Alex Peal has been an editor at Sonic Stadium since 2007, and has been covering events like E3, PAX, and SDCC since 2010. An avid retro gamer, he runs a monthly stream on Twitch where he explores obscure Sonic oddities, and how aspects of the franchise have evolved over the decades.
It seems like any Sonic Forces mods seeking to improve the base game’s content had hit on two solutions: increase level length, and up the fan service. If today’s entry proves anything, it’s that this is definitely a winning formula. Sonic Forces Re-imagined, a mod by Brandonj, significantly alters Arsenal Pyramid and Sunset Heights.
My biggest issue with Sonic Forces has always been rooted in the length of individual levels. Levels often felt like they ended just as they were getting going, which kept them from leaving much of an impression. Because the levels are so short, the levels themselves often didn’t have time to mix up or add variety to their design, or to iterate on game play ideas. Reimagined fixes this by doubling the length of these levels, giving them more room to breath, and they’ve never felt better!
Arsenal Pyramid significantly expands on the area outside of the pyramid itself. There are way more opportunities to mix and match Sonic and the avatar’s abilities to both move through the stage and deal with enemies. Quickly figuring out whether to use Sonic or the avatar’s abilities in certain situations felt great, and the way the level used both Sonic and the avatar to provide multiple paths and traversal options lends some nice depth to the stage that was missing before.
Sunset Heights got an even cooler makeover. While the start of the stage is largely unaltered, a whole additional portion has been added at the place where it typically ended. What follows is a series of side-stepping chase sequences as airborne Badniks try to bomb you. Then, you get to face Infinite’s Shadow apparition, as he pops up in several parts of the stage and tries to do damage to you. Finally, there’s an awesome and challenging rail grinding sequence, before the stage finally ends. Not only is Sunset Heights more satisfying to blast through now, but it also gives us the showdown with fake Shadow that the original game failed to deliver on.
This mod does currently have a few issues, unfortunately. The altered levels appear to be poorly optimized, resulting in a lot of frame rate issues on higher settings, something I don’t usually see on my PC. Arsenal Pyramid has a few spots in boost areas where I can accidentally get caught on geography or miss springs, though this is an issue can be avoided by remaining towards the center of the path while boosting. The gear platforms inside the pyramid itself also seem to be slow to move to allow progression.
These minor issues aside, Sonic Forces Re-imagined is pretty great. These level alterations are quite natural, and make them feel far more complete. I didn’t finish these levels wanting something longer or more substantive. I’m happy to see Sonic Forces becoming more popular in the modding scene, and I’m excited to see where this project (and Overclocked, which I wrote about earlier in the week) go. Superb work!
You can download the mod here. Go to the Sonic Hacking Contest website for information on how to install the mod.
I’m relatively new to the world of PC Sonic hacks. As I’ve never been much of a PC gamer, I never had much inclination to check out PC-only Sonic hacks until I decided to help cover last year’s Sonic Hacking Contest. Sonic ROM hacks are a different story, however. I’ve been exploring those for nearly a decade now, on my actual SEGA Genesis, through my Mega Everdrive or SEGA CD, as I’ve always loved the novelty of seeing these games running on my actual, ancient gaming hardware. I’ve played some true technical marvels over the years, but I don’t think any have impressed me quite as much as Vladikcomper’s Sonic the Hedgehog Blastless DX. An improved version of an April Fools hack released earlier this year, Blastless DX is a technological showcase with a fun premise: Sonic 1 has “lost” its blast processing, and the player needs to restore it.
Before getting into the game, I’ll explain exactly what “blast processing” is, in case you don’t know. It was a fancy marketing term SEGA of America used to highlight the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive’s CPU speed, which was faster than the Super Nintendo, making speedy games like Sonic easier to make on the machine (SNES devs did eventually figure out how to get around this limitation, but it did plague early games like Gradius 3). Faster CPU aside, however, blast processing was little more than a marketing buzzword, and a key part of this game’s joke.
So, what does Sonic 1 look like without “blast processing”? An 8-bit demake, apparently. The central goal of the hack is to restore “blast processing” by filling up a blast processing bar in the bottom right of the screen, and keep it from emptying until the end of the level. Doing this successfully will “restore” an act, and essentially replaces the chaos emeralds, which can’t be gathered here. The bar can be filled up by gathering rings, destroying enemies, and smashing breakable walls. The bar is emptied whenever damage is taken, downgrading the game’s visuals to less powerful hardware. It’s here where this hack truly shines.
In addition to the 8-bit Master System visuals, there are two lower rungs of visual fidelity, which are reached after taking damage. Getting hit in Master System mode will downgrade visuals to “Atari.” Not the Atari 2600/VCS you’re probably familiar with, but an Atari 8-bit computer (at least, I think, because I know VCS games never looked this good.) Get hit in Atari mode, and visuals are downgraded further, to the colorless, green scale Game Boy. If these visual changes weren’t enough, each graphics mode also has its own music track and sound effects.
These changes are instantaneous, which makes it all the more wild that this actually works on real hardware. I’m used to the more impressive hacks requiring PC emulators, and so the fact that this is all being done with a stock SEGA Genesis absolutely astounds me. And what’s even wilder? This is actually fun to play. It’s more than just a gimmick. It changes how I play the game, and it’s fun.
Because chaos emeralds are no longer in play and I have incentive to seek out enemies and breakable objects, I actively seek that stuff out in the level. The blast processing bar is constantly draining, so I’m incentivized to both try to get through a level quickly, and also clear that level out as thoroughly as possible. Taking damage also carries different penalties, since it can result in multiple visual downgrades, which makes filling the blast processing bar before the end more difficult.
