Wednesday, November 9, 2011
The search for Sonic
The acronym INAKA supposedly stands for 'I'm Not a Kid Anymore', and it's connotations include growth, maturity and adulthood.
Isn't it funny, then, that today I'm experiencing a childlike frenzy that practically mirrors a memory from 1994.
So there I was, a six year old in Las Vegas. Vegas would seem a strange holiday destination for my family, neither parents being particularly into gambling and my sister and I wee tots of no more than ten, but we were vacation nuts, and we bounced from place to place. I hardly remember Vegas, but I loved it all the same.
One thing in particular, however, that I shan't forget, was the day we were out shopping, and I laid eyes on a prize like no other.
There, on the shelf, in plush form, was Sonic the Hedgehog.
Plushes were my thing as a kid, for some reason. Though neither as durable or versatile as other toys, they felt more robust to me, somehow. Maybe it was their larger size or their oh so fluffy exteriors, but I loved those plushes like a bevy of hookers, to be collected, and then later forgotten and stuffed in my closet.
For it to be a plush of fancy was one thing, but for it to be Sonic? Oh, good gracious! Had to have that sucker. Just HAD to.
Sonic was my boy, he was my man, he was my go-to guy. Of all the obsessions I had over the years, the three biggest, in no particular order, were Sonic, Ninja Turtles and Pokémon. Back when computers were a novelty, I once printed sixty pages of crappy Sonic images to put on my wall. I even wrote pensive comments on each picture, as though it made it more pertinent. Indeed, one picture even misprinted to just be completely black, and I somehow made a pencil-based observation to make it Sonic-relevant.
As an impressionable child of the 90s, Sonic was marketed so heavily to my demographic, it was almost like he was meant for me exclusively. He was cool! He was cocky! He was fast as all hell, and we loved him like the messiah.
Couple that with what may be the most compelling packaging known to man, with phrases like 'I need your help!' and 'take me home for adventure!', and the purchase was automatic.
See, this Sonic plush had a price tag so inflated, gullible minds may fear it would float away.
My dad would have none of it. I don't mean to portray him as stingy, quite the opposite actually, but we left that store minus one blue hedgehog.
With that, I responded with the most powerful tool in my arsenal.
It used to be tantrums, but over six years of honing my craft, I had cultivated a much more potent tactic, one that would accentuate my parents' guilt, while minimizing the amount of trouble I would get in.
Ladies and gentlemen, I moped.
A sullen child can sure be a buzz kill while you're on holiday, and the only solution is to bite the bullet and buy that ridiculously overpriced toy. It worked in Fiji when I wanted a stuffed monkey (who I later dubbed Mutombo), and I won big in Vegas.
Sonic the Hedgehog was mine. I was a horrible, spoilt little bastard and I'm sorry.
Fast forward to today (with at least two more Sonic-related episodes along the way), and I am feeling those familiar emotions: Frustration. Vexation. Depression.
Unfortunately, the cure this time isn't as simple as outlasting my parents in a war of attrition. Now, it seems as though Sonic may have eluded my grasp once and for all.
You see, Sonic Generations has hit the scene; a celebratory game that brings back the very best of Sonic from the last two decades and delivers it to you in one splendid package: a collision of old and new, a beautiful tapestry of spin dashing, homing attacks and cute animals bashing the bejeezus out of enormous robots.
Exclusive to the UK and Australia for some reason, is the piece de resistance; the collector's edition. It includes a documentary, soundtrack, art book, exclusive figures and an individually numbered gold ring.
These are all things that, surely, another twenty years from now, will seem inconsequential, but right now, they are must-haves.
Usually, I'm ambivalent about collector's editions. But Sonic Generations isn't just a game, you see, it's an event. An experience. The culmination of twenty years of magical adventure. It has been released in three versions: standard, limited edition (with downloadable content and a fancy box), and the aforementioned collector's masterpiece.
I have decided that getting anything less than the maximum package would be a slight on my Sonic fandom as a whole, and unfortunately, I only came to this revelation yesterday.
The game came out six days ago, and pre-orders for the collector's holy grail date back to early September, if memory serves. Merrily strolling up to retailers now expecting to find it is akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger's quest for a Turbo Man in Jingle All the Way, only with fewer wacky escapades, as of yet no explosions, and little to no potential for a climactic showdown with Sinbad in an elaborate costume with a large brain.
This collector's edition, you see, only seems to have one batch. While proper nerds secured theirs through pre-order, rusty out of practice nerds like myself are left scrounging in the dirt for scraps. Already in an epidemic-level panic in the UK, the Poms are hawking it off at £300 on eBay and Amazon.
Pretty soon, their swindling Australian cousins will follow suit, demanding $465 for something that retailed at $165.
It's a sad situation, and I've exhausted nearly every option. EB Games, JB-Hifi, GAME, Gametraders, Myer, Kmart, Big W, Dick Smith Electronics... I even Tweeted desperately at gaming journalists, but they always ignores me. I wonder why. I guess they're not fans of Stone Protectors or Oogie Boogie.
The search shall continue, however, because I have a near autistic-level of obsession capability. Damn my career! Damn my engagement! Damn them all, for Sonic awaits out there, somewhere.
Seventeen years ago, he begged me to rescue him from a shopping mall in Las Vegas. Now, his time is running out, and the search radius has expanded to all of Australia.
Hang on, big blue, I'm a-comin'.