3,653 Nights: 10 Years of Sonic and the Secret Rings

A Storybook Retrospective of Sonic and the Secret Rings

Once upon a time, on the nineteenth night of February 2017, I had fallen fast asleep on my sofa. An issue of Sonic the Comic lay strewn out upon my face, its pages fluttering up and down in the makeshift breeze as my body gently breathed in and out. A fireplace roared away in the corner of the room as the quiet ticking of the grandfather clock permeated the silence. Eventually, the two hands pointed upwards and the simple staccato beats transformed into a melodic chime. A strange magic seemed to fill the air.

“Zzz…” I snored, happily oblivious to my surroundings.

“Um…” murmured a familiar voice. It was not enough to make me stir.

“Zzz…” I snored some more. My unexpected guest grew impatient.

“Hmph! Hey, wake up!

I came to with a start, the comic slipping off my face and onto the floor. My eyes shot straight over to the clock. Midnight! February 20th had arrived.

“Boy, is it that late already?!”

I leaned down to reach for the comic, but instead found myself picking up a shining circular object. A copy of Sonic and the Secret Rings! But what was it doing here, and why was it out of its box…? Suddenly, a ghostly mist surrounded the disc, and out popped a female genie with pointy ears and purple-pink hair!

“Do not be alarmed,” she explained, “I am Shahra, the Genie of the Disc!”

I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. Surely this couldn’t really be happening?!

“This is what I get for listening to Big the Cat’s Emerald Coast music before bedtime…” I mumbled to myself.

“Please,” she begged, “look at this!”

A laptop materialised in her hands, the screen displaying a series of posts on an internet forum. The name of the thread: ‘Sonic and the Secret Rings sucks!

“Wow, those comments are… harsh!” I observed, a little shocked. “Opinions on it really have changed, haven’t they!”

“Our world, the world of the Secret Rings, is vanishing!” she revealed. “It is the work of an incredibly evil spirit… the Erazor Djinn! He has begun to carve up our game’s reputation. When it first released exactly ten years ago today, the reception was generally positive – but now it is crumbling apart! If our fanbase ceases to exist, then this story will be silenced forever…”

“That definitely sounds like trouble,” I agreed, “but what do you want me to do?”

“I want you to stop it. Only you can restore the people’s belief in Sonic and the Secret Rings!”

“I suppose I can help out with that… but this is all something out of a videogame, right?” I questioned, ever so slightly perplexed. “How am I supposed to do anything about that?”

“That’s easy,” Shahra replied, “you are my master, having called forth the Genie of the Disc. Bringing you into the world of the Secret Rings is within my power. Now, please place the disc into the console…”

Obediently, I bent down and inserted the game into my dusty old Nintendo Wii. With a thunderous whir of power and a flash of rainbow light, I found myself standing in a whole new world.

I had arrived in a tunnel of golden light: a swirling vortex with giant pieces of paper floating all around.

“Where are we?” I asked Shahra.

“This is the Lost Preview, the world before the Secret Rings…”

I looked down at the pages making up the road beneath my feet. They were extracts from old magazine and website articles about the game, from early impressions to initial reviews. Lo and behold, most of them were pretty optimistic.

“Hey, I used to read some of these! Wow… I’d almost forgotten that the game was called Sonic Wildfire in early development! Check out some of the great things people were saying… man, I was so excited for it back then!”

At this point, it also occurred to me that, completely automatically, I had started running along in a straight line. Shahra noticed my surprise, and commented:

“Yeah, that’s a force of habit in the world of the Secret Rings. You’ll get used to it.”

Unfortunately, it seemed I had also lost my ability to stop, and soon found myself running straight into the back of a big ugly purple genie wielding a mighty scythe. The Erazor Djinn!

“You… you must be that ape that just got added to the story!” he grinned, turning around to face me.

“Don’t you know anything? I’m not an ape, I’m a human!” I pedantically corrected him.

“I have already ruined this game’s Metacritic average and forced SEGA to de-list it from retail stores! Soon the rest of its fans will follow…”

“We’ll see about that!” I bit back, my legs still stuck in a running animation with Shahra having to hold me in place.

“Oh, you’re one of them, are you? I suppose a suitable punishment is in order, then…”

Without warning, Erazor shot a burning arrow of fire right into my chest.

“This game’s reputation is tied to the flame. Bring me one good reason not to blight it to oblivion before the arrow extinguishes. If you do not… your journalistic credibility is forfeit! Hahahahaha!”

“Ouch!” I yelped, as Erazor quickly teleported away into the ether. “I reckon I’m going to need some Gaviscon to sort out this heartburn…”

“No, we do not have time. Let the speed mend it!” Shahra suggested instead. I wondered if she realised she had just made an in-joke. “You must hurry and remember what made you fall in love with the Secret Rings a whole decade ago…”

Shahra conjured up a luxurious-looking magic carpet and gestured to climb on board with her. She handed me a Wii Remote, telling me that I could use it to steer us around.

“Now this is first-class!” I exclaimed, just grateful not to be endlessly running on my feet any more.

I looked up to see a series of locales now listed in front of me. Somewhere from the depths of the vortex, a voice was singing: ‘Make-believes reborn! Myths in mind rethought..!’. That won’t ever get annoying, I thought. Deciding to visit the areas in order, we soared onward, and my adventure into the world of the Secret Rings had begun…

One thing became clear as we perpetually ventured forwards: every step on our journey was a fast and thrilling rollercoaster ride of fun. Or, at least, most steps were. In between the high octane magic carpet flights, we had to make shorter and less exciting visits to each locale. I didn’t much see the point in revisiting the same places over and over again for a number of trivial tasks: collecting (or not collecting) rings, destroying a very specific amount of evil spirits, or painstakingly hunting for dinosaur eggs. Shahra, however, insisted that it was necessary in order to forge the path ahead – which would have been fine, except that we had to zig-zag between locales to do so, with increasingly grating echoes of ‘Make believes reborn!’ greeting us every time. For a world so obsessed with moving forwards, Secret Rings didn’t really seem to comprehend the virtues of straightforward linearity.

“This is needlessly obtuse, you do realise that?” I remarked. Shahra chose to ignore me.

It had also become clear after a while that our mode of transport was far from ideal. The Wii Remote, though a novel means of steering, was just that: a novelty. Tilting to and fro worked fine, but the struggle to slow down and reverse caused untold amount of crashes and near-misses. I pleaded with Shahra for a more traditional method of controlling our movement, but she insisted that this was the only way. I started to believe that turning around and going backwards must be considered a crime in these lands. Either that or the world had just taken Green Forest’s ‘Won’t Stop, Just Go!’ mentality a little too seriously.

By the time we finally reached the heart of the Night Palace, I was feeling pretty jaded and weary – our adventuring had literally been non-stop! But, in spite of all my frustrations, there was no time to rest. The flaming arrow in my chest was nearly gone, and the Erazor Djinn still had to be stopped. Entering his throne room, we could hear him reciting an incantation:

“Ifalas zaras I e zaraq, Ifalas zaras I e zaraq…”

“What’s he doing?” I asked Shahra.

“He’s summoning an angry mob to burn what’s left of this game’s reputation to the ground!” she panicked. “You must stop him, now!”

Erazor finished his spell and an army of disgruntled Sonic fans with torches and pitchforks materialised beside him. Sensing our presence, Erazor turned around and laughed maniacally.

“Ah, it’s the ape again! Have you brought me your one good reason?”

“Umm… actually, I don’t know…” I answered honestly.

Erazor and Shahra looked equally stunned.

“You see, I can completely understand why some people wouldn’t like this game. It can be a right royal pain trying to traverse through these areas using the Wii Remote, and the constant coming and going between different areas to complete missions can bring the momentum grinding to a halt. Which is ironic really, considering it’s all meant to be about never-ending speed!”

Shahra put her head in her hands, defeated. Erazor smirked and nodded to the angry mob to start approaching.

“But,” I continued, “that doesn’t mean it’s not without its charm. For all of the game’s faults, I can’t help but admire it. Whether it was Sand Oasis, Evil Foundry, Levitated Ruin, Skeleton Dome, or anywhere else: this is a gorgeous, gorgeous world. The landscapes, the lighting, the set pieces… they’re all beautifully diverse. And all from a launch-window title on a standard definition console! Maybe including dinosaurs and pirates is a little strange thematically, but I’m willing to give those a pass for sheer spectacle alone. Oh, and I absolutely loved the music of this world, too! I may never know what an Unawakening Float is, or find out who’s gonna rock the place, place, place, but these are all songs I will never forget. They’re just so… unique. And I think that about sums it up: Secret Rings is a game that dares to be different. Yes, it’s a product of its time that cashed in on gimmicky motion controls. Yes, it hasn’t aged very well by modern standards. But back in 2007, compared to the other Sonic titles on the market, this was a big deal. Strip away its technical flaws and Secret Rings is a game that’s simple yet compelling in its story, its presentation… and, at times, even its gameplay. Trash talk it all you like, but its creative heart will burn on with a passion that can never be extinguished!”

It was at this point that I expected the flaming arrow in my chest to burst forth with almighty, triumphant vigour. Alas, no such luck.

“Pah! You think that’s good enough to stop me?” laughed Erazor at my excuses.

“Oh… umm…” I desperately scrambled for other ideas, “well I suppose Secret Rings is technically canon now, seeing as it did get mentioned in Generations, so…”

Erazor just carried on laughing. Even I knew that was a pathetic attempt.

“You have failed, ape! Now, feel the wrath of the flame!”

