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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!