“Sonic the Hedgehog: Omochao Edition” Will Test Your Skill, Patience

What started off a joke hack has become so much more.

Everybody knows that Omochao is annoying, but only one man has the balls to make an entire ROM hack out of it.  Sonic the Hedgehog: Omochao Edition is an exercise in obnoxious from Sonic Retro staffer Cinossu that injects Sonic Team’s favorite floating tutorial into the classic Sonic experience.  While many people will be initially turned off by Omochao’s presence, there is much more to this hack than meets the eye, as it fundamentally changes the entire Sonic the Hedgehog experience.

The hack’s premise is to avoid being annoyed.  See that ring?  Don’t touch it.  See that badnik?  Don’t touch it.  If you do, Omochao will pause the game to inform you of your miniscule accomplishment and play the 1-up fanfare.  With every object you touch, the fanfare becomes longer and longer, making you reach for your emulator’s fast-forward key.  There have been many “don’t touch stuff” Sonic hacks in the past, requiring players to have lightning-quick Sonic skills and an intense amount of patience, but this one bests them all.

At this point, you’ll either be so annoyed that you switch off or be compelled to power through Green Hill without touching anything to collect the game’s medals and rewards.  While it sounds impossible in theory, Cinossu and his testers have been thorough, finding the optimal paths that require the least amount of item contact.  There is a way to beat the stages, but you have to stop, think and be smart about it, using the tight controls and level design present in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.  If there is a section where item contact is necessary, the game gives you an “Omochao Protective Shield” that allows you to progress without being disturbed.

Also, check out this “perfect” run of Labyrinth Zone.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Omochao Edition is more than a novelty, as it brings more than a patronizing robot to the table.  You’ll be able to select any stage from the outset (presented in a well-designed hub world) and medals and rewards for perfect play.  If you can get over the initial annoyance of the hack, the additions and improvements reward players for dedicated play and elevates this hack above other “joke” hacks that lose their appeal after a few minutes.  Future updates will give Omochao a voice through Cinossu’s SonMP3 plug-in, additional levels and Retro Channel support, allowing players to share their frustration online.

As noted, this hack is not for everyone, but if you want to give it a shot and avoid Omochao, here’s what triggers his prompts:

  • Collecting Rings
  • Item Monitors (doubly bad, as each individual item inside will also bring up a message)
  • Invincibility Running Out
  • Power Sneakers Running Out
  • Extra Lives
  • Destroying Badniks
  • Bouncing on Springs
  • Stepping on or Pushing Objects on Buttons
  • Getting Hit
  • Getting Killed
  • Drowning
  • Getting Game Over (will also eject you from the level and reset your saved Emerald Count)
  • Getting Time Over (will also eject you from the level)
  • Touching Lamp Posts
  • Getting the Giant Ring (without a protection shield)
  • Finishing the Act (without a protection shield)
  • Finishing the Zone (without a protection shield)
  • Hitting the Boss (without a protection shield)
  • Defeating the Boss (without a protection shield)
  • Getting in that Last Hit (without a protection shield)
  • Collecting a Chaos Emerald
  • Touching a GOAL Sign

Good luck.  Download and learn more about Sonic the Hedgehog: Omochao Edition here.

TSS Review: Sonic Generations

The following review had the potential to be the most pointless thing I’ve ever written. Normally, a review is to help you decide whether or not to buy the game, but let’s be real here; if you’re at The Sonic Stadium, you’ve bought the game. You more than likely love the game. That being the case, I’m going to be more thorough than your typical TSS review, like how I review on Sonic Retro.

Continue reading TSS Review: Sonic Generations

Mash-Up Monday: Go Go Gadget Mystic Cave


I’m in an Inspector Gadget mood.  It was my Halloween costume this year.  I had a secret robot arm punch people in the groin.  NBD.

This mash-up is nothing too intense.  Just a simple A/B mash-up with two songs that are already pretty similar.  Mystic Cave and the Inspector Gadget theme work well together.  If Mystic Cave were in Sonic CD, I could see the Japanese version of its theme totally having those “hoo-hoo” vocals in there.

Bonus Beasties:

Submit mash-ups to bradflick AT sonicstadium DOT org.

GameStop Handing Out Sonic CD On Tablets?

Sonic Retro member RGamer2009 snapped this picture at his local GameStop and certainly has all of us confused. He noted:

It seems that GameStop has gotten ahold of the game on their tablets in the store. They said it should be out NOW according to it being on their tablets.

Not only that, but apparently they had the game on a tablet IN THE STORE. I could not play it, as they weren’t set up yet. The tablets were in the back.

For those of you not aware, GameStop will be throwing its hat in the tablet ring this Friday with a line of gaming-centric Android devices. Madden NFL and Dead Space will be included on the tablets, but this image and RGamer2009’s words indicate that Sonic CD will be there, too. The problem is that Sonic CD isn’t currently available and hasn’t had a release date formally announced.

If what RGamer2009 says holds up to be true, then it’s a great move by GameStop to help move yet another line of tablets. Go away, tablets.

A Rad Report From the “Sonic Generations of Skate” Event, Brah

I went to the “Sonic Generations of Skate” on Saturday. It was a thing that happened.

Sega of America, probably in response to past criticism that they “do not advertise their Sonic games enough,” is going balls out with Sonic Generations. We had “Sonic Boom” back in June during E3, a slew of online/print ad campaigns and now a skateboarding competition on the iconic shores of Venice Beach. I’m going to preface the rest of what I’m about to say by mentioning that I didn’t show up until about 3:30 PM. See, every Saturday, I have a commitment to drink beer and watch college football in the afternoon. Standard operating procedure.

I had a friend check out the first half of the show, sending me texts and mobile photos. There was a mobile skate park for kids to trick on (very cool), a gaming tent with many XBOX 360 kiosks and the large half-pipe for the competition. The weather was shitty and remained shitty the rest of the day. Misty and overcast with heavy fog. It was completely different from the partly-cloudy Hollywood I had just driven from. It was unfortunate to have the event run under these conditions, but they powered through it like champions.

The event was like any other skateboard competition that you’d see at Venice or on Fox Sports Net at 2 AM after bowling or f-ing poker.  It just had Sonic Generations advertising, swag and gaming booths. The competition results I won’t comment on because a) I don’t want to spoil it b) I missed most of it and c) I’m lazy. You can watch it on Fox Sports Net on November 25th. Check your local listings. It was cool to see Tony Hawk and other skaters that I only know from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater to perform in person, despite it not being 2001 and my increasing disinterest in skateboarding.  I’ve been on TV crews for sporting events and they were doing a great job keeping things moving and the crowd energized in the bad weather.

Having a good event is key when you’re trying to sell copies of a video game and allowing the skateboarding faithful to check out City Escape and Green Hill in Sonic Generations doesn’t hurt either. There were about a dozen kiosks and SEGA staff on hand to answer questions and meet the media. You could also get some awesome bootleg-looking merchandise with the event logo on it. Totally sketch.

Sonic was on hand to greet those on the boardwalk and lure people in. He posed for photos, presented the trophies and super-fans got to live their sick, deviantArt fantasies by hugging him. He blended in well with the other costumed crazies on the Venice Beach boardwalk. I distinctly remember a pair of 30-somethings dressed as a devil and Princess Leia saying, “Man, Sonic was great 15 years ago!” Who knew boardwalk crazies could say something so coherent and correct?

