As we wrap up our coverage of this year’s SAGE, we’ve still barely scratched the surface of everything available. So as a send off, we’ve decided to do a round-up of all the other games we played that, for one reason or another, couldn’t get their own articles. Check out what other games caught our attention below!
Sonic and the Dreamcatcher
Previewed by GX
If a genre of SAGE games is “proof of concept,” Sonic and the Dreamcatcher doesn’t quite escape reasonable doubt. This simple 16-bit styled browser game sets Sonic in a gravity maze similar to the special stages of Sonic 1, but with the goal of having Sonic strike some badniks, collect blue spheres, and then nab the emerald. Rather than controlling Sonic directly, you control the direction of gravity by spinning the entire world around him using arrow keys, mouse, or touch screen.
I can get past it being incredibly no-frills in its current state. What I struggled to deal with was the physics. Sonic is very floaty, which makes getting him where you want him to go slow and occasionally irritating. This also means Sonic holds on to mid-air inertia for a while, so if you send him moving mid-air, spinning the world around might not do much unless you can get him to collide with something.
The game in its current state is a pleasant novelty, and there’s a bizarre joy mashing A to spawn a seemingly infinite number of Knuckles until the stage is literally unplayable. But there’s just not enough to this game beyond the technical proof of very basic 2D physics.
Previewed by Indigo Rush
Sonic 2.5 is an interesting case. It’s not so much a game as it is a tech demo, but it’s impressive nonetheless. For those unfamiliar, this is running on an engine known as the Pico-8, a “fantasy console” that is intentionally restrictive with it’s capabilities. It’s a great tool for people to dip their toes into game design.
Sonic 2.5 runs on this engine, and if you’re aware of how strict it’s limitations are, you’ll be impressed that something so smooth and fluid is running on it! Sonic 2.5 is note-worthy for being an excellent port of the original Sonic mechanics to a low fidelity system, and it gets me excited to see how else they plan on fitting Sonic’s momentum physics onto the Pico-8 in the future. Definitely keep an eye on this one if you’re interested in the more technical side of things. Or if you like cute low-res pixelly Sonic things, like me.
Sonic Robo Blast! (Remake)
Previewed by Indigo Rush
Sonic Robo Blast is a remake of, well… Sonic Robo Blast. We’ve been covering Sonic Robo Blast 2 as far back as 2001 as it’s one of the most important 3D fangames in the Sonic community’s history, but we often forget that there was one that came before it. This remake takes some of the ideas from the original and creates a more cohesive and accurate traditional Sonic experience, with gorgeous pixel art and animation that rival the likes of Sonic Mania.
Level design is a bit straight-forward, but what does prove interesting are two different shield abilities; a tornado shield and a sort of combination between the fire and bubble shields. Replacing the insta-shield or drop-dash is an air-dash that will thrust you forward to help cover larger gaps. The overall experience is quite enjoyable and is worth a look! There’s even a nice reference to the very original Sonic Robo Blast during the credits, so make sure you play through the entire demo.
Sonic Freedom (Alpha Preview)
Previewed by Nuckles87
“Hand drawn 2D Sonic” is one of those things I’ve been dreaming about for a decade, but still seems to remain out of reach. There are a few fan-made efforts to rectify this, and Sonic Freedom is one of them. Devoted to making a Sonic game that looks like the Sonic CD intro, Sonic Freedom does at least look nice. In fact, the fluid 2D animation is exactly what I was hoping for years ago! But there isn’t really much of a game here yet, as this is just an early alpha build.
Because Sonic Freedom is still in alpha, there isn’t much to the level design yet, and the physics don’t feel right. There is a unique mid-air spin dash, called a “bullet dash,” that lets Sonic charge up a spin and launch in any direction. This move is currently pretty critical for getting around, and kind of acts like a manual homing attack, since hitting an enemy lets a new bullet dash be charged. As very early look at this project I like what I see, though. Still, only check this out if you want to experience the visuals. Here’s hoping Sonic Freedom has a build that’s further along next year!
Sonic Quantum Collision
Previewed by Nuckles87
This year’s SAGE had quite a few impressive 2D Sonic efforts, and Ethereal Speed’s Quantum Collision is definitely one of them. This two act demo makes the bold choice of focusing on a water level, Rainy Ruins, and I’ll be damned if there isn’t some fine level design on display here. All the hallmarks of a quality 2D Sonic title are here: loops, slopes, ramps, collapsing level geometry, solid boss fights and a level-specific gimmick. This is also a well designed water level, since there are paths that can keep you out of the water for awhile, and even in the water things never slow to a crawl.
The game’s also got gorgeous sprite artwork (including a neat Dr. Eggman redesign) complimented by a superb original soundtrack. The only mark against it is that it doesn’t really bring any new twists to the standard 2D Sonic formula outside of a currently-empty over world. However, if you’re looking for a well produced Sonic side-scrolling experience, you can’t go wrong here! This is definitely a project to follow.
And that’s a wrap on our SAGE 2020 coverage! All these games and more can be found at the SAGE 2020 website, which will remain open through the end of the year. Check it out here!
Are there any games we missed that you loved? Did you appreciate any of the games we recommended? Tell us in the comments!