New Classic Stage ‘Casino Forest’ Revealed for Sonic Forces

A new zone for the upcoming Sonic Forces has been revealed today by the official Sonic the Hedgehog YouTube channel.

Casino Forest seems to boast a mish mash of Casino Night Zone and Silent Forest Zone as main inspirations, as Classic Sonic ricochets off bumpers and pinball flippers to reach the end goal. You can catch the footage below:

Interestingly, in extended gameplay released by IGN, Tails provides mission commentary, insinuating that Classic Sonic is searching for Modern Sonic in this stage. You can see that footage here.

Casino Park is the first new zone revealed for the game since April this year, where a remixed Green Hill Zone was shown for Classic Sonic. The playable Avatar character was shown shortly after, sporting their own versions of Park Avenue and Green Hill, including a tag team stage with Modern Sonic in the latter.

New Sonic 2 HD Trailer Released, Demo Incoming

The team behind the ambitious Sonic 2 HD project have revealed a new trailer, sporting two new zones and a demo release.

The fan game, which was revived back in 2014, has seen sporadic updates via the development journal run by the team over the years – but there has been no playable version of the project since the alpha release in 2012.

The new trailer shows off the previously playable Emerald Hill Zone in action once more, alongside new additions Chemical Plant Zone and Hill Top Zone. The trailer ends promising fans a new playable build will be available September 30th for download. You can check it out in action below:

Will you be revisiting Sonic 2 in high definition later this month? Let us know your impressions below.

UPDATE: Sonic Forces reveals Modern Sonic gameplay

Sonic Forces has shown us a sneak peek of its gameplay, showing off an evolved version of the boost gameplay.

Boasting “three unique gameplay styles”, the title has been built on an advanced version of an existing engine exclusively for the new title – which Iizuka titles the Hedgehog Engine 2.

The footage showed Sonic blasting through a city under assault from Eggman’s forces, showing a clear evolution in visual fidelity. Iizuka also confirms Wisps will return, and there’s plenty of platforming to enjoy alongside high speed action.

The gameplay will be uploaded to social media channels tomorrow, which we’ll update our story with when available.

First Look At “Sonic: Mega Drive #1” Reveals Sequel

In an interview with Sonic Archie comics editor Vincent Lovallo, IGN have revealed a first look at the upcoming Sonic: Mega Drive comic – and a follow up issue debuting later in the year, “Sonic: Mega Drive – The Next Level”.

The new one-shot special, created especially to celebrate Sonic’s 25th Anniversary, takes readers back in time to Sonic’s classic days set after the Death Egg saga. Sonic must take on Eggman once more to destroy his new machine of destruction – The MEGADRIVE.

As well as debuting first images of the issue, Lovallo also revealed Mega Drive #1 will be followed by another special, titled “The Next Level”. Though no specifics were shared, the comic will pick up immediately after the events of Mega Drive #1 and potentially feature Metal Sonic as the antagonist, as teased in the cover debut.

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Written by Archie Sonic veteran Ian Flynn and art by Tyson Hesse, the story is said to combine “traditional comic storytelling with the structure of an actual Sonic game” with potential for an ongoing series if demand is there. The adventure will take Sonic to new lands, and shed some light on the “the bonds he has made with his friends in previous games”.

Lovallo also touches briefly on the possibility of an Archie adaption of an upcoming anniversary title – which they’d be more than down for.

That would be awesome and we are totally down to do it at Sonic speed!

“Sonic: Mega Drive #1” will debut July 6th, with “The Next Level” following further into 2016. You can check out all of today’s released art of the upcoming comic in our gallery below.

Source: IGN

Sonic Boom Season Two Coming Fall 2016

Toy manufacturer Tomy have revealed that the season two of the popular Sonic Boom cartoon is scheduled to launch Fall 2016.

Announced to be getting a second season last year, Tomy revealed via a flyer at Toy Fair 2016 the cartoon was scheduled to return later this year – only a year after it finished its initial season run of 52 episodes. Photographer Paul Nicholasi snapped the photo while taking various photographs of the Tomy booth. Continue reading Sonic Boom Season Two Coming Fall 2016

Nazo Unleashed Sequel Reveals Intro Sequence, Release Date

Chakra-X has revealed a teaser for the intro sequence for his sequel to the popular fan creation Sonic: Nazo Unleashed on his YouTube channel, where he’s announced you can support him during the creation of the independently animated project via Patreon – aiming for a release in 2019.

In the clip, we see Sonic, Tails and Knuckles flying to face Dr. Eggman in his newest battleship to regain the Master Emerald, once again lost by Knuckles through a not-so-smart trick. You can garner a sample of the quality of animation here – I think we can all agree, it’s very impressive!

A sequel to the original three part hit series released originally on Newgrounds, The Wrath of Nazo will be a 30 minute special providing closure on the final scene teased in the final part of the trilogy. The original series is still extremely popular, with a recent re-release titled “Nazo Unleashed DX” in 2014 amassing over 8 million views. His first ever YouTube edition of the show in 2008 gathered over 12 million views on Part 1.

You can support Sonic: The Wrath of Nazo on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. You can also support Chakra-X on Patreon.

Sony’s Sonic Movie Delayed To 2018

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Hajime Satomi, President and CEO of SEGA Sammy Holdings, may have just dropped word that Sony Pictures’ upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie has been pushed back to 2018.

In an interview with The Worldfolio, Satomi speaks of the future entertainment prospects and strategies of the company, where he briefly touches upon the upcoming feature film. This is the first time there’s been official word on its progress since the reveal two years ago.

On the innovation angle, what kind of next-generation concepts are Sega Sammy working on?

Sega Sammy Group is currently planning with Sony Pictures to create a live-action and animation hybrid “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie scheduled for release in 2018. Like with this CG animation production, we would like to expand our business into other entertainment areas beyond what we are currently involved.

