Tag Archives: miles “tails” prower

FGC #407 Knuckles’ Chaotix

KNUX!Behold the future of Sonic the Hedgehog that never was.

Right from the starting line, Sonic the Hedgehog was known for one thing: goin’ fast. Blast processing was the buzzword (phrase) du jour, and roughly 90% of Sega’s advertising relied on the slick, hypersonic speeds that defined that crazy hedgehog. And, should you have played a Sonic game for longer than ten seconds, you’d immediately notice (and, more importantly, feel) that raw, unbridled Sonic Hustle, so it certainly makes sense that Sega, and the world, focused on the supersonic nature of Super Sonic.

But that means that, starting with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, everybody missed Sonic’s other great innovation.

It's Tails!

It’s that dude there. You know? With the tails? Wait! No! I’m not saying that Sonic the Hedgehog should be celebrated for its eclectic cast of animal buddies; no, my point is that Sonic the Hedgehog innovated in a dramatic way with the introduction of a cooperative, optional, second “player”.

In the context of 8 and 16-bit platformers, Tails is fairly unique. He’s a secondary ally character, but he doesn’t require control. He is often helpful, though also (rarely) a detriment (please do not bring your fox to collect chaos emeralds). He can contribute to the cause, and is effectively invincible (or at least infinitely respawnable), so he does not require protection (in other words, he doesn’t turn the entire adventure into an inadvertent escort mission). And, best of all, Tails does not require a player to “wait their turn” like in Super Mario Bros. or other platformers of the time. Tails is a second player that can actually be controlled at (almost) any time. And Tails is still mostly invincible, so he’s ideal for a pair of real-life humans that are not on the exact same gaming echelon. Or a parent and child. Or babysitter and child. Or Wee Goggle Bob and his neighbor Jimmy, who is terrible at videogames, but really wants to participate. Jimmy kind of sucks, but Tails was an amazing innovation in the gaming world.

So it’s kind of funny that, by and large, the lesson of Tails has been largely forgotten in the gaming universes of yesterday and today. When Mario dips into multiplayer, it’s only with human companions, and they’re generally not as invulnerable as Tails. And if we look back to Sonic’s contemporary Mario game, Yoshi’s Island, we find a title that nearly dropped two players altogether. In fact, it seems the only 2-D action title that cribbed from Tails’ presence was Kirby and his always helpful helper characters. It worked great in Kirby Super Star, and similar gameplay pops up in every other Kirby title, too. And as for Sonic? Well, Tails had a good run until Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, and then he put in a little effort as a sidekick in Sonic Adventure, but past that? 2-Player Sonic is largely forgotten, give or take one of the best games of all time. Which is a shame, because, had Sonic focused on its Tails functionality as its main gimmick, we might have seen an entirely different trajectory for the franchise.

We might have seen a lot more games like Kunckles’ Chaotix.

WeeeeKnuckles’ Chaotix began life as a “for real” Sonic the Hedgehog game titled Sonic Crackers. The original pitch was for a Sega Genesis game that featured Sonic and Tails tethered together by a magical ring. In time, this concept grew into a 32X game featuring the recently introduced Knuckles and his own band of animal sidekicks. The title then mushroomed into something featuring seven playable characters (five if you only count characters that are actually useful), five brand new zones, and another appearance by everyone’s favorite Metal Sonic. But, through it all, it maintained the “tethered ring” gameplay, and, thus, created a whole new way to play a Sonic game.

And, surprisingly enough, the tethered ring features work well. Sonic the Hedgehog always had buttons to spare, so giving the B button over to partner commands is quick and effective. With just a tap, you can command your buddy to stand in place, which is ideal for activating switches or building momentum off your stationary partner. This effectively eliminates the need for the spin dash, and, frankly, it feels damn good to snap that rubber band and speed off at top speed. But wait, there’s more! You can also carry your friend, which is great for when you want to toss your companion straight into a hidden giant ring. Or maybe you want to offer that piggyback ride just because you don’t feel like dealing with the AI right now. That would be unusual, though, as, by and large, your computer controlled friend is generally as smart as ever, and will rarely be a bother. And, while your dude might not be quite as invincible as Tails, he’s still never a burden, and could only, at worst, waste a shield by running into an enemy. In short, this ring partner system seems very well considered, and, when you’re bouncing around like a pair of ping pong balls, it really shows how this version of Sonic could have been amazing.

Unfortunately, it’s a shame that Knuckles’ Chaotix sucks otherwise.

GET READY TO GOIn what would prove to be a prescient move, KC completely eliminates the lives counter, and offers infinite tries for its fifteen levels. Which sounds great… except the game manages to be completely toothless, so every level is overly long and far too uninteresting. It seems like some zones have three, maybe four badniks total. And none of the stages have interesting gimmicks at all, so they all blend together into a single mass of tedious almost immediately. But the bosses are kind of appealing! So it’s another shame there are only six spread across fifteen otherwise boring stages. And, while there aren’t any lives, there aren’t any checkpoints, either, so a loss against a boss means repeating an entire (already tedious) level all over again.

