In this month’s Sonic Talk, we discuss Sonic’s IDW comic debut with Sonic #1, Sonic Mania Plus, the Sega Genesis collection that’s not coming to Switch for some reason and finally, censored Puma shoes! Meanwhile, Alex still refuses to show his face, so GX piles a ton of Nintendo stock images on top of him. All this and much, much more so give it a watch!….Please. We need the views badly.
The old phrase “The more things change, the more they stay the same” has never been more true when it comes to the return of Sonic in comics in IDW’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” #1.
After being gone from comic shelves for over a year thanks to a fallout between Sega and Archie, Sonic’s found a new home with IDW. But the creative team has not left. This issue features a story by Ian Flynn, along with Tracy Yardley on pencils, Jim Amash on inks and even Matt Herms doing the colors. IDW knew the strength of the Archie Sonic books for the last ten-plus years was the strength of it’s creative team, so it only made sense to bring them all over.
So what’s different? Well, for one thing this is a full reboot focused primarily on Sonic as the main character and taking place in the game universe (but not canon to the games themselves). There’s no Mobius, no Ixis Naugus, no Freedom Fighters (yet) and no baggage from over twenty years of continuity.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD! (Please note that this is the start of a new story arc so there’s not a lot to spoil.) The comic is adapted from “Sonic Forces” and takes place after the end of the game. Eggman has been defeated and is currently missing, but his robot army has been on auto pilot without him. Most of them have been only a minor threat with some going off blindly and even walking right into the ocean. However, after some more difficult bot battles, Sonic and Tails have noticed that the robots seem to be more organized. Has Eggman returned or is there someone else at the controls? With Eggman not appearing until issue five, I’d say it’s the later.
The main plot is almost background fodder for the bot-kicking action of Sonic and Tails. The book does a good job of showing off their camaraderie. Sonic is arrogant and full of bravado while Tails mostly uses his wits and fights alongside Sonic in a few scenes. One scene worthy of note is Tails worrying about Sonic getting into too much danger. While those who have never played Sonic Forces may see him as being a bit of a worry wort, those who played the game and know what Tails went through will get a bit more character depth out of the scene.
I also like how the citizens react to Sonic. While there are some resistance fighters, most are inexperienced and scared. They see Sonic as not only a hero, but a celebrity of sorts. They gush over him and want his autograph.
Tracy, Jim and Matt haven’t lost a step. The art’s great and the colors really make it pop. One minor complaint is that the paper stock is a bit too stiff and crinkly for my tastes. While re-reading for this review in the quiet comfort of my home, every turn of the page was extremely loud with more crackles and pops than a bowl of Rice Crispys. Basically the paper stock used for the cover is used for every page. I know it’s a weird critique to make, but it’s true. Also, while the inks and colors are very bold, the print is a bit dark. They use dark purple borders around the panels and Sonic himself even seems a darker blue. I don’t know if this is on purpose or the printing just came out too dark. I will say it does look sharper than Archie’s prints.
While yes, your favorite creative team is back, it does lead to this feeling of the book being new but not fresh. It’s as if I haven’t picked up the Archie book in over a year and just came back in at the end of a game adaption story arc. It may not be the same world or all the same cast, but it doesn’t feel much different. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I imagine most fans wanted Ian, Tracy, Matt and all the others back on board. I did too and I’m glad they returned. But those who may have been looking for a brand new Sonic experience like they’ve never gotten before probably won’t find it here.
One thing I’ll say is that I do really like the new fan section “Sonic Letters Squad”. Not only does it include letters and fan art, but they are also posting pictures of fans in their cosplay. It’s nice that this is starting with issue one. I also hope they bring back a form of “Off-Panel” in the future or allow fans to make their own little comic strips for the back of the comic.
Overall, while IDW’s Sonic does feel more familiar than fresh, the new comic is off to a great start. There’s plenty of action, character interaction, fun and a bit of mystery to hook you into the next issue. Let’s hope Sonic gets another twenty year run at his new home.