Announced in 2014, the movie is envisioned as a live action/animated hybrid, similar to other popular cinematic reimaginings of classic franchises such as “The Smurfs” or “Alvin and the Chipmunks”. Animation will be supplied by Marza Animation Planet, who have provided various CG opening for Sonic and other SEGA franchises in the past.

Source: The Worldfolio

Iizuka and Rafei Discuss History and Future of Sonic

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Polygon has published a lengthy new article detailing the history and future of the Sonic brand, and it contains several key contributions from big names such as Yuji Uekawa, Christian Whitehead, Al Nilsen and Takashi Iizuka, head of Sonic Team. It also comes with some very… peculiar looking art to accompany it.

Continue reading Iizuka and Rafei Discuss History and Future of Sonic

11 Sonics Drawn Badly, by SSMB

The Sonic fanbase can be a creative lot. There’s a wealth of content to be discovered from talented fans who create wonderful things. You’ll find pieces of stunning fan art, creative original animated series and ambitious fangames which rival the quality of even some of Sonic Team’s best. Games like Sonic: After The Sequel come to mind, with a wealth of unique well designed zones, an incredible original soundtrack and tons of creative new gimmicks. It’s hard to think of many other fanbases which match the unrivalled passion of Sonic’s. Continue reading 11 Sonics Drawn Badly, by SSMB

New “Christmas With Sonic” Released

What better way to get into the festive spirit than with Sonic and pals? As part of Balenaproductions’ annual “Christmas with Sonic” series, watch as Sonic and his friends try to spend the festive season with Tails’ family this time around. But as usual, nothing ever goes quite as planned.

“Christmas with Sonic in Paradise” is the fifth installment in the festive series, created by Steven Page. He’s well know in the Sonic fanbase for making animated 3D videos with Sonic, with popular hits such as “Sonic in Jaws”, “Sonic in Scared Stupid” and the parody series “Sonic Zombie” which recently came to a close. You can check out his channel here.

From all of us here at The Sonic Stadium, have a Merry Christmas! How are you spending the festive season? Hopefully better than Sonic and his buddies, if the above video is anything to go by…?

Tails and Knuckles Mii Outfits Coming to Smash Bros

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Announced today at the final Super Smash Bros. For Wii U/3DS Direct, Tails and Knuckles will finally be showing their faces alongside Sonic in the popular duo of fighting games… though, perhaps not in the form you would have preferred.

As part of the final wave of Mii Costume DLC, Tails will launch as part of the Mii Gunner series, while Knuckles will appear as a Mii Brawler. Though these costumes add no unique attributes to the base fighter, you can adjust your Miis in various other ways to suit how you best think these characters would work in the Smash Bros universe – with multiple special moves to choose from and badges to apply to adjust their statistics.

On top of this announcement, Mr. Sakurai also shared that QR Codes for Miis will become available soon which will help you to create Miis which best benefit the looks of your Mii Fighter – meaning you can get as close as possible to the pipe dream of having Sonic and co. appear in Smash Bros.

These new costumes will launch February 2016.

SEGA Hints At “Heyday” Inspired Sonic Future

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In an interview with SEGA Europe’s marketing director Jon Rooke, we may have a hint as to what the future of Sonic may hold – and that’s going back to what put the lovable blue scamp on the map in the first place.

While touching on the Sonic brand, Rooke explains that the quality of Sonic games has not been “acceptable” in recent years, acknowledging the public apology made from SEGA Games CEO Haruki Satomi a few months ago, where he claimed the company had betrayed the trust of fans.

Rooke then touches on how “huge” Sonic still is for the company, and how future games will be designed going forward.

“SEGA has publicly apologised to the fans as the quality of console games in the Sonic franchise hasn’t been acceptable over recent years. It’s been tough translating that iconic side scrolling 2D experience from the 90s into 3D but Sonic is still huge for us so the new games will be more inspired by how it played in its heyday.”

It looks like the future of Sonic will be inspired by what once made him great – but does this mean future installments will return to its 2D roots? Or will the focus of quality defined in those titles be channelled into new and exciting 3D games?

Let us know your speculation and thoughts in the comments below, and what you hope will come from SEGA’s new position on Sonic titles. As we all know, the last time SEGA tried to bring a console Sonic “back to its roots”, it wasn’t the best received by fans.

[Source]

Sonic Hacking Contest 2015 Voting Open

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A resounding celebration of the creative talent within the Sonic Community, the annual Sonic Hacking Contest returns for its 2015 edition! Hosted by Sonic Retro and the Sonic Stuff Research Group, the contest boasts over fifty entries this year – and is ready to receive your votes.

Conceived in 2002 to promote friendly competition among hackers, the SHC boasts everything from complete game overalls, to visual makeovers, new boss designs and more. Spanning across multiple Sonic base titles from the original Sonic the Hedgehog to the recent Sonic Generations, SHC provides a little something for everyone when looking for exciting, new and original Sonic experiences.

This year boasts over 50 hacks which are now available for you to download and try out. If downloading isn’t your style, SHC has also partnered with several streamers such as Youtuber SomecallmeJohnny to help show off this year’s entries, so you don’t have to miss out! Make sure you try to see everything you can, and vote for your favourites!

All entries are available over on the official SHC2015 website, where you can also cast your votes. Once all is said and done, hacks with this most votes for each applicable category will receive special awards to celebrate artistic achievement, originality, best in show, and more.

Will you be playing games from SHC2015? Let us know your favourite entries this year in the comments below.

Sonic Lost World Coming To PC

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Sonic Lost World, a once exclusive Nintendo Wii U title, is set to arrive on PC via Steam on November 2nd, SEGA have announced.

Initially released as the first of a three game Nintendo exclusivity deal back in 2013, Sonic Lost World introduced a plethora of new gameplay mechanics including a run button, parkour abilities, new colour powers and more. The title was released to mixed reviews from critics, and sold around 710,000 copies as of March 2014.

