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Nostalgia Goggles


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We all have them for various things and for various reasons. And there's nothing wrong with it. It adds to the enjoyment of life, in many ways.

Simple: Which Sonic games, in which order, do you have the most nostalgia for? The ones which, regardless of your objective feelings about the games impact, cloud your ability to have neutral or even critical discussions about them? Of course this does not mean you cannot actually be rational when discussing them, but your love and memories make it much more difficult. In order please and give a good reason if you can. This does not mean that these games are what you think are the actual greatest games in the franchise....in fact, they can be, but these ones are the most special to you for any number of reasons. 

For me:

1) Sonic 3 and Knuckles - I do genuinely believe this to be the best Sonic has ever been (so far...hopefully), but this game in particular has influenced me very much on a number of levels. For one, my primary career and occupation was inspired by what was my first exposure to outer space, ever, in the doomsday zone. The music and themes were astoundingly atmospheric and I still regularly listen to the entire soundtrack. The level menu theme always seems to brighten the day whenever I hear it, maybe the most relaxing music I've ever heard. I'll never stop playing the game even to my eventual old age, its just automatic fun regardless of how you play it.

Ironically, as much as I love this game and feel it doesn't get enough praise outside of the fanbase for being among the best ever 2D platformers, I've always dreamed of a 3D game that could actually surpass it. And that brings me to my number 2 choice..

2) Sonic Adventure - Probably tied with Sonic 2 as my #2 overall favorite Sonic game; this was the game that I think I've experienced the most personal hype for, ever. My dream for Sonic was always to have a game with the same essence as Sonic 3K but successfully (not 1:1 necessarily) translated into 3D. This game represented that for me, prior to actually playing it leading up to 1998. And even after I played it, the game showed a lot of promise in many of its ideas...but the actual execution here causes my nostalgia to fiercely battle with reality and there was a certain hollowness in gameplay that definitely let me down overall back then. Still, I often look back at it for what it could have been with more time and focus, and maybe what a future title could stand to gain from applying the lessons learned by Sonic's first true 3D outing...lessons that Sonic Team still has not completely seemed to learn from, especially in their progressive abandonment of Sonic's platforming roots thereafter. 

3) Sonic 1 - Not my first video game (Mostly Nintendo before my older brother got a Genesis for Christmas one year) but quickly surpassed Mario for game most played in my life. Still has the most charm out of every game in the series. Instantly brings me back to that time period in my life as a wee lad, especially when I hear the labyrinth theme and the boss theme.

Although I think Sonic 2 is the better game and more often find it easier to play, 1 for some reason I seem to appreciate its basic themes slightly more. Nostalgia makes me say I like Sonic 1 more than 2, but actual use tells me I enjoy 2 more than 1.

4) Sonic 3D Blast - I think the soundtrack here is pretty stellar for both Genesis/Saturn but......the game really does suck. Even when I got it for Christmas in '96, I knew it was actually not a good game and suspected SEGA really just wanted to put out a 3D Sonic game to stay even with the competition. But I loved the atmosphere and still had fun when I lowered my expectations. Played it recently and, hoo boy, its hot trash. Dumpster fires can be fun for minutes at a time though?

5) Sonic Unleashed -  Still think one of the best presentations for a Sonic game in the franchise. Very epic feel and this was a bold new gameplay style (well...one of them was) for Sonic that nearly redeemed the previous 6 years of inconsistent and buggy 3D gameplay. Too bad the game was mostly boring fluff under a flashy exterior. Generations showed how the more enjoyable half of this game could be improved to near perfect within its own conceptual walls, even if it almost completely abandoned the philosophical approach of the classic games.

 

Bonus: The game(s) that nostalgia causes me to dislike the most

1) Sonic '06 - Even more than it being a literal disaster in videogame history, I cannot stand the attempt to turn Sonic into something resembling a knock off final fantasy with awkwardly tall Sonic characters. I have only ever played the demo myself and it will remain that way forever.

