While I do have a few rants in the coffers raring to go, given my condition this week I’d rather spend the time tonight talking about something fun and hoping I don’t have to deal with missing out on a hot topic. So let’s talk Sonic The Hedgehog, one of the premiere titles for the Sega Genesis (or MegaDrive for those outside the US), and a franchise that has been hit or miss. Sega’s blue mascot and the tool they used to fight Nintendo and Mario is beloved by many gamers, though some of the more recent games have been of questionable quality and story. While the original games were developed in house by Sonic Team other game creators have had their chance to play with the hedgehog and his friends to varying degrees of success.
However, we’re not looking at game play or even story this round. No, Dan over at gaming channel PlayFrame is an animator, and thus animation is his big interest for his other channel, New Frame Plus. In this video, which is about 1:45 in length so have a seat, Dan goes over the main console Sonic games to see how the animation of the playable characters has evolved and occasionally devolved over the many years of the series.
I’m guessing the Sonic Boom animation was good because it was put together with the TV show in mind…which may also explain the game play and bug overloads I always hear about. Otherwise I don’t think a lot of us think about the animation when it comes to video games. People talk about the story or the graphics or maybe the art…and definitely the game mechanics and controls. However, I posted this as someone whose played maybe three Sonic games his whole life and only owns two of them for the PC since I never owned any consoles Sega made games for (the PC conversion of Sonic & Knuckles with the third game and Sonic Heroes, which I actually liked and hope to finish–yeah, like me going against the grain is something new) because it’s not something I think about either. You can tell when a character looks or moves weirdly but that’s usually blamed on the programming. Did you ever think about good game animation, never mind how it enhances the immersion, until this video? I’ve seen a few New Frame Plus episodes in the past so it is an interesting examination.
Next time you get bored playing the same game for the 1,000,000,000th time, maybe take a few seconds and pay attention to those little details, especially if you’re going to animate for not only video games but general animation and VFX. It’s surprisingly important to storytelling and feeling like your part of a world that exists.