselessly around the entire board. The unnerving Spiler erases previously colored lines, while the globular mass known as Cue will run diagonally across one line, back and forth. Spine Spine transports to random tiles around the board, and the jellyfish entity Charm, if touched, slows your movements. One touch by a Phantom other than Charm and you’ll zoom, skip, and possibly be-bop straight into your grave.

 

Zoom! (JU) [!]000

When you complete a level, the Phantoms explode into gooey caramel clusters.

 

Special items known as Goodies are never in short supply and appear frequently across every level. The two types of Ribbon Candy – while tempting in appearance – are the least important, as they only provide empty points. If you’re fiendin’ for the sweet stuff, why not have a Banana and slow down the Phantoms’ movements in the process? The Hour Glass freezes all Phantoms for a brief period, while the Sun makes you invincible. The Mushroom gives you speed, and the Wing kills all the Phantoms on the field, thereby completing the level.

 

Zoom! (JU) [!]004

Mr. Smart works best near purple snowy vistas.

 

Zoom! is classified as a puzzle game by several outlets, including SegaRetro and GameFAQs, but it reminds me more of a classic arcade title. The emphasis is on points, then stage completion, not the other way around. Mr. Smart has to constantly dart around the stage or he’ll be killed by enemies, just like Pac-Man and Q*bert. And like the aforementioned titles, Zoom!‘s progression is tied into the board/field. In Pac-Man, you eat all the pellets in the maze, then move forward. In Q*bert, change the colors of all the squares, move forward. In Zoom!, color in all the lines on the board, move forward.

 

Zoom! (JU) [!]005

Mr. Smart’s ghost mourns for all the tiles left behind.

 

Zoom! is an odd choice for a Genesis port, particularly at this still-early juncture. Even with the almost-3D layouts, the game doesn’t take advantage of the hardware, and the arcade style hearkened more to gaming’s past than its unknown future. Still, the more lines I colored, the more addicted I became. It’s thrilling to complete the last tile on the board right as you’re about to skate into the cold grasp of Rowdy Fingers. Also, the granulated delivery of Mr. Smart’s catchphrase “Come on, boy!” is hilarity incarnate (which is good since the phrase is repeated every time you get a combo). While not a 16-bit showcase by any means, Zoom! produces more joy than its unnerving cover would suggest.

 

B

Every Sonic Game Ever: Part 3

 

Part 1 tackles Sonic titles from ’91-’95

Part 2 moves through ’03

 

SONIC HEROES

 

SonicHeroes

 

In Sonic Heroes, you control a team of three characters: Team Sonic (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles), Team Dark (Shadow, Rouge, E-123), Team Rose (Amy, Cream, Big), Team Fruity Pebbles (Bam Bam, Dino, Diabetes). There’s a lot of damn teams. Controlling three characters at once should be a clusterfluff, but you only ever control one at a time while the other two hang onto your side. You’re able to switch between characters easily, and each one has a different ability that you need to complete each level (speed, flight, power). Given Sonic Team’s shaky handling of the third dimension, these mechanics should not work. That they do, and that Sonic Heroes is incredibly fun to play, is nothing short of a Sonic miracle.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC ADVANCE 3

 

SonicAdvance3

 

More 2D Sonic shenanigans, this time with a buddy system. Pick a controllable character (Sonic, Cream, Knuckles, Amy, there’s lots) and a secondary character to lurk/run behind you. While the latter is typically controlled by the computer, certain Tag Actions can only be accomplished by linking both characters abilities together. Your character combinations (of which there are a considerable amount) determine if you’re a speed, power, or flying team. Like a portable Sonic Heroes mixed with the Chaotix chain gang system.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS

 

SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG

 

Shadow2

 

Most people know Shadow the Hedgehog as “that one Sonic game with the guns.” That’s really all I know about it, and that’s all I need to know about it. Shadow wields guns (big ones!) and he drives cars, despite the fact that he doesn’t need to do either of those things. Outstanding! Even after reading a story synopsis, I have no idea what’s going on. Something about Dr. Eggman’s cousin, Maria, being killed and a large demonic figure named Black Doom commanding Shadow to steal Chaos Emeralds for the betterment of society. I can’t believe this was greenlit by top Sega brass, and I can’t believe it sold over a million copies worldwide. I desperately want to play it.

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC RUSH

 

SonicRush

 

Sonic Rush is the continuation of the Sonic Advance series, complete with a new character (Blaze the Cat) and jarring dual screen action. Early DS games tried to blend the action on both screens, but the effect is just awkward. Not sure if it ruins Sonic Rush the way it ruined Yoshi’s Island DS, but the thought of keeping track of a fast moving Sonic from screen to shining screen doesn’t sound like a rush.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC RIDERS

 

SonicRiders

 

In Sonic Riders, hoverboards, bikes, and skates are called “Extreme Gears.” The new characters have names like Wave, Jet, Storm. And the story involves stopping both Eggman and an evil spirit named the Babylon Guardian. The racing might be fun, but Sonic Team really should calm down with these melodramatic preteen bedtime stories (spoilers: they haven’t, and they won’t).

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (SONIC ’06)

 

Sonic062

 

Sonic the Hedgehog is legendary, even if you’re not all that familiar with Sonic games. Dubbed Sonic ’06 by the media after the year the game was released (and to avoid confusion with the first Sonic the Hedgehog), Sega originally wanted the game to be a rebirth of the Sonic franchise. Due to time constraints, Sonic ’06 emerged as a bug-ridden mess with long load times and a surreal story that blended Sonic with a human world. I’ve attempted to play this game a number of times to no avail. Trust me when I say Sonic ’06 is as bad as its reputation.

MUST MISS! / THEY ACTUALLY RELEASED THIS?!