The rest of the night was also standard operating procedure. When the event’s over, you get some drinks and chat. Right across the street from the event was a hotel with a rooftop bar. If you follow me on the Twitters, you’ll already know the score for the evening. Kellie and I had a great time, Aaron was hella late but he eventually joined the party.  Great night.

That’s it.  Venice Beach is dirty.

Freak-Out Friday: Pimpin’ In the Alley


There’s a lesser known meme on the YouTube involving this guy dressed in all black, wearing a pumpkin mask and doing a stupid dance.  It’s such a versatile clip, as you can set just about any music to it.  The clip is from the CW affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska (KXVO) and in my four years in that state, I was unfortunate enough to not see this clip live.  College is now officially a failure.

It was brought to my attention last week by a TSS reader because Halloween is quickly approaching (plus, Pumpkin Hill is the jam, okay?).  It definitely deserves a spot here on FoF.

Have a great weekend.

Mash-Up Monday: Who’s Bad in the Launch Base Zone?

DJ Max-E (MaxieDaMan), who was regularly featured here during the last run of Mash-Up Monday, recently returned to YouTube with a healthy offering of Sonic music.  Michael Jackson & Sonic 3 remixes might be the most common Sonic mash-up,  but this one is so well produced that it warrants another trip to Neverland.  It’s not your typical A/B affair and features remixing on both ends, resulting in a natural blend that any DJ would spin on a Saturday night.  It’s only a 1-minute vamp, but this one minute is better than most 2-4 minute mash-ups that you can find out there.

While not a mash-up, Max-E also laid down an original track using Genesis soundfonts called “Combat Night Zone.”  I highly recommend you press play:

That’d be a kickass Mega Man song, too.

Submit mash-ups to bradflick AT sonicstadium DOT org to have them featured here on Mash-Up Monday.

Mash-Up Monday: Prime Unleashed


See, the good that has come out of a Mash-Up Monday hiatus is that there’s actually mash-ups to post.  This one isn’t of the pop music variety and features boss music from Metroid Prime.  Flaahgra meets Dark Gaia in this tribal drum-heavy mash-up.

Now, you feel accomplished.

Ken Balough Speaks On PartnerNET Version of Sonic CD

Late last month, a game-testing friend of mine hopped on Twitter and talked about what he was going to be testing on PartnerNET that day.  Sonic CD was one of the games and he was disappointed with what was a 4:3, 30 FPS demo with performance issues.  Well, that Tweet made its way around and some confusion ensued, especially since the news of Christian Whitehead’s involvement in the port was made known a few days prior.  (Fact checking, how does it work?)

While the PAX demo of Sonic CD cleared up some of that confusion, Sonic CD Brand Manager Ken Balough gave me a ring this afternoon, wanting to make everything clear.  “The version of Sonic CD developed by Christian Whitehead has never been on PartnetNET.  The PAX version that is widescreen and runs at 60 FPS is the version,” said Balough.

SEGA has been susceptible to PartnerNET leaks in the past, but the version of Sonic CD on the service was never meant to be for private testing, let alone known to the public.   Balough noted, “The PartnerNET build wasn’t created by Sonic Team.  It was something that we were playing around with to see if a port would work.  It was never intended to be played by anybody outside of the company.  When we were thinking seriously about this project, we started looking at talented developers.  That’s where Christian, his Retro-Engine and Sonic Team come in.”

“It’s a non-story at the end of the day.”  Words we’ve heard many times.  Many, many times.

Escape From the City: Classic Style


If you were able to score a meeting with Iizuka at E3 last week, you were treated to the man himself playing this stage while answering questions. While the questions weren’t anything of note, this classic rendition of City Escape alone answered one huge question: how were modern stages going to translate for Classic Sonic?

You can put any doubts to bed. Sonic whips out a 90s skateboard, avoids that pesky GUN truck (which seems to come from just about anywhere) and runs the rooftops of San Francisco the city.

You can check out a Modern Sonic run here, but if you’ve played SA2, you’re not missing much.

Be A Part of “Sonic Boom:” The First U.S. Community Event [Ticket Update 2]

2ND UPDATE: I’m out of Stadium and Retro tickets.  Stay tuned, as I might have more down the road.  Thanks for all those who applied!

UPDATE: SEGA’s early registration batch of tickets is now gone, but there are sill a handful via Stadium and Retro.  Contact details are below.

After years of wanting a Sonic community event here in the United States, we’re finally getting one with “Sonic Boom,” special treat for those in town during the E3 Expo in Los Angeles on the night of Wednesday, June 8th. We will be hanging out, playing some Sonic Generations and celebrating Sonic’s 20th anniversary. Best of all: this event is absolutely free.

Sonic Stadium, in cooperation with Sonic Retro and SEGA of America, have 2,000 seats to fill and we need our dedicated forum members to pack the house! This event will be big, so you’re going to need to reserve a spot. SEGA is currently letting 500 people RSVP to the event, but both Stadium and Retro have a specific allotment of passes, too, ensuring that everybody has a chance to go.

How can you go as a member of Sonic Stadium? Just e-mail me at bradflick AT sonicstadium DOT org and you will get a link to sign up through us. It’s that simple!

This event will be very exciting. Not only will you be able to play Sonic Generations without having to go to E3, but many recognizable community members will be in attendance! At this time, Jason, Nuckles87 and myself will be there from Sonic Stadium, along with Chimpo and Gene from Sonic Retro, but we will have some international flair with TSS founder Dreadknux, T-Bird and The Taxman in the building!

So, come on, America! We’ve got community members from all over the world coming to this party. You don’t want to miss out! Tickets have only been available for a few minutes and they are going fast.

From the SEGA Blog annoucement:

Play Sonic Generations and Celebrate Sonic’s 20th Birthday!

Wednesday, June 8th

6:00 PM – 10:00PM

Where: Club Nokia

800 West Olmypic Blvd # 335

Los Angeles, CA

Calling all Sonic fans! Come join us at Sonic Boom, the first major US Sonic Community event, to celebrate Sonic’s 20th Birthday!

  • Be among the first fans to play Sonic Generations!
  • Special Sonic guests and performances!
  • Get exclusive Generations collector’s merchandise!
  • Come as your favorite Sonic character and you could win extra prizes!

Attendance is FREE and this party, just like Generations, is for all ages! But space is limited, so make sure to reserve your spot fast!

Stay way past cool this summer at one of the biggest Sonic events in history – find out how to reserve your ticket today, and all the latest event news, at sega.com/sonicboom!

Freak Out Friday: The Best Brawl Mod

I popped on over to KC-MM earlier this week to check out progress of my favorite Brawl edits and mods when something stuck out at me.  It was a “big head mode” and Sonic was being used as the test subject for it.  Check it out:

Here’s the link to the mod. Install it for some laughs.  Or, you can just beat the runway level in under 5 minutes on Agent difficulty.

Submit other weird things and your artwork/music/videos to thesonicstadium AT gmail DOT com.

Prices for iOS Sonic Titles Slashed, Proceeds Going to Japan Relief Efforts

A little blurb for ya on this Monday. Sonic 4 Brand Manager Ken Balough has informed me that SEGA Football Manager and all Sonic titles on iOS devices are discounted and that all of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross relief efforts. The sale/relief effort will extend through the rest of this week.

If you already own the discounted games but still want to donate, please head on over to the Red Cross and pitch in what you can.

Freak Out Friday: Episode 2 Preview

Oh wow, I got through to the TSS front page today.  I guess that I means I should post something before it crashes for weeks again.

