Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Meta-Tap



I really thought I would avoid this topic for a while longer, but on an arbitrary whim to ease back into posting again, I thought this would fit the bill pretty nicely for today. My response to Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has been one of lukewarm arrogance and sighs. Even I find this contradictory, as it’s basically the exact thing I’ve been whining for during the past five years. So --- to start with, I suppose I should acknowledge that this specific blog’s genesis (I made a funny) exists due to posts such as this, which exemplify (no matter how satirically), the kind of whims I detest amongst gamers now. It’s also why I still to this day remain sided with the subjectively-charged and crazed fanboy (as opposed to a gamer of pseudo-objective reason). As long as the ‘obsessionist’ is willing to think, he/she will always be more fruitful in the end (to me anyway).


If one is a Sonic fan (and they don’t even have to be ‘INTO’ Sonic) and can look at that Destructoid article without feeling compelled to tilt your head slightly, I’d say that something is severely wrong with that person. Perhaps the author did punch up the satire angle for effect, but for the sake of this post, let us act off the basis that it is in fact antagonizing the very fanboy that may get righteous enough to complain about the likes of Sonic’s eyes.

1 - Episodes

“The object of this project was to make a game with a lower price which can be played and downloaded easily from the beginning. We are exploring making each episode volume small and having an increased number of possible episodes.”
- Takashi Iizuka

In my eyes, the significance in the episodes will (dare I say it) be tied to the substance of the game.

My problem with the game being as an episodic experience is pretty much tethered to the fact that many developers have already abused the hell out of basic premise of DLC. Most substantially, my fear of episode one is that the game will fall to the basic trial and error design tactic developers have covertly slipped into the design of digital distribution now. The reason this bothers people like me is because it significantly compromises artistic integrity. The nature of ‘mistakes’ (something tremendously important to anything of creative merit) has been in an orgy with the industry’s consumerist foundation, and this has actually caused most games to lose ground as a collective medium as well. As the definitions begin to mutate out of control with variables such as digital distrubution, it’s pretty safe to assume that this specific title could essentially play out as simple as:

1: Sonic 4 releases. >>>

2: A significant number of fans outcry against one or multiple ‘flaws’. >>>

3: The game is patched and/or episode two will address the game from a mechanical standpoint, causing an audience ripple (or even a split) in whatever ground episode one actually does gain for itself.

Now, one could form the argument here that the nature of communication in general has hurt here more than DLC itself (particularly the rate which developers digest to the bubble of feedback for their games), but this doesn’t change the dangerous rate at which the audience undeservingly steps into the role of development and influences the process of basically every game now. The entire mechanism has changed in as short as fifteen years (i.e. the last time Sonic was even relevant in the context of what me and my kind want now). Sonic has proven himself to be a near-total failure in terms artistic dynamism with the times, instead being more of a success as a children’s product. People (myself included) can speculate all day why Sonic couldn’t (rather ironically) keep up with his fat plumber rival, but I still assert that he and his games weren’t treated as an individual title. When the time actually came to balance the nature of his design with 3D, Sega simply opted for trying to keep up. Trying to dole out Sonic finger-sandwiches now reeks of that faint smell (which in this case means jumping through the window that technology, the ‘indie aspect’, and games such as Mega Man IX/X have paved for him). Sonic's entire image is one of being lapped by his peers repeatedly, a rather ironic condition for him to be in.

2 – Design


Making fun of the fact that gamers have somehow miraculously trained their eye to find love in retro styled visuals stands diametrically opposed to the same stance that graphic whores are ruling the gaming world. Sonic fans are indeed nuts, but I refuse to acknowledge the complaint that the design of a fundamental company mascot (i.e. THE VISUAL DESIGN OF A FUCKING MASCOT IS WHAT MAKES IT A MASCOT), is superfluous and unnecessary. Sonic’s appearance should be scrutinized to the fullest extent of even the internet’s most atrocious laws.



“With so many other retro elements included, why not bring back Sonic's original pot-bellied character design? That's because Sonic 4 is a brand new title and not a remake. As you may know, all Sonic character designs were changed in 1998, so since then, all new titles have those new designs.”
-Takashi Izuka

He seriously just said they’re making things new by not keeping things the same. Let’s pretend that emphasizing the process of new means replacing the processes of old and even retro becomes new when it HASN’T BEEN SEEN IN OVER A DECADE. The design the hedgehog bears now is filled with the 2000s era of ‘I AM SO FUCKING COOL’. It’s not unforgivable to suggest the turn of a new era should signal trying to retroactively evolve his design (as a start at that). Dialing that down a bit, I don’t really take that much issue with his new look now, but only because I haven’t played the game yet, which is my next point.

3 – Palpability

This is essentially more important to Sonic than it EVER will be to many other platformers (yeah, I said it). The speed, jumping, and overall pacing of how a Sonic game feels in the hand of a player hasn’t been seen in this fashion for (once again) --- a very long time. The only people who’ve even remotely acknowledged that long forgotten era are (SURPRISE) Dimps, the makers of the Rush games as well as this title. Pretending like a mere Rush translation will just dandily (and acceptably) fit onto an HD console experience actually echoes the “I want more of the same!” sentiment that some of these same people are fruitlessly reacting against with the visuals. If the game does turn out to feel just as great (or even better) than its predecessors, then I’ll gladly shut up. However, from what I’ve seen of the game in motion (which is admittedly very little), the complaints of floaty jumping, weird momentum, and superficial graphic playups are are even more sound than that god-awful stance of:

“OH MY GOD, STOP WITH THE SKEPTICISM. I JUST WANT TO BE A HAPPY IDIOT.”

Eh, this list could go on for at least another five or so points, but I don’t want to pull something. I’ll just leave things here for right now. Hopefully I won’t feel the urge to say anything else until after I’ve played the game for myself.

Also just to end on a snide/cute note, I don’t care what Sega, friends, or even my dead relatives say, “Eggman” is fucking stupid. Sega mistakenly laid out ‘Dr. Robotnik’ and let its audience attach meaning to it, so hammering home some pseudo-political correctness is actually stranger than the mistake was in the first place. One can argue essence of it not being relevant to the game at all, but I bet those same people will always get huffy is someone (or something) they care about is noted with the right pejorative.

I decided yesterday to start myself a little (if you can even call it that) gaming-art project. I scoured the net most of the day Monday looking for someone who has done artwork of every single Pokémon, but failed. I’m sure someone has done it (beyond five minute sketches at least) and I urge anyone to point them out to me, I could use it for my own inspirational black hole. Either way, the absence of this reality urged me to moronically fill that ambitiously artistic void with 490+ sketches of every single species. I do indeed have a long ass wordpad file of abandoned projects (most of the stuff I finish I literally burn/never let most people see anyway) and others I refuse to revisit as I’ve only ever drawn for my own satisfaction. This is actually the first concept in a long time I’ve actually committed to finishing due to my rare urge to actually indulge other people’s whims (meaning it just might actually get finished/publically displayed this time).


Anyway, I’ll be posting them all on the drawing section of the Art page from now on, and I’m holding Pokefanatics responsible for any slip of laziness I may have. I may even pick up Heart Gold and/or Soul Silver just to keep myself on track. If completing 490+ sketches doesn’t keep me busy for the rest of the year (in addition to posts my posts here of course), I don’t know what the hell will. It should make good exercise for my mind/hand syncs at the very least (the Wacom tablet offer/donation didn’t hurt my willpower either, heh).

I’ll probably post these in intervals of ten after today (only certain patrons of my designation get input from here on out), but here is #1, Bulbasaur.
That’s it.

~sLs~