UK’s Official Nintendo Magazine With Sonic 4 Scoop Next Month

Sonic 4 has seen more high profile leaks than SEGA would have liked but the marketing for the game looks set to officially kick into high gear soon as the first news of a magazine featuring a preview has been uncovered. As revealed in their latest issue (54, April 2010) the UK’s Official Nintendo Magazine will have screenshots and impressions of Sonic 4 next month. The magazine will be out on the 9th April so in you live in the UK you can pick it up then or you can rely on TSS to give you the down-low. Thanks to MK Skillz of the SSMB for the heads up!

Eggman In Financial Crisis Claims Latest Sonic 4 Webpage Update

It’s Thursday and it’s 7PM GMT so what does that mean? You’re right, it’s the official Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 webpage content unlock. What goodies do SEGA have in store for us this time? More in game Badnik art and Concept art? Correct again. This time it’s a “new” version of Marble Garden’s floating spiky fish thing; Bubbles. So yeah, it looks like the dude from Sonic 3 but more so. The description seemingly reveals the global recession has also hit Eggman so “budget cuts” mean some versions of the Badnik don’t even have spikes. I swear I’m not making that up. We are warned about the “Red Ones” though, which sounds like a more vicious variant. Check out the website for full sized images and hold on tight for next weeks update of, you got it, more Badnik and Concept art!

You Were Too Slow For This Sonic Top

Ellie is faster than you.

Oh yes you were, and you’re looking at this awesome custom Sonic tops new owner. You remember it, don’t you? It was the one I brought to your attention at the back end of December, made by Poppy from Poppy’s Wicked Garden on Etsy. A few girls were interested but it was TSS reader Ellie who got a hold of it at the speed of Sonic himself. Unfortunately the top didn’t get to Ellie at the same speed but it was more then welcome when it did. So there we go, Ellie is faster than you!

Sonic 4 Website Unlocks Multimedia & Concept Art

PLANTS!

The latest Sonic 4 website countdown reached zero at 7pm GMT tonight and unlike some of the previous unlocks this one actually had content behind it. Firstly the website now sports a “Wallpapers” option under the Multimedia section where you can download a wallpaper (funnily enough) with the Sonic 4 logo in one of three sizes. Secondly the site yielded more concept art, this time of various stylised greenery in the shape of bushes and such. Both items can be seen on the official Sonic 4 Website.

So with two more items unlocked, as seems to be the way with everything on the site, two more countdowns have begun. Thats right, we’re now waiting for  more concept art and our second Badnik model, both of which are due to be unlocked at 7pm GMT next Thursday. What do you think we’ll see? Answers in the comments section below!

ASR & Other Sonic Figures At Toy Fair 2010, Pictures Inside

If any of you have been waiting feverishly for new information on the figures based on Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing then today is your lucky day. Thanks to Toy Fair 2010 in New York we have a slew of new pictures for you and details of what else to expect from Jazwares in the coming months.

Firstly, we have the ASR figures; 5 Inch vehicles with figure and 3″ Mini Racing Figures, inside and outside the box. Next in the gallery blow you should be able to spot the new 6 Inch Knuckles Super Poser. Finally, last but not least is a second Sonic Comic 3″ Double pack, this time featuring Archie’s Sonic issue 207 and three inch figures of Sonic and Metal Sonic! Thats right, the metal one is getting another figure. You wait years for one then three come at once. According to ToyNewsi Jazwares aren’t planning on releasing good ‘ol Metal by himself just yet but it may be in the pipeline later on.

But thats not all the Sonic figure news we have, oh no. Expect to see wave two of the mini ASR figures expand to include Knuckles, Eggman and Tails with wave three being the first to contain none Sonic characters in the guise of Ai Ai, Amigo and Beat. If you’re not into Sonic and cars then you have a Tails 6″ Super Poser to look forward to as well as the Knuckles one and Jazwares also has a mass of plush characters waiting in the wings. Sonic, Shadow and The Werehog are already features on Jazwares webpage but new to the series will be Tails, Knuckles and Silver. Finally it appears Amy will finally get her claws on Sonic as they will be released together in a future comic double pack.

For more pictures see ToyNewsi.

Sonic 4 “Characters” Section Unlocked, Reveals Nothing

Epic Fail?

Last week  the official Sonic The Hedgehog 4, Episode 1 website was revealed but a lot of information on it was obscured by black boxes, some with a timer counting down.  On Thursday at 11am GMT the Intro section of the site became available but like a lot of things had actually been leaked early. The next countdown in the “Characters” section was due to end at 11am today and while the black box was removed it’s revealed nothing underneath. A lack of information? It’s exactly the opposite problem that the site had been experiencing up to date thanks to it’s number of small leaks.

This has caused a small amount of confusion in the SSMB as some members have reported their countdown clock to still have another five hours remaining. Others reported that the countdown clock had vanished before 11am anyway. Whatever the overriding issue it’s just another problem in the short life of the Sonic 4 website. It’s possible that the content hasn’t been uploaded yet to avoid more leaks but content going up late is arguably worse.

Other posters on the Official SEGA Forums are reporting a variety of different times that their unlock is scheduled to run to zero. The popular theory there is that the countdowns are tailored to the time zone you live in. While that may be the case it doesn’t explain the problem as the first unlock appeared as promised last Thursday.

We’ll be monitering the situation all day to see if anything appears later on.

Preview: Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing

The same two questions seem to be asked over and over whenever Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing gets mentioned. “Why is Sonic in a car?” and “Is it going to be better than Mario Kart?”. If you read this site often enough you’ll know the answer to the first; it’s to keep things fair as out of a vehicle Sonic would easily win any race. Sumo Digital went the first step to answer the latter question by releasing the demo for Xbox 360. TSS has been putting the game through it’s paces for the past few hours so do we think it’s shaping up to be faster than the speed of light or slower than a plumber arriving on time for an appointment?