And the visual modes themselves look and sound really cool. The 8-bit mode looks like an 8-bit demake of Sonic 1 that’s graphically taxing the hardware, with accurate looking sprite art and loads of sprite flicker for moving background objects. The accompanying music tracks sound like genuine downgrades, but are also kind of catchy in their own ways. The Atari mode is probably the least impressive of the graphical modes to me, though that might be because I’m not very familiar with how those games looked and sounded, but it at least looks noticeably different and less advanced visually. Game Boy mode is thoroughly impressive, bringing Sonic 1 down to something that does kind of look like something from the platform, albeit without much in the way of music.
Perhaps my only real issue with all this is that these modes do include some graphical issues that may or may not be intentional. The sprite flicker might be a little much, and I do wonder if that’s just the Genesis buckling under everything it’s being asked to do. In Game Boy mode, there are brief moments where Sonic himself will disappear. And with every downgrade, in-game text becomes more and more indecipherable. I didn’t find these issues to affect playability much, but if things like sprite flicker bothers you, this hack might not be for you.
On my Tuesday SHC stream, someone in chat told me Vlad is a magician when it comes to coding for the Genesis. It’s kind of impossible for me to disagree on that front. I don’t know how he did it, whether he really managed to get it to switch between multiple kinds of graphics, or if he employed some sort of visual distorter or filter. But regardless of whatever tricks he used, I find them truly impressive, and Blastless DX is easily one of my favorite retro hacks to come out of Sonic Hacking Contest 2021. Check it out!
You know what Sonic Generations had a severe lack of? Proper DLC levels. Thankfully, it’s a Sonic game, so the fan base has provided with loads of mods over the years. Shivery Mountainside by Goalringmod27 is among the latest of these, and I’ve got to say: it’s a fun, fascinating experience…if you’re looking for a challenge that can at times be a little unfair, but also do things regular Generations levels never did.
Shivery Mountainside starts in a cozy log cabin, which acts as a small hub area where players can buy upgrades and lives before setting off on their run down the mountain. It’s here that you’ll notice the start of a trend: the hub is in full 3D. The whole mod is in 3D, in fact. This alone does a lot to set this level apart from Sonic’s official boosting stages.
The demo starts out with a brief, exciting snowboarding section. After Sonic bursts out of his cabin on a snowboard, the player must then boost through hordes of enemies while navigating the mountain’s snowy slopes. There are two paths to take here, as well as some rings for more skilled players to jump through, to get them to grinding paths on top of some cabins. It’s not long before Sonic reaches the town at the foot of the mountain, where he ditches the snowboard and starts running on foot. And it’s here where the fun, and brief bouts of frustration, begin.
Shivery Mountainside’s level design is tailored around the idea of encouraging new and unorthodox utilization of Generations’ physics. Sometimes, to cross a pit, you need to hit the boost button at exactly the right moment to send yourself flying into a set of rings to your next platform. On other occasions, you’ll need to interrupt your momentum with a stomp in order to reach a ring or boost pad. This sort of thinking isn’t always necessary, and sometimes its possible to clear a gap through some other means, like attacking enemies.
It’s pretty cool playing a level like this in Generations, but I must admit it can also lead to…frustrations. One inherent issue in this sort of design is that the level can just be really difficult. When those mid-air boosts become required to survive a pit, messing up their timing results in instant death. 3D platforming was also never Generations’ strong suit, as it can be a bit slippery, so having to navigate a level full of areas like this will inevitably result in a lot of falling into pits. It took me hours of trial and error to fully figure these areas out, and I still mess them up on occasion. This is not the Sonic Generations you’re used to: it does not allow for much margin of error.
All that said, while the level can be quite challenging, that challenge is, for the most part, quite fair, and makes mastering this level exhilarating. It is only when you reach the ice caverns that the design becomes a little…mean. After navigating a series of narrow ice platforms, you reach a cavern full of red ice. While gorgeous, I found this area very hard to navigate effectively. The lower water path, which was the first one I took, was very confusing to navigate. Even with the big arrows made out of golden rings, I simply found the area unnavigable because, between the red ice pillars and the water, there was no clear path through to an exit. So I simply died repeatedly. I eventually managed to make my way through the area by taking one of its other, optional paths above the water. I did eventually beat the area on the lower path, but I’m still not entirely sure how I did it.
Right after this is the second worse area of the level: a curved ice path, with no guardrails, over a bottomless pit, that leads directly to a wall-running section with bombs that are impossible to dodge, at least with my human reflexes. I eventually managed to get past this part by slow walking on the path, and then activating a new power up introduced in this mod, “time break.” This slows down time, which allowed me to avoid the bombs, and finally beat the cavern section of the level. While these areas are quite beatable, especially after some trial and error, I do hope they are redesigned somewhat. Nothing breaks a Sonic level’s flow more effectively than having to worry about getting confused by the level itself, or having to slow walk on a path to avoid falling off. I do think this goes a little beyond the sort of challenge one should expect from a Sonic boost level.
All of these criticisms aside, Shivery Mountainside truly is a standout Generations mod. Its got great visuals and a superb music track that’s still stuck in my head. It’s only six minutes long, but I’ve already spent hours on it, trying to perfect all the tricks and find all the shortcuts. Even in my latest playthrough, which I did while I was writing this, I managed to reach some extra lives by boosting through rings that I hadn’t been able to get through before. If you’re hungry for a new Sonic boost level, check this out!
You can download the mod here. For instructions on how to implement hacks, check out Sonic Hacking Contest’s website here.
It’s Sonic Hacking Contest time again, and you all should know what that means: hands-on articles for a bunch of mods from lots of awesome fans!
SHC 2021 has a lot of entries worth checking out, but Duck Dealer’s Sonic Forces Overclocked demo, “Freight Frenzy,” is definitely one of the most ambitious. Acting as both a remix of the original game’s levels, and a sequel to its storyline, this mod features original voice work, still-frame hand-drawn cutscenes, a remixed music track (composed by Landy & Tabebo and featuring vocals by Cisconic) and a newly designed level based on Sonic Force’s “Spaceport” stage.
