Games Inbox: Sonic The Hedgehog 30th anniversary memories

The Wednesday Inbox asks why motion control aiming isn’t standard on consoles, as another reader reports Xbox Series X stock at Argos.

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Double birthday
So here’s something that blew my mind a little. I was all ready to write in today about it being the 30th anniversary of Sonic The Hedgehog and I found out it is also the 25th anniversary of Super Mario 64 on the same day. A strange coincidence but to think that only five years separate those two games is incredible to me.

Graphics today are incredible, but never again will there be such rapid improvement as we saw in the 90s. I remember thinking Sonic The Hedgehog looked incredible when it first came out and then just a few years later I remember watching with jaw on the floor as someone played Super Mario 64 in shop. That jump from 2D to 3D is incredible and hats off to Nintendo for basically getting everything right on their first try. (Not to labour the same point as others but why wasn’t this being celebrated with Super Mario 3D All-Stars rather than the random 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros.?)

I salute both games though, as milestones not just in platform gaming but gaming as a whole. Sonic The Hedgehog is iconic, of course, but between the two I’ve got to say that Super Mario 64 seems even more important looking back. If only Nintendo had given it a decent remaster…

Intellectual property
So this is going to probably be the second Superman project at WB Games? What’s the betting this one gets cancelled in a year or so as well? It’s been said many times before but they just don’t seem to have a clue what to do with all their DC properties. More importantly they don’t seem to care and are clearly happy to just leave them to rot, at least in terms of games.

Not that Marvel’s doing much better, as while they are releasing some games now they’ve already messed up Avengers and I’m not sure Guardians Of The Galaxy is going to be much better.

Personally I’d prefer if all these companies concentrated on making new IP for games. That’s why I’m still backing PlayStation 5, as they have made a commitment to create new franchises, which is not something I’ve heard from Microsoft. The worst thing about the last gen was the lack of new IP and I hope that this gen will make up for it.

You don’t have to worry about whether an 80-year-old character can be properly translated into games if you make up your own.

While stock lasts
Just to echo that Argos have seemed to retain local stock of Xbox Series X for a bit longer than you’d expect, so definitely worth checking for an available collection when they have their restocks. I’ve noticed a couple of times that my local branch has still had consoles hours after the GameCentral article has been posted, which was a surprise. So surprising that I nearly bought one, then realised I didn’t want or need it right now.

I had a similar experience with Smyths and the PlayStation 5, so the local restocks seem pretty promising. Hopefully the stock issues will ease enough that everyone who wants a console can get it. Me? It’s a graphics card I’m after so think I’m gubbed for the foreseeable!
PS: I actually bought both consoles, scalped them and used the profits to seal off the entrance to the local swing park (well most of the profits, I got £10 in 1 pence pieces then threw them at the ducks because I can’t swim).

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Out of control
I fired up Far Cry 3 on my PlayStation 4 after playing a bunch of Turok 2 on my Switch and the lack of gyro-aiming is like losing a limb. I constantly find myself making subtle movements for precise shooting. I imagine it’s not pushed by console makers or third parties because there’s still a stigma to motion controls after the Wii, Kinect, etc. but can it not be added as an option with little cost or effort for those of us who want it? Very frustrating.

I’d implore any readers who haven’t tried it to give it a whirl, it’s like going from one analogue stick to two.

GC: We agree, we wish it was a standard option.

Unforced error
Just bought the new Sega Olympic 2020 game and having a lot of fun with it, except that it only allows two players in local multiplayer even though on Xbox store it says 2vs2 locally. I just find this bizarre for a family orientated multiplayer game. It then got me thinking what potentially great games have been spoiled by silly design choices that could have easily been fixed?

One that jumped to mind was I loved Wave Race 64 on N64. It was pure racing heaven so I was looking forward to the sequel on GameCube, only to be ruined because they made the racing about getting boost by doing tricks, which meant races boiled down to who did the most tricks rather than taking the best race line. There was no option to change this so I soon went back to the N64 version.

Wondered if anyone else has examples of games ruined because of a stupid design choice that could have been avoided?

