Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Where's Sonic? He might be in any of these four books.

What goes around comes around. A new book has just been released in the UK called Where's Sonic? A search and find adventure. Funnily enough, this idea, right down to the title, was already done back in Sonic's heyday in the early 90's, both with a pair of books in the UK and also with the different titled Search & Find Sonic the Hedgehog in America. To think there are now four books based on this same exact premise, inspired by the Where's wally/Waldo books. How do they all compare to one another? We'll check them all out after the jump!

Seems appropriate to start with the two books I grew up with. Where's Sonic and Where's Sonic Now were released in 1994 and 1996 by Ladybird. These were merely two of a whole help of fully illustrated Sonic books Ladybird put out over those two years, which also included Adventure Gamebooks, puzzle books, a joke book and various story books. The first wave were based around Sonic 2 and the second wave on Sonic 3. In the case of these books, every 2 page spread is based on the zones from those games.

Imagine all those zones in debug mode, if the Mega Drive could handle every badnik you placed on the stage  staying there permanently. That what every page in these books look like. Look at that, they are bloody everywhere! Of course the reason for this is to hide the various characters and items you need to find on each page. To make the zones even more deadly even the rings are tucked away with only a select few about. No wonder Sonic and tails are hiding.

In the first book, some of the zones are illustrated from a 3D perspective while others, like Casino Night above, are drawn up to look just like the 2D levels they are based on. Except of course that small little difference being AAAHHHH BADNIKS EVERYWHERE.

As every game in Sonic 2 had two acts barring Metropolis Zone, that zone gets an extra pair of pages to recreate that feeling of god, this zone just keeps going. The above really would be a nightmare, wouldn't it? Oh well, at least the next page shouldn't be so bad. Sky Chase zone has that peaceful music and is quite a sedate, calming level..

Sonic, I think there may be some turbulence on this flight.

But surely you can get away from the badniks in the special stage right? The only threat there is the odd bomb? ....right?

I should have seen that coming. Sod this I can't even get a Chaos Emerald. Let's just go to the Death Egg and get this over with.

Silver Sonic, the Final Robotnik Robot AND a heap of Badniks? Ok you know what? I'm just gonna hide up here and drink a soda. maybe they won't notice me and go home.

Several hours later, Robotnik gets bored of waiting for Sonic to show himself and releases all the animals he captured. All that work and money for nothing. I love his gangly little legs hopping about in the right corner there. On to Where's Sonic Now, based on Sonic 3!

Both books start with a one page 'Test Zone' and this one rather neatly uses the bonus stage as it's practice area. Very nice. Knuckles is of course introduced at this point so he is hiding about too. Just a note there is no pages based on the "Get Blue Spheres!", probably because it wouldn't be very interesting scenery, with only Spheres to hide behind! The items boxes are item T-shirts this time for some reason. That seems like another decent merch idea actually. Electric shield T-shirt anyone?

The artwork is even nicer this time around. while the first book's art was very sharp and on model I also think they may of been tracing over the same three or four angles of each badnik over and over again. In this book however all the badniks individual and beaming with character. Another bonus is that this book not only covers every zone from the 1 player mode, but also the versus mode zones! Check out Azure lake above, now filled with badniks from the regular levels!

Form an orderly queue, everyone! You'll ALL get a chance to maul on that foxes flesh, don't worry! Hey, no pushing! One thing I forgot to mention is that Robotnik on every page is sitting in his end-of-zone appropriate egg-o-matic! 

This might be one of my favorite pages. There are several badniks sinking in the quicksand, including Jaws at the bottom right there, and many others falling to their doom from the falling rock bridge! Silly Bubbles, don't panic you can hover about!

I take that last sentence back, this is my favorite page, the one for Ice Cap! It is full to the brink with Penguinators! I particularly love the four doing the conga and the one near by pointing out Sonic for us! They even put those freezing gun badniks in! 

The book ends on four pages of Launch Base zone, and no celebration Zone this time so maybe the animals were never saved! I love that they have put both the bosses in here, and what I haven't shown here is the massive rocket blasting off taking up one and a half pages! What a wonderful little book.