The production values are pretty solid, especially for a fan work. The voice acting is good, the hand-drawn cutscenes tell this demo’s little story effectively, and the remixed track is just as catchy as anything from the original game. On the whole, it’s really impressive work, and not at all the sort of thing I’d expect out of SHC. But as impressive as all this stuff is, it’s the new level that sits at the heart of this mod.
While I never hated Sonic Forces, its level design could certainly be overly simplistic and lacking in any true set pieces. This is something Freight Frenzy aims to fix and it mostly succeeds. This level is meaty, with a length of about five to six minutes, which is perfect for a Sonic stage. It features several areas and obstacles meant for specific wisps, like drill and hover, which provide some nice traversal options.
The mod also employs a neat gimmick: dodging Dr. Eggman’s many freight trains. These were wasted in the original Forces, but here they provide a very nice level gimmick On the whole, this level has a superb flow, and is more engaging than any of the avatar stages from the original game. That said, there are some problems.
One of the freight train obstacles doesn’t telegraph things well. Players have to leap off rails three times in a row to avoid oncoming trains, and there is literally no time to react before the trains hit and kill you. I had to memorize which direction to dodge, and I just started pressing the button to leap over to another rail before the next train even came into view. Anything else simply resulted in getting hit. The final train obstacle can also result in a cheap death, because if you don’t successfully dodge all the trains and hit the speed boosts at the end, a train you have no idea is coming will run you down from behind.
Memorization is critical to Sonic game play. These games are built to accommodate that, with their forgiving health systems and checkpoints. But these bits of SFO don’t really feel fair, even by Sonic standards. Players need to be given more lead time during the first segment I mentioned. I’d also just prefer if the final segment where the train comes at you from behind was simply automated, instead of dependent on hitting speed boosts that are a little too easy to miss.
Finally, the segment where players need to sidestep on top of several trains is just sort of broken. Side-stepping is sticky and slow here for some reason. Hopefully, Duck Dealer will be able to sort out whatever the issue is here, though some memorization does get you passed it.
I think once SFO fixes these issues, it won’t just be a fun hack, but a prime example of what Sonic Force’s avatar stages should’ve been: meaty stages with lots of wisp-centric traversal options and Sonic Generations-quality gimmicks. As it stands, it’s still a very fun, impressive mod, and more than worth checking out for anyone who owns Sonic Forces.
Overdrive is an ongoing project, and the mod promises more is coming in the future. I can’t wait!
Check out the Sonic Hacking Contest website for the mod, as well as instructions on how to implement it, here. You can find the mod here.
It’s National Coffee Day, apparently, and the Sonic Movie twitter account decided to mark the occasion with a tweet featuring latte art revealing that Lee Majdoub would be returning in the Sonic movie sequel as Dr. Robotnik’s loyal henchman, Agent Stone.
This isn’t terribly surprising, as he was spotted on set months ago, but I guess it’s official now. Check out the latte art below!
G-Fuel has been doing…a lot with their Sonic partnership, and thankfully their latest product at least isn’t chili dog flavored. This new flavor is called “Party Punch.” Aside from being adorned in 30th anniversary imagery, and probably being punch flavored, we don’t know much else about this.
If you absolutely can’t wait for this new flavor, there is a waitlist you can join.
It looks like Sonic Colors Ultimate is having a bit of a rocky launch. Though we have had a rather pleasant experience with it so far, the Sonic community has been finding and documenting numerous glitches within the game, both large and small. We’ve experienced a few of these smaller glitches, as Dreadknux noted in his review, but there’s been a particularly bad Nintendo Switch glitch that has been garnering lots of attention and controversy.
The controversy stems from allegations that these glitches are being faked in Yuzu, a Nintendo Switch emulator. While that certainly has been true for a few, the most notable Switch glitch (which I like to call the “rainbow Sonic” glitch) is most definitely real, and I have just been able to confirm it.
So how is this glitch activated? It requires a few steps. Firstly, all six worlds need to be unlocked. Secondly, the player has to enter and immediately exit a minimum of four separate worlds. The glitch gets worse when this is done six times. From there, playing any stage appears to activate the glitch. After completing or exiting a stage, the glitch appears to immediately deactivate, and the second step needs to be redone to reactivate it.
If you suffer from epileptic seizures, we do NOT recommend doing this, as lots of flashing lights can be involved. If you don’t, the experience can be…trippy. Characters can glow bright colors, Sonic’s model can be swapped with a shark torpedo badnik, graphics can disappear and become corrupted. Some speculate that it could be a memory leak, though no one at Sonic Stadium has the expertise to say that with confidence.
What we can say, is that it appears to be a glitch that is difficult to activate by accident. Four people on our staff have access to the Switch version, and none of us have come across it by accident. I had to follow instructions online to activate it.
You should be able to exit and enter a world up to three times without activating the glitch. The Switch this was tested on was a launch model, and was downloaded onto a SanDisk Ultra 10 speed SD card. We haven’t tested it on the Switch’s internal memory as of this writing.
Sonic community Manager MiniKitty has confirmed that a patch is in the works, and that the development team is listening to feedback while assessing it. Hopefully, this glitch will be among the ones addressed.
Sonic Colors Ultimate, which becomes available to anyone who bought the digital deluxe copy today, brings a lot of changes big and small to the classic Wii game. One change we are only just now finding out about comes from the locations of the red star rings, the original game’s primary (optional) collectible. So anyone who thought they’d be able to rely on memory or old guides to collect them all will need to do it the old fashioned way for a bit! While many rings are where they used to be, others have been moved, and replaced with park tokens.
This was something I personally came to realize just a few hours ago, while trying to collect them all from Planet Wisp Act 2. A few had been moved around, including the final one, which now requires the Jade Ghost wisp to access.