The demo offers up the chance to play as either Sonic in his sports car or Banjo & Kazooie in their dilapidated nuts and bolts mobile. The only track available for racing is called the Lost Temple and is set in Sonic Heroe’s Seaside Hill, music and all. In fact the race course is chock full of SEGA and Sonic related paraphernalia. NiGHTS is the man in charge of the checkered flag for example and the crowd is made up of a number Chao. Crabmeat Badniks roam the sands scurrying sideways to try and block your path while Choppers leap from the sea in between jumps. Power-ups are contained TV style capsules and springs are deviously placed to shunt you off the racing line should you get too close. Any SEGA fan will be happy to soak in the detail track-side and bask in the charm of it all but when you’ve finished sightseeing it’s time to race.

This is where things may start to feel a little familiar to anyone who has played that other kart racing series. The trick to getting boost is by drifting and if you hold the accelerator down at the right time during the start you can even gain a head start. Some weapons propelled forwards bounce along the side of the track a little suspiciously like shells might elsewhere and traffic cones dropped behind you have the chance of slipping up the competition, if you get the reference. But just when you start to feel a sense of Deja-Vu creep over you the  excitable announcer will shout about someone having hold of an “All-Star” and your world is about to be rocked. Every character in the game has their own unique all-star move and rather than just being this games blue shell taking out the player up front they all differ which could be a huge factor in deciding which characters become your favourite.

Sonic for example is turned Super and is propelled down the track at an increased speed knocking other racers out of his way. Banjo and Kazooie make the sky rain “Jiggies”;  Over-sized jigsaw pieces as deadly to front of the pack as to the back. Shadow turns super himself and dishes out a liberal dose of Chaos Spears and Ryo Hazuki  swaps his motorbike with a fork lift truck to power down the track. On the games default difficulty setting you’ll see your rivals use these moves several times during a race. Sometimes they can be avoided while others will bring you to a standstill and potentially ruin your chances at victory.

All the All-Star moves in the world won’t get you very far until you master the basics though. As previously mentioned it’s still all about drifting which is done by holding down a drift button (The left bumper or trigger). After a few second you’ll see some boost spew out of the exhaust of your vehicle at which point you can let go of the drift button to be propelled forwards. The only other way to boost is by pressing the drift button while jumping which will trigger a trick in mid-air and a boost while on solid ground. The trick is to make sure you’re heading in the right direction for a boost as it’s all too easy to career into a wall or off a bridge by accident.

Once you have your brain around those concepts you’ll notice, on the default difficulty at least, that you’ll either just win races after a fierce battle or spend all race being every other drivers punching bag. For example, despite coming first quite in quite a few races and having the optimum driving technique more or less mastered there were still occasions where I would finish dead last or close to it thanks to a perfect storm of punishment. Being hit by missiles and boxing gloves is bad enough but getting up to speed for a ramp only to be hit by something and falling off the track is infuriating, especially as when you re-spawn you’re basically not moving forwards. Another time while taking the only short-cut on the track which involves taking a jump to a boost pad on an island, Knuckles landed on me squashing me cartoon style and sending me to a watery abyss. This re-spawned me back on dry land BEFORE the jump meaning I was last by a mile.

It’s this unpredictable nature of  ‘kart’ racing games that could really sour the experience for some. The flip side is that all the damage you take you can deal out to your foes and hitting someone with a missile and watching them fall behind you is as sweet as it sounds. Lowering the difficulty to it’s easiest has everyone just wait behind you which is no fun at all while the hardest setting is the maddest of the bunch as you fight tooth and nail for every position, the bad luck visiting almost every driver in equal measure. The balancing of the games difficulty to make the punishment exciting but not unfair will be crucial.

The frame rate in the demo isn’t the most stable but as it’s taken from an older build of the game. Steve “S0l” Lycett has promised in the SSMB that such issues had yet to be fully addressed in it’s optimization stage so hopefully the proper game will be a smoother driving experience. The game will ultimately live or die by the variety of it’s characters and it’s racetracks though and how different Sumo Digital has been able to make them feel. Seaside Hill looks pretty enough but the textures of foliage leaves a lot to be desired. Then again it’s not something you notice while you’re attempting to avoid the chaos. Other levels would do well to be packed with more SEGA references but will need some neat tricks to stop from feeling the same despite the change of scenery.

At this stage Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing has just enough promise, madness and ideas of its own to carve a hedgehog shaped niche in the Kart racing genre. With Mario Kart  Wii flirting with the mainstream; wide tracks, Wiimote control and all, ASR could actually find itself in first place as the hardcore Kart game of choice if everything comes together.

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing is due for release February 23rd in the States and 26th in Europe for 360, Ps3, Wii and PC.

ASR 360 Demo + Theme Available & “Characters” Fully Detailed On ASR Webpage

While the majority of the Sonic fanbase is busy arguing about the former Project Needlemouse, Sumo Digital today dropped the Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing demo for Xbox 360 to remind everyone there is another game featuring everyone’s favourite blue hedgehog coming out rather soon. Sumo Digital staff member Steve “S0L” Lycett prompted eager fans via the SSMB with a cheeky message;

No-one been on their Xbox today then?

At a huge 1GB the demo is still downloading for me but check by this story later this evening for impressions. The demo is said to include Seaside Hill’s Lost Palace track with either Sonic or Banjo & Kazooie playable. Also available is a local multiplayer mode for up to two meaning you and a friend can battle it out split screen style. Kudos to Ferr of the SSMB for that particular piece of info. If you have a 360 yourself then what are you waiting for? No news on a PS3 or Wii demo as of yet but as soon as we hear something we’ll let you know.

If that wasn’t enough excitement for one day then you might want to check out the official ASR webpage where the “Characters” tab has been fully updated. It includes a brief bio for every announced character and a rotating model of their car. A quick look over the section also confirms Opa-Opa and the ChuChu’s as playable characters, the latter in their very own rocket!

[Update]

Resident TSS news hound Shadzter brought to my attention that the 360 Premium Theme for ASR is available to buy and will set you back 240 Microsoft points. Thanks to the wonderful AAUK we have a picture of the theme for you here;

If you want to see more head on over to the Blognik. Meanwhile you can expect a preview of ASR based on the demo later tonight on the Stadium.

Hedgehog Week, Day 1 Update Inside!

Thats it, the wait is over, SEGA have finally released their first daily update of Hedgehog Week which comes in three parts. The first part is the promised concept art which is below, as are words from SOA blogger RubyEclipse.

