Archive for April, 2009

Sonic Storybook Series

April 24, 2009

At first, I planned to cover Sonic and the Black Knight. However, I felt like I wanted to mention Sonic and the Secret Rings, as well. So, I decided to mesh them into one blog and talk about them both.

First off, the gameplay for both games is quite similar. In both games, you are running through a level, though the game, rather than the player, steers Sonic. Your only options as far as controls are concerned are forward and backward and strafing from side to side. In my opinion, I think this was a pretty good idea, considering the level layout. If the controls were  completely manual, the player could get lost. So, the game focuses more of “Race to the finish!” than actual exploration of the level. More levels appear as you complete them. Some are required missions, while most of them are optional. Lastly, there’s the gimmick part of the game, which I will talk about next.

In Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic gets to use a special ring that gives him different abilities. You can also level up that ring in order to equip more at one time. This was one of my favorite features of Sonic and the Secret Rings. A customizable Sonic allowed me to achieve Golds more easily than I could before. On the other hand, Sonic and the Black Knight uses a sword that plays a strong role in combat, though this can be a burden on Sonic fans, as he, most of the time, has to stop and and attack enemies, rather than slice right through them. It wasn’t easy using the Wii Remote to swing the sword, either, as there can be a delayed reaction, costing you either time or rings or both. The sword, like the ring, is customizable, but to a much smaller extent. The sword you use earns new abilities as you earn more stars. There are also three different modes of play for Sonic. The first one, which you start with, balances speed and swordplay. The other two either emphasize one or the other. All three modes of play give Sonic different abilities to unlock. Sonic, himself, can also level up in rank as he gains followers for completing levels. However, this only benefits the item identification system, rather than Sonic’s actual skills, as it increases ID points to use at the end of the level. Both games use a special meter to execute special moves. Sonic and the Secret Rings boasts Time Break and Speed Break moves. Time Break slows down time for Sonic, and Speed Break makes Sonic insanely fast. Sonic and the Black Knight doesn’t really have names for their moves. One move acts like Speed Break. Another move is a lock-on move that sends Sonic to the closest opponent in an effort to launch a critical hit. Lastly, unlike Sonic and the Secret Rings, at some point in the game, you will be able to use other characters to go through the levels, though many of those levels are Sonic-only. They can earn new weapons with different abilities by obtaining certain items that, when used at the blacksmith’s shop, can be combined to form a new sword.

Now, it’s time to talk about the levels, themselves. Sonic and the Secret Rings’s levels are nicely varied, environment-wise, while Sonic and the Black Knight’s levels are a bit less-varied, due to the fact that Sonic is roaming through the countryside and not through specific chapters. So, Sonic and the Black Knight can get a little monotonous. Also, I want to add that sometimes, there are simply too many enemies in Sonic and the Black Knight, considering the emphasis on swordplay, that while you’re attacking one enemy, another might attack you.

Though I probably should not talk about this, regarding spoiler reasons, I want to talk about the final forms, as well. Both games end in a similar way, as far as final battles go, but both games take slightly different directions on reaching them. In Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic had to go search for the remaining rings to unlock the final battle. In Sonic and the Black Knight, the storyline pretty much forces you into the final battle. As for comparing forms, in Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic becomes Darkspine Sonic, whose spines look a bit like Knuckles, as well as a white line down the center. Sonic’s pupils disappear, and his attitude changes from heroic to rude and arrogant. However, considering the rings Sonic absorbed contained feelings, it’s only natural that Sonic would end up that way, and in the end, I thought he was pretty cool. In Sonic and the Black Knight, Sonic uses the power of the swords to obtain Excalibur and golden armor. His most well-known name for this form is Excalibur Sonic. His attitude does not change, however. As far as abilities go, Darkspine Sonic does gain the ability to gather energy for his Break meter by spinning. However, Excalibur Sonic does not gain any new abilities, really. Both of them do have one ability in common: flying.

Lastly, I’ll talk about the controls. When people think of Sonic and the Secret Rings, the first thing that often comes to mind are the awful controls. However, I believe that despite the fact that you tilt the Wii Remote to run forward and backward and stuff, the game still had great potential. The rest of the game was undermined by the bad controls. In Sonic and the Black Knight, the controls are much better. In this case, the control stick is used to move Sonic. However, if Sonic and the Secret Rings ever had the same control scheme as Sonic and the Black Knight, I would choose Sonic and the Secret Rings over it.