Lost World saw Sonic taking on a new group of foes named The Deadly Six, as they rise up against Dr. Eggman in a bid to take over the world. Here’s a rundown of the game’s plot from SEGA:

“In his latest plot to defeat Sonic and rule the world, Dr. Eggman has harnessed the power of menacing creatures known as the Deadly Six. However, when the Deadly Six rise up against their new master, Sonic must unite with his arch nemesis Eggman and explore the mystical Lost Hex in order to take them on head-to-head. Use Sonic’s amazing new moves & incredible Colour Powers to speed across a variety of unique terrains, racing inside, outside & upside down in every level.”

The game also launched alongside a 3DS version which sees no sign of being reintroduced, and some exclusive NiGHTS DLC which may be included with the PC version. Other post content for the game included two free levels based off various Nintendo IPs which will almost certainly remain Wii U exclusives.

The title will launch for a discounted price of £19.99, and users who pre-purchase the title before release will also get the PC version of Sonic & SEGA All Stars Transformed included for free. Not a bad price at all for these two games – you can purchase the game at the official Steam page right here.

You can catch our review for the original release of Sonic Lost World here. Are you excited this once exclusive title get a second lease on life on PC? Let us know below.

SEGA Admits Betraying Fans, Game Announcement at TGS

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SEGA Games CEO Haruki Satomi has admitted in an interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu that he feels the company has “betrayed” the trust of their fans with several titles released, and how the focus of the company will now shift to quality releases to “win back the customers’ trust”.

Highlighting the acquisition of Atlus, Satomi discusses how they’ve learned from the Japanese developers and how their North American and European markets have in the past primarily focused on “schedules”, which leads him to the conclusion they are better to release nothing at all if they continued down that path.

“As far as the Western market goes, we learned a lot from Atlus. If we can make a title with proper quality, I believe there’s a good chance for it to do well even in the West for players that like to play Japanese games.”

“I’ve been talking to the employees about how we should start putting serious consideration into quality from this point on. Especially in North America and Europe, where it’s always been more of a focus on schedules, I believe that if we can’t maintain quality, it would be better to not release anything at all.”

Satomi follows by admitting the company has “partially betrayed” their older fans with select games.

“We did our best to build a relationship of mutual trust with older fans of Sega, but looking back, there’ve been some titles that have partially betrayed that [trust] in the past 10 years.”

Satomi could of course be partially referring the recently released Sonic Boom titles on Wii U and 3DS, which shipped just 490,000 copies combined back when we reported in February, making it the worst selling major Sonic game in history. The Wii U version’s reception was especially negative, scoring just 32 from critic aggregator Metacritic – thus making it the worst reviewed Wii U title of the year.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Satomi says there could be a new home console game announced at the Tokyo Game Show 2015, which is in September. Could we get our first glimpse at the 25th Anniversary title?

“Since we’re seriously considering quality, I can’t make that promise for the time being, but I believe we will announce something for home console at Tokyo Game Show,”

“Sega in the ‘90s was known for its ‘brand, but after that, we’ve lost trust, and we were left with nothing but reputation. For this reason, we’d like to win back the customers’ trust, and become a ‘brand,’ once again.”

How do you feel about the comments made by SEGA’s CEO? Would you agree with him? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Siliconera

10 Tips For Great Runs In Sonic Runners

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Sonic Runners recently launched worldwide for those who’ve been out of the loop – it’s an endless free to play running game where you aim to get the highest scores possible. Higher scores push you up the Runners League and get you better rewards, companions, and bragging rights among your peers.

So you want to be a Runners expert? Say no more. Here’s our tips and tricks on how you can bag those big scores.

1: Use your boosts!

Free! Free! Free! But for how long?
Free! Free! Free! But for how long?

First off, before you even start your run – let’s go over some important stuff. Booster items are pretty great for helping your score. Primarily the Score Boost and Character Switch. Score Boost is an obvious choice and will really aid your total, and Character Switch will give you a second chance to keep your run going by switching to your sub character selected through the character menu. And for a limited time(?) you’ll be able to use these for free once a day, so take advantage!

2: Level up, go far

This is pretty much the only place where rings come in handy.
This is pretty much the only place where rings come in handy.

Sonic Runners sports a level up system on the characters you use, applied through spending rings or earning EXP on runs. It’s important to keep at least a single character high up to make sure that your overall bonuses help you hit the high marks. Wisps and power-ups will last longer when you use them too as an added bonus to it all. But your Score Bonus, Animal Bonus and Ring Bonus are what you want to increase – this is why I normally opt to just focus on one character at a time. Sonic easily adapts to most level environments which is why my primary focus is on him.

3: Crack the Eggman

Wait, so where does Sonic keep his rings?
Wait, so where does Sonic keep his rings?

Though it can get pretty repetitive, it’s best to make your confrontations with Eggman last as long as the timer will allow. Not only do you have the possibility of seeing Red Rings pop out of him, but the rings he’ll drop will boost your score with the help of your Ring Bonus quite a bit. This can be used in turn to help level up your characters and increase your overall boosts. Not to mention, you can get quite a few score gems which increase in value the further you are into the run.

4: Do a trick!

What, you thought you couldn't be stylish on these?
What, you thought you couldn’t be stylish on these?

Something the game neglects to tell you is that Runners sports a small trick system within similar vein to that seen in Sonic Colours. When you approach these red spring-esque contraptions, make sure you tap the screen to leap high into the air – but don’t stop tapping once you’re flying high! Repeatedly tap the screen to do up to five trick poses, giving you that familiar “good, great, awesome, outstanding, amazing!” response!

5: Be an animal advocate

Not like PETA, though.
Not like PETA, though.

Like always, defeating the classic badniks throughout the stage will earn you points and release the little critters inside. But unlike the old games, they’ll bounce around on screen until you manage to catch them. You might want to try reaching out for them before they vanish off screen if you can. They’re worth quite a few points, and those points only increase with the Animal Bonus you level up.

6: Keep that combo

It can be difficult to maintain, but do your best!

