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!
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.
Two years ago I wrote an article talking about ten falsities that fans believes to be true. But now with nearly 26 years under its belt, the Sonic franchise is hardly limited to just those misconceptions. To follow up on that, here’s six more that portions of the fandom, or even the general market, believe that just aren’t true. From bad science to bad language, we’ve got quite the range to cover.
While clearing out the last vestiges of what was my old room in my parent’s house a few years back, I stumbled across a big pile of fan art I’d drawn when I was about seven or eight years old. Sonic was all I would draw, and I would impress friends and classmates alike by drawing him completely from memory. Unfortunately I appear to have (thankfully) lost all evidence of Rocky: a fan character I created, well before the days in which it was trendy to post your latest creation to DeviantArt. Rocky was a green hedgehog, with upturned green spikes and a penchant for playing a flying-V guitar. I remember pleased as punch with my “original” character, however having played the game of googling [Name] the Hedgehog today, there are plenty of other Rocky the Hedgehogs out there.
I’m sure my pre-teen self would have squealed with delight at today’s announcement regarding the build your own character feature that will be incorporated as part of the third playable game mode in Sonic Forces. Indeed, the delight has been widespread, yet like many announcements regarding modern Sonic titles, the fan base is polarised.
SEGA have made some superb decisions with regards to the Sonic franchise recently; Sonic Mania looks absolutely fantastic, and as one of the old guard, I am filled with child-like excitement at the prospect of a game that is my opinion the true successor to the classic titles of the 16/32-bit era. SEGA have listened carefully to one of their key demographics, and are set to deliver a game by the fans, for the fans.
Equally, the decision to include an original character builder in a Sonic game could be considered an equally smart move; similar features have existed in other games for years, and with a significant parts of the fan base integrated into the many online art communities, it is almost surprising it has taken this long to have been incorporated. The response on social media from these communities to this announcement has been on the whole positive, with many excited at the prospect of a highly customisable character generator. Of course, the memes have been plentiful in the wake of the announcement, and speculation as to what level of monstrosity can be generated is fueling the imaginations of those who are handy with Photoshop.
Conversely, and predictably, there has been criticism. Ignoring the more subjective opinions on the inclusion of fan characters, there are some concerns raised that I and many others believe have merit. The most prominent of these is the fear that the gimmick takes precedence over the gameplay, something that has not only plagued the quality of past titles, but has caused games to stray from the what fans expect a Sonic game should constitute. Indeed, there is a feeling among many that recent titles featuring new characters and / or game modes have caused a detraction from valuable development time being invested in refining the more “core” aspects of these games. Many have postulated that Sonic Forces is trying to be a title that will please all; a near-impossible feat to achieve in this day and age in the video games industry. One can already see there is huge contrast in the footage shown so far; the darker theme of Park Avenue, harking back to the days of Shadow the Hedgehog/Sonic 06 seems disjointed from the jovially-themed classic Green Hill Zone. On the face of it, the game could be interpreted to be suffering from an identity crisis stemming from the “satisfy everyone” mentality. An old acquaintance of mine used to refer to clothing branded as “one size fits all” as “one size fits none”, and I feel the analogy here is appropriate; a game in which time and effort is spread too thinly across multiple modes will result in few being satisfied with any of the finished game elements.
At this juncture, it is extremely difficult to make any judgement – after all, there has been very little in the way of actual game play footage, and much of this will likely still be evolving as the game continues in its development. Undoubtedly, forums like E3 will be the trial-by-fire for this game, at which those on the ground will get a closer look at what is set to be released.
I came to a conclusion with both the Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Sonic Lost World titles that I was not the target demographic for these games. Admittedly there was some initial disappointment in this realisation, but in hindsight, I am perfectly fine with this. I can see the necessity for certain franchises to adapt and evolve with time, especially to keep up with evolving markets and trends. Indeed, the secret to success for many enduring series appears to be developing the gameplay in such a manner to keep it fresh and exciting, while retaining the heart and soul of what has become synonymous with said title.The Sonic franchise has seen success across multiple platforms decades apart, and as such the answer to “what makes a good Sonic game?” is heavily dependent on the age of the person you are posing the question to, or at what juncture the series really began to resonate with them.