2) Sonic Adventure 2 - I do enjoy the game overall when playing just the Sonic levels and the chao stuff. It can be good fun. But the 'bland realism' art direction with muted and darker colors and generic robot mech enemies; the cheesy music which was much more focused on 80's buttrock and not on the usual diverse atmospheric themes that complimented previous games so well; the mostly boring and tedious Knuckles/Rouge levels; the painful, absolutely-can't-stand-to-play-them Tails/Eggman levels..... immediately cause me to remember this game as the first one that didn't mostly feel like the Sonic I already knew. Not among the games that I actually dislike playing (which is a separate list) but it is memorable for being the first one that caused a personal stir in a negative sense.

3) Sonic Forces - Phenomenal in the sense of disappointment it brings, mediocre in every other sense. I hate everything about the approach to design in this game, in almost every way. The actual gameplay overall is certainly not the worst for the franchise....but I get irritated with that as an acceptable standard for evaluating a franchise I regularly patron and support with my heart's desire.

 

Strangely, even though Shadow ('05) was a bad game in my opinion, my little brother is a huge Shadow fan and got that as a gift when it came out. I watched him play through most of the game, including most of the alternate lines, and enjoyed seeing him happy. So I have strangely positive memories of that game. Weird how life can be sometimes.

 

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Great post.

I have nostalgia for a couple of Sonic games aswell:

1) Sonic Advance 2

This was my first Sonic game ever, I remember I was very young, and I was at my aunt's. My cousin was playing Sonic Advance 2, Music Plant to be exact, and I remember not being able to keep up with how fast Sonic was running, I immediately fell in love with it. To this day I love the aesthethics and the music, and I look back to the game fondly, even if whenever I get to actually play it, it always feels a bit like a disappointment.

2) Sonic Adventure

This was my second Sonic game, I was still very young, and used to spend hours every day just playing the PC Demo ver.A (the one that only had Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, one stage each). When I got the full game a bit later on, I literally spent hundreds of hours on it, and studied every nook and cranny, looked into the game's files, followed hacking topics and whatnot. I loved the game to death, with all its flaws and imperfections, and I still do to this day. I still believe it was the best 3D Sonic incarnation we've ever had, it just needed more polish and a more focused direction. I wish we could go back to square one like we did with Mania and build on that.

3) Sonic Heroes

As you could've guessed by now, I was born in the late 90s (1994), so I grew up with the first 3D Sonic games, for the most part. Sonic Heroes has what I think are the best aesthethics and music in any post 90s Sonic game. It's so imaginative and spot on that I don't think Sonic Team ever came close to that greatness. Gameplay-wise it's a mess, with a huge focus on combat and no Sonic-y gameplay in sight, but still, I go back to it regularly and I have a good time with it. Hang Castle/Mystic Mansion is one of the best looking stages and best concepts of any Sonic stages, fight me.

4) Sonic the Hedgehog 2

It was my first real Sonic game, and I had a blast with it. I enjoyed getting my ass kicked again and again until I finally beat the game the first time, and I went back to it right after that, and I had gotten better. I realized I had to try over and over until I could beat every stage as fast as possible, and I did. I still play Sonic 2 regularly today. Mania took its spot recently as my favourite 2D Sonic game, but Sonic 2 still holds a special place in my heart.

5) Sonic Mania

As crazy as this sounds I do have nostalgia for Sonic Mania. From the moment I saw "Sega Proudly presents... In Collaboration With-" I knew what was coming. I could just tell what was going to happen.

And boy, did it happen. I was blown away, I could barely contain my excitement at 3am that July 22. And the buildup until the game release, the first time I actually got to play it first-hand. I feel like Mania one handedly saved the franchise I hold so close to my heart, and for that I'm thankful. I just love Mania so much, it's a special game.

6) Sonic Unleashed

I honestly don't like this game as much as I did when it came out, but I do remember it fondly, especially the hype trail leading up to release. I wish I could still play it from time to time, I remember the story mode being interesting, and the hub worlds were just stunningly beautiful. 

It's not among my favourite Sonic games though.

 

Games that legitimately get me angry:

1) Sonic Forces

I hate how it is considered acceptable. When I think about that game, I feel like Sonic's now become a zombie and is still running, but rotting at the same time. I mean he did become a Werehog, didn't he?

2) Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystals.

The fact that these two games are written off as "not bad actually" "pretty decent" bugs me to no end. Both games are so far removed from what Sonic should play like that it gets me angry. Why are they Sonic games in the first place? That's "how to milk a brand 101" kind of stuff. I hate it.

