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famicommander Blog

There is a CLEAR bias against Sonic amongst game reviewers.

Hear me out before you go saying that I'm just some rabid Sonic fan whining about bad scores. I'm not here to defend Shadow the Hedgehog or Sonic '06. I'm here to demonstrate that Sonic games do NOT get a fair shake from reviewers. And I can also tell you why. Each Sonic game is hailed as either the death or revival of the franchise. Each game is reviewed with the failures and successes from every game in the series in mind. And that is totally ridiculous. The Sonic franchise has grown far beyond what it used to be. To compare Sonic Rivals 2 to Sonic and Knuckles and punish the former for not reminding one of the latter is idiotic, because the two games are from entirely different genres and eras. I can't remember a time when a Sonic game was reviewed for what it is, rather than what the reviewer thinks it should be based on preconceived biases. Each reviewer picks up a Sonic game with a distinct idea of what they think it should be. It the game is something different, that's an instant score deduction. Each game in the series is rated by how well it stands up to the 5 classics (Sonic 1, 2, 3, CD, & Knuckles). That is completely unfair. If all games were measured against those five, then almost no games would be worthy of a good score. Those are five of the absolute greatest games ever made, and anyone who disagrees either hates platformers or hasn't played them. Each time a Sonic game is released, the reviewer makes sure to list the flaws in previous games, even if the two games are completely unrelated (for example, Sonic Adventure 2 and Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games). If you're going to compare Sonic games, compare them to games from the same damn series (compare Rivals 2 to Rivals and Rush Adventure to Rush; don't compare either of them to Sonic Heroes). Here are some quotes that support my claims: ----- Riders 2: "So once again, we have here a modern day Sonic game devoid of the elements which made olden days Sonic games so good"-Eurogamer "No: In Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, it still doesn't make sense that Sonic the Hedgehog would need to race upon a hoverboard"-Gamespot "It’s time to rethink the racing design, and go back to the franchise’s roots. C’mon SEGA, all we want to do is run fast…"-IGN Secret Rings: "However, the transition to the third dimension has not been kind to SEGA's mascot extraordinaire. The speedy blue one jumped into 3D almost a decade ago on Dreamcast with sloppy level design and an even clunkier camera system and, despite several sequels and spin-offs, the Sonic games have not changed since. Dazzled by 3D so many years ago, critics and gamers were more forgiving of these issues - hell, we even went easy on the GameCube iterations, which had their share of problems. But in today's market of polished 3D experiences, there is just no excuse for anything that falls short. Case in point, recently released Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hedgehog games boasted next-generation graphics, but were regardless ruined by the same design and technical shortcomings that have cemented Sonic firmly in mediocrity for years - and they received incredibly low ratings to prove it."-IGN "After a slew of disappointing and downright bad games..."-Gamespot "We had the misfortune of playing the abysmal Sonic the Hedgehog projects for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3"-IGN "I'm less willing to tolerate and forgive them now that 3D games have fully evolved and we've seen exactly what great developers can do in the third dimension."-IGN "Secret Rings takes everything that was pure and fun about the Sonic series and flips it on you."-Game Revolution "In the old days..."-Game Revolution "The hundred levels in Secret Rings feel more like short bonus stages than the usual Sonic sprawl."-Game Revolution "Sonic’s recent mood swings have shaken our trust: first he dyes his hair black, takes up a gun and a bad-boy motorcycle. Because the world’s fastest rodent needs a motorcycle. Then he goes from jet-black to platinum-bleach hair faster than My Chemical Romance, ooh he’s so outcast! And from what I hear, he’s even started kissing girls. Sonic’s rebellious phase means nothing if he can’t bring the gameplay. I’d like to get past my seeming bias for the Old Days, but every mistake and death reminds me of some comfortable feature from yesterday’s Sonics that didn’t make it into Sonic and the Secret Rings. Sonic is just too fast for his own good."-Game Revolution "The overall experience of navigating through Sonic and the Secret Rings doesn't manage to bring the series back to glory, but at least it gives it some life. Taking the shattered corpse of the Sonic license and assembling those pieces into an almost amazing game, one that barely shows the scars of cruelty that it's experienced, is a feat. This is more of a shambling Frankenstein than a real resurrection for the series, but that's more than Sonic fans have gotten in a long time."