The Spin: “2014: A Hedgehog Darkly”

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You know, there are some well respected scientists who are convinced that there exists a bunch of parallel universes in which things are similar to our own, but have some slight differences. Let’s imagine for a while we live in one of those universes, the one where Boom the game isn’t terrible.

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In an alternative universe, they all have beards because.

 

There are around 22 hours left of 2014 by the time I post this. Cast your mind back to nearly a year ago, when this happened. Exciting wasn’t it?

Now, let’s address one thing which I know a certain class of people will say “Well Sega never said that publicly!” and “They never intended for that to come out!” That really doesn’t work as a defence or as a counter claim for the following reasons.

1: That was a piece of official documentation given to the press, every single member of the press was more than free to say ‘Year of Sonic’ following the embargo date. That is an official document from Sega stating that they see 2014 as being ‘The Year of Sonic.’

2: It did come out. It came out 24 hours prior to the intended date, but it so easily could have come out 24 hours after the event, at which point there would be none of this ‘Sega didn’t intend it to come out.’

So then, 2014, the year of Sonic. How did you all enjoy it?

Let’s get right to it. Sonic Boom has set back Sonic’s reputation by nearly a decade. After the disaster to Sonic, Sonic Team and Sega’s reputation which was Sonic 06, we are right back there again. If you were not around back in the time of 2006. Congratulations, you now know how it feels. The only difference is that the vast majority of people saw what Boom was and was prepared for a catastrophe, the only horror was how the game was even lower than the majority of negative expectations.

Anyway, let’s pretend for a moment that didn’t happen. That Boom was somewhere around Generations level of quality, e.g. a good-great game. How was it? Actually… let me put it another way.

Imagine Boom was a good-great game and you lived outside of the United States how was the year of Sonic?

It would still have been kinda naff.

The year of Sonic 2014 is in my opinion, especially if you live outside of the US was a complete non starter. Even if Boom the game was a success, the Year of Sonic was a doomed to fail concept which never saw any life.

Why? Well let’s look at it. Boom is supposed to have three main support pillars. Game, TV Show and Merchandise. How many regions have all three?

So far, only the United States.

How many countries have two? Just One, France.

Everywhere else has just the game or none at all. Put aside the fact that Sega have all but doomed the future reception of Boom in those other nations thanks to the quality of their first product for just a moment and think about it.

How can this be a year of Sonic when it’s no different than previous years, had less impact and less substance?

Now before there’s a flood of ‘EUROPE GETS EVERYTHING’ or “AMERICA GET’S EVERYTHING!” comments which normally follow stuff like this. First of all, grow up. Not every nation can get every single announcement or idea, there’s always going to be some things specific to a region.

However this one is different. Sega announced that this would be ‘The Year of Sonic.’ They then went onto their blog and relayed all the exciting information. There was no ‘it’ll be coming to the UK or other regions by the end of 2015,’ it was 2014 is the year of Sonic.

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Following on from other ‘Year of’ Such as Luigi who saw a huge worldwide promotion of him as a character and from other so called ‘year of’ promotions in other media which saw an equal share of promotion worldwide. Sega knew exactly what it was doing with this one. In fact I wouldn’t doubt it if it were someone in a marketing meeting said ‘Well Nintendo just did Year of Luigi!’ without thinking about having content to back that up.

Some people might be thinking ‘well the merchandise will come when the TV Show does. How I wish I shared your belief, outside of America, especially in Europe, video game merchandise is in shockingly short supply except if your game is called Minecraft.

Despite a strong showing at various toy and merchandise shows, video game merchandise, especially Sonic merch in Europe seems to get a very poor showing. Jazwares is a grand example of this, despite having their own UK office and promoting new distribution partners in the UK, what was release was painfully small compared to the US.

Should Tomy decide to release their Boom toys in Europe, I will be very surprised if it’s the entire range shown so far in the United States is released in Europe, it has never happened before and I very much doubt it will happen for a long time.

But aside from that. Only one nation got all three of the main pillars, so why should anyone else care or feel that this year was any different even if Boom were any good?

For that matter, even if you live in the United States, even if Boom were good, there seems to be major lack of what was promised.

Skip to 1:40 in this video.

You get invited to a party at Amy’s house.

What is… why are they dancing like…  …Am I awake? Is this update actually happening?