3) Sonic Colours:

It's the emblem of mediocrity, yet it is regarded as the second coming of Jesus Christ.

4) Sonic Adventure 2:

People say that Adventure 2 is better than Adventure 1, when all Adventure 2 did was taking every good thing from Adventure 1, completely missing the point of why it was good in the first place, and pad everything out 10x as much. Such a bad game.

 

 

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^ Awesome, Sonikko!

You actually just made me remember that I also have a bit of nostalgia surrounding Sonic Advance, with Advance 3. Its the first of the advance games that I played and even though not as good as advance 1 and nowhere near the classics, I enjoyed quite a lot of it on the first playthrough, minus finding the chao. Some of the music and levels from the game were pretty interesting though and I still remember the themes and recall them often. Cyber track (totally a rip from a level from Adv. 2), chaos angel 2, and the final boss, nonaggression are three that I always remember for some reason even though I haven't touched the game in over a decade.

I think we fully agree about Sonic Adventure 1 haha. The most ambitious SEGA title ever in my opinion, to its detriment. If SEGA had prioritized establishing the 3D gameplay a tad more over showcasing the tech, I think Sonic is in a much better spot as a franchise today. Not totally their fault however, as much of what they wanted to do was (ironically) limited by the technology of the time (collision detection issues).

 

 

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The way I see it Adventure 1 would have been flawed even with more focus. It would've been definitely better without all the padding and stuff that was in it just to showcase the new technology, but there's a reason they scaled back the level design quite a bit from WV beta to what's in the final game, and it's cause they just couldn't make it work right back then.

I mean it makes sense, I'm not blaming the developers or anything, I can also see why they decided to include all that random stuff, the game wasn't meaty enough with stages that linear. It's probably a very different product from what they originally envisioned.

You've got a good point though with "if SA1 had more focus Sonic today would be much better". I completely agree with that statement.

Most of today's issues in 3D Sonic have their roots in either SA1 or SA2. I blame SA2 more than anything 'cause instead of fixing the flaws and workarounds introduced in SA1, the game embraced them fully and made them part of the core experience.

SA1: We really want to build these big stages/playgrounds in which you play with Sonic's physics based moves but we can't so we'll make linear stages that have some Sonic-y elements here and there, although we'll have to script some of them.

SA2: Oh wow that worked lmfao, ok let's make money with the lowest effort possible.

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Here are some Sonic games that I would consider my judgement for to be a bit clouded from nostalgia.

1.       Sonic Adventure – This game seemed so amazing to me at the time of its release (and, considering all the high scores that it got from critics, I wasn’t alone in thinking that). Everything about it, from its graphics, to high-speed 3D gameplay, to its rockin’ soundtrack with a rad vocal theme; this seemed like a true evolution of the series. I was somehow blind to all of the glitches and horrible camera for years, and in that time, I would have definitely considered Sonic Adventure to be my #1 favorite video game. Then, as I kept coming back to it and the enchantment of it all started to wear off, I started to see it for what it was. It took a while, though. I still love Sonic Adventure, but, it’s aged very poorly. I still play it though, and enjoy the hell out of it.

2.       Sonic R – While I never quite considered this to be a great game, especially when compared to other racing games that came out around that time like Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing, I still thought that Sonic R was pretty good when I got it new as a little kid. Just controlling Sonic and his friends in 3D race tracks, that seemed fast-paced at the time at least, was enough to get me excited. I actually hated the vocal tracks at the time, and they slowly grew on me over the years, so my admiration of this game’s soundtrack is kind of reverse from the rest of the game. I don’t know how I thought the gameplay was fine as a kid, because, ugh. The awkward “steering” of the characters with that weird slippery feeling is just awful. Also, having only five tracks is just unacceptable by any standards. I still have some fond memories with this game and everything, but, I would definitely consider Sonic R to be a bad game.

