The Lo-Down 05.09.03: Sonic X

The Lo-Down 05.09.03: Sonic X

Hi, I’m Bebito Jackson; perhaps you’ve heard of me?

Welcome to the Lo-Down boys and girls. Not to be confused with the Down-Lo, which is simply my rumor column, it’ll be within the Lo-Down that I write about… well… pretty much any thing I darn well please! In retrospect it’s not different from the Down-Lo much at all I suppose. Just randomly throwing something out there to appease all five of my fans while I continue taking my hiatus from doing the weekly column thing. Moreover, I gotta stay under 411 Games boss, Chris Pankonin’s good graces just in case he gets a bunch of free stuff when visiting E3. And hopefully he’ll take his handy digital camera with him to get the “best” pics of the “show”. An inside peek at the Dead or Alive fashion show or a snap shot of Stacey Keebler playing Dance Dance Revolution should suffice if no free merchandise is divvied. *thumbs up, smile with teeth showing*

Anyway, on with today’s topic or whatever. It’s a well-known fact that I am a Sonic The Hedgehog mark. So who better to bring you latest info and whatnot on the new Sonic X anime series set to sweep across both Japan and the US, than little ole me? Nobody, that’s who. You know it; I know; heck even Lee Baxley knows it and he’s anime obsessed. Poor twit.

But before we begin this trip down anime lane let’s take a look at the new games coming our way from the Sonic universe (just in case you’ve been living in a hole for the last few days). Because no matter how many ways Sega tries to whore out Sonic, whether it be badly drawn cartoons starring Urkel, dolls, lunch boxes, comic books, the largely unknown porno video by Amy: Hedgehogs Gone Wild, sock puppets, huge eyed action figures, hedgehog KY jelly lubricants, or cool looking anime, it all comes down to the games…

Man it feels good to write…


“Sonic AdventureTM DX Director’s Cut” (Nintendo GameCube):
Sonic The Hedgehog returns in one of his most popular blockbusters in a special “Director’s Cut” edition for the Nintendo GameCube! The original “Sonic AdventureTM” returns with enhanced graphics and more than five hours of new gameplay for the Nintendo GameCube. “Sonic Adventure DX Director’s Cut” includes an all-new Mission Mode featuring more than 50 missions for gamers to discover. Sonic fans will be able to explore new hidden areas throughout the game – adding a whole new twist to the original.

Now I know you’re probably saying, “But Bebito that game is old, and like… um… I’ve seen it before and stuff.” Oh put a cork in it. Yeah, Sega’s been getting tons of flack lately for taking three year old Dreamcast Sonic games and porting them to the GameCube, but screw all that! True, “director’s cuts” are generally an insult to gamer’s intelligences, but this is the BEST 3d Sonic game ever made, people. Pull your heads out of your behinds and enjoy it for what it is: an update to classic with tons of extras thrown in for good measure. This is well worth the purchase, especially if you’re among the many who have never played the thing before. And even if you HAVE played the thing, rumor has it (oh, here I go again) that ALL of the Sonic GameGear games are included on this puppy! Oh forget rumor, it’s a straight up fact and that makes it worth the purchase for that alone! So either buy it or don’t buy it… but do us all a favor and stop your crying. Especially because (as you’ll see later) you’re all getting the REAL Sonic update that you spazzes have been clamoring for anyway.

“Sonic Pinball PartyTM” (Game Boy Advance):
It’s time to get the party started right with “Sonic Pinball Party” for the Game Boy Advance. Sonic The Hedgehog returns to the Game Boy Advance, with the ultimate handheld pinball experience, delivering fresh pinball boards filled with SONICTEAM characters and a huge assortment of multiplayer party games. With SONICTEAM characters from “Sonic The Hedgehog®,” “Samba de AmigoTM” and “NightsTM,” “Sonic Pinball Party” challenges players to shoot, tilt, and flip their way through a slew of pinball boards, lightning fast mini-games and party games that promise to give gamers the pinball fix they’ve been craving!

