Team Sonic Racing Impressions, Alex’s Take

The Sonic franchise is no stranger to the power of teamwork. Tails has been an inept, if occasionally useful, AI sidekick to Sonic since Sonic 2. Knuckles Chaotix was built around the idea of two characters using each other’s momentum to rubber-band around the stage. Sonic Heroes had players switching between different characters and using their strengths to get through stages. These instances have one thing in common other than using the power of teamwork: they were all arguably lesser experiences because of it. I’m not sure Team Sonic Racing breaks this trend, if the brief E3 demo is any indication.

At first glance, Team Sonic Racing looks, feels, and even sounds a lot like Sumo Digital’s previous superb Sonic racers. The cars still control like a dream and seem to even have a little more weight to them this time around, which feels nice. The game’s focus on drifting is complimented by superb drifting controls which work as smoothly as ever.

Drive along your teammates yellow wake to slingshot

The weapons are common and useful enough to spice up races, but aren’t powerful enough to interfere with the game’s sense of speed. This time around, the weapons are based on wisps rather than generic items like rockets and banana peels. Some of the new wisps are basically just analogs for the old weapons, like the blue block wisp replacing the banana peels and the orange rocket wisp replacing the rocket. Others, however, are brand new, like the fire wisp, which leaves a trail of damaging flames behind the racer that used it.

The visuals are vibrant and colorful, as one would expect from a Sumo Digital SEGA racer. The frame rate does chug at points in the demo, but these sorts of performance issues are common in E3 demos and are often eliminated, or at least significantly reduced, by the time of retail release. The music fits Sonic’s world rather well, and the announcer is almost certainly the same guy from Transformed. Playing into the team dynamic, there is much more conversational interplay between characters this time around. Teammates encourage and thank one another and taunt their rivals, which adds a nice bit of character to the festivities, though hearing Tails ask Shadow who his daddy is was as weird as it was funny.

Sonic and Shadow are the only characters in the demo with the same stats

Despite all these similarities, Team Sonic Racing’s demo just doesn’t grab me quite as effectively as Transformed did when I first tried it at an event six years ago. The loss of the SEGA branding certainly plays a small role: the SEGA fan service in Sonic & All-Star Racing Transformed is an important part of the game’s charm in my opinion. Team Sonic Racing’s much bigger problem is its namesake: it’s team-based game play simply feels a bit clunky, at least in single-player.

As the name suggests, Team Sonic Racing is all about racing with a team of other racers. Even if you take first place, you can’t win if they do too poorly. On paper, this mechanic sounds interesting: rather than simply looking out for yourself, you have to also do what you can to help your team. You can pass them items, pass them close to give them skim boosts, and leave them wakes behind your car that they can use to slingshot and increase their speed. Your team in turn will offer you items, leave wakes for you to slingshot on, and give you skim boosts. Do enough of these team actions and you will fill up the Ultimate meter, which allows you to activate a team ultimate, which gives your team a super powerful speed boost.

Sonic activating a fire wisp as Knuckles and Tails flank him

In practice, however, it just isn’t very engaging, and can occasionally lead to some frustrating losses. You don’t have much control over the performance of your AI team mates, and while they are usually competent enough to not lose you the race, the interplay between you and them simply doesn’t add much to the experience. Using your team’s wakes to slingshot is fun enough, and receiving items from them can be helpful, but it doesn’t really add much to the kart racing formula.

To make matters worse, sometimes your team mates can completely fail, costing you the race even if you get first place. During my last race before writing these impressions, I was doing what I could to help my team, enough to to fill my ultimate meter. But despite my efforts, my team mates still ended up at the back of the pack, leaving me in last place. This only happened once, but that this happened at all highlights how poor this mechanic can work in single-player.

Omega is definitely disappointed by the performance of his fleshy comrades

Compared to the transformation mechanics of All-Stars Racing Transformed, Team Sonic Racing feels like a step back. Even the course itself feels like a downgrade from the transforming Panzer Dragoon course that was used to show off Transformed six years ago. It doesn’t feature any impressive set pieces and is generic in design.