The Sunflower has long been a defining feature of Sonic’s beginnings ever since it first appeared in the original Sonic The Hedgehog. Along with the Badniks, it returns in the first zone of Project Needlemouse – and, yes, it actually spins.
If there’s one thing we know about Palm Trees, it’s that they tend to hide hidden boxes with power-ups like invincibility. We do not question how exactly such a box managed to find its way to the top of a palm tree, but we do know that finding such boxes hidden in Palm Trees is still pretty awesome. So, consider it official – these guys are coming back, too.

While we know that these two pieces of concept art may literally only be a sunflower and a palm tree, and aren’t exactly the most action-packed pictures you’ve seen this year, they express a spirit of the game that we feel is even more important. From Badniks to Zones, there are some things that mean a lot simply because they exist within a game.

The second part is the chance to win a very special copy of Sonic 3, and more besides!

Today we are going to be giving away a ton of Sonic merchandise, including an exclusive signed copy of Sonic 3, autographed by Iizuka-san, one of the Senior Level designers from the original Sonic The Hedgehog 3 / Sonic and Knuckles team! If collectable merch from Sonic’s early days is your thing, or even if you’re only interested mostly because it’s both rare and awesome, then here’s how you can score it:

1: Post a comment on this blog!
2: Be the person who makes the 333rd Comment.
3: Win signed copy of Sonic The Hedgehog 3, boost coolness by +10.

Additional prizes will go out to people whose comments hit milestones along the way, including the following comment numbers:

1
5
10
25
50
100
150
200
250
300
330
331
332
333
334
400
450
500

Which means we’re going to be giving out at least 17 different pieces of Sonic swag today, including the signed game! Items you could win include a Sonic & Metal Sonic Wall Scroll (Featuring classic Sonic – who has black eyes), a brand new Sonic the Hedgehog Clock, a Sonic Towel and more! All you have to do is be the lucky person who gets their comment in one of the places above, and you’ve won the goods!

Q: Can I spam? What if I just post “ASKDJFLASDJFLKASDJF over and over again?
A: No spam, please! Comment with your thoughts on Needlemouse, your hopes for the game, what you thought about the concept art, etc. Spam comments won’t be approved, so only people who take the time to write out real comments will win the swag!

Q: Do responses to previous comments count?
A: Yes!

Q: Can I post more than once?
A: Yes!

The prize is said to contain some hints of it’s own about Needlemouse, let us know in the comments section what you think that might be

Finally…

Also in celebration of Hedgehog Day, we’ve added up a shiny new piece of flash to the front page of our website! We highly suggest checking it out – after all, it includes the first sneak peak at a few seconds of music from Project Needlemouse! Oh, but don’t go thinking that’s the big bonus – this Thursday, when everything finally goes out, we’ve got something extra special for you guys to complement the game’s real name.

Until then – awesome job once again on the amazing concept art you guys have sent in! We’re going to feature even more of it tomorrow and throughout the week as we celebrate Hedgehog Week, and the upcoming reveal of Project Needlemouse!

From all of us here at SEGA – Happy Hedgehog Day!

If you live outside the UK on SEGA’s homepage you have to select the flag in the top right hand corner and select the US flag. Only then will you hear the music and see the flash animation.

That seems to be it for now so get posting on SEGA’s blog to win some stuff!

SEGA & Tomy Deal Brings Sonic Figures To UK & Europe

Earlier this month TSS exclusively revealed the first scraps of information about Jazwares teaming up with Tomy to release their Sonic figures in the UK. Today TSS has the full details of the deal including the first wave of figures and prices.

The first thing to take note of is that Tomy have agreements with both Jazwares and SEGA to not only release existing Sonic figures but develop their own Sonic based merchandise. The deal comes in two parts; Tomy will have access to “a massive back catalogue of characters and stories from two decades of Sonic games, to create a range of new and innovative Sonic-branded toys and collectibles for fans and collectors, young and old.” from Spring 2011. Secondly,  from February 1st 2010 to December 31st 2010 Tomy will distribute Jazwares’ Sonic figures across the whole of Europe.

In the press release announcing the deals Robert Mann, CEO of Tomy Europe had this to say:

“These are two hugely exciting agreements for Tomy. Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most iconic characters in the history of videogaming and has brand recognition reaching far beyond. Sonic players have been fanatical about collectibles and merchandise, and today’s generation are no exception. We’re looking forward to working with both Jazwares and SEGA to bring some really innovative and exciting products to market.”

While the business news is exciting Tomy have also released details about the first wave of Jazwares figures to look out for and their recommended retail price.

  • 6” Super Posers, highly detailed posable action figures with over 25 points of articulation (£9.99 RRP)
  • 7” Soft Figures, plush characters, ready to go wherever your adventure takes you (£6.99 RRP)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Comic Book Pack, a collector’s edition 200th issue comic book featuring Sonic and rival Knuckles, complete with two exclusive 3¾” posable action figures (£16.99 RRP).

This only appears to be the start, so for once Sonic fans in Europe have a reason to be excited when new Sonic figures are revealed. Now if only we knew more about the ASR figures…

Should any of you more eagle eyed readers spot these figures in the wild why not drop us a line at thesonicstadium@gmail.com and tell us about it?

GamesRadar On Needlemouse: Highly Anticipated & Doomed To Fail

GamesRadar may be familiar to some Sonic fans thanks to their extremely harsh treatment of SEGA’s mascot. Staunch supporters of older Sonic games writers for the site have documented the hedgehogs fall from grace in graphic detail, labeling his kiss with Elise in Sonic 06 as their reason for taking a swing at Sonic and his friends every chance they get.

Their viewpoint on Sonic isn’t an unusual one in the mainstream gaming press, but while some persecute without remorse, reading thorough the various lists compiled on GamesRadar you can’t help but feel that at least a small part of them yearns for an exceptional Sonic game. Over a year ago now one of their writers stated the only way for SEGA to remedy the problem would be to “Take a cue from Mega Man 9 – make Sonic 4 and bring back Blast Processing.”

Capcom's revival of Mega Man has been so successful it's spawned another retro sequel. It's not a stretch to think SEGA saw this and started work on a classic revival of their own.