I do not think that I am the target demographic for Sonic Forces, as much as I have the feeling the inclusion of classic Sonic is aiming to achieve that in some small capacity. The focus of the game has diverged beyond what I look for in a Sonic game. My hopes for the title are that it provides a sturdy experience for those who have craved a game featuring similar action to Sonic Generations (who have been waiting patiently for six years…where has the time gone?), with the fun addition of being able to bring your fan character to life in some incarnation, should you wish to do so.
I find it hard to be disappointed however, especially with Sonic Mania on the horizon – this is a game that has been created with people like me in mind, and will undoubtedly cater to the massive cohort of hardcore and casual gamers longing for the halcyon days of 90s. We are fortunate to live in times where we, the fans, have multiple upcoming Sonic games to choose from!
Regardless, I will definitely give Sonic Forces a go; I doubt I will be able to resist to allure of creating a bunch of hideous characters…and maybe a certainly green fan character from my childhood, just to satisfy my inner eight year-old!
The concept for rejected spinoff Sonic Extreme was lifted by Sonic Team years later to develop Sonic Riders internally, claims a US developer responsible for pitching the early-2000s Xbox demo to SEGA. Continue reading Rejected Sonic Extreme Concept Became Sonic Riders, Claims US Developer
I’m sure many of my fellow thirty-somethings have breathed the same sigh of relief in that as we grow ever older, cartoons have not lost their appeal; I’d even go as far to say that we are in the midst of something of a cartoon renaissance – with multiple franchises successfully walking the line between children’s entertainment and veiled adult humour garnering cult followings.
The success of these series is largely down to the creators knowing their audience, and for the writers of Sonic Boom, they have certainly done their homework. I have lost count of the number of references to the Sonic universe the show has now made, and it is wonderful that 75+ episodes in, the jokes and in-jokes show no sign of relenting. The series on the whole to date has been wonderfully self-aware, subtle enough that younger audiences can enjoy the action and slapstick, while purposefully cliché and self-referential to deliver a wink and a nudge to older audiences, or a comical reprieve for parents who probably have already had to endure unending hours of Peppa Pig.
As the second season passes its mid-way mark, this week’s episode will introduce the first in a four-part story, Robots From The Sky (sung to the tune of a popular 80’s cartoon featuring metamorphosing machines, of course). The episode introduces the characters Mighton and Bolt who feature throughout the arc, two sentient robots from a floating city who find themselves stranded on the ground after their ship crashes. In a case of mistaken motives, the two misconstrue Sonic and friends as antagonists following a bout with Eggman’s machines. The episodes each end on a cliffhanger, as the team investigate why robots all over the world have begun to turn evil, with events from the past resurfacing in a series of plot twists.
Before I go on, SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!
The quadrilogy is the first in the series with writing credit going to Sonic Boom producer Bill Freiberger (the voice of Comedy Chimp), alongside regulars Alan Denton and Greg Hahn, who once again find their stride in penning a compelling children’s story interspersed with moments of eye-rolling humour most will find themselves chuckling at (unlike Knuckles). Speaking of which, Travis Willingham continues to deliver on his portrayal of his wonderfully simple Knuckles (although I’m sure this is obfuscating stupidity) with fans cheering that seventy-plus episodes in, we get a “legs day” joke. Mike Pollock and Roger Craig Smith have created a wonderful on screen (or off-screen?) chemistry between Eggman and Sonic, to the point at which battles have become juxtaposed with casual conversation, both characters aware they are simply going through the motions.
In a change of style, the story takes on a slightly more serious tone (but only slightly) as it begins to become clear that one of the heroes has inadvertently caused the current predicament. The first episode’s cliffhanger recovers with a deus ex machina deployed as another great comic device, once again nodding to the more senior audiences. This tone makes for a refreshing change of pace in comparison to the self-contained episodes, however fans of previous Sonic shows seeking more involved story arcs will likely find no satisfaction here. Some might have grown tired of the fight scenes by this stage; for this they might be forgiven, but again in context are necessary considering the show’s primary audience and the need to keep pace. Once again, the punctuation of satire should be what mature viewers focus their attention on. The final robot showdown sees an army of mechanical counterparts created with some albeit spurious science, but provides delightfully bizarre conclusion.
