Dangerous Fandemonium in Sonic Boom’s “The Biggest Fan”

sonic-and-mark
Sonic’s awkward encounter with Mark the Tapir at Meh Burger in the latest Sonic Boom episode “The Biggest Fan.” Courtesy: Boomerang

In my 13 years of being a Sonic fan, I have always admired Sonic’s way of being–his speed, his charm, his devilishly good looks, and his even his smile. Yes, I was obsessed with Sonic–and his dark, anti-hero counterpart Shadow–but my obsession wasn’t as clinically serious as that of Mark the Tapir in Sonic Boom‘s latest episode, “The Biggest Fan” (a title reference to a long-forgotten boy band film of the same name, starring Dream Street lead Chris Trousdale).

In this episode, Sonic meets a socially awkward tapir named Mark, a self-proclaimed number one fan whom Sonic allows to be his personal assistant. Mark’s gestures to Sonic were admirable at first–picking out his bandana, grilling his hot dogs, painting a portrait of him holding a chili dog, and advising him on the best strategy to defeat one of his enemies. But he soon takes his friendship with Sonic to a dangerous level by getting into a bicycle accident and imprisoning Sonic at his cabin, where the walls of his room are filled with numerous Sonic memorabilia.

“The Biggest Fan” doesn’t preach about the Sonic fanbase as a whole, but rather about the dark side of fanaticism–creative stupidity and overt criticism. For example, there’s good Sonic fan art, but then there’s fan art that makes your eyes want to bleed into permanent blindness. I drew a few pieces of Sonic fan art, but they weren’t as professional as the ones I saw on deviantART, yet I’m still proud of them. I also saw pieces of Sonic fan art that have been amateurishly drawn on MS Paint, involved female characters being unrealistically pregnant, and–even worse–recolored on screenshots from Sonic X. Overt criticism of the Sonic games has been running rampant in the decade after the release of Sonic ’06. SEGA didn’t make Sonic ’06 terrible on purpose. The development team was downsized in half after Yuji Naka’s departure from Sonic Team, and they were rushed to complete the game in time for the release of both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, placing them under insurmountable stress. Elise’s kiss of life was indicative of that, but big whoop! Sonic and the Secret Rings may have made under the same stress despite that it didn’t come out until three months after the Wii’s release. One bad game shouldn’t have to release a chain of negative criticism for successive games like Sonic Generations and Sonic Lost World. Also, please keep in mind that Sonic Boom is a spin-off franchise, not a part of the main canon despite Boom Sonic appearing alongside Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic in the 25th anniversary banners.

I’ll always love Sonic, but the actions of Mark the Tapir don’t represent me in any way, shape or form.

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Sonic Boom Off the Air for One Month

Sonic Boom Off the Air for One Month

I didn’t expect Sonic Boom to not be on the air today. I certainly didn’t expect to hear that the show will be on hiatus for a month one week after the premiere of its second season.

Two years ago, I shied away from Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal following their horrendous display of glitches and deafening dialogue on top of a shoddy storyline, but I couldn’t resist watching the TV show on Cartoon Network. I believed that Sonic Boom, along with Adventure Time, Regular Show and Steven Universe, was going to drag Cartoon Network out of its creative hell. Actually, the show would’ve made twice the positive impact on the network’s quality as the other ones mentioned here were not for the 7:30am time slot it was given for Saturday mornings. I used to get of bed that early on the weekends for Sonic X because a decade ago, there weren’t any DVRs to help viewers record programs of their choosing except for TiVO, which I didn’t have at the time. Because 4KidsTV would change the time slot for Sonic X at any time, be it at 8:30am or 10:30am, I got out of bed at 6:30 in the morning to watch the other shows first. Nowadays, kids don’t wake up that early on a Saturday morning anymore because of the high academic and extracurricular demands disrupting their sleep schedules, not to mention their circadian rhythms, making them sleep in until 9:00 or 10:00 on the weekends. Thankfully, their DVRs can record their favorite cartoons if they set it to “Series Recording.”