Over a year later and GamesRadar aren’t getting exactly what they asked for but it’s close enough and what little we know about Project Needlemouse has them excited,

“So we know it’s 2D. We know it’s HD (which rules out Wii). We know it’s clearly focused on speed and old-school feel based on the sound effects and specific blue-blur animations. By all accounts, this is it folks, the game we’ve been asking for since the late ‘90s. And you know what? We’re ready to bite… almost.”

It’s with that in mind I want to bring your attention to two of their newest lists. The first details their top 100 most anticipated games of 2010. Project Needlemouse sits pretty at number 50.

“The very name sends shivers down our spines. Why? Because Sonic was called Mr Needlemouse internally at Sega before he was called Sonic. This is it – the game where they make Sonic like it’s 1991, only now they’ve got Xbox 360 and PS3 hardware to do it with. Time and time again, our hopes are dashed, but if ever one last fragile hope burned in the void, it’s in the shape of this game. And it has to be perfect. Nothing less will do.”

The well wishing doesn’t last very long. Only a few days later Project Needlemouse appeared on a very different list; Games that are doomed to die in 2010.

“Sonic is historically an automatic seller. After years of slow franchise death, does anyone really give a crap about the little blue bugger anymore? At this point, anyone who does care probably isn’t interested in the Sonic of yesteryear, and anyone who cared about Sonic when he was at the top of the industry has had his passion destroyed by this:

The worst moment in a Sonic game? The worst game in the Sonic series? Many think so.

Claiming Needlemouse is doomed to fail strikes me as being a very premature statement. Firstly there are precious few actual facts to base an opinion on and secondly, dismissing a legion of loyal Sonic fans is a very dangerous thing to do. GamesRadar may end up eating their words with this one. What do you lot think, let me know on the comments!

Sonic Community Win SEGA’s Needlemouse Challenge

It’s been a very long four days for Sonic fans everywhere thanks to SEGA’s Project Needlemouse Character Countdown. Starved for information about the game with naught but a teaser trailer and rumours of it possibly being a downloadable title for 360 and PS3 to go on, fans leapt on SEGA’s challenge to whittle down a frankly ridiculous list of possible playable characters. The first two challenges were easy with fans racking up 250 correct replies on SEGA’s blog and Facebook page in a matter of hours. The third day was harder with the target of 1000 answers on SEGA’s forum failing to be reached.

In the final challenge yesterday SEGA were asking for a mammoth 1250 correct answers to be posted to their Twitter account or for SEGA or Needlemouse to reach the trending topic list. It was a long night with an extraordinary effort put in by everyone to push for the goal. Many fans had never used Twitter before and set up an account just for this challenge. Others helped members struggling to Tweet correctly by showing them how. It wasn’t long before Twitter was drown under a wave of #SEGA and #Needlemouse posts. SEGA offered words of encouragement and for a short period we were actually posting more topics per minute than some of the top 10 trending topics. It was a valiant effort but while we never made the trending topics list we still won. At around 7am GMT SEGA gave us the word:

Continue reading Sonic Community Win SEGA’s Needlemouse Challenge

Final Needlemouse Challenge LIVE

The week long Needlemouse challenge speeds into it’s fourth and final day with one last quest for the Sonic Community to complete. This time the battleground is on Twitter. Oh, and bad luck to any Amy and Shade fans as they became the most recent Sonic characters to be rejected as playable characters.

Once again, RubyEclipse from the SEGA America Blog was on hand to give us the down-low on our challenge.

Day 4: Twitter (Difficulty: High)

Final Goal: Reply @SEGA on Twitter with a total of 1,000 correct answers!

Bonus Point Earned if correct replies break 1,250 responses, ORif #SEGA or #Needlemouse become trending topics!

How to create trending topics:Trending Topics on twitter are words or phrases that are the most frequently written. Put a # just before the word (ex: #SEGA) to contribute to a it’s rank. You can keep on talking to your friends and updating with #Needlemouse or #SEGA, and you will continue to raise the chance that they become trending topics on the front page of twitter!

Trivia – Final Set (Remember, reply to @SEGA on Twitter!)

1: If you locked Sonic 3 onto Sonic and Knuckles, what was the largest amount of emeralds you could collect from special stages?

2: Yuji Naka is credited with much of Sonic’s history, but who is the man that actually designed Sonic?

3:  During his creation, what was the Japanese name originally given to Sonic?

This is it, everyone! The final chance to get that last bonus point, and the day for us to show the world that the power of fans can accomplish amazing things.

The contest ends in 24 hours – let’s roll!

The questions are harder, the answers needed higher but it can be done. If you’re not a member of Twitter it’s easy enough to sign up and now is the perfect time to join. It might also be an idea to ask friends and family to help out if need be, we’ve done so well it would be a shame to fall at the final hurdle. Good luck all.

PS, my money is on Shadow being in, but that is the subject for another story entirely. The TSS writers are at war over who should remain…

Take Your Cards For A Mega Drive

It’s unofficial Mega Drive day here at TSS because I say it is. That and because both Brad and I have found amusing Mega Drive related things for your viewing pleasure. His might literally move but mine can make you look like you mean business, literally.

It’s actually a Mega Drive Card Case which was spotted by the SEGA Twitter people earlier this week. Personally I think it looks great and sort of want one. If only I had any business cards to display. They are available at “Geek Stuff 4 U” and it’s just a guess but I don’t think English is the sites first language. For example, take a read of the description on their site:

“For every geek in you! Hold your business card with style thanks to the latest Banpresto Business card case, the Mega Drive 16-Bit Card Case! Separated in two compartment, one is dedicated to hold your own business card, and the other is design to keep the business card you got during business meeting.”

I swear I’m not making this up! If you want one they are up for pre order on the Geek Stuff 4 U website until January 27th. After than the expected shipping date is ‘March’. The price is ¥2,250.00 which is roughly $24.53 or £15.07 at the time of writing.

So who wants one?

Decade Moment: Visiting SEGA’s London HQ

What is a “Decade Moment?”  It is a moment from the past ten years that us here at TSS remember vividly to this day.  A game announcement, completing a tough level, or acquiring some slick merchandise… everything memorable and certifiably Sonic counts.
Being a life long Sonic fan has been difficult at times, being a lifelong SEGA fan even more so. When I was growing up you were in one of two groups; either a SEGA fan or a Nintendo fan. This division separated playgrounds around the country with kids either boasting about their new Mega Drive or SNES games. Harsh words were spoken, sometimes fights even broke out but supporting your chosen brand meant everything and meant it for life. At least, it did for me.