 

SONIC RIVALS

 

SonicRivals

 

A side-scrolling racing game complete with card collection? Neat. You can push other characters out of the way as you race past them to the finish line? Forget the race, I would just duke it out with Silver the Hedgehog the entire time. Even if Sonic ’06 isn’t his fault, his presence in the game didn’t help its crappiness.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS

 

SONIC AND THE SECRET RINGS

 

SonicSecretRings

 

Screw the secret rings and screw Sonic’s attempts to find them. Rather than control Sonic properly with a joystick or a D-pad, as God intended, you tilt the Wii Remote left and right in order to maneuver Sonic around the ancient Middle East. The steering should be simple, but the controls are almost completely unresponsive. I doubt they would erect grinding rails on top of sand dunes in jolly old Arabia either.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC RUSH ADVENTURE

 

SonicRush2

 

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Marine the Racoon to the ever-expanding Sonic character roster. Sonic Rush Adventure takes place on the high seas, with ships and booty and pirate robots and apparently you’re in Blaze the Cat’s universe ’cause why not. Dimps – the team behind most of the portable Sonic outings, starting from Sonic Advance – is in charge again, so I’m sure the 2D gameplay is just fine. Hopefully the returning dual-screen action from Sonic Rush doesn’t get in the way.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

MARIO & SONIC AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES

 

Mario&SonicOlympic

 

I was unsure if I should include the Olympic Games series, but Sonic and friends have predominant roles in the, uh, Olympic proceedings, so here we are. This is one for the history books: rather than include every nation, tribe, culture, and tongue, the 2008 Olympic games were instead overrun by Nintendo and Sega characters. Watch as Wario and Shadow fence! Be amazed as Tails and Luigi play table tennis! Gasp in awe as Mario narrowly takes the lead over Sonic in Athletics! Clearly, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games needed to happen.

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC RIVALS 2

 

SonicRivals2

 

In addition to beating up your buddies while racing to the finish line a la Sonic Rivals, this sequel also boasts different Battle modes, like “Capture the Chao (Flag),” “King of the Hill,” and “Tag.” If those antiquated games of youth sound enjoyable when mixed with Sonic characters, well, step right up to Sonic Rivals 2.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC X

 

SonicX

 

Sonic X is for Leapster. It’s ok if that last sentence doesn’t make sense, but it’s all truth, every word. Based on the mid-00s cartoon of the same name, Sonic and young human friend Chris (Chris?) tackle math problems using the educational Leapster software and the power of their ever growing brains. Sonic X is not for you, me, or anyone over the age of five.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC RIDERS: ZERO GRAVITY

 

SonicRidersZero

 

For a few years there, Sega really tried to make Sonic Riders a legitimate racing franchise. The upcoming hands-less Free Riders on Kinect would kill that dream, but first, gamers had to make do with Zero Gravity. The emphasis is, of course, on gravity and its effects on racing. “Couldn’t Sonic just have a really good normal racing game without all the bells and whistles?” you ask. Why have that when you can make a convoluted story, bizarre mechanics that surely break some sort of scientific laws, and a character roster that also includes Billy Hatcher sans giant egg?

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS / THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC CHRONICLES: THE DARK BROTHERHOOD

 

SonicChronicles

 

I really wanted to play this portable Bioware romp back when it debuted in ’08, but time has cooled me to the concept of a Sonic RPG. For me, RPGs are about two things: story/characters and an addictive battle system. While I generally like the main Sonic cast, I’m not too keen on the needlessly confusing Sonic universe, and this game blows said confusion sky high. Consider these words: “Voxai colonies,” “N’rrgal,” and “Gizoids.” Do any of these belong in a Sonic game? Sonic RPG or no, the line’s gotta be drawn somewhere. This is Bioware, not Archie Comics. The battle system takes advantage of the touch screen and reminds me somewhat of the Mario & Luigi series, but otherwise looks standard. A part of me still wants to play this. I mean, this is Bioware pre-EA takeover. It can’t be that bad, right?

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC UNLEASHED

 

SonicUnleashed

 

Where could Sega go after the Sonic ’06 debacle? Apparently, straight to the bottom of the idea hat. Sonic Unleashed ditches most of Sonic’s supplemental cast (including Tails and Knuckles, thankful for a rest) and focuses on his newfound Werehog abilities. The game’s split between “gotta go fast” regular Sonic and “gotta pound stuff slow” Were-Sonic. Much like Shadow the Hedgehog, this premise sounds beyond ludicrous. Also like Shadow the Hedgehog, I’m not entirely sure why I’m not playing it right now.

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC AND THE BLACK KNIGHT

 

BlackKnight

 

Ugh. A sequel to the awful Sonic and the Secret Rings? And it has Sonic in King Arthur’s universe with Wiimote waggle swordplay and optional playable characters like Gawain, Percival, and Lancelot? This just has wasted weekend rental written all over it.

MUST MISS!

 

MARIO & SONIC AT THE OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES

 

MarioSonicOlympicWinterGames

 

After the success of Wii Sports and Wii Fit, minigame collections became the console’s bread and butter. This is why the Mario/Sonic Olympic Games sold gangbusters. Maybe these games are a good time for kids, but do any other millennials feel weird watching Sonic hitting the slopes next to Princess Peach? It’s just not right.

TOTALLY A SONIC (AND MARIO) GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 4: EPISODE 1

 

Sonic4Ep.1

 

Splitting up the first true sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles into two downloadable episodes is a pretty crappy move on Sega’s part. Sonic feels floaty, the 2.5D graphics lack character, and let’s face it, there’s no way Sega’s gonna recreate their 90s magic nearly two decades on, no matter how hard they want to. Nice try, guys. Wish you hadn’t called it Sonic 4.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC FREE RIDERS

 

SonicFreeRiders

 

Taking advantage of the Kinect with a full-body Sonic racing game isn’t a bad idea. Too bad the Kinect is a wonky device that requires a living room the size of a mansion to use properly, and the game itself doesn’t register your movements worth a damn. Sonic Free Riders is free to kiss off into the wind.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC COLORS

 

SonicColors2

 

At long last, Sonic Colors brings some playability back to the franchise. The game is a hyper sensory romp through an interplanetary park with Sonic, Tails, and the Wisps, a cute alien species at the core of Robotnik’s latest scheme (yes, more new characters – but these ones don’t talk, thank God). Thanks to the fantastic color effects, the fast, easy-to-navigate action, and the game’s surprisingly amusing story, Sonic Colors succeeds on nearly all fronts.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC GENERATIONS

 

Sonic_Generations_Classic

 

This mashup between Classic and Modern Sonic resulted in the best Sonic game in ages – maybe the best since the ’90s (objectively speaking – I still enjoyed Sonic Adventure 2: Battle much more than Generations). Classic Sonic is pure 2D goodness, while Modern Sonic is the standard 2.5D/3D of the prior few games (Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors). Juxtaposing Modern and Classic Sonic really makes you realize how poorly the franchise is suited to straight 3D. Modern Sonic’s controls are slippery, and the speed/camera angles remain nearly as janky as the first Sonic Adventure. As much as I enjoy certain 3D Sonic games, they’ve always felt like two completely different series. As a whole, though, Sonic Generations is a must-have for any jaded and/or devoted Sonic fan.

