Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sonic Rush and the Inner Monologue

Sonic Rush
Platform: Nintendo DS
Developers: Sonic Team and Dimps
N.A. Release: November 2005

Do you know how certain things tend to tie together in your mind? My birthday is just a couple days away, on Nov. 15. It's a Tuesday this year, making it a prime release date for games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Halo: Anniversary, but there's only one game I associate with my birthday: Sonic Rush.

Released Nov. 15, 2005, Sonic Rush is not only one of the higher points in the the tumultuous modern generation of Sonic titles, but also marked the debut of my favorite character: Blaze the Cat.

You can tell she's a different Sonic character because she's wearing reasonable pants.
Blaze is a princess from a separate dimension who is charged with protecting her land's Sol Emeralds, mirrors of the series' famous Chaos Emeralds. A stalwart dedication to her duties has resulted in her being quite solitary and socially underdeveloped, although through the course of the game she learns to embrace the values of friendship.

In a cartoonish realm that highlights very bubbly and/or forward personalities, introverts--especially in female characters--seem to rarely find much of a platform or popularity.

Although a new one did show up last year. It's always the purplish ones.
Blaze, however, has managed to establish a healthy and positive following. In a lineup of characters that have very one-track motivations ("I want to beat you, Sonic!" "I want to prove I'm superior, Sonic!" "I want to knock you out with a hammer, tie you to my bed and ravage you until every one of my raging biological desires is satiated, Sonic!") Blaze's separation actually makes her feel relatively deeper.

But if a character is not wont to be chatty, how do you reveal enough of him or her for the audience to care? It's really not that hard if you're not using voice acting: reveal the inner monologue through text!

A hefty amount of Blaze's text in Rush is not her talking to other characters, but herself in her mind. The shortness of her spoken responses come through, but are also matched with lines of inner mulling over her choices and behavior that make you empathize with and even feel a little sorry for her awkwardness. It's not the deepest soliloquy you can find out there, but as Sonic's plots are never that deep to begin with, it still proves effective and outright fascinating.

It's likely my journalistic background talking, but I wish the inner monologue was a more regularly applied technique. I heard so many manufactured soundbytes in my time that I started wondering just what a politician or press rep was really thinking while they were talking to me. And I now realize that my thinking of that back then was yet another truth hidden within my mind as I went through my own reporter motions.

There is an entirely separate universe of thoughts and feelings others will never know, locked away in each and every one of us. Perhaps it's best we can't access them in each other--I doubt society would be a better place if some of those secrets were let out--but in the realm of fiction, it's a reminder that every word we hear can be floating on a hidden ocean of thoughts.

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