Sonic Mania

I am young, very young. Probably like 5 or 6. My sister and I are playing games together – one game really, we can’t decide on anything else, so we always break out Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and play the same four levels over and over. Emerald Hill Zone. Casino Night Zone. Special Stage. Mystic Cave Zone, I think. It’s all kind of hazy now, but the feeling is still there. Two players, sat in front of the TV, me usually winning because of too much time spent playing the game.

Eventually we will move the Mega Drive into my room and put a PlayStation in the lounge and everyone will have to put up with me playing the Rugrats licensed game. Both of them, in fact. But for now we are keeping it simple.

I am 24 years old, and I have a sudden urge to call my sister.

I am 18, I guess. Sonic 2 comes up on Xbox Live and it’s so cheap I’d be a fool not to buy it. I can’t get over the fact that it has save points now. I don’t have to beat it all in one go. I can just work my way through.

This never happens. Every attempt must be in one straight run, and every attempt sees me dying in Casino Zone because let’s face it, I’m just not good enough. After a couple of goes I put it down and never play it again.

I am 21. Someone asks if we can play Sonic 2. I say, sure.

I am 22. My niece is playing Primal Rage with me, but I long to show her the game of my childhood.

I am maybe 9, maybe 10. There is a crummy PC that my parents still use, and a disc with Sonic 3 & Knuckles on it somewhere in the study. I spend an afternoon installing it and loading it up. For some reason it opens in windowed mode, and everything moves at twice the speed it should. It runs fine in fullscreen.

Somehow the level select cheat code remains in my fingers and I’m jumping between zones, failing constantly. Tails dies again and again and again and again. There’s a fire shield.

I am 12, I think. Mum has taken me around several places she is mystery shopping, and in each one I find a GameCube stand and play Sonic Adventure 2. The last one we visit, we leave with a new GameCube and only one game – it will go down as one of my favourite games of all time.

Several years later I will remember Knuckles and regret that decision.

I am 24. My sister is a couple of hundred miles away now, and I probably won’t see her until Christmas. That’s OK, I think. It gives me time to get better at this.

I smack into a wall and run down a small incline. My thumbs instinctively begin a spin dash and I fire myself back up the wall and into harm’s way. Not for the first time.

Most things change enormously over time, but some will always stay the same.

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