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Showing posts with label Space Mountain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space Mountain. Show all posts

Sonic Adventureland: A Roller Coaster of Love

If you’ve visited a Disney theme park in the last half century, you may be familiar with Space Mountain (or “Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain” per its Disneyland Paris branding). Originally conceived as Walt Disney’s roller coaster homage to the boundlessness of human ambition, today the attraction wallows in retro-futuristic parody. Steeped in the influences of iconic ‘60s and ‘70s sci-fi films – however superficially – Space Mountain evokes the unsettling, sinister tone of a future we'd never want but may only be marginally worse than the one we got. As we wait in the queue, its dim spaceport catwalks usher us through a thematic mess of obtuse angles and space-age mainframe panels. We lift off in garish pod cars and uneasy anticipation mounts as we ascend its pulsing blue tunnel. And then, the pitch-black void of space.
Image credit: TheCoasterViews

Over the next couple minutes, Disney’s spacefaring voyage pulls us up to 3.7Gs through a flurry of drops, twists, and jolts. The darkness deprives us of just enough senses for a more potent and unpredictable thrill; one we feel more than see. In the void, we’re blind to its gaudiness. It becomes clear Space Mountain was born out of the calculated ingenuity of chain-smoking Imagineers at the peak of their craft. It's almost viscerally Kubrickian, however lacking in allegory or irony. Primitive and unpolished in its interstellar kitsch, Space Mountain’s artistry endures in another sense: it’s just a darn fun ride.

And so it goes for Sonic Adventure.
If you’ve played a Dreamcast in the last quarter century, you may be familiar with Sonic Team’s ambitious 3D platformer (also the console’s best-selling game). You’re also likely to have an opinion of it. I can relate, I’ve had many. My volatile views on Sonic Adventure have practically been a roller coaster of their own. It was the reason I bought a Dreamcast and I loved playing it back when it was the first and only game I owned at launch. I soured on it in the decades since, often echoing the criticisms people spout whenever the internet convenes to complain about the game. More recently, I replayed all its characters' campaigns and it is safe to say I’ve opened my heart to Sonic Adventure once again. These days, I revisit it more often than just about any video game, period.

I’m still recovering from the whiplash.
Sonic Adventureland: A theme park where the only lines are the load times!

For me, Sonic Adventure is best enjoyed as an amusement park, and it is in that spirit that I am always eager to jump back into its queue.