MUST PLAY!

 

MARIO & SONIC AT THE LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES

 

MarioSonicLondonGames2012SonicStadium

 

With as many Mario & Sonic At Your Mom’s Olympic Games games Sega continues to pump out, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Olympics takes place every six months rather than every couple years. Naturally, this game sold a few million copies, ’cause what else were people gonna buy for the Wii in 2011? Skyward Sword? Psh.

TOTALLY A SONIC/MARIO HYBRID THING THAT PEOPLE REALLY NEED TO STOP SUPPORTING!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 4: EPISODE 2

 

Sonic4Ep.2

 

Episode 2 took two years to emerge after Episode 1. From 1992-1994, Sega released Sonic 2, Sonic Spinball, Sonic CD, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, so there’s really no excuse here. I have played Episode 1, but not Episode 2 so not sure if the latter still feels like a sequel in-name only. Clearly, Sonic 4 wasn’t a game on Sega’s to-do list, so I have my concerns.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC JUMP

 

SonicJump

 

For a pure Sonic experience these days, you gotta go to mobile. Sonic Jump is straight up vertical scrolling. While there is a story mode, it’s just Sonic chasing Eggman, nothing more. The gameplay is pure movement, with you tilting the screen to move Sonic forward. Sonic jumps automatically, but will double jump when you tap your phone’s screen. I’m not normally a fan of mobile titles and have yet to give Sonic Jump a try, but the back-to-basics simplicity appeals to me.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS

 

SONIC DASH

 

SonicDash

 

Back to mobile again for this endless-run-and-jump. Whereas Sonic Jump was vertical, Sonic Dash is behind the camera horizontal and resembles the 3D Sonic titles more than anything. The only difference? Sonic never stops running. Gotta go fast forever.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS

 

SONIC ATHLETICS

 

SonicAthleticsSonicShow

 

Currently located only at Sega’s Tokyo Joypolis arcade in Japan, this 8-player community exercise takes “gotta go fast” to new peaks of excellence. Players hop on treadmills and stare at full-body screen versions of their favorite Sonic characters while running like hell. Whoever runs the fastest, wins. I’m sure the full Sonic Athletics experience is expensive as hell to purchase, but I wish it would come to America. People desperately need to run fast and lose weight while looking at Shadow, Blaze, and other anthropomorphic furries.

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC GHOST SHOOTING

 

SonicGhostsSegaAddicts

 

Another Tokyo Joypolis exclusive, this is less exercise for all ages, and more of a kid’s ride where your son/daughter and eleven of their friends can shoot at ghosts in areas recycled from Sonic Adventure 2. As long as that amazing “Pumpkin Hill” song is blasting their little eardrums out while they shoot, I think we can call this experiment a raging success.

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC LOST WORLD

 

SonicLostWorld

 

Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations gave joy and life to a franchise that had, for too many years, taken itself way to seriously. With the ultra-colorful stages and The Deadly Six designs, Sonic Lost World seems to continue this skew towards happy Sonic and away from “life is hard, Eggman is dumb” emo Sonic. I’ve heard very mixed responses towards Lost World, though. Some love the bizarre corkscrew level design and parkour approach, while many claim the game – like many 3D Sonic games – is completely broken and unplayable. I have yet to try Lost World myself, but I’m curious and cautiously optimistic.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS (AND BAD THINGS)

 

MARIO & SONIC AT THE OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES SOCHI 2014

 

Mario&SonicSochi2014-NintendoLife

 

Just look at this mess of a title: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. That is a ridiculous mouthful. This one’s on the Wii U, and it takes advantage of the Gamepad for such thrilling sports like curling. Hoo boy. If you like these utterly freaky mashups, then you like them and that’s that. I just can’t believe they keep selling enough copies to justify their existence.

HELP ME LORD, THERE’S STILL ONE MORE OF THESE OLYMPIC TITLES AFTER THIS

 

SONIC BOOM: RISE OF LYRIC

 

SonicBoomRiseOfLyricVooks

 

Here it is, folks: one of the worst Sonic games ever. Not only are the character designs just unbearably awful (why are their legs so much longer than their torsos?), the low framerate, crap controls, weak script, and plethora of bugs ruin the overall experience. While I’m glad Sonic Boom is a side-series, how did this game even get released? Big Red Button may have developed this, but Sega still had the power to veto. You’d think Sega would have learned all of their Sonic ’06 lessons by 2014, but here we are.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC BOOM: SHATTERED CRYSTAL

 

SonicBoomShatteredCrystalNintendoLife

 

Shattered Crystal received a mediocre response, not a vitriolic one. Which is a step up from Rise of Lyric, but still not an experience you should seek out and play. While 2D (or 2.5D in this case) Sonic is usually better than 3D, Dimps – the modern-day 2D Sonic masters – didn’t work on this game. You get what you pay for, Sega. In this case, low sales and fan outcry.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC JUMP FEVER

 

SonicJumpFeverPocketGamer

 

“I’ve got a fever/I’m seeing blue/jumping’s the cure/you know what to do!” Don’t those fake lyrics sound like they could hail from a Sonic Jump Fever theme song? Yeah, maybe not, who cares. Sonic Jump Fever is the sequel to Sonic Jump, in case there was a doubt. Literally nothing’s changed, so jump to your heart’s content. And if you’re more into console than mobile, I’m sorry, it’s either this or Sonic Boom, you just can’t win.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS

 

SONIC RUNNERS

 

SonicRunnersSonicStadium

 

Not a sequel to Sonic Dash, though there’s plenty of running involved. Sonic Runners is a non-stop 2D automatically scrolling affair. Isn’t this what us 90s Sonic kids wanted at some point? Several zones of Sonic speeding across an entire game, no stops, just a sweet blue emotional haze.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS

 

UPCOMING… HITS?