Believe it or not SEGA were actually the more popular company in the UK while I know Nintendo ruled the US. Unfortunately this didn’t last for very long. With the botched launches of the SEGA CD and 32X SEGA’s popularity waned and by the time the Saturn rolled around hardcore SEGA fans were few and far between, taunted by the legion of videogame players who’d turned to the PlayStation or N64. While they enjoyed the likes of Final Fantasy VII and Mario 64 I happily played NiGHTS, revelled in Sonic R & Sonic Jam and waited patiently for the next real Sonic game.

I felt I was rewarded for my loyalty when I won a Dreamcast around its launch from the old SEGA Europe website in 1999. To say I was happy would be a gross understatement. I remember screaming and doing laps round my house, pumping my fists in the air. Everyone knows how the Dreamcast’s commercial failure spelled the end of SEGA’s console manufacturing days but it was good just to be part of what’s now being called the world’s most underrated console.

If you’ve read up to here you must be thinking what all of this has to do with my moment of the decade. The problem is without a back story my moment won’t seem that significant and hopefully now you’ve got a small insight into my mindset when it comes to all things SEGA.
As these things tend to happen with people so passionate about the pastimes they love I ended up writing about SEGA related things and because of said writing I was invited to SEGA’s HQ in London to preview Sonic Unleashed two weeks before its release in 2008. The trip on the train from Leeds to London was nerve-wracking and navigating London’s Tube system a nightmare. Despite all the best written directions I had I was sure I was going to get lost but after taking the exit from a station I saw it from a distance; those four blue letters adorned on the top of a building; SEGA. I took a picture.

Allow me to elaborate on how much of a near religious moment this was for me. Since the age of six I’d asked for and bought all things SEGA so finally visiting the Mecca that is Sega’s London HQ was astounding. Add to the fact that I got to play a new ‘proper’ Sonic game two weeks before the majority of the population, be one of the first people to see Night Of The Werehog, take home some SEGA merch and a Sonic advent calendar and I was absolutely ecstatic. That’s not all, I also got to meet the awesome AAUK, Svend, T-Bird, Shadzter, Vger, Flyoy Fox, Violet and more (If I’ve forgotten your names play hell with me in the comment section of this post) and chat to them after the event. I’ll never forget how knackered poor AAUK was in the pub after, too tired to even contemplate my offer of a pint. Talk turned to how the intro to Unleashed was probably the best Sonic intro ever and hopes for it to be truly special.

The jury is out on how special the game turned out but at least its rated rather highly by TSS staff. What was special beyond a shadow of a doubt was that day, visiting SEGA HQ and meeting some fantastic new faces. No wonder I ended up writing here.

Jazwares Sonic Figures Coming To The UK “Very Soon”

It’s been a depressing fact of life for UK Sonic fans when it comes to Jazwares range of fantastic figures. Being ‘exclusive’ to Toys R Us stores but so far only in the US has made them very difficult and costly to get hold of. All of that is about to change. Following the announcement of the new ASR figures TSS got in touch with Jazwares to ask if their favourite blue hedgehog and friends would be available to purchase in the UK anytime soon. Jazwares replied and its good news, figures will be heading here “very soon.”

Jazwares has teamed up with Tomy who will be distributing the line of figures and it’s expected like in the US the range will be available to purchase from Toys R Us stores. Further e-mails have been sent to try and ascertain more details such as exactly which figures to look out for and when but until we get the answers this is all we know.

Obviously TSS will be sure to keep you updated on this developing story.

Keep Others Out With ASR Door Hangers

With Christmas and the New Year over SEGA have started to put the pedal to the metal with it’s publicity for Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. Hopefully you’ve already seen the new in game pictures and pre-rendered character art posted here at the Stadium earlier today. Keen eyed Sonic fans will also have spotted what appears to be the first of a series of updates from ArchangelUK on the Blognik about ASR merchandise. Figures and steering wheels have been mentioned in the past but unveiled to the world today for the first time: pictures of ASR door hangers! I kid you not, take a look at the picture below. 

No details on how to get hold of the door hanger have been revealed but AAUK has promised updates about more ASR merchandise including the Wii wheel in the near future. The game will be bundled with different things depending on the territory you live in but concrete details on that are also yet to be revealed. It’s not too long until the games release but TSS will answer all the above questions when SEGA is ready to release the answers. Chief among all of them is the games actual release date!

Super Sexy Sonic Top For Sale

It’s not escaped my attention in the short amount of time I’ve been writing for the Stadium that we seem to have a lot of female readers. So it’s just for you I spied this awesome piece of custom Sonic clothing by way of UK:Resistance who I’m sure have no female readers.

The top is a one of a kind custom creation by Poppy who runs Poppy’s Wicked Garden on handmade trading website Etsy and can be yours for the sum of $36 plus postage. But because there’s only one if you like it I’d get buying it quick sharp.

If you’re not quick enough then don’t despair as Poppy has a load of other equally interesting custom clothes ranging from Star Wars, Tru Blood, Naruto, Harry Potter and everything in-between. There’s sure to be a unique piece of clothing to meet your geek needs.

Oh, and the alternative girl in the photo? Sorry boys, she’s just a model and there’s no indication that she’s a hardcore Sonic fan.

Metal Sonic Sprite T-Shirt Gives You +10 Cool

If you thought the Sonic t-shirt posted here by the lovely Brad Flick a few months ago was cool then allow me to introduce that t-shirts older cooler brother. Shark Robot now have up for sale a similar t-shirt in concept but made all the cooler by featuring Metal Sonic’s glowing red eyes and evil glare. At still only $17.95 the t-shirt is a steal and I’ve no qualms in telling you all after getting the Sonic t-shirt for Christmas (thanks sis!) I ordered Metal Sonic as soon as I saw it. Click the image for a larger preview and when you’re done gawking get yourself over to Shark Robot and buy the damn thing, pronto!

