It seems funny to think why this has taken so long to make, Sonic is over 20 years old, yet I could name franchises not even half that age which have more printed publications like this. Why it took Sonic 20 years to catch on is anyone’s guess. But, we finally have it! An official history of Sonic the Hedgehog, published by Pix’n Love, fully authorized by Sega.
Following this product review, I will also be posting my experience of ordering with Pix’N Love. Whilst this review is mainly focused on the product, I feel it’s important for you to know the experience of dealing with a retailer which has exclusive rights to a product, be it good or bad. The pleasure of getting that item is usually enhanced or even lessened depending on your experience with the retailer. In this case, there’s probably one or two things you should be made aware of when buying from Pix’N Love.
But enough of that, is this book worth the wait Blue Believers? Hit that button to find out if this book has been worth the hype!
In short, ‘yes… but.’ Let’s get the most obvious problem out of the way. The book is in French. MY GOD MAN! The French company wrote a book in French!? Wait, let me explain.
If you can read French, you might as well skip this because it’s not an issue. For those of us who can’t, or have a minimum understanding of the language, is the fact it’s in French an issue? And the reply again is, ‘yes… but.’ The problem here is that the book is very text heavy, which is a good thing. but if you can’t read understand it, you will struggle.
That said however, there are pages where you can tell what’s written, even if it’s not word for word. On most pages there’s various names and even phrases that you can easily recognise, developers, character’s and even features from the game itself. It isn’t an impossible task to figure it out, but at the same time, it will require effort and Google translate to know for sure.
Aside from the language barrier, what’s the book like? I picked up the limited edition version, which meant a hefty price tag. At over 30 Euros not including postage, this book is more expensive than the Nendoroid, which might put a lot of people off. However, in context, a book like this tends to be priced at that rate.
Content wise, it’s very extensive. Not only do we get a short history of Sega and Sonic, it also includes very obscure Sega consoles, such as the SG-1000 and old arcade machines. Seeing these is pretty cool and you feel like you want to go out looking for more information on those units.
We also get detailed character bios for most of the main cast including some retired ones such as Gamma and Chaos. These pages include several pieces of artwork including concept sketches which are a joy to look at, especially the strange artwork that is Tails’ Sonic 3D blast artwork. *see a later image for this one.*
Almost every game from the past 20 years is represented in some way. This includes more obscure games such as Tails and Music Maker, Sonic Cosmo Fighter, Sonic Eraser and Sonic Jam, the “TIGER ATTACK” version. But what is more surprising is that there is also a large section dedicated to Sonic X-treme which includes concept art and even a screenshot of Sonic Mars.
Presentation wise, the book is a thing of beauty. Despite it being very heavy with the text, each page is usually decorated with photographs, concept/officially released artwork or screenshots. If you don’t really go around various Sonic sites deliberately looking for images, then you might enjoy this book for the selection of images alone.
The selection of images isn’t just the usual suspects; we get some of the more obscure pieces of artwork and images. My personal favourite happens to be the section on Sonic Unleashed, the paintings of Sonic running from different icebergs as a whale looms under the water is quite a breathtaking piece of artwork and one which isn’t widely known. The Sonic Adventure section has some incredible concept artwork of the Egg Carrier which isn’t well known either.
By far, a huge part of the joy from this book comes from these small inclusions of concept art, whilst some fans may have seen them before, the vast majority are probably unaware these even exist. It almost makes you wish for another 300 page book which is just artwork.
Due to the language barrier, we can’t say if the information in the book is 100% accurate, or doesn’t contradict itself. However, given the scale of the book and how they’ve looked into even the most obscure parts of the game franchise; the information is likely to be correct. The only ‘mistake’ I’ve spotted, and I’m not certain of this, in the merchandise section, there would appear to be a bootleg fan made item… whoops!
One omission is the comics. Some of the cartoons get represented, but as far as I can see, neither Fleetway nor Archie comics are even mentioned as a footnote. Whilst I’m not a fan or it, and think it should probably end as soon as possible, I’m very surprised that Archie didn’t get a mention. Let alone Fleetway which actually had its own French version at one point.