Walking around Wondercon today, I came across quite a few interesting things. Cosplayers, tons of artists, every other booth requiring a few hundred Funko Pops for sale, a booth that sells only Ewok heads (I’m not kidding) and (formerly) Sonic Boom’s own Bill Freiberger.
But the most interesting thing for me was IDW’s booth with it’s large banner for Sonic the Hedghog. It features Sonic, Blaze and new gal, Tangle all striking poses. IDW’s acquisition of the Sonic license has given the blue blur a much larger spotlight than he’s had in the past few years with Archie. All the way to the cover of Diamond’s “Previews” catalog and Tangle making headlines across the internet.
IDW wants to make sure Sonic is a huge success and what better way than to bring back much of the old team that made the previous book a huge hit to begin with. Including bringing back head writer, Ian Flynn.
After his afternoon autograph session, I had the chance to chat with Ian Flynn about all things Sonic.
TSS: What differences will there be in how you approach writing IDW Sonic compared to the reboot era of Archie Sonic?
Flynn: The reboot era of Archie Sonic was an attempt to please everyone at the same time including both fans of the old style and fans of the newer style while blazing a new trail and doing it all in the first year or two which in hindsight, was impossible. IDW Sonic is a new take. Nothin’ but good ol’ distilled Sonicdom with no outside baggage attached.
TSS: Has the announcement of Sonic Mania Plus had any effect on how you were planning to use “certain characters”?
Flynn: Yes and we’ll be getting into that at the panel.
TSS: Are there any broad concepts you’d want to revisit in the future of the comic (for example; colonies of fish people existing alongside regular land characters)?
Flynn: Maybe. Meropis was the brainchild of Aleah Baker so I’d feel a little dirty just cribbing that idea again without her involvement. The series is so new that it’s hard to say what we will or won’t do in the future. The book hasn’t come out yet. Give us some time to establish what IDW Sonic is and then we’ll start building and exploring from there.
TSS: Will there be any sections for user content? Like Fan art, questions, letters to the editor?
TSS: When Tangle was first introduced, my Twitter account just blew up with fan art of her. Were you surprised at just how well she was received?
Flynn: Yes and no. I’m not surprised at just how much people love her. Tyson Hesse did an amazing job designing the character and I knew people would dig her once the book came out. I wasn’t anticipating the VOLUME of fan love this early on. It’s exciting, I’m very happy for it, I just wasn’t expecting it this early on.
TSS: Which of your characters from the Archie era do you regret that you can’t bring to IDW?
Flynn: If I could transplant a couple, I’d love to bring Relic the Pika and Eclipse. I think those resonated the best with folks. I know folks would have loved to have seen Razor come back, but those first two are near and dear to my heart.
TSS: Are any plans for the Freedom Fighters in the future?
Flynn: We’ll cover that in the panel tomorrow.
TSS: There was once going to be a comic conclusion to Sonic Underground. Is there any chance that can now see the light of day?
Flynn: Probably not because the factors that got the story pulled have not changed from what I understand.
TSS: How soon did IDW approach you after getting the license from Sega?
Flynn: I’m not sure, but I can say with some certainty that they had me on board for a while before the New York Comic Con announcement.
TSS: Thank you very much for your time.
Flynn: Thank you.
The first issue of IDW’s Sonic the hedgehog will be out Wednesday April 4th. You can pick up a convention exclusive #1 issue at Wondercon this weekend. Stay tuned later this week for my review of the first issue.
While Battle Racers is still in it’s funding phase on Kickstarter, Gamenerdz and IDW games have announced a similar board game of their own. “Sonic the Hedgehog: Crash Course.” In the game, You can play as either Sonic, Tails, Knuckles or Eggman in their classic style as you race to collect the Chaos Emeralds. The game has an MSRP of $29.99, but is available for pre-order for $18.97. Check out the official statement below and go to the official website for more details.
Sonic, Tails, Knuckes, and Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik are on a crash course for the Chaos Emeralds! Speeding through the classic Green Hill Zone, players in Sonic the Hedgehog: Crash Course race to be the first player to collect the most Chaos Emeralds! If you want to take the victory, then you gotta go fast! Game design by Sean McDonald.