 

SONIC BOOM: FIRE & ICE

 

SonicBoomFireAndIceVooks

 

Set for release on the 3DS, this “pray it’s successful” sequel to Shattered Crystal reportedly spent extra time in development to make sure it was, you know, a game people might want to play. Worst case scenario (and the one most people expect at this point) is that Fire & Ice will be a mediocre tie-in to the cartoon, sell a couple hundred thousand copies, and hopefully, will be the last entry into the exhausted Sonic Boom spinoffs.

ANOTHER SONIC GAME THAT’S ABOUT TO EXIST

 

MARIO & SONIC AT THE RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES

 

SonicRio2016

 

If you’re into portable pole-vaulting, the 3DS version is already available. For the four of you who are waiting for the Wii U versions, they’ll be coming sometime later this year. I’m confident they will feature Mario & Sonic (and their respective crews) playing Olympic Games in Rio. Beyond that, who can say?

I WISH THIS DIDN’T EXIST

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

More than any other franchise that has come of age in my lifetime, Sonic’s output is comparable to another artist of sporadic greatness: the recently departed Prince. Both artists started off their careers by elevating their respective artistic expressions (music and the platformer, respectively). Soon after their winning streak (Prince’s lasted a decade, Sonic’s lasted about five years), both settled for unpredictability. With each new release, you never knew what you were in for: could be fantastic (Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, Diamonds & Pearls), could be mediocre (Sonic 3D Blast, Batman), could be an outright dud (Sonic ’06, 20Ten), could be a mix of all three (Sonic R, 3121). Both have unusually active fan bases who will argue for (almost) everything they’ve ever put out. While Prince certainly has the leg up on my ‘hog Sonic in terms of talent, both have a look and design that’s completely their own. You will never mistake them for anyone else, and they have influenced legions of imitators. Love them, hate them, they are one-of-a-kind, and they will live on for as long as the public demands them.

 

Thanks to SonicRetro, MobyGames, Nintendo Life, IGN, Mash Those Buttons, Sonic Stadium, Slide to Play, Sonic Show, Sega Addicts, Vooks, and Pocket Gamer for all the screenshots!

Gotta Slow Down

 

SonicHit

 

Hey all.

This picture sums up my existence this last week. My personal life has been incredibly busy, exhausting, and  depressing.

As  a result, I’m taking this long weekend to recharge. I’ll be back Tuesday with the final “Every Sonic Ever” post, then bounce right back into reviews the rest of the week.

Thanks for your patience, your support, and all the good times.

 

DC

Every Sonic Game Ever: Part 2


Read Part 1 first, lest you bring chaos to order.

 

TAILS SKYPATROL

 

TailsSkypatrol

 

Tails’ first solo outing is not the kid-friendly adventure you might expect. Tails must fly – and never stop flying – through four incredibly difficult worlds after the evil witch, Witchcart. He has a ring that functions as both a weapon and a way to latch onto numerous knickknacks across each level. If Tails lands on the ground or touches anything without the ring’s permission, he will die. If you’re not one with the controls, you might as well give up on your Skypatrol duties.

MUST MISS!

 

TAILS ADVENTURE

 

TailsAdventure

 

Tails Adventure ditches Sega’s stupid ring obsession for a neat action platformer with puzzles and RPG elements. I say “neat.” I’ve never actually played Tails Adventure, but it seems like a refreshing change of pace from the traditional Sonic formula. Plus, the story takes place before Sonic and Tails ever met. Sounds like a sleeper hit to me.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS/MUST PLAY! (MAYBE, WHY NOT)

 

SONIC SPINBALL (8-BIT)

 

Spinball8bit

 

Portable Sonic Spinball sounds like it’d be a gay ol’ time, but not on the Game Gear. Trying to keep track of Sonic as he bounces all over the place at five frames-per-second is the very essence of Sonic hell.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC LABYRINTH

 

SonicLabyrinth

 

Gamers and critics alike cried foul at this slowed-down version of Sonic upon release. Robbed of his speed and his jump, Sonic can only spin dash and collect keys across Robotnik’s labyrinth of robotic horrors. With the isometric viewpoint, slow movement, and emphasis on collecting things, it’s fair to say Sonic Labyrinth was the portable precursor to Sonic 3D Blast. Both games were regarded by many as the worst Sonic titles of their day. How I wish that sentiment was still true.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC THE FIGHTERS

 

SonicFighters

 

Allow me to date myself for a second: I once played an actual Sonic the Fighters arcade machine in a newly opened Gameworks back in ’96. Because the game was new and because Gameworks thought new arcade machines should be set to ludicrous prices, I paid a dollar for one round. The 3D graphics, large heads, and ringed arenas threw me for a loop. I couldn’t tell if the game was more strategy-based like Virtua Fighter, or more aggressive like Tekken. Espio the Chameleon (my preferred fighter) was hard to control. I shimmied and shaked around the arena more than I actually attacked. I died in the first match and decided that was enough. Later I bought the Sonic Gems Collection on Gamecube and was grateful to discover that my eleven-year-old self wasn’t the main problem. Sonic the Fighters is just plain awful.