With a click of his fingers, Erazor’s angry mob angled their pitchforks in my direction and came after me. I needed a get-out and I needed it quick.

“This doesn’t look good! Shahra, please lend me your power!”

A distant voice cried out: ‘Time break!!’

There was a flash of grey and the world slowed to a crawl. Seizing the opportunity, I turned and ran. And I ran, and I ran, until I found my way home. Sonic somehow managed it, so I figured I could too.

I don’t know whether my efforts managed to make any difference to the fate of the Secret Rings. Ten years on from its original release, I got to relive both its highs and its lows – and, while it often felt like an arduous journey, I do not regret making a return visit to its world. Strange, isn’t it? That’s this game in a nutshell. Maybe that’s what makes it special.

The past was kind to Secret Rings. The present, not so much. Its future reputation? Well, that remains uncertain. Day by day, only time will tell if it’s meant to be… but in my opinion?

It’s worth a chance.

– THE END –

Celebrate 10 years of Sonic and the Secret Rings by sharing your memories below!

TSS Review: LEGO Dimensions Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack

LEGO and Sonic the Hedgehog. Now there’s two things we never thought we’d see officially put together in the same product. Sure, maybe it’s not as earth-shattering a crossover as the Mario & Sonic series (I mean, who’d have ever seen that one coming, and at the Olympic Games no less?!), but it’s just as mind-bogglingly unthinkable. But, then again, almost anything is possible in the crazy world of TT Games’ LEGO Dimensions. You know what’s even crazier though? This bonkers mash-up of blue blurs and bricks is arguably the best thing to come out of Sonic’s 25th anniversary celebrations this year.

Continue reading TSS Review: LEGO Dimensions Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack

Free Sonic Hat with Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice at Nintendo UK

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, the sequel to Sanzaru Games’ Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal from 2014, races onto Nintendo 3DS in Europe on Friday 30th September. With only a few weeks to go until the release date, UK gamers can now put their pre-orders down on the Nintendo UK Online Store and get a nifty Sonic hat for free!

Admittedly it’s not the most exciting pre-order incentive in the world – the site openly admits that these are the same 20th anniversary hats that have been floating around and given away at events for the past five years – but it’s certainly better than nothing! If you’ve ever wanted to look like your favourite blue hedgehog and never managed to nab one of these beauties, now’s your chance.

Continue reading Free Sonic Hat with Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice at Nintendo UK

Sonic the Hedgehog Confirmed for LEGO Dimensions

What the brick?! We can’t believe it any more than you can, but it’s official – Sonic the Hedgehog will be making a surprise playable appearance in the block-buster toys-to-life game LEGO Dimensions!

Announced as part of the title’s E3 2016 trailer, Sonic is seen racing in at the very end of the video, grabbing a golden ring away from the hands of Lord of the Ring’s Gollum who had mistaken it for his precioussss but we’re afraid there can only be one king of the ring around these parts! Gotta speed, keed!

Sonic joins famous franchises including Doctor Who, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, The Simpsons, and Portal 2 for all manner of high octane thrills and spills in the ultimate LEGO crossover game. Other new franchises announced at E3 2016 include Harry Potter, Adventure Time, Mission Impossible, and even The A-Team… but I pity the fool who doesn’t want to play as Sonic!

It’s also worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time Sonic has starred in a title developed by TT Games, at least in its former guise as Traveller’s Tales. Can we expect to see some Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R references in there somewhere, maybe…?

No details have been revealed yet regarding what form the content will take or when exactly it will be released, but we’re sure you’ll agree that this is certainly one heck of a way to get the 25th anniversary celebrations started!

So, will you be shelling out some hard-earned LEGO studs (or cash) to pick up the new Sonic content? Which characters and worlds are you most excited to see Sonic interacting with? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned to TSS for more updates in the future!

UPDATE: We might have a Tornado, check out the square below Sonic.

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New Overview Trailer for Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 3DS

Coinciding with the game’s US release today, Nintendo have uploaded a brand new overview trailer for the 3DS version of Mario and Sonic’s latest Olympic crossover. The trailer shows off a selection of the events on offer, from soccer and golf to athletics and gymnastics. There’s also a peek at some of the game’s Dream Events, which add a Mario or Sonic spin on the traditional sports. Continue reading New Overview Trailer for Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 3DS

Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 launches 8th April in Europe

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Just announced via Nintendo of Europe’s official Twitter page, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be hitting European store shelves in a couple of months on Friday 8th April. Starring gaming’s two biggest icons in their fifth sporting crossover since 2007, the new game in the best-selling franchise promises more characters, more events, and more fun than ever before.

This follows the recent announcement from Nintendo of America that Mario & Sonic’s latest Olympic face-off would be arriving across the pond on 18th March, a few weeks prior to the newly announced European release date.

Please note both of these dates are only for the 3DS version of the game, with the Wii U version following later in the year – presumably to coincide with the launch of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games themselves. We’ll keep you posted as soon as an official date is revealed.

Are you excited to see Mario & Sonic in Rio? Will you be picking up the 3DS version on 18th March or 8th April, depending on your region? Let us know in the comments!

Tons of Tails & Knuckles Mii Fighter Screenshots for Smash Bros Wii U/3DS

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Super Smash Bros. & Knuckles… & Knuckles… & Knuckles…

As revealed yesterday, the eagerly anticipated Tails Mii Gunner costume and Knuckles Mii Brawler costume are arriving in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS later this week (specifically, Wednesday in the US/Japan and Thursday in Europe). To celebrate, Nintendo has released a whole smorgasbord of delightful new screenshots showing off the two new Sonic themed outfits in action!

Check out the gallery of Wii U and 3DS screens below to get a taste of how Sonic’s two best buddies will look when they square off against gaming’s biggest icons in Nintendo’s all-star brawler:

Each costume will individually cost €0.79/£0.69 to download for one version of the game, or €1.19/£1.09 for both the Wii U and 3DS versions.

Will you be downloading either the Tails or Knuckles costumes (or both!) later this week for a true Super Smash Sonic Heroes showdown? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Sonic Runners OST Now Available on iTunes and Amazon

runnersostThe mobile exclusive Sonic Runners finally makes its worldwide debut tomorrow on iOS and Android devices – and to celebrate, SEGA are pulling out all the stops by releasing the first volume of the game’s original soundtrack on iTunes and Amazon in the UK and US.

All six of the tracks on this initial release are composed by Tomoya Ohtani, who has worked on a number of Sonic titles during his career – most notably Sonic Lost World and Sonic Unleashed in recent years. Even when the standard of a Sonic game is up for debate, the soundtrack often stands out as an undisputed highlight and the usual trend of catchy rhythms and quality compositions continues here, with some excellent level themes and other tunes on offer for your musical pleasure.

Sonic Runners OST Volume 1 consists of the following track listing:

1. Beyond The Speed Of…
2. Fly Away
3. Power Ride
4. Theory Of Attack
5. Spring Emotions
6. Where To Today?

Whether or not you intend to try out Sonic Runners itself, you can download the soundtrack right now from iTunes (UK / US) or Amazon (UK / US) – individual tracks cost £0.79 / $0.99 apiece, or the full six track collection will set you back a rather affordable £4.74 / $5.94. Not too shabby!

It is expected that further volumes of the soundtrack will be released at a later date – watch this space, we’ll let you know as soon as details are announced!

Are you all ears to hear this news and plan on downloading the Sonic Runners OST? Got a favourite track from this first volume? Let us know in the comments!

Sonic and Caliburn join the hunt in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

gaming-sonic-the-hedgehog-monster-hunter-02There’s no denying that Capcom’s Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has taken the world by storm on 3DS. Placing you in the shoes of a brave hunter, you seek out huge creatures and pit yourself against them, learning their ways and finding the best method to slay each beast. With critical acclaim and commercial success behind it, what more could this game possibly need? Well, Sonic the Hedgehog, of course!

Released today as free downloadable content, you can now access an additional mission called “Super Sonic Seregios” – emerge victorious and you will be able to craft special Sonic themed gear for your Palicoes, including Caliburn from Sonic and the Black Knight.

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There’s plenty of other crossovers in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario, to name but a couple – but this is definitely one of the coolest looking ones so far. With this and the Sonic Amiibo suit coming to Mario Kart 8, April is set to be filled with bonus Sonic content for Nintendo games!

If you own Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, will you be taking on the DLC and equipping your Palicoes with Sonic and Caliburn? What other Sonic crossovers would you like to see? Let us know in the comments!

 

Sonic Amiibo Racing Suit coming to Mario Kart 8

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Ever since Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing came out in 2010, people have been clamouring for the blue blur to take to the track against his rival and undisputed king of the go-kart. Thanks to the wonders of Nintendo’s Amiibo figures, that fantasy is now one step closer to becoming a reality!

Announced in the most recent Nintendo Direct, an update for Mario Kart 8 on 23rd April will allow players to gain access to a brand new set of racing suits for their Mii character, provided they have the relevant Amiibo… and among them, Sonic the Hedgehog himself! It may not be the real deal, but that Sonic costume is looking pretty snazzy – and if nothing else, it adds a bit more value to your figure outside of Super Smash Bros.!

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The question that arises now though… which blue spiky thing will be the most notorious on the circuit? Sonic or the Spiny Shell? If it’s anything like how Sonic treats Mega Man in the trailer above, we may have a new contender!

Will you be dressing up your Mii racers in the Sonic suit later this month, either for a leisurely lap or to pelt the residents of the Mushroom Kingdom with Koopa shells? Let us know in the comments!