The Sonic Boom TV show has successfully created own its personality and carved its own niche in the Sonic universe; it is pleasing to see the progression in its evolution that prevents the concept from going stale. For many, including myself, the show continues to be the highlight of the Sonic Boom franchise – and I hope it continues to provide entertainment, for young and old, for many more episodes to come.
Robots From The Sky Part 1 is billed to air at 6pm ET on Saturday, 6th of May 2017 on Boomerang in the United States.
In this month’s Sonic Talk, it’s all about the Nintendo Switch. We go into our obsession with Zelda and our overall thoughts on the system. We then discuss the upcoming Sonic Forces along with the fact that Sonic Boom seems to only be on Boomerang now. This and a whole lot more. Just strap it to your veins! Continue reading Sonic Talk 43: Switching Forces
We love April Fools Day, we do. At The Sonic Stadium, it’s an annual tradition – we’re the original pranksters in the community after all. It’s nice to kick back and have a little fun from time to time. And it looks like a whole bunch of Sonic sources have joined in on the act this year too, so let us bring you a selection of April Fools jokes that happened in 2017. Starting with the king, of course…
Continue reading The Sonic Community April Fools Day Roundup 2017
We’ve been down this road last year. Delays, rumors of cancellations, ACTUAL cancellations (Mega Man, Sonic Boom) and a publisher that seems to be doing everything it possibly can to stay relevant while rumors of fighting and inner turmoil are going on within it’s offices. With a ton of characters that can no longer be used, a world that was reset but not fully rebooted and with Archie no longer allowing subscriptions to either Sonic books, we may be seeing the end of an era. But the question is….could this be a good thing? Is it time for the Sonic franchise to leave Archie and be refreshed with a new publisher?
Reason #1: Archie is focusing on Archie
Archie’s primary focus right now is on the Archie brand itself. The reboot of the Archie series using a more modern comic art style and shifting away from the classic look (outside of digests) has actually been fairly successful for them. Archie, Jughead and other books are now outselling Sonic rather than the other way around and their profits are up. Not only that, but they’re heavily focused on promoting the new CW show “Riverdale” based on the Archie characters which had a soft, but decent debut in the ratings, but has been slowly dropping since. Because of this, it seems like Sonic is taking a back seat to their top brand.
Reason #2: Past creators and lawsuits
Without naming very obvious names, Archie comics can’t use a large amount of past Sonic characters because of legal issues. This is main reason for the soft reboot of the series three years ago. In some cases, I believe those creators to be in the wrong. While in other cases, I feel them to be very much in the right. Let’s be honest, Archie hasn’t exactly done right by a lot of former creators, including the one they took their classic art style from. And just when you think everything’s been all settled and done, another creator comes in, staking a claim. Then there’s Archie offering reprints of old issues featuring creator-owned characters online which has caused even more controversy. At this point, it may be better for Archie to let Sonic go and avoid the hassle.
Reason #3: It’s gotten a bit stale
Now, this is just my personal opinion (and I know I’m gonna get a ton of comments on this one). When the first Mega Man/Sonic crossover was done, Archie did a soft reboot of Sonic with a long, long, too friggin’ long story known as “The World Adventure”, based off of the game “Sonic Unleashed”. For three full years, from September of 2013 up to October of 2016, we have been going through one very long story line with branching arcs along the way to build up a new world with new lands and new characters.
And at times, it was starting to bore me.
