The Blue Blur Regains His Stride

The Blue Blur Regains His Stride

Sonic Mania brings the titular Sega hero back to where he belongs.
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I was not a “Sonic the Hedgehog” fan as a kid. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the speedy platformer, it was just something I never got many chances to play. I grew up on Nintendo’s platforms, playing “Mario” and “Metroid” and the like until I couldn’t stand looking at a screen any longer. Sega was a company whose games I only really got to play a good while after the death of their hardware business. There was a Sega Genesis for the older kids in the back of the Tae Kwon Do place I went to when I was younger, and there I got to see “Sonic” in action a few times. Eventually, I played a handful of titles in the series such as “Sonic Advance” on the GameBoy Advance and though I enjoyed them well enough, they didn’t leave much of a mark.

Unfortunately, the most experience I have with “Sonic” comes in the form of hilariously bad, broken 3D console outings such as “Shadow the Hedgehog” and the infamously painful “Sonic ’06.” My friends and I have a several summers strong tradition of finding the worst of the 3D “Sonic” games and playing through them to completion, for a few laughs and nearly broken controllers. So, approaching the newly released “Sonic Mania,” this was my background with the series. No nostalgia glasses here.

Despite a lack of experience with the proper, “good” games in the series, and despite my extensive (painfully so, I must add) time with the “crap” ones, I absolutely adore “Sonic Mania.” No nostalgia required.

It exudes a colorful charm that has been absent from the series in past entries, immediately leaping off the screen with gorgeous spritework and expert animation. This is a game put together by fans with the blessing of Sonic Team and Sega, and it clearly shows. There is a loving craftsmanship on display that presents the classic gameplay of the 1990s “Sonic” outings, with new level of polish that avoids feeling antiquated in the modern gaming climate.

Sonic and friends move in such a way that feels fantastic to control no matter what speed you’re going, and exploring the huge, gorgeously designed stages is an absolute blast from start to finish. It’s tight both in presentation and gameplay, a functionality both technically impressive and joyous in its motions.

Though this is a game that revisits the classic style of the series it does not shy away from creativity. There are so many examples of thoughtful designs whether it be in a boss fight such as one where the fight is literally a round of the puzzle game “Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine” (basically the Japanese puzzler “Puyo Puyo” reskinned with “Sonic” themes), or the many different methods of stage traversal like, one of my personal favorites, the television broadcast beams in the Studiopolis Zone.

For only about $20.00 gamers are treated to what is essentially a sequel to the classic, original “Sonic” series of old. A game that is rife with features meant to please old-school fans while still courting newcomers. I’ve been playing it nonstop these past few days while sick and off of work, and you can bet I’ll be playing it even more after this. Sega’s “Blue Blur” is back.

Cover Image Credit: pressakey.com - Flickr

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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New Technology Has Forever Changed The Way We Live Life And It's Mostly A Good Thing

The convenience and knowledge that our technology provides literally at our fingertips is unparalleled in history.

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It's no question that social media has impacted our culture tremendously and shifted the way we live our lives. We are living through one of the greatest technological revolutions in history and communication hasn't been changed this drastically since the invention of the printing press. We spend every day connected through texting, email, Facetime, social media and the internet. Technology provides enough convenience that we could hypothetically never leave our homes. Entertainment is available for streaming, food can be ordered to our doors using simple apps and everything from clothing to furniture can be shipped to our houses in under a week.

Is this constant tuning in and continuous connection good, is it bad, or is it simply a massive shift we need to adjust to? I'm not sure that there is one answer.

In our culture, smartphones are almost a necessity in order to optimize success. Jobs require constant emailing, classes are shifting to online, social media is one of the most major marketing tools you can employ and people expect you to always respond ASAP.

Before smartphones relationships were conducted in person, through letters, and over an occasional phone call. Now, with the invention of the text message the expectations of relationships have changed. People expect their significant other to always be there, ready to text back at almost any hour of the day. Friends who don't reply to text messages are labeled as self-absorbed and rude. Not receiving something as simple as a like on Instagram has major connotations for the way someone feels about you.

A lot of this connectedness is good. Positive social interaction leads to a happier life and feeling closely connected to your friends, family, and partners can be a really good thing. You don't really have to ever be alone and if you need something, someone is always there. The internet is an incredible database that anyone with wifi or cellular connection can access.

Educational materials can be found online and the information is not only kept in books that may be inaccessible to some people due to the sophistication of language or lack of copies. YouTube has millions of videos breaking down the most complex topics in the simplest ways. Technology allows us to listen to music all the time and have the ability to watch more movies than ever before. Our apps keep us updated on news, as long as we have the sense to fact check and avoid believing click bate.

As with everything, technology also has its pitfalls. The ability to be anonymous online makes users of technology bold, enabling them to say things they would never say to someone face. Constantly communicating over a screen can hinder our abilities to communicate in person. Being a bully online is easy, and suicide rates have gone up thirty-three percent since 1999, a time block that aligns suspiciously with the rise of new technology. People's perfectly curated social media pages inaccurately represent the complexity of their lives and seem picture perfect to struggling viewers.

Negative thoughts about one's own life can be worsened when constantly exposed to visuals that seem to suggest everyone else has it all figured out. The internet can feel deceptively safe, like a void where you can say anything with no consequences and still feel like people are listening to you. People my age tend to use their fake Instagrams, "finstas" as diaries. They spill their feelings to their followers and post photos and videos that could have negative effects on their future.

It's also questionable whether it's good to always be connected, to never have time alone, unplugged, away from the cyber world. Some people even want to call our obsession with smartphones an addiction. While I see and acknowledge the negative effects of our revolutionary technological world, I also can't dismiss the benefits. The convenience and knowledge that our technology provides literally at our fingertips is unparalleled in history.

It is changing, but change isn't always bad.

I think that we haven't had the chance to adjust to how fast we've created so many new things. In order to minimize the negatives aspects of technology, our society is going to have to undergo a massive change that reframes the way we view life, what we teach students, how we act from day to day and how we interact with one another.

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