Team Sonic Racing feels like something that would work better as a multiplayer-only mode, rather than the central gimmick of an entire racing game. I get the feeling that Team Sonic Racing’s team game play will work better in multiplayer, where your teammates will be other people rather than AI. I can imagine myself having a lot of fun racing alongside my mates from Sonic Talk, Jason and Chris, laughing as my mediocre skills bring down our standing as a team and cost us a race.

As a single-player experience, Team Sonic Racing isn’t awful. I still loved drifting and boosting through the demo, and I often got really into it. Much of the foundation that made Sumo Digital’s past Sonic racing games so enjoyable is still here. But if you were hoping for a game that built upon what Transformed accomplished, I think you will be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

CRUSH 40 performed their new Sonic song live, and we got video

CRUSH 40 performed Team Sonic Racing’s Green Light Ride at the Sonic X PUMA Launch Party last night and we got it all on video. Green Light Ride is the band’s first new Sonic song in roughly nine years, and this was its first live performance.

Check it out below:

Puma Shows off its shoes in a fancy display at E3

As part of their promotion of their Sonic branded sneakers, PUMA has set up a display outside of E3’s West Hall.

The display isn’t simply showing off the $130 sneakers, though. The display also includes a recreation of Green Hill’s famous loop-de-loop! The loop isn’t just a piece of cardboard either, as it also contains a giant, fully functional hamster wheel.

Unfortunately, people were apparently hurting themselves on the wheel before we arrived, and my cohort Jason Berry had to sign a liability waver before he could even stand on it for the picture I took below. As of now, walking on the wheel is no longer allowed, and the movement will be disable tomorrow.

Sonic confirmed for another round in Smash Bros Switch UPDATE: With Knuckles!

Nintendo’s E3 direct contained some good news for Sonic fans: Sonic will be returning in the latest entry in the Smash Bros series, Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

While Sonic’s movement and attacks appear to be largely unchanged, his final Smash has been altered. When Sonic goes super he will now automatically dash across the screen several times, damaging and/or knocking out anyone he hits.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate will be releasing for Nintendo Switch on December 7.

UPDATE: It’s also been confirmed through Sonic’s Smash Bros video that Knuckles will be in the game. The context of the video doesn’t make it explicitly clear what his role is in the game, but it seems like that he will be an assist trophy. Shadow filled a similar role in previous Smash Bros games.

Sonic Boom’s original creative team no longer working on the show

During a panel at the Sonic Revolution convention, the original Sonic Boom creative team have confirmed that they are no longer working on the show.

When asked whether a third season was happening, head-writer Bill Freiberger confirmed that he, along writers Sam Freiberger, Alan Denton and Greg Hahn all confirmed that they were in no longer working on the show, and so therefore could not comment on the future of the series.

While not a confirmation of the show’s cancellation, this can’t be good sign for the show’s future. According to Freiberger, only SEGA really knows the future of the show right now.

The panel is currently running on Sonic Revolution’s YouTube livestream. Unfortunately, the video appears to be out of focus, but you can still hear it!

UPDATE: Freiberger has clarified with us that, even though they are not currently involved with the show, this does not mean they will not be involved in a future season.

We were also able to ask Aaron Webber about the future of the series. He uncharacteristically said “No comment.”

Knuckles Doesn’t Chuckle in today’s new Sonic Mania Adventures episode

The third episode of Sonic Mania Adventures just dropped today, and as teased at the end of the last episode, it stars everyone’s favorite red, bipedal, gem-guarding echidna, Knuckles.

Will Knuckles fall for another one of Eggman’s ruses? Will he fail at his one job, again? Will he indeed not chuckle, as the news headline implies? I don’t know, because I haven’t actually watched the episode yet. Check out the video below to find out, and be sure to stick around after the credits for a little tease of what’s to come!

Sonic Mania Adventures features character art from Tyson Hesse, music from Tee Lopes, and animation from Neko Productions.

Sonic Twitter Meme Hints at Upcoming Sonic Mania Adventures Episode, Game Announcement

The official Sonic the Hedgehog twitter loves its online memes and it may now be using one to hint at some upcoming announcements.

In an image that manages to combine the Sonic Mania Adventures meme with the recent Privacy Policy meme, which pokes fun at the EU’s General Privacy Protection Regulation law, there is a message that says the next Sonic Mania Adventures episode will be released “this month,” and that a new game announcement is forthcoming.