So, there I was, browsing the fancharacter-ridden hell-hole that is DeviantArt Sonic section for some fan concepts of Sonic 4: Episode 2 to post here when suddenly this strange image appeared (by “gsukitsukenfunaga”):

I don’t think I need to get too analytical here.  I mean, it speaks for itself.  It’s Scratch, Grounder & Robotnik rolling down a hill in a bathtub towards Justin Bieber.  Surely, this game will win the kids over more than ever before.  It has everything kids want!  Derp Sonic, YouTube Poop stars and Justin Bieber.

Later, I was on /v/ and people were talking about the potential of Sonic 4’s second episode (and from what discussions I’ve had, nothing’s going to change, so yay for sucking!).  If you’ve been hanging around any forum lately, you know that people want to see Tails come back in a playable form.  Well, this 4chan poster had some “exclusive concept art” to share with those in the thread:

As the thread died down, this image turned up:


Yeah, It’s Totally An “Instant Win” Button

User “SoundOnly00” has found a new way to play Sonic 4: tapping the jump button over and over.

Technically, he has to tap the left button a few times to turn himself around, but still, he’s beating an entire level without touching the D-pad 99.9% of the time.   He even gets past the “Dimps End of Level Bottomless Pit” that’s littered with cards with no pattern by simply pressing the jump button (although he died a few times).  It’s at this sequence where having no momentum, a shit-ton of speed boosters and an instant speed button is helpful (and that will be the only time I say that ever).  Remember when everybody was all like, “the homing attack doesn’t make the jump button an ‘instant-win button?'” Pffffft, hahaha…

I didn’t think I could shake my head harder at this game, but I clearly was wrong.  If you want to try and run through a Sonic 4 by using only the jump button, please send it in.

thesonicstadium AT gmail DOT com

“Sonic the Hedgehog 5” Mock-Up Box Art

Remember that time that Sonic 4 was a sequel to Sonic 3&K?  Yeah, me neither.  Let’s go to a fantasy world instead where the Genesis is still alive, Sonic games aren’t broken into over-priced episodes, are programmed by competent people who know how to manage data and are free of dying cats.  You’d probably have box-art that looks like this mock-up above.  The shading here is pretty close to what the old box-art possessed.  My only critique would be that you can’t see any of the 5.

Submitted to TSS by Maximiliano.  He only attached the image and provided no other information.  If you’re the author, please claim this mock-up as yours so I can give you the proper credit.

(Also, try to stay on topic for once, commenters.  Talk about the image.  I’d like to not have a headache today.)

Submit your stuff to us so that we may feature it!

E-mail: thesonicstadium AT gmail DOT com, bradflick AT sonicstadium DOT org

Twitter: @dreadknux, @bradflick55

Ask the Answer Man: A New Sonic Show Series

We have a new member of The Sonic Stadium team.  His name is Answer Man.  Coming straight from his Answer House in Answer Town, he’ll be answering your questions about anything Sonic related.  For real.

We’ve been receiving feedback about what people want to see back on the show and my “Slingerland’s Corner” segment was the one that people wanted to see again.  I don’t know why.  People throw a big fit when I write articles full of truthiness, but I can lay into people in a video and people will like it.  However, I’m a little tied up to respond to your questions, so the Answer Man will be taking over.  He’s a cool dude.  He’ll be keeping my format, but do it more efficiently and with flashy graphics.

For the first episode of “Ask the Answer Man,” we need some questions.  See that comment box below?  Ask a question and it might be answered next week.  Keep your questions brief.  Treat it like Twitter or something.  Answer Man doesn’t want to read your rants.  He’s too busy with his Answer Women.

Alternatively, so that we don’t have to make a new article for each episode, you can ask all your questions on the Answer Man Formspring account.


The Sonic Show Celebrates 5 Years of Success

Jay aka Disco Ponies is celebrating a milestone here in 2011.  Five years ago, The Sonic Show began.  Today, its iTunes success and place here at TSS illustrates how far this little podcast has come.

Originally, the show was a way for fans to get media on Sonic the Hedgehog for the XBOX 360.  To think that a show promoting one of the shittiest games ever made is still around is beyond me, but that’s what it started out doing.  In its first year, the show was in a seasonal, episodic format.  The shows were an hour long and were hit-or-miss in terms of watchability, but viewership rose.  For the second episode of Season 1, the still-dead Sonic Cage Dome swooped in and picked up the show for the remainder of the season.

Internal difficulties at SCD left Jay looking for a new home for The Sonic Show.  With its popularity rising, Dreadknux opted to pick up Season 2 and debuted in 2007 on TSS.  Leading up to Season 2, Jay went out to grab original material for the show.  He enlisted Double A for the popular Red Hedgehog flash shorts, Cold Dog for “Sonic Blobs” and, uh… me for “Slingerland’s Corner.”  With exclusive content packed in its hour-long episodes, downloads and viewership continued to rise.

The seasonal format, however, began to wear on myself and the other content producers.  Thus, the current format of individual, short videos was born, allowing people Jay has enlisted to produce and post whenever.  This format has proven to be the most popular, with last year’s “Top 5 Assholes” video being the #1 download, garnering over 100,000 downloads.  The show in total has been downloaded over one million times.

2011 will be a retrospective year, but there will also be a slew of new segments and the return of segments that have been on hiatus.  It started off with a bang with the premiere of the hyper-awful “Return to Little Planet 2” and Mario & Sonic’s training regimen for the next Olympics game.  You should watch the latter because when it tries to be funny, it’s actually funny.

On a personal note, I’d like to express my thanks to Jay for letting me be on The Sonic Show.  I was just a moderator at Sonic Fan Games HQ at the time and he just plucked me from there to read letters from dumbasses.  The segment that I got to do eventually turned into writing for TSS, then writing for Retro, along with maintenance positions.  It also allowed me to make a whole bunch of new e-buds that turned into real-life buds whom I never would have met without this show.  All the people I work with in this community are basically the only people I can tolerate, so thanks, Jay.

What kind of segments would you like to see on The Sonic Show for the next year?


The Sonic Show #56: Live From SEGA of America

It’s time for another episode of The Sonic Show.  This time around, we hit the road and visit SEGA of America in San Francisco, California for their second annual community event.  We’ll play some PSP, talk to the employees at SOA and drop dimes on Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1.  Joining me on this trip is none other than America’s favorite doppleganger, Ben Kalough, SEGA of Antarctica’s best PR man.

For the Sonic 4 feedback session, I cut down the 30 minutes into about 10. There are moments where I started to speak and cut the camera, because I didn’t feel like rolling on what I was saying for those initial discussions about physics and level design. I spoke at length and since I gesticulate a lot, it would have been a mess. I wanted to focus on making a good, concise point instead of worrying about filming.  As a substitute, I’ve cut in abridged versions of what I said to Aaron and Ken, set to the Sonic 3 invincibility theme.

Note: they wanted feedback and we gave it to them professionally. Anybody who says, “oh my god complaiiiiniiiiing” needs a reality check.  Any comments like this one will be deleted and you will be banned.  I don’t even want to deal with the Sonic Defense Force today (or ever, really).  Sonic 4: Episode 1 has major problems, so we aired them to make Episode 2 better.  Sonic 4: Good Edition.

Enjoy the video and for a more detailed report of the event, I wrote one up this past Sunday.  Feel free to ask questions about the event and I will be more than happy to answer them for you.  Thanks again to all of the SOA employees and to all the guests who were featured in the video.  I had an absolute blast this past weekend and I think it shows!