TSS Second Opinion: Sonic Boom (Wii U/3DS)

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This whole Sonic Boom business has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, hasn’t it? Announced in February alongside the CG cartoon of the same name, the third and final entries in Sonic’s Nintendo exclusivity deal – Rise of Lyric for Wii U and Shattered Crystal for 3DS – were the source of much speculation and debate. Not only did it signal the start of a whole new branch of the franchise, one where the convoluted mistakes of the past could be wiped clean and start afresh, but the games were being handled by a whole new development studio. Sonic Team, for better or worse, were taking a back seat this time to Big Red Button and Sanzaru Games – both newcomers to the series – which meant we could expect a brand new take on the characters we all know and love… and boy oh boy, a brand new take is certainly what we got.

There’s no use in beating around the bush. By now, we’ve all heard the horror stories surrounding these titles. The same old tired demo being wheeled out again and again at trade events, SEGA’s apparent disinterest in the project following the initial reveal, plenty of behind the scenes drama on the game’s production… and of course, those rather dubious review scores. It’s fair to say that you probably won’t be going into either Sonic Boom game with particularly high expectations – but are they really as bad as everyone makes out?

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For those of you who want to stop reading now, the short answer is: yes. Well, mostly.

Let’s get the elephant out of the room and start by dealing with Rise of Lyric. This is a game that promised so much, and yet delivers on hardly any of its potential. From the start, we were told to look forward to this exciting new world, a place full of mystery and beauty – but what we end up with is a dull, bland landscape comprised of barren hub worlds with hardly any life whatsoever (aside from a sprinkling of NPCs who are ever so anti-social at first), all presented in glorious PS2 era graphics. Place this next to Sonic Lost World’s smooth visuals and 60 frames per second and you’d never guess that Rise of Lyric is running on Nintendo’s HD powered Wii U. Some of the textures are so bad that you’ll physically cringe, and the whole thing chugs along at an unsteady clip, breaking up the pace of an already slow experience. Dare to play it in co-op mode and the whole presentation plummets even further down the quality scale.

Indeed, the entire game is a bit of a technical mess. On top of the framerate and graphical hiccups, there’s also the plethora of glitches that you can stumble across, ranging from the infamous Knuckles infinite jump to characters getting stuck in the wall with no way to escape. I kid you not, in the very first seconds of booting up my copy, there was a glitch in the opening credits where the “whoosh” sound effect from the SEGA logo got stuck on a constant loop. When a game is so poorly put together that it breaks down before even the title screen has appeared and you’ve had a chance to make any input whatsoever, you know you’re in for a rough time.

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All of this would be made tolerable though if the gameplay was up to snuff – which, simply, it isn’t. Sonic has been stripped of his trademark speed in favour of generic platforming and exploration, only getting the chance to stretch his legs in Sonic Dash style speed sections that are clunky and awkward to navigate. When you’re not aimlessly wandering around the empty environments, mashing Sonic’s spin dash to replicate the smallest sensation of going fast, you’ll be engaging in combat with a series of multicoloured robots in battles that are either a total pushover or quickly descend into disarray, with attacks and rings flying across the screen in every direction. Nothing about these fights is stimulating or exciting, it’s just a case of spamming the attack buttons enough times while dodging enemy fire. Considering the lack of combos and tiny range of enemy designs, it gets real old, real fast, even when using different characters and their limited number of special abilities. It’s not a sentence you’ll hear very often but… the Werehog, this ain’t.

Not everything about Rise of Lyric is terrible though. There’s a few genuinely cool set pieces and the voice actors are on top form throughout – but even these positives are hampered by setbacks. For every moment of cinematic spectacle, there’s one where you’re awkwardly piloting a boat or a submarine, and the characters just do not know when to shut up. If I had a penny for every time Sonic and his friends expressed their love for bounce pads and rings, I’d have enough money to go out and buy a much better game.

Rise of Lyric isn’t the worst game ever made, but it rightfully deserves the bad reputation it’s garnered. It’s an uninspired, unfinished, unpolished title from beginning to end and by no means the triumphant return to a more adventure-driven style of Sonic game that it was hoped it might be.

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Unfortunately, Sonic Boom doesn’t fare much better on the 3DS either. Shattered Crystal is, on the whole, a better experience than its Wii U big brother – for a start, it doesn’t feel rushed and runs relatively smoothly – but it’s swamped by poor design choices that drag the quality down to nothing more than average. Undeniably, it’s a speedier affair, and it actually feels like a typical Sonic game in places – particularly in the game’s Rival Races, there’s a real sense of momentum and rhythm that you’ll want to keep going by hitting the necessary springs and boost pads. Visually it’s quite impressive too, including a handful of animated CG cutscenes that look better than anything even Rise of Lyric has to offer.

What, again, is Sonic Boom’s problem is that in trying to break away from Sonic tradition and be its own thing, it stands in complete opposition to what makes the series so beloved in the first place. On your initial run of the first few stages, you might not notice an issue. Sure, the stages are a bit more Metroid-esque and there’s places to explore, but you’re able to blast through to the finish without much problem at all. That’s all well and good, but soon enough the game pulls a Sonic Unleashed and locks away later levels behind arbitrary requirements. Specifically, you’ll need to collect enough Badges, which you earn (surprise surprise) by searching through each stage and finding all of the hidden blueprints and crystal shards (and by all, I do mean all). What started out as a jolly romp through Shattered Crystal’s world now screeches to a halt as you painstakingly look around every part of the map – often large in size and labyrinthine in design – to find those elusive pick-ups that you missed first time around. This wouldn’t be a problem if unlocking later levels didn’t require near-perfection, as you’ll find yourself one too many a time opening up the path to a new stage, only to have to turn back away from it because you’re one Badge short of being able to play it. In total you’ll need 30 of the game’s 34 Badges to access the final boss, which is no simple feat unless you’ve hunted high and low along the way.

Aside from beating the game, there’s no major incentive to collect everything either – nabbing all of the Badges merely opens up one of the most ridiculous bonuses in Sonic history, and earning Tokens (by beating stages in a set time limit and with a certain number of rings, or through StreetPass or working out with Knuckles… yes, you did read that last bit correctly) only allows you to unlock display models of the various characters and items. They’re cool to look at, but beyond aesthetics, they serve no purpose at all.

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In summary then, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Sonic Boom hasn’t got off to the best of starts in any respect, aside from the cartoon itself. Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal are both difficult games to recommend – the former especially – and their focus on slow-paced exploration just doesn’t match up well with the normal Sonic ethos. While the attempt to spark new life into the ailing franchise and reinvigorate the characters is admirable, ultimately it’s all rather backfired. So far, Boom is superfluous at best, and a dreadful stain on the blue blur’s reputation at worst.

There may still be some hope for this sub-series in the future, but as it stands, Sonic Boom is little more than a Sonic bomb.

Retrospective: The Colours Still Feel So Right

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2010 was an interesting time to be a Sonic fan. At the start of the year, the franchise was at one of its lowest points, with jokes about the Sonic Cycle being thrown around every which way following the downward spiral of quality in the games – Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic ’06, Sonic and the Black Knight… even 2008’s Sonic Unleashed, the closest thing to a step in the right direction we’d seen, was critically panned and bogged down by poor design choices. Luckily, there seemed to be a shining ray of light on the horizon, one that the entire fanbase was clinging their hopes onto, something that promised to set the series back on track at last…

That game was Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. And we all know how that turned out.

Yes, rather unjustly in retrospect, it was the disappointing sequel to the classic Sonic trilogy that garnered the most attention in 2010. Instead, there was another, far better, far more memorable Sonic game released that year that deserved to receive the lion’s share of fan interest. Announced slap bang in the middle of the Sonic 4 hype, Sonic Colours – or Sonic Colors, for our American readers – was eternally in the shadow of its downloadable counterpart, with only a month separating the two games’ release dates in October and November respectively. It’s understandable, of course – the game’s rather obscure title and lack of concrete gameplay details upon its initial reveal made Colours a bit of a harder sell compared to the prospect of a follow-up to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Even I’ll admit, I thought Sonic Colours would be a puzzle or spin-off title when I first saw its announcement… but fast forward a few months, and it ended up being one of my favourite Sonic games of all time.

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Whereas Sonic 4’s hype train went out of control before well and truly coming off the rails, the more quiet and subtle excitement surrounding Sonic Colours actually worked in its favour. When the astonishingly good reviews came rolling in – that all important first score of 86 from NGamer and an 8.5 from IGN, to name but a couple (let’s just forget that 4.5 from Destructoid though, eh?) – it caught us all by surprise and made us appreciate the game even more. It not only surpassed Sonic 4, it trampled all over it and gave us the first genuinely good Sonic experience in years. Say what you want about the game, but you cannot deny that Sonic Colours set alight the hearts of several fans and critics again after oh so long.

So what was it about the title that sparked off such acclaim? Well… a bit of everything, really. Presentation-wise, Colours definitely delivers on its title – this is a bright, quirky, visually appealing adventure that really pushes the graphical boundaries of the Wii to their limits. While we’ve since seen the likes of Planet Wisp and Starlight Carnival recreated in high definition in Sonic Generations and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, their original incarnations still hold up beautifully on Nintendo’s last-gen system. What really stands out about Colours though is its sheer imagination, fusing recurring Sonic tropes into entirely fresh new locations such as the tropical casino aesthetic of Tropical Resort and the watery Chun-Nan that is Aquarium Park. Despite being a modern 3D title, Colours captures the vibe and essence – and, dare I say it, magic – of the classic era better than ever before (arguably better even that Sonic 4 did), to the extent that famous badniks like Motobugs even make their long-awaited return with a few new twists of their own.