So we can probably expect the next episode of Sonic Mania Adventures by May 30. The “new game” is almost certainly a reference to the as-yet untitled Sonic racing game revealed a few months ago. It would be surprising if that game didn’t get a full reveal by the time E3 comes around next month.

Release Date, Price and Images for Puma’s Sonic & Eggman sneakers released

We finally have images and a release date for the Sonic sneakers SEGA and sneaker company PUMA announced back in March. The blue shoes feature some Green Hill-inspired decoration, as well as a running Sonic sprite on the insoles. These shoes will be released alongside the Eggman-inspired sneakers revealed last week on June 5, for $130 at Puma.com, Puma stores and select sneaker retailers.

If you’re wondering what $130 sneakers look like, check out the press images below. Be on the look out for some old school SEGA console cameos!

First4Figures Potentially Teasing New Sonic Statue

First4Figures has posted a new teaser image on their private Official Collector’s Club group. The teaser appears to be hinting at a potential statue for the upcoming, as-yet untitled Sonic racing game.

The image, followed by a coy “teehee,” isn’t much to go on. While this is hardly a confirmation, the blue Sonic-esque spike and checkered flag background would seem to make it being Sonic racing game related a safe bet. We’ll bring you updates as they come.

Tails Helps Out in Sonic Mania Adventure’s second episode

In this latest episode of Sonic Mania Adventures, Tails joins Sonic in his quest to foil Eggman’s latest shenanigans. Be sure to stick around after the credits for a little sneak peak of what’s to come!

While the music from Tee Lopes sounds great, special props also needs to be given to whoever handles the sound design for these shorts. The way these shorts utilize sound effects from the original games is both creative and effective.

These shorts feature character designs from Tyson Hesse and animation from Neko Productions.

Sonic Mania Adventures debuting today

Sonic Mania Adventures, the web-only 5-part animated short series based on the game, will be debuting later today. This news comes from a tweet posted by Sonic Social Media Manager Aaron Webber. Webber confirmed that anyone who wants to catch the episode as soon as it debuts will be able to find it on both the Sonic the Hedgehog Youtube channel and Twitter page.

We’ll be sure to update the front page with an embed of the episode as soon as it debuts!

UPDATED: Sonic Mania Adventures Animated Short Series announced

Live from SXSW, SEGA has revealed a new series of Sonic Mania-themed animated shorts. The series will comprise 5 episodes which will be shown on YouTube, created by the same team that created the Sonic Mania opening short, headed by the one-and-only Tyson Hesse, and soundtracked by Mania composer Tee Lopes.

The short series will take place after Sonic Forces, and will cover what happened to classic Sonic after he returned to his world after the events of Sonic Forces.

The first episode of Sonic Mania Adventures will debut in the next 30 days.

UPDATE: The Sonic the Hedgehog Youtube has released a 30 second sample of the series:

Check out the array of concept art for the series shown at SXSW in the gallery below!

 

SXSW live-streaming Sonic Panel today

If you can’t make it to SXSW to see this year’s Sonic panel, you’re in luck: the event will be hosting a livestream of the panel on its SXSW Gaming Twitch channel, which you can find here.

Gotta Go Fast: The Official Sonic Panel, will start running on the Twitch stream at 3:30 PM local time, 4:30 PM EST, and 8:30 PM GMT. There may be a game announcement at the event, and there may be more than one announcement overall, if this SEGA Europe tweet is any indication.

If you can’t watch the stream for whatever reason, don’t fret: we will be reporting the news as it’s announced on the front page and through our Twitter feed.

The panel will feature Sonic Team Head Takashi Iizuka, Sonic Social Media Manager Aaron Webber, Sonic Western Product Development Director Austin Keys, Unit Production Manager & Sonic Boom contributor Jasmin Hernandez, and Sonic comic artist/Sonic Mania Animation Director Tyson Hesse. The panel is located at the Austin Convention Center Gaming Expo, on the Discovery stage, in Exhibit Hall 2.

Two stinky new villains revealed IDW’s Sonic comic, plus other details

Sonic’s extensive rogues gallery will be getting some new additions in the IDW comics this April: the skunk brothers Rough and Tumble. This pair of malicious mephitidaes will be antagonizing Sonic and Knuckles in the series’ third issue.