HOW TO PLAY
-RACE forward and leave your opponents in the dust
-COLLECT items then heal damage
-WIN if you’re the fastest to earn the most Chaos Emeralds!
- 60 Item Tokens
- 24 Chaos Emerald Tokens
- 12 Damage Tokens
- 4 Extra Life Tokens
- 10 Track Tiles
- 4 Character Tiles
- 1 Reference Tile
- 4 Pre-painted Miniatures
- 1 Rulebook
Disclaimer: The views in this piece may not reflect the views of TSS or other writers on the staff team. The intention of The Spin is to promote debate and discussion of an issue or something that’s happening in the fandom or the world of Sonic.
2010 was the year Sonic the Hedgehog came back.
Yes, we all heard the stories about how the franchise had declined not long after the jump to 3D, how gaming news outlets and critics even now would begin their pieces with some variation of “Sonic has had a rocky history,” and how every new Sonic game released around the “dark ages” period couldn’t shake off the dreaded “Sonic Cycle.”
Sonic Forces has come and gone and the Sonic Talk crew of Jason, Alex, GX and special guest (and occasional header artist) Cory Holmes weigh in on the game. We go in and critique every detail of this new 3-D outing from Sonic Team. Is it as good as we’d hoped or as bad as we feared? Listen in to find out.
By the way, sorry this one is so late,, but I had a ton of computer problems after I had this originally set up, so the audio in this month’s episode is done by our own GX Echidna.
It can be hard to produce a companion app for a high-profile console game. If you get it wrong, it can largely be seen as a cynical micro-transaction-heavy cash grab, or at the very least, a poor afterthought. Which is why it’s good news that SEGA Networks’ Hardlight Studio was tasked with building a new mobile experience to coincide with the launch of Sonic Forces. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic Forces Speed Battle (iOS)
Growing up in the early 90’s it was impossible to avoid the music scene pervading daily life; seductive R&B tones danced through ear-worm melodies, from songs that would https://www.sonicstadium.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=50098&action=edithang at the top of the charts for weeks. From this musical era came the Sonic CD soundtrack, of which I speak specifically the Japanese/European version, which for many forms the epitome of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog sound. Twenty-something years later, we see the classic series revived through Sonic Mania – complete with a brand new soundtrack. But how does this compare to it’s 1990’s predecessors?
Well let me tell ya somethin’ brother!! I was at Venice beach pumpin’ iron when I heard someone listenin’ to a podcast! It had these three nerds, Jason, Alex and GX, all talking about that new Sonic game, Sonic Mania and heapin’ a bunch of praise on it! Jason was reviewing that new Sega game, Yakuza Kiwami and giving his hands on impressions about Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. They also talked a bunch about all the news on Sonic Forces and reviewed some of the latest episodes of Sonic Boom! Continue reading Sonic Talk 47: Sonic Mania is Runnin’ Wild!
It’s been a month since the announcement that the Archie comics will no longer produce it’s long-running Sonic the Comic, and that a new partnership with IDW will continue to keep Sonic alive in print. Information on the new incarnation of the comic is set to be divulged at New York Comic Con in October. Before we look to the future of Sonic the Comic, why don’t we take a look at the past? In this feature I would like to talk about the many aspects of the American comics, starting with my own 24-year experience with the comic strip adventures.
In the past, I’ve talked about Sonic facts that aren’t true. We’ve seen various reasons for such misinformation to become fact. However, I don’t think we’ve seen such a web of different reasons play out to get to the points we have with these misconceptions.
The misconceptions? We’ve been getting Fang and Bean’s species wrong for decades.