Full House: Sega of America’s 2010 Community Event

Friday in San Francisco was one of my favorite days of 2010.  Considering all that has been happening on my end, that’s saying something (I graduated college this year, for starters).  I’ve wanted to go to a SEGA sponsored event since I was a little kid, but never got the opportunity.  Friday was the day.

I was wondering what kind of mental shape I’d be in going into this weekend.  This past week, I’ve been in 2 cities on independent gigs and the long hours of work and flight time started to wear on me.  Yeah, you sit on a chair in the sky for hours on end, but it still takes a lot out of you.  San Francisco would be my third city of a four city tour.  Frustrations were compounded when my flight was delayed six hours for maintenance.  I could have driven from L.A. to San Francisco in that time.  To kill it off, I beat Sonic CD 100% by skipping the special stages and instead destroyed every Roboticizer.  I had never done that before and it ate up so much time.  That, and I was talking to Kev and Aaron via Twitter every so often.

Luckily, the parent company of U.S. Airways also owns United Airlines and they transferred me to a 2:19 PM flight.  An hour later, I was in San Francisco.

San Francisco is a beautiful place and I immediately felt more relaxed when gazing upon the cityscape.  Upon arriving at the Holiday Inn, the bell boy, Mike, welcomed me and got me squared away.  I changed, showered and got my tech ready for the event.  Mike waved down a cab and offered me some delicious gum.  We traded phone numbers and took me to a local diner for breakfast Saturday morning.  He is one cool dude.

Once the elevator doors opened on the 4th floor of the building, I was instantly greeted by a massive Sonic statue and a pair of gaming kiosks.  I was beaming and I felt stupid standing by myself away from the groups of people smiling.  People were checking in and Aaron Webber, SOA’s Community Manager, was flying in and out, making sure everything was ready.  He grouped us all together and put us in a conference room for us to mingle before we got started.

Aaron walked back in a few minutes later to greet us and lay down the itinerary for the night.  Dinner was provided, a hearty helping of gourmet sandwiches and Coke products.  They were tasty as hell.  Delicious!  Then, I met the only person I “knew” (quotes for the fact that I only know him through the Internet) at the event, Moonshadow Caz (real name Skyler).  He came in character as Ben Kalough, PR from SEGA of Antarctica.  What I thought was great is that, right away, we talked to each other like we’ve been real life buds for years, continuing our normal discourse from the forums and chat rooms.  It definitely brought my comfort level up.

In this video: Ben Kalough reviews Sonic 4.  Warning: sarcasm.

While eating, Aaron and SEGA’s customer service rep Robert Miles handed out PSPs and copies of Valkyria Chronicles and Phantasy Star Portable 2 to those who didn’t have any.  I have never touched a PSP or played a Valkyria/PSO game, so tonight would be another first.  My PSP was glitter pink and therefore totally ruled all other PSPs.  Hannah Montana stickers on the back would have been the icing on the cake.

I continued to screw around with these games when, all of a sudden, Ken Balough, Sonic 4’s Brand Manger, walked into the room.  He is a huge fan of Skyler’s Ben Kalough videos.  They shook hands, shared some laughs and posed for some pictures.  Aaron asked Skyler what he thought of that moment and replied, “You know that one part in Chrono Trigger where time stops?”  “Yeah, that one time,” said Aaron.  “It was like that.”  Truly the encounter as we imagined it.

Ken Balough meets Ben Kalough!

Ben Kalough and I interviewed the guests during the PSP tournaments, asking them where they were from, why they were here, what they thought so far and assorted stupid, obvious-troll questions for kicks (“So, sir, what do you think of Sonic’s green eyes?”) that were met with laughter.  For real… Skyler is a funny dude.

The PSP tournaments continued and I basically gave up on learning how to play.  I was having illegal amounts of fun talking to everybody and getting their games captured on film.  Networking with people is a valuable skill and it’s something I enjoy doing (it’s also how I survive in my industry).  It was also cool to see strangers getting together to duke it out in the same room.

(Sweet side-note: everybody got to keep their copies of Valkyria Chronicles and Phantasy Star Portable 2.)

Ken and I started talking for a while during the tournaments as well.  I was asking him about his job, what difficulties he has had and SEGA’s new marketing strategy for Sonic, where they appeal to each side of the fanbase.  We both felt that it was about time SEGA recognized the generational gap that was created with Sonic Adventure and, hopefully, down the road, SEGA is able to capitalize on it.

We gathered back in the conference room, a white board now sitting at the front.  It was time for the Sonic 4: Episode 1 feedback session.  Aaron set the stage for criticism when he asked everybody in the room, which was about 50-60 people, if they liked the game.  One guy kind-of raised his hand.  That’s it.  “Fair enough,” said Aaron with a smile.

The first thing he wrote on the board, to our chuckles, was “physics.”  Were you expecting something else?  (If you did, I’m disappointed in you.)  The discussion about the game engine went for about 10-12 minutes, about half of the time allotted for the meeting.  We talked about level design, level-specific gimmicks, bottomless pits, homing attack, music… everything, really.  All the guys from SOA were awesome and open to it.

Feedback was mostly coming from about five people with a few other people throwing in their two cents.  There was a guy in one back corner of the room, a guy near the front and the “Sonic Retro Contingent” in the back corner, consisting of myself, Skyler and Sammybeany (Carl).  I don’t know if people were shy or hadn’t played the game, but that’s just how it was.  Us Retro dudes had the most to say (again, what did you expect?) and I thought everything was articulated by everybody involved exceedingly well and, in Carl’s case, passionate.  People are riding Carl like a rodeo show right now for his comments on the event, but there were people who were shaking his hand and liking what he had said back there.  If he was being unruly, he would have been tossed.  If you weren’t there to see him, please shut up.  That’s how he feels, so let him feel it.  He’s a fun guy to hang out with.

I, too, would have liked to see the feedback session go on a bit longer.  There’s not much left to say about the game, but we did spill over the allotted time a few minutes with more on the table, so I think another half hour would have been beneficial.  With the meeting’s brevity and all of what we said already online in the form of reviews and forum topics, I prepared myself for being as concise as possible.  I managed to touch base on everything with succinct points.  I had so much time to think about what I was going to say in the airport and on the plane.  A lot of people expected me to go in guns-a-blazing and tear the house down without restraint, like it were the old Slingerland’s Corner on The Sonic Show.  Well, that’d be really stupid.  I know when I’m putting on a show and when I’m not.  That’s not the approach you take into an atmosphere like this one.

Sleep well with Sonic plushies (and Ben Kalough).

For those 30 minutes, being there made me feel like I was a part of the game development.  In the grand scheme, I was an extremely small part, but a part nonetheless.  If anybody knows of my fangaming exploits, then you know that I’m big into game creation in my spare time, especially the classic Sonic experience.  The fangaming/ROM hacking communities were (and I guess, depending on your perception of Sonic 4, you could say still are) the only place keeping that experience alive.  Now that SEGA is back into it, I want them to be as successful with it as possible, because, as success with the Retro-Sonic, Sonic XG, Sonic Nexus and Sonic Fan Remix demos have illustrated (Ken did mention SFR during the meeting), it’s a formula that is still wildly appealing with a fanbase all its own.  A fanbase that they deeply want back.

