I don’t know if you’ve noticed, fellow Xbox 360 gamers, but SEGA are having a hefty sale on some of their games. You can pick up some of the classic Sonic games for a mere 160MSP, that’s a bargain if I ever did see one. So, utilising my entire economic downturn busting prowess, I purchased the game and gave it a go.
Now, when I was a kid, I loved my SEGA Mega Drive. Sonic would fill my mornings before school and Streets of Rage would occupy my evenings. At the time, the games were magical, immersive and generally groundbreaking. Now I look at them and have a little chuckle to myself – how did I play these games without getting a headache? Not just because the graphics are all pixelated, but because they’re so damn hard – I honestly think that modern games have made gamers soft. Unlimited restarts, constant checkpoints and the ability to save the game every five seconds, combined with ten different difficulty settings (ranging from incredibly easy to nut-crushingly difficult) have made us gamers become a bit lazy. Not only this, but we’re spoilt for choice. When I was a young lad there were three or four good games, and two of them were Pokémon titles! So, although playing Sonic the Hedgehog bought back some fond memories, it did lead me to question myself as a gamer.
The game is all about your reaction time and ability to think quickly when solving simple problems. The maps scroll by so quickly that you barely have time to react to the world. Levels flash by in an instance and if you’re not careful, you’ll be left scratching your head whilst Sonic speeds off in to the distance. Game developers just don’t make games like this anymore. ‘Story’ and ‘online multiplayer’ take the floor nowadays, with acronyms like ‘FPS’, ‘RPG’, ‘MMO’, ‘MMORPG’ and words like ‘sandbox’ and ‘simulation’ being thrown around all over the place – to be honest, it’s hard to keep up. Sonic brings you back to the days where side-scrollers ruled the roost. These games were simple but effective. You could gain hours of fun from just a handful of pixels shooting across the screen.
Do we really need a deep and meaningful story wrapped in some incredible game graphics for us as gamers to be happy? I don’t think we do. When I look back at my favourite games, I often look to the adventures of Sonic, Rayman and Mario – these games were simplicity at its best. Sure, a well developed story with a game that looks good is nice, it’s enjoyable for sure. But it doesn’t have to be that way, it isn’t a necessity, just a pleasant extra that the gaming community is slowly coming to expect from game developers. Recently, developers have tried to break that cycle with their own take on a modern game. Telltale and Gearbox have twisted our concepts of how a game should look with the Walking Dead game series and Borderlands, respectively. Mojang and Microsoft have removed both storyline and game graphics with Minecraft, a game where we create the story ourselves – in fact, we even create the world ourselves in that title. These titles have been massive hits and they prove that games don’t have to be blockbusters to be enjoyable.
So we shouldn’t overlook the classic games if we fancy a little bit of nostalgic fun. You can pick up games like Sonic, Mario, Pokémon, Worms and Rayman for just a few quid. They won’t stretch your wallet but they’re worth every penny, in my books – which is why Sonic the Hedgehog is this months Pay Day Play.