The Pied Piper of virtual reality

oculus rift
Is this how you really imagine the future of gaming? If so, something is clearly wrong with you.

There has been a certain level of hype surrounding virtual reality, particularly with regards to the Oculus Rift, widely credited for making virtual reality sound even remotely marketable. I remember the days when virtual reality sounded like such a far-fetched and uncool that barely anyone wanted to talk about. In the world of gaming, virtual reality wasn’t something that a lot of people weren’t very keen about, and Nintendo’s ill-fated Virtual Boy didn’t help the cause. Now, less than twenty years after Nintendo’s Virtual Boy infamously flopped, the Oculus Rift is being touted by some as “the future of gaming”. I’m here to discuss why that’s total nonsense.

While it may be true that the Oculus Rift is pretty much the future of virtual reality gaming, that’s pretty much it. Keep in mind that the focus of virtual reality is total immersion, which it probably accomplishes with the headset. Virtual reality has not evolved to the point that it can immerse you into a story like the ones that can be found on console games.

Speaking of that, why do we even need virtual reality? Don’t we enjoy console games? There have been numerous games on traditional gaming consoles (Nintendo, Sony, etc.) that have had the power to immerse the player into a different world without virtual reality. By proclaiming the Oculus Rift, and therefore virtual reality, as “the future of gaming”, we’re ignoring the immersive capabilities of some of the greatest console games that we supposedly love.

I should also point out another problem. At the moment, video game addiction, though proven to be a real thing, is not as big a problem as the tabloids would like you to believe. However, in the future, virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift could grant such an immersive experience that your perception of fantasy and reality could be dangerously blurred. Because of the nature of this immersion, virtual reality gaming could prove to be more addictive than real console gaming, and that sounds exactly like the kind of story the tabloids would want to sell you, further attracting unnecessary attention from so-called “moral guardians”.

For virtual reality gaming to be “the future”, it needs to be able to show just as much artistic potential as a console game can. There are numerous console games both past and present that, in my opinion, can be called art, mainly because those games had an engaging storyline and characters, and/or enchanting visuals that communicated a unique style (for example, Final Fantasy VIDragon’s Crown, and Rayman Origins). Meanwhile, virtual reality hasn’t produced anything that can be called art. Perhaps that’s because virtual reality gaming as a concept is still in its infancy, but what if it suddenly becomes mainstream? I highly doubt that a lot of developers will use it to make real artistic games, and so what you’ll get is living proof that the video games industry is wholly uninterested in making art.

team fortress 2 vr
And I don’t think we’ll see much of this in virtual reality, whether you call it art or not.

I also have a distinct feeling that virtual reality in gaming might be little more than a fad. Does anyone remember when the Nintendo 3DS came out? Back then, 3D was already a big thing in the world of cinema, and Nintendo made the 3DS to try and capitalize on it. However, it wasn’t long before we all realized that 3D was just a fad. I think the same might happen with virtual reality, because technological fads come and go, and eventually, we’ll all lose interest in virtual reality gaming. Meanwhile, console gaming has been around for nearly 40 years, and has seen every gaming fad come and go.

Finally, I think I should elaborate on why I referred to virtual reality as a “Pied Piper” in the title. I called it that because the promise of virtual reality sounds so alluring and irresistible to many, but few people really know what their getting into. Virtual reality might have numerous applications, and virtual reality gaming sounds like an attractive idea, but right now, the hype around it is just hype, and in my opinion, it’s about as appealing as empty words.

Cheers to two years of SMAGIC

Once again, the time has come for me to look back on the past year. There have been some significant changes both in my life and on this site, and so I’d like to spend some time reflecting on the past year.

What Happened to the Old Logo?

In February, I changed the theme of this website because I felt the old look was getting outdated, especially since that the year each post was written wouldn’t show. The current look for the site felt great when I first tried it, but the only drawback was that I couldn’t keep the old logo.

