…a fan game from 1998.
Look, I know I skipped the first three days. And the fifth (which is actually the worst thing I could have done but more on that later). But here we are inching closer to that “Christmas Blast” and what better way to celebrate the holiday season than to boot up a classic featuring Sonic the Hedgehog AND Christmas! Yes folks, I’m talking about the vintage Sonic Robo Blast Christmas. Note that there is no “2” in the title. Oh yes, I’m going way back. To when people still used The Games Factory.
Released 12 years ago this month, this “Christmas Edition” of the game was actually meant to be Sonic Robo Blast 2, before “Sonic Team Junior” decided to go a completely different route with the game and use the Doom engine. Instead of just scrapping what had been done up to that point, Sonikku repackaged the game and slapped on a quick holiday theme to satisfy fans until the proper Sonic Robo Blast 2 would crawl out of the woodwork. That game did finally get finished…right?
We know we’re in for a treat when the first level we’re thrown against is “Snowflake Hill Zone,” a magical land full of…well, snowflakes. According to the official home of all things Robo Blast, this engine was “Quite impressive for its time,” which I don’t doubt. Remember, this was before the Internet has a playable copy of the Sonic 2 Beta. This is primordial Sonic fandom. And heck, those Sonic sprites are…um…well, a lot better than what the first Sonic Robo Blast had.
In terms of music, lord praise the MIDI. For it will haunt you in your dreams tonight. Like those Christmas ornaments you get as gifts that play a tune. Gifts you don’t really want because you’ll never use them unless it’s Christmas. The “classic” Robo Blast theme (i.e. a MIDI version of the Sonic Spinball theme from the Virtual Sonic CD) is infused with Christmas spirit, an extra layer of chimes ringing throughout, making it at home in any retail outlet after Black Friday. And if you keep on keepin’ on, you’ll find the Hill Top Zone theme with those same bells, and even an instrument change here and there to remind you that, yes, this is a Christmas game.
Does Sonic even celebrate Christmas on Mobius? I mean, sure, every single fanfic makes them do this, and we certainly can’t forget a certain television program…
I’m getting sidetracked here. If I don’t talk about the physics (oh right) I’m going to end up talking about Bookshire Draftwood’s “holiday” fanfic from back in the day, and we don’t want that. Well, you don’t. I could go on about it for hours!
Right, I really shouldn’t be hard on the controls to the game, After all, it was 1998, using TGF, but still…Sonic can be extremely hard to maneuver sometimes. You’re lucky if you continue to move forward as you jump. There was more than one time when I got stuck on a spring and just kept on bouncing for thirty seconds, trying desperately to move to the left just to try again and get stuck once more. And there’s this one bit in the second zone where a platform that should move you to rest of the level wasn’t programmed in right, so you fall through it. Every. Single. Time. So you have to force the game to propel you forward just to move on! Oh right, there aren’t speed boosters in this game. Visual ones, that is. There are parts of the level that just send you running forward at full speed without any warning. At least Sonic Team gives you the common courtesy to put a piece of awkward looking art when they want to force you to run at full speed.
But, funnily enough, you can run on ceilings. Or at least roll on them. Curious, huh?
The game stops pretending to be a Christmas game about halfway through the second zone, snowfall disappearing entirely and the level becoming an underwater romp. Because you know. You want to run around in the water when it was just snowing moments earlier. I got through six full acts before I got stuck in a wall and gave up. Why did I get stuck in a wall, you might ask? Because I missed a minecart. Yes, you read that right. A fucking minecart.
Sonic Robo Blast Christmas might not be the best game. It may not even be a good game. Heck, it might not even be a slightly decent game. No, it’s pretty much a bad game. But because of its historical curiosity in the world of fangaming, it still deserves to be recognized. So go ahead, download it and give it a go. It’ll put you in the Christmas Spirit. Maybe.
Oh, and before I forget…