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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Super-SONIC Tips for SegaManiacs! - Part 1

It's hard to imagine life today without easy access to the internet, but that's how things were in the early 90s.  If you were a kid playing a video game and got stuck, you really only had two options:  ask someone for help or buy the player's guide.  If you went with the 2nd option, you'd often find guides filled with misinformation.  Many times, this may not have been the fault of the writers as they had to work with an earlier build of the game in order to time the release of the guide with the game itself .

However, there's some guides that are so bad that no amount of excuses can justify their crappiness.

This is one of the latter.

How bad is it?  The first page starts with "And Now, Introducing...SONIC.  He's quick.  He's hip.  He's a cool dude with an attitude."  Apparently, the guide assumes players bought the guide not knowing who Sonic was even though if you bought the guide, you probably have the game and it's the third game in the series.  Nevertheless, it gets much much worse. "It's still the same story, a fight for love and glory-well, sort of."  Love?  What love story exists in Sonic 3?

"In the original Sonic The Hedgehog game for the Sega Genesis and the super sequels that have followed, Sonic proved that a mere hedgehog can battle Robotnik to a Super Sonic Spin standoff."  Holy crap, I don't remember the part where Robotnik used Sonic's spin  moves in a stand-off!  I want to see that fat man roll into a ball!  The introduction goes on to mention Sonic has been in the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade along with plenty of other information that doesn't even remotely apply to Sonic 3.

After a fairly stupid introduction, the game gives some of the basics, such as controls, what items do, menu options, etc.  None of this information is incorrect or is written very poorly.  Things don't really start hitting the fan until we get into the actual game guide.  It should be noted there are no maps in this guide:  only screenshots highlighting certain features of the level.  It should also be noted that the pages are arranged by a drunken maniac.  Here's the first two pages of the actual Zone guides.

Note the stock art splattered across the page.  It's like that throughout the guide.  Also note that the tips are arranged along a weird checkerboard path.  Starting on the left is the first tip, then down, then right, then up. On this page, it's fairly easy to follow.  Later in the book, however, the path starts doing loops and overlaps itself making the tips horribly hard to follow...not that you'd want to anyways.  Still nothing too bad until...

THE FIRST BOSS!  Yes, you're reading that right:  they consider the cutscene where the fire machine destroys the forest as the first boss.  "When the ship is low enough, aim your attacks towards the very top of this small craft.  The trick is to avoid the flame shooter.  It takes only 2 or 3 successful attacks to make the ship leave.  Congratulations!  You have beaten the first boss character of Sonic the Hedgehog 3.  You also completed the 1st half of Act 1 of this zone.  The 2nd part of this act isn't nearly as easy to get through."  Wait, 1st half of Act 1?  Then why do you say "Angel Island Zone II" at the top?

Moving on, after the actual Act 1 boss (you know, the one you actually have to hit), the guide proudly declares "This [Act 1] is one of the longest acts in Sonic 3."  Um...really?  I was pretty sure it was very close to being the shortest unless you're just awful at this game.  Oh wait.  Now I see why they say that:  THE SCREENSHOT FOR THE BOSS SHOWS THEIR TIME AT 6:43.  How can you be that bad at this game while writing a guide?  Fortunately, they are thankfully light on stupid comments for the rest of Angel Island Zone.  There is, however, one thing worth noting.

How the Hell did anybody think this looked like the first miniboss?  They don't even look remotely close!

Thankfully, Hydrocity is also fairly light on stupid comments other than one minor gripe:

Why is this one statement bold and gigantic?  None of the other boss fights other than the first receive this text making it completely pointless and out of place.  My only guess is that they wanted to fill some more room and didn't have random clip art that fit the spot.  It should be noted that all of the Robotnik fights take "around 6 hits".  They're 8.  All of them are 8.  They couldn't bother to count to 8.

Now it's time for Marble Garden...

*tilts head sideways*  ...Zone?  Yes, not content to simply say the name of the zone, from this point on, the guide designers felt the need to put them in wacky shapes that make absolutely no sense.  Once again, though, Marble Garden is light on stupid comments other than the occasional pointless comment such as "There's no need to pray to these stone-faced statues."  However, there is a bigger fish to fry at the end of the zone.

