So I decided to finally tackle my steam backlog and to take a break from otome/rpg I decided to jump into the 3 sonic games I had purchased…many months ago. Comments by Kanade will be in blue and he has a lot more to say than I do this time around. 😂
I really wanted to like this game. It had the usual sonic humor, the updated graphics and while I’m not really a fan of the 3D platformer I was starting to get used to it. Unfortunately, as with most Sonic games, the Steam port is a steaming pile of 💩 and not only is the controller broken, so is window mode and the game frequently freezes. I completed 2 levels and then the game froze on me erasing all my progress. Watched all the cut scenes on youtube. Uninstalled.
Sonic Generations might’ve been fun but welp, totally broken port that started off with controller compatibility problems before finally having a hard crash after completing the first level. But even this was kind of interesting to me, in that this game doesn’t FEEL that old since it came out in 2011, but I guess it’s now far enough back that obsolescence is starting to creep in. Like I’ve had Steam for almost 20 years (I got it to register Half-Life 2 when that originally came out), so a game that’s 10 years old has been out for a long time since I first started using it! So anyway, yeah buyer beware, just because a game isn’t being run in a DOSBOX or SCUMMVM emulator or whatever doesn’t mean that everything will still work fine.
Sonic Adventure 2
Sonic Adventure 2 was the game I wanted to play as a kid but I was never allowed to have my own console game system at home. I was only allowed to have a computer so my only Sonic Game experience at the time was Sonic CD, Sonic 3 & Knuckles Collection and Sonic 3D Blast. As a kid, I loved these games, and I was willing to put up with whatever bullshit mechanics the game threw at me to complete them.
But then Sonic Adventure 2 was ported to PC and it was on sale for like $5 on Steam so why not? I decided to buy it. Big mistake. The camera in this came is god awful and the controls and targeting was also 💩. The game being old didn’t help because the music would drown out the voices during cut scenes as well. Anyway I ragequit because of the camera and Kanade couldn’t be assed to continue because of the camera. We got about half way through the game and stopped at a platformer with Tails in his Magitek that kept falling into sand because we literally could not see where we were going. Ended up watching cut scenes on YouTube. Uninstalled.
The problem with Sonic Adventure 2 is that it’s from 2001. The reason that this is a problem is that back in 2001, console game designers still hadn’t quite figured out how to properly navigate with 3D space using a controller. Instead of the now-standard “left stick moves in the direction you are facing, right stick moves the camera”, SA2 is like “left stick moves in the direction you press, right stick turns on the X axis only and also was like INVERTED X axis only oh and also the camera constantly also moves on its own regardless.” So essentially what this boils down to is that you generally can’t actually see where you’re going. Not only is “I can’t see where I’m going and I can’t move where I want to go” really annoying, it’s antithetical to “The Sonic Experience”. Sonic is about GOTTA GO FAST, but instead we were plodding along because we couldn’t see anything and weren’t even sure where we would walk next.
(Also as a result of being over 20 years old is that it’s lacking advancement in terms of the UI/UX, but that’s more of an inconvenience that you understand coming in rather than “this just straight up doesn’t work.”)
We eventually quit after a few levels when I got to one where I was constantly dying because I would run off a cliff that I couldn’t see coming, either because the camera was like “nope, I’m gonna spin around and force you to look at what’s behind you instead of in front of you”, or because it was like “nope, you can’t see what’s under your feet, only what’s above you”. The fact that we were basically fighting the game the entire time sucked any potential fun out of it.
Finally a new Sonic game! New graphics, clean smooth UI, a working controller and OPEN WORLD! WOW! This is the best Sonic game I’ve ever played…………
….until I got to the Tails area by which point I really didn’t want to play the game at all. It’s like all the things we hated about Sonic Adventure 2, were brought back – the shitty shifting camera movement from 2D to 3D. The difficulty of being able to jump and climb on platforms (which was apparently because I didn’t wanna go blindingly fast and make myself dizzy).
And then the fact that every single enemy looked like they ripped off Evangelion?? The entire story line looked like some kind of Evangelion ripoff.
At first I thought it was a Nier Automata ripoff because we fought a boss who looked like the ones near the end and also shot red orbs at us….but then we quickly realized they were basically ripping off every hit franchise they could think of.