-Gamespy Chronicles: "Unfortunately, the characters and interactions are really the only actual Sonic-like aspects of the game."-IGN Sonic '06: "Sega's blue critter has been around since the 16-bit days, when his side-scrolling platformers were strong enough to take on Mario, the then-undisputed kingpin of the platforming genre. Sonic's fall from grace has been slow, starting with a promising first stab at 3D with Sonic Adventure, but it's all been downhill since those far-gone days"-Gamespot "Certain things should stay in the past. Just take a look at The Dukes of Hazard movie. The same thing goes for struggling videogame franchises. Some of them should just stay put and let gamers remember the way things were. Such is the case with Sonic the Hedgehog."-IGN "Instead of convincing players that Sonic deserves a second chance, it all but eliminates his chances of a second coming worth remembering."-IGN "For further proof, just boot up one of the original 16-bit games..."-IGN Rivals 2: "Let's face it: Sonic has had a rough time for the last decade or so. A lackluster crossover with the former competition, an abortive attempt at a franchise reboot, an underwhelming hoverboard racer... The list goes on and on. If you were on the lookout for an end to this disturbing trend of shoddy sequels and unimaginative spinoffs, Sonic Rivals 2 is not for you. Any but the most diehard of Sonic fans would do well to stay away from this, the next rung down the ladder of Sonic's continually downward-"spiraling career."-Gamespot "Poor Sonic just can't catch a break. His adventure games haven't been good for years, bogged down by laughably bad filler content and "storylines" that do nothing but dull the edge of a character that used to personify SEGA's version of cool."-IGN "Even during the best of times -- e.g., the halcyon days of the 16-bit era -- Sonic was more Bruckheimer or Bay compared to rival Mario's more cerebral, exploratory, cleverly designed adventures. While classic Sonic level designs were often as vertical as they were horizontal, the only real incentive for going north or south was to boost one's ring count before level's end. Sonic Team was more concerned about speed than in offering tons of secrets to find, but at least there was that."-1up Rush: "Over the years, Sonic the Hedgehog has gotten away from his roots. What once was an incredibly fast-moving, well-designed platformer series eventually exploded into adventure games, racing games, and the other typical genres that you'd expect from a mascot-type character. While the Sonic series has continued to be popular, many felt that the game was at its peak in those first three or four side-scrollers."-Gamespot "...the devs, the chaps who did the Sonic Advance games on GBA, seem to have a lot of good ideas for things Sonic could be doing above and beyond what he did on the Megadrive. (Unlike SEGA itself, judging by the last few 3d efforts.)"-Eurogamer Rush Adventure: "Dimps and Sonic Team continue to prove that 2D is the perfect canvas for the Sonic the Hedgehog design." Olympic Games: "It's not the fast-paced platformer most were hoping for, to say the least."-1up "So it would be silly to try and hold this title up to the same standards as say Halo 3 or even Madden."-GamePro "The bright side to all this is that the hardcore gamers who were so obviously overlooked for this game may console themselves with the fact that they will be able to watch Sonic and Mario finally duke it out for supremacy in the upcoming Smash Bros. Brawl, which I'm guessing will be a far better game."-GamePro --- Don't tell me you can't see it. I am wholly convinced that if each of those games were released exactly as they are now, but with completely original characters instead of Sonic and friends, they'd ALL have higher scores. People instantly deducted points from Mario and Sonic because it wasn't a platformer. More than half of the reviews of Secret Rings were spent whining about Sonic '06. They make damn sure to tell you that Sonic belongs in 2D and not 3D, no matter which game you're reading about. They're removing points from Chronicles and Olympic Games for not feeling "Sonic-y" enough". It's ridiculous. You didn't see people marking down New Super Mario Bros for not being Super Mario Bros 3. You didn't see people marking down Mario Strikers Charged for not being Super Mario 64. Each game should be reviewed with no preconceived notions of what it should be. These games should not be compared to games from 17 years ago, they should be rated based on how they compare to current games from their same respective genres. How does Mario and Sonic compare to Sonic 2? Pretty poorly. How does it compare to other current minigame compilations? Pretty damn well. Conclusion: If you want a real idea of how good a Sonic game is, take the Gamerankings average and add 5-15%. I promise it will work every time.