Then there’s lack of advertising. Cartoon Network promoted Sonic Boom at least a week before it first aired. The second time they advertised the show was in July 2015, when they announced that they would air two weeks worth of new episodes from July 13th to the 24th. They haven’t advertised anything for the current season, which resulted in the 560,000 viewer rating for the season premiere episode “Tommy Thunder: Method Actor.”

I was expecting Sonic Boom to be just as serious as Sonic X, but the humor it took after popular comedy shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory drew me to the show like a honeybee flying to the most beautiful rose in the park. I hope Cartoon Network places Sonic Boom on to later time slot come December. Until then, I’ll find other comedy shows to release the dopamine I need to survive the rest of the semester.

Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice (Seriously, SEGA?)

Before I delve into my rant about the Sonic Boom series, let me tell you the story about my Sonic the Hedgehog fandom.

In 2nd Grade, on a rainy Friday night in April 2002, my parents–well, my mother and stepdad, whom she was engaged to at the time–took me and my brother to Circuit City to buy Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on DVD. While they were looking for it, I ventured to the video game department to play some demos of whatever game was out or going to hit the market in the near future. I walked over to the Nintendo GameCube, which was spinning the demo versions of its latest games, including Sonic Adventure 2, which was ported over to the console from the SEGA Dreamcast. A blond boy, who appeared to be at least 12 or 13, showed up and picked Sonic Adventure 2 from the roulette by chance, and we started to play it. In multiplayer mode, I played as Amy Rose while the blond kid played as Shadow the Hedgehog. We played in City Escape and it seemed Blond Boy understood the control schematics of the GameCube better than I did. He was able to snowboard (or in this case, streetboard) down the steep hills and pull off stunts as soon as he jumped off the ramps, while I, a naïve 8-year-old girl with Asperger’s syndrome, had a somewhat difficult controlling my character because it was brand new to me. Blond Boy beat me gracefully–he did use Chaos Control on me–and I got steaming mad. I wouldn’t have yelled “Fight fair!” to him had he had the time to teach me how to use the GameCube controller more effectively.

Eighteen months passed, and a couple days after Halloween, my cousin reintroduced me to Sonic Adventure 2, and I fell in love with it–especially Sonic (and Shadow, who I despised at first).

The following Sonic games I have in my possession, in the order I acquired them, are:
– Sonic Advance 3
– Sonic Heroes
– Shadow the Hedgehog
– Sonic Riders
– Sonic Advance 2
– Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity
– Sonic Unleashed
– Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
– Sonic and the Black Knight
– Sonic Colors
– Sonic and the Secret Rings
– Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing
– Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
– Sonic the Hedgehog 2
– Sonic Lost World

Although some of the games were given harsh criticism, Sonic has been with me through a lot of hardships: attempting to pass the 3rd Grade a second time, my father’s death by liver cancer, Hurricane Wilma, getting bullied in elementary and middle school, moving to another neighborhood, SAT/ACT prep, and even my breakup with Jack.

So, when I heard about Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice and watched the trailer for it on YouTube hours before my flight to New York three days ago, I–as much as I love Sonic–felt the need to bash my head against the wall of my bedroom. Why? Last year, when Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was released, I thought it was gonna be fine. But then, rage broke out all over the Internet–Twitter, Twitch, you name it. As soon as people started playing the game on the Wii U and live-streaming it, they all decried its mediocre graphics, abysmal writing, and the multifarious glitches. Need I remind you of Knuckles’s infinite jump? They even dubbed Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric the new Sonic ’06 (which I don’t have). Sonic ’06 had some glitches, but Rise of Lyric was ten times worse. Shattered Crystal for the Nintendo 3DS was just as bad (thank God I didn’t even bother buying it). No one believed that SEGA would allow a terrible Sonic game to see the light day. Not to mention, hand production of the Sonic Boom games to another company that wasn’t affiliated with them at all. That company is Big Red Button.

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice will be exclusively for the 3DS, and although the graphics may have improved a bit–it is being produced by Sanzaru–I don’t plan on buying it when it’s released next spring. I love Sonic games, but not the Boom branch.