16 January 2010

Project Needlemouse Titbits

Well, I promised I wouldn't speculate until there was something solid about Project Needlemouse to speculate about.

Now there is.

There are now three more certainties about the game, and I'll be looking at each (briefly) in turn.

1.) Sonic is the only playable character

I am disappointed that Tails and Knuckles won't be playable, even optionally, but on the other hand I'm happy to know that we won't be forced to play as any characters that I don't like.

However, I want to point out that, technically, Sonic Unleashed didn't have any playable characters besides Sonic, either, and that didn't save it. We were still saddled with new (and unpleasant) gameplay gimmicks that broke up the action and padded out the game.

Finally, this whole character countdown seems to be about playable characters and playable characters only. For all I know right now, Shadow and Big and the whole goon platoon will be making NPC appearances. While that's better than having to shift their girth around myself, I'd still like to know that they won't be making an appearance at all. It would be nice to be assured that there will be no Amy glomping, Shadow angst, or Big inanity even in the cutscenes. Alas.

2.) There will be no new characters introduced, playable or otherwise

This suggests that the game will either be light on story altogether (it's hard to tell a story without characters), or concentrate on the classic characters more. This screams "remake" to me, but the original teaser did say "all new adventure", so we'll see.

3.) Classic Badnik, Shellcracker

Shellcracker, or "Kani Punch" (Kani is japanese for crab) concept art

It's about time we saw some classic Badniks make a return! This is the first time a major modern Sonic game will use a classic Badnik design, as opposed to enemies that are merely reminiscent of the earlier games.

This is a very good thing. One of my biggest complaints with Sonic Unleashed was the repititious and uninspired enemies, copied and pasted between the levels. Even if the Needlemouse team does nothing else right, this is a step in the right direction.

I also happen to like the concept art very much. It is, above all, incredibly faithful to the original Totoya design, adding detail but not sacrificing the personality. If the same holds true for the rest of Needlemouse, I will be one happy gamer.

I freely admit that the following is wishful thinking, but I have a theory (in the colloquial sense) that they showed concept art of a Badnik - instead of say, Sonic - for a specific and devious reason.

They aren't ready to reveal what Sonic is going to look like yet.

There has been much speculation about whether Sega is going to do the marketable thing and use the modern, green-eyed, lean Sonic design (which, for the record, I think is hideous - I even prefer the European Sonic 3 boxart to this modern floppy monstrosity), or please the retro fanbase and use the classic, round-bellied, short-spined one.

I contend that it is a very real possibility that they may use neither, but instead introduce a brand new overhaul of Sonic's design. After all, they've done it once, and ten years on it's wearing pretty thin. There's nothing to say they won't do it again, and surprise all of us. I mean, if it was just gonna be Olypmic Games / All-Star Racing Sonic, why haven't we seen hide nor spine of him yet? It's a thought.

Well, that's it for Needlemouse speculation from me until something else of substance pops up. Here's hoping they don't make us wait until E3 for the next titbits.

P.S. I've gone and done it now, I've made a Project Needlemouse Excitement Meter (see the sidebar to the right). The percentage is in comparison to how excited I was about Sonic & Knuckles' imminent release (which was about as stoked as any human can get). The value will change as new info comes in.

08 January 2010

Fit For A Kring

You probably know by now that I'm a fan of the 80's TV series, Misfits of Science. Well, there's a minor fallacy surrounding the show that's circulating about the 'net: It's claimed firstly that Tim Kring, the creator of Heroes, also created Misfits of Science; and secondly that he's rehashed dialogue from the earlier show and used it in Heroes.

Yes, I know it's not a huge, world-shattering misunderstanding. The world will go cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity whether or not this little non-fact persists. But I feel that it's just a little irresponsible to not have a refutation present somewhere, so here goes...

Is Tim Kring the creator of Misfits of Science?

Well, we know he isn't credited as such in the show itself. We also know that James D. Parriott and Brandon Tartikoff were behind the inception of the show [1] [2]. So, at best, Kring would have to have been a co-creator, and an uncredited one at that.

So where does this nugget of misinfo come from? Because Kring wrote an episode of Misfits of Science. Just one: "Twin Engines". But Kring barely remembers the show at all. Either he's distancing himself from the show, because he finds it embarrassing, or he wasn't deeply involved. All the signs point to him having been a writer and nothing more.

So he was involved with Misfits of Science to some degree. It's easy to see how this fact could have been garbled over time, falsely expanding his role in the series. Simply confusing the indefinite article with the definite when relating the bit of trivia - 'Tim Kring was a writer for MoS!' ... 'Tim was the writer for MoS!' - would do the trick.

Did Tim Kring mine dialogue from MoS for Heroes?

And now for the second part of the fallacy. This is mainly why I decided to bring up the issue in the first place - it nicely demonstrates how misinformation can start to snowball. Odd myths can accumulate quickly and rather messily around tiny, unassuming pseudo-truths.

The claim:

B-Side Blog

I have shocking, absolutely SHOCKING news. After a spate of late-night nostalgia led me to look up clips from the failed 1985 NBC series Misfits of Science (featuring, among others, a young Courney Cox), I discovered that Heroes may have ripped off a thing or two from this campy gem. Not only does Misfits of Science also focus on a group of young, attractive people with supernatural powers, but it features a wayward warning: "Save Adele, save the world."


For the uninformed, that line sounds suspiciously similar to the famous Heroes mantra, "Save the cheerleader, save the world." But the coincidences don't end there. Additionally, the creator of Heroes, Tim Kring, once was a writer on, you guessed it, MISFITS OF SCIENCE.

Now, I'm unfamiliar with the quote, or so-called "mantra", from Heroes, as I don't watch the show. But I do know that 'Save Adele, save the world' isn't even the line from Misfits of Science! As was pointed out by a commenter on the post I'm quoting, Dr Momquist was saying, 'Save it, El... save the world.'

There's not even anyone in Misfits of Science named Adele!

This rather silly and muddled observation was, of course, promptly repeated on other sites the next day.


The B-Side blog has uncovered something of note in NBC's short-lived, 1985 series Misfits of Science (starring a young Courteney Cox): The show is about "a group of young, attractive people with supernatural powers," and features the mantra, "Save Adele, save the world."

This time, the line of dialogue from Misfits is now being called a "mantra", as well, as though it were said many times as a hip catchphrase.


Allow us to (re?)introduce the 1985 NBC series Misfits of Science. Keep an eye out for familiar faces and slogans:


Did you catch it? What the old man said to the tiny black man at the beginning? The show centered around a group of young, attractive people with supernatural powers, one of which was Courtney Cox, and this particular episode uses the tag phrase of: “Save Adele, save the world.”

Now, it's a "slogan", and a "tag phrase"!

Now, as I mentioned, this is but a minor conflagration, and will ultimately bother... well, just me, probably; but I do find it interesting just how fast these things can spread. Furthermore, the original blog was uncritically quoted, almost verbatim, and it was up to discerning commenters to set the record straight, days later. It goes to show how strong pareidolia is - if you tell someone what they're supposed to hear before they hear it, they just might hear it - even if it's not what's really being said!

Well, that's enough beating of the proverbial deceased equine animal. Just let it be a lesson to you to always keep a critical eye open, even if it's just a bit of silly trivia you're hearing!