System Review #3: SEGA Master System

The Master System was SEGA's first true home console. In Japan it was known as the SG-1000 Mark III (though there are small hardware differences between the American Master System and the SG-1000 Mark III). The SG-1000 preceded the Master System, but it never saw a real release in most regions. The SG-1000 Mark II was just a hardware remake (like a DS Lite or PSP Slim; same system in a different case). The SG-1000 series was the basis for the Master System design, and isn't really thought of as a true, independent console.


Released in 1986, the Master System was a mildly successful home console. It was the chief competition for the NES and the Atari 7800. It sold 13 million units worldwide, which is the second-most for any SEGA console, but it never really caught on in America or Japan. It was most popular in Europe and South America.


There are many, many ways to play a Master System. First, you have the original home console:
Next, you have the Master System II, a hardware remake:
And we can't forget the Power Base Converter, an add-on that allowed Master System games to be played on the Genesis:
And finally, we have the Master Gear, which allowed Master System games to be played on the Game Gear:

There were also some hardware remakes released in Brazil, but we won't worry about those. It's about time we got down to the hardware capabilities.

The Master System was more powerful than the NES and Atari 7800. Here are a few screens:

You get the idea. It was a very powerful system for its time.


This controller is one of the best I've ever used. The buttons are very, very soft and easy to press, but they're also incredibly responsive. The d-pad is simply outstanding, and I'd actually have preferred if SEGA stuck with it for the Genesis. There isn't a whole lot else going on here. There were also light guns, arcade sticks, and different control pads like you'd find with any other system.

-Software Library-

It doesn't get much better than what you'll find on the Master System. Alex Kidd, Wonder Boy, Shinobi, Space Harrier, Sonic, Phantasy Star... Everything you'd expect from a SEGA console and more. There are more great games available for this system than you'd even have time to play. Shooters, platformers, RPGs, sports games, action/adventure, driving games, dungeon-crawlers--hell, there are even some good early fighters on the system. There are really no holes in this system's library. It's got something for everyone, and certainly more than I can begin to elaborate upon here.

-Extra Features-

SEGA must've had a lot of fun with this one. They created all sorts of whacky accessories. I actually own a pair of "SEGA 3D Glasses", which are supposed to create 3D effects in compatible games (they really just give you a head ache, but they're awesome anyway). They plug in via the card slot on the front, which I'm sure you noticed in the pictures above. The slot was mostly used for accessories, but some low-budget games were also produced in card form. Also, if you actually get a Master System, try turning it on with no games in the cartridge slot. Most systems have a game built in, and the game is different depending on your specific model.


There is no reason at all not to own this system. It has a great controller, an outstanding library, and great hardware for the era. If you've ever played a SEGA system before, you'll feel right at home the first time you turn on a Master System. The system is very cheap and easy to find these days, and most of the great games are the same way. Why are you still reading this review, when you should be out trying to track down a Master System? Overall: 10/10.

More reasons not to vote Obama.