The red star rings are required to unlock levels in Game Land, which is a set of additional levels that can be played in single player or co-op. Beating these levels is how you unlock Super Sonic. We’ve got more Sonic Colors Ultimate content coming down the pipe, so stay tuned to Sonic Stadium!
It’s always awesome to see a long-time Sonic fan project reach its conclusion, and this year’s SAGE has brought us the completed release of a great one: Hez’s Sonic the Hedgehog Classic 2. Having been in development for more then a decade, Classic 2’s road to completion has been a long one. As a Sonic fan hungry for more classic content, it’s come at just the right time for me.
It looks like Sonic Colors Ultimate is getting more than just a web series: Sonic’s Japanese Twitter account has released a three page web comic! At the moment, the comic is only available in Japanese, but Kazuyuki Hoshino has confirmed that an English translation will be released soon. This web comic is considered “episode 1,” so there will be more.
We’ll be sure to update this post with the English translation when it becomes available! Until then, check out the web comic below:
It always fascinate me which aspects of Sonic’s game library engender nostalgia in fans. I got to say: I did not expect the Sonic Riders series to be one! This year’s SAGE plays host to not one, but two Sonic Riders projects, and I decided to take a look at one of them. I enjoyed the original and its weird, creative mechanics back in the day, though I didn’t love it (and I was never great at it). So while I’m familiar with it, I’m hardly an expert at its mechanics, so please keep that in mind!
The second half of SEGA’s Sonic Colors short, Rise of the Wisps, is now out on YouTube. The short voice work from Roger Craig Smith and Kate Higgins, and writing from Tyson Hesse and GGDG. It was animated by Yeti Farm Creative.
There are two types of SAGE games I love: experimental fan games, and fan games that are so good they feel like professional products. When I go into a fan game, particularly an incomplete one, I never expect a polished or thoroughly well-designed experience. So any game that provides those things immediately gets my attention. Today’s game from ph33rtehgd and their team, Emerald Ties, definitely has my attention.
Emerald Ties simply has all the trappings of a great classic Sonic game. The level design is multi-tiered, providing a variety of paths to take through a stage. There are lots of fun platforming gimmicks and level set pieces, like a collapsing level, a badnik that needs to be destroyed and used as a platform, and tiny ice platforms that require precise, quick platforming to be navigated before they fall. The game constantly shifts between speedy bits and areas that require more platforming skill, providing a nice, consistent balance between the two. On the whole, it is exactly what it sets out to be: a really well designed set of classic Sonic levels.
The game features two bosses, Eggman and Fang. Eggman is an effective first level boss, but Fang is definitely a solid fight, and probably one of the best Sonic character boss battles I’ve played, period. The character is constantly shooting, teleporting, and littering the battlefield with landmines, and players have to be constantly on their toes to avoid everything.
Although Emerald Ties is not a Sonic game that seeks to reinvent the wheel, it does polish that wheel until it sparkles, and it tweaks it with some fun little additions. It adds a new “wind shield” which lets Sonic hover left or right for a few moments, which adds a neat little twist to platforming. It also combines both the insta-shield and the drop-dash by delaying the initiation of Sonic’s drop dash by a second. This is an interesting way to enable both moves, and it certainly didn’t interfere with my ability to use the drop dash.
The visuals and music are both top notch. The pixel art for the backgrounds is gorgeous (Fuming Foundry is a personal favorite), and the music from Polar Peak is still stuck in my head even as I write this. The game’s whole presentation is polished and feels professional, which makes its status as a fan game all the more impressive.
Obviously, Emerald Ties is still incomplete. It lacks cutscenes and the team still has more levels to make. In spite of that, I really only have one issue. The game is definitely a little too easy, with player errors far more likely to result in simply falling to a lower path or losing some rings than losing a life. I almost got through the entire demo without dying once, until Fang put an end to that streak. Still, I prefer “a little too easy” to making things far too difficult, and I’m hopeful that future levels will be a little more challenging.
In short: download this. Play it. Enjoy it. It’s a superb classic Sonic experience. I eagerly await the next demo.
The comic takes place in IDW’s Classic Sonic universe, and largely focuses on Amy Rose as she explores a new hobby. The entire comic is not devoted to this story, however, as the comic also features a recap of the primary IDW Sonic universe, to prepare readers for the road to issue #50.
Fan games have been at the forefront of Sonic game design experimentation for a long time, and among the most interesting concepts fan have been pursuing is the idea of combining large, open levels with lots of paths with a momentum-based movement system. Games like Sonic Utopia and Sonic GT have made stellar use of the concept, and Tigersonalex’s Sonic Red Ridge has now joined their ranks as another excellent example of the idea, albeit with its own twists that make it feel quite different.
Looks like some people who want to own Sonic Colours Ultimate physically will be waiting a bit longer than expected. SEGA of Europe has announced that unforeseen logistical problems have caused a delay in shipments of the game to most EMEA countries, the only exceptions being Australia and New Zealand. This means that anyone in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa who’s pre-ordered the game won’t be getting it at the same time as the rest of the world.
SEGA of Europe hasn’t yet elaborated on what these logistical problems are, but did specify that this will not be affecting the game’s digital release in these regions. Sonic Colors Ultimate will be going on sale on September 7 in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, and September 9 in Japan and Asia. Anyone who’s pre-ordered the digital deluxe version of the game will be able to play it September 3.
Stay tuned to Sonic Stadium as this story develops.
We only found out about IDW’s next Sonic mini series a week ago, and we already have details of what we can expect. The mini series will be tying into the main book and act as part of the “road to issue 50.” According to the solicit, “imposters” of various characters are appearing, spelling trouble for both the heroes and Dr. Eggman. The first issue will be available on November 10.