3.       Sonic Unleashed – A bit more of a recent example for this one. I still like Sonic Unleashed, but when it came out, I absolutely loved it. I still hated the werehog from the very beginning, but I loved the daytime stages so much that I just kept replaying those over and over again. The boost gameplay seemed so new and fresh, and running through the levels felt so exhilarating. I also think the fact that this was the next main Sonic game to come out after Sonic 2006 helped make it seem that much better. Now, after playing so much of Generations and Colors (yes, I still love those games), going back to Unleashed is just kind of… eh. Boosting through doesn’t seem as exciting anymore, and, well, that’s most of what the game is. There’s very little platforming, and way too many QTE’s thrown it to make everything seem more dynamic, which just end up getting annoying. Way too much of the game also relies on well-timed homing attacks, which also gets tiring after a while. Again, lots of very good memories with this game though, that still kind of continue to make it seem better than it actually is in my head. Sonic Unleashed just relies a bit too much on the “spectacle” aspect, which, doesn’t really make it hold up as well. I would still consider (half of) the game to be good, though, just not amazing like I once thought.

I didn’t include any of the classic games, since in my opinion, they all hold up amazingly well (except maybe Sonic 1, but that was always my least favorite of the classic games anyway). Most of the games that were considered horrible by the general gaming public (Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic 2006, Sonic and the Black Knight, etc.), I also hated when they came out, and still do now.

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1 hour ago, Sonikko said:

The way I see it Adventure 1 would have been flawed even with more focus. It would've been definitely better without all the padding and stuff that was in it just to showcase the new technology, but there's a reason they scaled back the level design quite a bit from WV beta to what's in the final game, and it's cause they just couldn't make it work right back then.

I mean it makes sense, I'm not blaming the developers or anything, I can also see why they decided to include all that random stuff, the game wasn't meaty enough with stages that linear. It's probably a very different product from what they originally envisioned.

You've got a good point though with "if SA1 had more focus Sonic today would be much better". I completely agree with that statement.

Most of today's issues in 3D Sonic have their roots in either SA1 or SA2. I blame SA2 more than anything 'cause instead of fixing the flaws and workarounds introduced in SA1, the game embraced them fully and made them part of the core experience.

SA1: We really want to build these big stages/playgrounds in which you play with Sonic's physics based moves but we can't so we'll make linear stages that have some Sonic-y elements here and there, although we'll have to script some of them.

SA2: Oh wow that worked lmfao, ok let's make money with the lowest effort possible.

Haha, wow you've got an equal hate boner for SA2....exaggerating of course because I don't actually 'hate' SA2.

I also wouldn't call SA2 a low effort game. Definitely not nearly what SA1 was in scope and ambition. In some ways its better for it...though in most ways it isn't, as we agree.

What's interesting about SA1 conceptually is that that game can work in principle with minimal padded content. I think Sonic Utopia, even though just a bare bones concept, shares a lot of what the team back then envisioned (which probably why Yuji Naka "liked" the game on facebook). But the team then didn't have the technology to handle what they wanted to do, even though the marketed the dreamcast as being capable of such.

SA1 was going to be flawed no matter what in the same way that Sonic 1 was. It was Sonic's first true 3D outing. It never needed to be perfect and I think its true that if it had prioritized gameplay polish a bit more and correctly built on that foundation....like Mario 64 did for Mario....we probably forgive its flaws much more easily because the follow up games would be much improved like Sonic 2 and 3 were for the classics. Many have raised this point and its why SA1 probably more than any game specifically deserves a chance at a ground up remake...although for today's industry, I'd probably consider a brand new title based on those principles over a direct remake and avoid the fluff, padded content.

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2 minutes ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

Haha, wow you've got an equal hate boner for SA2....exaggerating of course because I don't actually 'hate' SA2.

I also wouldn't call SA2 a low effort game. Definitely not nearly what SA1 was in scope and ambition. In some ways its better for it...though in most ways it isn't, as we agree.

Ahahaha, it was an exaggeration. I don't think they really made the game with the lowest possible effort, but I do think SA2 was a downgrade in almost every aspect.

I find it funny that they fixed some of the issues in how Sonic handled in SA1, rolling doesn't break splines anymore for instance and it works better all around, but at the same time they streamlined the level design so much that it's almost not noticeable.

I also think the Utopia comparison is fair, Utopia's aim is to go back and see what made the Sonic formula good in the first place, and reinvent that in 3D, kinda like BoTW did for Zelda. I think SA1 was originally going to be exactly that, hardware limitations and corporate meddling got between us and the perfect 3D Sonic formula.