Here’s the thing: when I first heard about the soft reboot, I was elated! Finally, a chance to get rid of all the excess baggage and back story that has dragged down the book over time. We could focus on the main SegaSonic cast and build up their own back stories while slowly showing some new lands in this new world. While we were introduced to new worlds, we were also introduced to a lot of new characters with their own back stories. Suddenly, the world was cluttered again. SegaSonic already has a ton of characters, did we really need to have a bunch of new ones? I love some of the new arcs (“Champions” was fantastic) and some of the new characters like Thunderbolt and Relic, but after twenty years of Sonic traveling the globe to keep the Acorn kingdom safe, this was the opportunity to take the series in a bold new direction and instead, it does its best to fill the void of old characters as quickly as possible while telling an over-arching story that takes three…..years to finish. It may be new, but it doesn’t feel very fresh. This is no fault of writer Ian Flynn or the very talented artists, it just feels to me like it’s been going in circles for a long, long time.
So if rumors hold up and Archie lets go of the Sonic license, where should Sonic go? There only two real choices Sega should take IMO.
Boom has not only done some of their own kid-friendly indie titles like the Lumberjanes, but Cartoon Network’s biggest properties like Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Over the Garden Wall, Regular Show and classic Sunday funnies franchises like Garfield and Peanuts. While I don’t know how well Sonic would do here, I could see Sega splitting the franchises and adding Sonic Boom with the Cartoon Network lineup. That said, I think there’s only one true place for Sonic after Archie and that’s…
Home of: Godzilla (okay, not kid-friendly but I love Godzilla), Skylanders, My Little Pony, Star Trek, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Disney Comics, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more, IDW has some of the biggest franchises under the sun with some of the best talent working in comics today! This right here is where I’d like to see the Sonic franchise head with a new take and a fresh perspective, Both Boom and IDW tend to sell better in direct markets than Archie nowadays and think of the possible crossovers! Just surfing the forums alone, I know there’s probably a ton of people out there that would love to see a Sonic/My Little Pony Crossover. Heck, how about Sonic and crew visiting Spyro and the world of Skylanders?
The Sonic comic franchise had been around for over twenty years and deserves better than to be constantly delayed, have subscriptions halted and be tied up in lawsuits. In my opinion, it’s time for Sonic to break free of Archie and run a blazing trail on fresh, new ground.
Fans of Archie’s Sonic comic series will be waiting awhile longer to get their next Sonic comic fix. According to the website Previewsworld, which posts solicitations for upcoming comic books, the next issues of both Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Universe have been delayed again to April and beyond.
Sonic the Hedgehog #291, originally scheduled for late January before being delayed to March 1, then March 22, is now arriving in stores April 26. Sonic Universe #95 will be shipping on April 12, three whole months after the last issue. Of course, these delays have also affected subsequent issues, with Sonic #292 shipping on May 24 and Sonic Universe #96 shipping on May 10. The solicitations for the remaining issues have yet to be altered, but they will no doubt be changed eventually to reflect these delays.
Today, it seems even these dates may not be set in stone; while in the past Archie has re-solicited delayed comics, their recently released May solicits did not feature any Sonic comics, new or old.
Things have been rocky for Archie’s Sonic comics these last few months. In addition to these delays, subscriptions for the comics became (and remain) unavailable, which we first reported back in January. The exact cause of all this remains unclear, as Archie staff have remained mum throughout all of this.
A Storybook Retrospective of Sonic and the Secret Rings
Once upon a time, on the nineteenth night of February 2017, I had fallen fast asleep on my sofa. An issue of Sonic the Comic lay strewn out upon my face, its pages fluttering up and down in the makeshift breeze as my body gently breathed in and out. A fireplace roared away in the corner of the room as the quiet ticking of the grandfather clock permeated the silence. Eventually, the two hands pointed upwards and the simple staccato beats transformed into a melodic chime. A strange magic seemed to fill the air.
“Zzz…” I snored, happily oblivious to my surroundings.
“Um…” murmured a familiar voice. It was not enough to make me stir.
“Zzz…” I snored some more. My unexpected guest grew impatient.
“Hmph! Hey, wake up!”
I came to with a start, the comic slipping off my face and onto the floor. My eyes shot straight over to the clock. Midnight! February 20th had arrived.
“Boy, is it that late already?!”
I leaned down to reach for the comic, but instead found myself picking up a shining circular object. A copy of Sonic and the Secret Rings! But what was it doing here, and why was it out of its box…? Suddenly, a ghostly mist surrounded the disc, and out popped a female genie with pointy ears and purple-pink hair!
