Sonic The Hedgehog: Icon of Our Times

Australian Centre for the Moving Image - Games.Lab
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Wednesday 22nd June - Sunday 2nd October 2005

Attended on Wednesday, 27th June 2005

Games on display:
Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Sonic Spinball
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic 3D: Flickie's Island
Sonic R
Sonic Adventure
Sonic Heroes

Due to a mix-up with my program for the Melbourne International Film Festival, I ended up visiting this exhibition at ACMI a bit earlier than I had planned to.

I was looking forward to it as I was a really big fan of all the original Sonic games on the Megadrive and even played the newer releases on the Dreamcast when it came out.

Some people would be a bit sceptical about this exhibition as Nintendo’s Mario is probably a bigger star of the video game world. There are probably many reasons behind the decision to host this exhibition and that shouldn’t detract from the preparation and maintenance needed to run the exhibition for four months.

Even though the games are well respected, what is not as well known is that the Sega consoles themselves have a tendency to break down after a few years. The connections become loose and solder needs to be redone. Power supplies stop working and have to be replaced and even the recent Dreamcast has a problem with the power contacts needing to be pushed back into position. Just finding a working console for the duration of the exhibition, let alone keeping it running all the time for four months would be a major challenge.

Although the range of games was meant to show how the series has progressed and the technology has developed over the years, it doesn’t take into the account the criticism the later games have received for not being original enough or even good games in some cases (Sonic Spinball).

The exhibition staff are very helpful with advice on the games and helped some of the younger kids when they got stuck, which was great to see. I have been to another exhibition at the venue and this one seemed to be a lot more hands-on, which meant they had to be more involved with visitors.

Something that I learned from the exhibition was that there is a strong fan culture surrounding the Sonic series and two websites based on the game “The Green Hill Zone” and “Sonic Stadium” were featured. I hadn’t heard of these sites before, but I will definitely check them out the next time I have the chance.

An added bonus for the exhibition was the display of old Sega consoles, Sonic games and figurines in the foyer near the exhibition. Some of the consoles are now collector’s items so it was good to see them and in some cases actually see them for the first time in the case of the Game Gear.

Overall, this exhibition is very enjoyable and was well worth my time to attend. I enjoyed it much more than the political games exhibition earlier this year as it was more accessible. It would probably be better to visit the exhibition on a weekday or when it first opens as it was very busy even when I visited.

Thanks - Tim Chmielewski.