[SAGE ’08 Review] Review Round-Up #1

[SAGE ’08 Review] Review Round-Up #1

There are always short demos on the show floor, so I’m combining them into one post here. Today, I’ll be reviewing a few of the lesser known titles at the show, in order to give them some exposure. The bigger games you already know about and will be getting larger reviews, like Fated Hour, later this year. I’m holding those off, as they always update with bug fixes and stuff throughout the expo.

The following, arbitrary scoring system will be used for these review round-ups:

  • Sucks: Avoid at all costs
  • Kinda Sucks: You might like it, but probably not
  • Meh: Doesn’t suck, but isn’t cool either
  • Interesting: Worth your time
  • Way Past Cool: Must see!

SONIC PANIC – Meh

Spike has had this game running for nearly 3 years now and this year, we get new content and a brand new name. Formerly named, “Sonic the Hedgehog 4,” Sonic Panic follows Sonic as he chases Robotnik across various galaxies and planets. The demo features the Planet Mech level of Rail Road, which is a Genesis revamp of Sunset Park from Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble on the Game Gear. I am a complete sucker for Game Gear levels, so I went into the demo with modest expectations.

First off, you will notice that the music is awful. The instrumentation is simply horrific and you will be cursing FL Studio for having such poor guitar samples. Once you get past that, your attention will be directed towards the “close, but not quite” physics of the game, which are decent enough. Jumping could use some improving and the spindash is extremely weak, but otherwise, the whole gameplay experience is serviceable and is hardly game-breaking in the slightest.

As a Genesis-styled game, the level design features branching paths and “awesome secret walkthough wall shit.” While it is nice to have many places to go, there is simply not much to do. The whole level is devoid of any activity, mostly due to the lack of badniks, as I only encountered a couple. There are a few industrial-themed gimmicks in there to tide you over in spots, however.

Augmenting the demo’s emptiness has to be the graphics. Essentially everything is black and any variety the foreground tries to offer is thrown out the window. There is the occasional yellow, construction stripe, but that is about it. The background is nice, with the sunset and all, but the black silhouettes of the towers in the background have no contrast to the foreground, thus adding to the black attack.

SONIC BASTARDIZED – Kinda Sucks

Oh, boy, a 3D Sonic fangame. I love these projects. Sarcasm aside, Sonic Bastardized is better than most 3D fangames out there, solely for the fact that it is actually playable, but it is not without many speed bumps.

When it comes to gameplay, Bastardized, has some subpar controls coupled with a slow camera. The whole “360” thing is done rather well, but that is all the game kind of nails. Otherwise, you will be frustrated with the turning, which is over-sensitive, resulting in falling off the numerous floating platforms that the demo presents. When you turn, the camera is laggard, so it is hard to judge where you will be going once you make the turn. Finally, you will be confused as to whether Sonic is on the moon or in Green Hill, because the jumping leaves you hanging up there for ages, which leads to over-shooting your intended target.

Graphically, the game is competent and shows promise for the future. If I recall correctly, most 3D fangames get canceled due to the lack of support in the graphics department, and thus, no levels will get made. If the Bastardized team can do this with Green Hill, I cannot wait to see how they do future levels. I would actually like a 3D fangame to finish, so that my knee-jerk reaction of “GTFO 3D HYPE MACHINE” (I’m looking at you Sonic GL and Sonic Revolution) gets kicked to the curb. If the level art is not good, in your opinion, that is fine, but you do have to appreciate that Sonic model, evoking a nostalgic feel with every step it makes. That euphoric feeling is stomped on when Sonic starts to run at full speed, though, as the animation looks incredibly goofy.

All in all, if you do not fall off the floating platforms over 9000 times, like I did, the demo is over in about 15 seconds and it’s not really worth your time.

SONIC FUSION – Interesting

Sonic Advance fangames are also hard for me to enjoy, as they hardly introduce any new graphics and gimmicks, simply copy-pasting those from the games they emulate. Sonic Fusion is different though and I will tell you why, guy.

Sonic Fusion’s gameplay is feel like Advance 2 & 3 with a touch of Genesis staples for added touch. The controls are slightly loose, but like Panic, it is not going to tarnish your experience with the demo. The level design is the key proponent that makes the game akin to Advance 2 & 3, as you will be blasting through with speed for a couple seconds and then stop to do some platforming or kill a room of badniks. There are multiple paths to explore, so it has some replay value to it. The problem with the speed sections are that they push Sonic along automatically, allowing you to sit back and wait for the platforming/killing stuff part.

I mentioned that Advance style games just recycle graphics from the official games, but Fusion has custom Advance style graphics that are a sight to behold. Variety in the foreground is always apparent and the background is dark enough to contrast well with the whole level. Character and enemy sprites, however, are indeed recycled from the Advance/Rush games, but who cares? A custom level is all you need, in my opinion.

The biggest problem with the game has to be this one gimmick:

It made me turn the game off. This rocket is programmed well, it is just the placement of obstacles is simply too cruel and annoying to even want to continue playing this great demo.

SONIC ZENITH – Sucks

I’ll make this review as short as the demo:

  • *Bland graphics – no variety and flat; the floating island looks awkward
  • *Empty level – hardly any badniks, gimmicks, or interactivity whatsoever accompanied by a complete lack of trees, flowers, or anything expected in a Green Hill-esque level.
  • *Level design is inconsistent – it gets your speed going and throws you into a ledge/wall just about every time

Zenith has absolutely nothing to see and it’s over in about 30 seconds or less. Don’t even bother with it.

Published by

Brad

Brad, also known as "Slingerland," is a staff writer and editor for both The Sonic Stadium and Sonic Retro. His area of emphasis is the inner-workings of the games and laughing at everything. Follow him on Twitter. - @bradflick55