By Video_Game_King 9 Comments
Oh, this oughta be fun. No, I don't mean in terms of the game itself, but in terms of you guys. I'm sensing a controversial blog on the horizon, and for one very good reason: I actually like Sonic Adventure. (That's what happy Knuckles is supposed to mean.) Yea, Big the Cat is fucking terrible, but good news: he only has four levels throughout the entire game! The rest is what you'd expect of a Sonic game: blasting through a level in under three seconds, barely comprehending what's going on.
That goes for the story, too, because for whatever reason, this marked the occasion when Sonic Adventure became Assassin's Creed. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. It all starts with an ancient civilization that survives only through about one person: the
First Civilization Echidnas. They crafted the Pieces of Eden Chaos Emeralds to control the power of chaos for the better of all mankind. Unfortunately, the damn things are so powerful that they end up corrupting whosoever uses them. In enters Dr. Robotnik Abstergo Dr. Robotnik Eggman Eggmanrobotnik, who wishes to control the power of chaos for himself so that he may rule the entire world. Now it is up to the last assassin echidna left to put an end to his evil plans and access the memories of the past to figure out just how his kind died off. "Nothing is true; everything is permitted"? Have you ever heard anything with more attitude than that? And Sonic...Sonic is...Batman, oddly enough. So I guess that makes this better than Assassin's Creed. Did Assassin's Creed have Batman in it?...Exactly.
OK, that's all a big, fat lie. Like Big the Cat, because I can't believe somebody honestly thought he'd make a great addition to the game. But I digress. The actual story is much simpler than that: Sonic jumps between Station Square and the Mystic Ruins, losing Chaos Emeralds until things are over. Oh, and there are other characters who do stuff or whatever, but that's pretty much it. That's the problem, though: this story needs a bit more than what it already has. Nothing on Metal Gear Solid scale, but...actually, exactly that. But let's pretend I didn't come up with that awesome idea. What was I getting at, then? Well, for one, Robotnik's whole plan is to destroy the city so he can take it over. It gets worse: he came up with the plan when he read about an evil being from ancient tablets he, for whatever reason, took at face value. The being's real, apparently, and it obeys him exclusively...except when it doesn't, for no real reason. See what I'm talking about? With some more thought, this might have worked. But instead, we get a story where an emotionless robot is expected to elicit pathos, Amy's a crazy stalker who serves no real purpose in the story, each story ends with a cliffhanger, and Big the Cat exists.
Strange, then, that I actually like how the story itself is told. Not in terms of the graphics or anything. The townspeople are blocky and inanimate, and the main characters...oh god, the main characters. None of them look natural whatsoever. Their faces twist and contort at the behest of some sick puppet master who wasn't told that this isn't a survival horror game. The constant crotch thrusting only makes it worse. Sonic gets it the worst; he always looks like he's caught in some sort of quantum feedback loop, looking at his future self and growing infinitely more horrified with each passing second. And then you hear him speak and...actually, I have no problems with Sonic's voice. I have problems with it not matching his mouth flaps (not even in the original Japanese!), but none with the actual voice. It fits him well enough. Same goes for the ever-hammy Eggman and, surprisingly, Tails. Yes, he's 10 years old. What of it? If anything, Amy and Knuckles get it worse. Knuckles speaks with absolutely no authority, and the only difference between Amy and Misha is that Misha isn't a cat. (Then again, Amy might not be one, either.) And speaking of cats, don't get me started on B-
Wait, that paragraph was supposed to be complimenting the game. Right. As I said before I went off on that tangent, I kinda like how the story presents itself. And by that, I mean that I like the whole multiple perspective thing. Yea, it's all about Sonic, but that doesn't mean his friends don't get some action. Turns out offering multiple perspectives actually helps flesh out the characters a little bit. That robot Amy wants to protect? It wants to protect its friends...by killing them, somehow. Again, this is a simple story; it's just presented nicely is all. Hell, the story's even abbreviated in each of the non-Sonic chapters so you're not watching the same shit each time (unless it's the unskippable credits, for some reason). And ignoring that, you do get a properly foreshadowed, pretty important plot twist that I'm not going to spoil until right now: that red light is Tikal.
Perhaps now is when I should mention the gameplay. There's a big cat in this game. He's called Big the Cat, and he fishes.
I think that's more than enough space to devote to him.
Odd that I should transition into the game like that, since I actually like some of the side activities in the game. They can even be as strong as the core game itself (which, for some reason, I'm saving for last), if not nearly as deep. Some levels are just this crap, like Casinopolis or the Sky Chase ones, but they're just as fun as the regular levels. I spent way too much time just blasting through the pinball parts, mainly because there were enough flashing lights and moving parts to keep me coming back. Something similar happens in the Sky Chase levels, which throw enough enemies at you to keep you engaged. Think Panzer Dragoon if Sonic was the main character. (You know Sega would do it if they could get away with it.) The only exception seems to be the boss battles, which are pretty much all the same easy crap: hit somebody 3-5 times and watch the game shower praise on you. This gets especially sad with Gamma, who can lock onto anybody and destroy any word that even begins to resemble the word "difficult". Again, Sega of 1998, this could've been more highly developed. (Also, there are Chao. Like everybody else, I ignored the hell out of them.)