I think Sega should continue the storybook series for Sonic. Not only do they have the potential to become good Sonic games, but they also introduce a different super form of Sonic other than the usual Super Sonic. I think hunting for the required items to become super (such as the secret rings) should return, as well as Secret Rings’s ability system. However, the final boss strategy may need to differ a bit more. I found Black Knight’s final boss fight to be a bit too similar to Secret Rings’s. I wonder what the next storybook Sonic might be. Sonic and the Three Kingdoms? Sonic and the Demon King? (Cookies for those who get both references) Nah. Maybe the next Storybook Sonic would be based on Greek mythology. Imagine Sonic fighting a Hydra! I’d love to see that!


The War Within the Man, Part 2

April 23, 2009

Previously, I talked about the problem known as the sin addiction and shared my own sin addiction with you all. Today, I am pleased, to say the least, to make a sequel to the blog. It has been almost precisely a year since I first started battling the sin problem. Of course, though, I’ve had the sin problem for years. Last year was when I decided to fight it. And now, I truly believe that the war is over.

Since the first part of the blog, I ended up falling back into sin a few times. Usually, when I do, the problem stays on the surface for up to three days. The last time I fell into the sin problem, I was so disgusted by what I went through, that I truly HATED the sin, from then on. I don’t think that was the deciding factor of the battle, though. Remember what I said about two natures fighting against each other within us, the flesh and the spirit? The spirit has a clear advantage.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

This verse can be a bit tough to understand. When I saw it, I wasn’t sure to use this verse in my testimony. Then, I got questions about the Bible verse. What is renewing our inner self? Or rather, who? I believe that the Holy Spirit renews our inner selves daily. The flesh cannot be renewing us inwardly day by day. That would mean that, by being in the flesh, we’d have to be outwardly renewed day by day, as well. I believe that as I was fighting the sin problem, the sin problem kept getting weaker, while the Holy Spirit was continually restoring me and strengthening me. The Holy Spirit, obviously, will not restore the sin problem. The war was a war of attrition. As the flesh and the spirit waged war against each other, the flesh was steadily losing ground, while the spirit was continuously being restored. It doesn’t take a mathematician or military strategist to realize that the flesh was fighting a losing battle.

This passage came to me as I was typing this testimony.

“but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

I still get tempted. I still slip. But, I have not fallen. I understand that I will still slip at times, but I will never return to the same fall that I have felt many times before.

So, now that the war is pretty much over, I have desired to pray for a girlfriend. I felt that the defeat of the sin problem left me with a void to fill, and I want to fill it with something the Lord approves. I’m hoping this is a sign that I will soon be meeting my girlfriend. May this testimony forever be the shout of the final victory over my sin problem.

Walking By Faith

April 17, 2009

The credit for this blog goes completely to my Lord. Then again, when should it not, when He has inspired me to type my other testimonies and things, as well? Today, at 11 in the morning, I realized that I had not prepared a blog for this week. I pondered about it, but then I decided, “Why won’t I just let my Lord decide this blog?” So, I lay on my bed and prayed, waiting for an idea for a blog. A few minutes later, I got hungry, so I got up to fix some lunch. As I was heating up some lunch in the microwave, I glanced at the cover of a magazine on the kitchen table and read the phrase “How the [economic] crisis has changed you.” I thought to myself, “Faith was involved… wait. Faith…”

I then remembered an experience from last year. It was June 2008, and I gave up on college, as I had no passion. I was merely drifting, getting college credits as I go. My parents were heading to Galveston, Texas, on vacation, so I decided to use the opportunity to fast, because I was desperately looking for an answer to my problem. On the second day of the fast, I read from the Book of Matthew. Matthew 6:31-34 caught my attention:

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ for the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I figured it was then time to end the fast, since I found my answer. I placed my faith in my Lord since that day. On August 2008, my pastor and principal took me out to lunch. They knew I wanted to use the time off from college to work as a teacher. So, this year, they made me a full-fledged teacher at Restoration Christian Academy, and as I worked there, I discovered my passion. I also worked as a private tutor, to help those who were struggling in Math. Despite the trials that required patience to go through successfully, like days when I had trouble getting the students to settle down, I loved my job.

January 2009, I reregistered as a student at the University of New Orleans. With this new passion, I wanted to go through college and graduate. My Lord has definitely been there for me, the whole time I was in college, because half the credits I had obtained from prior college years worked with the curriculum.

Despite any situation that may occur, I know that if I put my faith in my Lord, I do not need to worry.

“Any my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19