MUST MISS! / THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC 3D BLAST

 

3DBlast

 

Sonic’s first major misstep isn’t as bad as you remember, and not nearly as good as it should have been. Rather than focus on speed, Sonic 3D Blast has Sonic collecting Flicky birds by killing all the enemies in each stage. Once he’s delivered all the birds to a ring, the end of the stage opens up and it’s on to the next collect-a-thon. If the Flicky collecting had been better integrated into the traditional speedy Sonic formula, perhaps 3D Blast would be more highly regarded. As it stands, searching for enemies and collecting Flickies gets old about halfway through the game. The Saturn port – with its different special stages and slightly sharper graphics – is the best version of the game.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC BLAST

 

SonicBlast

 

Sonic Blast‘s rendered character models are hilarious. Knuckles and Sonic take up half the screen and look absolutely ridiculous. The game itself is not a port of 3D Blast, but rather, a spartan, mediocre 2D side-scroller that has more in common with other Sonic games. Worth playing once just to see Knuckles and Sonic try in vain to walk through a loop-de-loop, only to saunter backwards because their huge bodies don’t have momentum

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS! / MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC JAM

 

SonicJam

 

I really wanted Sonic Jam to have an official exclamation point in its title a la Barkley’s Shut up and Jam! Alas. In 1997, Sega – tired and desperate to fill their dying Saturn with some sort of Sonic content – couldn’t even muster some enthusiasm for their first excellent Sonic compilation. Not only did Sonic Jam include every Sonic game to date (save for Sonic Spinball and the just-released Sonic 3D Blast), including the Lock-On games like Blue Sphere and Sonic 2 & Knuckles, it also included “Sonic World,” a 3D hub world where you could control Sonic and look at art, character profiles, and history. For the few crazies who owned a Saturn but never owned a Genesis, Sonic Jam was the perfect collection.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC R

 

SonicR

 

Sonic R is the first (of many) “so bad, it’s good” Sonic games on this list. Rather than remake Sonic Drift 2 into an amazing 3D kart racer, Traveller’s Tales opted for a predominantly on-foot approach for Sonic and co. (only Amy and Robotnik use vehicles). While Sonic is primarily known for running fast, with Sonic R‘s poor controls and awkward handling, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s never run a day in his life. When Sonic (or whoever you end up controlling) gets going, flying off the track and getting hung up off course is bound to happen. Running fast and making tight turns without slowing to a dead crawl is nearly impossible. The cheesy technopop, complete with vocals, complements the game’s general WTF-ery. What should be a standard Sonic racing game is actually a pretty damn weird experience.

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?! / MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC’S SCHOOLHOUSE

 

SonicSchoolhouse

 

In which Sega tried to make a few extra bucks by peddling crappy edutainment using their famous mascot. A couple points of interest: Sonic’s Schoolhouse marks the first time Sonic’s voice was heard in a game. Also, Sonic’s sprite was taken from the cancelled Sonic X-Treme for Saturn.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC ADVENTURE

 

SonicAdventure

 

With a convoluted story, six playable characters, and janky camera angles, Sonic Adventure brought a firm end to the hedgehog’s simple, two-dimensional “run left-to-right” ethos. Many fans would have been content with a “let’s go fast and gather the Chaos Emeralds from Robuttnik” style, but Sega’s ambitiousness means you’ll be racing with Tails, clobbering enemies with Amy’s sledgehammer, fishing with Big the Cat, and raising virtual pets named Chaos. Awkward camera angles, ugly 3D models, and bipolar gameplay doesn’t stop Sonic Adventure from being a serviceable title. No way would I invest 42 hours in the Gamecube DX version if the game wasn’t somewhat engaging.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC SHUFFLE

 

SonicShuffle

 

Even if you’re one of a handful of people that still likes the frantic board game antics of Mario Party, chances are Sonic Shuffle will still just piss you off. Both titles were made by Hudson Soft and share similar styles of play, but true to modern Sonic form, Sonic Shuffle is a mess. The computer is cheap and most of the minigames just aren’t very enjoyable to play. Save your extra Dreamcast controllers for when you’re really gonna need ’em.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC ADVENTURE 2

 

SonicAdventure2

 

True story: Sonic Adventure 2: Battle for Gamecube might be my secret favorite Sonic game ever. I love alternating between the good and bad teams. I love the Sonic/Shadow grinding portions (sponsored by Soap shoes!), I love blowing ish up with Tails and Robotnik in those oversized mechs, and I… don’t love looking for Chaos shards as Knuckles and Rogue. Two out of three ain’t bad, anyway. Trying to beat my times in each stage to get higher rankings was a blast too. The story is ludicruous, but the cheese metal soundtrack is forever. Probably not a good idea to try Sonic Adventure 2 for the first time now, but in 2002, it was, as we used to say, “my jam.”

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC ADVANCE

 

SonicAdvance

 

I remember playing Sonic Advance for the original Game Boy Advance and thinking, dang, this sure is a fast Sonic game that’s hard to see on a screen with no backlight. Unfortunately, I have yet to play Sonic Advance on a backlit GBA SP. Given that, upon release, this was the first 2D Sonic platformer in a literal age, I bet it’s pretty good.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS

 

SONIC ADVANCE 2

 

SonicAdvance2

 

Sega heard the cries of their fans for even more unnecessary characters, and lo, those cries were answered with a orange bunny named Cream and her pet Chao, Cheese.  Ok, the character designs are cute and I’m sure Sonic Advance 2 is as fun as the first one (presumably), but do Sonic games need such an intricate universe filled with meaningless additions?

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS

 

SONIC PINBALL PARTY

 

SonicPinballParty

 

Given my undying love for Sonic Spinball, it’s reasonable to assume that I own ten copies of Sonic Pinball Party. But nope, Pinball Party passed me by, presumably because it wasn’t titled Sonic Spinball 2. The game gives players three actual tables to play – one based on NiGHTS, one based on the Sonic series as a whole, and the other based on Samba de Amigo. So… more like a Sega Pinball Party, yes? At any rate, I’m sure it’s fun, but nothing will beat Spinball for my Sonic thwacking needs.

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS

 

SONIC BATTLE

 

SonicBattle

 

A buddy of mine bought Sonic Battle right when it came out, for reasons that have since escaped me. We tried to power through the awkward tournament style fights, but the repetitive button-mashing left us bored. Not sure if he ever played through the story mode and leveled up the robot, Emerl (this was the goal of Sonic Battle – to power up a brand new character with all the Sonic franchise characters moves). We never talked about Sonic Battle after that one play session, which probably says more than a small writeup ever could.