Sonic Colours Wii screen 1 1st Aug

Musically, the soundtrack is also up there with the finest in the series – and that’s an impressive feat considering how consistently brilliant Sonic music tends to be (Chronicles notwithstanding). Almost every tune is a joy to listen to, ranging from the adrenaline-pumping sounds of Terminal Velocity to the gentle and serene Planet Wisp tracks. It’s also the last time we had a vocal song as the main theme of a Sonic game – can you believe it’s been four years already? – and, while Cash Cash’s Reach For The Stars and Speak With Your Heart aren’t to everybody’s taste, they’re serviceable enough and undeniably catchy for those who want to sing along as the credits roll.

Most importantly, Colours nailed the gameplay. Taking the day stages from Sonic Unleashed as a basis, cutting out all of the nonsense like medal hunting and Werehogs, every stage was a high octane blast of speedy Sonic fun. The level design is top notch with some hugely enjoyable courses to overcome right from the off – there’s no messing around with opening cutscenes or tutorials, you press Start at the title screen and you’re straight into Tropical Resort Act 1. It’s a platformer at its most straightforward – clear one level, move onto the next, rinse and repeat until you face off against the world’s boss, then move onto the next area – and it’s all the better for it, with nothing to get in the way of the fun and preventing it from becoming sidetracked by anything unnecessary.

Sonic Colours Pink Wisp screen 1

It’s the Wisps that really steal the spotlight here though. Before 2010, if you heard the words “Sonic” and “gimmick” in the same sentence, you’d shudder in horror. Fishing, treasure hunting, guns, motion controls, stretchy armed brawling, talking swords… you name it, Sonic had probably tried it, often to disastrous effect. But the Wisps did something that none of these other gimmicks were capable of – adding to the basic Sonic gameplay rather than detracting from it or outright replacing it. Each of the different coloured Wisps grants Sonic a new kind of Colour Power to utilise as he traverses his way through a level, be it a quick-firing laser, the ability to hover, or a drill to dig through the earth (or cake, if you happen to be in Sweet Mountain). Each is a bite-sized burst of fun, never outstaying its welcome and often leading to some previously unexplored section of a stage. In a game where the gimmicks are almost entirely optional, you’ll be actively wanting to use them more than ever, going back to previous locales to seek out those hidden Red Rings you missed first time around because you hadn’t unlocked the right Wisp yet. They’re a joyous addition, and it’s a shame that they were used much less gratifyingly in their comeback appearances in Generations and Lost World.

This isn’t even scratching the surface of what Colours brought to the table – a brand new voice cast featuring Roger Craig Smith in his Sonic debut (if you conveniently ignore Sonic Free Riders, as most people do), a more simple and streamlined narrative focusing on just Sonic and Tails rather than the cavalcade of sub-par sidekicks seen previously, the infamous Eggman P.A. announcements, and the first time we’ve seen Super Sonic playable in regular levels in a 3D game. It was a total shift for the Sonic series, both tonally and reception-wise, and it was just the ticket to dig the hedgehog out of the hole he’d dug himself into over the preceding years.

All praise aside, it’s not the perfect Sonic game – there’s some awkward difficulty spikes, it’s only a few hours long, and the story is rather minimal with some love-it-or-hate-it scripting – but it’s by far the most original entry we’ve seen in the franchise in recent memory, Generations included. There’s a certain magic and a certain joy that I get from playing and looking back on Sonic Colours, and that’s something that’s distinct from any other entry in the franchise.

Sonic Colours Wii screenshots 21

In this uncertain age where Sonic is once again descending into mediocrity, it’s enlightening to remember that once upon a time, when even the most promising of projects led only to the bitterness of disappointment, a game like Sonic Colours came along out of nowhere and revitalised the series in a way no one expected. Who’s to say that lightning can’t strike twice…? And, if nothing else, it proves that Sonic can do Nintendo exclusivity right when it puts its mind to it. Sorry Lost World and Boom, but you’ve got nothing on this gem.

With Sonic Colours, SEGA reached for the stars – and boy, did they come close. Four years on and the colours still seem as right and as bright as they ever did. Long may they continue to shine.

What are your feelings and memories about Sonic Colours? We’d love to know your thoughts too, so sound off in the comments! Don’t fall apart, speak with your heart!

Rise of Lyric Demo arrives on 4th December

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Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric has been out on the Wii U now for a couple of weeks and has since been met with some… less than favourable reviews, shall we say?

Given the game’s dubious reputation, and with Christmas drawing ever closer, you might want the chance to give it a try before you splash out your hard-earned cash. Well, good news! Just like with Sonic Lost World last year (but curiously unlike Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on 3DS), SEGA have decided to release a post-launch demo of Rise of Lyric through the Wii U eShop, which will be available in Europe and North America from this Thursday, 4th December. Of course, it will be free of charge, although there’s no word yet on how many tries you get or what the actual content will consist of.

If you’re also a European 3DS owner, there’s some more Sonic love heading your way – four brand new Sonic 3DS themes (already released in the US) will be available on the 3DS Theme Shop from Friday, 5th December. Choose from Sonic, Shadow, Amy and Chao designs, all priced at £1.79 apiece.

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Will you be downloading the Rise of Lyric demo or any of the Sonic 3DS themes? Let us know in the comments! In the meantime, you can read our very own TSS review of Rise of Lyric to give you some idea of what you’re letting yourself in for!

Sonic Boom 3DS Theme hits Europe on Friday

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They’ve been out in the US for almost a week now, but this Friday will see Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal making their way to European shores – and that’s not all! Revealed via Nintendo’s UK 3DS Facebook page, the Sonic Boom 3DS theme (which has been available to American 3DS owners since last week) will also be hitting the handheld come 21st November… and best of all, it’ll be completely free to download!

The Sonic Boom 3DS theme initially displays only Sonic and Tails, but scroll it along and it’ll eventually showcase all five members of the main cast, including Knuckles, Amy and Sticks. You can get a better preview of the theme in the video below, alongside a sneak peek at a 3DS StreetPass puzzle – there’s no confirmation yet whether this will be arriving in Europe as well as the theme, but we’d place a good bet on it!

Will you be downloading the Sonic Boom 3DS theme on Friday, be it in addition to the games or just to decorate your handheld menu with everyone’s favourite blue hedgehog? Let us know in the comments!

In the meantime, stay tuned for our TSS reviews of Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal, both coming your way soon!

“Passion & Pride” and “It Doesn’t Matter” Remix now on UK iTunes

Making love to that guitar

Sonic music lovers, get ready to rock! As we reported not long ago, a brand new album titled “Passion & Pride: Anthems with Attitude” featuring a collection of music from the Sonic Adventure era was set for release in Japan – but now it’s made its way across the waters (or rather, across the internet) to the rest of the world too!

That’s right, if you’re happy to forgo a physical disc and avoid all the hassle of pre-ordering from Japan, you can now download yourself a copy of this new compilation from iTunes. The album is split into two separate volumes – Vox Collection and Instrumental Collection – which cost £7.99 apiece, or 79p for individual tracks if you don’t want the lot. The track listing for these albums is as follows:

Vox Collection

  1. It Doesn’t Matter (Sonic Adventure)
  2. Believe in Myself (Sonic Adventure)
  3. Unknown from M.E. (Sonic Adventure)
  4. My Sweet Passion
  5. Lazy Days -Livin’ in Paradise-
  6. Theme of Dr. Eggman
  7. Theme of E-102 Gamma
  8. It Doesn’t Matter (Sonic Adventure 2)
  9. Believe in Myself (Sonic Adventure 2)
  10. Unknown from M.E. (Sonic Adventure 2)
  11. Throw It All Away
  12. E.G.G.M.A.N.
  13. Fly in the Freedom

Instrumental Collection

  1. It Doesn’t Matter (Sonic Adventure)
  2. Believe in Myself (Sonic Adventure)
  3. Unknown from M.E. (Sonic Adventure)
  4. My Sweet Passion
  5. Lazy Days -Livin’ in Paradise-
  6. It Doesn’t Matter (Sonic Adventure 2)
  7. Believe in Myself (Sonic Adventure 2)
  8. Unknown from M.E. (Sonic Adventure 2)
  9. Throw It All Away
  10. E.G.G.M.A.N.
  11. Fly in the Freedom

Now, eagle eyed readers will notice that one track, the much anticipated “It Doesn’t Matter” 2014 remix from Tony Harnell and Jun Senoue – arguably the biggest draw of the entire album – is missing from these digital releases. Well, fear not! You can download the remix on iTunes as well – it’s just listed as its own individual single (priced at 99p) rather than being bundled in with either of the albums. A strange decision, but at least we still get it!

Click on the handy album covers below to take you straight to the UK iTunes links:

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Happy listening! Time to rock and roll! If you’re planning on downloading any of the music, let us know in the comments!

Luminous Costumes for US Amazon Boom Pre-Orders

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Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U is just a couple of months away from release now, and the pre-order bonuses are starting to roll in – first we had the US exclusive Sonic figure from GameStop, and now we have another US exclusive bonus if you decide to pre-order from Amazon.com instead. What is it, you ask? Well, allow me to throw a little light on the subject… ahem…

That’s right, as revealed via SEGA’s Twitter page,  those of you who pre-order from Amazon.com will receive not only the upcoming game but also a special costume set which replaces the infamous sports tape with… well, sports tape that glows in the dark! This “luminous costume” pack will apply for all four of the main playable characters, as can be seen in the screenshot above.