“Do not be alarmed,” she explained, “I am Shahra, the Genie of the Disc!”
I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. Surely this couldn’t really be happening?!
“This is what I get for listening to Big the Cat’s Emerald Coast music before bedtime…” I mumbled to myself.
“Please,” she begged, “look at this!”
A laptop materialised in her hands, the screen displaying a series of posts on an internet forum. The name of the thread: ‘Sonic and the Secret Rings sucks!’
“Wow, those comments are… harsh!” I observed, a little shocked. “Opinions on it really have changed, haven’t they!”
“Our world, the world of the Secret Rings, is vanishing!” she revealed. “It is the work of an incredibly evil spirit… the Erazor Djinn! He has begun to carve up our game’s reputation. When it first released exactly ten years ago today, the reception was generally positive – but now it is crumbling apart! If our fanbase ceases to exist, then this story will be silenced forever…”
“That definitely sounds like trouble,” I agreed, “but what do you want me to do?”
“I want you to stop it. Only you can restore the people’s belief in Sonic and the Secret Rings!”
“I suppose I can help out with that… but this is all something out of a videogame, right?” I questioned, ever so slightly perplexed. “How am I supposed to do anything about that?”
“That’s easy,” Shahra replied, “you are my master, having called forth the Genie of the Disc. Bringing you into the world of the Secret Rings is within my power. Now, please place the disc into the console…”
Obediently, I bent down and inserted the game into my dusty old Nintendo Wii. With a thunderous whir of power and a flash of rainbow light, I found myself standing in a whole new world.
I had arrived in a tunnel of golden light: a swirling vortex with giant pieces of paper floating all around.
“Where are we?” I asked Shahra.
“This is the Lost Preview, the world before the Secret Rings…”
I looked down at the pages making up the road beneath my feet. They were extracts from old magazine and website articles about the game, from early impressions to initial reviews. Lo and behold, most of them were pretty optimistic.
“Hey, I used to read some of these! Wow… I’d almost forgotten that the game was called Sonic Wildfire in early development! Check out some of the great things people were saying… man, I was so excited for it back then!”
At this point, it also occurred to me that, completely automatically, I had started running along in a straight line. Shahra noticed my surprise, and commented:
“Yeah, that’s a force of habit in the world of the Secret Rings. You’ll get used to it.”
Unfortunately, it seemed I had also lost my ability to stop, and soon found myself running straight into the back of a big ugly purple genie wielding a mighty scythe. The Erazor Djinn!
“You… you must be that ape that just got added to the story!” he grinned, turning around to face me.
“Don’t you know anything? I’m not an ape, I’m a human!” I pedantically corrected him.
“I have already ruined this game’s Metacritic average and forced SEGA to de-list it from retail stores! Soon the rest of its fans will follow…”
“We’ll see about that!” I bit back, my legs still stuck in a running animation with Shahra having to hold me in place.
“Oh, you’re one of them, are you? I suppose a suitable punishment is in order, then…”
Without warning, Erazor shot a burning arrow of fire right into my chest.
“This game’s reputation is tied to the flame. Bring me one good reason not to blight it to oblivion before the arrow extinguishes. If you do not… your journalistic credibility is forfeit! Hahahahaha!”
“Ouch!” I yelped, as Erazor quickly teleported away into the ether. “I reckon I’m going to need some Gaviscon to sort out this heartburn…”
“No, we do not have time. Let the speed mend it!” Shahra suggested instead. I wondered if she realised she had just made an in-joke. “You must hurry and remember what made you fall in love with the Secret Rings a whole decade ago…”
Shahra conjured up a luxurious-looking magic carpet and gestured to climb on board with her. She handed me a Wii Remote, telling me that I could use it to steer us around.
“Now this is first-class!” I exclaimed, just grateful not to be endlessly running on my feet any more.
