Sonic Robo Blast 2 is by far the most ambitious, graphically impressive Sonic the Hedgehog fan game to date, and shows a massive step up from Sonic Team Junior’s last title, Sonic Robo Blast. The story here centres on a ‘Black Rock’ floating through space, which Eggman decides to use as the perfect base with which to refocus his efforts to attack the planet.
His assault begins in Greenflower City Zone – pulverised whilst Sonic is diverted elsewhere. The blue blur twigs what’s going on and, with the assistance of Tails and Knuckles, vows to stop the rotten egg!
The SRB2 project started off way back in March 1998, so no wonder everyone’s getting excited about it. Originally developed using the Doom engine as a base, Sonic Team Junior moved on to creating its own engine shortly after – now, more than three years after production started, we get hold of a playable demo of the game. So, naturally, we put it through its paces.
What do I come across right at the very start? A title screen that looks like something straight out of Sonic Team themselves. “So, they get a good title screen, eh? Big deal.” Shut up. I’m getting to the more exciting bits… ^_^. I press a key, and a menu appears, Sonic 2 style, with a plethora of options to access when the game is finished. Granted, most of them weren’t working at present – it is a demo after all. Upon many things, the modifiers ranged from controls to enemy respawn counts. Quite handy if you’re up for a challenge.
In the demo you get to play as Sonic in the first level, Greenflower City Zone. Despite the fact that you can only play as Sonic, Tails is hidden somewhere in the game’s code as a playable character. The stage design lends itself well to some of Tails’ own skills and attributes, you simply can’t play as him right now because at present not all the character sprites are complete. Music may not play either, but STJr are fixing that little niggle as we speak.
Well, what else can I say, but ‘woah’? ‘Woah’ in a good way, of course. Amazing 3D graphics aside, the sprites are fantastic – and that’s one hell of a compliment considering that all the sprites seem hand-drawn. Don’t underestimate this game for speed either. I almost did, thinking that the graphics would slow things down a bit. What a shock actually playing the demo gave me then, eh? Sonic’s top speed will more often than not melt your eyes out of your sockets.
Reactions to button presses are quick with no delay. Authentic Sonic sound effects are the order of the day here as well. Everything just seems to be perfect, even in this demo, soundtrack notwithstanding.
One minor thing to comment on may be the difficulty in fighting Robotnik at the end of the Zone. He was incredibly hard to hit, and although there is a presence of a double-jump dash, it is simply used a method of gaining speed, not as a homing attack. If you’re the kind of player that gets queasy easily from playing fast-moving 3D games while sitting close to your monitor, then be aware that this may trigger some uneasiness – so sit away from the screen if you can. Seriously, it’s not pleasant watching the speed of the game that close.
So what’s to come then from the soon-to-be-highly-acclaimed (even more) Sonic Team Junior? Well, prepare yourself for another eight Zones, not including Greenflower City. I am told some extra characters will be playable, should you unlock them first. There’s even a prospect of creating your own levels, characters, music and – if you’re already quipped with some programming knowledge – an entirely new game! This will make the game a sure fire hit for modders! There will be network and even online play, with a supposedly ‘cheat proof’ time attack system. A grading system like Sonic Adventure 2 will be implemented too, and special goodies will be granted for reaching certain goals – plus there will be different routes throughout levels.
Well, I’m sure you’ll agree that Sonic Team Junior had their work cut out for them, and even after three years, it seems like they’ve delivered. Rumours of this game being canned have certainly gone down the drain, as STJr definitely has the bottle to take on a massive job like this, and their game will no doubt be a success. With a step in fangaming this big, I think the ‘Team name will go down in fan game history, being just as popular in the fan game world as their official counterpart, Sonic Team, already is in the professional video game world. May father and Junior walk hand in hand to success…
- Very Fluid
- Great Graphics
- Good response times
- Original Music
- It’s in 3D for goodness sake!
- Sonic would benefit from a homing attack
- Not for the queasy
- Music desn’t work on all PCs…
- Addition of a Joypad config would be useful