What was this game called again? Sonic Boom? More like Sonic Lum…inous! (yeah, yeah, I’ll get my coat…)

What do you think of this interesting new pre-order bonus? Will you be placing your order at Amazon.com now? Let us know in the comments!

 

Andronic races onto Sonic Dash for Android

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Well… umm… this is weird.

In a new update that absolutely nobody could see coming, the Android version of mobile endless runner Sonic Dash now features two additional characters – the Android robot and (yes, you’re really hearing this right) Andronic the Droid Hog.

The Android robot comes free as part of the new update, but if you play as him 50 times, you’ll unlock the Sonic themed reskin that will undoubtedly become the subject of many future fan-fictions, as with the Tails Doll and the Sonic Omochao before him. I can’t decide whether it’s meant to be adorably stupid or utterly terrifying.

Understandably, this is exclusive to Google Play, with no equivalent iOS update detailed at the present time. Perhaps this is a strange way of paying back all the Android customers who were left anxiously waiting for Sonic Dash to hit their mobile device of choice while Apple users were speeding away months in advance.

Here’s a video of Andronic in action (no sound though, unfortunately). Marvel at how silly he looks, flailing his arms around like a madman!

What do you make of this new Sonic Dash update? Will you play as Andronic the Droid Hog?

Sonic Jump Fever leaping onto iOS and Android soon

Looks like Sonic Boom won’t be the only game starring everyone’s favourite blue blur at E3 this year! Just revealed via an announcement trailer on SEGA Europe’s YouTube channel, Sonic Jump Fever – a sequel to the original Sonic Jump mobile game – will be bouncing its way onto iOS and Android devices at some point in the near future.

Originally released in Canada earlier this year, the core gameplay in Sonic Jump Fever will be very similar to its predecessor, only this time with more dynamic action, more combos… and of course, more fever! The question is though – will it be a real leap forward? (sorry, I’ll get my coat…)

Little else is known about the game’s release outside Canada beyond that shown off in the trailer, but be sure to stay tuned to TSS for any further updates on the game – and in the meantime, let us know your thoughts on this announcement in the comments!

Sonic Lost World’s Zelda DLC Revealed, Out Tomorrow

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If you thought Sonic Boom was going to be the only redesign of the speedy blue hedgehog this year… think again! Following on from the Yoshi’s Island Zone DLC last year, the much anticipated DLC for Sonic Lost World based on Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series is finally making its way to the Wii U eShop tomorrow (for free!) – and Sonic’s been taking a few fashion tips from Link himself, it seems!

IGN have posted a video preview of the new zone, which plays very differently to most other stages in Sonic Lost World – it borrows very heavily from its source material, in fact, seeing you exploring Hyrule Field before traversing an eerie and fiery dungeon. Along the way you’ll collect rupees – which are converted into rescued animals upon completion – and face off against iconic enemies including Stalfos, Gorons… and even Cuccos!

With tons of nods to the Zelda series all the way through (including an appearance or two from Link on his trusty Loftwing), this is looking like a very extensive piece of DLC that should give you more than enough reason to dust off your Wii U and boot up Sonic’s most recent outing at least one more time. It’s got to be worth it just to see Sonic running around in that classic green tunic, surely!

Sonic Lost World: The Legend of Zelda Zone will be available to download from the Wii U eShop tomorrow (27th March) absolutely free. Be sure to give it a whirl!

Source: IGN

Mike Pollock and Roger Craig Smith nominated for Behind The Voice Actor Awards

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It’s seemingly not often that the vocal talents behind the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise receive any real recognition for their work on the series (and disappointingly so) – but rejoice, there is good news on this front at last! Two of the series’ principal cast members have been nominated for accolades in the latest Behind The Voice Actor Awards, and they’ll no doubt be looking for your votes and support to help them take home the gold.

Roger Craig Smith, known of course amongst the fanbase as the voice of the titular blue blur, has been nominated in the Best Male Vocal Performance in a Video Game in a Supporting Role category for portraying the wise-cracking Wonder Blue in the recent Wii U title from Platinum Games, The Wonderful 101. However, it’s Mike Pollock that should be getting special attention from the Sonic fandom, as he has been nominated in the Best Male Vocal Performance in a Video Game category for his role as none other than Dr. Eggman, specifically in last year’s Sonic Lost World.

The two vocal stars are in esteemed company in their respective categories, nominated alongside the likes of Troy Baker (the voice of Espio), Nolan North, and Alan Young (Scrooge McDuck himself!).

We here at The Sonic Stadium wish to congratulate both Mike and Roger on their nominations, and if you wish to cast your votes for them you can do so at the awards page (you’ll need to register for an account first though). The winners are scheduled to be announced next Wednesday (19th March), so you don’t have long to get your votes in!

Sonic Boom Behind the Scenes: English VAs, Orbot & Cubot Confirmed

SEGA have just posted a brand new video to their blog, taking us on a comprehensive behind the scenes look at the upcoming Sonic Boom videogame and TV series. The video includes interviews with many of the crew working on this alternate branch of the Sonic franchise, as well as showing off concept art and work-in-progress gameplay footage. It is reiterated that the game will have a strong emphasis on story and teamwork, as we have heard in other recent interviews.

A look into the voice recordings for the TV series confirms an episode including an alternate-dimension Knuckles, as well giving a feel for the comedic angle the cartoon will be taking. Knuckles sounds like a fortune cookie, but he doesn’t taste like one!

In addition, the English voice cast for Sonic Boom has been revealed. Roger Craig Smith, Mike Pollock, Travis Willingham and Cindy Robinson reprise their roles as Sonic, Eggman, Knuckles and Amy respectively, with Tails getting a new voice actor in the form of Colleen Villard. Interestingly, Orbot and Cubot have also been revealed as part of the cast, voiced by Kirk Thornton and Wally Wingert.

What do you make of all this new info about Sonic Boom? Are you any more or less excited for the game or TV show? Let us know in the comments!

Source: SEGA Blog

Nintendo UK Store offers Mario & Sonic Wii U Bundle

mariosonicwiiubundleThe Mario & Sonic series is no stranger to being a part of console bundles – the London 2012 entry even came with its very own blue Wii system – so this latest announcement comes as no real surprise. No doubt in a bid to cash in on the ongoing Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games as well as to shift a few extra Wii U consoles, Nintendo UK has revealed a brand new bundle featuring the latest entry in the series, exclusive to its online store.

Simply dubbed the “Mario and Sonic Winter Olympics Bundle”, you get a black Premium Wii U console in addition to (of course) Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, NintendoLand, and one of those swanky Mario Wii Remote Plus controllers released towards the end of last year. What’s more, you can get it all for just £299.99, which means a saving of over £75 on the RRP of the individual products.

If you’re swept away by Winter Olympic fever at the moment or are just waiting for the right deal to come along to entice you to join the Wii U brigade… this might be the bundle for you!

Source: Nintendo UK Online Store

Sonic Boom TV world to “reset” in every episode

We’ve heard a lot of new information recently about the upcoming Sonic Boom game for Wii U and 3DS, but what of the show it’s actually based on? Well, thanks to the interview above from NintendoWorldReport, we now know a few extra details about the CG animated cartoon.

The biggest new revelation is with regards to the show’s format. It’s been stated before that the show’s primary focus will be humour and comedy with some action thrown in for good measure, but this has now seemingly been cemented by the fact that the world will effectively “reset” at the beginning of each episode – in other words, this series will be more akin to the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon where each story is standalone and can be watched in any order, as opposed to Sonic X which has ongoing story arcs. This will no doubt come as a disappointment to those who were hoping for a more fleshed out story in the cartoon, but it will undoubtedly make for a more accessible experience to newcomers.

Don’t lose all hope for story in the Sonic Boom universe yet though, as it’s already been reiterated several times that the Wii U/3DS games will be heavily driven by narrative and serve as a prequel to the cartoon, setting up the world and its characters which will then be visited in various scenarios during the series itself. In a way, it’s a nice compromise – we get the story and the action in the game, and the quick-fire comedy from the animated episodes. The best of both worlds, perhaps?

What do you make of Sonic Boom returning to the status quo for each individual story? Let us know in the comments!

New Sonic Boom Details: No Chaos Emeralds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WDFFo_uOy0

A whole slew of new details regarding Sonic Boom have surfaced thanks to the above interview brought to our attention by SSMB member Storme. As well as giving us a more extensive look at the New York venue for SEGA’s big announcements last week, it reveals some intriguing changes to the traditional Sonic premise – chief among them, the absence of the Chaos Emeralds in the Boom universe. How this will affect the story and mythos of the new series remains to be seen, but it does throw an appearance by Super Sonic or any other super forms (and arguably even the Master Emerald) into doubt.

Additional details revealed in the interview include:

  • The Wii U GamePad will be used to display a map and upgrades, as well as another function which is yet to be unveiled
  • The game follows an adventure style with currency and upgrades for the characters
  • The game is more “organically” challenging, in that difficulty arises from skill in combat and finding hidden secrets as opposed to enemies just becoming tougher
  • All the levels in the game are connected by the story and its locations
  • You will mainly use two characters at a time during gameplay, but all four will show up in hubs and boss fights
  • There will be points in the game where you are required to use a certain character to proceed
  • The game will be very character driven, with a lot of focus put onto each individual character and their unique abilities
  • We will “definitely” be seeing other characters from the Sonic series making an appearance – these will be revealed over the coming months
  • Inspiration is being taken from Sonic 2, Sonic Adventure, and Sonic Generations

(summary adapted from a post by SSMB member Blue Blood)

What do you make of all this new information? Are you disappointed that the Chaos Emeralds are a no-show? Are you excited that other characters will be popping up in the game? Let us know in the comments!

