If you just want to read my review of the mobile version of “Sonic The Hedgehog”, just scroll down to the third paragraph. I waffle on a bit before then!
Nostalgia is a dangerous thing. It encapsulates a memorable period in time, most notably the focal extremities of adolescent fervour and the false depiction of idolised sincerity. Some singular intervals in life are portrayed with luminous vibrancy, rainbows and singing birds, all replenished with “Happy Together” by “The Turtles” fawning your blissful convalescence through a field of flowers. You objectively associate fleeting glimpses of childhood with other venerable branches from that period too, in this instance it’s the 90’s I’m trying to evoke. For me the 90’s signifies injuring myself on a daily basis through my own accentuated stupidity, wanting to live in a bouncy castle reinforced with a moat suffused with chocolate milkshake and dramatic hand gestures that permitted imaginary transformation into any of the overtly stereotyped, and racially profiled Power Rangers. Power up guys! “Caucasian Jock!”, the leader (Red). Because he’s white. “The one no one ever picked” (blue). The openly gay geek, chastised because of his sexuality. (Seriously, look it up!) The “I’m just a girl!” *giggle* (Pink). “The black guy” conveniently portraying the black ranger, (Because of course that’s not racist!) to enforce the premise that this series is multicultural?! And not forgetting “Ethnic minority” (yellow). Who is sadly no longer with us. I’m not sure whether it was an intentionally racist show or not? Evaluated through the eyes of innocence though, this level of complacent recollection is inevitable, conflicting with the ethereal hindrance that is reality. You were ignorant to the bleating cynicism of resentful spectators deriding your euphoric documentation of childhood sentiment. So you can imagine my apprehension when I decided to test the resolve of my deceptive observances by purchasing the mobile iteration of gaming’s most illustrious sub species of Erinaciamorpha, or Hedgehog to you and me. Yes Sonic The Hedgehogs first outing has been converted onto your mobile phone (for quite sometime admittedly).
Sonic The Hedgehog is one of the first games I remember playing. It’s commercial notoriety was only garrisoned by the embellished declarations of school-yard chums, chortling each others achievements. So it’s acquisition was paramount for social parity in school. This was also a time in gaming when doctorates were conferred to questionable practitioners, when the general conceit for villainous activity was incarcerating woodland creatures into easily accessible containers, guarded by mechanised crustaceans and moustache twirling was very much regulated by the level of deviousness. Dr Robotnik was a villain that I will eternally refer to as Dr Robotnik. I mean seriously, Eggman?! Adept at crafting implements of destruction, yet deemed a wrecking ball–with all the ferocity of 3 harnessed kittens–was a more suitable weapon for defeating Sonic than a gun. Perhaps if Miley “The Virus” Cyrus was straddling the thing it could’ve been considered deadly! Even your Mean Bean Machine was more intimidating than this doc! (Top marks to anyone who knows what I’m talking about!). So here I am, back where it all began. Rankled by the colloquial envoys of mobile gaming, anxious to ratify Sonic’s long sustained absence from my life and hoping that time hasn’t blemished it’s once perfect image.
You maybe wondering why I’ve abused 2 paragraphs with an introduction rather than delving into the game? Well that’s because I’m stalling. It’s Sonic the Hedgehog guys/girls, nothing much has changed. Reviewing Sonic is like examining the Mona Lisa and commenting “yep, still a classic”. It still embodies everything I held dear about this game. The frenetic speed, the varied locals, simplistic yet arresting difficulty, the perforating speed-balling (yeah, that made more sense in my head?) and trying to obtain those damnable gilded chaos emeralds is still an accursed exercise in futility. There is something so profoundly endearing about the graphics of this era of platform games that somehow retains graphical fidelity despite its age. This mobile conversion sumptuously translates my childhood into a manageable device, with additional characters to play through including Tails and Knuckles once unlocked. The music is like meeting a friend you haven’t seen in a decade. The acoustic agility not only reproduces auditory memories of being a kid, but also motivates you to engage quicker with heightened tempo, generating a palpable sense of haste that encourages the wilful abandonment of considered vigilance. Oh but that’s the deceiving thing about the traditional Sonic games. They lull your cautious restraint, penalizing tenacity with prohibitive restrictions. Designing huge, pivoting lands abounded with steep rotational revolutions that beg to run at, only for intermittent yet variable environmental hazards to encroach your hastened advances, leading to instinctive deviations and often death. Your volatility was only exacerbated by the limited accumulation of rings. As long as you retain at least 1 “precious” ring then you were granted invulnerability, but lose it and well, you’ll well aware of the consequences. Sharp methodical precision as well as customary supply of luck is still the essential mantra for succession here. It’s regrettable then that I can’t finish here with my nostalgic proclivities intact, because despite its glaring cultural status which has remained largely vindicated, it’s installation onto mobile devices presents an issue the original didn’t.
Where this iteration fails is not due to lack of quality, poor conversion from the original source material or even the games age; but rather modern technology. The name Sonic denotes acceleration, exhilaration and the level design enforces that propulsion, before inditing your velocity with interspersed obstacles, presumably to keep you on your toes. Just when you think you have the bearing of the level, bang! Your caught out. Here this obstacle is a constant hindrance simply because the touch screen controls are entirely too sensitive and can’t accommodate the reactionary physicality required to negotiate the rapid momentum. Competency is not as proficient as it would be with a Megadrive controller. The reactionary latency is such a nuisance that it almost immobilize’s you, or worse you inadvertently spin Sonic into a propelling spike or lava pit when all you wanted to do is leap over a small crevice! Though the controls restrict your movements through much of the stage, it’s when you reach a boss fight that it’s complications become an evident hindrance, as you fight the controls trying to reposition your thumbs into the correct area. The touch-screen display really doesn’t translate your actions into deliberately encouraged manoeuvres. There’s no neutrality, no reactive physicality to your manoeuvres, just gestural touches that have to be constantly monitored in case your thumb moves 2mm to the right. I can’t tell you how many times he would spin in the wrong direction! The probability of collisions doesn’t just increase, it’s inevitable. You begin postulating the repercussions from simply alternating between a stroll or a stride, totally defeating the point of the game.
Any rapid momentum is mitigated by the gestural nuances of the touch-screen, which directly contributes to the majority of your deaths. Your Sonic the Hedgehog, accelerated velocity and dynamic rapidity is what defines you, not stumbling through stages reticent to exceed an actual hedgehogs pace, lingering on a busy intersection before capitulating to the next set of wheels?! When the environment’s are constantly shifting and spraying ample obstacles for you to engage you need to be in complete control, and your just not. And that’s a shame because it’s clear that huge detail has gone into re-crafting one of gaming’s most illustrious staples. The visual absurdity of propelling a rotating, Nike wearing blue Hedgehog across a course with as many lateral precipices as a teenagers derrière is still as rapturous as it was when I was a kid, just not on your phone.
Have you played any mobile games that originated from an earlier device? And do you like touch-screen games.