An extremely important aspect of any run is the combo and bonus number you can see above. Combos are maintained through collecting score gems, rings, and animals (not badniks!), and once you get over 1000 you’ll have the maximum bonus of +50. This will go a long way once you reach higher scores. Combos can be broken through damage or too much time between collecting combo items listed above. Power ups can help you out – the shield will prevent damage from ending your combo, and Combo Bonus will prevent damage and time from doing so.

7: Wisps are wonderful

This is probably one of the best score increasing sections of the game.
This is probably one of the best score increasing sections of the game.

Wisps return in Sonic Runners, and they’re mostly a fantastic help to boosting your scores. Asteroid is arguably the weakest as it moves slow and provides no multiplier to your bonus, but in can tear through all obstacles in your path. Laser lets you blast through sections of the stage at lightning speeds and collect every gem, ring, and animal on screen by tapping. Drill could arguably be the greatest score increaser, as it multiplies your bonus massively. At its max, you can gain +500 – combine this with magnet, and the specific Drill designed sections which can appear in levels (seen above), and you’re looking at a gigantic overall score boost.

8: Companions are key

Unfortunately, this is the only way to get them.
Unfortunately, this is the only way to get them.

Companions could be your life saver when it comes to runs. They can provide anything from boosting the overall length items last, granting you a wisp when you reach a certain combo number, or giving you the last boost at the end of the level. They can level up to increase the effectiveness of their abilities too – sadly, the only way you’ll be able to earn them is through the premium roulette wheel. To spin, you’ll need Red Rings you earn through placing on the Runners League, completing story events, or other promotions.

Outside of that, there are a few other ways to earn some helpful buddies to help push your scores up:

  • You’ll earn Shahra every time you advance a rank in the Runners’ League. Each rank has three levels before you advance a letter, but she’s completely free and provides a great ability – granting you a random item when you hit certain combo numbers.
  • Look out for promotions held by Sonic Team where you’ll be able to earn Buddies through normal gameplay. For example, the Sonic Birthday event has you collecting cake to unlock the Genesis buddy and various other power ups and items.
  • Finally, completing a Showdown without taking dying once will give you a Special Egg – collect ten of these, and you’ll be able to spin the premium roulette wheel for free with increased odds on better eggs.

9: Aim high

Sonic can't fly, but he can jump three times. Which is almost as good.
Sonic can’t fly, but he can jump three times. Which is almost as good.

Classic Sonic games usually sport a level design which has both a high and low path – the higher path providing better goodies but harder to stay on, and the lower being easier to stay on but less rewarding. That concept carries into Sonic Runners, since all the best rewards are usually found by keeping on the higher paths. Though the obstacles you face are more dire and will test your ability, you’ll get much better results if you manage to keep on that upper road.

10: Practice, practice, practice

Prepare to see this a lot.
Prepare to see this a lot.

A certain element of Runners will always come down to memorisation, and the only way you’ll memorise these zone layouts is to keep playing. Knowing what’s coming will instantly put you in a better position to prepare yourself and make each run go further – you’ll soon come to recognise familiar placements of the slopes, hoops, enemies and score gem trails. It might be difficult to play for long sessions due to its design, but playing a few times daily will go a long way. It’s all a learning curve and soon you’ll be able to do Top Speed without breaking a sweat, trust me.

Have you got any helpful advice for your fellow Runners players? Or did you find some hand advice in our little guide? Sound off below and let us know. Happy running!

Sonic Runners Now Available Worldwide

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Sonic Runners, the mobile exclusive endless running game developed by Sonic Team, has finally been released worldwide following a soft launch period. This comes following game update 1.1.0. The game became temporarily available to users on June 24th before its official launch which provided some updates to the title.

The game challenges players to run as far as they can against randomly generated level obstacles on a 2D plane in three different zones. Collect rings, score gems, and use items while you run to help give you that extra edge. Aim for the highest score so you can keep climbing up the Runner’s League and get promoted!

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The game currently sports three main characters: Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, with several more on the way. They can team up with up to two “buddy” characters a run, which features familiar faces such as Chip and Caliburn, each with their unique abilities. Wisps also return here, providing abilities in stages to help you score massive bonuses.

Players can participate in daily roulette spins for free items, or tackle the premium roulette wheel using 50 Red Rings to gain new buddy characters, or unlock special characters during unique events.

The team behind Sonic Runners had been celebrating the worldwide release by giving away Red Rings, revive tokens, and more to existing players. Starting June 26th, a special event will begin which will allow players to have chance in unlocking Classic Sonic and some Mega Drive themed buddies. There will also be an event stage available where players collect cake in a celebration themed Windy Hill Zone.

For existing players, here’s what changes have come from the 1.1.0 release:

・Worldwide Release
You can now compete with users all over the world in a multitude of languages.

・UI Updates
Interface was redesigned

・Data Transfer
Players can now transfer data to a new device.

・Score Display Adjustments
Scores will be displayed, including bonuses, in real time.

・Items
Item button added so players can activate item effects.

・Continues
Players can now continue twice. When continuing players get 1000 Rings and a Combo Bonus, Springs, Shield, Magnet, and 1 randomly selected Color Power activated.

・Experience System
Earn experience in accordance with your score and level up your characters!

・Free Items
Equippable Items and Boost Items will be free to use once everyday.

・Ranking Animations
Animation will show you when you move up in the ranks.

・Tips
Useful tips will be displayed during load times.

■Others, Bug Fixes
・iOS 7.1.2 no longer supported. After updating, players using iOS 7.1.2 will no longer be able to play the game.
Make sure to update your OS to the most recent version.
・Minor Bug fixes

Sonic Runners was originally made available to Canadian and Japanese users back in February as a soft launch before its worldwide release. The game is free to download and available on the App Store and Google Play, featuring in-app purchases for game currency. You can read our initial impressions when the game first launched here.

Sonic Runners Update Brings Game Alterations

11330997_997486733619661_919106623_oMobile exclusive game Sonic Runners today released update 1.0.4 to the markets which the title is currently available in, bringing some noteworthy gameplay alterations to the experience.

This update is particularly noteworthy as it alters several core gameplay mechanics – such as revive tokens, the goals for your daily challenges, and using the item roulette to win prizes on each login.