It was difficult, but I wound up scrapping the old logo because I realized that it couldn’t be carried over to the new site. With that in mind, I wanted to concentrate on the subject matter, rather than any kind of public image. I may consider yet another change in the site’s design, but that will be for another time.

I have been told that the current look is a mature look, and in a way, it is. At the time, it reflected a turbulent period in my life where the way I saw things was beginning to change, and these changes are still happening.

The SMAGIC Ethos

In the first year of the site’s existence, it’s main purpose was my own personal space where my opinion can be expressed freely. It also served as an outlet where I can critique everything that’s wrong with society, culture, politics, and the world in general.

Am I living up to that ethos? In a way, I still am. My website is about going against conformity, and not having to feel ashamed of who you are.

What’s improved?

I feel that my overall writing style has improved over the past year, with newer posts usually going in depth with regards to a particular subject. However, my passion for writing many posts began to wane as I made the jump from computing student to art student.

In my opinion, the quality of the newer posts is getting better because I take more time before I right new posts. I’ve also written longer posts over the past year than ever before, my longest ever post so far being last month’s Top 10 worst video game clichés, capping off at an enormous 3,427 words (if I ever have to write essays like that more regularly, I’d go insane).


In December 2013, I quietly scrapped the Simon’s Diary project due to high stress levels associated with writing for the project, coupled with poor ratings and very little promotion.

After the failure of Simon’s Diary, I began phasing out The SMAGIC Kids, along with the very idea of having a mascot to begin with. I’m basically retiring Simon Grant’s universe, and that will have an effect on any posts featuring them, all because nobody understood that they were fictional characters.

Video Game Countdowns

Since August, I’ve written a series of countdowns relating to video games, where I basically do the written equivalent of the plethora of video game Top 10′s you can easily find on YouTube. The main difference is that it’s not about special effects (which is impossible on this site).

The video game countdowns are going to be a staple for as long as I can keep writing them, and I’ve got a few of them planned for the next few months, so there’s plenty of energy for them left. I’ve already done four as of now, and who knows what the future holds for them.

A New Manifesto?

On Saturday, I began writing a new manifesto for myself. Because it’s more of a personal manifesto, I don’t intend to make it public…yet. One thing’s for certain, however, is that it’s part of a new introspective journey to establish an identity that’s truly mine.

What Did I Learn?

Speaking of identity, while I am trying to establish a newer and truer identity, I have to realize that this website is part of the history of my identity. In fact, establishing this site may have been the first step in establishing a completely independent identity.

I guess what I’ve learned is that I shouldn’t take identity for granted. It’s the most important part of who you are. If you take it for granted, then you’ll risk letting it be swept away by a world that demands conformity.


I’m still in college, and this site is still going strong, but I’m not the only reason for this. I’d like to thank the viewers and my followers for their support, commentary, and anything else. After all, I didn’t get to 83,000+ hits all by myself.

Over the years, this project has become more than a blogging website. It has become instrumental in the development of my own identity, chronicling what has changed about it.

Top 10 worst Pokémon

It looks like this is going to be one of those days.

With Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire on the way, Pokémon is obviously one thing that’s going to on my mind a lot over the next month, even if I don’t write about it all the time. I’ve already mentioned some of my favourite Pokémon on this site, so instead of doing that, I though it might be time for my to talk about the Pokémon I don’t like.

Every Pokémon fan probably has to face one fact: amongst all the great Pokémon that we love, there is probably at least one that we either don’t like, or just don’t care about. This list is about the worst Pokémon I could possibly think of, whether it’s because of their design, their stats, their moves, or simply because of disappointment or hatred in general.

I only have two rules for this list.

  1. I only include fully evolved Pokémon. If any of the Pokémon here don’t evolve, then that might just be one of the reasons why they’re here.
  2. I will not be talking about Mega Evolutions, since all but one of the Pokémon on this list has a Mega Evolution, and the Pokémon that does has a Mega Evolution in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which haven’t been released yet.

Without much delay, let’s get this list started.