This game is going to be so awesome! It’s got um… flippers and balls, and boards that flash and, err… well…

Ok so I can’t even defend this one. Moving on…

“Sonic BattleTM” (Game Boy Advance):
“Sonic Battle” brings furious combat action to the Game Boy Advance, as Sonic and his friends set out to determine which one of them is really the best fighter! Choose from eight characters such as Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Choose the arena, set the rules, customize your special attacks, and then engage in non-stop battles. Up to four friends can link their systems together using the Game Boy Advance Game Link® cable for team battles, and then combine special attacks into devastating combos! If you prefer to battle solo, work through the Story Mode to develop your own AI fighting partner. Either way, “Sonic Battle” is the ultimate showdown between Sonic and his friends.

Is it just me, or was anyone else wishing when they heard the name “Sonic Battle” that this was actually a sequel to the largely underrated Sonic The Fighters coming out on a “real” next-generation console, instead of just some multi-player mini-game dribble for the GBA? The day Sega dusts that bad boy out of mothballs and makes a sequel out of it, or even puts it into a Sonic compilation set, is the day that I’ll be truly content. Guess I’m still burnt from the Saturn version never being released. *sigh* Speaking of which (if I can go off topic for a sec, and I CAN because it’s my spam column) here’s my ultimate Sonic compilation:

Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Sonic The Hedgehog 3
Sonic CD
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic 3d Blast
Sonic The Fighters
Sonic R

Notice the three key games included that make every Sonic comp released until now look like rubbish: Sonic R, Sonic The Fighters, and FINALLY Sonic freaking CD. To make it even sweeter I would have as unlockable extras the 3d world from Sega Saturn’s Sonic Collection, Knuckles Chaotix, and a straight port of NiGHTS Into Dreams. Throw all that onto a disc and you’ll have some VERY happy gamers.

Getting back to Sonic Battle, even though it goes against my better judgment I believe this could actually be good. By rule, most videogames featuring Sonic and pals that aren’t part of the main series suck (i.e. Sonic Party, Sonic Spinball, etc.), but perhaps with a little work this could be the exception to the rule. Remember how Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 for the Genesis had 2-player side modes where the characters could compete against one another? Those weren’t half bad by any means. True, it wasn’t quite as effective in SA2: Battle, but I chalk that up to racing/battling in 3d being a bit more awkward than it was in 2d. So if they work out the gameplay kinks just right, this could be just as if not more entertaining than the Genesis mini-games. I’d put this on the wait and see list.

Or you can just skip both of those Game Boy Advance titles altogether and go with sure thing buying the wildly superior Sonic Advance 2. That’s what I’m doing.

“Sonic HeroesTM” (PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox):
SEGA’s legendary mascot Sonic The Hedgehog makes his historic PlayStation 2 and Xbox debut! In “Sonic Heroes,” Sonic embarks on his biggest adventure ever, with his trademark blazing speed and a new gameplay twist. Sonic and his friends have evolved, adopting a configuration feature that allows gamers to control three playable characters simultaneously, using Sonic’s speed, Knuckles’ power, and Tails’ ability to fly, to conquer massive worlds. This team-based gameplay marks the next evolution in Sonic’s gaming career, taking platform gaming to a completely new level. Using the three formations and the powerful moves that each team member has, Sonic and his friends combine forces to battle the ultimate evil.

This is what we’ve all been waiting for folks. And to make matters better Sega finally wised up and realized that Sonic is one of their few franchises that will actually sell and thus have put this newest installment on ALL THREE next-generation platforms. Nice. I’m more than excited about this one, but I do have reservations. This newly announced “team-based gameplay” thing sounds good on the surface, but there’s a couple of things that scare me. Ok, only one thing… Knuckles. Fundamentally Knuckles should be the coolest character to play as. As sort of a cool amalgam of Sonic and Tails he can climb, glide, and run pretty darn fast. Thing is, up till now the only gameplay experience Yuji Naka has been able to conjure up for him in the 3d world are a bunch of annoyingly frustrating scavenger hunt levels. I can say with confidence of little to no opposition that the Knuckles portions of Sonic Adventure 2 nearly ruined the game entirely. So I’m sure that many see this “team-based gameplay” innovation as a bad omen.