The characters featured in the cover were likely first hinted at in last year’s Sonic Bad Guys mini series, as mysterious figures hidden in green tanks:
Like last year’s Bad Guys, Imposter Syndrome is being written by Ian Flynn. Check out the cover and solicit below:
SONIC HEDGEHOG IMPOSTER SYNDROME #1 (OF 4)
(W) Ian Flynn (A) Thomas Rothlisberger (CA) Mauro Fonseca
The ROAD TO #50 continues here! Enjoy a TEN-ISSUE long adventure leading up to the EPIC SHOWDOWN in milestone issue #50.
A surge of imposters spells trouble for Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, and even Eggman! Dr. Starline is pulling every tool from his kit as he creates his fastest and smartest inventions. An all new mini-series from Sonic writer Ian Flynn, Imposter Syndrome #1 will have readers seeing double!
The first part of Sonic’s latest web series, Sonic Colors: Rise of the Wisps, is finally here! This web series features voice acting by Roger Craig Smith as Sonic, and Kate Higgins reprising the role of Tails for the first time since 2013. Check it out on the Sonic YouTube channel here, or below:
Sonic has returned to Free Comic Book Day with a brand new story featuring the classic game cast. The issue features Amy exploring a new hobby: making Sonic comics! To find participating retailers in your area, go here.
Check out the cover, preview pages and story synopsis below:
(W) Gale Galligan (A) Thomas Rothlisberger (CA) Tracy Yardley Celebrating 30 years of the world’s fastest hedgehog! There’s no telling how Sonic will react when he sees the results of Amy Rose’s new hobby-she’s been making tell-all comics about her adventures with Sonic, Miles “Tails” Prower, and their friends! New York Times bestselling author Gale Galligan (The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels) spills the beans! Plus, fun extras to catch readers up on Sonic’s ongoing adventures, on the road to issue 50! Sonics 30th anniversary celebration will be a huge priority for IDW and Sega this year!
Idris Elba, an English actor and musician, has been confirmed for the role of Knuckles the Echidna in the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog 2 movie. Known for his roles in TV shows like The Wire and Luther and movies such as No Good Deed, Pacific Rim, the Thor trilogy, and the recently released The Suicide Squad, Elba has long had a presence in high budget television and blockbuster movies.
He also played Macavity in Cats. So, theoretically Knuckles can sing, I guess?
Knuckles and his voice actor have both long been part of Sonic 2 movie speculation. Even before Knuckles was leaked, actors like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Mamoa were both being rumored by nonsense websites as potentially being up for the role.
Alongside the announcement came a tease of how Knuckles will look in the movie: a roughed up boxing glove and some red fur. I know it’s not much, but as a long-time Knuckles fan, I like what I see! Check it out below:
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 will hit theaters on April 8, 2022, and is currently in post-production.
Sonic Adventure pins are on the way, courtesy of Zen Monkey Studios. Zen Monkey, a company that specializes in collectible pins and patches, teased some art for the upcoming pins on their social media accounts, including Instagram and Twitter. The pins are based on cover art for Sonic Adventure 1 and 2.
It’s been a long time coming, perhaps longer than many of us had anticipated when it was first announced last year, but SEGA Picross S Genesis & Master System Edition is finally available on the Nintendo Switch for $9.99/£8.99. 59 SEGA titles are repped in this game, and there are a total of 480 puzzles from four other Picross games including Picross, Mega Picross, Color Picross and Clip Picross.
Sometimes, even the creators of a game don’t know what’s been shown of it.
A little over thirty-one years ago, the Japanese magazine Famicon Tsushin printed screenshots of Sonic 1, taken from the game’s Tokyo Toy Show 1990 build. A few days ago, those screens resurfaced on Twitter, shortly after the magazine was posted to Archive.org, thanks to @VGDensetsu. The screenshots featured a clear look at an unused Sonic 1 beta enemy, from before badniks were created. While this technically wasn’t the first time a decent screenshot of this enemy was found (and blurry screenshots were around in the mid-2000s), it did mark the first time it garnered widespread attention from the Sonic community…and Yuji Naka!
Naka’s reaction was one of surprise: he had no memory of screenshots of the enemy ever being taken. In a tweet, roughly translated by Google, Naka said “I don’t have much memory of putting this enemy on the screen, so it may be a screen I made, but I feel like I couldn’t do that at that time, so it’s a mystery.” Obviously, the usual caveats of relying on flawed Google translations apply here.
You can check out the VGDensetsu tweet here, and you can find the scan below:
As our weeklong celebration of NiGHTS’ 25th anniversary comes to an end, it feels appropriate to end on a feature all about reflecting on moments from those twenty-five years. It didn’t feel right to run this celebration without hearing from certain people, so we decided to reach out to TRiPPY and DiGi Valentine, two prominent members of the NiGHTS community who run nightsintodreams.com, which is a superb resource for the franchise.
So here you are: four NiGHTS memories from the staff of two websites. Feel free to share your own in the comments!
Before NiGHTS into Dreams… became widely available with its HD release in 2012, many people (including myself) first encountered the series through its copious amount of cameos, largely in Sonic Team games.
I don’t think any celebration of NiGHTS would be complete without an overview of the character’s many, many cameos in other SEGA properties. This is hardly a complete list, of course, but we’re at least touching on many of the character’s more notable appearances!
Released in 1998, Sonic Adventure’s NiGHTS pinball game in Casinopolis is the franchise’s earliest cameo, and how many of us were first introduced to it. Players knock the pinball around the table, trying to collect cards which feature numerous NiGHTS characters. Collecting more then one of the same card nets a load of rings, and opens up a portal to a second, Nightmare themed pinball table.
Between the tables, cards, and two neat looking animations that showcase the NiGHTS world, this remains one of the coolest NiGHTS cameos SEGA has done.
It was also possible to create NiGHTS chao by giving them flying animals.
NiGHTS made a brief appearance as two of a multitude of capsule toys that could be collected in SEGA’s 1999 open world game, Shenmue.
