Sometimes it’s the bigger things, like if I could go back to about two weeks after my Uncle Peter died and promise myself that I wouldn’t sob on the walk to work anymore from that day. Or if I could speak to lovelorn, overweight, sixteen year-old me and assure him that in ten years time, he’d be happy and married to a beautiful woman.
Sometimes – like in this case – it’s the little things, like telling my fifteen year-old self that a good Sonic game would come around again.... in about thirteen years time.
That would have saved me a lot of time, money and disappointment. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sonic Adventure by any means, but it was still a good game. Good, however, isn’t normally enough to tide you over for a decade.
If I had known that Sonic Generations was good, I could have left the Blue Blur alone, and I may not have fallen out of love with him and his ridiculously-large cadre of anthropomorphized followers. I could have just ignored the painfully-mediocre Sonic Rivals, the punitive Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), and the just plain baffling Sonic Unleashed. I may not have even rolled my eyes every time that a Sonic or Sega compilation was announced, released, or re-released, or made available for download.
What in fresh hell was that all about?
How could have I known that Sonic Generations was going to be enjoyable, let alone playable? The first demo didn’t help, with its choppy frame rate and momentum-killing physics. Sure, I found hints that I could be in for a treat after the second, more-refined trial hit the web; but I dared not allow myself to feel disappointment’s cold touch again. Sonic had hurt me too many times for that to happen once more.
After powering through Green Hill in the full product, imagine my surprise when Chemical Plant - and later, Sky Sanctuary - also proved to be challenging, though fair, and fun to boot. It was almost enough to have me in tears when I heard that familiar track from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and I had to find air bubbles to stop myself from drowning in that uncharacteristically-colourful industrial setting. It was beautiful, and completely unexpected (despite the fact that the game was being sold on its “back to basics” approach).
It's gonna be OK
Don't get me wrong, the game is far from perfect. The "modern" levels sometimes move too fast for my eyes to keep track of the happenings on screen, meaning you'll still suffer from the odd cheap death. Also, Sonic's entourage is still present - albeit, with reduced camera time - and the present day hedgehog still reeks of baditude. All things considered, however, it looks as though this franchise may finally be on the road to recovery. I don't want to get your hopes up in case the next instalment is a turd, but at least we have this to keep us occupied for the next few years.
Sonic Generations may not have helped with the pain of loss and loneliness that I experienced on occasion throughout those thirteen years, but knowing that the game was on its way would have comforted me when I suffered all those cheap deaths, poor level design and insufferable characters in Sonic’s last few outings.
What are your thoughts on the Sega mascot’s latest adventure? Can we get excited for the next instalment?