Mario & Sonic 2014: 30% off on EU eShop until Sunday

Bfy1G2ICAAAskmlHeads up European Wii U owners! To coincide with the start of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia this weekend, Nintendo have announced plans to reduce the price of the latest Mario & Sonic game by 30% if you buy it from the Wii U eShop or through the Nintendo UK Online Store.

The offer will run from tomorrow (7th February) to 23:59 on Sunday, 9th February. If you’ve yet to pick up the game or have been itching for a discount on the digital version, now might be the time to take the plunge. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to spend your money, check out our TSS review of the game to help you make your mind up.

This offer is currently only announced for Europe, but we will update you if it becomes available for any other regions.

Source: Twitter

Sonic Dash S races onto Japanese iOS and Android

screen568x568Talk about a bolt from the blue! Completely out of nowhere, a brand new version of Sonic Dash, curiously titled Sonic Dash S, has hit iOS and Android devices in Japan. While it doesn’t appear to differ too heavily from the current edition of the game available elsewhere across the globe, this iteration does bring with it some new features and refinements.

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First up, Sonic Dash S actually seems to have some sort of plot to it. No longer is Sonic just aimlessly running for the sake of running – now he’s on a high speed chase to stop Dr. Eggman, who has once again made off with the elusive Master Emerald (Knuckles just can’t catch a break, can he?). Sonic Dash S also sees the return of the Chao who, in a similar fashion to their appearance in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, provide Sonic and his friends with special abilities to boost their skills. That’s not the only thing bumping up the blue blur’s stats in this version either – you can upgrade the characters themselves by acquiring bonuses and levelling up. Essentially, it sounds like the same Sonic Dash experience, but padded out with a few additional elements to spice things up.

SSMB member SwiftWinds also notes that characters have their own special abilities when they reach a certain level – for instance, Tails can fly out of a pit, Knuckles can overcome bombs and spikes, Amy increases your banked ring count, and Shadow increases the rings you earn at the end of a run. Additionally, characters can be unlocked using normal rings in Sonic Dash S rather than the red rings that are otherwise required in the standard version of Sonic Dash.

There is no word yet on whether Sonic Dash S will hit any other regions, be it as a brand new download or as an update to the existing game – but stay tuned to TSS and we’ll keep you in the loop! Thanks to SSMB member Woun for bringing it to our attention in the first place.

What are your first thoughts on Sonic Dash S? Let us know in the comments!

Sonic Lost World OST out now on iTunes

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“Without Boundaries”, the original soundtrack for Sonic Lost World, was released in Japan as a physical 3 CD set last week. However, in a surprising move for those of us in other regions, SEGA has revealed via their blog that the soundtrack can also now be downloaded via iTunes and Amazon MP3.

You can download all 93 tracks digitally, one disc at a time. Each disc, or ‘volume’, will set you back £7.99 (meaning the total cost of the OST comes to £23.97) or you can purchase individual tracks for 79p apiece.

Will you be downloading the Sonic Lost World soundtrack? Let us know in the comments!

Source: SEGA Blog

3D Sonic the Hedgehog hits 3DS eShop this week

Sonic 1 Title Screen

The original Sonic the Hedgehog game is racing onto the Nintendo 3DS eShop in Europe and the US this Thursday, 5th December – but it’s already been ported to seemingly every gaming system under the sun, so what makes this one noteworthy? Well, this isn’t just your straightforward port, it’s a part of SEGA’s 3D Classics series for the 3DS, enhancing some of their classic games with fancy new stereoscopic visuals. It’s a whole new way to experience the blue blur’s first ever adventure!

3D Sonic the Hedgehog also contains an option to toggle the spin dash on and off, for those wanting either a newer or a more traditional method of play.

The game will cost £4.99 in Europe and $5.99 in the US. Will you be downloading this enhanced version of Sonic’s debut? Let us know in the comments!

Limited Steam Offer: Sonic Hits Collection for £9.99

CBBC Sonic Generations artwork

Steam’s Autumn sale is currently underway and among the savings is an incredible offer for the entire Sonic collection – just £9.99 for 14 games, old and new, along with their respective DLC in the case of Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Generations, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.

For under a tenner you can get all of the following:

  • Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
  • Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing
  • Sonic 3 & Knuckles
  • Sonic 3D Blast
  • Sonic Adventure 2: Battle
  • Sonic Adventure DX
  • Sonic CD
  • Sonic Generations
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II

Individually, the price of these games would total over £100, so this is an absolutely fantastic deal if you don’t already own the entire collection. You’ll have to act fast though – the sale is only on until tomorrow, so head on over to Steam quickly and splash your cash!

A direct link to the Sonic Hits Collection can be found by clicking here

TSS Review: Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games (Wii U)

ms2014review

The Mario & Sonic series is one that I personally have a lot of history with. I remember almost exploding with excitement when the first title was announced – my two favourite videogame characters, together at last! Sure, it wasn’t the ideal crossover scenario everyone wanted and the game itself wasn’t anything that special, but I lapped it up for sheer novelty value alone, alternating between the Team Mario and Team Sonic t-shirts that came as pre-order bonuses while I shook my Wii Remote around in glee. Two years later came the first Olympic Winter Games title, which for me was a big improvement over the original – the events were more entertaining, new characters were introduced, and perhaps most importantly there was another pre-order t-shirt I could wear while I played. But come London 2012, the franchise lost some of its sparkle and things began to feel as if they weren’t fitting as comfortably as they had done before (and I’m not just talking about the pre-order t-shirt, which only came in a kids’ size). Regardless of the new events, it felt like too much of a retread, and with no show-stopping new features the formula was starting to grow a bit stale. So, understandably, people’s first reaction to this fourth entry in the series was a collective groan of indifference. With the novelty value fizzling out fast and no pre-order t-shirt for me to wear at all, does Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games come from Russia with love? Or should these two gaming icons finally hang up their skis and go into athletic retirement?

The most obvious difference between Mario & Sonic 2014 and the other titles is that this is the first entry on Nintendo’s shiny new Wii U system. There’s a lot more graphical oomph and it definitely shows, with character models looking great for the most part – there’s still a few jaggies here and there, and the audience is still primarily the same flat 2D texture we’ve seen three times over already, but they’re very minor quibbles in any otherwise eye-pleasing outing. In fact, it’s not just the visuals, but the entire interface that has undergone an overhaul with this HD makeover. The menus feel really fluid and easy to navigate, and there’s a much more personalised feel to proceedings, with your chosen Mii standing proudly in the centre of the main menu next to your country’s respective flag – something we’ll touch on again later. It makes for a positive first impression, considering the developers could have instead opted for a very lazy and clunky interface just to get the job done.

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This is also the first Mario & Sonic game to make use of the Wii MotionPlus technology, and it is a very welcome addition. Controls feel a lot more intuitive and responsive than they did in the previous games – I actually played the original Olympic Winter Games just before this one for comparison purposes – and it’s a real relief that Nintendo and SEGA have finally moved the series forward rather than recycling the same exact control scheme again and again. This is not to say that the controls are spot-on and flawless – an alternative analogue control scheme would have been greatly preferred in some cases – but it’s an improvement over what has come before it, so the game deserves some kudos for that.

While the technological leap to MotionPlus benefits the game though, it’s debatable as to what the Wii U GamePad actually brings to the series. It’s certainly got its uses – pulling off tricks in Snowboard Slopestyle by swiping the screen is easy enough to do, and it’s an absolute godsend for planning your tactics in the oddly-addictive Curling – but there’s also a fair bit of questionable implementation, too. A lot of the time you’ll be forced to switch between the Wii Remote and the GamePad for seemingly no reason at all depending on the event you’re playing, and while there is some consistency in this (namely, snowboard events all require the GamePad), it seems like a baffling decision when you consider all you’re doing is tilting side to side like you could do with a Wii Remote anyway – and in fact you can do with a Wii Remote anyway if you’re in multiplayer mode. It’s not unbearable but it is an unnecessary fumble that needn’t be there in the first place. Outside of the events, the GamePad is used for providing running commentary on the events you’re playing – a neat concept but one you’ll never appreciate if you’re focusing on the TV screen – and also for taking photos when you set new records. Again, a nice idea, but one that never really adds much to the experience.

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What really will determine whether Mario & Sonic 2014 is a good game or not though is the events themselves, and as ever, they’re slightly hit or miss. The likes of Ice Hockey (think a small-scale version of Mario Strikers) and Figure Skating are a blast to play, but they’re weighed down by more cumbersome minigames like the Parallel Slalom and Bobsleigh/Skeleton. They can grow on you once you master the intricacies of the controls, but they’re simply just not as interesting as the other ones. Another obvious issue some may have with the Olympic events is that they’re largely the same as those found in the 2010 game – they’ve been improved somewhat since then, for sure, but if you weren’t a fan four years ago then you likely won’t be now either.

As ever though, it’s the Dream events that steal the show, with arguably some of the most interesting ones seen in a Mario & Sonic game yet. There’s a genuine thrill to be had riding a Bullet Bill sleigh around Sweet Mountain from Sonic Colours or rocketing along Speed Highway in the Rollercoaster Bobsleigh, and you’ll find yourself coming back to these events far more often than their realistic counterparts. The absolute headline event though has to be the Winter Sports Champion Race – which, almost masterfully, manages to walk the fine line between the Olympic and Dream categories. This event sees you racing through an extensive course filled with multiple routes of snow and ice, giving you the chance to change your current gear (be it skis, snowboard, bobsleigh, or ice skates) at several points along the way so you can utilise different shortcuts. This is the one event in the game which can truly give you a unique experience every time you play it, and I hope we see more like this in any future titles in the series.

