Brad: In doing this project, we’ve seen more than a few games that were rip-offs of other games, but never quite to this degree. The similarities between Socket: Time Dominator and Sonic the Hedgehog are so obvious that it borders on plagiarism. Socket (the Time Dominator!) is a duck who’s special power is… wait for it – running really fast. He uses this power to speed through some oddly familiar-looking stages that happen to contain some borrowed obstacles and, like the stages in Sonic, branch out into multiple paths. Even the character’s names are pretty similar.
Perhaps in a failed effort to differentiate themselves, there are some slight gameplay differences between Sonic and Socket. First of all, the visuals looked to have suffered a significant downgrade, or have been “assed out” as Mr. Do! likes to call it. Also, Socket cannot attack enemies by jumping on top of them – doing so actually causes damage. Instead, pressing the B button unleashes some kind of “electric kick” upon his foes. The best part is that because of the way it’s animated, it honestly looks more like he’s farting lightning at his attackers. Which is not a terrible metaphor for the game, really.
“But Brad,” you’re probably saying by now, “Sonic is a great game. If Socket is just like Sonic, wouldn’t it also be fun?” Well, it probably would be, except they sort of forgot to copy over the best parts of Sonic. For some reason, the people who designed the game not only decided to make everything look awful, but also covered the screen with so many overlays that its hard to know what the hell’s going on most of the time. Not that it really matters – many of the stages are automated to the point that I literally got through the first few levels by walking a few steps, and then setting the controller down and watching the character bounce through most of the level on his own. It’s like playing Sonic’s ugly, rejected levels with a prototype character that got cut out of the final version of the game because he looked like the lovechild of Big Bird and Andy Capp.
Stryker: I think what’s most disturbing about Socket is that it proves beyond any doubt that whoever was in charge of handing out the Sega Seals of Quality was asleep at the switch. This entire project is based on the understanding that the SoQs had nothing to do with whether the game in question was actually any good, but even so, how did Sega give a license to a game that so obviously mimics its own corporate mascot? I honestly have to wonder if anyone played this thing at all before giving it permission to be released on the system.
Mr. Do!: Nice idea ripping off the game that almost everyone got for free with their system, guys. That’s a sound business strategy right there.