I’m back from the Christmas holiday season and ready to let loose again. I want to talk about the video games industry right now. First, I want to share what I thought of the latest Sonic game (if you can call it that), Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.
It’s the sequel to Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, which I got for the Wii in 2010. I did like the first one, but it did show it’s corny side. Just recently, I got my hands on the sequel. It was sort of hit or miss. It was OK, but there were plenty of things wrong with it.
The first real problem being disillusioned with the controls (I played the PS3 version). I got used to them eventually, but let me make one thing clear: R2 should not be the accelerate button in a driving game!!! I’m sure some of my college classmates reading this will know what that’s like. That’s like the driving controls in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I felt the controls, and for someone new to the game’s control system, it wasn’t pretty.
Yeah, I sure liked the smell of failing to get out of an exploding car.
The second real problem was how much of the same thing it was compared to the last game. Aside from new courses, new characters, new weapons, and the elimination of the Sega Miles system, it was the exact same game. The voice acting was more grating than last time, and, wait a second. Wreck-it Ralph is a playable character here. The movie doesn’t even come out in the UK for another two months. I’m aware that the movie already came out in America last month, but that doesn’t entitle SEGA to make him playable in the UK edition.
Speak of characters, I actually have a bit of a problem with the Sega Superstars franchise in general; it brings back characters from SEGA’s other franchises, thereby promoting the older franchises, while simultaneously refusing to make new games for the various franchises. Here are a few examples:
- Alex Kidd is playable in both the All-Star Racing games, and he hasn’t had a new game of his own since 1989. Being that Sonic replaced him as Sega’s mascot to begin with, this seems unlikely.
- NiGHTS features in all Sega Superstars games, and yet they never made a sequel until 2008, and it was not as satisfying as one would hope.
- Samba de Amigo (a useless monkey character who became popular on the Dreamcast) features in all Sega Superstars games. And yet, like NiGHTS, he only got a new game in 2008, and nobody cared about it.
- Ulala from Space Channel 5 is part of Sega Superstars, but the Space Channel 5 series has been dead since 2003 (who’d want to play it anyway?).
Seriously, SEGA huddles characters from past franchises that nobody cared about, and makes them look silly, childish, “stuck in the past”, or something like that. It’s been making it impossible to take these other franchises seriously.
That’s practically the SEGA business model nowadays: Sonic is the only thing important, so they whore the living crap out of him until he looks like nothing more than a relic of the 90’s, with only merchandising to show for it. Sonic deserves much better than what SEGA’s been giving him, and as a mascot, he’s been whored out so much, he’s practically on life support.
I’m just saying; what’s the point of putting Sonic in crossovers with characters from dead franchises that, as far as I know, will practically never be revived? There’s only one simple reason: money. It’s the way the video game industry works now. Artistic integrity doesn’t matter anymore to the big game companies. All that matters is exploiting classic characters, and making the same games over and over again with little differences whatsoever, because the cold hard truth is that it’s all they need to make hundreds of millions of dollars individually. Remember that the video games industry is worth billions of dollars. This is how it got so big: ignoring artistic integrity and putting profit over imagination. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
This is the kind of fate that video game developers should be fighting to prevent. Now I think they’re embracing that eventually wholeheartedly, because it makes them some cash. Gone is the games industry that actually cared about making good games, with time-tested, traditional gaming principles in mind. Developers like that still exist, but they are increasingly shafted aside in favour of the companies that sold out all principles to try and become the new Hollywood.
Just to be clear, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is okay, and not completely terrible. It was just a disappointment, and a symbol of what’s wrong with SEGA’s overall philosophy in today’s world.