Humor

A Brief Defense For Big The Cat

Much has been said about Sonic Adventure, Sonic’s first true foray into 3D gaming. The sprawling levels, the blistering speed, the last moments of precision platforming, and the entire redesign of Sonic the Hedgehog and his world. Even if later rereleases haven’t received the kindest reviews, when it came out it was an amazing game. Even Famitsu, that near-Bible of Japanese news and reviews, gave it one of their highest scores possible, with one reviewer citing that if Ocarina of Time had come out after Sonic Adventure, there’s no way the Zelda title would have received its perfect score.

But no matter who is talking about it, when the low points come about, everyone will assuredly talk about one of the shorter portions of the game, and the one character associated with it. The part that many people point to as the worst part of the game. A section that people now feel vindicated with their hatred because of the events of Summer of Sonic where Iizuka apologized for it. Yes, I am talking about the fishing stylings of Big the Cat.

All I have to say is…why?

When Sonic Adventure was being developed, the team behind the game knew the focus would be on Sonic. There’s a reason he has the most levels of any character, and why his controls are the basis for “Tails” and Knuckles. Sure, the latter do not have the same objectives, but when you play as them, you can feel the core of Sonic’s gameplay in them, they just don’t run as fast. With Amy Rose and even E-102 Gamma, the entire game is filled with its trademark frantic pace, with not much time allotted to just stop and smell the roses (wait not that Rose). That was the purpose of Big the Cat’s creation, to offer an alternative to the non-stop speed. To be able to stand still and not have a million robots try to kill you or push you over the edge into a bottomless pit.

When I heard Iizuka say he regretted the Big gameplay, I didn’t see him apologize for putting him in. I heard a man apologize for not knowing how to make the best damn fishing game he could. And rightfully so! I’m not going to make excuses for some of the weirder moments of control, but does that completely negate Big’s role in the title? And the Ice Cap level, though pretty to look at, always places Froggy right there at the beginning, while there’s an entire level present. You could have made Big stroll more than one foot to find his polliwog pal. More time to enjoy the stuff that men dream of.

Yes. Men dream of fishing. After dealing with a terrible work week that makes you want to kill your boss, finding out your wife has been sleeping with the gardener you can’t afford, and that your mother is coming in to stay with you for the next month, all you want to do is escape. To escape on a boat, sit back, drink a few beers and fish. Fish, fish, and fish. Because once you fish, all you have to worry about is thirty seconds of intense action where the music gets exciting and you have to shake about that fishing poll and hope you don’t lose that mechanical 2000g fish that Sonic can’t break apart for some reason forever leaving the animal inside trapped until Big takes the fish and tries to cook it and the animal explodes out in a comical fashion looking for the nearest river which is of course a direct line to Eggman‘s base.

For some reason I feel like that last paragraph escaped from me. Too bad the failure fishing music in the soundtest didn’t play.

Yes, I will concede that when you pick up a Sonic game, the last thing you expect is a fishing game. I also wasn’t expecting two different types of shooters, a treasure hunt, kart racing and a glorified Tamagotchi. But you know what? The game worked so well together. Kart racing was a fun diversion. Chao raising inspired numerous people to untold obsession. And the treasure hunting aspects were still fun in this game, unlike Sonic Adventure 2 when they decided to not make it just harder, but far more frustrating and annoying. Speaking of Sonic Adventure 2, who wouldn’t have wanted Big to be a playable character on the hero side? Who knows what they would have come up with to counter him in the dark game! Evil fishing, here we come!

…maybe that’s going too far. I will also admit that in subsequent playthroughs of the entire game, using Big sometimes feels like a chore because you can not just jump to Super Sonic. But I only feel that way when I want to get through everything as fast as possible. And as Iizuka said, Big wasn’t meant to be about speed. He wasn’t meant to be the coolest character. Froggy was not meant to be the second coming. He was simply meant to be an alternate style of gameplay in an incredibly ambitious project. Big’s fishing was never as bad as everyone made it out to be. It was just out of left field, and that was its greatest weakness. Which is a shame.

The character lives on, of course. Having playable roles in Sonic Heroes and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, as well as having the greatest cameos in the entire history of gaming in Sonic Adventure 2, the legacy of Big the Cat endures. But it has been over a decade since we last saw our favorite oversized cat sit on the edge of land and just fish to his heart’s content. No one gets angry when Link does it. Why should we at Big? That’s how he was Born to Play[1].

