Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sonic The Hedgehog: In Your Face #1 - Comics From The Basement

Hello and Welcome To Comics From The Basement…

Sonic The Hedgehog is turning 25 this year…. And if for a lot of us, if we didn’t feel old before… we certainly do now!

I kid of course, but yes 25 years ago, Sonic debuted and has been running at a very uneven pace in terms of good games versus bad games… particularly from the launch of sonic Adventure in 1998 which saw the franchise move from the 2D realm to 3D, which has resulted in some very… very… bad games… namely the one released for the 15th Anniversary that… well, we won’t talk about that here.

However over in the comics… Sonic has enjoyed a rather long and consistent run under the Archie banner, and outside of issues with legal paperwork being missing and a retcon event that also involved MegaMan, Sonic The Hedgehog comics have remained… fairly decent over the years. Though personally, I think issues 32 through 75 are the best since they follow more of the Sonic Saturday Morning series and tie them in to the games.

Which brings us to this week’s comic, Sonic The Hedgehog: In Your Face #1… and actually Sonic In Your Face sounds like it would be the title of a Virtual Reality game…

Originally Released in 1994, this comic is takes place between issues 18 and 19 of the main series and is the first single issue special of the series, and it’s actually a bit of an anthology, with 1 main story and two back up stories. And let me clarify, my copy is actually from a second printing from 1998, the big indicator, is the advertisement for Power Rangers in Space on the back of the inside cover and the $2.25 cover price (the original printing cost $2.00)

And ironically… Sonic is a supporting character in the main story, ‘The Quest’ which actually focuses on the character of Princess Sally following the death of her mentor, and where her familiar look of having a vest and the personal computer called Nicole originated. It’s actually a well done story that is the first to show a possible future with a ‘happy ending’ but at the same time introduces a pre-destination paradox as Nicole was created in the future and sent back into the past. It certainly adds a nice bit of character back story as well as giving a destination for the series to go towards.

The second story, is just two page, called ‘The Mirror Zoen, Sonic and Tails chase a SwatBot into a new ‘zone’ where everything is ‘backwards’, namely the dialog is printed in reverse order making it seem like gibberish. The theory is to hold the comic up to a mirror and read what it says, a gimmick that is just nullified by the face all you have to do is write every word down in the correct order all for a cheap gag

The third and final story, Tails Tallest Tale, is listed in the comic as being the first solo story for Tails, Sonic’s sidekick… and he’s off to ‘Sonic Con’ to be a guest speaker, where he tells some tall tails about how he saved the day instead of Sonic, only to have to actually step up to defeat Robotnik when he comes around. It’s really just a test run to see if anyone would be interest in stories featuring the two-tailed fox, which would eventually result in him getting a mini-series a couple of years later.

All together, this is a solid book, with the first story, ‘The Quest’ being without question the strongest of the three and the one that really ties into the Sonic SatAM continuity the most. The story with Tails seems more suited for the Sonic Syndicated animated series, namely with the ‘Sonic Con’ … and The Mirror Zone story… is… well it’s just worthless.

Beyond the trio of stories, this comic comes with a couple of pin-up pieces (if one was into removing pages from comic books), letters to the editor (called Sonic Grams) and even fan art.

The artwork itself itself is a tad on the weak side, as noted this was originally printed in 1994, and at the time, the Sonic Comics were more on the ‘cartoony’ side, similar to the syndicate animated series as opposed to the dark style seen in the SatAM series, as it would be another year before the Sonic comics got into the groove that most people who followed the series in the late 90s and early 2000s got into.

So the verdict is this: It’s certainly a solid issue to have in ones collection, if you’re a Sonic The Hedgehog fan, considering the ‘historic’ value of it being the first 48 page special in the comics run, it’s worth tracking down. has both listed for sale, and with the 1st printing version ranging in price due to quality from $2.40 to $7.49…. and a 2nd Printing version costing $5.00… safe to say, this is a comic that actually has gained in value over the years regardless of the versions from what I can tell.

And that will wrap this up for this week… next week… it may be a purr-fect time to go over something involving a Feline-Female…

Catch ya then!

Video Game Review: Alpha Protocol

Hello and Welcome To The Basement...

Normally when it comes to video games, I prefer to have some game footage so people could get an idea of where I'm coming from with my opinions of the game, or just for a Lets Play lark.

Unfortunately, the tedious nature of Alpha Protocol published by Sega in 2010... really didn't put me in the best of moods... and I chucked the video I was recorded. Not because I wasn't making progress... oh no... it's because the game feels like a chore.

For those of you who may not know, you as the player step into the shoes of an agent named Mike Thorton, and you get a couple of different options to start, I started off as a recruit, and he's a new guy from Langley who wakes up after being abducted and is searching for his captures.... and then after orientation, your real mission starts. Basically, it's the start of a 'spy' career.. (at least with the path I picked).

So let's talk the positives, and this is going to be quick. The game looks great, the textures look solid, the people look well polished... then again I'm very easy to please in this regard.. And the dialog system is a great concept, as you can customize the personality of Mike (being Suave, Professional, Aggressive, etc), but it's 'timed' meaning you don't get much time to mull over your choices as say you would in just about every other game.

Which leads to the negatives.... the combat system is just horrible. I get the realism aspect it's going for with having to aim and shoot, but it's clunky and just not fun, and that's not even talking about the use of things like gerunds  or the melee combat. Menu navigation is pain in the real.... and then there are the 'mini games'.... for things like hacking (trying to match two sets of random combination of letters and numbers on a grid where of randomly moving characters), lock picking (having to perfectly line up the pins to unlock the door) and turning off alarms (finding the right 'paths' of circuits) are frustrating, timed and just takes the life out of the game. With the exception of the alarms, all three games also involve having to remember what buttons does what, so it's multiple control schemes one has to remember.

Maybe it's because I'm 'old' as a gamer at the age of 33, but when I'm playing something I hate for anything within the game that takes me out of the action of playing. If I 'm playing a 3rd person perspective action game, I like the controls to be as stream lined as possible so I don't have to think of trying to remember what I need to press, and the 'mini games' to be something that can easily be identified to get them done with as quickly as possible.

And this brings me to the tag line of Alpha Protocol: 'The Espionage RPG'... and it's the RPG part that really gets to me, as in who wants to worry about STATS and leveling up in action game as if it was an RPG? Sure I've played games that had a 'level up feature', but in those cases (mostly MMORPGs and classic Squaresoft RPGs) it made SENSE! Here it doesn't make sense, because the RPG half of the game feels forced.... in fact the whole game feels that way. The negatives out weight the positives by a large margin

And for that reason, you won't see me revisiting Alpha Protocol anytime soon

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