Sonic the hedgehog: retro review by Mark Higgins
Today, for your reading pleasure I intend to take your mind back to the very same era as I take a look at one of the best platform games ever made…Sonic the Hedgehog.
Indeed, for years the fat, Nintendo branded, Italian (known as “Mario”) had enjoyed a monopoly in the “save the world from bad guys by jumping around” industry of gaming. However, this was all about to change and in the early nineties, while Mario was celebration his glorious victory over Sega’s appalling “Alex the kid”, a new guy swept onto the scene who was destined to bring down the “mushroom kingdom”. The game focused around one central theme: cute animals killing other cute animals – a theme humans, due some evolutionary mishap, naturally crave.
And while the gamers played this new game, based on a talking hedgehog, the theologians behind the scenes questioned the ethical implications of such a creature , “Who is this talking hedgehog? Does he have a soul?”; and the biologists questioned, “Is it physically possible for a rolling hedgehog to bring about such carnage?”. Along with these moral and scientific deliberations, Sonic also led the gaming industry down a terrible slippery slope of animals being computer game heroes, paving the way to even more mutated creatures saving the world, ranging from “Croc” (a crocodile with mutated features) to “Lara Croft” (mutated in her own special way).
In Sonic 2, Sonic had a new ally in the form of, guess what, a mutated animal (these guys are original!). This mutant was a fox, a fox which had 2 tails. If this biological stigma wasn’t enough, he had to live with the constant reminder of his freakishness by being nicknamed “tails” (outrageous discrimination!).
The bad guy in the game, Dr Robotnic (PhD Cambridge university in medicine), was evilly planning to take over the world (come on, we’ve all though about it). His plan: trapping all the animals, turning them into robots, and forcing them to build his ultimate weapon – the Death (star!) Egg (there ain’t nothing like animal slaves to get a job done). And, as expected, Robotnic, even though far superior to little Sonic in everything but speed, is somehow defeated (but rises from the grave in time for Sonic 3).
I like the idea of animal slaves; I think Robotnic was onto something good…so I call out to the university students, which includes our scientists of the future (and some of the street bums of the future), to do what ever they can to try to promote research into animal slave technology. Of course, there are ethical implications to all this animal slave business….and maybe humanity should just learn Robotnic’s lesson before venturing down the dark pathway of such technology. Anyway, it was worth a thought.