Kotaku interviewed the comic’s associate editor David Marriotte, who said that the new villains aren’t exactly masterminds, meaning we shouldn’t expect them to be hatching any grand schemes any time soon. He also confirmed that they are “independent agents,” though did hint that they could become henchman down the line. So it may be safe to speculate that they’ll end up working for Dr. Eggman eventually.

Rough’s finalized concept sheet
Tumble’s final concept sheet

Marriotte also talked about how new comic characters are designed: they are first described by writer Ian Flynn in a few paragraphs, then they are designed by one of the comic’s artists, and then they are sent to SEGA for approval. After some back and forth between IDW and SEGA, the characters are fleshed out and finalized. According to Kotaku, the characters used to be more heavily clothed, had less defined eyes, and Tumble use to look a lot more rabid.

Meanwhile, in a Game Informer interview released yesterday, Ian Flynn confirmed that the IDW comics will be a fresh start focused on story elements and characters from the games. Early issues will feature stories that are light on world-building and lore, but heavy on adventure and cinematic action. Despite starting with “bite-sized” stories, Flynn also confirmed that these stories will start building up to a surprise that will pay off within the comic’s first year. This surprise will be an obscure antagonist that hardcore fans may be able to guess, but casual fans will find new and exciting. You can find the full interview, which goes into more detail about Flynn’s plans as well as his past, here.

Flynn later clarified on Twitter that he doesn’t want to front load a new, fast paced book with lore, and that he wanted to keep things game-centric to make the comic recognizable to casual fans. Once the tone is set, he will get into bigger arcs and begin exploring the characters.

IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog will launch April 4, and release a new issue every week for its first four weeks before going monthly with issue 5.

 

Takashi Iizuka and Tyson Hesse to Star in SXSW 2018 Sonic Panel

If you were planning on going to South by Southwest this year, you’re in luck: SEGA is returning to the event with another Sonic panel. Gotta Go Fast: The Official Sonic the Hedgehog Panel, will feature several prominent behind the Sonic the Hedgehog brand, including Sonic Team Head Takashi Iizuka, Sonic Social Media Manager Aaron Webber, Sonic Western Product Development Director Austin Keys, and Sonic comic artist/Sonic Mania Animation Director Tyson Hesse. Continue reading Takashi Iizuka and Tyson Hesse to Star in SXSW 2018 Sonic Panel

Sonic Mania’s Soundtrack Officially Released on Digital Platforms

As of today, Sonic Mania’s soundtrack is no longer a vinyl exclusive, as it has finally hit digital music platforms as Sonic Mania Selected Edition. This version of the soundtrack is more comprehensive than the vinyl, containing all forty-seven music tracks created for the game. The soundtrack can be downloaded for $15.99 on iTunes, $14.49 on Google Play, and $18.99 on Amazon. Individual tracks can be had for $1.29, $0.99 and $1.29 on each service respectively.

While the soundtrack is pretty comprehensive, there is a reason why it is called the “Selected Edition”. The album lacks the tracks that were originally composed for Sonic 1 and 2.

Sonic Runners Adventure coming to the App Store and Google Play

After months of waiting, Sonic Runners Adventure is finally coming to Apple and Google’s official mobile storefronts. While Android users have been able to buy the game for the past several months through Gameloft and some other websites, the game’s arrival on the App Store will mark the first time iOS users will be able to play the game.

While the announcement trailer doesn’t have a firm date, the game will likely arrive on both storefronts within the next few days.

Sonic Forces Launch Trailer Released Containing Major End Game Spoilers

The North American version of the Sonic Forces launch trailer was officially released by SEGA today. Unfortunately, unlike the Italian version we reported on a few weeks ago, this trailer contains some serious spoilers. Not just unannounced levels like the Sonic Mania, but actual footage of the game’s final boss and ending cutscenes.

So if you’ve been trying to dodge spoilers since the game was leaked last week, you might want to avoid the trailer. If not, you can check the trailer out below:

Sonic Forces Leaks Early


Did you enjoy all that spoiler-dodging in the wake of the Sonic Mania leaks? Well, we’ve got good news for you: you get to do it again with Sonic Forces!

At least several copies of the Switch version of the game have been sold early by as-yet unknown retailers. Unfortunately, while the person who posted the images in the above tweet has refused to leak anything, others haven’t been so restrained. Sonic Forces streams are reportedly already popping up, though SEGA is taking them down.