Next up is another book from 1994, except this time from the other side of the pond. I only picked this book up a few years ago so I don;t have the same nostalgia for this as i do the UK pair, but I am sure there are a lot of you reading that grew up with this book instead. This one has a different name: Sonic the Hedgehog: Search and Find, which is just as well as if it was called Where's Sonic it would be the easiest search book ever as Sonic is seen at least a dozen times on every two pages as he is zooming about leaving a huge trail behind him. 

One thing's for sure, this book is a lot bigger than the UK books, though maybe less pages too. It is also hardback, which is always a nice thing. Instead of looking for the same main characters or game items on every page this one has you looking for very specific unique items on each page. Did I mention the pages are crammed to the gills with different characters, badniks, and bizarre visual gags? It looks very much like the kind of art you would of also seen in early Archie Sonic comics. Might even be one of the same artists, I believe.

There are characters from SATAM all over, including Sally Acorn, Bunnie Rabbot, Boomer and the rest along with lots of other random animals in those freedom fighter belt things, mostly all scrapping with swat bots and most of the badniks from Sonic 1 and 2. It even has appearances of the SSSSS Squad from AOSTH, though they tend to be quite off model and miscoloured, though to be fair in Gronder's case he is in his Sonic 2 badnik colours.

Speaking of which, there's Coconuts, looking pretty off model but still cool to see him there. There is also a swat bot here wearing a dress. Yep. It gets weirder though, look who shows up on this page..

The Little Mermaid. Ok. The book is crammed with little daft gags like this, and is full of energy with so much to look at. Even if the TV cartoon characters are not to your liking this is a very nice book and most resembles how the actual Where's Wally books look like.

As a bonus it even has a couple pages dedicated to Sonic Spinball, which makes sense as that was the game that had cameos by SATAM and AOSTH characters. It has a full pinball table, the minecart ride, the barrels you had to row in, and even what kind of looks like one of the bosses from the game (the four Robotnik heads that vomited all over the place), although it also doubles as a Wizard of Oz reference here.

Yeah, you show that Robuttnik, random squirrel! Keep holding that get lost sign in that picture of his face's direction while a crabmeat trims a bush into a portrait of itself. 

Finally we fast forward about 17 years to this newly released UK book under the same name as the old UK books, only this time it is published by Macmillan and is not part of a large range of Sonic books but for the moment just a one off. I won't be taking too many photos of this because well..you'll see I guess. The book is much thinner with less pages. The front cover is nice and colourful enough, with renders from Sonic Generations, Colours and Free Riders all over the place. is this any indication of what the inside of the book is like?

Yes. That is exactly what it is like. Rather than illustrated pages they have gone for a copy-and-paste pre-existing artwork approach, which could be decent if enough effort and variety is put in. Here lies the problem: they use the same renders over and over and over again, sometimes right next to each other. The same two Amy rose poses, the same one Charmy Bee etc. 

They are also very sloppily placed about. The flying characters are in the air and the ones that are standing are standing on things but there has been so little effort put into to keeping anything to scale with each other. It's as if Dougal from Father Ted learnt how to use Photoshop but still never figured out that some cows are small, but some are just far away.

The book mainly uses zones from generations for reference, with the single exception being a two page spread of Sylvania Castle Zone from Sonic 4 Episode II. I thought those blue lines were printing errors at first but they are in fact the webs of Crawler badinks. What are they hanging down from? Also look at that huge Eggman with his legs stuck deep in the ground!

Every page has a large render of a character on one side too, and take note how Metal Sonic was in Green Hill, because who is better to represent a page based on Stardust Speedway, a page that even describes it as "the perfect place for Sonic and metal Sonic to have a race"..

..That's right, Big the cat! Safe to say this book was a bit of a disappointment compared to old books. It is only £3 on Amazon (funnily enough the same exact price the old UK ones were when they came out), and if you are after large, nicely printed renders of all the characters and the Generations zones i guess you can't go too wrong with this, and I'm sure the kids it's aimed at will still like it. It's just a shame more effort wasn't put in really.

After all, nothing beats Penguinators doing the conga.

1 comment:

TwoHeadedBoy said...

I have the first one, but was unaware of the rest of them. Where's Sonic Now is an obvious "Must Have" now, love the kooky styling given to the Badniks! The American one's really nice too, lots of fun little details.

I'll skip the fourth one - don't like the look of that at all.