Please note that this isn't a topic telling you to vote for McCain or Barr. This is a topic telling you NOT to vote for Barack Obama. Here are my reasons:


People who think Obama will cut taxes for the middle cIass are naive. His economic policies call for trillions of dollars in new spending, and his tax plan currently only calls for a tax increase of a few hundreds of billions of dollars. The middle cIass will get the shaft too. Not to mention the fact that the upper cIass, who will still carry the majority of the tax burden, control most of the business and enterprise in the country. If we tax them more, they keep their profit margins the same by raising their prices. That ultimately hurts the middle and lower cIasses even more.


Barack Obama favors limits on free trade. He favors forcing other countries to meet our environmental and labor standards before agreeing to trade with them, regardless of the current supply and demand of the goods we're trying to obtain,

Health care

Barack Obama favors universal health care. This will not only increase the tax burden and government spending by a laughable amount, but it will harm hospitals and destroy jobs. America's health care is too expensive right now, but socializing it will only serve to decrease the quality, increase bureaucracy, and increase waiting times. The majority of our doctor population is made up of immigrants. They come here because our health care system is capitalistic. Changing that would reduce incentive to come here thereby creating a doctor shortage. Obama's health care plans would increase yearly taxes for most people by an amount greater than what the average person spends on medical bills in the first place.

Social security

Rather than privatizing the system, Obama favors reducing benefits and raising the retirement age. Basically, it only helps those that don't need it in the first place.


Obama is quick to point the finger at everyone else, but he takes just as much money from lobbyists. He just doesn't take them from federal or registered lobbyists. This means that unlike other candidates, we can't be completely sure who Obama is taking money from.


Obama himself admitted that he was wrong about the troop surge, and that it succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. He still favors withdrawing troops within 16 months of taking office regardless of the situation there. While I think that we need to gradually phase out, leaving before the Iraqi government can stand on its own will only serve to put the lives of millions of innocents in danger.


Obama has hinted at taking military action in Darfur. He labels it as genocide, yet he held personal stock in companies associated with the Sudanese government all the way up until he started running for president.


Obama has claimed to be in favor of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but has twice declined to vote on bills that would get the job done.

Government subsides

Obama favors the government propping up failing museums, farms, and other business ventures. This decreases personal responsibility and lets companies know that they don't necessarily have to be efficient to remain active. He also favors the government subsidizing of 5 million "green jobs", which essentially throws tax dollars at useless positions.

Oil drilling

Obama says that we shouldn't be drilling because we need to find alternative fuels. Well, that's nice. But what are we supposed to do until then? Does he expect 300 million people to just deal with gas prices until we actually find an alternative, then all spend the money required to get a vehicle capable of using this new fuel at once?


Bio-fuels have been proved to be bad for the environment, under-minding his "green" positions. Beyond that, they create food shortages. Would you rather pay more for gas or for food?

Obama opposes gay marriage.

I thought he was "progressive", but it turns out that he sees the issue the same way as certain fat old white candidates.


Obama supports abortion, which is murder. Obama supports partial birth abortion, which is even worse. It's exactly what it sounds like: killing a baby that has been partially born. Obama supports forcing hospitals to kill babies that survive abortion, and he wants them to do it by neglect. He wants newborns to starve to death.


Obama supports taking away our rights to all concealed weapons, semiautomatic weapons, and handguns. That's ridiculous. All you're doing is taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. Do drugs laws keep criminals from doing meth? So why does he think gun laws will keep criminals from getting guns? And the difference here is that guns have legitimate uses for the average person (target shooting, self defense, family defense, hunting).

Illegal immigration.

Obama supports driver's licenses and welfare for illegal immigrants. These people are criminals by definition. They're breaking United States law by entering this country without permission. They're stealing from taxpayers.


Obama himself failed to fix Chicago schools. His policy was more funding, less private schools, and lower standards. He wants to apply the same failed policies to a national level.

Since it's been awhile... I thought I'd post a link to The Board, my site, again. We're on a reliable host now and everything is great. You'll find Gamespotters like Cube_of_Moon, Foxhoud_fox, Whoozwah, frattracide, jmorey01, jaydough, moldonhold, overrated_hero, VG, and others there. Things have slowed down there of late and we'd love to see some new members. And don't forget about Planet Mobius, the SEGA-specific section of the site. So stop by and check us out. Spread the word and bring your friends. We'd love to have you.

