May 21, 2005

Sonic the Hedgehog forever.

Admittedly, I had a childhood idol. I obsessed over him for a good few months, and immensely adored him much of the rest of the time after I was first introduced to him. It wasn't human, though. In fact, it wasn't even of this world.

I was maybe 9 or 10 when I got my first taste of Sonic the Hedgehog. I was completely delirious, as well, lying around in my darkened bedroom early one Friday night, suffering a 103° fever. I was living way out in the country, and had nowhere to go and nothing to do but dizzily look out a window into the dreary pitch darkness. I was home alone with my mother, who was already sleeping, before my brother and father pull up, returning from town. When my father entered the house, he knocked on my door, and told me he had rented a couple of games at Scott's Video. I pried myself out of bed and thanked him for the games, then closed the door and examined them in the light. Super Monaco GP admittedly didn't sound at all interesting to me, but Sonic the Hedgehog certainly did. I didn't feel I was really up to playing any video games that night, but I was too intrigued by the game's name not to plug it in to my Sega Genesis and see what would come up.

When I caught my first sight of that little blue hedgehog, I immediately wanted to reach out and hug him. After seeing him for a mere few seconds, I forgot all about how terrible I was feeling. Everything else simply slipped away. I wanted to embrace him for simply being who he was, for that adorable grin of attitude on his gorgeous face, for showing up in my living room by some odd stroke of fate. I fell in love with him instantaneously, which is something I had never experienced before with any character or person. It was such a blissful feeling, I could not help but feel entirely rejuvenated. My forehead was no longer burning up, but my heart was ablaze with fondness.

I pressed the start button, and began to play the game. I was instantly drawn into the world. Oh, that music of Green Hill Zone. I still vividly recall the way that music filled the darkened bedroom as if I am actually there right now. I feel as if I am in a state of hypnosis as I write about it. It's easily the most nostaglia-inducing tune I know. Perhaps my lethargic state was partially responsible for me literally feeling as if I was a part of the world. I was in love with Sonic, and I was in love with his world. For a good two hours, the "real" world simply slipped away, and I got as far as Spring Yard Zone, before tiredly resetting the game and staring at Sonic some more. I felt as if he was my new best friend, and he would be for the rest of my life. Later that night, after I fell asleep, I unsurprisingly dreamt about him. I spent a great portion of the next day playing the game, and as I was sick, I had every excuse to simply lay there and play video games. I was somewhat heartbroken when my father had to return the game to the rental store, but naturally, I later begged my parents to purchase it. Sonic was easily one of my biggest childhood obsessions, and no matter how strange it seemed to people, he often tagged along with me most places I went. Oh, the adventures we embarked on during long dreary school days, passing the time away. Calvin had his Hobbes; I had my Sonic.

What may seem odd to many is he is still my idol, should I insist that I still have an idol. I do not care how silly it may sound. He'll always have a large place in my heart, because he was a huge part of my childhood. Unfortunately, his creator, the Sonic Team, gave him a new look several years ago, one I find contemptible in a wannabe urban tough guy sort of way. He now looks like the kind of idiot that would key your car and rob a pharmacy. Not a cool kind of hip. I'll always envision him as he appeared in the very first game, as he only looks right that way.

As for the games themselves, it's quite remarkable just how much they suit me. The first game starred a small, anthropomorphic furry woodland creature with a very cool attitude. It was up to him to save his lush, beautiful world from Dr. Robotnik, an ugly, fat, bald, crude, smelly old man. Robotnik's mission, after all, was to convert all the world's woodland creatures into robots and stop at nothing to completely industrialise the world for his own selfish good, even if it meant turning it into a hideous polluted wasteland devoid of life. Robotnik as an individual is a metaphor for all of humanity in the real world, and Sonic is... the hero of the animals. Each robot the player destroys in the game frees an animal which hops or flies or crawls to safety, and the reward for beating a stage is a giant tank full of trapped innocent animals to stomp open. Of course, Robotnik always hides behind his elaborate, environmentally destructive machines when battling Sonic, but this small, cunning blue creature has the power to completely smash his inventions with his bare fists. Just beautiful. The game is not only fun with its brilliantly designed stages, spectacular scenery, and lovely music, but also tremendously gratifying. There is nothing better than helping the least likely force one could imagine to save the world from humanity.

Yes, video games generally used to be so majestic... what happened? For awhile, I thought I had simply grown out of them, until I realised that I will never "grow up" nor have any desire to. Take your jaw-dropping cinematic sequences and ultra-realistic human heroes and shove it. When it comes to video games, my heart lies in the early to mid 90's, back when more video games required an imagination to enjoy and not the ability to withstand bad acting or war simulators.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry i must correct you dear, but the game you are describing is Sonic the Hedgehog 2! though i'm assuming you probably knew that. it's been forever since we've communicated, but at any rate.. i just read this and was astonished.. i was obsessed with the entire plot of the game too. in fact, i still have my Sega Genesis AND Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Sonic the Hedgehog 3. hard as it is to find decent games anymore, have you ever heard of Oddworld on Xbox? Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee is the first game i really got into since Sonic. the creatures are fictional, however the plot is most obviously anti-vivisection and compassionate toward endangered species. it's also a lot less frustrating than Sonic in the fact that you can save your game and not restart everytime you screw up. ;)

miss you Nealy-poo..