#10 – Delcatty


If this was supposed to be Hoenn’s answer to Persian, then something is clearly wrong here. To be honest, I never really cared about Skitty, mainly because I assumed that it was basically a cutesy version of Meowth, but it’s even worse than I could possibly imagine.

To get Delcatty, you need to evolve Skitty using a Moon Stone, which itself is insulting because Moon Stones happen to be quite rare in all the games. Evolving Skitty is not worth it because, while Delcatty can learn an arsenal of awesome moves by TM, it’s stats do not support this movepool at all. In fact, Delcatty has some of the worst stats I’ve ever seen, with a base stat total of 380 (not even its Speed stat is usable). Could they have given it a high speed stat and design it as a support Pokémon, rather than an atrociously weak Normal-type that nobody would think to use in the long run?

Everything about this Pokémon’s design just irks me, mainly because I think they could have done better, but instead, they made another weak Normal-type Pokémon, as if we hadn’t had enough of those already. If you ever find a Moon Stone, use it on anyone else, and it would be worth more of your time.

#9 – Dunsparce


Alas, another weak Normal Pokémon ends up on the chopping block for me, but Dunsparce is even worse because it doesn’t evolve at all. It’s Pokédex entries seem to contradict the actual qualities of the Pokémon. A lot of games mention its digging abilities, but while it can learn Dig, it doesn’t get STAB for it because it isn’t a Ground-type Pokémon, and so it wouldn’t be able to reap the benefits of having the move, especially not with its sub-par Attack stat.

Speaking of its stats, it’s only slightly better in battle than Delcatty, but it’s Speed is so terrible than it’s not even worth using anyway, even with its bulky HP stat. It learns a nice variety of moves both by level-up and by TM, but its stats are not worth it. Plenty of the Pokémon introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver were hit or miss, and unfortunately, this one was the latter. With all the additional evolutions introduced in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, I must wonder why they didn’t introduce one for Dunsparce, so that people may actually want to catch it?

I don’t know anyone who actually likes Dunsparce, but one thing is clear: it should have had an evolution. There really isn’t a point to catching it because I don’t think anybody is going to see themselves using it.

#8 – Farfetch’d


Another Pokémon that had so much potential that was squandered, and this one comes straight from the original games. It’s incredibly easy to sweep some of the lamer Pokémon from the first games under the rug, but this is one I think we can all agree was pointless, and Farfetch’d happens to be it.

In the Pokédex, Farfetch’d comes right before Doduo (with which it shares the same type), causing some people to believe that it evolved into Doduo. It doesn’t, and to this day it hasn’t been given any Evolution, or even a Mega Evolution. This is very disappointing because it suffers the same issues as Dunsparce. It can learn good moves, but its stats aren’t very good at all. In fact, Farfetch’d has some of the worst stats I’ve seen in any Pokémon to date (with more to come), and like Delcatty, even its Speed stat is a major disappointment. It’s so weak that it may as well be easy prey for a Pikachu.

This is a Pokémon that begs for improvement. If it had higher Attack and Speed stats, and had an evolved form, maybe I could tolerate it, but it doesn’t, and we’re left with a severe disappointment from the “good old days”.

#7 – Luvdisc


I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that Luvdisc was extremely pointless. There’s already a plethora of monotype Water Pokémon, and among them, Luvdisc is the least impressive of them (with Basculin being the runner-up).

In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, you would want to catch them only because they had a 50% chance of carrying a Heart Scale, which you need if you want to teach your Pokémon moves that they’ve forgotten. However, in later games, there are other ways of getting Heart Scales, like smashing rocks and showing a certain NPC a Pokémon with a certain move. While those methods seem like they really on chance, it’s certainly better than having to catch Luvdisc over and over again.

Like the other entries in this list, you can’t really use Luvdisc in battle. It has good Speed, but the rest of its stats make it very frail. It’s poor Special Attack makes it terrible at using moves of its own type, and its defensive stats are awkward at best. I know I said earlier that Farfetch’d is easy prey for a weak Pikachu, but Pikachu could go to town killing Luvdiscs easily. Luvdisc is so weak that it could lose to even Pachirisu, and if you lose to Pachirisu anywhere other than the beginning of the game, then something is clearly wrong.