[This article will contain some spoilers for Sonic Mania, so if you’re waiting for the PC version, see you next week]
You know how some people have these phrases that they use to try and articulate their feelings? Especially when it comes to Sonic games? Well today we’re going to look at one of them; this one:
“I want the villain to be ‘a true threat to Sonic”
Sonic Mania has officially released on a number of home consoles, but perhaps the most interesting release has to be on Nintendo’s newly-launched Switch platform. With its home-portable hybrid design, it makes it relatively easy to play the latest Sonic platformer on the move. So, a couple of our TSS reporters went walkies with their Switches to see if the experience was any good. Some of them found a pretty blurry line between the real world and the Sonic world… be careful out there, Switch users. Continue reading Sonic On The Road: Playing Mania on Nintendo Switch
WOW! Last week, we asked you all to ‘draw like a 90s kid’ to celebrate Sonic Mania’s launch tomorrow, and boy have we been bowled over by the humungous response (and amazing talent)! It seems like everyone’s nostalgia-bone has been well and truly tickled. Let’s take a look at the winners – and some honourable mentions – below! Continue reading Sonic Mania ‘Drawn Back to the 90s’ Competition: THE WINNERS
Note: This review qualifies as ‘spoiler free’, but it does contain information on stages, gameplay elements and story concepts that have already been made public by official SEGA marketing channels. Be aware, if you’ve been on a total media blackout.
In the middle of Sonic Mania’s main adventure mode, Sonic is warped to the Little Planet and finds himself in a spectacularly familiar place. Golden speakers line a series of curvy narrow chutes that catapult our blue hero into the sky, against a starlit backdrop. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic Mania
Sonic Mania is out now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and set to release on Tuesday 29th August on Windows PC. Here’s all you need to know about getting a hold of the game on your system of choice, and all the merch we know of!
Continue reading Sonic Mania Collector’s Edition & vinyl soundtrack back in stock; new t-shirts
It’s the final weekend before Sonic Mania is released, and boy has this been a game that a lot of fans have been waiting a long time for. A pure sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles is what a lot of people have asked for, and this collaborative effort between Christian Whitehead, HeadCannon, PagodaWest Games and SEGA aims to fulfil just that. So, with that in mind, what does our Sonic Stadium team think of the project, and what are our collective hopes and expectations for the game? Take a look, below. Continue reading TSS Roundtable: Our Hopes and Expectations for Sonic Mania
Welcome to ‘Mania Week’ on The Sonic Stadium! To celebrate the upcoming release of the SEGA/Whitehead/HeadCannon/PagodaWest collaboration project, we will be spending the next week producing a whole heap of awesome content – all about the Mania! This post will house links to all of the stuff we have planned, in one easy location, so keep this page bookmarked and come back often! Continue reading SONIC MANIA WEEK: Your One-Stop Shop for Mania News and Info!
In this month’s episode, Jason talks about his trip to the San Diego Comic Con and we discuss all of the big Sonic news that happened during the event along with recent news, including some Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces discussion, Archie’s Sonic cancellation, IDW’s Sonic acquisition and much, much more! Continue reading Sonic Talk 46: Comic Con Carne
Sonic Mania is right around the corner, and you’ve probably pre-ordered the digital version a hundred times over (definitely not an exaggeration), right? What’s that? Something missing? You wish you had the money to grab yourself a Sonic Mania Collector’s Edition on PS4, or that you had the chance to get it before it sold out? Well, boy are you in luck – because we have five of these bad boys to give away courtesy of SEGA Europe.
[This contest is now closed – please stay tuned for winner announcements] Continue reading SONIC MANIA COMPETITION: Drawn Back to the 90s [CLOSED]
As perhaps one of the most highly-anticipated collector’s items in recent memory, Cook & Becker’s 25th Anniversary Sonic art book has a lot of expectations to meet. It’s not easy to produce an elegant video game-themed art book at the best of times, so working on such a project for a franchise as iconic as Sonic no doubt comes with extra pressure. Especially when the blue blur has been through so many design changes over the years. We recently got our hands on a copy; is it worth your hard-earned money? Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Cook & Becker’s Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Art Book
On Thursday, July 20th in the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront, I witnessed a concert by Sonic fans, for Sonic fans. A rocking music extravaganza with trumpets, saxophones, guitars, drums a keyboard and a lot of passion. It’s obvious that Shoto Nakama wanted to create something special and he truly has.