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Winter Sports Champion Race does have one thing going for it that manages to extend into the rest of the game as well though – the music. Where oh where to begin! This is hands down one of the best videogame soundtracks in recent years, bringing together some outstanding original scores alongside incredible remixes of classic Mario and Sonic tunes, new and old (even including a remix of Windy Hill from Sonic Lost World!). In fact, the music is actually just one form of fanservice that’s on offer in a game positively crammed full of it. There’s so many little touches that will leave you smiling, even down to tiny details like unique character selection poses to reflect the event you’re playing or special victory animations (if you have a certain pair on your team when you win, they’ll do something charming like Mario and Sonic fistbumping or Mario jumping onto Yoshi’s back). Of course, in the grand scheme of things these are just the icing on the cake, but it all helps to engage the diehard in an otherwise casual experience.

If the fanservice doesn’t keep you coming back for more, there’s already a fair amount to do in Mario & Sonic 2014 anyway. The Olympic and Dream events can be played individually or as part of the Medley Mania mode (which ties together certain events based on a specific theme), and there’s also a multiplayer party mode in the form of the Action & Answer Tour – a quiz show hosted by Orbot and Cubot which sees you playing even mini-er mini-games to score points. It’s a nice distraction but it won’t hold your attention for long, and disappointingly that’s a feeling that can be applied to the single player Legends Showdown mode as well. What could have been a real opportunity to see the Mario and Sonic worlds colliding – especially after we’ve seen glimpses of it in the handheld entries for the 2010 and 2012 Olympic titles – simply boils down to a whirlwind tour of all the game’s events against shadowy computer opponents. There’s an odd appearance by the likes of Jet the Hawk and Birdo, but what qualifies them as “legends” – or why they aren’t unlockable characters seeing as their models are already in-game – is anyone’s guess. That’s not to say there’s nothing to unlock at all in the game though, as there’s lots of apparel to customise your Mii in as well as special skis, snowboards, and bobsleighs to be earned by completing numerous Special Challenges, showing up as a Super Smash Bros. Brawl style challenge board to keep you playing and playing again.

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One feature of the game that adds to the replay value – and is simultaneously impressive and a let-down – is the online mode. It’s really refreshing to finally be able to challenge people across the globe, with the added quirk that you’re competing for your own country just like in the actual Olympics (linking back in with the personalised feel of the game mentioned earlier). The online matches are smooth and seamless, so it’s just a shame that there’s only four events on offer (though luckily, Winter Sports Champion Race is one of them). There’s also the unforeseen problem that, due to the game’s low sales so far, it’s often been quite difficult to even find opponents in the first place, but there’s a solid online mode here for those with the necessary patience.

All things considered then, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games has a lot going for it, but also a lot that holds it back from reaching the potential it quite often promises. Let’s be completely honest with ourselves – the Mario & Sonic series will always be a missed opportunity based on pure concept alone and there’s undoubtedly a lot more that could have been done this time around. However, this entry does manage to make a few baby steps in the right direction. Maybe one day, eventually, we’ll have a thoroughly enjoyable Olympic game with intuitive controls throughout, a half-decent story mode, more robust online, and more characters on the roster. Until that day comes, the series will never exceed the standard of “merely good”, no matter what small touches each new title brings to the table. But missed opportunity or not, as someone who enjoyed the previous entries, I had fun playing this one, and I expect many others will too.

Unlike the Olympic flame itself, Mario & Sonic 2014 isn’t going to set the world on fire – but if you’re willing to put up with its flaws, it might just set off a little spark of joy in your heart.

You’ll Love:

+ Updated HD visuals

+ Incredible soundtrack of old, new, and remixed tunes

+ MotionPlus brings some welcome precision to the proceedings

You’ll Hate:

– The feeling of déjà vu is unmistakable

– Lots of missed potential

– Controls can still be unresponsive at times

 

Sonic Lost World demos in Europe this Thursday

Sonic Lost World July screenshots 6Better late than never! In one of the most topsy-turvy release schedules ever, demos for both the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS versions of Sonic Lost World will be arriving in Europe when the eShop updates this week, on Thursday at around 2 or 3pm British time. This follows the demos hitting the US last week and Japan last month – which, when you consider that Europe got the full game before either of those regions, is a rather baffling series of events.

As with the other demos, the EU Sonic Lost World demos will likely contain Windy Hill Zone 1 on Wii U, in addition to Windy Hill Tutorial and Windy Hill Zone 1 on 3DS. If you’ve not played either of the versions yet and want to try them out before you buy – especially with Christmas on the horizon! – now’s finally the chance to do so.

Will you be downloading the demos when they arrive in Europe later this week? Let us know in the comments!

Source: NintendoLife

 

Sonic Lost World demos finally arrive in the US

28020SONIC_LOST_WORLD_Wii_U_Screenshots_720p_1280x720_v1_4Sonic Lost World arrived on Nintendo systems in the US a couple of weeks ago but if you haven’t gotten around to picking it up yet and want to give it a try, then rejoice – you can finally go hands on with demos for both the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS versions! (only a month after Japan, but let’s not be bitter…)

Both demos can now be downloaded from their respective eShop service and can be played a maximum of 10 times – more limited than a typical Nintendo demo, but considering the game is already out waiting for you to buy it, it should be enough to help make your mind up one way or the other.  The Wii U demo contains Windy Hill Zone 1 while the 3DS demo contains the Windy Hill Tutorial as well as Windy Hill Zone 1.

There’s no word on the demos appearing on the European eShop services at the time of writing.

Don’t forget you can also read our reviews of the Wii U version and 3DS version to help you decide if the game is for you.

Will you be downloading either of the demos for Sonic Lost World? Let us know in the comments!

 

Out Now in Europe: Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

It’s time to strap on those skis and hit the slopes once more, as two of gaming’s icons are back to compete for the gold! That’s right, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games for Wii U is out now in Europe! SEGA have released a brand new launch trailer (above) to celebrate the occasion, showing off a comprehensive look at many of the game’s modes. There’s 24 events to participate in and, for the first time ever, you can play online and face rivals from across the globe!

Mario & Sonic 2014 can be purchased from both physical and online retailers, but if you prefer to own your games digitally, Nintendo has got you covered – the game costs £39.99 to download from the Wii U eShop. The game will arrive in the US next Friday, 15th November.

This fourth entry in the series has been receiving a mixed reception from critics so far but if you’re wondering whether we think it deserves a spot on the podium, you can look forward to our upcoming TSS review which will be hitting the site in the near future. Stay tuned!

Will you be picking up Mario & Sonic 2014? Show your support for your country by letting us know in the comments!

M&S 2014 Blowout: New Artwork, Gameplay and more!

Promo_Web_Artwork_-_Mario_&_Sonic_SochiWith Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games releasing on 8th November in Europe and 15th November in the US, there’s not long to go until the two gaming icons hit the slopes once again – and we now have lots of juicy new artwork, gameplay footage, and more to help whet your appetite!

For starters, the official Mario & Sonic website has updated with full details on all of the game’s modes, including the Olympic Events and Dream Events, as well as showcasing some brand new character artwork for Teams Mario and Sonic.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we have lots of new (albeit brief) gameplay videos courtesy of TheBitBlock and GameXplain on YouTube, giving you a chance to see the game in action ahead of its impending release. Say what you want about the game, but it’s certainly looking rather slick – and who doesn’t love the idea of a Bullet Bill sledge race around Sweet Mountain from Sonic Colours?

Will you be picking up the new Mario & Sonic game? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Official Site, TheBitBlock, GameXplain

Zazz Joins The Brawl… er… Dash!

In a surprising new update to coincide with the release of Sonic Lost World, you can now fight Zazz from the Deadly Six in a brand new boss battle in the mobile-exclusive Sonic Dash.

As can be seen in the trailer above, you’ll be facing off with the crazed Zeti atop his Moon Mech, dodging his star attacks until you get the chance to show him who’s boss and homing attack him into oblivion. It appears you’ll encounter Zazz at random as opposed to a set place in any of the stages.

The new update also includes a Deadly Six Card Collection Challenge where players from all around the world have to collect a set number of cards that can be found throughout the stages – once a certain total is reached, participants will receive some Lost World themed prizes!

You can download the Sonic Dash update now for a limited time only on the iOS. There is still no news on the game arriving on Android devices, though you can be sure we’ll let you know as soon as anything is announced.

What do you think about Zazz making an appearance in Sonic Dash? Would you like to see some of the other Deadly Six show up at a later date too? Let us know in the comments!

TSS Review: Sonic Lost World (Wii U)

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Without a doubt, Sonic the Hedgehog has been making something of a comeback in recent years. After falling to his lowest point in the mid-2000s, SEGA’s blue mascot has slowly but surely been climbing his way back onto the pedestal he proudly stood upon in his early days. Sonic Colours propelled him into relevance once more, while the time-travelling anniversary adventure of Sonic Generations cemented his newfound return to form. The question is – with a brand new gameplay style to show off, does the Nintendo-exclusive Sonic Lost World see the hedgehog grab the edge of success with a well-executed parkour move? Or does it buck the trend and see him stumble, falling back down towards the depths of mediocrity from whence he came?

