Nothing like jobhunting to make heroes feel like zeroes

Sonic Heroes (2004)

I’m on the job hunt again, which is an almost unbeatable way to sap your self-confidence. Probably online dating is worse for morale, but at least if you’ve got a bit about you, you can have several dates, buddies and bits on the side. With a job, having more than one means you’ve probably got all kinds of debts to your name, and you’re a much harder worker than me.

Generally you want one job, if even that; if you’re lucky enough to be in a country with a generous dole, then I genuinely don’t mind you taking my taxes, so long as you’re good stuff, you know, not a scrote, not lacking flair. And if you’re a creative type, have a double week on me.

Job applications though, what a drainer. One always has to enjoy the boomer advice you’ll receive after a fruitless job search. You can tell them until you’re blue in the face that it’s not as easy as strolling in and shaking the boss’s hand, then taking nine sovs an hour and buying a house off the back of it. In fact, even a physical CV is a mistake these days – it’s the reason why offices now have security, to stop you from causing paper pollution and sticking your Brylcreemed head into VIP faces.

It’s all online these days you know, which lets companies filter out the ones who don’t mention 50 years of Google Cloud Platform experience. You cannot expect those poor HR bods and recruiters to actually try a leg, can you? Mind you, you’re lucky if it’s even as seamless as that to get your resume up there -if there’s just a handy box for you to ejaculate your PDF into, then happy days.

But if there’s a subsequent five-page, fifty-field application form thereafter, that wants you to regurgitate your already falsified qualifications – meaning there’s less of a chance you can claim the Excel proficiency you put down on your CV was a mistake – at that stage of the game you might as well give up because you can bet that someone well connected has been able to moonwalk and dance rings around “the official process”.

And even if you did get the call back for an interview, you’d have to repeat all those bullet points yet again. And would you believe me if I said that this could all be borne out over two, three or even four interviews? You know, how many auditions do they need? I’d just go home halfway through, like Daniel Craig when he got pulled into an all-day audition for Bond. Wouldn’t you?

It’s the job specifications that always get me. With online applications, I’m sure they all must copy each other’s work because you essentially see the same ones again and again. Honestly, they can be quite daunting, intimidating almost, because you fancy yourself as a decently qualified, not entirely useless person. Prone to a hungover Friday and a nothing Monday at the office of course, but who isn’t?

But then the spec is looking for 15 years’ experience as a manager, 6 years as a director, expert knowledge of five programming languages and Mandarin Chinese a plus. Oh, is that all? But in reality a lot of companies are spinning their own lies about what they need, and are willing to settle for a much lesser applicant (that’s you). It doesn’t half put you off applying for some of these places though, not that you’d have expected a call back anyway.

I’ll tell you the worst one you see regularly, and it’s not some archaic outdated technology, or some management method word you don’t recognise. It’s not even the fact that they hide their salary figure behind those awful letters ‘DOE’, which is just rich – no wonder I always invent a few years of my life on my CV. No, the phrase that has me running for the hills is: “Must be a good team player”.

Ugh, no. Just no, no with four weeks’ notice. Don’t put me on a team for God’s sake, I’m going to clash with someone. I’m what you call a difficult personality, which I expertly cover up in my application. Have you ever noticed that everyone else you work with are weirdos? That can’t just be me, right? Just let me do everything on my own. It means I can work at my own pace, and I look all the more impressive when I get shit done.

No such luck in Sonic Heroes for the sixth-generation consoles, the first new console-based Sonic game after the two Adventures, and the point where things really started to go wrong for the blue hedgehog. In this game you’re forced into a team, so rather than just Sonic chasing after the Egg, it’s his snivelling friends as well, who always ruin everything. Actually, having Tails and Knuckles around ain’t so bad, since they’re OGs. But when it’s Big the Cat, and some pilchards from the “classic” Knuckles Chaotix, then we’re really scraping the barrel – a barrel that was already obnoxious, like the one from Carnival Night Zone.

The Adventure games tried to give you a plot (they really did), non-linear and non-standard gameplay, but Sonic Heroes is more of a straight-shooter. Actually, with its two-act stage setup, varied music, lack of focus on story and emphasis on character abilities, it could almost be a classic Sonic game seamlessly converted to 3D… if the controls and camera weren’t so godawful. OK, godawful is perhaps harsh, but the game sure does love hurling you into the abyss, or telling you to jump far too late.

This is one of those games that makes you jump through the same hoops multiple times as well, just like those neverending job interviews – you’ll need to beat the game four times to unlock the Last Story – once as Team Sonic, or perhaps Team Generic. Once as Team Rose, where things are nice and easy and positively discriminated for you. One as Team Dark, where things are harder, and I could draw a racial comparison here but let’s not because South Park Fractured did it first and I’d hate to be unoriginal. Then finally Team Chaotix, the detective agency, which boils down to finding 20 trinkets on every level. Awful stuff, you know, you could spin through a level ten times before you find that last blasted turtle.

Apart from all that, there’s not much else to enjoy. In fact, given that this is the first 3D Sonic game to remove the Chao Garden, I’d say it has a lot to answer for. In return, you get alternate missions to get 120 emblems, just like the Adventure games (as if). A two-player mode which, I think I’m right in saying, no-one out there has ever played. And the high standard of music we’ve come to expect from the Crush-40 backed Sonic games.

I wouldn’t say they’re great perks though, would you? See, Sonic Heroes is where I made a fatal mistake. I should have realised that the writing was on the wall, and that the Sonic series was a fast sinking ship. Instead I clung on, and now look at me: stuck in a rut, at an absolute dead-end. I’m just glad Sonic ruined his own career, and with it his own life, because with games like this he certainly ruined mine.

20 May 2022

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