It’s also a shame that there isn’t much focus on merchandise, the section dedicated is quite short and doesn’t actually show much of it. What is there isn’t that rare and can be found with a quick search, although some of the game sections do sometimes show collector’s editions or OST’s made for the game.
What’s the verdict?: Well… maybe if this was the English version I could love it a lot more than I currently do. The biggest problem as already mentioned is the language barrier, the fact that there isn’t any English text at all is an issue.
However… If you think of this more as a window into the history of Sonic, then this book is a grand way to do it. As you flick through the pages you might find something of interest that prompts you to seek out a translation in a language you understand.
But, if you can get over the language issue, then this is something that is worth the pickup? At 300 pages strong, Pix’N Love didn’t waste a single one and great effort and care was taken with what content they put on the pages. Pix’N Love really did go the extra mile when it came to content. The obscure games were quite the surprise, but the real magic from the book comes from finding something you’ve never seen before. In my case, it was the concept art.
However, due to the language barrier, I think it would be best if you’re not a collector to wait until the English version does come out (a release date would be nice Pix’N love). Otherwise, what are you waiting for? The book looks beautiful and as a collection piece we’ve not had anything like this. The closest thing to it would be the Sonic Generations art book. We really do need more items like this.
Should you buy it?: If you can get over the language barrier, yes. Otherwise, wait for the English version. But for the product itself, a definite Thumbs Up!
Pix’N Love: Should you order from them?
Now that we’ve got the product out of the way, let’s talk about Pix’N Love. Since you’ll probably order directly from their store. The following is mainly my experience; however several of the comments do come from other people who have also ordered with them.
Would I deal with Pix’N Love again? Ideally no, and I would advise that people think very carefully when placing an order.
Pix’N Love in my opinion, has a lot of problems that they need to sort out right now ranging from minor to shameful. You are not notified when your item has been shipped out, which makes it very hard to keep track of and when you should expect it.
Delivery from Pix’N Love is painfully slow. As someone who buys and sells from the UK to France and vice versa. Typically, it takes around a week and a half for an item to be sent from France to the UK. Judging from my own experience and that of fellow collectors. The majority of people didn’t receive their book until 3-4 weeks after it was dispatched.
At the time of writing this review, a member of SSMB who lives in the UK is still waiting for their book despite it being sent out nearly a month ago.
You’re now probably thinking ‘can’t you email them and ask where your items are? They must have tracking numbers?’ Yes you can, however, customer service is non existent. I sent an email to both their English and French websites asking about my order. Two weeks later I have yet to receive a reply from either website. Same issues have been reported from the user who is still waiting on theirs. Pix’N Love do not reply to emails for even the most basic enquiries. This is completely unacceptable; there is no excuse at all for this lack of communication at all, you are a professional company not a random ebay seller, you have a responsibility to answer questions from your customers regarding orders they have paid for. As for tracking numbers, I didn’t see any sign of one on my package, so it’s almost certain that Pix’N Love have no way to track their own products if a customer complains about a lost order.
Finally, when the pre-orders first went live, several members of SSMB ordered, then on the news of an English version cancelled their (French) orders and decided to opt for the English version. They eventually received a refund; however, less than a week after the book was released, they suddenly discovered that their orders had turned up, despite having a full refund paid back to them! Whilst this was a nice benefit for them, it does suggest that Pix’N Love have very serious problems when it comes to how they run a business if cancelled and refunded items are not only being delivered, but arriving two weeks before orders which have actually been paid for.
The only real positive I can think of to say about them is that the book was packaged quite well… but that doesn’t excuse the lack of communication and how they just ignore their customer queries. It’s shameful just how bad their customer service actually is.
So should you order with them?: Based on my experience with them and the messages I’ve received from others who have ordered. I would strongly advise ordering with someone else if possible. Thumbs down.
Well now blue believers, I’ve gone on for a while. What do you think? Thinking about getting the book? Do you own a copy? Whats your take on it? Agree with my ramblings? Disagree, that’s why we have the comments.
A Final Thought: if you have the book and have seen the ‘paintings’ in some of the game sections, anyone else think Sega should release a book like this which focuses just on the concept artwork?
Forget Concept Art Fridays, I’m talking those giant canvas artworks which almost never get released.