#6 – Shuckle


I really hate this Pokémon. It’s just an incredibly stupid concept that was executed in an even clumsier fashion. Of course, I should note that this is same Pokémon with the highest Defence and Special Defence stats of any Pokémon, but that can only mean that its offensive stats are completely unusable.

Bulbapedia will tell you that if you use Power Trick, you’ll temporarily give it the highest Attack stat of any Pokémon, which in theory is awesome. However, please remember that this will also give Shuckle the worst Defence stat of all Pokémon, meaning that if Shuckle doesn’t act fast enough, it’ll get knocked out in a second. This is a very big problem considering that Shuckle is tied with Munchlax for the lowest Speed stat of all Pokémon, so the Power Trick strategy could only work if Trick Room is under effect.

It can actually learn a few powerful moves, but I can’t imagine Shuckle being able to use them properly without the Power Trick strategy, which makes it extremely fragile. Everything about this Pokémon just comes across to me as one great big disaster, but it’s not as bad as the next five Pokémon on this list.

#5 – Mothim


Say hello to what might just be the worst Bug-type Pokémon ever conceived, and the biggest reason for it is that its concept has been done to death. It’s basically another moth Pokémon with the tired old Bug/Flying type combination.

Even worse is how you’re supposed to get it. You have to catch a male specimen Pokémon named Burmy, an unequivocally crappy Bug-type Pokémon that can only be found in Honey trees, and you have to raise it to level 20. Burmy is one of the few Pokémon whose evolution is determined by gender, but the way Burmy evolves is the worst concept for an evolution I’ve ever seen. While Wormadam was horrendously bad, Mothim is even worse because of its incredibly bland design.

As for its effectiveness in battle, it’s somewhat better than Wormadam, with a neat variety of moves, and good enough offensive stats to use them. However, its Speed stat is mediocre at best, and defensive stats are horrible. Even if you could use Mothim in battle, it would get knocked out very easily. To be honest, the main reason why Mothim is worse than Shuckle is because of Burmy’s needlessly complex evolution line. Besides, while there may be some people who’d want to catch Shuckle to try and exploit its ludicrously high defensive stats, I don’t know anyone who’d want to catch Burmy for any good reason.

#4 – Wobbuffet


When I first saw Wobbuffet, I instantly hated it, but I actually tried using it in battle, I found it to be completely useless. I’m being very serious when I say that Wobbuffet is one of the worst concepts for any Pokémon in history.

Wobbuffet looks like a punching bag, and was apparently designed with that in mind. It can only ever use the following moves:

  • Counter
  • Mirror Coat
  • Safeguard
  • Destiny Bond

These moves require timing in order to use them properly, but in Wobbuffet’s case, it requires you to take advantage of its absurdly high HP, and incredibly fragile defensive stats. Simply put it, its entire strategy consists of reflecting damage back to the enemy, but it’s Speed stat is terrible. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire also gave it a weaker baby form that doesn’t learn any attack moves at all. If that’s not enough, I you found it in the wild, you wouldn’t be able to run away from it because of its Shadow Tag ability, which prevents escape, meaning you have to either fight it or catch it.

That’s not even the biggest reason I hate Wobbuffet so much. Remember in the Pokémon anime when Wobbuffet frequently appeared in the anime and did virtually nothing other than shout its name with some of the worst voice acting you’ll ever hear in your life? Unfortunately, I remember those days all too well, and it’s even worse if you actually played Pokémon Channel, and if a Pokémon with a horrible voice etched into your skull in somehow likeable, then something is absolutely wrong.

#3 – Diggersby


This is the only new Pokémon to be mentioned on this list, but I really hate this one, mainly because of its horrible design, and pitiful execution.

First, it’s a Normal/Ground type, which should have been the type combination they used for Dunsparce, but this type combination doesn’t do a lot of good for it. It does make it immune to Electric type moves, and adds resistance to Rock and Poison moves, but it adds three more weaknesses. Call it nitpicking if you will, but I’d rather have one weakness than four of them.