And then there are the special stages. The special stages might be the greatest source of tension in the game, as they are literally the only reason to collect rings (as, again, there are no lives, so 100 rings means absolutely nothing). Every ring grants an extra second in the bonus stages, and, like the rest of the Sonic titles up to that point, completing a special stage means earning one of the six precious Chaos… Rings. Okay, weird twist, but whatever. But what’s important is that each special stage can only be accessed at the end of a stage, so you only have eleven chances for those six rings (boss stages do not host bonus stages). Win those Chaos Rings from the six different, extremely unforgiving special zones, and you’ll win… nothing. No Super Sonic Knuckles. No special character. No Chaos Ring-based bonus. No, all you win is a better ending. And by “better”, I mean “an ending where Robotnik doesn’t conquer your island and burn everything else to the ground”. Miss even one Chaos Ring, though, and Robotnik laughs as a Knuckles Mech hovers menacingly over a burning cityscape. Thanks for playing!

But if you get those rings… maybe everybody didn’t die? At least you didn’t have to watch the carnage…

And if you’ve been saving all along, you can’t even reenter completed stages to correct your mistake. You just get to load your file and rewatch your failure over and over again.

This is neatSo, for some reason, Knuckles’ Chaotix was an enormous failure. It was the only Sonic-esque software on the 32X, and some might even argue that Knuckles’ Letdown was a significant reason the 32X couldn’t maintain support for even a year. And, with the fall of Knuckles, so too did the idea of a Sonic the Hedgehog exploring the depths of its two player mode also fold. There were some great concepts that could have been further explored by a successor to Knuckles’ Chaotix, but they all sunk on this echidna’s ship, and have been lost forever beneath a sea of indifference.

Knuckles, you could have brought a whole new future to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, but it was not to be. Now no one will respect Knuckles’ Chaotix.

FGC #407 Knuckles’ Chaotix

  • System: Sega 32X. There have been a number of calls for this title to see rerelease somewhere, but they have fallen on deaf ears. On a related note, like 90% of those calls were coming directly from me.
  • Number of players: Two player simultaneous, for one of the last times in the franchise.
  • Favorite Team: Mighty the Armadillo will give you leprosy, and he’s a Sonic expy, so he’s my number one pal. For his buddy, I’m going to choose Vector the Crocodile, because he had the presence of mind to bring headphones to this snoozefest.
  • This is horribleOther weirdness: The other reason to collect rings is to power a screen clearing special attack that costs ten rings. This is never useful, as there are never enough evil robots around to warrant a screen clearing attack, left alone one that costs precious rings. But you might hit the activation button anyway, and, if you do so with zero rings, you can actually accumulate a ring debt. Name another Sonic the Hedgehog title where you can have -10 rings.
  • Punishing Achievement: You can still access the special stages after earning all of the Chaos Rings, but, as an added challenge, the stages will now be entirely wireframes, with none of the platforms “shaded in”. This makes everything completely impossible, and is maybe the worst thing in an already pretty bad game.
  • An end: If you get the good ending, Sonic and Tails appear as part of the final cast picture.

    Winner!

    Did you guys just show up to hog all the credit after the entire adventure was over? Or…

  • Did you know? There are Super Sonic sprites hidden in the rom. Not Sonic sprites, or Super Any Other Character In the Cast sprites, just Super Sonic sprites. It’s entirely possible those Chaos Rings were intended to summon Super Sonic for a slam-bang ending, but that was cut at the last minute, as adding something interesting to this title would have been just too much effort.
  • Would I play again: You only really need to play a level or two of this game to get the full experience. I will likely fire it up again to do just that, but I doubt I’ll ever take the time to finish this title ever again. I would have to be really bored.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Emily the Strange: Strangerous for the Nintendo DS! That sounds… unusual. Please look forward to it!

Sprite scaling is a scourge

FGC #013 Sonic the Hedgehog

Waterslides are fun!She and I used to date.

It was back in school, and we just hit it off. First time I laid eyes on her, let me tell you, love at first sight. She had her problems, granted, everyone was talking about how fast she was, and I always preferred to play it loud than process this blasting, but I could change. I wasn’t going to give up my… old fashioned ways for her, but I still ended up buying everything she claimed I needed. Suppose she was just that good.

The relationship went on, and I thought she might be a one trick pony. Running, jumping, rolling, it was great, don’t get me wrong, but I could only do the same thing so many times. She invited her foxy friend over, but that was just… well, the same, but with a blonde. I felt a bit dirty, but maybe that’s a part of any relationship. She… well, we tried some… interesting hardware, but that was the same, again, with a few gimmicks thrown in for good measure. There was something about… time travel? It all seems like a blur now, but I still remember the doubts: Had our relationship grown stale? Was it her? She did have a way of trying certain things that, while they might have been great for her, made me sick. She was like a pinball, bounding from emotion to emotion, but, like pinball, how long could it hold my interest? Wait… my interest? Could it be me? I just didn’t know what to think anymore. It was still fun, but could I do it forever?

