Thursday, 23 February 2012

An addendum to my dissertation: the difference between Sonic and Mario boxart.

The dissertation I wrote at university was about Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. It was an examination of how the two series approached narrative aspects (mostly their handling of the characters and the worlds they inhabit, with less focus on strictly the plots of the games). There were a fair few ideas in it, but it mostly boils down to how the Mario series focuses on a simple and consistent story foundation with a more abstract, flexible world, while the Sonic series has a world mired in vague attempts at consistent continuity with stories and environments that try too hard to emulate movies. If you think it might interest you, you can download the Word document here.

This isn't an extension to the essay that draws from developments that have happened since then (like the fact that people haven't hated the last couple of Sonic games), rather it's just an orphaned observation that I noticed at one point during writing but couldn't think of any relevant conclusions to draw from or find a good place for. As such, you don't need to read the original dissertation to get this.

That is, that there's an interesting trend in the box-art of the two series: in general, Sonic is more often depicted looking directly at the camera; Mario is often looking past the camera or into the scene.

Any attempts at claiming equivalency broke down here. Also FUCK I forgot Sonic the Fighters and SegaSonic the Hedgehog. And Knuckles Chaotix. And Tails Adventure. But there's enough crap on here already, you get the point.

 Given the way Sonic and Sega's consoles were initially marketed, as been cooler and having more "attitude" than those boring old Nintendon't loser consoles for sad people with no friends, it somehow makes sense that he'd end up with a gaze that addresses and challenges the viewer a bit more.

It's not a profound insight, but I think it's interesting to notice these subtle things that probably only happened for subliminal reasons. I doubt somebody at Sega went "Sonic's meant to be cool, so he should be looking at the viewer as if to tell them how cool he is". It probably just came about naturally.

(It's fun to think about the exceptions too. The Mario Party series, for example, has Mario looking at the camera on almost every cover. Although stupid blogger shrunk the image so you can't see. Take my word for it.)

This isn't the post I wanted to make today, but the next, like, three that I can think of that I actually want to write all involve music, and sadly I left the cord for my good headphones at Cartoon Network on my last day on a recent job, and my crap headphones decided they were going to be REALLY crap, and the right ear died, and I can't bear to try to listen to music even for a little bit that way. So until I get my replacement cable in the post you get this discarded scrap of an essay from 4 years ago.

I just "updated" my website. "Updated" in quotation marks because really it's just an under-construction placeholder until I have the content, knowledge, and time to actually put together a fully fleshed-out page, and I wanted to at least get rid of the embarrassingly amateurish rubbish I had there before. It has my new showreel on it, so if you haven't seen it yet please check it out!

Unrelatedly: I recently got linked to a very nice bit of writing on why Super Metroid is an amazingly well-designed game. This is the sort of analysis I aim for with this blog. I've seen interesting stuff on Gama Sutra before, I should really get into the habit of following it more.


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