Gaming Post 26: Sonic and the Secret Rings

It’s been a while since I last wrote a gaming article. I’ve been mostly playing video games and adding them to my list. I have reached my 250 beaten games milestone, which I assure you I have only reached because I am willing to play crappy games alongside great ones. I’ve been putting off writing this article for so long because it was about one of the (comparatively) crappy games I beat. That’s one downside to using a random number generator to determine the order in which to write articles. You can never be sure what’s coming next.

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The random number generator has determined that the next game I should write about is Sonic and the Secret Rings. It was a vaguely interesting game which I played when I wanted to catch up with the 3D Sonic games.

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Back when I was a kid I watched VHS tapes of the Sonic cartoon and was a fan of the video game series ever since playing Sonic R on the computer and seeing a commercial for Sonic Adventure 2 randomly at a Toys R Us store. By early high school, I still liked Sonic, but I wasn’t following the game series since my most advanced system was the GameCube when the games “Sonic 2006” and “Sonic and the Secret Rings” came out. My friend Puck had a Wii and a copy of Secret Rings, but I never really played the game when I was at his house. I was far more interested back then in playing his copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, as I was slowly discovering the joy of the Zelda series at that point in my youth. Still, I did notice that the box art for Sonic and the Secret Rings was absolutely beautiful. I made a note in my mind that I would eventually try the game out some time in my life.

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Look at that artwork! The game must be great! …Right?

Years later (I believe it was 2012) I was enjoying having a Wii System, going down the list of games for it that had not been my main reasons for wanting to get a Wii but I still wanted to play. Of course the main reason I got the Wii was to be able to play the Super Mario Galaxy series and Skyward Sword, but at that point I wanted to play all of the 3D Sonic games. I had heard many people say that Sonic games had gotten bad in the years that I had missed, but I still wanted to play them for myself so that I could have firsthand experience with them before passing judgment.

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The game is the first in what was supposed to be the Sonic Storybook Trilogy, however, the third game never came out, probably due to the bad reviews the first two got. As such, the Sonic Storybook Trilogy is actually what I call a “Dulogy”. This first game takes place within the stories in the famous anthology known as The Arabian Nights. The main antagonist is named Erazor Djinn, who is the same genie of the lamp from the Aladdin story.

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This guy isn’t quite as fun as when he was voiced by Robin Williams.

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Erazor Djin hits Sonic with a magical arrow, and from what I can remember, Sonic has to keep running or else he will die. I think that’s how they explain why you have limited control over Sonic’s movements in this game and you have to keep moving for the most part on a single path. This is also the only Sonic game in which Sonic is wounded for the entire story.

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Sonic and the Secret Rings wasn’t actually that bad. Its gameplay consists of Sonic automatically running a certain path through an environment while the player avoids obstacles. As the game is technically a rail platformer, you have much less control over Sonic’s movements than in his other games. The motion controls are also unintuitive at first, but I eventually got used to it in my playthrough. And although the game is split up into small missions that get unlocked as you complete more of them, the environments are pretty good throughout and make up for that a little bit.

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I was planning on beating all of the challenges, but some of them were pretty difficult and frustrating because of the controls. When I disclosed this to my friend Magic on Skype he convinced me to put the game away and move on as I had already completed the main story.

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This is Sonic’s Super Form in this game. Final Forms are always pretty neat when they’re there.