Second, Diggersby’s design is putrid, mainly because it uses its ears to dig, and that doesn’t even make sense. On top of that, it doesn’t look like a Pokémon I’d want to use at all, which is sad because it’s one of the only two Ground-type Pokémon they introduced in Pokémon X and Y (the other being the lackluster legendary Pokémon Zygarde).

Third, it can learn a variety of very good moves, but it’s stats are putrid, with a pitiful Attack stat that begs to have been higher. Its defensive stats and its Speed stat are alright, but it its Attack stat were higher, it might have been worth using. Instead, the game designers seem to have treated it like another standard Normal-type Pokémon.

Every aspect of this Pokémon’s design is baffingly awful, especially for a Pokémon you might only use at the beginning of the game, but it’s not as bad as the next entry on this list.

#2 – Audino


Somebody in Game Freak obviously doesn’t like me, because what we have here is perhaps the worst Normal-type Pokémon ever made. Aside from it being a bad design clone of Chansey, it also happens to be the worst implementation of a healer I’ve ever known.

Audino is clearly designed as a healer, and its defensive stats and HP stat are good enough for the job, but its speed is terrible, and its movepool is quite shallow considering its poor offensive stats. With this in mind, it should have been designed as a tanking supporter.

In Pokémon Black and White, is a major tease when you found it in the rustling grass. In this scenario, you’d generally assume to find something good in the rustling grass, but most of the time, you’ll only find this Pokémon. The only reason you’ll have to even want to find Audino is to kill it for the high amount of EXP it gives you. Other than that, you’ll want nothing to do with it.

It’s also really baffling that they didn’t change it to a monotype Fairy Pokémon when Pokémon X and Y came out. Considering its design, that would have made sense, but instead, we get another lame Normal-type Pokémon with no evolution and nothing to make it worth using. Even though it has a Mega Evolution coming up, I don’t say what would make that worth using at all.

#1 – Unown


If you’re reading this, you probably expected Unown to be somewhere on this list, and in my opinion, Unown is the worst Pokémon of all time (and I dare the game developers to make something worse in Generation VII).

For me, the reasons are completely obvious, right down to the entire gimmicky concept. Unown is basically the alphabet of the Pokémon world in Pokémon form. As such, there are twenty-eight different forms, but it doesn’t really matter because all of them are basically unusable in battle. The main reason I say this is because, despite being a Psychic-type Pokémon, the only move it can ever learn is Hidden Power, a move that has a random type determined by IV’s, something that a lot of gamers won’t really care about (and I know I don’t either). Another flaw with Hidden Power is that, because it uses the same formula for determining type as the older games, a Fairy-type Hidden Power is impossible.

Unown also has some of the worst stats I’ve seen in any Pokémon to date (Sunkern may have the worst stats of all time, but it’s a seed, so I’m not surprised). Its offensive stats are only decent, but its defensive stats are completely putrid, and its Speed stat is so bad that even if you can use Hidden Power to its best effect, you wouldn’t be to because Unown simply won’t act fast enough against most other Pokémon before they knock it out faster than you can curse a blue streak.

What’s very baffling is that in the third Pokémon movie, they can do all sorts of things, including dragging people to the realm of the Unown, but they can’t do any of that in the game. Another classic case of the Pokémon anime giving Pokémon way more power than they do in the games.

In conclusion, there are awful Pokémon out there, but this one is just universally awful in every sense of the word. There’s nothing worse than Unown, with its gimmicky concept and awful execution.

Dishonourable mentions

  • Chimecho
  • Ledian
  • Sunflora
  • Avalugg
  • Alamomola
  • Swoobat
  • Wormadam
  • Shedinja
  • Corsola
  • Mawile
  • Spinda
  • Cherrim
  • Lumineon
  • Purugly
  • Liepard
  • Phione
  • Basculin
  • Pachirisu
  • Cryogonal
  • Furfrou
  • Plusle and Minun
  • Volbeat
  • Illumise
  • Delibird
  • Emolga

Why Dominion doesn’t make any sense

dominion syfy
Heaven raises hell on logic.

