Why SERIOUS SONIC LORE ANALYSIS is a fantastic video (Followup Post)

Why is “Star Light Zone” all green and gray? The answer isn’t quite what you think.


This post is a followup to a blog post I made from last year, reviewing hbomberguy’s video “SERIOUS SONIC LORE ANALYSIS“.

Last night, I was in bed thinking about another Sonic related video that’s more grounded in reality and how it ties in to hbomb’s overanalysis of Sonic the Hedgehog (the first game). That video is “Square Trees?!” – A Critique of Sonic Art Styles Throughout the Series” by Triple-Q; I had seen it before watching SERIOUS SONIC LORE ANALYSIS.

The section of Square Trees that relates to SERIOUS SONIC LORE ANALYSIS is that on Sonic 1, starting from this timestamp. At that point, Q discusses how every zone after Green Hill looks kind of boring and monochrome. When I first saw that video, the point in that section that struck me the most was the description of Star Light Zone (shown above), whose name would suggest something awesome and spacey but is instead murky green and gray.

The most logical thing to deduce from this simplistic zone design is that the developers didn’t put too much thought into designing the levels. This is especially clear when you compare it to the next few classic Sonic games. Sonic 2, CD, and 3&K all have delightful level design; Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant Zone is one of the best designed levels in any video game I have ever played, if not the best. Many zones in the next few share similar elements to Sonic 1’s but look a lot more lively and colorful, or just have much more of their own personalities. CD’s Tidal Tempest is a version of Labyrinth that doesn’t look like ass, while 3&K’s Lava Reef is a gorgeous spin on the lava theme set by 1’s Marble. Also on the topic of CD, Stardust Speedway is what Star Light was probably always meant to be: jumpy design, iconic music, and a way cooler sounding name. Sonic 1’s bland zones are best seen as predecessors to similar but more lively zones, am I right?

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That idea is cool and all and makes sense, but doesn’t stop hbomb from analyzing the game how he wants; reading too much into it, if you will.

Before we go on, I’ll note the following. As I said in my prior post about SERIOUS SONIC LORE ANALYSIS, hbomberguy and Eric Taxxon both taught me that there is nothing wrong with reading too much into things. It can lead to mind-blowing analysis if done right. It’s just that if done poorly, reading too much into things will make you look like a doofus. In my most recent Homestuck posts I can proudly say there’s a few points where I read “too much” into things. And a few points where I read just the “right amount” into things, so that I could decipher Hussie’s mind and predict his book commentary almost verbatim.

OK, back to where I was.

As the game progresses, Sonic 1’s art styles evolve from vibrant nature all the way to robotic dystopia. If you compare each of the zones, the general trend is that they become more robotic looking as you go through the game. I established prior that aside from the ending zones, the robotic appearance is probably just a result of overly simple design. But hbomb takes full advantage of the monochromatic appearance of the game’s zones and draws a conclusion that I already discussed in my prior post about his video.

Perhaps hbomb’s dystopian Sonic 1 analysis was inspired by Sonic CD’s bad future zones? Or perhaps it wasn’t. Either way, the cool thing is that he never talks about other Sonic games in this video (aside from a few offhand jokes) and nor does he need to. He masterfully interpreted Sonic 1 as a standalone game, without saying “oh it’s the first game, the next few do it better” or “Sonic has had a rocky history ever since its transition to 3D” or such clichés.

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Man writing about Sonic is pretty fun. Maybe I should do it more often; I’ve been thinking of writing about Sonic CD, the weirdest of the classic games. In a parallel universe, I’m probably working on blog posts about Sonic every day and maybe on occasion some weird webcomic called Homestuck. My next post about the weird webcomic called Homestuck probably won’t take that long to make, which is why I don’t feel guilty about making a blog post on something unrelated. See my schedule for more information.

Why Scary Maze Is a Work of Art (Early Halloween special I guess)

You remember this thing, right? I hope you do, or at least I hope you weren’t like me and played this game completely unaware of what you were in for.

The reason why, of course, is because this game is aggravatingly hard!!! I can’t beat it no matter how much I try. I just want to make it to the fourth and final level, but the road to the end is way too thin and the controls are already so shaky. I’m surprised I haven’t destroyed my computer after all this frustration!

… Just kidding, I’m gonna be Mr. No Fun and ruin the surprise for those that haven’t played it (which I doubt is many). The game is just a mean prank. You play level 3, get to the narrow part, and then suddenly a zombie face appears accompanied by two extremely loud screams in short succession. There is no level 4.

I’ve always been aware of shock content on the Internet. It’s an ages-old trend that has long lost its punch. But Scary Maze somehow flew under my radar for the longest time. Now don’t get me wrong, I had recognized the image shown above for many years. I genuinely had the impression that it was just a REALLY hard game, which doesn’t quite add up in retrospect but that doesn’t mean much. Whenever something doesn’t totally make sense to me, I have a habit of believing it anyway rather than questioning it, even though the truth is usually painfully obvious in retrospect. In this case, I had assumed that since the game was hyped up so much, it probably had really imprecise or rough controls. But on the fateful day of October 11, 2018, I was discussing the game with some people online and decided to play it for myself, only to be greeted with, uh, this. Needless to say, I was completely caught off guard and apparently scared my cat.

Normally the concept of “shock content” is painfully tasteless and boring to me. But the bait-and-switch in Scary Maze is so perfectly executed that I consider it to be a work of art. The game hypes itself up to be a tricky challenge with four levels that requires intense concentration, and already has “scary” in its title. Level 1 is easy, level 2 is a little harder, then level 3 is an “oh shit” moment. It’s much harder than you’d expect from the prior two levels, and makes you really excited for what level 4 will be. The shocking part happens at the time you’d least expect it: early on in the final stretch of super narrow road, when you’re probably already at the edge of your seat, about to beat the second-last level before the ultimate final stage.

I commend whoever made Scary Maze for the choice of where to put the shock content; it’s absolutely brilliant and a prank so well-executed it’s hard to say it’s in bad taste at all. Scary Maze is a perfect example of unconventional art! I hope to make more posts about this kind of art eventually.

Why SERIOUS SONIC LORE ANALYSIS is a fantastic video

These wondrous naturally occurring loop-de-loops Sonic runs through mean so much more than the game lets on…

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I don’t really feel like rambling about how inactive this blog has been, I’ll do that at the end of this post.

At work today, for some reason I felt the urge to write a blog post about a video that I really, really love: SERIOUS SONIC LORE ANALYSIS by hbomberguy. I recommend you watch that video and then continue reading this post.

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