Nintendo Consoles

Nintendo Consoles

Friday, August 23, 2013

Playground Series: Under 10$

You know, one of the best parts about playing the Nintendo Gamecube now, 12 years after its release, is that all of the games, even a lot of the best ones, are dirt cheap. Games that were launched at 50$ 10 years ago are 20$ now. It's amazing and definitely one of the strongest arguments I have when my friends ask me if they should pursue the Gamecube nowadays. With Amazon and Ebay, nothing is hard to find, and not very many of these games are too expensive. That being said, people may be a little bit more cautious when spending money because of global warming or whatever, so I've considered it my duty to find a game that is accessible to all video gamers for as little money as possible. After this post, I will compile a list of games I recommend that, in addition to this next game, are under 10$. Be ready for that list once it drops, but until then, it's time for a game that is very close to my heart.

Sonic Heroes

Sonic Heroes was the 3rd full-length Sonic the Hedgehog game to ever be released on the Nintendo Gamecube. It was also the first original Sonic game to hit the Gamecube, as the infamous Sonic Adventure DX and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle were originally on the Sega Dreamcast. Sonic Heroes has seen it's fair share of criticism over the years, and its relevance seems to diminish more and more as each new Sonic the Hedgehog game seems to get better than the last. I will admit, I LOVE Sonic more than anything in the entire world, so when I play his games, I am absolutely bias. However, I promise I will give credit only where credit is due during this post. Sonic Heroes has flaws the same way everyone has flaws, but the real question I propose is with a 3 dollar price tag, and a multiplatform release, are the flaws really too great to pass the game up?

So first we have to talk about Mr. Needlemouse himself. With the exception of Mirror's Edge, platformers are a dying, if not dead, genre of game. As I mentioned in the last post, they tend to be simple and often provide nothing more than a nostalgic feeling that may hold you over just barely until the next big shooter comes out. At least, that is how I feel the general public views these types of games. Despite that, it goes without saying that Sonic just has something magical to him. His games are filled with at least a few lovable characters, they are bright, immersive, and 10 out of 10 times, fast. They are unique, and to pass up a Sonic game because it is a platformer is like passing up Resident Evil 4 because it is a shooter - it doesn't matter if you like the genre, just play the game. It can also be said that those who pass up Sonic games are just not fans of Sonic and his friends. True, it is difficult to buy a Sonic game if you haven't played Sonic games in the past, but that's where some proper timing and sequential strategy comes in handy. Although Sonic Adventure 2: Battle is obviously the best Sonic game, I am not sure if I would recommend it to those who have never played a Sonic game before. You love Sonic games for the fast action and great characters. SA2 featured some of that, but some times the action slowed a bit too much to convince someone ignorant in the ways of Sonic that they're playing a high-action game. To be honest, I think that Sonic Heroes is a better starting point for a lot of newcomers to Sonic the Hedgehog. I also think that SEGA knew this, and I will explain why.

Sonic Heroes is different from any other Sonic game because of the number of characters and abilities you have at your disposal at the same time. Preceding the playing of each level, you will pick a preset team. There are 4. Team Hero, Dark, Rose, and Chaotix. Once the level starts, you will notice that every member of your team appears on the screen at the same time. Each team is composed of 1 SPEED character, 1 FLY character, and 1 POWER character. During each level, you will fluidly switch back and forth between each character on your team in order to navigate from the beginning of the level to the end. Ill give you an example:
Team Hero. Difficulty: Normal
Sonic - Speed character. Runs the fastest
Tails- Fly character. Can fly.
Knuckles - Power character. Has the greatest ability to destroy enemies and can even punch through terrain.

So in a situation where you have 4 teams, 4 difficulties, and 12 playable characters total, you are presented with a great opportunity to play as Sonic and meet all of his friends in an environment accessible enough to appeal to any gamer. New Sonic fans can focus first on Team Rose and Hero, whose levels are typically easier than those of Dark and Chaotix. Veterans will definitely find a nice difficulty jump between each team in addition to the chance to play as almost every one of Sonic's friends in the process. New to Sonic? Play Sonic Heroes. Meet all of the characters, and play on a difficulty that's right for you all in 1 game. And need I remind you - 3 dollars is small enough to gamble on.

So I can understand why the thought of controlling 3 characters on-screen may reek of sloppy controls. On the contrary, controls in a Sonic game were never as tight as those in Sonic Heroes. Imagine the following: although 3 characters are always on-screen, you really only control 1 at a time. That 1 character that you control is "the leader". With Sonic as the leader, you will control Sonic while Tails and Knuckles do their best to trail behind and follow what Sonic does wherever he does it. A quick press of the Y button will switch out Sonic for his good buddy Tails. Now that you are controlling Tails, Sonic and Knuckles prepare to follow Tails while he flies around for short distances. Once you're Tails, pressing the Y button again will allow you to play as Knuckles who can punch out shit like enemies and obstacles. You can also press X to scroll backwards in the cycle, going Sonic --> Knuckles --> Tails instead of Sonic --> Tails --> Knuckles. Switching characters is instantaneous - no loading times or anything dumb like that, and makes for seamless transition between characters without loading, lag or frame rate issues.

So you got your reason to play this game even though you may not be a Sonic fan, your tight controls, and your 3 dollar price tag. Like any Sonic title, this game has a banging soundtrack that I've been blasting all summer, bright and colorful visuals typical to Sonic Team, a decent length - 14 levels per team (so 14 x 4 = 56 levels + boss battles and special stages), and an AMAZING final boss fight. So where are these criticisms I mentioned before? Well unfortunately, they aren't hiding.

Okay so fortunately, there are no obvious stupid glitches in this game, like SA2 and Sonic 2006. The levels are sealed tight which is always a good thing on a platformer. However, the games levels although memorable, shine a bit less than those of other Sonic games. This is a platformer whose levels are usually around 6-7 out of 10 on the awesome-meter. Moreover, although you do play 56 different levels, the levels for each team are pretty much the same thing. The main differences between them are length, frequency of enemies and frequency of power-ups. There is a big difference between the levels of the easiest team and hardest team, but only small differences can be noticed easily when playing the game in order of easiest to hardest. For that reason, you will start to feel like the gameplay is somewhat repetitive. I mean, the levels themselves vary hugely from each other, but you WILL play 4 variants of the same level before you fight the final boss. So these 2 complaints combine to make the ultimate magnet for bad feedback: discovering a level that you really don't care for, and realizing that you will play it at least 4 times before you beat the game can be unsettling. It is unfortunate that some of these levels couldn't have kicked a little more ass, but they are still mostly enjoyable. I can imagine that out of the 14 different levels, maybe one may LOVE 4, think 7 are pretty cool, and really dislike 3.

Sonic Heroes is a Sonic game that relieved a lot of gamers of their confidence in Sonic, but really, I see very little reason for this. The gameplay was untraditional, but not bad. The levels were not the best ever, but were no where near horrible. Some of the characters were annoying, but not intolerable. The hardcore Sonic fan should very much enjoy this game, while the average gamer should, in my opinion, at least give it a shot. A 3 dollar shot. Maybe this next statement will illuminate my opinion more: if this game was 10+ dollars, I would not recommend it simply because there are better 10$ games out there, but considering the price, I would remind you that the worst thing that could happen is you get this game, don't like it, and waste only 3 dollars.

+50  How fun the game is
+10  Soundtrack
+ 3   Length
+ 5   Final Boss fight
+ 10 Tight controls
+ 5   Conceptual originality
- 12  Repetition of subpar levels
- 3    Half-assed story
- 2    The character models are kind of meh

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