MUST MISS!

 

NEXT TIME: The end, for realsies. Three parts are enough, and Sonic’s birthday is over.

Images courtesy of MobyGames and SonicRetro.

Every Sonic Game Ever: Part 1

 

RingsLost

I am Sonic and the rings represent my mind.

 

What would Sonic’s 25th birthday celebration be without a haphazard, subjective overview of his games? From Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis to Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice on the 3DS, I’ll be going through every Sonic game ever made (no bootlegs or unreleased games) and giving them one of five grades:

 

MUST PLAY!

MUST MISS!

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS.

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

As I continue my Sega Does journey, I will expand my thoughts on Sonic games released for Sega consoles into full-fledged reviews. For now, however, please enjoy my abridged opinions on one of the most volatile game libraries in existence.

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (1991)

 

Sonic1

 

One of the best character debuts in gaming history. Sonic the Hedgehog was so good, it catapulted both the titular hedgehog and the Genesis into the ‘It List’ overnight. Sonic’s design was both cute and cool, and appealed to kids and young adults alike. The precise platforming combined with thrilling bursts of speed was like nothing else on the market. Each of the eighteen zones had multiple routes for extra replay value. And Masato Nakamura’s soundtrack transported you into Sonic’s world with its haunting, energetic melodies. Sonic the Hedgehog was Sega at the height of their powers.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (8-BIT)

 

Sonic1GG

 

While not as groundbreaking (or as fast) as its 16-bit brother, Sonic the Hedgehog for Master System/Game Gear doesn’t skimp on classic Sonic gameplay. Rather than squash the Genesis version down into a horrific unplayable port, developers Ancient wisely tweaked the game to play like a modified version of the original. Plus, Yuzo Koshiro of Actraiser and Streets of Rage 2 fame handles the composer/arranger duties, so the soundtrack is as good or better than Sonic 1 on the Genesis.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC ERASER

 

SonicEraser

 

Released exclusively for Sega’s Meganet download service in Japan, this falling-block puzzle game hardly has Sonic in it at all. Like Columns or Tetris, you twist and turn clusters of shapes around until three of the same type land next to each other and disappear. Whether you’re playing against the computer or with a friend, two Sonics looks blankly onto either side while you try desperately to make the pieces fit. If you get a triple combo, Sonic will spin dash into the opposing side’s Sonic, leaving him goofy and dizzy. This dizzy animation is the best part of an otherwise forgettable and stupid puzzle game.

MUST MISS! / THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

WAKU WAKU SONIC PATROL CAR

 

WakuWaku

 

A children’s arcade game where Sonic takes on the role of Officer Sonic and chases Eggman off the streets of AnyPrefect, Japan. I’ll probably never play Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car, but I’m glad it exists, if only to have an official Sega drawing of Sonic wearing an adorable policeman’s cap.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 (8-BIT)

 

Sonic2GG

 

Contrary to popular belief, Tails actually debuted in the 8-bit iteration of Sonic 2 a month prior to 16-bit Sonic 2‘s release. Sort of. Sonic’s two-tailed fox buddy is in full-on captured princess mode, and is used by Robotnik to lure Sonic to his Crystal Egg lair. So yeah, Tails’ presence on the box art and in the title screen? A dirty lie for sweet, sweet sales. Despite this bait and switch, Sonic 2 is another great 8-bit Sonic adventure, and is completely distinct from the 16-bit version.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2

 

Sonic2

 

While I personally prefer the original Sonic for its simplicity – six zones, no extra characters, no extra moves, gotta go fast except not really – Sonic 2 is quite the epic blockbuster experience. There’s zones designed purely for speed (Chemical Plant), zones designed to piss you off even as you’re jamming to the BGM (Mystic Cave), and zones that shouldn’t have gotten past the concept stage (Metropolis). The Spin Dash makes its debut here, as does the golden-locked Super Sonic (if you get all the Chaos Emeralds), and Tails as the little brother who just won’t go away. There’s also an overblown plot about Robotnik’s Death Egg. In short, Sonic 2 is everything wonderful and terrible about the Sonic franchise.

MUST PLAY!

 

SEGASONIC THE HEDGEHOG

 

SegaSonic

 

Sonic… in the arcades! Makes sense. Even though Sega was doing gangbusters with the Mega Drive/Genesis in ’93, their bread and butter still lay with the arcade scene. Putting their most popular character into an arcade platformer seemed like only a matter of time. Except… wait? It’s not a platformer? It’s an isometric trackball running game co-starring two new doofus animals? Huh. SegaSonic was supposedly released outside of Japan in both Europe and the US, but I never saw it anywhere back in the day. The few reviews I’ve seen of this game on the web are mixed. Since most people have only played this in MAME, their experience of the game seems to differ based on the control inputs they set for themselves. One thing’s for sure: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel are no Sonic the Hedgehog.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS! / I’VE HEARD GOOD THINGS.

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG CD

 

SonicCD

 

As a wise executive once said, every popular franchise will eventually make time travel a key element of the story. In Sonic CD, you could travel to the past, present, and good and bad futures in each of the game’s seven zones. This makes for a grand total of a bazillion unique playthroughs, if you’re keen enough to play through this ambitious, convoluted mess more than once. Maybe I’d like Sonic CD more if it would let me move forward rather than force me to experiment with its non-linear time-traveling mechanics. Still, as lukewarm as I am on the game, I can’t front on the animated intro, the cheesy “Sonic Boom” title song, and the debut of Metal Sonic.