My reasoning behind getting into fangaming mid-way through the last decade and creating a game with a high level of authenticity and professionalism was because SEGA stopped making those games and has struggled with Sonic since then.  It was something I wanted to see again.  I sought to impart any knowledge that I could to help the next episode be something that would take that monkey off my back to see that 2D Sonic magic return full-time.  Honestly, when I get time (which isn’t often anymore with my constant traveling), it has been tough to fangame with Sonic 4 out there.

We were all looking at something. No idea what Aaron is doing...

Interaction with people was another plus.  I’m not sure if you have noticed this trend in the last couple of years, but a fair share of the community are batshit crazy on negative opinions over anything Sonic-related.  They sniff it out, they find it and they bitch in comment boxes about how the author is a “retrofag,” “unpleaseable,” or how he’s “raging”/bitching himself, regardless of how well he/she presents his/her points.

At this meeting, everybody was chill, nobody raised their voice to an intolerable volume or tone and nobody involved with the game got defensive about anything said.  It was like the exact opposite of reading the comment boxes at any of the fansites.  Svend refers to it as the “Summer of Sonic Effect.”  I wish more people would act more like everybody did at the feedback session on the forums.  It’d make all of our jobs as writers and moderators more tolerable and we’d all have a better time.  It was so refreshing to talk about this game in a group and not be attacked day and night for it.  Binky and his armchair were done proud.

In short, to close this section out, the feedback session was just what has been said over and over the past few months, but I think it was great for SEGA to see those reactions coming from actual mouths.  How a person presents a point and illustrates it for the other helps the validity of said point, I believe.  Having that instant discourse, as opposed to delayed over a forum or messages, between developers (in this case, brand manager) and players helps, too.

Skyler won big. Aaron agrees.

With the feedback session winding down, Aaron started wheeling out boxes of prizes for a raffle.  The champions of the PSP tournaments were literally crowned before people walked away with a Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing slot car game, a clock, a variety of figurines or posters.  Skyler actually walked away with the biggest prize of the night.  As was the status quo for the evening, everybody was ogling while I stood there not knowing a thing about it.  It was a large Valkyria Chronicles figure that has not been released yet and it was more expensive than the game itself to boot!  I didn’t win anything, but at least I got a goodie-bag.  I didn’t really care.  I was just happy to be there.  I wouldn’t know how to get it back home anyway because I only came with carry-ons!

With the event officially over, people stuck around and talked to each other for about another half hour or so.  I was talking to Robert, Ken, Julian, Kellie, Kareem and Aaron and I exchanged business cards or contact info with most of them.  Ken then took Skyler, Carl and I to his cubicle where we took pictures of Ben Kalough at work.  We chatted some more on a few things and Skyler and Carl said their goodbyes.

I stuck around the latest and, as a result, was without the free shuttle service back to the hotel or a cab.  Ken gave me a ride back to the Holiday Inn and that was super cool of him.  I know that I’ve already left you a thank you voicemail but I just want to reiterate my thanks to you, Ken, for the lift and the opportunity to speak with you at length.  Everybody else at SOA was great, too.  You guys are respectful, extraordinarily friendly, down-to-Earth people.  Guests, including myself, made jokes at SEGA’s expense in front of everybody (hell, Ben Kalough was a walking punch-line) and you laughed with us.  You guys are the kind of people I enjoy being around.


It also helped that we all had a bond between us going into Friday.  I don’t think I have to mention specifically what that bond is, but it involves an angry young man in a dark corner of the Sonic community.  We’re all card-carrying “Club” members.  😉

SEGA is a much different company than they have been over the past decade.  Not only do they open their doors to the public, but they’re in our fan forums, providing us with some exclusive content and exposure and understand the professionalism and perspective that is necessary at their position.  That includes dealing with the opinions and occasional mockery from people like me and then saying, “Hey, you wanna go get a beer sometime?”  Beer rules.  SOA rules.

Also, thank you to all the guests.  All of you were really cool and thanks again for talking to the camera for me.

To the people that made my trip possible: thank you.  Nuckles87 paid for my trip.  How cool of him is that?  Very.  Very effing cool.  Also, it was Jason’s idea to send me there and represent this site.  I thank him for his vote of confidence in me to voice my opinion on Sonic 4.  Finally, thanks to a pair Food Network producers who re-scheduled Friday into a B-roll day so that they could cut their sound guy loose to go talk about blue hedgehog games.

My adventure in San Francisco was awesome and I hope they hold another event soon.  I will have contests up this week because I have a lot of SEGA swag to give away, ranging from buttons to t-shirts.  Stay tuned for that, as well as a video of the whole community event on The Sonic Show.

To those who were following me on Twitter, I was so wrapped up in the event (and filming it) that I forgot to tweet more.  I only took a handful of photos.  I had a laptop and a webcam there, too, so that I could live-stream the meeting, but the stream quality was so piss-poor that it wasn’t worth the trouble.  So, it’s all in the video!

I really want to go to Summer of Sonic now.  After meeting some people here, I can only imagine that SoS would be absolutely insane.  Svend and I would brofist so hard, we’d make Big Ben run backwards.

If any Stadium readers in Toronto are free, I’ve got some gigs there starting next Saturday.  We’re playing pond hockey in Sonic Colors hats.  That is all.

(Skyler is all up in this article.  If you want to read his report, check it out here.)

OCRemix: Sonic 2 Ending Gets the Piano Treatment

I don’t know how you can make the ending theme of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 any more moving than it already is, but talented remixer WillRock has managed to do it (and here I thought the live, vocal track was epic).

A classic piano solo in what sounds like a limitless space, “Sweet Sweet Sweet” gets re-arranged into something even more magical. After a great intro (which, to the keen ear, is the intro of Sonic 3′‘s Angel Island Zone), the melody we all know and love kicks it and is it ever chilling. This remix is easily one my favorites and you’d be a cynical bastard if you didn’t download and like it, too.

Download “Above the Sky” from OCRemix.

TSS Hits the Golden Coast, SEGA of America This Friday

Ah, California.  Land of sunshine, economic instability and Katy Perry’s mysterious boobs.  It’s also the home of SEGA of America.  They will be hosting a community event this Friday and I will be there.

The Sonic Stadium continues its whirlwind tour of events with this stop at SOA HQ to take part in gaming tournaments and a Sonic 4: Episode 1 feedback session.  I will be taking it all in, ask some questions, meet some people and drop some notes on what they can do to make Sonic 4: Episode 2 a game that I don’t make a glitch-exposing contest over.  Who knows what’s going to happen?  You’ll have to be here to find out.

I will be blogging my trip via Twitter.  You can either follow my profile (@bradflick55) or the event’s hashtag (#TSSatSOA).  You don’t need an account to see what I’m up to, but if you want to ask me questions at the event, you’ll need to get one.  When it’s all said and done, check here over the weekend for a feature with an event recap, photos and a video of what went down.

Swingin’ In November: The Sonic 4 Jazz Scat Album

Have you ever played around with an electric keyboard’s “jazz scat” samples?  Come on, you know you have at least one time.  Well, Cinossu likes to play around with them a lot, so much so that he has jazzified the whole Sonic 4: Episode 1 soundtrack.

Today, you can download this two-disc romp through the melodies and jingles of the hedgehog’s retro-reboot and enjoy the serene sounds of “doo,” “bop” and “doooooow.”  It’s the swinginest Sonic album this side of the world.  Cinossu, also known for his ROM hacking contributions in the form of Sonic 1: Extended Edition and Retro Channel, details the creation of this album:

Every zone and every act is covered. Every jingle is too, and in some cases have been extended. Certain liberties with the sequences were taken for some tracks to make them sound better. For example, Mad Gear Zone Act 2 has a very weird chord-change after the intro. I changed this to match the intro more. Final Boss is a major change, with the second part original-ish, based on chords from the Final Boss music and the sequence from Boss Pinch.

