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DEBUT! Design Brain w/ Tembo the Badass Elephant

The Artist Speaks is DONE — Welcome to DESIGN BRAIN! Where Super Fun Game Play meets Super Smart On-The-Fly Analysis.

In the debut episode, I play & analyze Tembo: The Badass Elephant.

Initial Thoughts: From trailers, it looks like Sega & Game Freak’s answer to a Donkey Kong style smooth moving, secret collecting, platforming action game. Does it meet the expectations? Let’s find out~!

An Actual Sonic Fan – REVIEW – Beyond the Valley of Qubots

Now the robots get their own episode… Alright, whatever.

Just like yesterday, I didn’t really… Want this episode. You know what I mean? I think I’m just running out of steam when it comes to these new episodes. Sonic Boom continues to be a hit-and-miss series, and for some reason, it can be a little draining. I guess it’s because I love Sonic the Hedgehog, and you can’t knock it out of the park all the time with an animated series. I’m having more fun than not, and that’s really all I can ask for.

And I swear to God, the first person to draw a comparison between that feeling with recent Sonic games… No.

Really though, I just can’t think of anything else to say. This was fun, a good way to kind of make up for the lack of real updates over the past few weeks. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment.

An Actual Sonic Fan – REVIEW – Two Good to be True

Another hackneyed premise? Too good to be true indeed.

Sing along if you know the words: Parallel Universe, one of the cast gets displaced who’s the opposite of the original, so now they have to send him back. Usually this is a launching point for an evil version to usurp the group and take over along with the Evil (or at least competent) version(s) of the other universe’s Good villains… Instead, they just make Knuckles smart, and that’s about it. There’s a rescue, and there’s nothing more too it than that.

There’s one weird moment at the end of the episode where Tails replaces a battery, and they just stands there for 30 seconds, commenting on how awkward the situation is. It felt like a Family Guy joke. So an observation, a poorly timed one, that has no barring on the story.

It’s hard to really say more. It took the premise in a different direction, and could have done more with it, but chooses not to. We could have had a scene where the group takes a shine to the new Knuckles, making old Knuckles feels dejected and needs to redeem himself. They could have done that with the rescue. But that’s not the episode we got.

We’ve only got 1 more new episode, an episode I won’t be surprised to find out is a series finale. It would suck that this series never got a chance to stretch its legs, but you can only be hit and miss for so long. We’ll see what happens.

An Actual Sonic Fan – REVIEW – Just a Guy

… I LOVE this episode.

Robotnik is attacking, but Knuckles is hanging out with a villager, whose name is Mike apparently, and doesn’t wanna fight. Trying to save the day, Sonic tells Mike he can’t come to fight Robotnik saying, “You’re just a guy.” Now, we know what he’s saying, and everyone instantly hates him for saying it the way he did.

Sonic apologizes, then the same thing happens with a similar crack, referring to the people he’s saving as “You People.” They hate him again. After an explanation of how absurd everything has been, something every hero has to do at least once, he says “Fuck it,” and quits. 

Almost instantly, things take a turn for the… Not worse, more like annoying. The people immediately realize, “Hey, things suck without this guy around,” and ask for his help. Eventually, Sonic does what he does best, the villagers smarten up, and everything ends well.

It’s immediately relatable, in the way that it’s immediately maddening. Everyone has been through this in their life, for whatever reason, and it always sucks. It’s like those fights you have with your friend, where they’re like, “I love strawberries,” and you’re like, “Yeah, they’re alright,” and they’re like, “Just alright? How can you think that?” YOU know how absurd it is to take offense to something like that, but somehow THEY don’t, and now you have to deal with that for a few days… I’m sure you can some up with better examples.

Let’s isolate the inciting incident in this episode: Mike asks we he can’t come to the Robotnik fight. Sonic is saying, “You mean you, someone who isn’t qualified at all to be anywhere near a giant angry robot, you wanna come and get in our way and risk getting hurt? Yeah no, we’re not doing that.” And the short hand way to saw all of that was, “You’re just a guy.” Perfectly reasonable if you ask me. But no, people are reactionary and dumb, so now you have to pretend you’re the bad guy in this scenario… I think this episode is making me realize just how much of an objectivist I am — I could sit here and educate you on why you’re all acting like jackasses, but instead I’m gonna go make the world a better place~

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Oh Steve…

Again, it all ends well, Mike helps a smidgen and Sonic calls him a hero. Self-Identity assured, villains defeated. But ask yourself honestly. If you had Sonic’s abilities, would you even bother? ‘Cos I don’t think I would… I mean, put up with that, of course I’d still save people, what do you take me for?

An Actual Sonic Fan – REVIEW – Eggman the Auteur

Whoa, they’re actually using the Ener-Beam from Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal. Didn’t see that coming. Also, I want my own Yes-Bot.

Alright, we’re going back to the 90’s here. It’s hard to watch this episode and not draw an instant comparison to an episode of the Angry Beavers where they finish a lost movie together. It follows a lot of the same beats, a lot of physical comedy, and a lot of the expected jokes with re-writes, and “Call my Agent,” kind of stuff. Right off the bat, it’s hard not to watch this episode and just say, “Eh, It’s been done.”

So Robotnik is making a movie, Sonic instantly knows something is up. In order to get 11 minutes out of the premise, they go along with it. There’s a fun bit where Knuckles becomes a stunt double and is painted up like Sonic, which explains this pic I saw not so long ago… 

Knock Knock, it's Snucks y'all

Knock Knock, it’s Snucks y’all

Anyway, things kind of come to a head when Orbot & Cubot expose a supposed evil plan. Robotnik is using the Drill Bot featured in his movie to dig for materials in order to build an unstoppable new army of robots; making him an actual threat for once in the series. Weirdly enough, we actually get a glimmer of what a robot fight with stakes could look like in this series… But it was all a double cross to get the last shot for Robotnik’s movie. So wait, he really WAS just making a movie? Now we’re at the screening, and we’re told the real plan was to hypnotize people watching the movie. Then everyone just leaves, and we don’t even get to see the finished movie… What?!