NiGHTS popped up again in SEGA’s Sonic party game, Sonic Shuffle, released in 2000. When the Dreamcast’s clock was set to December 24, NiGHTS would replace Lumina as the game’s guide in multiplayer matches. Sonic Shuffle also takes place in a dream world, and Lumina herself bears some visual similarities to NiGHTS, which is probably why Hudson Soft included the easter egg.
Sonic Adventure 2
The NiGHTS cameos are way less noticeable in Sonic Adventure 2, but they are there. NiGHTS decorated a few levels, such as Radical Highway and City Escape. The game also features NiGHTS-inspired Chao like the first game.
Sonic Pinball Party
When Sonic returned to pinball in 2003 with Sonic Pinball Party for the Game Boy Advance, it was only fitting NiGHTS was brought along for the ride. Featured as one of the game’s three pinball tables, this one drew significantly more inspiration from NiGHTS into Dreams… then the table from Sonic Adventure.
This table aims to replicate NiGHTS in pinball form. The pinball needs to be hit into an ideya palace three times to dualize with NiGHTS. From there, it needs to be knocked into the ideya to get it. After all four ideya are collected, the player can then face the boss, which appears in the upper right corner of the table.
With a total of 12 table designs based on the game’s first six levels and bosses, this is one of the most extensive NiGHTS appearances outside of the franchise’s games.
Billy Hatcher & the Giant Egg
NiGHTS was one of several Sonic Team characters to appear as an “egg animal” in the developer’s 2003 platformer Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Like all those characters, NiGHTS is both difficult to obtain and severely overpowered. Unlocking NiGHTS requires collecting 180 “chick coins.” Once that’s done, NiGHTS can be hatched from a Sonic egg found in Giant Palace’s fourth mission.
Billy Hatcher also had an unlockable downloadable mini-game for the GBA, NiGHTS Score Attack. This game could also be downloaded from Phantasy Star Online Episodes I&II.
NiGHTS appeared in 2006’s Sonic Riders and its sequel, Zero Gravity, as a flight-type character. Unlocking NiGHTS in the first game required the completion of all missions, while getting them in the sequel only required beating all story missions. In addition to NiGHTS, Sonic Riders also had a track with an area based on NiGHTS.
SEGA Superstars/Sonic & All-Stars
SEGA Superstars, a 2004 PS2 mini game collection made for Sony’s Eyetoy camera, had a NiGHTS mini game. In this, you waved your arms around to control NiGHTS as they flew through rings. This is arguably NiGHTS’s first playable cameo.
Years later, in 2008, NiGHTS and Reala would both appear as playable characters in SEGA Superstars Tennis, along with a court based on Journey of Dreams’ Aqua Garden. In 2010, NiGHTS would appear as a flagman in Sumo Digital’s second SEGA crossover game, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. In 2012’s Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, NiGHTS and Reala appeared as playable vehicles, driven by a Nightopian and Nightmaren respectively.
Sonic Lost World
The Wii U version of Sonic Lost World came with free NiGHTS DLC in its early physical copies, labeled “The Deadly Six Edition,” and would later be included in all PC versions of the game. This DLC was essentially a boss rush, featuring all of the bosses from the first NiGHTS game (aside from Reala) teaming up with the Deadly Six to fight Sonic. There were also brief auto-running sections where Sonic could home in on blue chips and go through rings from NiGHTS.
The battles were easy, and mostly just variations of the Deadly Six’s original boss battles, but it did give us Wii U-quality HD models of all of NiGHTS into Dreams’ Nightmaren bosses for the first time, which is neat.
NiGHTS became the basis for an unlockable costume set in what is currently Sonic Team’s latest Sonic game, Sonic Forces. This set included headgear, body gear, and footwear.
NiGHTS has a pretty long history of appearing in Sonic Team’s games, as well as the occasional title from SEGA’s other developers. With NiGHTS tied so closely to SEGA’s blue mascot, that could continue to keep the character around even if they never get another game. Here’s hoping they pop up in Sonic 2022!
Ever wanted a Tails plush that shakes when you hug him? Well, Kid Robot made one! A 16” HugMe Tails plush is now available for pre-order for $41.99. The plush, which runs on three AA batteries, will shake when hugged, or when it detects a clap. It’s expected to ship sometime in Q4 2021.
In addition to Tails, there is also a Sonic HugMe plush that’s been available for pre-order for a few months now, and is expected to ship in Q3 2021. You can pre-order the Tails plush here, and the Sonic plush here.
Special thanks to Bulbasquirtle85 from our Discord for the tip!
If you’re visiting this site, chances are you have a guilty pleasure or two made by Sonic Team. A game with flaws that you overlook because there is something else about it you love. I myself have enjoyed a few Sonic games that are, at best, divisive. But out of all of Sonic Team’s less critically acclaimed games, there are none that I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of than Takashi Iizuka’s NiGHTS sequel, Journey of Dreams.
My feelings on JoD have always been…mixed. But in recent years, I‘ve come to realize it shares more qualities with Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 than some of Sonic Team’s less well-thought-of games. Like the Adventure games, JoD has its flaws, and there are many parts of the game I never return to, and some areas I just don’t like. But what I enjoy, I enjoy a lot, and I’ve gotten hours of entertainment out of periodically returning to them over the years. At this point, it’s probably my favorite Sonic Team game from the post-Dreamcast, pre-Colors era. It is, in my mind, their most underappreciated game from this entire period.
Before I get into the good or the bad, I should probably layout what the game is, right?
It’s happened again. Another Sonic 30th anniversary game has popped up on French retailer SoGamely: Team Sonic Racing 30th Anniversary Edition.
The retailer has the game listed for both Nintendo Switch and PS4, with a release date of October 27. You can check it out for yourself here.
People have already begun speculating that this release might have some sort of extra content, but another listing from the website G3 Great Games hints at something somewhat more mundane: a free artbook. The website, which lists the game for €29.99, also features a shot of the box art, which features a logo detailing a Sonic 30th anniversary artbook and nothing else. You can find the box art below. You can see the listing yourself here.