First of all, nice picture of the "rotating tree trunks" up there at the top.  I always love the part of this zone when I suddenly enter a colorful technological wonderland in the middle of the ruins and fight the Carnival Night Tree Trunk boss.  I especially love it when the poorly drawn Angel Island Zone midboss watches.

Next up is Carnival Night Zone.  The guide's first words on this zone are "This is probably the easiest zone in Sonic 3:  it's also the wackiest.  The hardest part is trying not to get lost, since this world is very huge."  ...Carnival Night...easiest?  Who the Hell has ever thought that?  Seriously, who takes 6 and a half minutes to beat Angel Island Zone Act 1, and then goes "OH, HELL, THAT CARNIVAL LEVEL?  I BEAT IT IN NO TIME FLAT, EASIEST DAMN THING IN THE GAME!"  I mean, seriously, if anything, it's one of the hardest zones in the game!  The zone also features "anti-gravity pads, floating platforms, giant helium-filled balloons, pinball bumpers, and a shooting cannon!" As opposed to...a non-shooting cannon?  Well, it's a lot more complicated than it sounds, apparently.  This is the guide's section on the cannon.

"Getting shot out of a cannon may not seem like the brightest idea, but to reach the end of the act, Sonic has to become a cannonball.  To shoot Sonic from this cannon, make him leap into it.  As soon as he's inside, the cannon starts swinging left and right.  Since you can't aim the cannon, you must decide when it is at the best angle to shoot and then press A, B, or C to fire.

It may take a few tries to perfect your timing when shooting Sonic out of the cannon.  The best time to launch Sonic is when the cannon is facing to the left, at about the same angle as the picture shown here (top picture).  You want to make Sonic fly up at about a 45 degree angle, so that he shoots to the left and can reach a platform overhead." think that's descriptive enough?  I mean, seriously, two full paragraphs on the cannon.  It runs down the entire side of the page.  I mean, here, let me rewrite it to make to make it just as clear while half as long.

"To reach a platform overhead, jump into the top of this cannon.  Once inside, it will begin swinging from side to side.  Press the jump button when the cannon is aimed 45 degrees to the left to blast towards the platform.  It can be tricky, so don't feel bad if you take a few tries to get it right."

Speaking of tricky, it's time for Carnival Night Zone Act 2.  The act that would pretty much be the only reason for anybody to have to buy a guide for this game.  There's plenty of deadly water and of course, the infamous barrel room.  One would think that given this guide's tendency to over-describe things (see the cannon paragraphs above) that they would surely dedicate like 2 pages to that damn barrel.  Not only is this not the case:  THE DAMN THING ISN'T EVEN MENTIONED.  None of the barrels are!  No "Hey, if you see one of these barrels, hit up and down in time with the barrel to get some height" or Hell, even a screenshot of them!  Nothing.  Act 2 has two pictures/paragraphs of information:  One talking about the striped downhill cylinders and one talking about water.  They don't even talk about the boss, which as a kid lead me to believe there wasn't one.  But then again, I couldn't know for myself because I was too busy getting a time over because my damn guide didn't tell me about the damn barrel!

Well, we've finally made it to Ice Cap Zone, or as I like to call it...

"Whoopsees, we forgot to zoom out!" Zone.  Seriously, every picture in this zone is zoomed in towards the upper left corner of the screen.  What's the picture on the right supposed to be?  Oh, only a picture warning you about the Penguin Badniks that you can't see because it's zoomed in so far.  I mean, seriously, look at this!

There you go, here's a picture of the boss!  Man, look at how imposing he is!

Watch out for the weapon at the bottom of the ship!  It can pack quite a wallop, as seen here in this picture of a mountain and some snowflakes!  Oh, and now is as good of a time as any to point out that they refer to Dr. Robotnik as "The Doc" throughout the entire guide.

What lies in store for Launch Base Zone?  Why am I taking a break when the game is so close to being done?  Oh, we've actually got way way more to go than you realize!  Tune in next time!

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