For the very few of you out there who are unfamiliar with the game’s premise, it sees Sonic and Tails chasing Eggman onto a mysterious world called the Lost Hex where they encounter a villainous group of indigenous Zeti known as the Deadly Six. These new enemies are initially under Eggman’s control but, after an unfortunate series of events, they rebel against their master and threaten all of Sonic’s world. Cue one of the most unlikely team-ups in gaming history, and the stage is set to rise up against these dangerous foes. It’s certainly a new twist on the usual Sonic story, and it’s one that is pulled off much more effectively than the plots of the previous two main series entries. The characterisation is excellent, the humour is much more consistent, and it gets genuinely quite dark in places. It never reaches Shadow the Hedgehog levels of apocalyptic, but there’s a definite mix of light-hearted moments and much deeper storytelling. Couple this with arguably the best vocal performances seen in a Sonic game to date – Roger Craig Smith and Mike Pollock being particularly on top form – and you’ve got yourself a collection of cutscenes that you’ll actively want to sit through rather than hit the skip button to rush straight into the next level. It’s by no means a perfect tale, with plenty of extra detail they could have added in to flesh out certain aspects, but it’s still a noticeable step in the right direction.

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In fact, the presentation all round is something to behold. The visuals throughout the game are bright and colourful, and most importantly they look stunning coming out of Nintendo’s new high definition console at a solid 60 frames per second.  There’s definitely a more simplistic art style on show here compared to the rich detail of Unleashed and Generations (as well as some clear inspiration from another gaming icon when it comes to the level tropes) but on this occasion less can be said to be more. Lost World is perhaps the closest a 3D Sonic game has ever felt to being like the classic titles, helped in part by the fact that more or less every enemy you’ll encounter is a familiar face – Motobugs, Buzzbombers, and a plethora of vintage badniks from Sonic’s 16-bit outings all put in an appearance to get in the hedgehog’s way. The Deadly Six are the only real recurring newcomers, and they suitably step up to the mark as the game’s antagonists, bringing with them not only personality but also a deep sense of menace. Forget Black Doom and Dark Gaia, these are hands down the best villains to have graced the series for a long time, and it’s quite refreshing to face off with something that isn’t a robot or a mech suit, even if their boss battles are not always as creative as they could have been.

What of the game’s music, I hear you ask? Well, Sonic Lost World’s soundtrack is nothing short of amazing. There’s a vast range of styles to match the various level themes, many of which will surely become instant favourites among the fandom. Whether it’s the jovially orchestrated main theme “Wonder World”, the fast-paced Windy Hill Zone 1, or the painfully catchy Deadly Six theme, there’s something here for everyone. Say what you want about the rest of the game, but in typical Sonic fashion, the music is more than up to par. If you haven’t already got the “Without Boundaries” OST on pre-order, you’ll surely be tempted after spending some time on Lost Hex.

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So – eye-catching visuals, check. Top-notch soundtrack, check. All we need now is for the game itself to be up to snuff, and there’s certainly plenty to do in Lost World, featuring an untold amount of variety for a Sonic game. There’s wide open 3D areas, classic 2D platforming, auto-running sections, and even a couple of rail-grinding stages that are reminiscent of Donkey Kong Country’s minecart levels. But it’s with good reason that we’re five paragraphs in and I’m only just touching on the gameplay now, and that’s because to put it simply, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. After three games that have heavily emphasised Sonic’s intense speed, SEGA have slammed on the brakes and slowed the hedgehog down immensely – which, for all intents and purposes, is a good thing. The new tiered speed works well to balance the need for both precision platforming and fast gameplay, and the parkour system adds a whole new level of depth to the series once you get the hang of it. It’s hard to imagine going back to an older Sonic title now and not being able to gracefully climb up ledges or bounce back and forth between wall runs. There’s a lot of potential to be had from this new style, and I for one hope we see it again in the future.

One way in which the game does trip up on itself though is that it does such a poor job of teaching some of these new mechanics to you. If you’re someone who has been following the game and knows all about the controls, you’ll be down with the basics by the end of the first world. For complete newcomers or casual players though, I can foresee the game being overly complicated purely because there’s a distant lack of a tutorial at the beginning. The game would have benefitted greatly from an explanatory opening stage showcasing the different speeds, the more strategic combat, and the all-new parkour moves. Sure, hint icons can be found along the way but the actual text they provide appears on the GamePad screen, meaning it’s out of your line of sight and therefore rendering it worthless. It’s possible that you could play through the game without ever realising there’s a run button, though people who do struggle through in this manner will surely grow tired of Sonic’s apparent slowness long before reaching the credits. It’s frustrating to see the game inflict problems like this on itself, as they need not exist and would have been easy to fix.

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The lack of signposting extends into other parts of the game, too. As annoying as Omochao has been in previous titles with his constant advice on how to play, you’ll wish he’d pipe up once or twice to provide a hint about what to do next (even if it’s terribly cryptic). There were at least two boss battles that took far longer than they needed to because it’s not made clear what the game expects you to do. Take one instance where a boss chases after you – the natural reaction is, of course, to get away from it. Doing so actually leads you to a dead end and inevitable doom, and it’s only after much trial and error that you figure out what you’re actually supposed to do. The solutions seem stupidly simple afterwards, and admittedly the game does introduce the mechanics in an extremely subtle manner, but unless you pick up on them first time round you’re going to struggle over and over again until you’ll want to throw your Wii U GamePad across the room (though don’t, of course – those things are expensive!).

This leads me onto another area where the game falters – its uneven difficulty. The first half of the game has a real sense of joy and wonder as you get to grips with Sonic’s new skills and journey through some exciting environments (Tropical Coast is especially brilliant, even if it does appear to imitate Super Mario Galaxy a little too much – though if you’re going to copy something, copy the best!). Once you hit the halfway mark however, things start to get a bit awry. Gimmicky levels become tests of patience while later levels throw cheap death after cheap death at you. Funnily enough, this likely wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t for the game being so stingy with lives. Against all known Sonic lore, collecting 100 rings no longer grants you an extra life, and the 1-Ups that are scattered around are few and far between. Seeing the Game Over screen is a distinct likelihood (if not inevitability), and having to restart entire 5-10 minute stages purely because you’ve fallen one too many times at the final hurdle is something that grows old fast. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see a Sonic game with a bit of challenge for a change, but if ever there’s been a case for scrapping the lives system in platformers, it’s Sonic Lost World.

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The Wisps are also a controversial feature. Yes, those crazy alien critters from Sonic Colours are back, though they’re rather lacking the sparkle they initially had in 2010. It’s not that the Wisps are bad in concept, but their implementation in Lost World is absolutely baffling. At best, they feel pointless and add hardly anything to the game as a whole, and at worst, they are a right royal pain thanks to the GamePad control schemes that have been forced upon them. No doubt in an effort to showcase the Wii U’s capabilities, dodgy gyro and touch controls are required to use the majority of these powers, which either function imprecisely or completely interrupt the flow of the game. Only a couple of Wisp powers – such as Laser and Drill – retain their traditional button-based control schemes (not that the game ever tells you this) and it should come as no surprise that these are the most fun and most useful of the lot, but their short screen time hardly makes the inclusion worth it. With practice, there are some small intricacies you can discover to master the other Wisp controls, but it’s yet another unnecessary and user-unfriendly learning curve that the game could do without.

Despite all of these glaring issues though, and as much as I’ve wanted to tear my hair out as a result of some questionable design choices, I’ve still come away from my experience with Sonic Lost World feeling generally positive. The reason for this is, primarily, because of the sheer promise for the future that’s on display here. If I’ve come across as negative in this review, it’s only because of how agonisingly close Lost World comes to being something truly remarkable, and how much I wanted it to go that extra mile. The presentation is superb, the majority of the levels are entertaining, and you’ll never be doing the same thing for long. Sonic’s new gameplay style really does have the potential to be moulded into something great – it’s just a shame that a few annoying problems hamper it this time around and prevent it from reaching those lofty heights already. But, on the flipside – when it’s good, it’s really good.

The game’s heart is undoubtedly in the right place, and it so clearly tries its best to be the definitive 3D Sonic experience – yet, as much as it does right, it’s hard to shake the feeling of it being so near yet so far. As it stands, Sonic Lost World is a decent effort that places the blue blur halfway up the proverbial pedestal of success. Whether he spin dashes his way up to grab the top, or whether he slips back down to the very bottom, is something that remains to be seen. The ball’s in your court, SEGA.

You’ll Love:

+ Consistently excellent presentation throughout

+ One of the best Sonic soundtracks to date

+ The first half of the game is full of promise

You’ll Hate:

– Uneven difficulty spikes plague the later levels

– Severe lack of hints and signposting

– Wisps feel out of place and poorly implemented

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Second Opinion by Shadzter:

Sonic Lost World is a refreshing change of direction for the Sonic series following Unleashed, Colours and Generations. The new gameplay style gives you more control over Sonic’s speed than ever and the new parkour moves keep the pace going. The soundtrack is another impressive addition to the series and the scenery is beautiful and filled with colour. But with all of these good things said, the game has some downsides.

While the first few worlds are pretty fun, the later levels have some steep difficulty curves, which aren’t helped by a lack of hints and tutorial at the start of the game. Some of these later levels can be extremely frustrating due to poor level design and the lack of lives obtainable. The Wisps return in Lost World, but do nothing but add to the frustration with poorly implemented GamePad controls. Overall, Sonic Lost World is a good game, but has a lot of missed potential.

Sonic Lost World is out now in Europe and on 29th October in the US. Stay tuned for a review of the 3DS version in the near future!