I'm an uncle!

Enough of this political bullcrap. I've got real news to report today. At 10:05AM, my sister-in-law brought a beautiful baby girl into this world. Harley Renee (I prefer not to give the last name) is my first neice, and I couldn't be happier. My brother Nick is a proud father at age 21, and he really has his act together. He's got a wife, a child, a house, a job, and still goes to college. It's truly awesome. Seeing a newborn baby makes you forget how much is wrong with the world. It makes you think that at least we're getting something right. Seeing my mother and grandmothers holding that child was truly something special. You could tell that it really gave them something to live for, and it did my heart a lot of good. [/serious moment]

I can't believe I have to point this out...

People can't seem to let go of the notion that picking Palin makes McCain a hypocrite. They think that Palin is less experienced than Obama. But she isn't. Not even close. Obama's total political experience, beginning in 1997: -Member of the Illinois State Senate from the 13th district -Junior Illinois State Senator Palin's total political experience, beginning in 1992: -The head of the Alaska National Guard -Governor of Alaska
-Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska
-Wasilla City Council woman
-Wasilla City Manager -The President of the Alaskan Council of Mayors -Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission -Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission -Chairman of the Alaska Municipal League Board It's not even close. Palin has held a wider variety of offices. She has even held two or more of those at the same time. She has been in politics for five years longer. She also has executive experience and legislative experiene. Obama, Biden, and McCain only have legislative experience. For those who don't know, the President and Vice President are executive positions. And beyond that, Palin is running for Vice President, not President. If Palin has to take over for McCain, she presumably would've already spend some time as Vice President. She'd be able to add that to her resume, which is already more impressive than that of Obama.

Sarah Palin is a brilliant choice for Vice President.

Sarah Palin is more experienced than Barack Obama, but she's not old like McCain. And a Vice President doesn't require the same amount of experience that a president does in the first place. If she did have to assume the presidency, then she'd presumably already have Vice Presidential experience. She's served two years as the Governor of Alaska, and before that she was a City Council woman, a mayor, City Manager, and was the president of the Alaska council of mayors. She was also the Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Second, she's a governor. She brings executive experience; something that Biden, Obama, and McCain lack. They are all Senators, which are legislators. She's been an executive and a legislator. A Senator/Governor ticket balances a lot better than a Senator/Senator ticket. Third, she's conservative but not overbearing. This means that she's likely to attract some of the voters that McCain pushes away without scaring off McCain's strong Democratic, Independent, and moderate supporters. Finally, and above all else, she's a woman. The first and most obvious thing this does is distract from the whole "first black president" hype. But perhaps more importantly, she'll help McCain secure more women voters. That's an area where Obama takes about 70% from McCain. Palin should help even that number out and give McCain an advantage in the overall polls.

Barack Obama: Sort of like Carter, only more of a socialist.

Barack Obama may be the worst major candidate for the presidency in my lifetime. His candidacy is based on the fact that he's young, he's a wonderful speaker, and he's black. Sorry to say it, but he's a novelty candidate. I'm not the biggest McCain fan on the block, but I'd rather drag my testicles through a field of broken glass than see Barack Obama in charge of the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

Barack Obama hates babies.

I'm not even going to get into a debate with you about basic abortion. It's murder, but some people are too stupid to see it. So I'll focus on other baby-hating issues. First, Barack Obama supports partial-birth abortions. For those not familiar with the procedure, that's where they drill a hole in the child's brain, extract it along with the stem cells, and then drop the dead fetus in a bucket and send the mother on her way. I don't care who you are; you have to agree that this procedure is murder. Labor has already started in this case. The baby can feel pain, and it is no less sentient or self-aware than any other infant out there. Second, Obama supports killing babies who survive abortions. If the child is born alive, Obama supports having the doctors place the child in a room by itself until it dies from lack of nutrition. Can you imagine a worse death? Starvation?