Allow me to explain what Pay-Off is, ‘cos there might be people who honestly don’t know about it. With a premise like this, an episode entirely based on the hi-jinx of making a movie, the best way to end it is to show the damn movie. Referencing the Angry Beavers again, in the end we got to see the finished product, and it was hilarious: You got this mash-up of absurdity that’s only funnier because we saw it being made. It’s that feeling of, “Whoa! What happened?!” You don’t get that with Eggman the Auteur. You see, I use the word absurdity because that’s what something an episode like this should have embraced more. In order to do this right, you need to embrace the zaniness, not try to explain it.

The real problem though, is that we don’t have another point of reference when looking at these characters. We’re not threatened by Robotnik because none of his plans work, and we don’t care about what he does because we don’t care about who the evil is happening too. Therefor, we can’t really look at what he’s doing with his supposedly evil movie plot, because we know it’s not going to work. Finally, it’s even hard to care about Sonic and the gang, because they’re completely disconnected from the world aside from fighting Robotnik, who again, isn’t a legitimate threat.

This all really ties in to what I was saying last week when talking about Chez Amy. It just feels like it doesn’t matter anymore. But hey, we’ve only got 3 more episodes to go… Let’s see what happens.

An Actual Sonic Fan – REVIEW – Mayor Knuckles

Ha ha, meta humor… Cute. And weirdly, every picture of The Mayor in his office is the exact same drawing… Not as cute.

They've draw him more than once, right?

They’ve draw him more than once, right?

The village’s mayor goes away on a fishing trip or something, and Knuckles is acting as interim-mayor. Things turn ugly pretty quick when he starts immediately approving the dumbest things… This must be how kids think a President works. Robotnik gets involved, so they fight, The Mayor returns, and we’re done here.

I think this episode highlights a problem I have with this series at it’s core. It’s attempting to build a world for our main characters to live in, but no one really has a name or anything distinctive about them to make us care why they’re even there. While I hate to admit this, the main reason SatAM worked and its characters were relatively memorable was because everyone had a reason to interact with one another. Sally was the a Princess leading a group of rebels to overthrow Robotnik. Robotnik was actually a threat. Can you believe it? 

That gives us a reason to care about her, it establishes the history & current status of the village/kingdom, and why there are even Freedom Fighters. Sonic, who is the main character, is really just a capable member of a group, a group of other characters you know because they all have their own reasons to be there. They’re not complicated, in the end though, there’s at least a reason. The only reason we know Dave who works at Meth Burger (It’s finger-itchin’ good™), is because he was the aspiring sociopath that tried to intern for Robotnik… Did everyone just forget about that?

Removing these characters would do nothing to the show. That’s just a fact. Speaking of, people have been wanting the Sonic franchise to stop making new characters for a long, Long time now. So maybe that’d even help elevate the show… Or, you know, not.

I have to ask again, who exactly was this episode for? ‘Cos there’s a scene where Sticks says, “What good has government ever done for us?” And Sonic, pretty matter of factly says, “Well, they maintain a Fire Dept,” then Tails and Amy nod and agree… O-Okay, I mean, what context does that add? You had an entire transition sequence to bring us here to say that… Why?

I dunno how I feel about this one guys, it had some funny in it, some action in it, and that’s really all you come here for. Is it bad to want something a bit… More?

An Actual Sonic Fan – REVIEW – Closed Door Policy

Ha ha, Froglodytes… You know, Dr. Robotnik is not a very threatening villain. That seems obvious to say, but that’s a pretty recent development. He didn’t really turn into Elmer Fudd until Sonic Unleashed, but at least in that game he had a giant space laser that shot a hole in the Earth so Satan could get out, and actually managed to build Eggman Land. But on to the episode~

It was a pretty good episode. Good action, good animation; the scene where they gear up to fight the Froglodytes and actually USING that gear is pretty awesome. This is an example of an Apatow episode. Apatow comedy basically revolves around everyone being a dick to one another, or a specific character. In this episode it’s Amy. How did she earn this prestigious punching bag status The whole setup is Amy taking charge and selling off all of Sticks’ stuff at a yard sale, something our one-note jungle badger is vehemently opposed to. She’s presumptive and skirts the line of being unlikable, just enough to deserve the bad stuff that happens, but makes up for it by taking charge and fighting alongside her friends. There’s a funny bit where Robotnik is trying to haggle/steal a comic but Sonic won’t have any of that business; it pretty much encapsulates their relationship as hero and villain. Am I being too deep? Okay, let’s talk about the frog dungeon.

Sure enough, one of the useless trinkets was actually blocking a door leading to an underground community of warrior frogs. With the floodgate open, Sticks is captured and the gang has to go save her, all the while berating Amy, naturally. We get a cool clash between the Froglodytes and the Sonic gang, and all’s well that ends well. 

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This is what they do for fun in Sonic Land… I’m down.

While I think it sucks that Robotnik is falling into that role of an ineffectual super villain, the show is really getting into the swing of things, and living up to the potential a series like this can deliver on. Adventure Time started out this way, then they steadily dropped off as it started getting obsessed with melodrama. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen with Boom.

That wraps up our first week of all new episodes. It stalled out at the start, but once it got going, it didn’t really stop (except for Curse of the Cross Eyed Moose, screw that episode). Here’s hoping next week’s episodes can carry on that momentum.