Just like with Sonic Mania, we won’t be reporting on the impending wave of spoilers from these streams. If you want to avoid them, you may want to stay off social media and message boards until you’ve played the game yourself.

Sonic Forces will release be released for the Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC on November 7.

Knuckles Wants you in leaked Sonic Forces launch trailer

At more than a week and a half away from release, it’s a bit early for a Sonic Forces launch trailer. Still, that hasn’t stopped someone from leaking it: the Youtube channel Koch Media Italia has released the Italian version of the game’s launch trailer, which has Knuckles narrating the struggle against Eggman’s forces and recruiting you to fight for the resistance. Check out the trailer below:

Sonic Forces releases worldwide for Switch, Xbox, PS4 and PC on November 7.

Bubsy Awkwardly Stares at Kid in a Sonic Costume in new game trailer

Bubsy’s back, and he’s brought his bad jokes with him. In the latest trailer for Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back, Bubsy’s house is visited by a kid in a Sonic costume. Just…watch it:

For those who may not understand why the trailer is poking fun at Sonic, Bubsy was essentially a character meant to crib Sonic’s attitude and game play. He was one of many 90s mascots with ‘tude that attempted to do this. He was one of the only ones who was any good at it.

Boom8 Sonic Figures Now Available for Pre-Order from First4Figures

The formerly South Korean exclusive Boom8 Sonic figures from GNF TOYZ are now available for pre-order from First4Figures’ website. The two 8cm (3.2 inch) PVC figures are being sold together as a combo pack for $45 USD and will be shipped out at some point in the first quarter of 2018.

Anyone who wants to pre-order will need to put down a 30 percent deposit. The deadline to pre-order is November 17.

You can pre-order the figures and see what they look like here. I’ve posted a video from the F4F site going over the figures below:

Knuckles and Silver team up in this week’s Sonic Forces comic

 

The second part of SEGA’s Sonic Forces digital comic mini series debuted today, and this week it’s catering to Knuckles fans (and Silver fans I guess). Written by Ian Flynn with art by Adam Bryce Thomas, this comic’s story is a direct prequel to the game, showing how some of the game’s characters get involved. It also…well, you’ll see on the final page, I guess.

This week’s comic pages are embedded below. If you missed last week’s comic, you can check it out here.

Aaron Webber Confirms Sonic Forces will have a “lower difficulty” mode

In a NEOGaf thread discussing Sonic Forces, Sonic Social and PR Manager Aaron Webber confirmed that the game would have a lower difficult mode. Webber confirmed this to alleviate some concerns raised over a Forces video released by GameSpot a few days ago. In this video, the custom hero’s ring count capped off at one-hundred and only lost twenty when he was hit. Webber also confirmed that the game’s regular difficulty will not have this ring cap and getting hit will still result in the loss of all rings, aside from those the player is able to recollect, like nearly every other Sonic game.

To see this mode in action, check out the video embedded below:

Sonic Spin Dashes Back into Kids Books Next July

Sonic will be returning to literature next year with two books from the Penguin Group. Written by author Kiel Phegley, both books have recently popped up on Amazon, with a scheduled release date of July 10, 2018.

The first of these books, Sonic and the Tales of Terror, appeared yesterday. According to its description, the book will feature illustrations from Ian McGinty and have Eggman and his minions trapping Sonic in three, presumably terrifying, stories. The book will have 64 pages and will be for reading age levels 7-10. The book is currently available for pre-order in both print and on Kindle for $6.99 USD.

The other book, Race Against Time, is a 32 page sticker activity book. As the name suggests, this is an activity book where readers must help Sonic recapture the Chaos Emeralds by completing the book’s puzzles and games. It is also has a reading age level of 7-10, and is currently available for pre-order in print for $7.99 USD.

The SEGA Shop is open for business

Today, months after the closure of SonicMerchandise.com, SEGA has launched its successor: the SEGA Shop. As the name implies this shop is for more than just Sonic, featuring merchandise from both Golden Axe and Shinobi franchises as well as the SEGA Genesis console. So if you’ve ever wanted a or a bar of soap shaped like a SEGA Genesis controller, you can buy it. The store is also launching with some exclusive Sonic merchandise, including a Sonic Forces shirt, pictured below:

The store is currently only open in the Americas, New Zealand and Australia.