Two weeks ago, a new action fantasy TV show called “Dominion” came to Syfy in the UK (it already finished in America, with season 2 on the way). It’s central premise is that at some point in the future, mankind ends up fighting angels, who it turns out are their greatest enemy. This sounds like it makes absolutely no sense, but trust me. It gets much worse than that.

The story of Dominion goes something like this. Twenty-five years before the events of the story, God apparently disappeared, and the archangel Gabriel blamed mankind for it, so he decided to lead the other angels to exterminate mankind. That alone sounded like a good concept, but here’s where things got side-tracked. According to the story, very few “higher angels” fought in the war, while the “lower angels” joined Gabriel and descended to Earth and started possessing people. What? Some time after that, the archangel Michael rebels against Gabriel, and fights in the name of mankind. The story sees mankind surviving in fortified cities such as Vega (obviously a rebuilt Las Vegas) until a chosen saviour emerges to end the war for good.

I know that only three episodes have aired in the UK so far, but they’re all quite similar and unimpressive, so I’ll just talk about the show itself. In my opinion, the show had a decent concept, but it was executed rather poorly, and I have a few reasons why this is the case.

First, it shares its premise with the movie Legion, which isn’t bad by itself, except the guy who made Legion and directed the pilot episode of Dominion is Scott Stewart, who I know for making the unequivocally crappy comic book flick Priest, which I named and shamed as one the worst comic book films ever made. If that’s not a bad sign, then I don’t know what is.

Second, for a show that is supposed to be about angelic warfare, there’s an awful lot of time spent on exposition, and not a lot of it is really necessary. Also, Vega’s political system seems to act as though American democracy didn’t even exist to begin with, but then again, what about American values could realistically survive in a post-apocalyptic scenario? I mainly mentioned this because the terrible arranged marriage story arc, which is utter nonsense.

Third, let’s talk about the angels, because this is one of the major issues in the show. The lower angels in Dominion are nothing like angels at all. In fact, when they’re found in possessed humans, they act like stereotypical demons. This completely defeats the point of the show being about angelic warfare, and serves only to subvert the traditional Western view of angels, which has already been subverted many times before, and in better ways. My only conclusion is that the writers assume that we’re all idiots.

Finally, I’d like to talk about Gabriel, his army, and the so-called Black Acolytes. The Black Acolytes are essentially a cliché evil cult that worships the show’s version of Gabriel, who is completely unlike the Biblical Gabriel in every aspect. Where was the passage in the Bible where Gabriel killed one of his own? I doubt you’ll find it, because it doesn’t happen in the Bible. I also find the existence of the Black Acolytes in the story to be painfully unnecessary. The plot didn’t need more layers of complexity.The acting in Dominion isn’t good enough to keep me interested in the rest of the overly complex plot that may as well have been written by a hack director.

In conclusion, Dominion is a disappointment, but it’s more than that. It’s a confused mess written by people who, in all fairness, tried as hard as possible to make something good, but didn’t really know what they wanted. To enjoy it would require you to not so much suspend your disbelief, but to have it hanged, drawn and quartered.

Antibiotics and medical incompetence

I recently came back from an ophthalmic appointment, where I learned that the chalazion in my eyelid is supposed to fade away naturally, but because I was self-concious about it, I wanted it gone sooner. Possibly because of that, I was taken for a sap by a bunch of “doctors” who wanted to peddle a bunch of useless antibiotics.

It may as well be just like that.

For a while, I’ve been quite angry about having to cope with a monumentally dysfunctional healthcare system just to see myself through the whole ordeal. Ordinarily, something like a chalazion shouldn’t be a very big deal (unless it’s been their for about 3 years), but unfortunately, I’ve been quite self-conscious about it because I’ve been worrying about it botching potential job interviews, due to having been told that employers also judge based on how you look.

