sonic frontiers

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september 26, 2023

somehow, against all logic and reason, i have so far managed not to write ceaselessly about Sonic the Hedgehog on my website. it is crucial to the overarching zephielore that i emphasize, to no end, that i would literally die for Sonic the Hedgehog. as i started up this text file i got giddy that i get to write about Sonic. i get to write about Sonic as much as i want because it's my website and i can do what i want here. that being said i think Sonic Frontiers is not very good

that being said, an expansion is coming out soon, with which they have the chance to completely fix this game by allowing me to play as Amy. when this came out last year i 100%'d it within two days while having covid, so i wanted to take the opportunity before the new update to replay it and ascertain how much of the game was not just a fever dream. i don't know if i'd bother replaying the whole thing it if i didn't have my little webhole in which to shout about it, i'd probably just wait for the expansion and load up my old save

what hopefully further justifies replaying it is that there have been some updates over time. i did load up my old save briefly to run around, and there are some new map icons and UI elements i don't recognize. "new Koco" was a thing that was advertised - i have no idea what that means. Koco are little guys i can collect endlessly and trade in for upgrades, and i do not understand the significance of there being "new" ones. i've already maxed out and unlocked everything. i saw an icon for one on the map so i tracked it down and it was a little guy with a sword? is it just that they look different

ok i looked it up and collecting them apparently increases my boost stamina gauge. "new Koco" does not get that across, that is a completely new function for them

new game start! and already my criticisms of this game are rushing back to me uh oh. let me counteract it early by first going over what i do like about the game. uhh. i like that. i like when y-- um. the way sonic. no but what is cool is that th. uhhhh. i like sonic :)

i want to be clear about something: i think most Sonic games are not very good. but there's just something about him!!! Sonic 1 was the first game i ever played, i was hedgepilled from a very early age and i had a lot of undeveloped-brain-time to spend genuinely loving these games and characters. and i still do, even if i think they're bad. but Frontiers is a little different for specific reasons. the first obvious reason being that my 24-year-old brain is now slightly more developed than it was when i was 7. the second is the immeasurable identity crises that plague every aspect of this game, and many recent Sonic games

actually let me talk about Sonic Forces instead because that game more perfectly encapsulates what i don't like about recent Sonic games, of which a good amount spills over into Frontiers. actually let me talk about Sonic Adventure 2 instead because that game more perfectly encapsulates what i love about Sonic, of which none spills over into Forces. the sheer unapologetic confidence of that game is unmatched. it was a time when "a Sonic game" was still so undefinable; they tried to be every genre all at once, every aesthetic all at once, and they couldn't have possibly not known that very little of it actually worked. i defy anyone not to be charmed by these games

that sounds like the biggest identity crisis of all, but that was its identity. i think it rules that you put in a Sonic game expecting a high-speed action-platformer, but then it's actually a high-speed-action-roleplaying-third-person-shooter-kart-racer-pet-raising-simulator. and it was all still new, because Sonic was undefinable. and it had Crush 40. back to Forces - it is a coward's game!! it's like the previous twenty years of Sonic games were a testing ground to find the mathematically safest possible formula for Sonic. when Forces was first revealed, the second that Classic Sonic appeared in the trailer i knew Sonic Team had lost all of that unapologetic confidence they once had (the character creator was neat though)

Frontiers is a lot of that again but with a poorly-executed open world. stages are all, for the i-don't-know-how-many'th game in a row, remixes of old Sonic stages. the worst thing to happen to Sonic in recent years was the positive reception to Generations. it's a good game don't get me wrong, but Sega for some reason saw that and said just make every game Generations from now on, ignoring the whole point of that game. there are constant references to events from older games, which on some level i appreciate them trying to maintain a comprehensible canon, but a lot of it definitely comes off like "eh remember this?", especially when it's straight up accompanied by footage of that game

i think about Mario games and how they'll be like "here's a new level mechanic, ok you've finished that level now you'll never see it again, now here's another new mechanic". meanwhile Sonic games are always "here are boost pads and springs and rails. ok you've finished that level. here are boost pads and springs and rails again". it's bad enough the level themes are the same, and even some of the level layouts are lifted from older games. they justify this as them being "based on Sonic's memories". alright dude could you make some new memories

and i really wish the monotonous platforming didn't extend to the open world and make the whole game look like Line Rider. there really was not any effort put into making it look like anything more than someone putting the Breath of the Wild map into Gmod and dropping items from a "Sonic Pack" everywhere. it's made worse when completing island challenges unlocks even more "fast travel" rails everywhere. rails Sonic can run faster than. and also there is fast travel

i don't know how completionist i'm going to be this time around. the action stages are annoying to complete all the challenges in because they control poorly (worse than in the open world for some reason?) and map completion is tedious. luckily for absolutely everything i need to progress through the game, the meta amounts to quite literally running around in circles...

...and fishing

there are a lot of baffling design choices in this game but making the actual game pretty much unnecessary is probably the most interesting one. i guess it's a good choice because it means i don't have to play the game to complete the game again. i get to mostly talk with my colorful animal friends which is my favorite part of the game

i forgot one of the updates was an option to have characters wear birthday outfits. i've also seen little music notes scattered around to collect which is new, and they let me replace the world music with...old Sonic music.. and there are a bunch* of new challenges (*the same challenge repeated 40 times) scattered around that apparently unlock the spin dash after S-ranking them all! as an afterthought i'm predicting it will totally break the game and/or render half of Sonic's moveset useless

the birthday pack changes the koco to these!!! no!!!!! let them out!!!!!!

i'm hearing reports of a new unlockable new game+ and "extreme" difficulty.... i just made a new save on hard

alright it turned out i had to beat the final boss again to unlock new game+, and to unlock extreme difficulty i have to S-rank some hour-long combat gauntlet that isn't worth powering through because the combat in this game is jank. apparently extreme is a one-hit-game-over mode? sounds super unfun! on account of the aforementioned "the combat is jank". for now i am okay with retroactively not having 100%'d the game

playing music from older games during cutscenes adds some much needed Sonic Adventure energy. but we need to go louder. i can still all too clearly hear Sonic's weirdly deep voice

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