Good thing I don’t believe in omens. For the past year Sonic Team has been hearing nothing but complaints about the slow pacing of the latest title in the series due to the aforementioned Knuckles portions. That’s why they went on record saying that they were bringing the series back to its action roots. If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on there being absolutely NO treasure hunting portions appearing in Sonic Heroes. For some reason, this time around I have a good degree of confidence in Sonic Team. Guess we’ll find out for sure soon enough (probably E3). Looking at their previous comments though, they all seem to know what they’re doing. So leave the cynical part of you at the door, hopefully where you left your criticisms of the cel-shading graphics for the latest Zelda. If you’re a real gamer, your only real dilemma is, “which system do you buy it for?”

That about wraps that up. Now that you’ve seen the games…



Sonic X


Japan: Every Sunday morning from 8:30AM to 9:00AM. 30-minute continuous series.
Broadcast Station: Japan TV Tokyo Channel
Original Idea: SEGA’s Sonic Team
Animation Production: TMS Entertainment

Now see the anime.

Remember not too long back when Yuji Naka was singing the praises of a new (Japanese) Sonic cartoon that would supposedly be taking the world by storm? A series so good, that he believed it would be the next Pokemon? Well there’s no word yet on what Mr. Naka was smoking during that speech, but true to his word the first fruits of the new anime Sonic X are finally upon us… err, if you live in Japan that is. Up till now, there have been three US cartoon renditions of Sonic and all have been… well, let’s just say they’ve been less than faithful to the spirit of the series. *butcheredcoughhack* So does this newest series have the goods to make it worth more than a glancing look? Let us see…

THE STORY
As with most of the Sonic games, the story centers around the legendary 7 Chaos Emeralds (which are jewels with immense concentrated powers), scientific genius Dr. Eggman, Sonic, and the rest of Sonic’s friends who protect the emeralds.

It’s on one fateful day when Sonic rushed into Eggman’s base, that the 7 chaos emeralds came together and activated “Chaos Control”, throwing Sonic through time and space into the world of Humans. There, Sonic encounters Chris, a kind hearted young boy. Sonic’s friends were also thrown into this world, which they do no not recognize, scattered apart from one another.

Will Sonic and his friends ever unite again? And what are the whereabouts of Dr. Eggman and what are his plans for this world? These questions and their answers make up the basic groundwork plot for the Sonic X series. Obviously there’s much more to it as later episodes progress, but revealing everything would spoil all the fun, eh?


THE CHARACTERS:
There’s tons of characters within the Sonic universe and the anime makes sure to pack as many of them in there as possible. Here’s the run down of the players (surprises not withstanding):

Sonic
Japanese Voice: Junichi Kanemaru

With an attitude that rivals Puerto Rican chicks on their periods and swiftness that rivals the roadrunner on speed, it’s hard not to envy Sonic. He has a reputation as a rebel freedom fighter always standing up for the little guy and never backing down. And he follows his own rules, living life to the fullest. Concerning the blue hedgehog of supersonic speed, 411’s own Chris Hyatte said it best: “he’s one bad motherf*cka.”

Height: 100cm | 3.3 feet
Weight: 35kg | 77lb
Age: 15

Chris
Japanese Voice: Sanae Kobayashi

Every cartoon needs the generic boy/girl for the younger viewer to relate to. Pokemon has Ash, Tiny Toons has err… Montana Max (at least that’s who I used to identify with), and Sonic has this shmuck. He’s a boy from the human world. Because his grandfather is a scientist, his father a business chairman for a computer software company, and his mother an actress, he is often alone. Unfortunately, before he can call up Kid and Play to fully take advantage of this situation, he encounters Sonic, and thus his entire life changes.