MUST PLAY! (WEIRD AS HELL, PLEASE TRY)

 

SONIC CHAOS

 

SonicChaos

 

Another 8-bit Sonic game that’s really good, but isn’t much different than the ones that came before it. OK, you can play as Tails (otherwise known as Easy Mode) and Sonic has Rocket Shoes that lets him zoom around the stage, but otherwise Sonic Chaos is more of the same bounce and spin goodness.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC SPINBALL

 

SpinballGen

 

Sonic Spinball isn’t a great Sonic game, but it is a great video pinball title. Sonic spends half his time cinched up in a ball anyway, so it only makes sense to thwack him with flippers and rack up some points in the meanwhile. The four pinball “tables” are surprisingly well designed, the bosses are memorable and terrifying (that Robotnik scorpion), and the bonus stages feature appearances from characters in the cartoons. Truly Sonic’s most underappreciated Genesis outing.

MUST PLAY!

 

SEGASONIC COSMO FIGHTER GALAXY PATROL

 

soniccosmofighter8

 

Sonic exchanges his officer’s cap for a bad-ass spaceship in this “sequel” to Waku Waku Sonic Patrol Car. Robotnik isn’t just speeding without a permit across Japan this time. He’s stealing animals and suffocating the life out of them in space. For Patrolman Sonic, this abhorrent behavior simply won’t do. After you beat up Robotnik, the Galaxy Patrol gives your performance a star rating, then it’s back to traffic duty. Enjoy fighting the cosmo while you can.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 3

 

Sonic3

 

Sonic 3 by itself is usually considered a half-game by most folks, a whistle wetter for the Lock-On Madness to come. And while there’s truth in this statement, the game succeeds on its own merits. Sonic 3 introduces the last great Sonic side-character, Knuckles, into the fray. Along with the hypnotic pseudo-3D special stages (introduced nearly a year before Donkey Kong Country‘s pseudo-3D blew minds everywhere), the bubble/lightning/fire shield items are some of the best in the series. The return to six zones is also a welcome one. Sonic 2 is way too long, and Sonic 3, when paired with Sonic & Knuckles, feels like some sort of neverending Sonic buffet hell that Sega’s forcing down your throat. Oh, and some musical savant named Michael Jackson helped compose pieces of the amazing soundtrack. Sonic 3 – in every way – is just right.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC DRIFT

 

SonicDrift

 

Before Sonic R befouled our screens with its clumsy racing and poorly rendered models, Sonic Drift set Japanese gamers hearts ablaze with its chibi kart action. Sonic, Tails, Amy, and Robotnik are your racers here. The six tracks here are based off of the zones found in Sonic 1, and come in three variants each for a total of eighteen tracks. Was Sonic Drift the first Mario Kart imitator? Maybe so. But even with the Game Gear’s tiny, blurry screen obstructing our vision, the racing within was better than it had any right to be.

MUST PLAY!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG TRIPLE TROUBLE

 

TripleTrouble

 

Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles star alongside Robotnik, Metal Sonic, and a new character, Nack the Weasel in this of the last traditional 8-bit Sonic outings. Triple Trouble is fine, but, apart from the ensemble cast, is otherwise indistinguishable from the other Game Gear games.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

TAILS AND THE MUSIC MAKER

 

TailsMusic

 

Hey kids, do you like pretending to make music? Do you like two-tailed foxes who have PhDs in music theory? Did your parents mistakenly get you the Pico instead of that Genesis you really wanted? Well, you’re in luck! In Tails and the Music Maker, you’ll guide Tails with the Pico’s Magic Pen across several pages of music-themed edutainment. And the misguided kids game bandwagon rolled on…

THEY ACTUALLY MADE THIS?!

 

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG’S GAMEWORLD

 

SonicGameworld

 

Surely Sonic the Hedgehog’s Gameworld is a game. It says so right in the title! Alas, not much is known about Sonic’s second and final Pico outing. But given the system’s emphasis on early childhood educational titles, methinks Gameworld might be less of a game and more of a piece of crap. Just a hunch.

MUST MISS!

 

SONIC & KNUCKLES

 

SonicandKnuckles

 

The beauty of Sonic & Knuckles‘s bulbous cart, complete with advanced Lock-On Technology, is that it’s actually a million games in one. There’s Sonic & Knuckles by itself, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic 2 & Knuckles, and whatever Genesis game you can think of & Knuckles. If you choose to play Sonic 3 & Knuckles, you can control either Sonic, Tails or Knuckles in the most exhausting 16-bit Sonic game ever. Thank God you can save or else nobody would have finished this adventure. In Sonic 2 & Knuckles, you can – wait for it – control Knuckles in Sonic 2. Knuckles can climb and glide through all of Sonic 2 if you want; perfect for speedrunners. Put almost any old Genesis cart you want on top of Sonic & Knuckles and you can play some ‘Blue Sphere’ bonus levels. Sonic 1 unlocks all the ‘Blue Sphere’ levels, while other games usually only give you one or two levels. So you see how Sonic & Knuckles was designed to consume the souls of all Genesis games that try to mount it. This is how Lock-On Technology works. “No WAY? NO WAY!”

MUST PLAY! (ALL OF THE GAMES)

 

SONIC DRIFT 2

 

SonicDrift2

 

The original Sonic Drift feels like a tech demo compared to Sonic Drift 2. Seven characters instead of four and eighteen different courses (instead of six courses with three different designs) make this a formidable Mario Kart competitor… or it would if it hadn’t have been on the ailing Game Gear. If any Game Gear Sonic title deserved a chance to shine on a non-blurry, high-res screen, it’s Sonic Drift 2.

MUST PLAY! (NOT ON THE GAME GEAR)

 

KNUCKLES CHAOTIX

 

Chaotix

 

It’s been about two decades since I played this loving ode to Depression-era jailbreak, but what I remember isn’t great. Knuckles and his rabble-rousing crew of misfits – Espio the Chameleon, Vector the Crocodile, and other Sonic characters you forgot existed – must navigate their way through Carnival Island while tethered together via a Ring Leash. The traditional Sonic stage design is fine, but the Leash itself makes progress slow and cumbersome. Worth a play just to see how bizarre it is, but not something to return to.

TOTALLY A SONIC GAME THAT EXISTS!

 

COMING UP ON MONDAY: The rest, God willing

 

images courtesy of GameFAQS, SonicRetro, MobyGames, Retrogaming.com.ar, and special thanks to Reykun132 for their awesome portrayal of Officer Sonic

Op-Ed: What To Do With Our Friend, Sonic the Hedgehog?