New Big The Cat Figure On The Horizon

Nobody could argue that Jazwares have been slacking off because off the back of several new Sonic figure reveals comes another. While the figure in question might only be Big The Cat the big news is the quality of the figure and the many points of articulation which unlike the Sonic Super Posers doesn’t leave Big looking like a knobbly kneed and elbowed freak. There’s no news of a price or even a release date as of yet thanks to the figures status of pending a license. The figure is also missing from the newly updatesd Jazwares website while the ASR figures have a ‘coming soon’ section ready even if there’s no actual content on them yet.

You can check out pictures of the prototype figure below provided by Toy News International and be sure to keep a lookout for further updates regarding any and all Sonic based figures right here at the Sonic Stadium.

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Figures Coming

bracing_setJust a very quick update before I dash out of the house to my day job. ToyGlobe have recently updated their website and added a preview of some Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing figures to be released by Jazwares. The images displayed appear to be mock-ups only but they give an idea of what is to be released in February 2010 closer to the games release.

Two sets of figures are planned. One includes a vehicle and a 5 inch character. The set Includes Sonic, Knuckles and Shadow. The former two are tentativley priced at $13.95 and the latter at $15.95. The full set of three is to cost $39.95 . More interestingly due to covering a much wider group of racers is the 1.5 inch set which includes the above three racers as well as Eggman, Amy, Tails, AiAi, Amigo and Beat. They are set to cost $5.95 each but all six Sonic characters will be released together in a pack at $29.95. All the figures are available for Pre-Order.

No details have been released about any further characters to be added but suggest you watch this space. Personally I want a Ryo Hazuki figure.

A pictures of the mock-ups can be seen on the right there, or you can visit the ToyGlobe website. When pictures of the actual figures are released we’ll let you know.

Thanks Aquaslash of the SSMB for the heads up.

GamesTM: “Sonic Number One Videogame Franchise That Lost It’s Way”

British multi-format videogame magazine GamesTM have become the latest publication to take another punt at the Sonic franchise. Each month the magazine has a top 10 list with a different subject every issue. For example previous lists have been about the top 10 ‘Best First person Shooters’, ‘Most Emotional Moments In Gaming’ and ‘Worst Things About Great Games’. Issue 90 of GamesTM counts the top 10 videogame franchises that lost their way placing Sonic in the number one spot.

“Some developers have talet. It’s as simple as that” write GamesTM. “Series like Half-Life, Zelda and Grand Theft Auto have consistently maintained a level of quality with only the most minor of tremors causing concern along the way. It’s a very rare thing, though.” The magazine go on to say more commonly some franchises get things disastrously wrong and ‘jump the shark’ though many manage to learn from their mistakes quickly. Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness is an example of that. According to them Sonic has failed to improve since the next-gen era began, branding Sonic’s 2006 game his most appalling appearance to date.

“As if a ridiculously overwrought plot, irritating support cast and technically deficient gameplay weren’t enough, Sonic’s relationship and kiss with Princess Elise truly marked the point the series had veered off into absolute nonsense.”

Though the magazine has been hyper critical of Sonic’s next-gen efforts they’ve been much more receptive to the Rush series on DS and even bestowed an 8 out of 10 on Sonic & The Black Knight stating that it “stands out as one of the better Sonic games because of its consistency. What you experience from the start can be expected right up until the end. There are no nasty surprises, no ill-considered gameplay changes and no sense that Sonic Team is ever confused about what the game is supposed to be.” Generally the GamesTM staff seem to genuinely like Sonic but are frustrated with recent entries to the series. Time will tell if the secretive Project Needlemouse can win them and the wider gaming media over.

Issue 90 of GamesTM is out now.

Sega To Make More CG Movies

In what appears to be good news for Sega fans who enjoyed Sonic’s GC short “Night Of The Werehog”, Sega recently announced they have created an entire subsidiary designed to create more CG movies. Dubbed “Sega Sammy Visual Holdings” and reportedly set up back on June 1st 2009 the group has the lofty aim of becoming “the number one family-oriented animation studio in the Asia-Pacific region within five years.”, or so Sega’s own industry news paper FunBiz reports on page four.

Existing IP’s are ripe for the picking and considering the popularity of Sonic’s last CG outing it would be no surprise to see the blue blur starring in a similar role sometime soon. The group will be creating “The Best Stories for children Around the World,” so that could rule out a Bayonetta animated short, alas.

So with Sega creating new CG movies what scenarios would you like to see Sonic & friends in and what other Sega IP’s would you like to see get the movie treatment? Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks to Sega Nerds for the heads up.

Japanese Sonic Channel Now Even More Shiny

Just in time for Christmas Sega of Japan has seen fit to spruce up the Sonic Channel website. While no significantly new content has been added some English has crept onto the site for everyone not fluent in Japanese and everything is looking quite a lot better than it did before.

New content you can check out now include some festive fan art and if you haven’t seen it already Silver The Hedgehog has gotten the Sonic Channel Wallpaper treatment for the month of December. A new Sonic pose has been posted as line art for your colouring pleasure and Sega have also included some great little Sonic scribbles in the form of a letter set and book cover for you to print off.

If you’ve not checked the site for a while of if you’ve never heard of it now’s your chance. I’ll give you a tip though; all the fun stuff is in the ‘Enjoy’ section of the site. Happy hunting!

Credit: Yong of the SSMB (for posting about it first)

2” Sonic Figures Spotted In The Wild & Online

First4Figures continue their onslaught of classic Sonic merchandise releasing three tiny figures standing just two inches high. This most recent batch includes Sonic, Tails and Knuckles in pre Sonic Adventure style. SSMB forum member and classic ‘gent’ Casanova has spotted a batch of the figures released into the wild, or more specifically his local Gamestation.

For all you super high-tech kids who think that physically going into a shop to buy things is thoroughly old fashioned you’ll be happy to know you can also buy the same figures right now from Play.com and have them delivered to your door. Postage is free but the catch is you’ll have to wait a number of days for them to arrive.

Whichever method you choose the figures will set you back £3.99 each. Check out some pictures below but for close up pack shots have a look in the SSMB as Casanova has provided them there.

Two Sonic Games Make Game Informers Top 200 Games Of All Time

TSS Readers in the USA may be more familiar with Game Informer than I but despite recent troubles the magazine is about to release their 200th issue. To celebrate the milestone they have comprised a list of the top 200 games of all time. With such a large list of games there’s lots of room to debate what came where but being a Sonic site first and foremost it’s Sonic games we’re looking for the most.