As always with rumors, the information could be wrong or incomplete. It’s possible that…for whatever reason, this listing is wrong and the product doesn’t exist, although the box art and multiple website listings are pretty compelling evidence.
It’s also possible that this is real and there could be more to this then just and artbook. Finally, it’s also possible that this is an EU exclusive release, meaning that people in other regions won’t be getting it. Whatever the case, this is listed for October, so we’ll probably know soon.
Special thanks goes to Josiahblaze from our discord for the news tip!
The NiGHTS franchise may not be nearly as big as Sonic, but its had its fair share of merchandise over the years, much of which is now rare, expensive, and/or obscure. I thought it would be fun to explore some of what’s been made over the years. This is far from a complete list, but we’re at least going over some of the more interesting bits of merch NiGHTS has had in the last 25 years.
NiGHTS into Dreams UFO Plushies
NiGHTS into Dreams didn’t receive much in the way of plushies, but it did get one set of them…which were made exclusively for SEGA’s UFO Capture devices. For those unaware, these devices were claw machines, and could often be found in arcades. The NiGHTS plushies have been rare and expensive for decades, and a single one of these plushies typically commands a price of hundreds of dollars. If that sounds familiar to you Sonic fans, its because Sonic the Fighters had a plushy line that was distributed the same way, and is now just as rare and expensive.
There was also a line of Christmas SEGA plushes that includes many NiGHTS characters, as well as a line of small NiGHTS plush key chains. I think these were also for UFO Captures, but I’ve been unable to confirm that for his article. NiGHTS was also part of a 1996 SEGA keychain figure line, though I’m not sure how those were distributed.
NiGHTS into Dreams Soundtrack
Released days after the NiGHTS game on July 11, the OST was released exclusively in Japan for ¥28,000 under the PolyGram record label. Not an especially remarkable release, but it was at least enough for Sonic Team to include it amongst Christmas NiGHTS’ extras (which is where the photos for the plushes came from).
NiGHTS: Flying Through the Sky Without Wings (storybook)
In December of 1996, NiGHTS received a storybook adaptation. Published by Futabasha, the 54 page book was written by Kyoko Inukai and featured illustrations by Takumi Miyake. It’s a loose adaptation of the game’s story, though with many details changed or written out. The basic premise of Wizeman creating NiGHTS, and seeking to conquer Nightopia, remain intact. The story only features Elliot, as he learns to find the courage within himself. Outside of Reala and Wizeman, none of the other Nightmaren bosses appear. The ideya are nowhere to be found, instead replaced by a “red energy” likely inspired by the red ideya of courage.
The book would later be reprinted in 2008 and sold with the PS2 re-release of NiGHTS. The book was never translated into English, though TRiPPY over at nightsintodreams.com was able to get a fan translation done, which you can find here.
NiGHTS into Dreams… Tiger Electronics LCD Game
NiGHTS was one of the many SEGA IPs to get adapted into an LCD game by Tiger Electronics. The LCD game was released in 1997, and was also eventually re-released as part of Tiger’s “Pocket Arcade” line and as a game for their R-Zone LCD console.
NiGHTS into Dreams… Archie Comics
Sonic wasn’t the only SEGA series to get a comic adaptation from Archie. In late 1997, Archie Comics released a three issue NiGHTS mini series featuring writing from Dan Slott, as well as pencil breakdowns from renowned Sonic cover artist Patrick Spaziente and pencil finishes by Knuckles comic artist Manny Galan. The comics aren’t completely divorced from the game story, and does share some similarities. Just as in the games, NiGHTS was a creation of Wizeman who rebelled. Wizeman seeks to open a portal to the waking world.
It’s in the finer details where things diverge. Instead of taking any human’s dream energy, Wizeman needs the energy of specific dreamers who only come about every 100 years with “red ideya.” His initial attempt to do this, which is foiled by NiGHTS, inadvertently leads to the founding of the city of Twin Seeds, where Claris and Elliot live 100 years later.
The mini series would ultimately spawn a second three issue mini series in July of 1998, written by then Sonic writer Karl Bollers, and with pencil finishes by Sam Maxwell. After this second mini series, the NiGHTS comic was canceled. It has never been collected in a graphic novel or re-released digitally. There are, of course, ways, but you’ll need to find that for yourself.
Unsurprisingly, NiGHTS merchandise would take a break for awhile. The next bit of merch in this run down was released 9 whole years after the Archie Comics, in December of 2007. Released as part of a line of mini figurines by besidegames called PaPetch, the above figurine was released alongside NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams as a pre-order bonus in Japan.
The figurine was just a little over two inches two and based on JoD’s NiGHTS design.
NiGHTS & Reala from First4Figures
In 2015, First4Figures released a NiGHTS resin 12.5” statue as part of its SEGA All-Stars line. The statue came in both regular and “exclusive editions,” priced at $210 and $235, and limited to 1000 and 500 pieces respectively. The exclusive edition lit up.
Years later, in 2017, F4F held a vote to gauge interest in a Reala statue, which had been in production but was in danger of being canceled due to perceived lack of interest. The statue was made available for pre-order last year, and is being sold in both standard and exclusive variants for $330. As with NiGHTS, the exclusive edition lights up. Reala is scheduled to release in Q3 2021, and can still be bought here.
And the rest…
There’s more NiGHTS merch, of course. There’s promotional pillows, clothing, stickers, and probably other things I’v missed. SEGA’s US shop currently has a jigsaw puzzle, a shirt, and a Christmas ornament. My personal hope is that NiGHTS might receive something a bit more than some clothes and puzzles, but a bit less than a $200 statue. Here’s hoping we might get another plush that isn’t a super expensive collector’s item one day!
