Sunday, January 31, 2010

Video game number thirty: Sonic the Hedgehog

Game review number thirty in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Sonic the Hedgehog".

I should have known better than to play another re-imagined game from my younger days after the terrible Tony Hawk Proving Grounds, but I decided to check this one out anyway.

Grr. This is a TOUGH game.

I remember when I first played the original Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis (with the "Blast processing"and everything). Sometimes, the springs would launch Sonic into a series of loops and you'd be going so fast, you'd be unable to avoid the spikes you didn't know were coming at the end of the loop.

That was the good kind of frustrating.

This Sonic game is just all wrong. First of all, it starts out like Final Fantasy or something, there's a CG cut scene with a really nicely rendered town and a princess who looks like she's from an RPG somewhere. Professor Eggman comes down, only he's not a cartoon character he's rendered like an RPG character. He steals the princess and in runs Sonic....who is still the same. It's sort of like Roger Rabbit I suppose....Sonic is a toon in an RPG world. It's strange at first, but you get sort of used to it. It reminds me a lot of the first time I played Paper Mario (a game that everyone seemed to love except for me). I didn't think Mario belonged in that universe and Sonic doesn't belong in this one.

You start out in a town walking around with people you can talk to by pressing X. The conversations are really lame and the developers at Sega Japan didn't bother to hire actors do the voices, instead option to have them say simply "Umm" or "Oooh" when you walk up. I wonder if the original Japanese version has speech or not. Anyway, you finally find your first mission (after getting a few clues from the silent crowd as to where it is) and this is where the frustration (or fun) begins.

The first level is divided into two completely separate parts. If you die on the second part, too have to do the entire first part over again as well. I hate when games pull this sort of bullshit. Usually, it's Capcom, Team Ninja or even Konami games that do this...and I suspect it's because these veteran game developers have a fundamentally different philosophy on gaming from their counterparts in the United States. I know they are aware that consoles have memory cards and hard drives now, so I don't understand why they won't give us a lousy check point in the middle of a difficult level. It would be nice if I could make some progress instead of replaying the same stupid area over again 15 times just because the final jump is something I have trouble with.

Mastering the first part of level one became very important, because the second half is this super speedy level where you have a split second to dodge all these oncoming obstacles....and until you've played it a few times, you don't know what's coming next. That's clearly what this game is going to be all about: Memorization and repetition.

Well guess what: I've had enough of that.

Unfortunately for me, it looks like the first achievement apparently won't pop until I've gone through over 20 similar missions and beaten 5 bosses. This is the third game in two days that has become more of a chore than something fun, and it's because of my achievement rule I set when I started this challenge.

If I want to stick to my plan, that means I HAVE to come back to this game and get that achievement later, but I don't want to waste anymore time on it right now. It's a decent amount of fun, but the lack of save points and the fact that you have to start over so many times if you die is pissing me off to the point that I don't want to play anymore. You can only do the same level so many damn times in a row.

Overall score so far? 2 out of 10. Save points would have made it fun, but as it's far too grindy.

Update number one: 8:15pm the same day. I came back, finally made my way through that second level, and then I was able to beat the next boss stage after that. It was no picnic...but at least I made a little more progress. Game is still incredibly hard. Rating has still not changed. :-)

Update number two: February 8th, 2010. I've given this game several more tries...played it on 4 different days, but I'm still not making any progress towards an achievement. I've tried browsing the forums for walkthroughs and tips, but nothing I've found makes this game any more fun to play. At this point, I'm calling it a day. The game is incredibly tough, I'm not having fun replaying levels over and over again in the hopes that I'll get a little closer to an achievement. I played it more than enough to know I hate it....and in order to stay true to this challenge, I'll go ahead and play an extra game, rather than keep playing this one to get an achievement just so it counts.

Rating stays the same. It's a 2/10...I hate it.


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