25 September 2009

Sonic Genesis Rant

You know how when people get really mad, they write really vitriolic letters, but throw them away instead of sending them? Directly after playing Sonic Genesis for the first time (years ago), I typed something like that, but never posted it anywhere. I've since calmed down, of course, and feel that criticism should be constructive. If I'm to point out its flaws, I might as well be helping others to avoid them at the same time. But it's still mildly entertaining, so I've recreated my original rant here.

Ah, Sega. Can you stoop any lower? After re-releasing Sonic the Hedgehog 1 for every system imaginable (Saturn, Dreamcast, Gamecube, Playstation, PC, Cellphone, Wii Virtual Console, etc), you still feel as though you can continue to milk the poor game for yet more cash. Especially since the new games aren’t selling very well….

Forget that you missed the 15th anniversary by seven months, forget that we’ll have to pay $19.95 for the thing (I remember buying Mega Collection for the same price and getting 12 games, plus a load of nifty extras. Funny that), and forget that it’s going to be released for five bucks on the Wii 2 days later. Sonic 1 is still the best 2D action game ever made. Ever. It changed the industry, changed our lives, and changed the world. It spawned a thousand rip-offs (Oscar, Rocket Knight Adventures, Gex, Rocky Rodent, Aero the Acrobat, Crash Bandicoot), and for a short time one couldn’t turn around without bumping into an animal mascot over-brimming with ‘tude.

More importantly, the vast, unwieldy genius of one Yuji Naka would make the game more unique still – never before had we seen such brilliant programming, such tight physics, such fluid motion and control. In a time when video characters were running at fixed speeds across flat boxy ground, and jumping one block up and across no matter what their inertia, Sonic was running over lush hills and around gravity-defying loops, gaining momentum by rolling down hill, rebounding off of objects, drifting through the air like a discus, and of course, running at improbable speeds (all with realistic acceleration, friction, gravity, and collision detection) and looking cool doing it. Very few, indeed probably no, games at the time had pushing, tipping, waiting, and halting animations. Certainly none had such style. Suddenly here was a game where a cartoon character was soaring through fantastic, vibrant worlds, and all to some of the catchiest music to ever be written, for a video-game or otherwise. Never again would the populace be satisfied by notched hockey pucks or monochrome spaceships. A new era had begun.

A game so revolutionary, so infinitely groundbreaking and fun, must surely still be all these things, even in today's era of Metroid Primes and Windwakers. So why not release it one more time, on the world’s coolest handheld system, where it can keep some of the other greatest games of all time company? Where it can share the hallowed halls with Minish Cap, Zero Mission, Superstar Saga, Chain of Memories, Empire of Dreams, and its flashy brethren, the Sonic Advances. Where a whole new generation of young, impressionable children can discover the joy that is Sonic the Hedgehog….

Yeah, right. That’s assuming a single soul left working for Sega has any brains. Sadly, they’ve all either left, or are still celebrating National Opposite Month. “Sonic Genesis,” as they so maddeningly called the game, will do none of these things. Instead, a thousand unsold copies will linger in every retail outlet until somebody takes them out with last year’s Christmas tree and buries them like the nuclear waste that they are. And if they have any sense, they’ll shoot each one with three rounds from a high-calibre weapon for good measure.

Why is Sonic Genesis so bad, you ask, if Sonic 1 is so darn good? How can Sega, no matter how bad they are at making new Sonic games, possibly fubar a freaking re-release?

Simple. They’re Sega – it’s what they live for. Corporate restructuring, firing all their good talent, and methodically, no, surgically removing every last good thing about Sonic the Hedgehog and Phantasy Star. It’s their primary goal, just like Microsoft wants to rule the world and Nintendo wants to embarrass you in public (not even mentioning Sony’s fiendish plot to upset the world economy!)

I will now, just as methodically and surgically, list every single flaw I’ve found in Sonic Genesis, every glaring oversight that screams sloppiness, laziness and negligence. Read them and squirm. And may Sega be struck by bolts of alpha-blended lightning for not fixing each and every one of them. They deserve every scorch mark they get on their sorry hides for, yet again, screwing their customers and leading a whole new generation of children to believe that Sonic 1 must have sucked. Those children will some day be the ones who run our businesses, our television stations, the United Nations – and they’ll think Sonic 1 sucked. Oh, Sega, you make me so mad!

And just to make sure that we can never find it in our hearts to forgive them, they go and do the unthinkable. They say, on the back of the packaging, “A perfect port of the original that started it all!” You can be crapulous, Sega, and I’ll forgive you. But when you are crapulous and say you are not, clearly I can no longer give you the time of day.

If Sonic Genesis is a “perfect port,” I’m Sasquatch.

I'm not sure the back of the packaging really says what I claimed it did. I must have seen it in advertising for the game at the time and got mixed up as to the source.

P.S. I'm not Sasquatch. Really.

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