NiGHTS into Dreams… is my favorite Sonic Team game. As much as I love running around as the blue blur or slaughtering monsters online in PSO, its their purple androgynous dream jester that I keep closest to my heart. But it wasn’t always that way for me. For years, I just didn’t like it. NiGHTS’ journey to becoming one of my favorite games is a somewhat long and windy one, but something I want to share to help other people who don’t see the appeal understand why this game is so special to some of us.
Back during the Sonic 30th Anniversary Concert, Sonic 1 & 2 composer Masato Nakamura revealed that his band, Dream Come True, would release a new Green Hill remix featuring vocals written and performed by Miwa Yoshida.
Today, Dreams Come True officially released the single, “On the Green Hill,” on their Youtube channel. You can check it out below:
Though no new NiGHTS game was on the horizon by the late 90s, Sonic Team and SEGA still had plenty of love for the purple dream jester, and they demonstrated that a lot. Sonic Adventure featured an entire NiGHTS themed pinball table, which likely served as many Sonic fan’s first exposure to the character. When Dreamcast party game Sonic Shuffle’s multiplayer was played on December 24, NiGHTS replaced Lumina. Sonic Adventure 2 featured NiGHTS on numerous level assets and featured a chao based on them. The cameos continued even after the Dreamcast.
Sonic Pinball Party gave NiGHTS a second pinball table, and the character was playable in both the Sonic Riders games and SEGA Superstars, a mini game collection for the PS2’s Eyetoy. NIGHTS popped up in Billy Hatcher as a special unlockable character, and also starred in NiGHTS Score Attack, a special mini game that could be downloaded to the GBA over a link cable from both Billy Hatcher and Phantasy Star Online.
For over a decade, this was essentially how NiGHTS stuck around. It wouldn’t be until 2007, eleven years after the original game’s release, that this finally changed.
Takashi Iizuka had often talked about wanting to do a NiGHTS sequel, and finally got his chance in late 2005, after the completion of Shadow the Hedgehog. My mid-2006, NiGHTS Journey of Dreams was in full production for the Wii. Though some have speculated JoD may have been originally planned for HD consoles, Iizuka later confirmed it was built from the ground up for Nintendo’s system.
After a small delay, JoD launched in December of 2007. It would not be as well received as its predecessor, receiving mixed-to-positive reviews. The game also likely didn’t sell especially well, though sales numbers appear to be hard to confirm.
JoD kept several aspects from the original, including its 2.5 perspective, its focus on flight, the timer for NiGHTS, and the ability to link rings and blue chips together for higher scores. Unlike the previous game, players needed to chase down nightmarens riding large birds in order to collect keys to free NiGHTS, and there is no incentive to run the timer down. Instead, JoD encourages players to simply complete its stages as quickly as possible.
JoD also introduced a lot of brand new features, such as multiple missions per level, a significantly more fleshed out plot, an online multiplayer mode, and most infamously, platforming levels starring the children. It also has an area where Nightopians can be interacted with called “My Dream,” which is essentially a barebones chao garden. This open space can be filled with random objects from the game’s levels, as well as Nightopians and Nightmarens, which are sent here via paralooping.
JoD does a lot to try to modernize NiGHTS. While it has the same number of levels as its predecessor, it stretches those levels out by giving each five missions that reuse assets, including the aforementioned platforming sections. It also features loads of cutscenes and voice acting for all the characters.
JoD’s plot is essentially a reboot of the previous game, but with new kids: Helen and Will. The game features a new helper character, “Owl” who essentially serves the same purpose as Tikal and Omochao. Aside from NiGHTS, Wizeman and Reala also make a return. Everyone is sporting new, more complex designs.
There is a lot I could say about JoD, but that’s best left for another article. To this day, it continues to serve as the only other full game in the NiGHTS franchise. It would not be the last NiGHTS game released, however. The original would soon be getting a remake.
Just a few months after the launch of JoD, SEGA launched a full remake of the original NiGHTS for the PS2, exclusively in Japan in February of 2008. It featured completely remade visuals, Christmas NiGHTS, and a complete port of the Saturn original. Each copy of the game also came with a second printing of the rare NiGHTS story book. The PS2 version featured additional timed events in Christmas NiGHTS, including special summer and Halloween outfits for Claris and Elliot, and a special Halloween skin for NiGHTS. Unfortunately, the game didn’t sell particularly well, charting just over 6,000 units. The remake version of the game is also infamous for featuring somewhat slower speeds, as well as inferior (potentially 8-way directional) control instead of full analog.
This version would later become the basis for the HD remake, which as released on Xbox 360 and PS3 four years later in 2012. This remake presented NiGHTS in HD for the first time, and featured true 16:9 widescreen as opposed to the stretched 4:3 widescreen of the Saturn and PS2 games. It included all the special features of the PS2 version, as well as all the control issues. These issues would later be patched, though.
NiGHTS into Dreams… HD continues to be available for both Xbox and Steam users, and can also be played by anyone who has Game Pass or PS Now, making it far more accessible then it once was.
NiGHTS hasn’t had a single release of any sort in nine years, but as with before JoD, the character hasn’t disappeared.
NiGHTS was a playable racer in 2012’s Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and inspired a whole DLC level in 2013’s Sonic Lost World. NiGHTS, Reala and Wizeman all returned to Archie as part of their World’s Unite crossover event. They appeared as “buddies” in 2015’s Sonic Runners, and inspired a costume in 2017’s Sonic Forces. Elements from the games even popped up in Sonic’s 30th Anniversary Comic and orchestra just last month!
Finally, NiGHTS as a brand has recently made a return…as a slot machine in certain casinos. I can’t say I’m exactly happy about that, but it does show that someone somewhere still sees value in NiGHTS as a franchise.
With Iizuka expressing an interest in returning to NiGHTS yet again, there is yet hope that we’ll be seeing the purple dream jester again in a proper game. Until then, we’ve still got 25 years of games and legacy to remember them by.
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