It started off with the usual stuff. Sound tests, followed by a ton of trailers. There was a funny moment as I watched Jun Senoue hanging out on the side, head-banging to his own tune, “Infinite’s Theme”.
The first song off the bat is of course, “Green Hill Zone”. The saxophone and trumpets really added a jazzy vibe to this classic tune. The video screens off to the side were showing off the original classic along with a bit of the level from Generations. Next, we go from the first Sonic tune, to one of the newest, Studiopolis! It’s cool hearing an instrumental version of a tune almost entirely programmed digitally and it’s done really well.
Next up, the lead singer, Dave Ross came onto the stage along with Crush 40’s own Jun Senoue. Now this was a rock concert! “Live and Learn” was the first tune up and they really rocked it. Dave shows a strong passion in his singing and a great range as well. Especially since the next song up was “Believe in Myself”. A song originally done by female singer Karen Brake, was sung by Dave himself and he did a surprisingly faithful version.
I gotta say this about Dave. He really knew how to work the crowd and was full of energy. When he wasn’t rocking out onstage, he was constantly jumping off the stage and running around into the crowd, giving out high-fives and making damn sure that the audience was having a great time.
Next up was “Endless Possibility” which must have been a favorite for the band as it was also the encore of the night. Dave was incredibly into it and seem to really love the number. After that, it was “Reach
For The Stars”. It was great hearing a number normally done mostly in chiptune and tonebox done with full instruments and vocals. Another great highlight of the night. They followed that up with “Escape From The City” which Dave seem to take as something he wanted the audience to do as he jumped off the stage, running around the large crowd. After fooling around for a bit and having Jun do a VERY short guitar solo, they went into “It Doesn’t Matter”, a song that fit Dave’s vocal range very well. The concert wrapped up with another performance of “Endless Possibility”.
All in all, this was a fantastic concert. The people onstage were full of energy and passion for the music they were playing and that passion was absorbed by the crowd watching. Dave Ross had a great vocal range and the performance of a true rock star. They asked if they’d like to see this concert tour close to a town near you. Hell yes, I would! I’ve seen a lot of Sonic concert performances (mostly Crush 40) and this was by far the best one. If they turn this into a full tour, don’t miss it!
San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone for 2017, and this year’s gave attendees the world over a lot to look forward to in forthcoming entertainment. Superhero movie aficionados got an early peek at a number of highly anticipated films for the upcoming year (Black Panther, Justice League, and Avengers: Infinity War to name a few), bitesized previews were shown off for new seasons to Stranger Things and Steven Universe among other hit shows to whet eager fans’ appetites, and in Sonic’s case?
Well, whether you’ve fallen out of the loop or just enjoy a quick summary of last week’s events, allow me to bring you all back up to speed!
Check out the Sonic Mania panel at 2017 to get all the details we couldn’t cover! Join host Aaron Webber with guests, Takashi Iizuka, Christian Whitehead, Tee Lopes, Tom Fry, and Simon Thomley as we get more details on what went into this game.Get the full scoop on the game, check out some wacky glitches and the fan Q&A it’s all here! Continue reading Sonic Mania: Behind the Scenes Panel from San Diego Comic Con
San Diego Comic Con played host to the Sonic Mania Development team yesterday, in a panel that included Takashi Iizuka, programmers Christian Whitehead and Simon Thomley, alongside lead artist Tom Fry, composer Tee Lopes and SEGA community manager Aaron Webber. Our man in the field Jason Berry was at the panel, and captured the events as they happened via The Sonic Stadium Twitter. Continue reading SDCC Sonic Mania Panel Roundup & Special Stage Reveal
Join Alex, Jason and GX as they discuss all the happenings at this year’s E3. Alex and Jason were at the show and they discuss their hands-on with Sonic Mania, Sonic Forces, their time at Sonic Revolution and Alex’s first trip to Disneyland. We also talk about ARMS, Sega Forever, Sonic Runners Adventure and more! It’s out most jam-packed podcast yet, so listen in and enjoy!