Then she showed how much she loved me. Suddenly, our world was so huge, so massive I never wanted to leave. Things she’d considered “bonuses” in the past, horrible asides that just ended with her obtaining more jewelry, were gone, and in their place, a wonderful pile of spheres. Sorry, we were a little strange. Our hearts were locked on as one, and nothing could tear us apart. Then, just a little while later, she, always the more experimental of the two of us, invited this red head to join our fun. Old things seemed new again! Stages of our relationship I once swore to never experience again were now something I looked forward to reliving with a seething passion. There wasn’t a cloud in our sky.

This is not fun!Of course… I guess the signs were all there. I remember the night before graduation, everyone excited about one stage ending and a new one beginning, and, while I was paying attention to some old friends I figured I’d never see again, I saw her out of the corner of my eye. I took a more focused look, and saw her doing something we had both said, on many occasions, was stupid. Others… others we insulted on many occasions, they’d tried it, and, well, we both agreed, we both agreed, it was horrible. But there she was, going all “three dimensional”. It didn’t really seem to do anything for her notoriety, no one really noticed at the time, I tried not to bring it up again, and we went on like nothing happened. I thought, you know, it was a party, she’d always been kind of “wild” and “cutting edge”, figured it was a one time thing. I still wish I was right.
Well, school ended, and I guess so did we. We were going in two totally different directions, and we both figured it would be too difficult to try to maintain something that was just going to hurt both of us. We had a relationship based on happiness, and if we weren’t happy, why continue? I admitted that, no matter what, odds are I’d still love her, and, if memory serves, she kinda shrugged. Should’ve taken that as a sign.

I didn’t try to look her up immediately after that, heard she was just running around a lot with no real direction. Some sort of doomed racing thing? I don’t know, I had no interest in hearing about her failures, so I just laid off for a while. Eventually, she called me. I guess that’s always the way it is, me too much of a coward to seek the truth. She was, after a long dry spell, finally with another guy. One of those guys into the three dimensional stuff. I really didn’t want to believe it. She kept telling me how deep he was, how much fun she had with all her old friends while he was around, that the 3-D wasn’t a problem with him, because he’d always be there. Get with the times, she told me. Sorry, babe, that’s just not my way.

Special Thanks to Faith HillThose two, they just kept it up. I’d talk to her sometimes, she said he was always finding fresh things to do. I told her his shtick wasn’t anything original, that it was a step backwards to please others if anything, but she wouldn’t hear me. I tried to be happy for her, I really did, but… it was all just too different for me. I had this idea of how things should be in my head, how things were, some sort of mega collection of memories, but even the memories couldn’t bring me the same kind of joy, knowing how it all ends.

And it is over. She’s getting married in the fall, and now that I know even more about Big Mr. 3-D, I’m even more disappointed. I sat down, tried, really hard to like him, but it just isn’t happening. He’s repetitive, he can’t seem to focus on any one thing for longer than ten seconds (don’t even think he can pay attention to her for that long, for that matter, he’s always talking about the blonde and the redhead and, geez, some brunette that seems pissed off all the time), and possibly worst of all, I’m beginning to wonder whether or not my ex-love even knows he’s this… broken. He seems to sully the past with his mere presence.

And, look, I know I’m kind of a prude, but if her feed is any indication, they seem to be into some kind of different kink every week, some of which I genuinely do not understand. I can sorta (sorta!) understand things like Arabian or Medieval cosplay, but they were into something called “wolfplay” for a hot minute, and I have no idea what that was all about. I should really delete her feed, but, ugh, sometimes she posts a pic from an amusement park and… I mean, she looks happy, right?

Sure, we still talk. We’re still friends, we’ll always be. Sometimes we sit down and talk about all the good times we had, maybe even throw out a few ideas of what it might have been had we stuck it out, a generation’s worth of memories that never were. But, there’s always something bittersweet there, that there’s just… I don’t know…

I’m sorry, I must have something in my eye.

FGC #13 Sonic the Hedgehog

  • System: Sega Genesis. Also available for practically every system released since the Dreamcast, including your phone and maybe your toaster. No, that isn’t fair. I will not slut shame.
  • Number of Players: One, the loneliest number.
  • Bonus for Collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds: Pissing off a fat, mustachioed man. He looks so hurt.
  • Favorite Zone: Star Light Zone, which is odd, because there is rarely a good Sonic level past the starting stages. Sonic peaking early is a constant to a fault.
  • Does this make you physically ill?
    He just keeps bouncing
    Yes.
  • Did You Know? According to The History of Sonic the Hedgehog, the soundtrack for Sonic the Hedgehog was composed involving a process passing cassette tapes back and forth. I made her a mixtape once, and made a copy for myself, too. Sometimes I still listen to it. Sometimes.
  • Would I play again? Yes, though, given the option, I’d go for the one with the redhead.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Persona 4 Golden. It’s relationship week here at Gogglebob.com, apparently! Please look forward to it!