Perhaps a beacon of hope, glory and good times for many, Sonic the Hedgehog: Project Mettrix has been in the fangaming headlines for quite some time, and with good reason. While many fangames before it have tried to recreate the classic 2D Sonic experience and provide a brand new adventure out of it, Mettrix is the first from-scratch build that, even in its early state, is truly succeeding.
In the new tech demo, codenamed E02, we’re given a tour of four different stages in the updated code. The first is a test level purely for demonstration purposes, but it was real fun bouncing around in this dummy stage using all the contours and springs to our advantage. It seems that Stealth and co are onto a good thing here – focusing on physics-based speed is just what the doctor ordered.
Although introduced in an earlier version – E01 – first stage Shining Island Zone seems to pale in comparison to the Test stage in terms of level design. Granted, the former is practically a playground to trial moves and gimmicks, but you can’t hep but feel that not enough of those curves and loops have been used in the tropical paradise level. The graphics are also showing their age, with block browns and somewhat jarring chequered scenery contrasting the blue skies badly. Luckily, this zone is due for a refit anyway according to Stealth, so we should see it in a much more contemporary state later.
As well as a Special Stage (that works exactly like those from the original Sonic the Hedgehog) and a recreation of Green Hill Zone to demonstrate the E02 engine’s capability to reproduce the Sonic experience to the letter, we were treated to a new stage called Bronze Lake Zone. Created for Knuckles, but as with any stage in this demo you can play as Sonic or Tails too, all to exact Sonic 3 & Knuckles specifications with no odd side effects.
Bronze Lake itself is very nicely designed, and is actually quite a sizeable Zone. Taking cues from past water levels such as Aquatic Ruins, it consists of two huge, differing paths – one leading you underwater and through the depths of the Lake; the other going high into the skies, complete with dinosaur-esque Badniks to boot. Some great attention to detail is used in the scenery and gimmicks as well, such as the leaves on the trees.
Perhaps the greatest asset to Mettrix however, is its Source engine itself. For a player, it’s the perfect recreation for some classic 2D platforming action. The physics and object collisions are all present and correct, just as if you really were playing a sequel to Sonic’s finest outing. For a developer and fan modder however, this engine is a wet dream, for you can don your coding hat and start creating your own Sonic levels using Mettrix as a base! There’s a list of fan-created addons for the game already available on Mettrix’s website and as the engine gets further in development there’s no question that more complex things can be achieved on it.
Overall, Mettrix provides a very enticing prospect for the fangaming community – on the surface, an enjoyable replication of a 2D classic. Under the skin, a complex yet accessible coding base that can be used to create your very own levels in the same vein. Check out Mettrix’s tech demo E02 at their SAGE booth.