Friday 7 July 2017

Breaking Sonic 2: The Marathon

Earlier in the year I gathered together some friends to try to beat as much of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992, Sega Mega Drive) as we could using some of my hardware and software hacks. We didn't get very far, but it was a lot of fun!

Four players, one controller

First off we tried using the Mega Cooperator - a four button co-operative controller where each player controls one of the Mega Drive's buttons. The buttons change what they do every thirty seconds and the only way to find out what they do is to press them!

Part 1: Emerald Hill Zone
Part 2: Chemical Plant Zone
Part 3: Aquatic Ruin Zone
Part 4: Casino Night Zone

I love way the kit forces everyone to communicate with each other. You need to listen as well as speak, wait as well as act, and unlike Codex Bash - my codebreaking installation which I adapted the hardware from - you have to act in tandem.

Jumping between moving platforms, for example, requires a lot of attention to what the other player is doing. Are they running fast? Are they tapering their speed?

When the game breaks as you play

Then we tried to do the same with the self-glitching emulator I made. I set up a script in the emulator to glitch random bytes of level data every time Sonic collected a ring.

We skipped around levels this time to see what other effects could come up.

I love the way this setup forces you to play the game differently. You play to avoid rings rather than collect rings, and sometimes you have to abuse the way the game's physics work to launch yourself over level geometry that was never meant to be there.

I'd love to try and do this again as a full run, on my own, to see if I can get through the entire game in these conditions. I've played a massive amount of Sonic in my life and a big fan, and it did become obvious that I was more capable of abusing the physics than my friends were - making beating the entire thing a bit more feasible!

Massive thank-you to Mike, Chippy and Ana for braving the game. And to Vander, who referred to me as someone who "just wants to watch the world burn." They're all part of the comedy group What Have You, making sketches, music reviews, let's plays and more. Go and take a look at what they do!