Not gone or forgotten
Loved your interview with Taito. You were correct, as far as I’m concerned, that they had become forgotten and people had thought they had disappeared. But I’m delighted they haven’t.

Much as you love Rainbow Islands, I love the original Bubble Bobble and must have sunk gazillions of 10p into the arcade machine, before playing many of its iterations on home machines. One of my favourites was the Sega Master System version with its extra levels to get a good ending, which I know of, but couldn’t achieve. However, that didn’t stop me trying.

The version I played most was the Commodore Amiga, with one of my friends. We poured hours into it, but it, like the Atari ST version of which it was a port, were hideously gimped by poor collision detection. However, we could still finish it together, and that’s what Bubble Bobble is all about, right?

Needless to say, at the end of the article was the video for Bubble Bobble 4 Friends. I never even knew this existed and just searched out your 7/10 review which makes it worth a punt in my eyes. Honestly, if they want to make a Taito Collection, in the vein of other classics like the Sega Mega Drive Collection and Namco Museum, and include their originals and remakes, like the Space Invader ones, I’ll be at the front of that queue.

That was a great little interview. Any chance of more of them?

At E3, you normally get hold of some of the bigwigs, but I’d like to hear more from classic developers or indie developers bubbling beneath the surface. It’d beat out some of the corporate waffle that we usually get and might bring to life some of the lights of the smaller games industry, with some publicity for them to boot as well.

GC: The opportunities for interviews have been very limited during the pandemic; we’re sure you noticed how few there were from any source during E3. Hopefully things will improve over the coming months, although it’s probably still going to be quite limited until international travel is commonplace again. Also, don’t forget the Taito mini-console. It may end up being difficult to get in the West but it sounds like you’d appreciate it.

Period piece
It seems Battlefield and Call Of Duty only seem to be able to either do the WW2 setting or near future.

I really enjoyed Battlefield Vietnam though and it was set late enough after WW2 to have some interesting tanks and weapons and too soon before laser-guided missiles, that made driving tanks into battle seem like a hugely dangerous prospect (from a gameplay perspective).

If it’s the political aspect of setting a game in Vietnam, can’t they just come up with some fictional reason to set a game in the ‘70s?!

Special memories
I’m so excited that Alex Kidd is here! The game has been incredibly special for me.

I remember it vividly; that Christmas morning waking up to unwrap my NES that I asked for. I unwrapped it eager to play Mario and Duck Hunt only to see… Sega.

I smiled at my parents (hiding my initial disappointment) and set it up on the TV. After spending ages looking for the cartridge, I clicked the switch in frustration and there it was.

Alex Kidd fired up, that yellow title screen and the music, oh that music. So catchy and brilliant.

Once I started playing the next thing I knew it was dinner time!

Alex Kidd In Miracle World has seen me through the toughest parts of my life. Just hearing that music and seeing those visuals takes me back to being a kid with no worries in the world. It also reminds me of my deceased uncle who bought me the Master System.

I’m at work now but guess what I’ll be playing tonight? Only six hours to go…
Commodore Fan
PS: A big thank you to GC and all its contributors (Inbox, Underbox, Reader’s Features). My daily routine wouldn’t be the same without you all.
PPS: Where on my Xbox Series S can I plug in my Master System controller? I demand Master System thumbs and cramped hands.

Inbox also-rans
I agree the success of NieR is really surprising, I would never have guess it would become so successful. Well done to all concerned and roll on the inevitable sequel, may it be even more bonkers than the originals!

Those Abandoned developers strike me as very naïve if they thought pretending to be involved with Hideo Kojima was a good idea. Knowing some gamer they’re lucky some crazed fan didn’t turn up at their offices or something.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader Andee, who asks what’s your favourite video game soundtrack.

We’ve run similar Hot Topics a few times in the past so to ensure the discussions is different your musical choices can only be from the current and previous generations (i.e. PlayStation 4 and 5). What has been your favourite soundtrack from that period and how does it compare to other classics?

Do you listen to the soundtrack separately to the game and do you enjoy the whole thing or just a few tracks? What do you think of current standards in video games music and what are you looking forward to in the new generation?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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