What’s angering me more is that I’ve been told too many different things by too many different doctors. So many doctors have given me antibiotics, and now the consultant has said that they’ve actually been doing the wrong thing. He said that they go away within a matter of months. That’s fine, but after all I’ve been through, I don’t want to go through any of it, and I want nothing more to do with this crap, so I’ve had to persuade him to have the chalazion removed surgically.

The whole ordeal had left me quite depressed for a while, which I suppose fits because it looks pretty depressing outside. My point is this – is the NHS really so dysfunctional that doctors have to resort to peddling crappy antibiotics that do damn near nothing? Moreover, do those doctors really think I’m some sort of moron? I’m insulted at how they could exploit my emotions to hock some useless drugs.

It might seem like I’m taking it too harshly, but let’s put it into perspective. I’ve never tolerated any kind of incompetence, and if it’s incompetence at the hands of the local healthcare system, that’s simply inexcusable, and that just about sums up my rant about the incompetence of the doctors I’ve had to put up with.

My idea for the next Sonic game

sonic the hedgehog

In September, I wrote a post about the kind of game I think would make for an excellent comeback for Crash Bandicoot. With the Sonic Boom games coming out soon, I thought it would be an opportune time for me to talk about the kind of Sonic game I think Sega should make, and I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time.

Let me start by saying that I don’t want another Sonic 4, or another Sonic Lost World. What I really want is “Sonic Adventure 3″, the game I’ve been longing to see made for nearly a decade now. Sonic Unleashed tried a contemporary take on the Sonic Adventure formula, but it failed miserably. The Sonic game I’d make would adopt a similar approach to Sonic Adventure 2, complete with a trip back to the game’s style, but probably with better voice acting.

In that game, you had two story modes, each with different levels tailored to a specific character. Sonic and Shadow had the high-octane speed levels, Tails and Dr. Eggman had the mecha-shooter levels, and Knuckles and Rogue had the treasure hunting levels. All of these levels were done very well (for the most part), so I was always baffled by the fact that Sonic Team never implemented the different gameplay styles again after Sonic Adventure 2, especially since there was a genuine difference in each character’s gameplay style. They were going for something like what I’m talking about in Sonic 2006, but they botched it in a veritable orgy of terrible game design.

sonic 2006
And also glitches.

While I would like a game that played like Sonic Adventure 2, I somehow get the feeling that having two story modes might seem redundant nowadays, so I have an idea on how multiple characters can be made playable. Some missions could be playable as certain characters, depending on the context of the story. The following characters should be playable:

  • Sonic, whose levels should be based on speed and acrobatics
  • Tails, whose levels should take advantage of his flying abilities
  • Knuckles, whose levels should be based on treasure hunting
  • Amy, whose levels should be based on puzzle solving
  • Shadow, whose levels are based on high-speed combat, incorporate both melee combat and firearms (yes, I liked the guns!)

Of course, I mainly suggest this because I’m getting very fed up with Sonic Team devaluing the other characters, and would love to be able to play as the other characters again, and since some of my favourite Sonic games from my childhood let you play as other characters, the fact that you can’t in newer games is really annoying.

Now let’s address another important issue. Hub worlds have so far appeared in every Sonic game since 2006, and half the time, they’re done the completely wrong way. If you want an example of the hub worlds done right, look back to Sonic Adventure, where there are three hub worlds, and you use them to access the action stages. It couldn’t be simpler. If you want an example of the wrong way to do it, look no further than Sonic Unleashed (not counting the notorious load times of Sonic 2006), where to you have to look around for clues in order to advance the plot, and to unlock levels that further progress the story, you have to backtrack and collect Sun and Moon medals like an idiot (even worse on the Wii version, which pretty much requires you to get the S rank for maximum medals).