I looked up to see a series of locales now listed in front of me. Somewhere from the depths of the vortex, a voice was singing: ‘Make-believes reborn! Myths in mind rethought..!’. That won’t ever get annoying, I thought. Deciding to visit the areas in order, we soared onward, and my adventure into the world of the Secret Rings had begun…
One thing became clear as we perpetually ventured forwards: every step on our journey was a fast and thrilling rollercoaster ride of fun. Or, at least, most steps were. In between the high octane magic carpet flights, we had to make shorter and less exciting visits to each locale. I didn’t much see the point in revisiting the same places over and over again for a number of trivial tasks: collecting (or not collecting) rings, destroying a very specific amount of evil spirits, or painstakingly hunting for dinosaur eggs. Shahra, however, insisted that it was necessary in order to forge the path ahead – which would have been fine, except that we had to zig-zag between locales to do so, with increasingly grating echoes of ‘Make believes reborn!’ greeting us every time. For a world so obsessed with moving forwards, Secret Rings didn’t really seem to comprehend the virtues of straightforward linearity.
“This is needlessly obtuse, you do realise that?” I remarked. Shahra chose to ignore me.
It had also become clear after a while that our mode of transport was far from ideal. The Wii Remote, though a novel means of steering, was just that: a novelty. Tilting to and fro worked fine, but the struggle to slow down and reverse caused untold amount of crashes and near-misses. I pleaded with Shahra for a more traditional method of controlling our movement, but she insisted that this was the only way. I started to believe that turning around and going backwards must be considered a crime in these lands. Either that or the world had just taken Green Forest’s ‘Won’t Stop, Just Go!’ mentality a little too seriously.
By the time we finally reached the heart of the Night Palace, I was feeling pretty jaded and weary – our adventuring had literally been non-stop! But, in spite of all my frustrations, there was no time to rest. The flaming arrow in my chest was nearly gone, and the Erazor Djinn still had to be stopped. Entering his throne room, we could hear him reciting an incantation:
“Ifalas zaras I e zaraq, Ifalas zaras I e zaraq…”
“What’s he doing?” I asked Shahra.
“He’s summoning an angry mob to burn what’s left of this game’s reputation to the ground!” she panicked. “You must stop him, now!”
Erazor finished his spell and an army of disgruntled Sonic fans with torches and pitchforks materialised beside him. Sensing our presence, Erazor turned around and laughed maniacally.
“Ah, it’s the ape again! Have you brought me your one good reason?”
“Umm… actually, I don’t know…” I answered honestly.
Erazor and Shahra looked equally stunned.
“You see, I can completely understand why some people wouldn’t like this game. It can be a right royal pain trying to traverse through these areas using the Wii Remote, and the constant coming and going between different areas to complete missions can bring the momentum grinding to a halt. Which is ironic really, considering it’s all meant to be about never-ending speed!”
Shahra put her head in her hands, defeated. Erazor smirked and nodded to the angry mob to start approaching.
“But,” I continued, “that doesn’t mean it’s not without its charm. For all of the game’s faults, I can’t help but admire it. Whether it was Sand Oasis, Evil Foundry, Levitated Ruin, Skeleton Dome, or anywhere else: this is a gorgeous, gorgeous world. The landscapes, the lighting, the set pieces… they’re all beautifully diverse. And all from a launch-window title on a standard definition console! Maybe including dinosaurs and pirates is a little strange thematically, but I’m willing to give those a pass for sheer spectacle alone. Oh, and I absolutely loved the music of this world, too! I may never know what an Unawakening Float is, or find out who’s gonna rock the place, place, place, but these are all songs I will never forget. They’re just so… unique. And I think that about sums it up: Secret Rings is a game that dares to be different. Yes, it’s a product of its time that cashed in on gimmicky motion controls. Yes, it hasn’t aged very well by modern standards. But back in 2007, compared to the other Sonic titles on the market, this was a big deal. Strip away its technical flaws and Secret Rings is a game that’s simple yet compelling in its story, its presentation… and, at times, even its gameplay. Trash talk it all you like, but its creative heart will burn on with a passion that can never be extinguished!”
It was at this point that I expected the flaming arrow in my chest to burst forth with almighty, triumphant vigour. Alas, no such luck.
“Pah! You think that’s good enough to stop me?” laughed Erazor at my excuses.