Anyway by then I just disliked everything else about the game. I hated the stupid death metal music that played during the boss fights, it was nothing like the old Sonic soundtrack I was used to (which is something Sonic Generations and Adventure 2 excelled at.) The story was a ripoff of a lot of things and everyone was so sad and shit and it’s Sonic! Everyone’s supposed to be goofy and having fun! Where did all of that go, everything is so dreary ugh! Even Amy’s crush on Sonic was so watered down. She was literally telling him to marry her if he wanted to get out of jail in SA2 come on!! ( ´_ゝ`) I was also unhappy with the English version of the script because it skipped on a lot of important information like explaining what just happened in a cut scene and explaining who floating Rei Ayanami was and that she was working for Dr. Robotnik. Anyway needless to say, watched the rest of the cut scenes on YouTube. Uninstalling soon.
It seems the devs intend to update the game and add more things in the future (like photo mode) so maybe if there’s a SUPER EASY MODE FOR BADDIES LIKE ME added in then I could theoretically consider returning to it. Unfortunately since I already saw the cut scenes I’m not really motivated because the actual game play – which is mostly rails, loops and quick time events – is not very engaging after a while. The only thing I really enjoyed was the fishing game. 🎣
Then finally we got to Sonic Frontiers. It was promising to start, if anything simply because it’s got all the QOL imporvements of modern design that help to reduce any of the annoying friction when playing a game. Ultimately though it left us frustrated enough to quit, which I will blame on how it also incorporates the “dark side” of modern design. For the conveniences, it’s got stuff like autosaves, on-screen control prompts, map objectives, etc. that make it easier for the player to focus on what matters. But for the downsides, it’s larded up with so many of the kind of features that AAA games these days feel compelled to include without actually thinking about how they improve the gameplay experience.
For starters, Sonic Frontiers is an open world game. Open world games are all about exploration and finding neat things under every nook and cranny. Except…that Sonic games are about GOTTA GO FAST. Racing around the map, careening off of springs, zooming around on rails, all of these are very Sonic-al activities but actively work against the open world experience. We would constantly say, find a wall and see an objective rising up behind it. And oh look, there’s a trampoline right there, I bet we could use that to jump over the wall! NOPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Instead we jump on it and suddenly we’re getting bounced all over the map until we eventually land…and now have no idea where we are or how to get back to where we just were. Then on top of that, you have to complete these challenge puzzles to reveal the map, which additionally makes it hard to navigate to and from (also those puzzles are often totally mindless to the point of being a waste of time, like “step on a button” or “perform a single game action”.)
The game also includes yet another modern pet peeve of mine “RPG elements”. I’m putting “RPG elements” in quotes because by this I mean “totally cosmetic stats that mean nothing more than ‘number go up.'” Sonic has stats for attack power, defense, ring capacity, and speed. I still don’t really grasp what effect these stats even have on the game. Like ring capacity for example gives you more “health” and gives you longer enrage timers on boss fights, but this doesn’t actually DO anything. For example, in the last boss that we fought before quitting, we had like 300+ rings remaining after defeating it, so the 60 extra rings that we got from leveling up had no effect here. The attack and defense stats don’t really do much either since the boss fights are more or less just a set of QTEs.
Then there are the minigames. Most of these are trivial, like “run in a circle a bunch of times to cut some grass” or “push minions forward until you reach the goal”, but there was supposedly a pinball game after where we quit that was totally maddening and lead to many a ragequit. The real standout was the fishing minigame. It’s pretty much like every fishing minigame you’ve ever played where you just click the button when the icon is inside a circle. The REAL purpose of it though is that it is a bit of a “cheat mode” because you can quickly unlock many of the objectives on each new area. But it can also get maddening because you have to find the fishing spot on each new map, and we never actually were able to find it on the second zone, for example. And I would always question the confidence that any designers would have of their game’s core gameplay loop when they provide a function similar to this that allows the player to outright skip it should they choose to.
In short, IT SUCKED BECAUSE IT WASN’T A VISUAL NOVEL ABOUT SONIC AND AMY ROSE KISSING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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