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December 9, 2007Glenn Turner

Leigh Alexander of Sexy Videogameland just threw down the following missive:

[If] you absolutely refuse to play [Dragon's Curse], go play Ninja Gaiden or Alex Kidd or something else you used to love and never finished. Screw next-gen; there is no rush like conquering a nearly two-decade grudge. Trust me.

Sad to say but, there aren't that many 8-bit or 16-bit games that I love, have access to, and have yet to beat. That's not to say I've conquered most games of the late 80's. No, thanks to my parents anti-console stance, I never became enamored (or even acquainted) with loads of old-school games; I normally just pored over my copy of Nintendo Power, fully knowing that there was no way I'd be playing the featured game any time soon. Those I did fall in love with and failed to beat at friend's houses, like Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, I beat the moment I entered college.

However, there's one aging console that features a plethora of titles that I love but never completed: the Dreamcast, the console that dragged me back into gaming! I love the grey beast and there are a number of Dreamcast games that I adore but never managed to lay to rest. Sure, these games aren't even a decade old yet (close though!), but I think I'm keeping in the spirit of Leigh's challenge. So, I chose my first Dreamcast game, a game I inexplicably never fully finished: Sonic Adventure.

To clarify, I actually did beat the game before. Several times, in fact. However, I never beat the titular part of the game: Sonic's adventure. Knuckles, sure. Big, yeah. But Sonic? The final Eggman encounter perpetually tripped me up. In fact, I had revisited it periodically over the years but always abandoned it for scenic trips through prior Sonic levels. The thrill of velocity in the game's certainly much more attractive than any of the bosses, but still, that's not a worthwhile excuse. I knew it was time to see this game through to the very end.

After fiddling with my VMUs for an inordinate amount of time, I located my save and dived right in. And, you know, Eggman's still very old-school, as in, his attacks mostly follow a pre-defined pattern while you're running and sliding across two floating platforms. No false boundaries here; it's all too easy to jump over the sides to a groundless death. Occasionally he opens up his ship to mock you, which gives you a prime opportunity to spin jump and knock his ship a bit senseless! Rinse and repeat until you piss him off enough that he fires out spike-laden wheels that retract back to his airship. And here's where I always gave up. I always tried to maneuver myself directly on the wheels. That was the problem.

A half-an-hour of death later (note that it takes roughly three minutes just to make it to this part of the boss, so I only died ...ten times prior), I smartened up and realized that my approach was faulty. The wheels were spinning at me, and when I tried to meet them halfway to land on them, well, that was a one-way ticket to injury. All I needed to do was correctly time my jump, and not worry about trying to fall on the damn things. The dangers of over-thinking!

From there, apart from ducking and dodging a few blind attacks from Robotonik Eggy, finishing the fight was a breeze. However, my end-game experience was a bit different from Ms. Alexander's. She mentioned her thrill at receiving a THANK YOU when she beat Dragon's Curse and, given my familiarity with such closing-credits niceties, got my hopes up for something fondly retro with Sonic Adventure. Instead, I had to endure the buttrock of the game's soundtrack and a plethora of screenshots of in-game moments that I could barely recall. No THANK YOU to be found here; return to title. Oh well.

Nonetheless, I can't help but feel that a slight weight has been lifted from my chest. I've had this game on my mind since the moment I was exposed to it and, now that I've completed the Sonic's campaign, I feel like I've closed a chapter of my gaming life. Truthfully, it's a bit sad. Sure, I have plenty of other Dreamcast games that I have yet to complete, but this was my first Dreamcast game and now I can honestly say I've finished it. It's a bittersweet moment and, while I can take satisfaction in knowing I've guided Sonic to his endgame, I can at least stave off total satisfaction. After all, I neglected Tails' final level completely! Don't worry Tails, some day we'll make it to 100%. Some day.

I, like Ms. Alexander, implore you to revisit a beloved, incomplete, retro (or retro-ish) game. Not only does it rustle up dusty gameplay skills, but also memories and emotions. Rediscovering these older games brings me back to my youth, confronting old ghosts and my own spiritual bosses. And while it's not necessarily pleasant, or something I'm used to dealing with, it's good for the soul. Bring yourself a little slice of closure – it'll help you in the long run.

7 comments for ‘Completing Nostalgia’

#1 Servo Dec 11, 2007 12:33pm

Another lovely article, as expected. It's odd (or perhaps DESTINY?), but I just decided to revisit Chrono Trigger. I rushed through the game once before and certainly didn't take the time to appreciate everything it has to offer (e.g. more than 10 different endings).

There was an article on NPR recently that suggested people yearning for new television bide their time with classics or other series they may have missed. Though I don't really watch television, I thought it was a great idea. If the same logic can be applied to videogames (even though there is no strike), then so be it.

#2 Blorgo Dec 11, 2007 04:06pm

Very cool--now go play Half-Life, which technically wouldn't be very nostalgic since you skipped it? I'm tired of your excuses, Mister...


#3 Glenn Turner Dec 11, 2007 05:31pm


Thanks for the kind words! Did you experience all of the endings? Impressive, if so. The writer's strike is definitely a boon - finally, some time to tackle the classics!

And Blorgo, Half-Life 1 is definitely high up on my list, along with Planescape: Torment and Fallout. You're right, I have no good excuse for missing out on them!

#4 WholeFnShow Dec 12, 2007 01:36am

I will jump on the not quite so retro, but still kinda-retro, bandwagon and throw out Intelligent Qube. I'm sitll not entirely sure it is possible to beat the damn thing. But thanks to PSP's PS1 playability, I get to pick it up again whenever the urge strikes me. I can guarantee that I will be superbly satisfied to get that poor lonely sould of of that hellish ordeal once and for all.

#5 Fiddytree Dec 23, 2007 05:08am

That's so weird because I too dropped Sonic's Adventure for the Dreamcast for years before I went back and beat it. I got Sonic and the Dreamcast when it first came out when I was about 9 years old and at first I didn't have a memory card because I'd never needed one before. Then when I was about 15 or 16, one of my friends mentioned the game and I had to go back and finish it after all those years. I still had Sonic and Big left to 100%. I remember playing against the last Robotnik and using about 20 lives. As fun as it was to beat each campaign individually, nothing topped finally beating all 6 and then beating Supersonic. It was the most satisfying feeling I've ever gotten from gaming.

I spent this summer going back and beating xbox games I hadn't beaten, then at the end of the summer I sold a large number of my games. I figured I wouldn't spend as much time at college playing games and I was right. I remember going back and beating games like Jade Empire and it always felt better to finaly beat a game I'd put down. I know I still have games like Ninja Gaiden and Prince of Persia 2 that I never beat, and I'm sure someday I'll go back and beat those games as well.

#6 Glenn Turner Dec 23, 2007 11:55am

Ack, I forgot about Supersonic! Oh geez, now I'm going to be tempted to 100% Tails today instead of finishing up my holiday errands!

#7 Fiddytree Jan 8, 2008 10:38am

Tails was actually the first person I 100%ed. His was pretty fun, but it's absolutely worth beating to beat Supersonic. You haven't beaten the game until you beat Supersonic. Fighting Chaos with the music blasting, so good