Height: 140cm | 4.5 feet
Weight: 35kg | 77lb
Age: 12

“Tails”
Japanese Voice: Ryo Hirohashi

A kid fox with 2 tails, like Eggman, he is a genius of mechanics. He may become better than Eggman himself, but is not aware of this possibility. He’s like Sonic’s little brother, and like all little brothers, he whines a lot, follows you everywhere, and is just generally annoying. Can’t deny the phatness of the plane though.

Height: 80cm | 2.6 feet
Weight: 20kg | 44lb
Age: 8

Amy
Japanese Voice: Taeko Kawata

Rivaling “Tails” in the annoying department, Amy is a girl hedgehog who chases Sonic around all the time. Amy’s over willingness to “help out” combined with her often-rash decisions usually lands her in bad spots (i.e. getting captured by Eggman). Giving credit where credit is due, she never gives up despite her situation and she is smart and pure in heart. Sonic may think she’s nothing more than extra baggage, but we all know that deep down inside he really wants to hit it.

Height: 90cm | 2.9 feet
Weight: secret
Age: 12

Knuckles
Japanese Voice: Nobutoshi Kanna

Wild and tough echidna, Knuckles is the bad boy of the crew. He’s also stubborn, doesn’t adapt easily, and the most easily duped videogame character of all time. Seriously, how many times has Eggman tricked this guy into fighting Sonic? Anyway, those differences have been resolved despite that he’s often jealous of Sonic’s free spirit. Famous as a treasure hunter and a master of the Martial Arts he’s a pretty cool guy. Now if only we could figure out what an echidna is again…

Height: 110cm | 3.6 feet
Weight: 40kg | 88lb
Age: 16

Cream
Japanese Voice: Sayaka Aoki

As of now, Cream’s first and only appearance within the Sonic games was in Sonic Advance 2. Nobody cared about her in there, and nobody cares about her here. Just know that she’s one of the good guys. Oh, and like every chick in the Sonic universe, she’s been captured by Eggman along with some retarded looking Chao wearing a bow-tie named Cheese. Yes, together they are Cream and Cheese. Don’t get me started…

Height: 70cm | 2.2 feet
Weight: 12kg | 26lb
Age: 6

Shadow
Japanese Voice: Koji Yusa

According to Sonic, this black hedgehog looks just like him. Shadow is an ageless immortal that can wield the power of the chaos emerald to perform the time/space warping “Chaos Control”. Probably the second coolest Sonic villain next to Metal Sonic, on the surface Shadow seems to be Sonic’s equal in every way. Possibly even his better (?)…

Height: 100cm | 3.3 feet
Weight: unknown
Age: unknown

Rouge
Japanese Voice: Rumi Ochiai

Baby Got Back! Yeah shorty; you looking pretty good in that spandex. Her voluptuous and daring attitude turns any male cartoon-like forest creature’s head. But don’t let those tight clothes and cleavage fool you, this girl is all business. As a world famous treasure hunter she has an unhealthy obsession with jewels. And she’ll stop at nothing to get them. I can think of a few guys that would definitely like to get a hold of her jewels alright…

Height: 105cm | 3.4 feet
Weight: unknown
Age: unknown

Dr. Robotnik aka “Eggman”
Japanese Voice: Chikao Ohtsuka

Although he is the undisputed authority in robot engineering, Dr. Eggman is very juvenile minded, having the delusion of being able to execute the perfect plan for world domination. Gaining the 7 chaos emeralds and creating the “Eggman Empire” are his greatest goals. Although Sonic is his greatest enemy, its possible that Dr. Eggman finds a deep respect for the teen hedgehog.

Height: 185cm | 6.0 feet
Weight: 128kg | 282lb
Age: unknown


Big

What the blood clot is this guy even doing in a Sonic cartoon, let alone a Sonic game?? Here’s his bio: “This enormous cat that likes to fish.” That’s it… FISH. Oh yeah, and he’s really, really slow. And boring. Get this garbage out of here!