Instead of that, let’s go back to basics. Like in Sonic Adventure, there would be hub worlds, but instead of three large hub worlds, let’s have several smaller hub worlds. This, I feel, would make the gameplay simpler, while still giving you a lot to do, and I think I know how to stretch the game out further. In my opinion, Sonic Team needs to resurrect two things – emblems and the All A-Rank challenge (which in this case would be the All S-Rank challenge). I felt that emblems made the game worth playing for longer, especially since they had actual rewards in the Chao World (which I’ll mention later), and they gave a reason for you to actually attempt the All A-Rank challenge, which believe me, was damn near impossible (to the point that I never managed to complete it).

Next, let’s talk about about the Chao World. If we’re going to make a Sonic Adventure 3, the one inevitable addition is the Chao World, where you can raise Chao. The Chao minigames (Chao Race and Chao Karate) came with their own emblems, meaning that it wasn’t completely pointless to have this mode. I don’t really have any problems with the Chao World. I just felt it should be included.

Finally, let’s talk about the music. The Sonic Adventure games had a clearly rock-oriented soundtrack, but there was quite a variety of musical styles tailored for each playable character. Since 2010, however, this had been replaced by the soulless electronic pop of Cash Cash, and the shockingly bland orchestral songs that try and fail to evoke the feeling of Super Mario Galaxy (which Sonic Lost World stole from quite conservatively). Rather than this approach, I suggest a return to the rock-oriented soundtrack of the late 1990′s and early 2000′s (in other words, Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, and Sonic Heroes), mainly because it’s perfect for the style of the Sonic games (or at least it was back then).

sonic heroes
I feel like I’m in the year 2004 again, but without school.

At this point, I seem quite biased in favour of the Gamecube era Sonic games, but that’s because I’ve been waiting for Sonic Adventure 3 since I was eleven (I was also waiting for the next real successor to Sonic 3, but I guess that’s not happening). My expectations would naturally have been soaring in the heavens back then, and as a Sonic fan, I still have high expectations that are repeatedly disappointed year after year. I know that Sega got it right with Sonic Generations, but will Sega ever get it right again? Will the Sonic franchise’s credibility be restored, or is it doomed to just be an object of nostalgia, lost beneath the cracks of an evolving industry?

Can Banksy be considered an artist?

banksy olympics
I wouldn’t be surprised if this were painted by Michael Moore.

When I was doing Art in Year 11, we were asked to look into Banksy, who at the time was a notably popular graffiti artist. Another topic that came with it was the inevitable debate of whether his work is art or vandalism. Two years later, in the twilight of my school years (a.k.a. sixth form), I had to cover the question of “what is art?”, and it was obvious that I wasn’t ready to handle that subject yet. This year, I once again wound up doing a bit of research on Banksy’s artworks on the current art course, and that’s where these topics become related.

Since Banksy uses graffiti to make his artworks, whether or not Banksy’s work counts as art has been the subject of debate. Of course, one must also ask whether or not Banksy should be considered an artist, and in my opinion, he can only be considered an artist in the same way that Damien Hirst can. In either case, he can’t.

Before some of you go ahead and accuse me of being closed-minded, hear me out. Just because you intend to communicate social commentary doesn’t automatically grant your work artistic merit. Besides, the social commentary Banksy tries to communicate is old news. I’m sure we’ve heard Banksy’s brand of left-wing anti-capitalist social commentary from countless documentary film-makers and celebrities.

Besides, Banksy’s merely doing what other graffiti artists could just as easily have done before, but just because his work has been bought and sold by pretentious art collectors who only judge it by face value. Only Banksy can get that kind of reputation, but any other street artist would have to worry about being arrested or getting their work washed away.

I’m not trying to say that Banksy’s work isn’t necessarily art, but the merits of art shouldn’t be based on whether it has been bought and sold, or seen by millions of people in a gallery. In my opinion, art is about bringing the beautiful images from your mind to life. Bansky seems to rely only on the idea that art is about social commentary, which is false.

In conclusion, I don’t consider Banksy to be a real artist, and I never liked the idea of art solely being used to communicate social commentary. I’m aware that there are other artists who may have a similar approach, but probably because Banksy is more popular among art buyers, he gets more attention from morons who don’t know the meaning of art.

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