The SuicideGirl gamer of the week this week is Benten Suicide. Benten is a self described Sega fangirl, which is a dying breed these days it seems. I sat down with her to talk about some of her favorite games and what she thinks about the Sonic franchise.
Tell me about your SuicideGirls nickname.
Benten is the name of an androgynous character from my favorite anime, Cyber City Oedo 808. He’s got white hair and wears red lipstick and red nails. I had a bit of a crush on him when I was 12. Cyber City was probably the first anime I ever saw. It's about cyber criminals turned cyber police in the futuristic Oedo city in the year 2808. I did an SG set based on it in 2008 called '2808'.
Having a SuicideGirls nickname based off an anime has to be one of the best things I have ever heard. Do you still watch anime?
From time to time. The latest thing I watched is the Evangelion Rebuild. I remember seeing the trailers for it years ago but it has taken awhile to reach the UK. The third one came out in Japan last November which means we’ll probably have to wait two years for it!
What kind of video games do you like?
Fast ones! My first love was Sonic the Hedgehog back in 1991, then Sonic 2. Basically I love anything that is fast with combos and high scores. I’m not a purist arcade gamer as I don’t feel there is enough for me to get my teeth into but I like games with arcade elements. I’m an adrenaline junkie so I love games that leave you feeling out of breath.
Definitely has to be the Sega Dreamcast. I remember seeing a review of Sonic Adventure and being totally overwhelmed by the depth of the graphics and the speed. I got one in 2000 and became obsessed with it to the point a friend came to my house to beg me to take a break so we could go out somewhere. Naturally, I declined. The games lineup is probably the strongest of any console I’ve owned and it’s the console I have the most titles for. Funnily enough I wasn’t drawn to the online side of it and I still don’t really play online. I loved the new innovations in the graphics and how that affected gameplay. Games like Jet Set Radio were unlike anything I’d seen before. Sega were at point when they were releasing a lot of groundbreaking titles.
I became so immersed in Shenmue 2, I played through it in about four days straight. I was fascinated by how the scenery was there to interact with and wasn’t just decoration. Third party titles that were clunky on the aging PlayStation ran smoothly on the Dreamcast such as Tomb Raider 4, another very in-depth and immersing game. Soulcalibur got me into fighters which were a genre I previously didn’t like because they felt restrictive. On the Dreamcast, the full 3D eight-way run system meant being able to take control of a character and really develop all the combos and stances.
Did you ever play that Seaman game?
I didn’t play it, it looked ever so slightly sinister! You couldn’t make it up! The Dreamcast had a plethora of oddities though, obviously the best being Samba De Amigo, years before the Wii had been invented.
Have you gotten to try the new Sonic game yet?
I haven’t played Episode 2 because I wasn’t impressed with Episode 1. For the past few years I feel like Sega haven’t known what to do with Sonic. They made some great 2D 16-bit games, then they got lost in the mid-nineties with Sonic R and Sonic 3D. I know it divided opinion but I felt Sonic Adventure was a step in the right direction. It was high octane but didn’t just feel like you were running on a track. It was more detailed with some lovely gameplay elements such as the two levels on the tornado plane and the final battle as super sonic against perfect chaos.
Since then, Sega seem to have shied away from this style of play. There was the Sonic the Hedgehog game for the Xbox 360 and PS3, but then lots of bizarre games like Sonic Unleashed and Sonic and the Secret Rings. Sonic 4 seemed like a vain attempt to rehash old ground for 16-bit fans, but the original Sonic was about innovation, a one button platformer that was faster than anything else out there, not just a tired concept for people who can’t embrace a franchise that needs to move on.
Would it be safe to say that you're a Sega fangirl?
Unashamedly. I feel like Sega were at the peak of their creativity around 2000 which is sadly when the Dreamcast fell apart. At the time there were so many new titles that were exciting. I think things have gone downhill since they pulled out of the hardware market. At first, they released some great titles like Super Monkeyball, Crazy Taxi 3, and Jet Set Radio Future, which in my opinion is a masterpiece and possibly the best game they or any other company has produced. But in recent times they just haven’t matched their former glory. It's important to remember that Sega is a group of smaller companies though, with several changes of staff which have resulted in many great games never seeing a sequel. Having said all this, I owe several days of my life to them and they’ll always be my favorite company.
Has anybody ever given you a hard time for being a girl, model, and a nerd?
Not so much in recent years. With the geek chic obsession, I seem to pass as quite cool these days. It hasn't always been like that, though. There always seems to be this need to prove yourself to the boys or whatever. I did have a profile on a wargaming forum and people thought I was a fake because my avatar was a picture of me in a bikini, haha! Most of the time people just seem to want to test my knowledge. It’s like an initiation between geeks, can you name all the doctors in order, what class is the Enterprise D, and so on and so forth.
Are there any games that you haven't beaten but wish you could?
I’m going to say no. Just because whenever a game really pisses me off, I just leave it to one side and come back to it, no matter how many years later it might be. I only just 100% totaled Tomb Raider: Legend! I also started to play Skyrim but never really got into it as I hated shooting dragons. I’d like to go back to that though at some point.
What is one game you really like that you think is underrated by most people?
There are tons of games that I wish had more exposure, mainly Jet Set Radio Future. They gave it away with the Xbox along with Sega GT 2002. While I think this opened it up to an audience who wouldn’t have played it otherwise, I also felt it undermined the game somewhat by just giving it away. There was also a game on PS2 about 10 years ago called Kya Dark Lineage. It was a platformer with quite clunky controls but lovely lush graphics and a fantastic gameplay dynamic and narrative, it reminded me of the old Disney platformers on the mega drive. Ooh also, Beyond Good and Evil. I have a secret soft spot for platforming since I played a lot of them as a kid. This was a hidden gem, of course it got the usual fanboys thumbs up and edge magazine drooled over it, but it was widely overlooked in favor of the latest Spyro or Crash Bandicoot or whatever.
You mentioned on your profile you are into collecting various things. Tell me about one of your collections
I’ve got tons of stuff. Like loads of it! I have an annual clear out where my friends fight over my cast offs. Last year I donated my Star Wars Lego to a friend so he could decorate his flat with it. Just recently I donated some Lego to a friend's eight year old son! So I suppose one of my vices is Lego, I just love it! I have a lot of dinosaur Lego. A few years ago I actually to wrote to Lego in Europe to commend them on their dinosaur Lego!
Where can fans find more of you?