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The music in Sonic games tends to be pretty great, but I was a little disappointed in this installment. I no longer expect a full soundtrack of great tracks like we got from Sonic Adventure 2, but I was hoping for at least one compelling song from this game. The main theme is called “Seven Rings in Hand”, which is played on the title screen, but I honestly can’t remember much of the song like I can for Sonic Adventure 1 and 2’s main themes. The song I remember the most from this game is about Sonic and how he’s going to rock the place… place… place…

I think the main reason why people consider recent Sonic games to be bad is not because they are technically worse than other games, but because we expect Sonic’s games to be a lot better given the series’s history. We know what the Sonic series is capable of, given that the Sonic Adventure games were great. It’s just gradually gotten worse over the years (with a brief period of getting better around 2010 and then reversing after Sonic Colors and Generations)

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The newly announced Sonic game

A new Sonic game was announced recently called “Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice” for Nintendo 3DS, and despite my better judgment, I do feel a hint of excitement. I know that the game is going to be bad, but I guess it also means I get to play through another Sonic game that has a slight chance of not being terrible. My expectations are low, so I’ll probably have an alright time when I eventually play it some day. That’s just how the Sonic series is for me now.

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Thanks for Reading! I Appreciate it! =D

Gaming Post 3: Shadow the Hedgehog

The random number generator has chosen another Sonic game. At least this one is pretty good.

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Shadow the Hedgehog was actually the first Sonic game I ever beat to completion by myself. I was familiar with Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 already, and Shadow was my favorite character in the Sonic series at the time. Shadow the Hedgehog is for GameCube, PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox.

I found out about this game one day when my friend Puck and I decided to walk under the power lines for several hours. We went from my house to the closest Wal-Mart which was several miles away. I remember in particular that I had a boombox that was playing adventure music inside of the backpack I had on. It also might have been Christmas Eve, though I’m not sure about that. What I do know is that it wasn’t snowing and I nearly got lost looking for a “shortcut” to Wal-Mart. At some point I realized I had no clue where I was going, turned back, and rushed to Wal-Mart the conventional way before my mom got too worried about me (I think my cell phone ran out of power). In any case, after I got to Wal-Mart, I noticed the game Shadow the Hedgehog for GameCube in their video game section, and I just had to have it. Not only was my favorite Hedgehog the main character, but he was also holding a gun. Such a ridiculous premise had to be good.

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Essentially, the story takes place after Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes, and it’s about Shadow trying to figure out who he is and where he came from. Each mission can either be completed by running through the level or meeting a good or evil objective within the level. The way you complete the level will determine which level you go to next. In that way, there are branched endings, which leads to the main problem with this game.

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In each ending, Shadow discovers the truth about who he is, but depending on which ending, that truth is different. The first time I played, I didn’t do any optional objectives, and Shadow ended up thinking that he’s a robot, which I don’t think is true. My favorite ending is the one I think makes the most sense, which I believe is the second from either the bottom or the top on the level map above (I completely forget, but it ends with the song Chosen One).

There is a final ending once all the endings have been achieved, but it doesn’t explain Shadow’s origin, so in a game about clarifying Shadow’s origin story, Sega just makes it more confusing.

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That said, the game is still fun.

It’s ridiculous. I love it.

Until next time, thanks for reading! =)

Gaming Post 1: Sonic Unleashed (Wii)

My plan has backfired. The random number generator told me to write about the game Sonic Unleashed for the Nintendo Wii System. This game came out for the Wii as well as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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My first impression of Sonic Unleashed came from this video entitled Night of the Werehog.

The real game wasn’t nearly as good as that video. From what I can tell, Sonic Unleashed is an example of a game that demonstrates that Sonic games aren’t as good as they used to be, at least from the perspectives of people who played Sonic games as kids and are now adults.

The game is divided into day levels and night levels. The day levels feature regular fast sonic running through courses and the night levels feature a slow monster version of sonic in which you fight many enemies.

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I don’t remember the game being particularly bad though. Perhaps that was because I went into playing it with low expectations (I was working on beating the 3D Sonic games).

Also, the first scene of the game was pretty great.

My friend Cam told me that the Wii version of Sonic Unleashed isn’t the same as the 360/PS3 version, and that the 360/PS3 Version is worse (his opinion). I’m tempted to try out the 360 version eventually, but to be honest, I’m not all that eager to play any sonic games until they get good again (That doesn’t mean I won’t).

I will consult the random number generator to determine the subject of my next gaming post.