For those who do not know, June is known to many as PRIDE month. A month where people unite to promote, stand up for and celebrate the rights and history of LGBTQ people. You may wonder what this has to do with Sonic the Hedgehog, so please let me explain. Continue reading Being LGBT in the Sonic Community 🏳️🌈
At the front of Sega’s booth at E3, there were two different lines; one queue was for Sonic Mania, while the other, about half the length, was Sonic Forces. The crowds definitely seemed more excited for one over the other. Have Sonic’s recent flops affected fan’s love for modern Sonic titles, or is there enough love for both the modern era and a fun romp through the golden age? More importantly, has Sonic Team learned from the mistakes of it’s past?
First off, it should be noted that this game doesn’t try to experiment with new game types – it’s a back-to-basics formula of what worked in Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors (the better received 3-D Sonic games since SA2) and building on that. For the first time in a long time, Sega is playing it safe. Do you want me to tell you how modern Sonic plays? He plays EXACTLY like modern Sonic. Do you want to hear how classic Sonic plays? He plays EXACTLY like classic Sonic. If there are any slight differences, I didn’t notice them myself.
The new game mode is played with the avatar, a character you create and referred to as “the rookie” throughout the game. You decide how the character looks and what species he/she is. I believe you buy extra gear for your character through both common gold and red star rings, thus giving a reason for you to replay levels and giving the game a whole “carrot on a stick” feel (although I’m guessing this seeing as how you can no longer regain any rings you lose). This makes some boss battles more challenging as me and Alex watched one poor soul who just couldn’t seem to beat Eggman during the classic Sonic boss fight.
During our play through of the demo, our avatar was generated completely at random; sometimes I’d get a purple cat, other times a black bunny, and there are videos on youtube of some playing as the red wolf from the trailer. Before you enter the level, you’re given the choice between two different “Wispons”, a wisp-powered weapon. A flamethrower Wispon allows you to use the burst wisps to project your character higher into the air, while the other weapon, a lightning whip, allows the player to execute the light speed dash and quickly follow a trail of rings. There were two different stages in the demo depending on the system: the Nintendo Switch got a level very similar to modern Sonic’s stage, in which you eventually travel a slightly different path, and I found this level to be the most fun level in the demo. He/she can use their grappling hook to swing up to higher paths or attack robots via a homing attack. Alternatively, you can also use your Wispon to bring down a whole group of robots all at once. The Switch level was fast, visceral and overall, fun. This was mainly due to going through the levels a breakneck speeds only stopping to attack your enemies, with no real emphasis on platforming.
…And that’s where the PS4 level comes in to play. Oh boy.
The level sees the player racing down the Green Hill zone as it appears to be undergoing industrialization, while being chased down by a giant robot crab while smaller robot crabs try to squash you along the way. This level is entire 2-D and requires precise platforming to get through – if you read Alex’s take on the avatar character, you’ll have some appreciation for why this is a bad thing. The physics while jumping with the avatar doesn’t feel right, and it is almost impossible to turn in mid air; small platforms throughout the stage make playing the level a bit of a chore rather than fun. However if this issue can be remedied for release, then the Avatar mode could be the best new gimmick yet avatar controls much like Sonic. Personally, I don’t want to fish, I don’t want to brawl, I don’t want to pilot a mech. I want my extra character to control like Sonic as I think that is what works best in a Sonic title! It seems that Sonic Team are really investing in the avatar stages, embellished with vocal songs that are only present in their stages. These stages have the potential to be the best stages on the Switch version of the game, and if they can nail the physics, this is looking like it could be a top-tier 3-D Sonic game.
I managed to play the demo on all 3 systems, and one thing I noticed was that PS4 version of the demon was playing on the PS4 Pro…and it showed. The 1080P graphics looked incredible, and were of similar caliber to Sonic Generations on the PC with ultra-high settings. The XBox One version looked to have been running at 720P as it seemed lower resolution; this might be due to anti-aliasing and as Alex mentioned in his article. The Switch version, while still very detailed, appeared to suffer the most graphically and seemed to be at 720 or sub-720P with jagged edges due to no anti-aliasing.