Sonic Force’s Custom Hero Drills through Space Port, shows off rental hero & Infinite boss battle

With Sonic Force’s release now just three weeks away, SEGA is now finally showing off new parts of the game. Today’s trio of videos center around the game’s Avatar character, a boss battle and a somewhat new stage: Space Port.

I say somewhat because Space Port is technically the frozen-over Chemical Plant level we got our first screenshots of last week. It would appear the plant has been converted into launch base of some sort, with the chemicals now frozen solid in their tubes and vats. The “Rental Hero” feature allows you to rent other player’s heroes, and switch to them mid-level. SEGA also showed off a boss battle between the Avatar character and Force’s new antagonist, Infinite.

You can check out all three videos below:

SEGA Release Part One of a Sonic Forces digital comic

If the death of Archie Sonic has left a void in your heart, you won’t have to wait until IDW Sonic launches next April to fill it. SEGA has launched the first part of a four part Sonic Forces digital comic. Written by Ian Flynn, with art and lettering by Adam Bryce Thomas, it follows an unnamed member of the Resistance as he conquers his fears and aids the Chaotix in a battle against Eggman’s forces.

You can read the comic here.

IDW Confirms Ian Flynn As New Sonic Comic Lead Writer, with April 2018 Launch

It has been revealed at IDW’s Sonic Comic Town Hall panel (live-streamed by TSSZ), that Ian Flynn will be the lead writer. Fans of the later Archie Sonic comics will be pleased to see Flynn return to his role as creator of Sonic comic story lines.

While details on the comic from the panel has been sparse so far, it has been announced that the new Sonic comic will be in its own continuity and will start with a new number one with “brand new stories.” The comic will launch April 4th, 2018 with the first four issues released on a weekly basis, continuing on monthly.

While Flynn’s involvement as lead writer has been confirmed, no other names have been mentioned at the time of this writing.

UPDATE: IDW has released a high quality version of the Tysone Hesse teaser image alongside their press release.

Sonic Forces on Steam has Denuvo, may be co-developed by Hardlight Studios

Sonic Forces has popped up for pre-order on Steam, and with that came some new info regarding this version of the game. Like the PC version of Sonic Mania, Sonic Forces will have Denuvo, a controversial anti-piracy program that is unpopular within PC gaming circles.

Sonic Forces on PC also appears to be co-developed by Hardlight Studios, which shares a development credit with Sonic Team on the game’s listing page. Hardlight Studio is a UK developer that specializes in mobile games. It has developed a variety of Sonic mobile games, including the recently released Sonic Forces: Speed Battle.

Like the PS4 and Xbox One versions, pre-ordering the game will net you a Shadow avatar costume and the SEGA pack, which includes avatar costumes for a variety of SEGA characters including NiGHTS and Beat.

The PC version of Sonic Forces is scheduled for release on the same day as the console version of the game, November 7.

Sonic Mania: The Twitter Experience

While Sonic Mania is taking many gamers back in time to the nineties, much about the Sonic hype experience is very different to that enjoyed some twenty-plus years ago. One of the biggest changes to the gaming experience has been the emergence of social media, which allows developers, critics and fans to react and interact in a way that simply did not exist back when Sonic was rocking in 16-bit. Continue reading Sonic Mania: The Twitter Experience

Sonic Mania’s PC version delayed

Aaron Webber has announced via a Sonic Official youtube livestream that the PC version of Sonic Mania will be delayed ‘for further optimization,’ to ensure it runs on all variations of PC hardware. As an apology, anyone who’s pre-ordered the PC version of Sonic Mania will be receiving a free copy of Sonic 1 on PC. Continue reading Sonic Mania’s PC version delayed

VIDEO: Sonic Mania Opening Animation Officially Released

While today’s leak of Sonic Mania will have us dodging spoilers for the next five days, there is one upside to it: SEGA has decided to release Sonic Mania’s opening animation early! Originally scheduled for the 14th, this animation continues where the animated pre-order trailer left off. Like the pre-order trailer, this was directed by former Archie Sonic artist Tyson Hesse. Continue reading VIDEO: Sonic Mania Opening Animation Officially Released