Here’s the official information provided by SEGA on the game update, via the Canadian App Store:

■Update Details
・Fly-type Character Adjustments
Hit detection now covers the whole character while in the air. It’s much easier to defeat enemies now.

・Daily Challenge Adjustments
Goals and prizes have been improved to make them easier to get!

・Additions to Results Screen
Score bonuses have new animations making it easier to understand your score!

・Revive Tokens
Max Revive Tokens are set at 3 and now take 30 minutes to recharge.

・Item Roulette Adjustments
Roulette spins reduced to 1 time, but prize amounts have been increased!

・Item Selection Save
Items selected on previous run will be automatically selected on your next run.

・Character Behavior Adjustments
Recovery time shortened after taking damage.

・Camera Placement Adjustments
Camera zooms out during loops and when speeding up to make it easier to see what’s coming.

・Object Adjustments

■Bug Fixes
・Effect and behavior corrections for some Companions
・Minor bug fixes

These adjustments could be seen in various lights. For example, while now you only get one spin a day on the item roulette wheel, the prize numbers are far greater than before. The alterations to the revive mechanics seems to only push Runners in a much more freemium direction than before, encouraging users to pay for revive tokens or ask friends for refills.

Also available to Runners users currently with this update is the log in campaign for fifty free revive tokens – simply open the game and you’ll be offered ten tokens a day for the next five days. It should be enough to keep you running for a while!

Let us know what you think of these adjustments in the comments below.

UPDATE: “Sonic Mach2” Rumoured, Sonic Team Involvement Questionable

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UPDATE: It would appear that, Mr Fuhrmann who originally had the listing on his website has now removed all traces of the job/Sonic Mach 2 from his work history page.

Come to your own conclusions, share them in the comments.

ORIGINAL STORY: Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka may have confirmed that the rumoured upcoming “Sonic Mach2” is not developed by them, which leaves plenty of questions as to what the title could possibly be, and the legitimacy of  its existence.

A few days ago a thread appeared on our forum, the SSMB, indicating that a new Sonic title could be in the works. A find on the website of Orbot’s German voice actor, Romanus Fuhrman, listed he had lended his voice for an upcoming 2015 video game named simply “Sonic Mach2”.

While initial discussion considered the fact it could just be related to Sonic Boom, it’s important to note that Orbot did not appear in either Sonic Boom video games, both have already released in Germany fully dubbed, and the title is listed under “video game”.

Here’s where the rumour finds some legitimacy however – a friends of a member of the SSMB sent a message to Takashi Iizuka’s Facebook to see if he could find some answers. The outcome is very interesting:

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Following this, our very own Shadzter decided to message Iizuka also. The reply this time, however, is slightly more cryptic:

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Which now begs the question for all of us – what is “Sonic Mach2”? We’d love to hear your speculations in the comments. Could this be another mobile developed title from Hardlight (who previously gave us Sonic Dash, Sonic Jump Fever) or could we be seeing some of those free to play Boom titles we heard of previously? Sound off below and lets get some discussion going.

Special thanks to Spindash.de for the inital finding and Blue Paradox on the SSMB for the screencap. You can see Romanus’ website here, where the title is still currently credited to him.

New Sonic 1 Alpha Screenshots Uncovered

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 22.05.27New screenshots have been unearthed from the Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) alpha thanks to a scan from the August 1990 issue of old SEGA magazine, Mega Drive Fan, uploaded to a forum for discussion.

The scan was uploaded to fansite SEGA-16 and discovered by Retro members, and quickly identified as the alpha due to their extreme visual similarities to previously discovered media shown at the 1990 Tokyo Game Show, where the title was first revealed to the public.

The screenshots are some of the highest quality available of the alpha, giving us better look at some development designs and alterations the launch title for the SEGA Mega Drive went through.

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Aside from the instantly recognisable differences – such as the majorly differing mountain range background art and a completely different badnik design never seen in the final game, there are other small changes to be seen. These include Sonic’s sprite design, the palmtrees and the title screen logo.

You can also spot what could be various gameplay differences too, as Sonic (seen in the screenshot above) is not in his iconic spin jump form while coming in to seemingly aerial attack the badnik. It could be a possibility that the pinball nature of Sonic had not been established yet.

You can take a look at the screenshots in our gallery below, including cropped, blown up and touched up images thanks to Retro user cornholio857. Credit to the original scan goes to JumpingRyle of SEGA-16!

Will SEGA appear at E3 2015?

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What could possibly spell bad news for Sonic the Hedgehog fans expecting a mainline Sonic title this year. SEGA has oddly not registered to show at E3 on the showfloor, and the deadline is fast approaching.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo announced their list of exhibitors who will be appearing to show off their latest titles – however, SEGA is nowhere to be found. The expo is commonly used for big announcements in the industry and giving journalists their first chance to try out some developing or announced video games.

Image from Sonic Boom's E3 2014 booth.
Image from Sonic Boom’s E3 2014 booth.

With the very real possibility SEGA’s absence, it could be seen that Sonic Runners, the recently released mobile only game developed by Sonic Team, could be our only Sonic title this year. Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka has confirmed that Sonic will still be coming to home consoles, but nothing has been revealed as of yet.

What do you think of these developments? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks to Ogilvie over at SSMB for the heads up!

AFD 2015: Sonic The Hedgehog: Remastered Announced

Today, SEGA have announced a remastered version of the notorious 2006 game, Sonic the Hedgehog, slated to hold a slew of new features to improve the gameplay experience and story. The title is coming to Playstation 4 and Xbox One consoles, with no specific release date given as of yet – but the 25th Anniversary is highlighted by Takashi Iizuka, head of Sonic Team. Continue reading AFD 2015: Sonic The Hedgehog: Remastered Announced

Community Spotlight: Hedgehog Orchestral Suite

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French composer Yoann Turpin has recently released a new album dedicated to our very own Sonic the Hedgehog, titled Hedgehog Orchestral Suite.