Looking back, I do now understand one thing. When the recent Dreamcast collection was announced, everyone was confused about one of the four games being on there: Sega Bass Fishing. “Why would you put a fishing game on there instead of Shenmue?” people would ask. Well, that’s because Shenmue I and II should be rereleased when Shenmue III is finally finished so we can play them all at once and wait for Shenmue IV for another decade. No, the real reason Bass Fishing is there is so we all can experience what Big the Cat was meant to be. Which is why Sega should have gone the extra mile and incorporated the entirety of Sega Bass Fishing into Big the Cat’s story in Sonic Adventure. Only then would we finally have the Director’s Cut we were all promised.

I salute you, Big the Cat. Fish with pride, be it one fishing pole or many. Make no excuses, have no regrets. Just don’t die when your line breaks. It’s not that serious.

[1] I am eternally sorry for this joke.

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53 Comments

  • Reply

    i dont even

  • Reply

    As a person who played Sonic Adventure DX simply for the Metal Sonic, I must say I never felt at ease with the fishing aspect. But hating Big? Never. He’s alright, man.

    But those damn chao!

    • Reply

      I love Big. His gameplay wasn’t the best, but he was a nice diversion from the “high speed gameplay” of Sonic.

      Too bad people consider him among the worse characters in the franchise. That’s a *little bit* blown out of proportion.

    • Reply

      the voice acting for sadx sucks for tails and eggman but it was exellent for big the cat but i do think big should have a better design

      • Reply

        If it sucked for SADX, then logically it must have sucked in the original version – the voice acting has not once been redone through all the ports and such.

        • Reply

          well unfortunately ive never playd the original so i wudent know

      • Reply

        You dissing Deem Bristow?

        You. Me. Hammers at dawn!

  • Reply

    What is this? I don’t even… FUUUUUUU *trollface*

  • Reply

    I will never understand why Big gets so much hate. His story was always fun to me.

    • Reply

      I think it’s mainly the gameplay. It’s incredibly frustrating. 

      • Reply

        I see what you mean. Froggy can be a bitch sometimes and just completely avoid you, but I still had/have fun playing Big’s levels. Maybe it’s because I like SEGA Bass Fishing so much.

  • Reply

    Big the Cat will always be the best sonic character ever. His interesting and dynamic dialog fitted to only 1 or 2 words shows how he has the mental capabilities to demonstrate the frantic calculating he does to make the sentence as short as possible. He is also a very loving character, cherishing his friend Froggy, who Big has gone to so many lengths to help get Froggy away from Dr.Robotnik’s nefarious plans. I for one salute big the cat, as he makes sure to be friendly and helpful. He also knows how to pilot a plane without any background experience and you have to admit that is pretty badass.

    • Reply

      YOU LIE

      Sometimes he had to use three or four words, merely because there was no way to fit his thoughts into less.

      Froggy! Come back!

      • Reply

        Normally they were cut in half or more grammatically.

  • Reply

    I’m going to use that cutout thing at the end. Thanks.

  • Reply

    I just think it’s funny that Big the Cat is voiced by Jon St. John, who also does the iconic Duke Nukem voice.

    • Reply

      I see so many people say that, even now, when it’s no longer relevant. The actors all got switched out, and now Big is voiced by the guy who does Kamina’s voice in Gurren Lagann. You can say “Used to be voiced by Jon St. Jon”, but it’s no longer “is”, because that implies it’s in the present.

  • Reply

    I wouldn’t had minded the fishing gameplay so much if it wasn’t required to get to the last story. Like if it was a minigame (which are optional).

    But Big’s alright. I can definitely see his gameplay work in a 2D Sonic game. He can use his fishing rod to destroy monitors and badniks/enemies, as well as use the rod to swing himself to far ledges, or hook on to the edges of platforms. And due to his big size, he could probably break huge walls for secret alternative paths (a la Knuckles).

  • Reply

    Anybody wishing for random Big cameos in Sonic Generations?

    Kidding! Anyway, as much as catching the heavier fish was incredibly frustrating at times, I’ve otherwise enjoyed the change of pace his gameplay had to offer, and he’s just loveable as a big guy.
    Lazy days, livin’ in paradise!

    • Reply

      There should at LEAST be one in City Escape!

      • Reply

        Okay, yes. XD

      • Reply

        A subtle cameo.  

  • Reply

    The best part about Big’s gameplay is the walking around part. I didn’t mind that part much, and both the music and the pacing were actually quite relaxing. But the part where he has an important investment in the story with Froggy AND the actual fishing was just silly and unnecessary. It should’ve been yet another sidegame to go along with Chao Raising, Casinopolis pinball, and the kart racing in Twinkle Park. Just saying.