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Oh boy, it's gonna be one of those topics, isn't it?

Anyway, there are several games I have nostalgia for:

1) Sonic Heroes - this was my first introduction to the Sonic games at the age of I think 10? Anyway, I played it quite a lot as a kid. I guess I played it that much that a more recent playthrough I still did well. Not the best, but I got used to the controls and physics of the game quite easily, hence why for this game specifically I don't have as many problems in terms of controls and overall gameplay as many do. I still think it's one of the better Sonic games, probably cuz of the aesthetics and music tracks. My lord, the music tracks are just out of this world - Seaside Hill, Grand Metropolis, Mystic Mansion, even Rail Canyon (which, while still my least favourite level in the game, I didn't outright hate it. Vocal tracks were also pretty good, albeit cheesy.

2) Sonic Generations - "hurr durr, nostalgic for a game that's literally a nostalgia, this is just a bland boost-to-win rollercoaster with barely any story or w/e, how can you even have nostalgia for a game that's not even a platformer?" Yeah, yeah, boost haters can tell that all they want, it still won't make me like this game less. I replayed it probably too many times, I got for a full completion (which is VERY rare in my case, especially in terms of Sonic games), and the PC version is doing wonders to this game - mods, 60 FPS, highest fidelity that makes the game look great even by today's standarts. While I don't care too much about Classic in this game, Modern is a completely different story. The control is arguably one of the better ones in terms of 3D games, the reimaginings of levels (except for maybe Rooftop Run) actually felt fresh (even more fresh compared to Mania in my eyes). I'll even say that it has at least one of the small amount of bosses I think is actually pretty good (Perfect Chaos). Yeah, the story is nonexistent, the final boss is pretty bad and the OST had only remixes, but maaaan I don't care, I really like the game. Really wish that Forces played like a Generations game and not like...garbage.

3) Sonic Rush/ Rush Adventure - "hurr durr, another boost-to-win game that has garbage platforming, what r u smoking pal?". Okay, sure, I don't have as big of a nostalgia for these games, and I did start liking Rush a little bit less, but, again, in my eyes this series was a pretty good Sonic subseries. Here's the thing - I don't like slow, methodical platforming (ala Mario or many other platformers like that) or collect-a-thon's (like, um, Mario 3D games, Banjo series, etc.). I need a goal and I want to get there as fast as I can, while feeling that speed. That's why I'm not replaying classics a lot (except for maybe Sonic 1 cuz lulz), and why I don't really like the latter part of Sonic 2 (or some parts of this subseries for that matter). However I really liked the style of Rush games, they made me feel like I'm going really fast (except for slow platforming sections in Rush 1 and boat sections in Rush 2). Bosses were...bleh in Rush 1 (haven't played Rush 2 in a while, so can't  say about them. I do remember the T-Rex being one of the "wait for weak spot" bosses and that boss with wrecking balls, that was a pretty cool bossfight), but the designs I liked (especially Rush Adventure, most of them had the "sea creature" theme going for them). The music in both games is really catchy. While they do have a slew of issues, I still think they're well made games. 

And I guess that's it. I didn't include classic games, cuz I don't have much of a nostalgia for them. I also didn't include Adventure games, but that's mostly because I haven't played them a lot and/or have many more issues that somewhat ruin my experience. Boom games? Pfffff (although I'll still stand by Fire & Ice being an actually okay game. Not good, but not garbage or "it makes me angry reee" material like some people suggest).

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Sonic Adventure- Even though Sonic Advance was my first Sonic game, Adventure 1 is what got me into Sonic, full force. I love it for it's atmosphere and it's marketing (Especially in Japan) and playing through the stages as -some- of the characters is still fun.

Sonic Adventure 2- I have had the most confuzzling relationship with this game, lemme tell you. Back in 2012, it was in my top 5 Sonic games. A year ago, I couldn't stand it. Now,I love almost everything about it... except for it's gameplay. When I first played SA2, I was in love with it! It honestly bothers me how much I love everything about this game except for the gameplay itself. Music, story (For the time), presentation, world, marketing, atmosphere, they all check out!

I have more, but I don't wanna bore anyone.

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