Described as a “tribute to the great Masato Nakamura”, the Bandcamp released album contains a total of eleven tracks based off music heard in the Mega Drive titles Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The album contains beautiful orchestral reimagining of various zones, include Mystic Cave Zone, Oil Ocean Zone and Spring Yard Zone.

You can enjoy and purchase the digital album on Bandcamp here. Congratulations to Yoann on crafting such a lovely tribute! You can also follow his work on his Facebook and SoundCloud.

Be sure to give it a listen, and sound off with your thoughts on the album in our comments below.

Side Scroller Sanctuary: A Classic Trilogy Retrospective

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Art by Veronica Vera, Not Enough Rings

This is a retrospective I did of the classic trilogy of Sonic games for SEGABits, celebrating the hedgehog’s 23rd anniversary week last year. I decided to spring (get it?) new life into it, since I was feeling pretty nostalgic today and recently played through these fantastic titles again I remembered how much of a treat they are. Let’s get to straight into it!

Ah, birthdays. The perfect times for parents to get out those old, embarrassing pictures of you when you were a baby. Our spikey blue hero is no exception to this, however his own classic outgoings were never something to be embarrassed about. In fact, many fans still refer to the original trilogy of games as some of the best games the series has made. I’m not far removed from this ideal, and as such I wanted to look back at these old gems of classic gaming, chronologically.

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

Filled with the sights of chequered hills, loop-de-loops, and the iconic sound of the SEGA chant on the boot up, the original Sonic the Hedgehog released in 1991, setting the stage for a future 23 years of Sonic. So much about this classic has been said already, but it’s worth giving it another run through, right? Let’s look at why this title is so iconic, and how it laid the groundwork for the future.

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Sonic’s well known for his speed, yet this title doesn’t really capitalise on that gimmick during your time with it. A key element with Sonic is that speed is earned as a reward for your skill and mastery of a level, and this really is the title which began that train of thought. Green Hill Zone is easy enough and gives the player plenty of freedom to get used to Sonic’s top speeds and style of level design, but immediately after, Marble Zone punishes you for trying to charge in without thinking.

This isn’t the only zone which forces a player to slow down and plan what their next moves are. The iconic Labyrinth Zone brings Sonic to the speed of snail underwater, all while avoiding deadly enemies and remembering to collect those all important air bubbles to ensure you don’t drown. Fortunately, in between these two platform heavy zones are Spring Yard and Star Light. As long as you’ve mastered rolling by that point, there’s crazy high speed thrills to be had.

Rolling is the key way you’ll be the speed demon this time around. Since the hedgehog has a speed cap on foot, putting yourself into a ball lets you bypass that. This is where the idea of rewarding a player’s mastery of a level comes in – you’ve gotta know what dangers lie ahead and the layout of the acts so you can most efficiently beat the clock and overcome the obstacles in your path. My current best on Green Hill is about 24 seconds.

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To finish the game 100%, you’ll need to defeat the final boss with six Chaos Emeralds in hand. Collecting the emeralds wasn’t much of an easy feat back in the day, especially when you’re going in blinded – the rotating stages could often get frustrating, especially if you didn’t know what you were doing (GOAL? That’s not my goal, that’s the exit!), and accessing them in certain zones was a nightmare (specifically, holding onto 50 rings). More recent versions like the current mobile ports allow you to quit and retry special stages, making it significantly easier on the player. A change I welcome, since it’s totally optional.

Sonic the Hedgehog is a solid title. It’s a little overrated nowadays, but without the iconic ideas it introduced we wouldn’t have its two sequels that built on the ideas and created fantastic experiences. The level design is solid, the visuals for its day were great, you can achieve a great sense of speed and the bosses are nice mix of challenging to simple. If I was going to recommend a version of this game to you, it’d certainly be the rebuilt mobile version, even with the touch screen controls. It’s the best port of this game to date.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)

Jump to a year later, and say hello to Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Building upon its predecessor, Sonic 2 features more zones, more Chaos Emeralds, more bosses, more characters… and is commonly referred to as one of the best titles the Sonic series has ever made. It’s certainly one of the most popular and best selling, and only helped to propel Sonic to further mainstream popularity back in the day.

I think part of what makes Sonic 2 so successful are its zones. Sure we start with the typical green hill-ish zone once more, but immediately after we’re thrown into Chemical Plant, sporting purple water and giant ramps to roll down. Later on down the line there’s an ocean of oil, a bright casino, a chase in the sky… these unique level tropes were fantastic to look at and run through. All of these are enjoyable in their own way, sporting some individual platforming and exploration ideas in all of them. Not all of them live to this standard, but even then they still have some great level design.

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Something that should be noted about Sonic 2 is that the design has shifted to push much more of the “speed” gimmick. You’ll find yourself flying down giant hills and soaring into the air often, and loop-de-loops are common. This makes for some exhilarating moments you feel in control of. This speed focus can also be seen in the inclusion of the brand new move, the Spin Dash, now a staple of the franchise. Revving yourself up and releasing to a top speed is extremely satisfying, and helps to overcome those ramp issues you might have struggled with once before.

This doesn’t mean Sonic 2 is devoid of the platforming that Sonic 1 embraced fully. You’ll still need to slow yourself down at points and slowly make your way through areas. However, I can’t deny that Sonic 2 feels more linear. As long as you’re not playing blind, for most of the game you can comfortably charge forward and not get punished too often – apart from one or two zones. You can make up your mind if this is a strong suit for the hedgehog or not.

Sonic 2’s lowest points for me come in two areas – Metropolis Zone, and the special stages. Metropolis Zone is well known to be Sonic 2’s most difficult stage for good reason. The badniks are the toughest in the game and most cheaply placed, often found in almost unavoidable spots. You’ll find Shellcrackers waiting at the top of high ledges to knock you back down, or running ahead where a Slicer will suddenly appear and throw its twin blades at you. But aside from these guys, there’s platforming blocks with spikes that stick out of them, conveyor belts above lava, gears that you travel across, corkscrews to run up and black platforms that crush you. The corkscrews should be noted as one of the more challenging obstacles since they’re almost always littered with the exploding Asterons who will knock you down to the ground the minute they detect your presence. And the worst part? All of this goes on for three acts, rather than the usual two.