 

GenesisBundle

 

I was six years old when I received the Genesis/Sonic 1 bundle for Christmas in 1991. That was that. Sonic was my video game hero of choice. Mario was cool, I had nothing against him. As fun as his games were, and despite his Italian plumber backdrop, Mario’s always been something of a blank slate. Sonic had personality from the get go. From his sleek, aggressive design to his patented Super Sonic speed, Mario just couldn’t compete with Sonic’s inherent coolness.

I played and beat all the Genesis games and even a couple Game Gear titles (hello Triple Trouble). I read all the comics, watched both television shows (Sonic had 2 television shows at one time for a couple years, which is crazy), cuddled up with Sonic and Tails plushies (these were incredibly hard to find – Toys ‘R Us was constantly sold out of them). When the game quality began to dwindle in ’96 with Sonic 3D Blast, I continued to read the comic and even some fan fiction. By 1998, however, Sonic hadn’t had a game of note in a couple years, the Saturn had tanked, and my interest in his extracurricular activities had all but vanished.

 

TailsPlush

Tails’ glassy-eyed stare peers through your soul…

 

Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on the Gamecube was the first new-ish Sonic game that I had played in years. It wasn’t perfect, but I was floored by how much I missed Sonic as a character. Even though he wasn’t in the game that much, and the platforming wasn’t at all like the 2D games (particularly the Knuckles/Rouge emerald searching garbage), SA2: Battle reminded me why I was a fan. I even enjoyed the janky platforming of Sonic Adventure DX and Sonic Heroes, but the unplayable Sonic ’06 and the almost-as-terrible Wii-exclusive Sonic and the Secret Rings made my Sonic love goggles fall right off again.

Since the mid-’00s and the Sonic ’06 debacle, Sega hasn’t known what to do with the character. Every new Sonic game is a reboot of sorts, as if they’re afraid to settle on one particular concept. Sonic Unleashed had the much reviled Werehog mechanics, but was otherwise decent. Sonic Colors had some of the best 3D Sonic platforming in ages. Sonic Generations, with its split between old/new Sonics, was the most engaging traditional Sonic game in years, but it was released to commemorate Sonic’s 20th anniversary and was clearly a one-off. Sonic Lost World suffered incredibly mixed reviews, while the Sonic Boom Wii U game was almost as bad as Sonic ’06. Now, in 2016, Sega seems to be at a standstill.

 

SonicBoom

Censor this filth.

 

To a thirtysomething year old gamer like me, Sonic’s a large piece of not just my gaming history, but my childhood. Younger generations do not feel this way. My eleven-year-old cousin used to think Sonic was just a random Smash Bros. character until I informed her of Sonic’s long and storied history. She was interested, but not enough to seek out any other games (and to be fair, I warned her against Sonic Boom). Outside of Smash Bros., Sonic is just another old game character to her, like Pac-Man was to me when I was a kid.

My eleven-year-old cousin should be Sega’s target audience for Sonic, yet, for a time, she had no idea about his legacy. Admittedly, she might not be representative of all preteens who play video games, but she’s also not clueless. Sonic’s just not on her radar.

 

sonic__sad_guitar_solo_by_sonikkufan94-d7ttzdx

Sonic weeps over the loss of his popularity (thanks to SonikkuFan94 for this piece).

 

Therein lies the issue: up until recently, Sega believed the Sonic name would provide the cachet needed to sell a million copies of a game. This might seem crazy to those of us who wrote Sonic off long ago, but the fact is, his games were selling millions of copies as recently as 2012. This just isn’t the case anymore. Many older gamers have moved on from the franchise, burned by one too many poor entries. Younger gamers have far more gaming options than we had in the 90s, and many of them are eschewing consoles altogether in favor of mobile devices. While Sonic has a fairly large presence on mobile with both old ports and exclusive titles alike, the platform’s transient nature doesn’t lend itself to the character’s longevity.

 

SonicDash

But can he dash into our hearts?

 

Even if Sega’s 25th anniversary celebration for Sonic raises public awareness for the character, Mario and Sonic are still a dying breed. They’re mascots whose respective companies still rely heavily on them for income. They are no longer rivals, but partners in a world that doesn’t really need them. If Sonic (and Mario, to a lesser extent) ceased to exist, we old-timers might be melancholy, but the younger generation would get by just fine on Minecraft and, er, whatever else kids play.

On the flip side, I’ve heard good things about the “Sonic Boom” cartoon. Supposedly, it appeals to both kids and adults with funny dialogue and well-written characters. Whoever runs the Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter page has also done an admirable job in updating Sonic’s 1991 ‘tude to good ol’ 2016 jaded snark. The Sonic comic, against all odds, is still going. And with SEGA Games CEO’s 2015 comments about Sega’s desire to win back fans’ trust, perhaps Sonic’s 25th anniversary will see a revival of interest in the character at large.

 

Sonic90s

Run, you tireless vagabond, run!

 

Who is Sonic in 2016? He’s a mildly popular anthropomorphic hedgehog represented in games, comics, and television. He’s the inspiration for terabytes of poorly drawn, morally reprehensible fan art. He’s a think piece for people like me who remember his glory days. And that might be good enough. Sonic will likely never recreate his early 90s success, but if Sega just focuses on putting him in good works – whether they be games, comics, movies, Harlequin novels, whatever – the character will continue on. If Sega blindly trusts that Sonic’s face and name will support the company, regardless of the product’s level of quality, he’ll spin dash straight to obscurity faster than you can say “blast processing.”

SegaDoes Podcast Episode 40: Happy 25th, Sonic

 

Sonic25

 

In honor of the Blue Blur’s 25th anniversary in a few days (June 23), Sam and I gathered ’round the Fireplace of Old People and reminisced about all the Sonic games we’ve played over the years. Turns out, between the two of us, we’ve pretty much played them all.

Listen to/Download the episode here.

Have any awesome Sonic memories? Share them in the comments below and feel old with us.