Height: 200cm | 6.6 feet
Weight: 280kg | 617lb
Age: 18


THE REVIEW
Now we’ll take a close look at the premier episode of Sonic X courtesy of the second biggest Sonic fanatic at 411, Scooter Keith. Sure, I could have reviewed it all by myself but that would have actually taken time and effort, things that as my fans know, I’m not well acquainted with. Besides it’s better this way, you guys are probably only conditioned to respond to those snow flakes by now anyway. Admit it, you’re bunch of mindless drones and you don’t even know what to think until he tells you… *shakes head in pity*

Sonic X – 04.06.2003
Episode 1 “Super Sonic Hero Appearance” /subtitled

(Japanese Titles and Airdates on Tokyo TV)

Episode 1 Summary:
During a mission to rescue Cream and Cheese from Dr. Eggman, Sonic interrupts his plans and accidentally sets off one of Eggman’s machines which uses the Chaos Emeralds to perform a “Chaos Control”, warping Sonic through time and space to the world of humans. While escaping from the humans down the highway, Sonic encounters the S-Team, a troop of high-speed patrol racecars, led by Sam Speed. In an effort to control Sonic’s reckless running, Sam and team discovers the famous speed of the hedgehog…

******

The SmarK Anime Rant for Sonic X: Episode 1

Scott Keith: I’m personally not a big fan of anime, but I am a big fan of Sonic in all his incarnations — I’ve faithfully followed the video game series all the way from the first game on the Genesis through to Sonic Adventure 2 on the now-dead Dreamcast (it actually remains one of the few non-wrestling video games that I bought on the first day of release), although I have to admit that the American cartoon take on Sonic didn’t exactly whet my whistle. The anime version is, not surprisingly, a lot more faithful to the attitude and character designs of Mr. Hedgehog, and includes generous amounts of cameo action from supporting players in the Sonic Adventure family. Although, seriously, who thought that the FISHING levels were a good idea? Anyway, Sonic X looks and feels like a cartoon translation of a videogame — action and editing is fast, the palette is colorful and bright, and Sonic has all his trademark smart-ass remarks and cocky attitude. Things are of course a bit confusing to follow if you’re not a fan of the games, as you just jump into the action without any real backstory and the mechanics of Sonic’s running and chase with the police seem more important than the plot at times (okay, most of the time), but for Sonic junkies and those on a sugar high (or with A.D.D.) it’s a pleasant enough use of 24 minutes. It also makes me wonder what a cel-shaded Sonic game would look like. Hmmm. I probably wouldn’t watch it again, but I can see how it would appeal to those who are into anime and/or Sonic. ***

Bebito’s 2 Cents: For the first episode in a hopefully long series, this got things going at a mind mending pace, appropriate for a Sonic based anime. Scotty was right on when he said this stayed true to the roots of the games and that makes all the difference between this and any other cartoon adaptation of Sonic we’ve seen before. It just “feels” like Sonic. Well worth the time to see the free online download even if you don’t have broadband (2 Hours over a 56K; 30 Seconds over broadband), for every Sonic fan this is a MUST SEE.
The 411: 8.5 out of 10

******

You can download Episode 1 at the best Sonic X based site on the web: www.sonicanime.net/
There you can check out the latest info and downloads on all the characters, art, and even previews for future episodes. Special thanks goes to the site’s awesome creator Julie-Su Shadow for most of the info for this column.


Well it’s been fun kiddos, but after this I’ll be going into uber-hibernation. No more news bits or one-shot columns, unless something absolutely extraordinary happens like Sega announcing Phantasy Star V, Shining Force IV, and NiGHTS 2 (don’t get me started) all within the same week. Lying low until my supposed “inevitable” return. Or “inevitable” so some say. You guys keep it on the DL until then. Feedback necessary as always. Peace, I’m out.

Sonic the Hedgehog and related characters and indica © and ┞¢ 2003 SEGA. Sonic X is produced and animated by SONIC TEAM and TMS.