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And anyone who played Sonic 2’s special stages will understand where my pain comes from. Like the previous game, you’ll need 50 rings to access them, however this time it’s via checkpoints via levels. Never assume past the first few zones you’ll get to the special stages without actively trying to keep your rings. The special stages themselves are now iconic, sporting a half pipe design and littered with rings and bombs. Often though it’s difficult to see what’s ahead of you, I feel the design of them tries to confuse you in later stages. There’s no chance you’ll complete all of them blind. It took me many tries on later special stages to get to the end, and remember if you get thrown out you’ll have zero rings and have to collect 50 again. And of course, there’s nothing more frustrating than having the ring count needed and reacting to a sudden bomb in your way, but Tails just isn’t fast enough and you lose out on the goal. It could be just me, but I’ve always found these stages a nightmare, even more than Sonic 1.

Overall, Sonic 2 is a much more enjoyable title than its predecessor to me. It builds on the good of the original and expands on it. The level design gives more freedom for thrilling moments, the spin dash is a smart and satisfying addition to Sonic repertoire, the music is catchier and captures the essence of each zone brilliantly and the visuals look great and really capture the atmosphere of the zones. If you pick it up on mobile platforms, you also get access to the once forgotten Hidden Palace Zone through a certain pit which many remember the misery of…

Sonic 3 & Knuckles (1993/1994)

And finally, we come to the big one. Famous for making use of “lock-on technology” and creating the biggest 2D Sonic game to date, Sonic 3 & Knuckles is the true version of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. There’s so much more content here and improvements, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles to date still stands as my favourite title in the series, and my most played one too.

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Pushing on from Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles goes on to push more of a mix of high speed sequences and platforming. For me, it’s almost perfectly balanced here. There’ll be times where the hedgehog will do his thing and curl into a ball and zoom across the screen at a thrilling speed, and the game won’t punish you for having that fun. But then it slows down, and you have to methodically make your way through areas. Even the famous water zone Hydrocity contains high speed, water slide based segments. The design of the levels is expansive and feels far more immersive to travel through in general, since all acts and zones have transitions here.

Storytelling is a much bigger thing in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Unlike its predecessors which story was told in the levels themselves (to such a subtle point, you wouldn’t be reprimanded if you didn’t know it existed), this title actively shows the adventure which the speedy blue hero has through effective zone transitions, and events within levels which change their atmosphere (see – Angel Island setting on fire). The story isn’t intrusive, but still pushes you to want to keep moving and defeat Robotnik and his scheme to build the Death Egg. It’s also nice to see the rivalry between Sonic and new character Knuckles build and build to a point where they butt heads, and eventually unite. Seeing the Death Egg rise again above the clouds in Sky Sanctuary Zone feels suitably like a challenge to the player, and works on a great story level also.

The game contains fourteen zones overall, which is a pretty comfortably long adventure. These zones also continue with the unique zone trope ideas, creating a collection of enjoyable levels which never feel like retreads of ones you’ve already been to. What’s even better is that zones can be different from act to act – it might just be visual differences like Mushroom Hill’s seasonal changes throughout the zone or seeing the Death Egg in the background of Launch Base, but certain zones like Sandopolis go from traveling a outside in the desert to being inside a pyramid haunted by ghosts, and Lava Reef goes from being a scorching hot cavern to being a crystal wonderland.

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Alongside the focus of storytelling and unique level tropes, Sonic 3 & Knuckles also contains music unique to each act. This aids the progression idea significantly, but is just downright a pleasure to listen to. Act 2 is commonly a remix of Act 1’s music which feels just different enough to be both recognisable and brand new. It really helps create an atmospheric change too, such as Launch Base Act 2 feeling like a calm before the storm, or Hyrdocity Act 2 feeling like you’ve travelled to the deepest part of the waters. A special exception is Lava Reef Act 2, which completely changes its music style to suit a complete new area, and an idea of a mystery unravelling itself – this area leads to the discovery of Hidden Palace Zone where the prophecy of the Doomsday fight is, and where the Master Emerald lies.

The special stages here are the most enjoyable I’ve played in the series thus far – Blue Spheres is even a little addicting. The idea is to turn all the blue spheres into red, but touching a red sphere kicks you out of the stage. Unlike previously where you had to collect 50 rings, these stages are accessed via hidden giant rings in stages. This encourages the player to explore these large stages high and low. The stages themselves contain I believe the right mix of challenge for those who are blindly going in or are experienced – obviously, if you know these stages well, it’ll be smooth enough sailing to fight against the increasing pace, with only a little pressure kicking in at top speeds in later stages. But a newbie player will feel that pressure each time they enter a new stage. I never found myself wanting to throw my controller in rage even when I was kicked out once or twice on my first tries, it often felt like a mistake on my own fault. Either way, it’s always satisfying to create a square of red spheres and turn them into rings.

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There’s a few other little improvements I want to mention about Sonic 3 & Knuckles too. First off is the ability to have multiple save files which comes with level select, meaning you can pop in to any zone you fancy after you’ve finished. Second run throughs with Super/Hyper Sonic is something you may do often, I know I did. I also enjoy how each character feels just unique enough to want to use all three – Sonic’s has a insta shield which gives momentary protection, but more importantly he can take advantage of the new elemental shield powers which are a lot of fun (my personal favourite is probably the electric shield – double jump plus a ring magnet), Tails’ flight ability is finally usable here and helps out newbie players in difficult area and to find hidden secrets, and Knuckles has his own unique pathways and specifically designed sections (and story!) only he can traverse through. Because of this, replayability is far increased from what was there previously. Finally, I think the game’s multiplayer needs a little shout-out. These aren’t anything much more than races against a friend, but there’s fun to be had and the music found in these levels are hidden gems.