Visit the Official Website and download the album.  You can preview each individual track as well.

Mash-Up Monday: T.I. Gets Rushed


Everybody’s favorite jailed rap-star T.I. steps up to the mic this week with some Sonic Rush instrumentation.  Two D’s mash-up of these two songs is one of the more seamless Sonic mash-ups ever made.  It has got a strong beat, the Rush guitars are well done and the occasional Sonic 3 sound effect is a nice touch.  This one is definitely worth a download.

If you’ve got mashups, you know where to send them.  thesonicstadium @ gmail.com

Sonic Colors Skates Into New York On Nov. 4th

Here’s a unique and cool event that I wish I was able to attend.

SEGA is hosting an event for Sonic Colors in New York at The Pond in Bryant Park on November 4th.  The event starts at 6 PM EST.  As always at The Pond, the skating is absolutely free.  You will also be able to take part in special SEGA events and play Sonic Colors two weeks before its release.  SEGA has urged that you get there at 6 to ensure that you get to experience this wonderful event.

Two of my favorite things, Sonic and skating, and I’ll  be on the other side of the country (playing hockey, coincidentally).  Gah.  If any of you guys go, please take some pictures or video and send them to us.

RSVP on Facebook | The Pond at Bryant Park

Trolls, Who’d Have Them 2: Electric Boogaloo

We’ve done this song and dance before and I find it absolutely pathetic that it has to be said again. This website has again (like with every release of a Sonic game) been infested with the “True Sonic Fan,” otherwise known as “trolls.” We’ve had to sit through tirades from True Sonic Fans for about two straight years now.  When does it stop?  It’s like some sort of cycle or something.  *wink wink*

I’ve copy-pasted Dreadknux’s original laying down of the law and made a few edits to suit our troll crisis of 2010, so all of this text might look familiar to you smart people.

Now, trolls are people who try to ignite flamewars for no apparent reason other than the fact that they want to get a rise out of you. Their arguments make no sense, and they lower themselves to swearing and incessant idiocy. When you argue back, they argue more, causing a massive flamewar. If you do anything else, they’ll complain that you’re not allowing their opinion or voice to be heard.

As a reminder to all: anyone trolling on this website will have their comment removed and their IP blocked. This is a website that celebrates the Sonic series, and we don’t want anyone destroying the atmosphere for the rest of the Sonic fans that enjoy this place. Don’t confuse this with disagreeing with an opinion or review on TSS; you’re still allowed to voice your thoughts. Trolls don’t have opinions though. They have flamebait, and the mind of a basement-dwelling child.

Take my review snippet for Sonic 4. Apparently, I should not have written anything at all and that I should “go die,” despite the fact that I am obligated to write a report on it (I received a review copy from a third party). Trolls think that the problem of awkward games will just go away if people stop talking about it. But if you’re not enjoying a game, why should one say it’s good?

Some more of the most common trolling dribble thrown our way are as follows:

  1. That the site isn’t run by ‘true fans’ (usually followed by cursing us like ‘true intellectuals’).
    What is a ‘true fan’? Trolls can never seem to make up their mind. They either think that TSS is run by total non-fans or that we think we’re the only ‘true fans’. The only thing that’s true is, we’ve never implied or stated that we are ‘real Sonic fans’. We’ve never said you’re not a real fan if you like Sonic and the Black Knight. Or Sonic 06.  I covered what a “true Sonic fan” is in a blog article last year – if you don’t care to read it, basically there is no such thing as a “true Sonic fan”. You like what you like. Trolls however, be they weaned on classic or modern games, want to make you believe what they believe. TSS? We say how we feel, but we encourage you guys to put your two pence in the discussion too. Nobody’s word is law. One man’s crap is another man’s treasure, etc. The only way to be a “true Sonic fan” is to be your own fan of the series.
  2. Every single Sonic game is good/great/not bad in the least possible way, and if you think otherwise you’re not a fan.
    Not true. In fact, you’re not really a fan if you’re into being brainwashed like that. No studio is infallible. Nobody can make perfect games over and over. By this statement, Sonic Labyrinth is one of the best games ever made as is Sonic 06, Sonic Spinball and that Leapster game that nobody cares about. Now do you realize how ridiculous that line sounds? We don’t want to play crappy games. Nobody does, but we won’t shield ourselves from crappy gameplay or anything else just because we might piss off some trolls in the process. If you disagree with our reviews, fine – speak out (in a polite manner like a decent person). Cussing our website to pieces, saying “TSS sucks” and writing a massive insult with the only relevance to your thoughts on the game being “It’s not bad, it’s great” says more about you than it does about us.
  3. Our opinion is unreasonable hate/bias against the game, yet their opinion is truth.
    I love this one. We write our reviews after hours and hours and hours of play. We enjoy Sonic the Hedgehog games all the time, so we make sure we put the time into it before we sit down and speak about how we feel. Some trolls seem to want to destroy a well-constructed criticism by myself from their two-hour sit-down on launch day. Then they take something I’ve said, complain about how I’m “hating” on it, and then provide their opinion on the same feature. An opinion that is no greater than mine, so how does their view become more valid than my lament in doing the same? It doesn’t, and hypocrisy is the biggest identifier in a Sonic troll.
  4. We keep moaning about the games long after the review.
    We joke about the Sonic series. That’s what we do. People need a sense of humor. It’s not moaning, it’s nothing personal. Go outside and breath some of that fresh oxygen. I hear it’s all the rage.
  5. The Sonic series is selling well, therefore the games are automatically good.
    Well I have no comeback for this, because the sentence itself speaks volumes on how terribly absurd it is.
  6. We are the reason for the community being ‘corrupt.’
    I’m sorry? We run a website celebrating Sonic the Hedgehog, organize a real life Sonic convention (that even the trolls want to go to) and support the worldwide community by Sonic Site Awards and links with Sega Europe, and we’re the corrupt ones?No, the corrupt ones are the trolls that argue, not because they may have a different opinion, but because someone dares to sully the name of the Sonic franchise. They argue to cause drama. They harass others who might have a different opinion and then parade themselves as ‘true Sonic fans.’ We’re removing people who will curse and swear at you if your way of thinking differs from theirs.

    They don’t care about Sonic. They don’t care about the quality of the games. They just want to be in a little elite group that is perfect, and all our sane thoughts are doing is destroying that little perfection. You might as well call the trolls the ‘Sonic Defense Force’.

  7. You can’t voice your opinion as the admins will delete it.
    This has never happened. We have removed trolls from firing up nerd-rage against IGN for no other reason than to vent at how their beloved Sonic franchise is going under due to ‘bias’. Like it matters. Sonic the Hedgehog is still going strong, no amount of reviews or whatever is going to bring that down. The only thing that will bring it down? Senseless vomiting of ‘true Sonic fan’ nonsense, arguing with one another about games and hating on sites like TSS for saying a game could do better.
  8. *NEW FOR 2010* Your comments are deleted because they disagree with the author’s viewpoint or because they hurt the author’s feelings .
    This also has never happened. Comments are deleted when they are incendiary diatribes of butthurt. You don’t agree with the author? How about respectfully challenging his/her viewpoint with reasons instead of leaving the textual equivalent of a burning bag of dog waste. “Hurt the author’s feelings?” Please, we’re all in our twenties here. Most of us have real jobs. The least of our concerns is a 13-year old spitfuck on a Sonic website who doesn’t understand the concept of a comma. Get real.