Physics aside, Sonic Forces is looking to be a solid, above average Sonic title. I think Sonic Team have made the right choice to stick to proven game styles, with the new gimmick being pretty much “Sonic with weapons”. I doubt it will beat Sonic Mania in reviews or sales, but still, it appears we are getting two great Sonic games in one year.
Join Alex, Sven and myself as we discuss Sonic Forces. Is it a hit or a miss and what do we think of the new Avatar gameplay? Are we actually getting TWO great Sonic games this year? Tune in!
I still can’t quite believe Sonic Mania is real. It’s certainly the kind of project many Sonic fans have dreamed of: a game by the fans, for the fans, that somehow manages to capture the nostalgia of yesteryear while simultaneously adding new fresh ideas to make it an all-together new experience. This is the video game equivalent of patting one’s head and rubbing one’s stomach at the same time: possible, but difficult to pull off. And yet somehow, Sonic Mania is doing just that, and appears to be doing it flawlessly if the E3 demo is any indication. Continue reading Sonic Mania E3 Impressions: Alex’s Take
I’ve had one question in the back of my mind ever since the Nintendo Switch was unveiled: how the heck was Sonic Project 2017, which was going to be a full-on next generation Sonic title, going to run on this thing? Fairly well, as it turns out, albeit with some very noticeable compromises.
The most notable difference is that the game runs at 30 frames per second – half the rate of the competing systems. Texture and models are of lower quality, with certain effects either trimmed down or removed entirely. The lush, wavy grass from the PS4 version of Green Hill is less lush and wavy on the Switch, and far more jagged, with even shadows being effected. The shadows cast by Eggman’s Eggmobile were distinctly lower resolution, appearing jagged with inconsistent levels of darkness.
Most of these issues, outside of the frame rate, are borderline unnoticeable in portable mode. But in console mode, the flaws are very apparent.
My fellow Sonic Stadium staffer, Jason, also got to see the demo in action, and he had this to say:
A few months back when the Switch version was announced, I’d guessed that the game would be at about half the frame rate of the HD versions and would probably suffer a little in the visual department as well – and I see this is the case.
That said, it’s not as bad as it sounds. There are still some nice effects in here that give it a next gen feel. The puddles of water are still reflective. There’s no real pop-in and you can see far out in the distance. The grass still waves around. The main difference is the lack of detail in some of the textures and the jaggy, 720P or possibly sub 720P resolution which may be due to no anti-aliasing. At least, it appears that way.
All of this is almost invisible in portable mode outside of the locked 30 fps. I’m still considering this version and the PC version as the ports I have preference over, with the Switch offering portability and the PC for it’s eventual modding. If the Switch is your only option, it’s still a solid port – just think of it as a PC game in medium to low settings vs. ultra-high settings for the PS4 version.
E3 demos are of course usually technically inferior to the final product – something we have seen in previous years with Generations and Colors, which both contained performance issues rectified for the final game. The Switch version was never going to be the version of choice for the graphically obsessed. But for those of you who’ve always wanted to take a 3D Sonic game on the go, this looks like it’ll be a great option when it launches alongside the console and PC versions later this year.
We took a bunch of off-screen images with an actual, high quality digital camera for this article. We’re including the ones that best captured the game, with minimal motion blur, in a gallery below. While off-screen still-images are never as accurate at representing a game’s visuals as direct capture footage, these should at least give you a firm idea of the level of graphical quality in this version of the game.
Join Svend, Alex and myself, the TSS E3 2017 team as we sit down to discuss the Sonic games experienced at E3! Today, we’re posting our Sonic Mania discussion, which you can watch in the video below! Continue reading E3 Video: TSS Sonic Mania Discussion
Sonic Force’s decision to include a custom character with a very different game play style has been a decision that has polarised the fan base. It continues Sonic Team’s history to add new dimensions to bolster the established 2D and 3D platforming in order to produce a more broad appeal. Continue reading Sonic Forces: Custom Hero E3 Impressions
I have a confession to make. I was never a huge fan of Sonic Retro. I’d lurk on their forums from time to time and I thought they tended to act a bit arrogant and cocky at times. They’d say that they could make a much better Sonic game than Sega. “Right!” I thought to myself. “A bunch of amateurs make a better game than veteran programmers? Bah!” However, Sonic Mania, lead by Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, is proof that it wasn’t arrogance, but the truth. Continue reading Sonic Mania E3 Impressions: Jason’s Take
SEGA has been frustratingly quiet about Sonic Forces since they revealed it as Sonic Project 2017 last year. It’s only been in the lead up to E3 that the game’s identity has begun to take shape publicly. While the game features shades of Sonic Generations, to call it an outright sequel (or rehash) isn’t quite right. The Forces demo is both familiar and new, if not also a little awkward.
