Sonny 2

So when I write a negative commentary on a game, and then the designer comes out with a revision or sequel, I often feel a certain obligation to come back and see what they’ve done.

Sometimes that pays off, as it did with Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble.

Sometimes it doesn’t, so much.

Sonny 2 is a sequel to the zombie-fighting RPG whose lackluster, unfinished narrative I griped about in several places last year. 2 is a little better than the original. The pacing works better. I played on easy mode and didn’t get stuck on too many of the fights: they did get a bit boring and same-y, but at least I didn’t have to spend too much time grinding away at tedious battles just in order to see the story arc. And there’s a beginning and an end, of sorts, which is more than you can say for the original.

But– well, griping and spoilers follow the break.

Sonny 2 pretty much defies you to take its story seriously. The one major dropped thread from the original, the cassette tape that is supposed to explain everything, is reintroduced only to turn out to be essentially irrelevant. Then there are a couple of segments of semi-serious battles followed by a hallucinatory trip full of the most overexposed geek-culture references possible — at one point you actually wind up pitted against the evil bunny from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I guess the reason this annoys me so much is that I liked the original hook of the original Sonny. I liked the art, and the voice acting, and those also seemed to be intended to support an interesting narrative line. I don’t mind that much being presented with a game that overtly isn’t about the story and then finding that, indeed, the narrative is nothing special. With Sonny, though, I spent a lot of hours playing through fights that weren’t themselves all that rewarding, in hope of a narrative payoff that was never going to come along. Therefore: meh.

4 thoughts on “Sonny 2”

  1. Heh… every year after the Comp is over I am left wishing that I could somehow obliterate certain beloved geek properties, most notably Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, from history entirely. Alternately, I wish authors everywhere would realize that nothing they could possibly say in reference to those properties could possibly be funny or even interesting at this point.

  2. I think part of the problem is that these things used to be kind of cultural markers for an inside group. But much of geek culture(*) has become so mainstream that this stuff is everywhere (so it no longer has any kind of significance to the reader as creating a reader-author bond). And most users of these clichés aren’t trying to use them to make a point; they’re just relying on the sympathy/identification of the player.

    I’m sure that a sufficiently great pastiche-artist could still do something with this material, the way that Baz Luhrmann managed to make something new and riveting out of a “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”/”Material Girl” medley. This isn’t much help to the artistically lazy, though.

    *) Sort of. Niche geek humor is still possible — see “The Big Bang Theory” — but it has to be actually semi-obscure to work.

  3. A coda to this rule should be the geek airing of grievances, where you protagonist complains about, e.g., Ewoks, cancelling Firefly, Microsoft, etc.

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