  • Reply

    I can’t stand Big’s gameplay. He’s good as a character, but it ends there. I’ve been playing SADX for 4 years now, to this day, I still haven’t beaten his first level. Only way my game’s 100’d is because of the internet.

  • Reply

    I like Big. I really do. But I think he should just do extreme cameos like in SA2. THAT’S why I like Big quite alot. Wondering how the hell he gets into those places is what I find fun about his cameos.

  • Reply

    Big is only a PLACEHOLDER.
    Even Bark has more potencial.

    • Reply

      In all fairness, Big was the only character in SA1 that allowed for significant level exploration centering around water. I thought it was pretty neat when I discovered the drainage room in Hot Shelter and proceeded to the upper levels to fish ultra-ugly creatures.

      In a game that was predominantly designed to keep the player moving forward, I do appreciate that Big’s gameplay allows the player to explore the hidden layers, nooks and crannies in each level that other character would pass up. It perfectly augments his easy-going personality.

  • Reply

    I daresay that Big the Cat is my favorite extraneous character in the entire series, and one of (if not the only) ones since the classic era that I do not explicitly hate.

    I’m not a fan of the fishing, but you make a great point when you mention all the other styles of gameplay present in SA and SA2 that I wasn’t too thrilled with either. Knuckles’ gameplay was an enormous disappointment, and yet he still lives on proudly as a member of the “big three”. So why hate Big just for the fishing? Hate his inclusion in the game if you must, but don’t hate on one of the most original and unique characters in the entire cast.

    My only legitimate beef with Big was his voice actor. I hated that they made such an awesome character sound like he was brain-damaged. If they bumped up his IQ points a little, he would easily become a top tier character… I’ll probably never love fishing, but I will always love Big.

    • Reply

      Very simple: because Knuckles have a great history, character, design, and is on the “big three” because of SONIC&KNUCKLES/SONIC 3&K. And despite being disappointing, Knuckles levels in SA1/2 had potential if they done it different and better. Big the cat loses on all these points, and needs much more effort to become a good character besides ‘unique'[?]. That’s why I agree on the part where you say they make Big like he’s brain-damaged. Dunno, but maybe they should put more LIFE on Big, no matter how dumb they want him to be?

      • Reply

        lol, I’m not saying Knuckles doesn’t deserve his position. He’s probably my favorite character in the Sonic universe. I’m just saying that lousy gameplay isn’t enough reason to write off a character. Shard hunting is shit, end of story. Big needs a lot of work to make him viable in future games, to be sure, but in terms of pure aesthetic design, his uniqueness is a GODSEND when almost every character looks so similar.

  • Reply

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE SA1 best sonic game…EVER. I don’t care what anyone says….

    but…

    that DAMN cat!! ;-;

  • Reply

    Ah, Big.
    Seriously, just blazed through most another run of SA:DX, and guess who’s holding me back? Big. [Also Sonic, because I suck at Lost World. I hate that level, the bloody water snake thing has a tendency to push Sonic off of it.]

    The worst bit is when Froggy notices your line, nibbles it, and then completely fails to hook, even though he’s been doing the same nibble-and-run thing for the last hour or so.

  • Reply

    He was hilarious in Sonic Chronicles. It’d be fun for him to show up in Generations, and I have a feeling he will.

    • Reply

      I still remember his line’s is chronicles:
      ‘I THINK MY EYES ARE BROKEN!! oh wait, there just closed.’
      and
      ‘We could get big some ice cream!’*awkward silence*’What. Im hungry.’

  • Reply

    I honestly don’t think this guy is hated enough. The fishing gameplay was not only just a bad idea in general, but very poorly implemented. The controls were frustratingly bad and it couldn’t be less satisfying to finally catch the frog. On top of that, Big the Cat has absolutely NO character. He never says any clever lines or does anything hilarious (or remotely interesting). There’s nothing memorable about him, he’s just a cameo character who had the sad mistake of putting him as a main character. 

    Oh, and as for that whole “men sit back and dream about fishing” business, people don’t play video games for the relaxing aspect and fishing in a video game won’t get you away from your nagging wife. 

    • Reply

      Actually the ‘relaxing’ genre is proving extremely popular recently. Like that ‘flower’ thing on xbla.

      • Reply

        PSN.

    • Reply

      I agree with EVERY word.