The modern Sonic game play is essentially just a polished form of what we’ve been getting since Sonic Unleashed. Visuals aside, this game would be right at home in Sonic Generations, and there is zero learning curve for anyone who’s already played that game. The same can also be said for classic Sonic’s boss battle, which starts out as a new (if not exactly inventive) take on Eggman’s swinging ball weapon, replacing the ball with a buzz saw that cuts through platforms.
After that (easy) fight, Eggman hops into his Egg Dragoon, which first appeared in Sonic Unleashed, and starts attacking from the background. He fires a giant chain gun and chucks rocks and metallic boulders, the latter of which can be hit back to damage him. This part takes longer and is more entertaining, though the boss fight on the whole is fairly easy. The first two parts of the demo are as fun and polished as Sonic has ever been, but they do nothing outstanding or new design-wise. If all you want is more Generations (like me) than you’ll be satisfied with what’s on display for these modes in the demo.
So that’s what’s familiar, but what about the new stuff? Well, the visuals of Forces are a nice upgrade from past Sonic games. While some have complained that the new Green Hill stage looks barren compared Generations, this game looks better than any past Sonic game at an objective, technical level. The demo runs at a near silky smooth 60 frames per second, the first non-PC Sonic game to do so (Dreamcast HD ports notwithstanding). Individual blades of grass in Green Hill now move back and forth individually. In terms of pure polygons, this game is clearly pushing way more than any past Sonic game. These are the highest fidelity Sonic models I’ve ever seen.
That said, as with any E3 demo, the visuals aren’t 100 percent polished. At the end of the avatar stage, during a chase scene, the frame rate does get a little janky. But given that E3 demos typically boast notable technical issues due to their incomplete state of development, what I saw in the demo bodes well for the visuals in the final product. And speaking of the avatar stage, this brings me to what will surely be the most controversial part of this game.
I have felt uneasy about the player-made hero character since it was unveiled. While my time with the character does allay those fears somewhat, I do still have some concerns.
First, the positives: the “wispons”, wisp fuelled weapons that can be used for both attacking and traversal, fit surprisingly well with the flow of game play. During my playthrough, I used what was effectively a lightning whip. It let my character lightspeed dash across trails of rings, reverse the direction of my jump in mid-air, briefly boost forward, and attack and destroy horizontal rows of enemies. Overall, the wispon actually positively benefited the flow of play, and didn’t feel nearly as awkward as it looked.
On the negative side, there’s a learning curve to controlling the character. The character cannot roll, jump dash, or perform any of Sonic’s other moves. The way the character jumps feels different, and potentially awkward. I was missing a lot of jumps in my initial play through as a result, but whether this was because I was used to Sonic’s jumping mechanics and need to simply get used to the custom-hero character, or if the character’s controls simply aren’t very good, I can’t say without spending more time with the game.
Sonic Forces doesn’t look like it’ll be a groundbreaking title, but it ought to be a very fun one. While the hero character is a potential chink in the armor, it doesn’t look like the disaster I thought it might be either.
There will be additional game play impressions later this week, as well as a more in-depth impression of how the hero character plays.
In more than ten years of writing for The Sonic Stadium, this article has by far consumed the most time, and required the most revisions. I guess this is because sometimes it’s hard to really convey what you mean when you’re in love, and I can say without a doubt that I am already in love with Sonic Mania. Continue reading The Spin: Sonic Maniacs In The Making