in sonic xl, the gold rings that sonic collects are fried and collecting them causes the hedgehog to get fatter, slower, and heavier – to become less and less capable of obeying the player’s commands – until all he can do is sit and wait for the heart attack that kills him. this hack, apart from being impressive (the authors have created lots of new animations for sonic at varying levels of belly), is interesting for a few reasons.
thematically, sonic xl is interesting because it points out how institutionalized consumption is in digital game design. sonic collects hundreds of rings over the course of an adventure – they’re everywhere, almost unavoidable. which is why the hack is interesting in play as well: what were liberally-scattered bonus items have become hazards, and the player has to carefully balance scarfing rings with running off the weight (the authors have also added instant-slim boxes to make things more reasonable). it doesn’t help that sonic’s fox companion is a feeder, grabbing rings to make sonic’s belly grow.