  • Reply

    +1 for the Big aficionados. I especially love his personality and his character design, in that it definitely reflects a fun whimsical side of the series that was dropped for so long and only now is starting to reemerge.

  • Reply

    The only thing I don´t like it´s his voice, it makes him look stupid. The gameplay onl gets annoying when catching 2000g fish, it´s too easy just catching Froggy. People say his gameplay is slow, but I can finish all 4 stages in less than 15 minutes easily. Getting 2000g fish is another story though.

  • Reply

    I liked Big, too. Gotta say though, while first playing SA on the Dreamcast when I was 9 I had a shit time trying to beat his story. He was the last character I beat the game as because it took months to master his gameplay. It sucked having to wait that long to get to play as Super Sonic.

  • Reply

    Didn’t necessarily hate at first, I actually didn’t mind the game play considering SA was basically just a large tech demo for the DC. I can appreciate them showcasing it could handle different gaming aspects at the time and he was just one of those goofy one off characters. However, should have stayed just that. A lesson that should have been learned a few time after that…

  • Reply

    I agree that Big was a nice character, and a nice change of pace. Big was unique. For once, we got a new character that wasn’t a hedgehog, or another speedy-looking animal creature. We got a new character with a much more unique design, and its nice. He and Gamma both were nice changes. I will admit that his gameplay was boring for a Sonic game, and that if they intend to keep him in, they would probably want to give him more Sonic-like gameplay, but perhaps they could find a way to throw in some exploration of his levels as well. Big will always be a nice character, its just too bad his gameplay wasn’t too fun. Of course, they could just do what they did in Heroes, and make him a “power” character, using his fishing rod as a grappling hook or something. Or maybe give him some Zelda-esque explorable dungeons. Though that may be a stretch.

  • Reply

    This is how i felt about the werehog. I thought it was nice to observe the detail of worlds in stead of blast through them all. Yeah it was way more gameplay then big ever had, but my favorite parts of the werehog were the platforming. Fighting was fun once in a while, but i can agree there were a bit too many places where jazz music blasted through the tv to fight. But wait a minute, jazz music, Could the werehog have been a big the cat repeat?!

  • Reply

    I never hated Big the cat. As a character I thought he was loveable. A phat cat who’s best friend’s a frog, what’s not to love? As for the fishing, it wasn’t fantastic but it was hardly bad either. And it was four levels. four levels you only had to beat if you wanted to fight Perfect Chaos. Wheras more modern things like the werehog just step in the way when you wanna run really fast in Sonic’s levels and take up 75% of the game. If you wanted to just beat all of Sonic’s levels you could. Big’s just there doing his own thing so who can hate him for it?

    • Reply

      Also I found the latter special stages on Sonic 3K to be complete swearathons and you need to beat them for Hyper Sonic. Never hear anyone complain about 3K because of them. Poor Big…

  • Reply

    Big the Cat is one of the best characters in the franchise. The fishing gameplay didn’t fit within the series at all, but I feel the character in general is great. Would love to see him with a Sonic-y gameplay. Sonic meets Bionic Commando (using his fishing rod). Oh yessss.

  • Reply

    I never thought Big the Cat was so horrible. I just saw it as a nice little change of pace, although fishing in games isn’t better than real life…

  • Reply

    No! Completely NO! Big the cat is a TERRIBLE character and has one of the WORST gameplays in Sonic history. His role on SA1 could be replaced by something better. His voice and actions are dumb and annoying. He’s lifeless, he’s TOO dumb and he’s also weird! I thought he was some kind of went-wrong-fusion-between-bunny-and-tiger. And what’s with this “slow pace gameplay”? Never saw someone complain about this in Sonic 1, 2, 3, etc. Never needed it. Bonus/special stages, well-designed zones, chaos gardens and other minigames are already slow paced enough. Want it MORE slow? Then you’re on the wrong place, stop playing Sonic, hell plus PERIOD! He, like some characters (Gamma and Charmy) needs more concepts to be good. Sorry, i was just honest.

    • Reply

      Whoa, dude. Slow down or you’ll bump into a wall. Sonic’s trademark isn’t his speed or spindash or funky attitude. Sonic is Sonic. Every thing he has or ever will be is Sonic. Denial of Big is denial of Sonic as a whole. Do not go against Comrade Iizuka’s wishes.

  • Reply

    Is this more in defense of Big’s gameplay in Adventure or Big in general?

  • Reply

    Big the Cat will always be an inspiration for us all.

  • Reply

    The only thing I ever hated about Big was his fight with Chaos 6.  That was torture.

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