The good news is that the blue blur makes the list twice; the original Sonic The Hedgehog for the Genesis at a respectable 34 and it’s sequel Sonic The Hedgehog 2 a little further down but still just within the top hundred at 97. The bad news is that no other Sonic games place in the list at all.

The full list can be found here courtesy of Nintendo Everything.

One last thing of note, games with ‘Mario’ in the title appear 11 times in the list with 4 Mario games being placed above Sonic 1.

Sackboy To Wear Sonic & Friends Like A Cheap Coat

In a move that was surely only a matter of time, Sonic costumes are making their way to LittleBigPlanet. All in all five costumes will be making their way to the Playstation Store sometime mid December for your Sackboy to wear. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Eggman arefairly obvious choices but the Werehog seems a year too late to make much impact but is sure to please die-hard Unleashed fans. Whats mind boggling is the exclusion of Chip and the inclusion of Knuckles, the spiny anteater never actually appearing in Unleashed.

We’ll keep you posted on the specific release date and prices when they are made available. In the mean time check out the pictures below.

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NiGHTS To Miss Sonic & Sega ASR? Help Sega Remember Him

savenights

As Sega’s knockabout racer draws ever closer to release there’s still a vast amount we don’t know. Ryo Hazuki from Shenmue was a real surprise for long time fans and Sega are being extremely coy about revealing other playable characters.

One particuarly high profile character we’ve heard nothing about thus far is Sonic Team’s other game character NiGHTS. The devil-may-care jester featured prominently in the run up to the release of the last gathering of Sega characters; Superstar Tennis. His profile had been raised considerably by the release of Journey of Dreams for the Wii and even rival Reala got in on the action. Fast forward to today and NiGHTS is conspicuous by his absence.

Understandably this has his fans worried. DiGi Valentine of fan site NiGHTS Into Dreams.com sums up the mood perfectly.

“…the inclusion of NiGHTS is secondary to Sonic. He is a secondary mascot behind Sonic the Hedgehog and with all the current evidence shown to me I don’t believe NiGHTS is in AllStars Racing. I don’t think our fanbase should be treated in such a way as to have our favourite character not make the final line-up for whatever reason. We have not built this community up all these years only to have NiGHTS disregarded.”

Because of this DiGi has set up a campaign to make sure Sega don’t forget about NiGHTS. While any call for a character to be included in a game would usually be pointless so close to release this particular campaign has been spawned from rumours of impending DLC.

“I am not a man to act upon weak theories unless I have some form of proof and right now DLC has been mentioned, NiGHTS is no where to be seen. If DLC is being planned then this would be our only chance to make SEGA take notice and get NiGHTS in the game if he’s not already in there. And if NiGHTS is already in the game then all you’ve done is shown support for the character regardless.”

Should you feel passionately enough to help this worthy cause you can find the plan of action in full at the NiGHTS Community Forum. The crux of the campaign is to make Sega themselves aware of the fan outcry for NiGHTS. A previous effort was directed towards Sumo Digital who were entirely sympathetic to the cause but ultimately claimed their hands were tied and couldn’t reveal anything. Even if NiGHTS is in the game this may push Sega over the edge and have them reveal his existence this alleviating. So if you want to make a difference, read the plan carefully and whatever you do, don’t forget NiGHTS.

Support SEGA In The 2009 Open Web Awards

Social Networking site Twitter seems to be in the middle of taking over the world lately. The site allows you to post 140 character messages that can be read by potentially anyone in the world. The huge popularity Twitter enjoys is partly to do with how celebrities have ceased it as a way with communicating with their fans; From the self proclaimed “King of Twitter” Stephen Fry to Zac Effron and everyone else in-between.

It should be no surprise then that companies have also tried to be part of the action as a way of advertising their products. One such company making a better job of it than most is SEGA thanks largely to tireless work of Community Managers ArchangelUK and Martin ‘the fat ninja’ (his words, not mine!). So if you have a Twitter account and you’re not already following SEGA, what are you waiting for?

If you are following SEGA and would like to show a sliver of appreciation for all the hard work being put in by your favourite games company you could always vote for them in the 2009 Open Web Awards run by Mashable’s. This is their third annual award competition and comprises of a whopping 50 categories.

The category that would best help Sega’s Tweets is the “Best Brand Use of Twitter”. You can then vote for as many or as few categories as you wish and you can also vote daily. All you need is a Twitter account to start so now you’ve been enjoying a unique insight into Sega why not show you’re appreciation and vote?

More Chances To Win Mario & Sonic Snowboard Teased

Sega Europe Community Manager ArchangelUK apparently loves to tease people. For example, I present to you the official Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games branded Snowboard he showcased earlier today.

It looks great doesn’t it? In fact it looks even better if you go here to see them full size. So how about an opportunity to get your hands on this fabulous merchandise? Alas, you can’t buy this thing in the shops but it can be won in the UK Mario & Sonic Sweepstakes. I’d hurry though, the competition is only open until November 17th so you need to be as fast as Sonic himself to enter before the deadline. Terms and conditions for the competition can be found here and should you not be the lucky winner don’t fret, AAUK has also teased that there may be other opportunities to grab one. TSS will endeavour to keep you posted.

Sonic Relief 2010 Ideas Wanted, Apply Within

sonicrelief2010help

There’s currently a great idea brewing on the SSMB that I just felt the need to share. For one reason or another it’s having trouble gathering momentum but hopefully this will draw more attention towards it. SSMB member MK Skillz is the man with the plan and he’s sent me the following message to relay to everyone:

“Some of you may remember the Sonic Relief 2009 campaign that was run earlier this year which was an unexpected success and raised over £100 for UK charity Comic Relief. Well the two people behind the campaign – MK Skillz and Shadzter – want to bring Sonic Relief back. But before we do so, we want to hear some ideas from you.

Suggestions are wanted from you guys regarding what changes or improvements you would make to Sonic Relief. This doesn’t necessarily mean suggestions for activities for a future Sonic Relief (though by all means share your ideas!), it primarily means suggestions on how to change the Sonic Relief formula itself in terms of donations and submissions, etc. After all, it’d be you guys who’d be participating in the campaign, so we want to make it as workable as possible for you.

Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the Suggestions Topic on SSMB!

In other news, Twitter users can now follow @SonicReliefUK to share their ideas and keep up to date with all the latest Sonic Relief news. MK Skillz and Shadzter thank you in advance for your suggestions.”

I realise everywhere is feeling the pinch of recession at the moment but this is a great opportunity to have the community pull together and make something truly special. So get your thinking caps on and send in your ideas. You can aso get a feel for what kinds of things went down earlier this year by taking a look at the Sonic Relief 2009 topic on the SSMB

Get Four Sonic Posters In Nintendo Power Poster Book

nintentopowerNintendo Power has recently released a Poster Book in the US and Canada containing 4 posters featuring Sonic the Hedgehog. The posters which can be seen below come from a number of previously released Sonic games for Nintendo consoles such as Sonic Chronicles, Sonic Unleashed, Sonic & The Black Knight and the yet to be released Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter games. The book can be found in all good news stands costing $9.99 in the US and $12.99 in Canada.

Thanks go to KIRBY of the SSMB for the story, scans and pricing info for Canada as well as mikeblastdude for the pricing info for the US.

 

nintentopower_sonic

BlitzChris Presents An Education On Sonic Remixes

I’m often asked where I find the remixes for my radio show, and while I’m hesitant to give out the details, I also think it’s unfair if they’re not shared. I hope to enlighten you over time on a couple of websites which are integral to my collection.

Today I present Dwelling of Duels.

DoD was let slip in an interview earlier this year with one of the more famous Sonic remixers ‘Snappleman’ (famous for his work in Project Chaos, and remixing pr0n into his music). Essentially DoD is a website dedicated to video game remixes made by the casual remixing community. Anyone is free to upload their songs, but the catch is that each month a theme is presented and the entrants are bound to it. At the end of the month all tracks are reviewed anonymously and then displayed in rank.

As with most remix sites songs are hit and miss but when they hit you’ll find yourself with two missing teeth and the word “pwnd” branded on the side of your face. Previous themes have included a “Sonic Month” and a “Sega Month” or two, which really helps build a library of remixes. The odd “Free Month” is also handy for a Sonic pick-up or two.

Last months results have recently been updated and Prince Of Darkness along with DrumUltimA, Kyle Etges & Mark Kinz, have remixed Chemical Plant, Aquatic Ruin and Casino Night into an extremely creative and well composed piece. Who am I kidding; it just kicked some sweet ass. It came a very close second, and I recommend it highly.

If you don’t want to download every remix on the site these are the Sonic remixes I’d shortlist for you:

PrinceOfDarkness, GuitarBizarre – Sonic Gargles with Garden Marbles

Rexy – Roasting Point

Rexy – Marble Relocation

BONKERS – Flying Magic

Pete Capella, Voice Of Silver Mentions New ‘Collaboration’ In Interview

TSS Reader Psyguy and his website Wha-Chow! recently had the opportunity to chat with the voice of Silver the Hedgehog, Pete Capella. The 16 minute interview which can be found on the Wha-Chow! website gives some interesting insight into how Pete got the part of Silver, tips for budding voice actors and the reaction people give him when they find out he’s done voice work for Sonic games, among many other topics of discussion.

Towards the end of the interview Pete mentions a new Sonic ‘Collaboration’ that he’s doing voice work on but isn’t sure if he can or can’t talk about it yet. The interviewers on the website then make mention of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games with Pete unable to confirm or deny if this is the collaboration he is talking about.

As of yet Silver hasn’t been confirmed for the Olympic Winter Games but last year some leftover code was found of the character in the original Olympic title. It’s not much of a stretch to assume Silver might be showing up this time but the collaboration might not be anything Olympic related at all.

We’ll treat this strictly as a rumour for now but that’s besides the point; the interview is well worth a listen so I suggest you do so now then comment on what you’ve heard in Psyguy’s topic on the SSMB or here in the comments section

GameTrailers Explain ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’

I’ve just got a quick update for you guys because I saw this and it made me laugh. Gametrailers as part of their ‘GT Anthology’ series has uploaded a video detailing what made the original Sonic game for the Mega Drive / Genesis tick. For instance, did you know that collecting 100 rings gave Sonic an extra life and finishing an act with 50 rings let you enter a special zone? Ok, so I’m not being fair as the video would probably serve as more use to someone who wasn’t a fan and was curious about what this whole Sonic thing was about. Plus the video gives a brief rundown about the people involved with the game and some of the things they did after which is kinda interesting.

Mostly though it’s a dose of nostalgia to fans who remember the game from the first time round and newer fans curious about the speedy blue one’s first console outing. Have a look for yourself below.

Winter Olympic Shenanigans

Those of you with a good memory will remember last week I mentioned something about a little surprise I had for you all. Well today I’ve gone and let the proverbial hedgehog and plumber out of the bag as I’ve posted a hands on Preview of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. Oh yes, it’s right up there, to the top right hand side of the site for you to have a read over. Believe me when I say that game is worth getting excited about if you were a fan of the previous game. It’s probably time to start planning who’s sitting where in your imaginary Bobsleigh, made up of a row of chairs.

The entire event was great fun and I want to thank Dreadknux for offering me the experience, as I only went on his behalf because he was on holiday, and ArchangelUK for smuggling me in with an ace dude from Digital Spy to sit and play the game with some Swedish journalists, flown in especially for the day. In fact I was quite annoyed to hear it’d only taken them two-and-a-bit hours to get to London from Sweden while I’d been sat on a hot, sticky bus for four hours travelling down from Leeds.

As well as an excellent people smuggler I learnt AAUK is awesome at opening doors for people, going to find food for guests (I was too late though, Sega had eaten it all, even the fruit!) and synching Wii Remotes to a console.

The boss and T-Bird are back in a number of days but to try and ease my jealousy of their Japanese adventure I managed to track down some ‘Pocky’ in London. While it didn’t help in the slightest it tastes nice. I’ll be sticking around until then at least and maybe beyond if they like. This has all been great fun and a huge learning experience. It helps that 99% of the people who post comments or in the forum greatness. Thanks for all the words of support and I’ll do my best not to nuke the community in my final days!