And finally, in what's probably going to be the end of this blog, do I get around to the core gameplay. There's a good reason for that: it's clearly the best part of the game. Coincidentally, it's the fastest part of the game. I can't even remember a lot of the game because does your memory go down to the millisecond level? Mine doesn't. But I'm OK with that, since what I do remember is a lot of visceral action. Who cares if you can't tell what's going on? The point is that there's a lot of stuff going on at once, and that's enough to keep me excited. As long as it's there. I guess that's the game's crippling flaw: it stops. And I'm not just talking about the completely useless open world (seriously, what's it doing there?). I mean when you slow down in the level itself. Trust me: it's gonna happen eventually. The camera will betray you, or the controls will hang up a bit, or maybe you're playing in Knuckles' mode, for some ungodly reason, but you'll slow down. This is when you begin to notice things like how easy the game is or how you're pretty much holding forward the entire time. Fortunately, this doesn't happen too often. The rest is speedy bliss all around. Not only does Tails get in on it, too, but I'd argue his sections are actually the best, since you're going against a running/rubber-banding clock the entire time. So I'll end this where I began: what's so bad about Sonic Adventure? Besides Big the Cat?
- What are these Lovecraftian nightmares doing in my Assassin's Creed fanfic?
- Sega, how did you know that I wanted Panzer Dragoon with Sonic characters? Because I didn't know that!
- I know that I make too many straight-up cocaine jokes, but it's oddly appropriate here: you don't want that high to end, but when it does, you fucking crash hard.
- Big the Cat fucking sucks.
Is this what you guys see where I see Sonic Adventure? Because that'd explain a lot.
And here we have a game that actually sucks. Does it surprise you? Has anything with the word "punky" in it ever denoted good things? I'm pretty sure you guys already knew of this as the go-to game for making fun of mascot platformers of the 90s, along with Aero the Acrobat, Bubsy the Bobcat, and Arthur the Also Alliterative Aardvark. What you don't know is that this game is incredibly cheap. Its entire budget was $20, and that was all spent on coffee for the programmers the first day of development.
I mean, just look at the game. I know that's not the best way to make a point, but really: look at it. Look at all five of the colors. Look at the limited frames of animation (in that picture, somehow. Not my problem). Now look at something else, because I am a merciful King who would not let you look at such for that long. Yea, the art style itself, divorced of anything technical, is OK, but it's not nearly enough to make me ignore everything else I've said about it. Now add on top of that some glassy, bubbly music, more annoying voice samples than Big the Cat's part of Sonic Adventure (I'm still not over it, you guys), and a military coup I sincerely wish got more focus than it did (seriously, how awesome would it be to play a game where a skunk takes down a leisurely Muammar Gaddafi?), and it should already be clear that I don't have high opinions of this game.
OK, maybe it's a bit hasty to say that before I even mention what the game is like. Here, I'll give you an idea: it's a platformer with a ton of ideas. Now that may sound like a good thing, but in reality, it's the crippling flaw of Punky Skunk: too many ideas. There are so many ideas on display that it's hard to focus on the platforming that ties it all together. Then again, that might be for the best, since the main platforming is....OK, actually. At the very least, it's certainly competent. Everything controls like it should, and there's a decent amount of challenge to it...and that's about it, really. Nothing more to it than jumping around levels and farting on enemies. Not bad, but it does leave you wanting more. Hell, the game even gets there at one point. BB Industries is one of the best levels in the game, mainly because there are so many cool things going on at once competing for your attention. See, Punky Skunk? Why couldn't the rest of you be like that?
Wait, that's exactly what you did with the game, and that's one of the major issues here. Problem number two with all these ideas: they're not given enough time to develop. There sure are a lot of power-ups in this game, like digging and snowboarding and gliding, but for Punky Skunk, it's quantity over quality. You get a ton of ideas in a short space, meaning, again, none of them get the spotlight for too long. What you get is nothing more than what my previous descriptions offer. Hell, there's even a race level in the game where you go forward and...that's about it, really. Nothing more to that level. I'd also say something about the mini-games, but clearly, they were gonna suck anyway. Then again, some of these ideas might not have been worth developing in the first place. I mean, what more can you get out of roller-skates other than "they're fast, I guess"? Or how about a skunk that fights a military dictator?....OK, that's the best idea since Metal Gear Sonic. It just sucks that it never really went anywhere.
- Some of this game looks like it was made in Paint. Great.
- The core gameplay concepts are solid, but never really develop too much beyond the first island or so.
- No, seriously. Big sucks.