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Handheld | The Gamers Blog

It’s offi­cial. After years of fum­bling around with strange top­ics and awk­ward, seem­ingly untested game­play, Sega has pulled out a truly excel­lent Sonic the Hedge­hog game. Although short, it’s a sweet ride that hope­fully will get the Spin-Dash ball rolling again.

The game fol­lows an incred­i­bly sim­ple sto­ry­line. Sonic’s friends are in the process of throw­ing him a birth­day party when a giant mon­stros­ity (which I shall hence­forth refer to as the Fly­ing Pur­ple Peo­ple Eater) appears out of nowhere and cre­ates a vor­tex which sucks in all of Sonic’s friends. Sonic chases them into what appears to be a giant white limbo. Even­tu­ally, he and the res­cued Tails note that the areas and ene­mies are sus­pi­ciously famil­iar. Upon stum­bling on ver­sions of them­selves from the past, they dis­cover that they’re trav­el­ing through time. It sounds kind of silly, but the sto­ry­line of this game isn’t the point.

The per­son really trav­el­ling through time is the player. Every level in the game comes from some Sonic game in the past, span­ning the whole his­tory of the series from the very first Sonic the Hedge­hog to the recent Sonic Col­ors. You play through each level as both Mod­ern Sonic, who han­dles like you’ve come to expect from Col­ors or Unleashed (or, if you’re unfa­mil­iar with those, Sonic Adven­tures, only with a few new pow­ers and occa­sion­ally sidescrolling) and Clas­sic Sonic, who han­dles the same way he did in the Gen­e­sis days. Each level is bril­liantly reimag­ined, rang­ing from incred­i­bly famil­iar feels with the “cor­rect” Sonic for the level to fit­ting and inter­est­ing spins with the other Sonic.

Every­thing about this game is designed to tug at the nos­tal­gia strings. The lev­els both look and feel famil­iar, with the same ene­mies and many of the same rec­og­niz­able areas as in their orig­i­nal titles. What evoked the most nos­tal­gia from me, how­ever, was the music. Each level fea­tures two takes on the orig­i­nal music for that level, rang­ing from almost-cover reper­for­mances to new and inter­est­ing remixes. I took far longer than I should have to beat the game because I prob­a­bly played my most mem­o­rable level, City Escape from Sonic Adven­ture 2, ten to twelve times before mov­ing on.

Apart from the main story arc and stages (which is, sadly, an incred­i­bly short ride that lasts under 5 hours), the game is full of chal­lenges of all sorts using por­tions of each stage. Some revolve around other char­ac­ters, such as hav­ing to use a search­light to find a cam­ou­flaged Espio, or run­ning through a level with no rings save for the ones that Cream the Rab­bit drops for you. Oth­ers involve using spe­cific items from past games to clear stages within a lim­ited time, or rac­ing a dop­pel­ganger Sonic. If you really feel like hav­ing a nos­tal­gia jour­ney (or you’re too young to have expe­ri­enced it and want to see what it was like), you’re able to play the orig­i­nal Gen­e­sis ver­sion of Sonic the Hedge­hog after buy­ing a con­troller in the item shop with points you earn by play­ing levels.

I loved this game, and with­out tak­ing any­one else into con­sid­er­a­tion, I would have given it a 10. How­ever, there are a few draw­backs to Sonic: Gen­er­a­tions. As I’ve already said, the game is rather short, but bears the weight of a $50 price tag. That’s $10 less than the usual game price, but still a rather hefty cost for the amount of time you’ll spend with it. Also, some of the dia­logue is incred­i­bly child­ish. I under­stand the need to be able to mar­ket a Rated-E game to chil­dren whether it’s nos­tal­gic or not, but a few select lines made me feel like I was watch­ing Nick Jr. or PBS Kids. Lastly, some of  the bosses took a while to beat, not due to dif­fi­culty, but due to sheer con­fu­sion. The final boss, namely, was so con­fus­ingly “sim­ple” that I had to double-check my meth­ods by look­ing on the inter­net. Yes, for a Sonic game.

Com­plaints aside, Sonic Gen­er­a­tions is an excel­lent game for all ages, but most of its effect comes from nos­tal­gic value. If you were ever a Sonic fan, you’ll def­i­nitely enjoy this game. It is a mas­sive step in the right direc­tion after Sonic Unleashed (seri­ously… a were­wolf?) and Sonic the Hedge­hog 2006 (a game so bro­ken I’ve dubbed it my biggest per­sonal gam­ing dis­ap­point­ment of all time and con­sid­ered giv­ing it an AVGN/Spoony-style Let’s Play beat­down.), and proof that Sonic is NOT dead. With Sonic cer­ti­fied “alive”, per­haps all hope is not lost for what could be the great­est Sonic game of a gen­er­a­tion, should it come to be: Sonic Adven­ture 3. Hear me, Sega? Sonic Adven­ture 3. We want it, prefer­ably with Crush 40 cre­at­ing the title theme.

