Sonic the Hedgehog

They say that true immortality comes from always being remembered. Few people likely still play Sonic the Hedgehog on an actual Sega Genesis. In fact, there are probably very few remaining Genesis consoles in operation. The beauty of “classic” compilations of games, like those featured on Wii’s Virtual Console, is that characters like Sonic can demonstrate their timelessness despite the obsolescence of their media.

Literature never becomes obsolete. Technologically speaking, the advent of the television and then the computer made books yesterday’s news. However, what is written inside of books is without any such boundary. We can read books written a century earlier, and it can feel as real as it did when it was first published.

This isn’t true of video games, which age rapidly because of the relative youth of the media. Playing a game like Pong today seems arcane when compared to games with the depth of Final Fantasy XII. For this reason, many game franchises are simply recreated with newer technology in the same vein as the remastering of Star Wars and Star Trek. Though the new machines can expand the depth and color of a title, they alter the game’s original message. Most traditional game reviewers will tell you that Sonic the Hedgehog, as a franchise, has diminished in quality over the years. While this is a subjective statement, it adds significance to the reemergence of Sonic on Wii and other new consoles. When people play the game today, the graphics may seem “old fashioned”, just like the vocabulary of the book written 100 years ago, the experience of playing the game remains true to its original.

Environmentalism

There are few mature depictions of environmental concern in media from this time period. Most games or films which bring up this topic delve into the subject with a heavy hand. Writers often had characters go into exorbitant length to discuss environmental causes like shrinking wetlands or forests. The dialogue was full of jargon and was meant simply to inform the audience rather than impassion them.

In this game, however, environmentalism is a subtext to the action. Sonic is fighting the rapid industrialization and mechanization of his friends and his environment. Even though this is never explicitly stated, it is veiled under the guise of his longtime rivalry with Dr. Eggman. This clever insertion allowed the topic to be discussed and considered by the audience without forcing them to read pamphlets on the subject, forming the foundation for the integration of environmental causes into video games.

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