You want to keep commenting on this website? Great. Follow these steps.  It’ll make everything better for the both of us.

And just for one of our latest banned friends (hint: he had a werehog as his avatar), I just have one thing to say.  “Child, please.”

Nintendo Power: 9.0 for Colors Wii, 7.5 for DS

I get a raw deal here every day for “NOT LIKING ANYTHING,” but it’s more like “I don’t like mediocre/bad games.”  SEGA feels the same way.  With Sonic 4 wallowing in “Averagetown” on Metacritic, Sonic Colors is the horse that everybody, including myself, is betting on.

You’ve seen Dreadknux’s awesome playthroughs of Planet Wisp and Sweet Mountain and you’ve read how much I want the game.  The first review came in from NGamer, who gave it an 86%.  Nintendo Power is second to review Colors and has thrown it a glowing mark of 9.0 for the Wii version and a 7.5 for the DS version.

Now, Nintendo Power is known for pulling punches with reviews (usually sugarcoating the crap out of everything to give just about every game a “decent” score) and has given the now de-listed Sonic Unleashed and Sonic & the Black Knight 8s in the past, but the reviewer for Colors insists that this game is where it’s at:

I wrote the Sonic Colors review for NP, and for what it’s worth, I didn’t review any of those previous titles. If I had, I probably would have given Sonic and the Secret Rings a 7.0 and Sonic Unleashed a 6.5. (I haven’t played through Sonic and the Black Knight yet.) I’m not saying that to throw my colleagues under the bus–reviews are just one person’s opinion–but to help folks calibrate where that 9.0 for Sonic Colors is coming from. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, and I think you guys are really going to enjoy it.

From what I’ve seen and played, I’ll take his word for it.  November needs to get here quicker.  If you have this issue of NP, feel free to share the details with us in the comments section below.

And, oh wow, reviews are just “one person’s opinion?”  What a novel concept.  Did you guys know that?

[via GoNintendo]

Sonic Fan Remix Available For Download [Links Updated, HD Video]

After weeks of screenshots and videos, you can stop salivating.  Sonic Fan Remix is here.

Sonic Fan Remix is a 2.5D game by Pelikan13 and Mercury, creator of the “Sonic Physics Guide.”  In this three level demo, you get to experience a re-imagined Emerald Hill Zone.  Act 1 and 3’s layouts will seem familiar, but Act 2 is entirely original.  What’s also unfamiliar is the crazy amount of detail put into this project.  From the water/rain effects to the game’s lighting, this is truly Emerald Hill as you haven’t imagined it.

A welcome addition to 2.5D Sonic are the original physics that made Sonic a hit in the first place.  There are even a few adjustments to suit Mercury’s tastes.

About the whole “rolling off a cliff onto a badnik rebound height” thing:

I didn’t really like the way classic Sonic physics handled this. If holding the jump button is what makes Sonic rebound, then that should happen in all cases. I don’t like the fact that in some cases the player has no ability to cut the rebound short by releasing the button. There’s no homing attack or anything, so you can just hold the button down as you hit the enemy to rebound.

In other words, the change was intentional.

A second intentional change is that Sonic can control the trajectory of his jumps even if he jumps while rolling. Sonic CD is the only one of the classics to do this, and I find it vastly superior. In fact, I can’t imagine why the other way was ever used – what’s the logic behind it?

Some of the physics inconsistencies aren’t intentional, though. Unity can be a pain sometimes, and I wasn’t able to make everything as accurate as I’d have liked. (For instance, the camera isn’t accurate to the classics yet.)

I, along with many other members of the community, have been beta testing this game for a few days and we’ve caught a few of the issues lingering in the demo.  Pelikan has released this project a bit ahead of schedule and has yet to correct everything that we’ve given back to him.  If you find an issue with the project, don’t hesitate to air it.  It will only make a great project even better.

I’m sure that this demo will be all over Destructoid tomorrow.  They love the shit out this project (5:11 mark).

Visit the official website HERE!

Download Sonic Fan Remix HERE!

Rapidshare has removed SFR from its webspace for being “illegal” or whatever.  Here are a pair of mirrors:

Mirror 1

Mirror 2

Sonic 4: Episode 1 Second Opinion

You saw Dreadknux (man, myth, legend) yesterday review Sonic 4: Episode 1 here at TSS, but you may have noticed the lack of the “Second Opinion.”  Usually, another staffer chimes in on a given title for the official TSS review, but since this game is a BFD, we’ve got most of the front page staff to weigh in right here.

Let’s get on with it.


Sonic 4 will perhaps go down as one of the most controversial games to ever be released in the franchise’s history. With a critical reception more akin to Sonic Heroes then a universal proclamation of Sonic’s “big return”, and with fan reactions ranging from unrepressed glee to a frothing, ridiculously over the top hatred, it’s certainly come no closer to bringing the fandom back together either.

With good reason, too, as the game has problems. Now, I ask you to forget the whole “lol Sonic can stand on walls” nonsense for a moment. That’s not a problem, and indeed, the physics in general aren’t much of a problem;  Sonic’s rolling is off, but the game never asks for it. Sonic can stroll up a hill, but he still can’t do it fast and he still needs momentum to get to higher places in the level and complete proper speed runs.

No, the real problems here lie in the way Sonic controls. This game has one silly design decision, which will utterly break the game for some fans: if you stop pushing Sonic in the direction you want him to go, the game instantly negates and speed or momentum you had going. If you fire Sonic out of a cannon, he will move a certain distance and then instantly stop. Depending on how you play, this could prove to be a serious problem, or it could be something you barely notice. In either case, this shouldn’t have been a problem to begin with. Another problem with the game is how Sonic awkwardly sticks to certain gimmicks, such as Casino Night’s pinball flippers.

That said, once you get over these problems – simply keeping your finger on the directional negates the first all together – you’ll find a very fun game underneath, with best level design I’ve seen in a Sonic side-scroller in over a decade. Every level in the game has several paths take, man of which I guarantee you won’t reach without some memorization and practice, in the same vein as the classic games. The game is loaded with platforming sections to compliment the faster areas, something a Sonic game hasn’t really done since the first Sonic Advance game. Despite the levels reusing themes, many of them have their own new gimmicks that add another layer to the game.

Overall, Sonic 4 is a love it or hate it title. The game has problems that shouldn’t even exist, but it also has plenty of positive qualities, that in the end won me over.



It’s been 16 years since a 2D Sonic game has appeared on any consoles outsides of portables. But after a long hiatus Sonic returns better than ev-….well, as good as one could hope for in this era.

Sonic 4: Episode 1 was developed by DIMPS. The team behind the Sonic Advance/Sonic Rush series. The portables series tried new ideas that were different, but usually very good. Here, DIMPS is playing the more conservative role to bring Sonic back to the more classic Genesis era. The only thing new added is the homing attack from the 3-D games. What many feared to be a game breaker works surprisingly well. Allowing players to chain badniks and springs so they can find a quicker path to the goal.

The levels in Sonic 4 are an homage to the Genesis classics. Each one has a multi-tiered design for both exploring and speed runs. While beginning levels like the Splash Hill Zone are very easy, the difficulty ramps up in a very natural way. By the time you get to Mad Gear Zone, you’re facing some tough challenges. The most challenging areas being the final boss and the special zones. Getting the seventh emerald and defeating Eggman for the final time gave me a real satisfying feeling that got me pumping my fist in the air.