The reason why this title will stand among all other to me within this franchise might be partially down to nostalgia, but everything it does it does so brilliantly to me. It succeeds on a lot of levels – it takes steps visually with the environments, the music is lovely and easy to get addicted to, the level designs feel sprawling and fun to speed through, the story is told non-intrusively but is still surprisingly engaging… it feels it took all the best and worst elements of the previous two and made it all just downright fantastic. All three of these games will always stand on a pillar to me for their impact of the franchise, but this game especially holds a special place in my heart.

What are some of your favourite memories of the classic games? Sound off in the comments below and let us know.

Runners’ Data Reveals New Characters and More

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New playable characters (and other resources) for Sonic Runners have been revealed within the game’s data, thanks to some our our more tech savvy members on our board, the SSMB.

Back when the game was initially announced, several characters were revealed for the game. Aside from the main trio we were also shown renders of Amy, Shadow, Rouge, Vector, Espio and Charmy. However, the list of playable characters evidently expands much further than that!

Within the game’s files, models for characters unseen in trailers were shown – including Blaze, Silver, Omega, Metal Sonic… and what could be the most important reveal, Big the Cat!

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Currently, the only available characters within the game are Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, with Amy also available – if of course, you manage to invite ten Facebook friends and get them to download the title. The rest of the cast seemingly has no unlock criteria yet, and will likely come in future updates.

This isn’t the end of what’s been found in the game’s files however. There’s also images of characters from Secret Rings, Black Knight, Lost World and Adventure (Froggy!). It seems that Runners isn’t holding back on celebrating the many different games the hedgehog starred in and the characters that appeared there.

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And finally, more gems have shown themselves, showing alternative version of existing characters, though we’re not exactly sure how they came to be… it seems that Espio has got himself a metal coating, and somebody made Shadow and Omega pretty angry.

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A very creepy Metal Eggman has also been found.

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This story is continuing to develop as more resources are unearthed, so keep an eye on our Twitter for updates! Credit to finding these goes to Woun and Mefiresu over on the SSMB forums.

Initial Impressions: Sonic Runners (iOS/Android)

Freemium. A word almost associated with fear to many nowadays. You hear the horror stories everywhere – a kid downloads a little free app, next thing you know their parent’s bank accounts are emptied and they have 500 coins of in-game currency to spend. It’s becoming so bad that Apple themselves need to offer consumers the ability to block these purchases from happening, and even market against them. It’s an undeniably profitable market, one which Sonic has dabbled in before. Continue reading Initial Impressions: Sonic Runners (iOS/Android)

See Some New Sonic Runners Screenshots

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In case you missed it, Sonic Runners launched a little while ago in both Japan and Canada. Thanks to members of our own SSMB, many of us outside these regions have been able to get our hands on the game… including TSS Staff! As such, here’s a gallery of screenshots directly from the game itself, running on an iOS device.

If you’re wondering where Sonic Runners’ release is for the US and Europe regions, SEGA have stated that the game will be soft launched to work out bugs and see the game’s performance. Following this, a decision will be made if the game will be launched in these regions.

Sonic Runners is a new mobile game developed by the Sonic Team in Japan. We are soft-launching it in select countries to see how the game does and to work out any bugs.  No decision has been made yet whether it will be released in the US or Europe. It will depend on our observations during the soft-launch phase which could take several months.

Though it may take a while to reach us officially, you can view plenty of gameplay and media online while you wait, including our gallery you can catch below which we’ll keep updating. And don’t worry about the game’s quality itself – first impressions have been pretty positive from us here, and other users of the game so far.

Sonic Boom Becomes Worst Selling Major Sonic Game In History

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Sonic Boom has the distinct honour of becoming the worst selling major Sonic title in history, after figures revealed by SEGA in the company’s latest holdings report.

Both versions of the game, Rise of Lyric (Wii U) and Shattered Crystal (3DS) have managed to shift 490,000 copies in total – however, there’s no confirmation this is actual copies sold or simply shipped.

This news comes following the announcement of the loss of 300 jobs at SEGA, closure of their San Francisco office, and shifting their focus to digital titles. Stephen Frost, producer of Sonic Boom, has been confirmed as part of these losses.

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To compare, Sonic Lost World, the previous Wii U/3DS exclusive Sonic title under the Nintendo deal, managed to sell 640,000 copies by December 2013. It went on to have 710,000 copies sold by March 2014.

It’s not all bleak though – another big title from SEGA last year, Alien: Isolation from developer Creative Assembly, managed to shift 1,760,000 copies. SEGA have also said the Sonic franchise will be “reinforced” to generate stable profits for the company.

Sonic Boom was announced in February last year, envisioning itself as a spin off from the mainline Sonic franchise. Developed by Big Red Button on Wii U and Sanzaru Games on 3DS, it was also launched alongside a TV show which airs on Cartoon Network. SEGA called it “one of the biggest license initiatives SEGA has undertaken in recent years”.

Release Date, Gameplay Details for Runners Revealed via Famitsu

Untitled-5In an interview with Sonic Team big boss Takashi Iizuka, Famitsu have revealed more details about the upcoming mobile only title and its possible release date.

You can catch the interview here, however unless you’re fluent in Japanese you won’t be able to get much out of it outside of a Google Translate. Though the current translation is very rough, there are some details which can be made out about the game.

  • Stages are designed to be one or two minutes long.
  • The game is a 2D action side-scroller.
  • Controls are designed to be operable with one hand.
  • It seems you will move forward automatically, and will tap the screen to jump.
  • Dr. Eggman will appear in the game as a boss.
  • There is talks of colour powers, and having a companion in the game. Wisps to return?
  • There will be new music for the game.
  • Familiar elements like rings and loop-de-loops return.

When Famitsu conducted this interview, they also managed to get their hands on the game. Though they say this was back on just January 20th and can’t actually reveal any gameplay footage, they say the game “was quite finished”. Even more surprising, Famitsu also state the game will release this month in Japan.

We will update this article when more details and/or better translations are provided.