Obama wants to remove the troops too early.

I'm no fan of war. I don't necessarily agree with the Bush administrations reasons for the Iraq war in the first place. But removing troops too early is the biggest mistake I could possibly imagine. The fledgling Iraqi government and military wouldn't be able to fend off the terrorists and insurgents that we've been pissing off for the last five years. We'd basically be rendering a death sentence on the people we've been trying to protect. Thousands of innocents would die because we abandoned the people that we put in danger in the first place. Beyond that, the absence of a US presence in Iraq would leave a vacuum of power that would likely be filled by countries and groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbolla, Iran, and Syria. I have to think that Obama is either completely unaware of the situation there or he is simply lying about his stance due to the general unpopularity of the war.

Raising taxes and increasing government spending are terrible for the economy

Tax hikes primarily target the rich. The rich are the ones who generally distribute valuable goods and services in this country. They didn't get to be rich by eating tax hikes. Instead, they keep their profit margins the same by increasing the prices of their goods or services. This means that the only people actually affected by these tax increases are the people who have to purchase these goods and services (the working cIass). This puts further strain on people who work hard for a living and encourages them to rely further on government programs, which are supported by tax dollars. This starts the cycle all over again. And I know someone is going to come in here and say that tax hikes are a good way to combat inflation. That's great, except that the unemployment rate has also historically gone up with major tax increases, causing them to rely on the system and thereby reversing the positive effects of a low inflation rate.

Barack Obama wants to have unconditional talks with Iran and North Korea.

This is ridiculous. A president with zero foreign policy experience has no business talking without limits to the world's most powerful despots. Neither country has a stellar human rights record and both are seeking (or already have) nuclear weapons to use against the United States and its allies.

A man can be judged by the company he keeps.

Say what you will, but this saying didn't come from nowhere. Barack Obama willingly associated with an openly racist pastor for over twenty years. And no, this wasn't a spur of the moment thing. Wright has been preaching the same bigotry since the beginning. It's just that no one cared because racist preachers are a dime a dozen. Now it's a big deal because he was the mentor of a presidential candidate. Riddle me this: where would John McCain be if his pastor were a member of the KKK? And then you've got Tony Rezko, a real estate broker who was found guilty on over a dozen charges of corruption and fraud. Obama considered the man a friend, accepted campaign money from him, and even went in together on joint purchases (including the Obamas' home). That brings us to Bill Ayers, a self-proclaimed former domestic terrorist. This man planted a bomb in the Pentagon once, and even expressed remorse that he didn't do more for his cause. Obama at first downplayed his relationship with the man (and why would he try to downplay the relationship unless it were something to be ashamed of), calling him a mere "neighbor". But it has recently come to light that the two men served on two boards together, and most notably collaborated on a failed initiative to save underperforming Chicago school districts. They've known each other for years, and Obama willingly associates with the man. Finally, we've got his wife. This woman is a moron, pure and simple. She actually claimed that when her husband won the candidacy was the first time she had ever been proud of her country. I suppose D-Day, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the billions we spend on humanitarian aid are nothing to be proud of?

His message of "change" is ridiculous.

What change? His policies are the same failed ones that we saw during the Carter and Johnson years. They're just more extreme versions. Barack Obama brings nothing new or different to the table. Politically, he's no different than John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, or any of the other elites in the Democratic party. Picking Joe Biden for his VP candidate (who has been in the senate for LONGER than John McCain) only serves to cement the fact that he cares nothing abount "removing Washington politicians from Washington". What is a Washington politician if not a Senator of 36 years?

I don't even think I have to go into his ridiculous policies involving universal health care or affirmative action. It sickens me to see people buying into the Obama hype train. He's a terrible person and a terrible candidate. He's inexperienced and an idiot to boot.
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