All is not well in Splash Hill though. The physics are a bit imperfect. Allowing you to have slight jaunt up a hill instead of having to go full speed is just wrong. While Super Sonic offers invincibility and super speed, he’s very hard to control. These are minor nitpicks to my main problem, the length of the game. Sonic 4 can be completed in one 3-4 hour sitting. Seven emeralds and all. Even with leader boards, time attacks and trophies/achievements, you’re left wanting more. At $15, there’s plenty for die-hard Sonic fans, but those who just want a new 2D platformer to play may want to wait for a sale.

Overall, Sonic 4 is like a time machine that threw me back to 1992. It has many of the classic staples while adding a few new twists in. If you can handle the new controls, there’s a lot of fun to be had. It’s a bit on the short side, but a Sonic fan like myself will be coming back again and again.



So finally, after years of waiting and months of anticipation, SEGA has unleashed the game that the fans have demanded for what seems like an age. The story kicks off in the familiar world of Splash Hill, with the successive zones all following the formulaic pattern of those original Mega Drive titles. In fact, those familiar with the franchise will notice a lot of elements to the game which loan heavily from their predecessors, from the badniks to bosses. Some will undoubtedly debate the extent of déjà vu the gamer feels; some will be overjoyed to see the classic bosses revived with a twist, some will be dissatisfied that there are no zones of a completely original dynamic or theme.

With regards to the forewarned complaints over game play, the phrase “broken physics” I feel has been misconstrued as “different physics.”  I agree at points that scaling walls and inclines at times can become a little surreal and frustrating, but not to the point of throwing a controller down in disgust and declaring the game unplayable; you’re usually traversing the landscape at such break-neck velocity that you wouldn’t notice anyway. More often than not Sonic’s “floaty” nature gives the player an advantage in some places, and time to react in order to perform chain homing attacks or control their descent.

The special stages provide the real challenge in the game, and initially prove disorientating with the player taking control the of landscape which can be rotated at one’s whim; tumbling gracefully through the Technicolor world is something that will need to be honed and refined before all seven Chaos Emeralds and Super Sonic are accessible. Masochists will be delighted with the “Untouchable” achievement, which will probably leave even the most experienced gamers hurling choice vocabulary at their screens as they attempt to survive the finale unscathed.

Those looking for a fun new Sonic the Hedgehog game with worlds that pay homage to those first titles will be over the moon. Those expecting a carbon copy of the classic Sonic titles, or a game that plays in an identical manor will no doubt be disappointed – but then again they’ve been disappointed for a year now.



If you read Dreadknux’s review, I agree with most of what he said.  He established a fork, however, in the “gameplay” section of his review.  I’m in the camp where I will fail the game over its physics and control issues.  They’re unacceptable, especially for professional game company with all the money, talent and resources at their disposal, desperate for a good game.

The physics and control of Sonic 4 are not only poor compared to the classic series, but platformers in general.  We’ve had momentum in platformers well before Sonic came along in 1991.  It’s 2010. Rolling, a signature Sonic move from day one, is completely useless with the spin-dash suffering secondarily.  He might as well not be a hedgehog.

With momentum non-existent, the homing attack becomes the only useful attack.  Yes.  A move invented to aid attacking in a 3D space is the only useful move in a 2D game.  It eliminates the need for precision in an already easy game.  Homing attack chains over a bottomless pit?  Lazy, uninspired and the archetype of 3D Sonic’s problems bleeding into this 2D experience.

Sonic 4 must be played by the designer’s hand for it to be successful.  That’s boring.  If you stray from that controlled path of speed boosters and springs, you will encounter an issue.  You’re not noticing flaws because you’re forced along a given path at “break-neck speed” by those objects that are conspicuously placed to hide said flaws.  The game brings a new meaning to the phrase “hold right to win.”  While that phrase embodied minimal player input due to lame, speed-based level design with games like Sonic Rush, Sonic 4 redefines it as “hold right to not glitch the game.”

If you turn your TV sideways, there is nothing wrong with Sonic 4.

I’ve been told many times to not compare it to the Genesis games and judge it on its own merit.  The irony here is delicious: ­­the game is a sequel.  Even more delicious, on its own merit, it’s still a halfhearted effort.

It’s not hard to replicate the old games.  It’s not “Naka Magic.”  Fans have been replicating the classic Sonic experience across multiple mediums for years.  There are guides online for anybody to read and learn from.  I mean, how do you fail an open book test?

Since it lacks the gameplay and subtle nuances that made Sonic a star in the first place, Sonic 4 isn’t a Sonic game.  It’s a game with Sonic in it.  Unfortunately, Sonic’s presence is all a game needs for most of you to buy and enjoy it.­

For more, I direct you to Joystiq. Better luck next time.

JUDGMENT: Thumbs Down

SEGA Removing “Poor” and “Average” Sonic Titles From Retail

Who saw this one coming?

In an unprecedented move that will surely leave a few people scratching their heads, SEGA told MCV today that they will no longer be selling Sonic games that receive “poor or average” Metacritic scores at retail.  So… basically… every game released in the last decade?  *rimshot*

I wish that were me making a joke, but it legitimately looks like every Sonic game we’ve seen recently will be vanishing from store shelves.  SEGA’s SVP of EMEA Jurgen Post said the following:

We have to do this and increase the value of the brand. This will be very important when more big Sonic releases arrive in the future.

We could make a lot of money on back-catalogue Sonic titles, but let’s keep the number of Sonic games available under control. Otherwise you can have cannibalisation. If there are ten Sonic games on the shelves, with people seeing Sonic Rush DS or Sonic Rush Adventure, this may not help our overall strategy.

Out of all the crap released in Sonic’s recent memory, the Rush games have been critical highlights and fan favorites.  The Metacritic average for Sonic Rush is 82.  Last time I checked, 82 is a damn fine score.  Why single these two games out?  There are way worse Sonic games to make examples of.  If Sonic Rush is cited as “average,” it looks like everything will be disappearing.

With this news, what does that mean for recent critical bombs, like Sonic Adventure for XBLA and PSN?  Will they be going away soon as well?  We will keep tabs on this situation as it moves forward.

For now, SEGA’s plan is to appeal to the core fanbase from the 90s and the young crowd with their upcoming holiday release schedule while curtailing the sheer amount of Sonic games available.

“Colours will play well to our younger Sonic fanbase, but should also appeal to the older fans once they realise there are no unwanted surprises,” added brand director David Corless.

“It’s the first console title for a while that’s clearly influenced by Sonic’s platform past but also keeps the series moving forward with new ideas and innovations that complement that legacy. Sonic 4 on the other hand is old school and primarily for those core fans who remember the originals. But there are also a number of younger gamers who’ve recently discovered the classics on the iPhone or XBLA, PSN and WiiWare so it’ll appeal to them as well.”

So, they’re making games targeted at specific audiences that should appeal to both audiences.  Yeah.

Original Story: MCV

EDIT: The guys at NeoGAF have made a list of the games that will remain on store shelves.  Keep in mind that this is speculation at the moment:

OK, just looking through metacritic, these games are being pulled (current gen only):
Sonic the Hedgehog 2006
Sonic Unleashed
Sonic and the Black Knight
Sonic Classic Collection DS
Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
Sonic and the Secret Rings
Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity
Sonic Rivals
Sonic Rivals 2

and these are staying:
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
Sonic Rush
Sonic Rush Adventure
Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

Thread here.