A Trio of Fan Works to Look Out For: Sonic Gaiden, Sonic Studio & Project Hero

The world of Sonic fan game development never rests. What with annual Hacking Contests, Amateur Game Expos (plus Really Amateur Game Expos), and the odd flash of brilliance catching the Internet’s attention, these games not only help us pass the time between the major official releases from SEGA, some even push the boundaries of the unwritten rulebook of Sonic game design in ways we can only dream of.

Such is the case with a trio of ambitious passion projects in the works, as these three have gained significant notoriety lately for striking a significant chord with the wider Sonic community. In order, we have a large scale mod upending Sonic Mania with a whole new game, an easy-to-use tool to test the limits of your imagination, and something someone’s been working on that may have redefined Modern 3D Sonic gameplay as we know it – check them out below!

SONIC GAIDEN

  • What’s it called? Sonic Gaiden
  • What is it? A massive Sonic Mania mod that builds a whole new game around its foundations, began as the “Aurora Garden Zone mod” featured in Sonic Hacking Contest 2017. The first of its kind for Mania.
  • Explain? Ten original Zones and seven new Special Stages, remixed Blue Sphere stages with new rewards, an original OST, and a new story among other undisclosed features.
  • Who’s making it? A dev team led by founder and director AeroArtwork. Currently recruiting!
  • When’s it out? Sonic Gaiden has a projected development period of around two years.
  • Editor’s Note: Not to be confused with the 2003 Sonic 1 ROM Hack of the same name.

SONIC STUDIO

  • What’s it called? Sonic Studio, formerly Sonic Maker
  • What is it? A Sonic the Hedgehog level creator tool, inspired by the old Sonic the Hedgehog Level Creator from PlaySEGA. Studio has been in the works since PlaySEGA’s closure.
  • Explain? A comprehensive user interface with simple-to-edit terrain and slopes, Genesis-accurate physics, and instant level testing. Reminiscent of Super Mario Maker in that regard.
  • Who’s making it? LapperDev. Keep track of progress on Twitter!
  • When’s it out?Give it time.”

PROJECT HERO (Unnamed)

  • What’s it called? Untitled at this time.
  • Who’s making it? Hero.
  • What is it? A 3D Sonic sandbox demo made off Unity, seemingly using assets from Generations.
  • Explain? An engine featuring a unified control scheme for Modern Sonic that combines the best gameplay mechanics from across the three mainline eras – without relying on 2D.

Wait, come again?

  • Classic: Heavy emphasis on gravity and momentum woven into physics. Spin Dash, Spin Attack, Super Peel-Out, Drop Dash are present, as are the Elemental Shields.
  • Dreamcast: Silky smooth steering and handling. Homing Attack is present, looks to carry momentum.
  • Modern: Boost, Wisps, tricks, and Extreme Gear for kicks!

The concept in Hero’s project sounds incredible, and seeing some of these retooled abilities from Sonic’s repertoire in motion like this truly feels like an absolute breath of fresh air. If I can make a bold claim, Hero’s project of combining the best of the many playstyles SEGA has introduced for the blue blur over the ages looks like it just might be the perfect culmination towards the ideal 3D Sonic we’ve been longing for. That’s what I thought since I first saw it for myself, at least.

Now I can admit that it could just be empty praise on my part, as quality gameplay is nothing without a quality environment built with it in mind. Hero’s 3D Sonic concept looks fine in a sandbox setting, but if I were to see it in action in just the right kind of level design though… oh man, that would be wild.


Would you want to join Team Aero and help polish Sonic Gaiden to the best it can be? What kind of crazy stages would you want to try your hand at making in Sonic Studio? What are your expectations for Hero’s lofty project going forward?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Published by

VizardJeffhog

Unparalleled Canadian greatness! Jeffrey is a writer for TSS and Gamnesia, a pianist obsessed with video game music, and a recent university graduate majoring in Communications. Loves all things Sonic and Nintendo to a fault.

13 Comments

      1. Well it’s BETTER than a lot of 3D Sonic fan games, but there are a few issues with it that leave a lot to be desired; Loading Times and a lack of a Homing Attack target being just two of them. I feel he’s trying to say that Project Hero does things that World simply doesn’t, for better or worse.

      2. Kind of. Mainly for being way too ambitious. It feels like Ozcrash is trying to cram as much content into the game as he can, and it feels kind of clustered. Especially with so many playable characters, most of them being pretty useless. Seriously, there’s really not much the 30+ roster can do that a single Sonic can’t. It really shows why there hasn’t been anyone other than Sonic playable in the mainline games in recent years.

        Although I admit it might be a little bit of bias on my part, since I don’t really have nice things to say about Ozcrash.

        1. That’s fair. Like I said, World leaves a lot to be desired. And as someone who wants more playable characters, more variations in gameplay, World’s attempt via cramming in every play style just doesn’t work. Emerald Hunting stages were bad enough in the Adventure games, but they’re TORTURE in World.

          Hero’s engine seems to iron out some of those issues, at least. What I would suggest for extra playable characters is how 3&K and Forces handle it. Same basic gameplay, same stages even, but just enough different mechanics transversing through different parts of the stage to make it feel like it’s own thing.

      3. Sonic World’s physics and momentum just feel wrong, like a high school hacker’s passtime. There is nothing wrong with that, but this plays like a game and Sonic World plays like a fan game. The overall handling looks like the best thing I’ve seen since Utopia.

  1. I’d like SONIC TEAM & SEGA to help these guys perfect these games. Hell lid love Sonic Utopia/Before&After the Sequel &Overture to get full on official releases.

    1. Agreed! This looks like the beginnings of Modern Sonic’s Utopia fan game—and calling this a fan game is grave disservice since it appears to handle so well on point.

  2. Just gonna put it out there, I’m NOT the same Hero that’s working on this, though that kind of goes without saying. That said, I too am going to pay extra special attention to that project and can’t wait to see it be applied to some properly designed levels.

    I’d love to see a good old fashioned Hill zone, a City zone, and a Factory or some other third type zone, a good set of variety to test out their sense of level and aesthetic design. Really hope this does for 3D Sonic what the Before The Sequel trilogy and Sonic Megamix did for 2D Sonic.

    On the topic of 3D Sonic fan games, would love to see Sonic Utopia get some new stages applied to it too.

  3. I want to learn more about Project Hero. I’d like to know its creation status and if they’re looking for anyone to contribute.

  4. The Sonic Studio engine is amazing. That’s fantastic for a grass-roots engine like that.

    Hopefully it has the flexibility for stage gimmicks later on.

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