Sonic and Flash 2: This time with added Madness

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After the response of my last little article on the subject of Sonic’s history with Flash movies, you guys made one thing abundantly clear. There’s way too many classics out there to be covered by just one post!

So here I am with ‘episode 2’ of the often insane world of Sonic the Hedgehog’s animated flash adventures. Let’s waste no time…

 

Sonic Breaks his Neck (Splapp-Me-Do 2006)

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Who’s stupid idea was it to put items in TV screens?

In this rather grotesque little movie, we see Sonic out for a pleasant jog in Green Hill Zone. Things are just peachy until real-world logic starts to take effect, and Sonic’s pals come to learn and mourn (or… celebrate for the most part) the untimely death of Mobius’ greatest hero.

From a personal standpoint, I’m not the biggest fan of the presentation style and what happens as a whole, but the surrealist look and nature of the animation has won it a place in the hearts of Flash lovers everywhere.

Interesting tid-bit of trivia: Splapp-Me-Do was also responsible for that ‘impossible quiz’ that was showing up everywhere once upon a time, and actually featured a round based on this very flash!

Sonic Oddball Crackups (Big Papa Kitsune 2005-2011)

Part 1Part 2AdvancePrequel

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If you read my thoughts in the last article, you’ll know very well that I love a raw, unpolished flash movie. Right here, we have a whole collection of shorts that are gleefully crazy, and with a whole host of different characters. There’s a real Robot Chicken type feel to the comedy here.

The series spanned for several instalments, and then even transitioned into ‘Advance’ territory in later episodes, but still retaining that same sense of crude craziness.

Keep an eye out for MJ in the second episode… ;)

 

Tails and His GBA (RupeeClock 2005 – 2006)

Part 1Part 2Part 3

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Here’s one of my favourites.

In this small series of 3 flash movies, Tails has invented a special Gameboy Advance that not only plays great games on the go, but can also transport the players directly into the game itself! The word gets out, and soon, everyone wants a look, often ending in catastrophic (but often hilarious) results!

This is probably one of my all time favourite flash films that are based around the animation of sprites. The Sonic Advance sprites have always been very expressive, and they naturally lend themselves well when utilised in smart comedy as seen in these films. Each instalment is short and very easy to watch, so go take a look!

 

Sonic Movie Madness (Roger van der Weide 2004 – 2005)

Ep 1Ep 2Ep 3.1.1Ep 3.1.2Ep 3.2Finale

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This one is very… Hard to explain.  Awesome, but hard to explain.

All the teams from Sonic Heroes all go on various movie themed adventures, from Star Wars to Harry Potter, with what could be the largest cast of characters ever assembled into a single Sonic the Hedgehog flash series.

As insane as this whole set up is, all the various storylines tie together really quite cleverly, ending in a very surreal, but awesome finale.

The drawing style in the animation could be seen as loose and unrefined, but everything in it is consistent, and gives the whole series a solid sense of identity that no other flash movie has tried (or probably ever will) match.

Creator Roger van-der Weide has gone on to do several works since this series, including multiple ‘Sonic Game in X minutes’ shorts, as well as a new Youtube Series known as ‘Sonic Dissected’.

 

Ultimate Flash Sonic (Dennis Gid 2004)

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Moving away from the movies, let’s look at the legendary Flash game ‘Ultimate Flash Sonic’, something I believe to still be a truly impressive example of what can be possible in Flash with enough dedication.

The game is a ground-up creation (with the exception of the artwork assets that are borrowed from Sonic Advance 2), featuring great action, speed, loops, grind rails and plenty more.

Remembering that this was released 10 years ago, this game features a truly staggering amount of features given when it was created. It featured 4 characters to choose from which all played differently, 4 playable action stages with two boss stages, a password system and even unlockable characters that also play in their own unique way.

The gameplay nowadays could be seen as unpolished and possibly clunky (especially given the huge debate about what constitutes ‘good’ 2D Sonic gameplay in recent years), but it’s still a great game at its core, and has been reposted to tons of flash game sites for a reason.

Go play it!

 

And with that, there’s the end of another instalment of Sonic and Flash. Again, this list is in no way exhaustive, so feel free to chat about more of your favourites in the comments below! If response is strong enough, expect a part 3!