 

Pros:

  • Nos­tal­gia
  • Excel­lent, solid gameplay
  • Nos­tal­gia
  • Qual­ity sound­track, cre­ative remixes
  • Nos­tal­gia
Cons:
  • Very short for a $50 game
  • Dia­logue rather child­ish at times
  • Not much of a plot to speak of
  • Boss fights can be confusing
  • A bit too reliant on Nostalgia

While I typ­i­cally tend to ignore most of the ads on the side of my Face­book page, I occa­sion­ally find one that inter­ests me. That’s how I found out about my now-favorite game store, and it’s also how I first heard about Gun­nar Optiks. Gun­nar Optiks pro­duces glasses that reduce eye strain and enhance con­trast on screens, and are mar­keted towards both fre­quent com­puter users who suf­fer from var­i­ous eye­strain related symp­toms, and towards the pro­fes­sional gam­ing com­mu­nity. Two of the gam­ing mod­els in the Gun­nar prod­uct lineup are endorsed by MLG, and a few more bear the SteelSeries name.

When I first heard about these, I won­dered about them for only a few min­utes before I moved on. They bear a pretty hefty price tag for some­thing that may or may not actu­ally help you at all. How­ever, a full year later, curios­ity and incred­i­bly sen­si­tive, fre­quently blood­shot eyes got the best of me. I got the “PPK” model from Best Buy for about $80 on Tues­day.  My opin­ion of them has fluc­tu­ated, but after using them for a few days, I’m happy with my pur­chase. I’ll talk you through my experience.

One thing to note is that these are not “glasses” in the tra­di­tional sense; they’re designed for peo­ple with nor­mal vision and are more com­pa­ra­ble in func­tion to sun­shades. If you use glasses, I might sug­gest wear­ing con­tacts under­neath these if you truly feel you need the strain reduc­tion. How­ever, in that case, I’d rec­om­mend talk­ing to your optometrist to see if there’s a bet­ter solution.

When I first put on the Gun­nars, I was quite under­whelmed. They turn every­thing yel­low. That’s pretty much all it looks like they do. Look at a screen, and everything’s yel­lower than nor­mal. I was fairly dis­ap­pointed in them within the first hour or so, but I decided to keep them on through­out the day to see how well they worked. It should be noted that an adver­tised fea­ture of these glasses is screen glare reduc­tion. It does this mod­er­ately well, but if your screen is kind of dirty and has an enor­mous win­dow shin­ing on it like mine does, there’s only so much it can be helped.

I really began to notice a dif­fer­ence on the first night of using the Gun­nars. The pri­mary light source in my room is a giant flu­o­res­cent bulb built into my desk, less than two feet from my face when I’m using the com­puter. It’s typ­i­cally a bright, shiny punch to the eye­balls, but the Gun­nars really cut down on the strain that it gen­er­ally causes. It turns out that these glasses are far more effec­tive at com­bat­ing strain in set­tings where your pri­mary light source is flu­o­res­cent or incan­des­cent. In day­light, they’re less nec­es­sary. When I woke up the next morn­ing after first using the Gun­nars, I was incred­i­bly impressed by the lack of red­ness in my eyes. Typ­i­cally, they’re blood­shot if I use the com­puter past midnight.

After a few days of play­ing all sorts of games with these glasses on, I can attest to their per­for­mance enhanc­ing capa­bil­i­ties. How­ever, these aren’t “100 meter dash” glasses, they’re more suited to gam­ing marathons. Wear­ing them dur­ing a com­pet­i­tive match won’t really do much more than cut a bit of screen glare and pos­si­bly increase the con­trast a bit. How­ever, if you’re plan­ning on play­ing a fairly ocu­lar inten­sive game (such as a first per­son shooter or a game with a lot of small things on screen to pay atten­tion to) for hours on end, these will def­i­nitely save you a lot of headache (lit­er­ally). Play for five hours straight with a naked eye, and try again the next day with Gun­nars; you’ll def­i­nitely notice a difference.

While the Gun­nars do a pretty good job of per­form­ing their adver­tised func­tions, they also have to be judged on the same qual­i­ties as any other sort of eye­wear. They’re still, in essence, a cloth­ing arti­cle, so com­fort and style come into play. The PPKs are some of the most nar­row of the bunch, and they look nice, sleek, and pro­fes­sional. They’re com­fort­able to wear for long peri­ods of time, and the tem­ples are thin and flat so as to not inter­fere with headset-wearing. They’ve worked with every head­set I’ve tried wear­ing with them, but there could pos­si­bly be an issue with espe­cially large over-the-ear head­sets. All of the Gun­nar gam­ing mod­els are designed with headset-wearing in mind, and they come in a vari­ety of styles (espe­cially pop­u­lar are the MLG Leg­ends, which are an “Avi­a­tor” style).

All in all, I feel as though the Gun­nar Optiks PPK glasses were a good addi­tion to my set of gam­ing gear. Those of you who don’t pull long stints ingame and don’t have sen­si­tive eyes or headaches might want to give them a pass, but for me, they’re great per­for­mance enhancers. You can order Gun­nars online, or buy them at Best Buy and a num­ber of other stores. The Gun­nar Optiks web­site has a handy store locator.

Pros:

  • Com­fort­able and stylish
  • Good for sen­si­tive eyes, strain-induced headaches, and long gam­ing sessions
  • Don’t inter­fere with head­set usage
Cons:
  • The yel­low tint can some­times be hard to ignore
  • The ben­e­fi­cial effects aren’t imme­di­ately noticeable
  • Not as effec­tive in nat­ural light as in arti­fi­cial light, how­ever in nat­ural light they are less necessary

 

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