“Oh… umm…” I desperately scrambled for other ideas, “well I suppose Secret Rings is technically canon now, seeing as it did get mentioned in Generations, so…”
Erazor just carried on laughing. Even I knew that was a pathetic attempt.
“You have failed, ape! Now, feel the wrath of the flame!”
With a click of his fingers, Erazor’s angry mob angled their pitchforks in my direction and came after me. I needed a get-out and I needed it quick.
“This doesn’t look good! Shahra, please lend me your power!”
A distant voice cried out: ‘Time break!!’
There was a flash of grey and the world slowed to a crawl. Seizing the opportunity, I turned and ran. And I ran, and I ran, until I found my way home. Sonic somehow managed it, so I figured I could too.
I don’t know whether my efforts managed to make any difference to the fate of the Secret Rings. Ten years on from its original release, I got to relive both its highs and its lows – and, while it often felt like an arduous journey, I do not regret making a return visit to its world. Strange, isn’t it? That’s this game in a nutshell. Maybe that’s what makes it special.
The past was kind to Secret Rings. The present, not so much. Its future reputation? Well, that remains uncertain. Day by day, only time will tell if it’s meant to be… but in my opinion?
It’s worth a chance.
– THE END –
Celebrate 10 years of Sonic and the Secret Rings by sharing your memories below!
Ah, Valentine’s Day. A time for romance and epic declarations of love – which, if you happen to be Amy Rose, is basically every day. With her daily antics of chasing Sonic, we figured that the Rosy Rascal would be the perfect character to celebrate this February 14th! Now, who’s ever heard of a celebration without some cool knowledge? That’s right, nobody. So let us take a Piko (sorry) at some interesting facts about everybody’s favourite pink hedgehog. Continue reading Seduce Your Significant Other With These Romantic Amy Rose Facts
Happy New Year! To celebrate the ushering in of a fresh 12 months of Sonic the Hedgehog goodness, we decided to club together and create our very first merchandise review video. Join Adam, Kieran, Mark and Lewis as we unbox some of the brand new kidrobot Sonic blind bag figures! Continue reading TSS Merchandise Review: Kidrobot Blind Box Figures
What kind of crazy world does Sonic Boom belong to where less than a week old puppies can be impregnated and give birth?!! A sick, #$@%ed-up world, that’s what!! Join GX, Jason and Alex (who’s too dang far from his mic so I apologize for his audio in advance) as they discuss the new 2nd season of Sonic Boom, the other animated series based on a video game Skylanders Academy, new Sonic merchandise, Jason’s trip to the Playstation Experience, Titanfall 2, Pokemon Sun and Moon and much, much more! Continue reading Sonic Talk 41: How Are The Puppies Having Puppies?!!
The Sonic Stadium spent last Wednesday night enjoying a spot of high society, quaffing champagne, dining on hors d’oeuvres and indulging in the opening night of the Castle Art Gallery’s Sonic the Hedgehog 25th anniversary art exhibition. And, while we were initially apprehensive of what we might find, we left the gallery discovering some fantastic and inspiring art featuring our favourite hedgehog. Continue reading TSS Review: Castle Fine Art Sonic the Hedgehog Gallery Opening
For our 40th episode, we decided to treat you to an extra special episode by having NO Alex Peal! Yaaaay! (Alex is gonna kill me.) Instead, we have GX Echidna and Jason discussing Shin Godzilla, Skylanders Imaginators, Jason’s hands-on of the Mario and Sonic Rio Olympics arcade machine, our opinions on Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice and much more! Continue reading Sonic Talk Episode 40
What seemed to be an eternity of waiting since its announcement on March 17th, 2015 has finally passed on October 20th, 2016, as Nintendo had at long last lifted the curtain on the “NX,” or should I say the Nintendo Switch. Even before that day, Sega officially announced that Sonic would indeed be making an appearance on the system. It won’t be just any game, but the even longer-awaited next main game from Sonic Team called Project Sonic 2017, provided the Switch version is the same as the PS4/XBO/PC versions. Continue reading HoL’s Musings: Sonic’s Future and Potential on the Nintendo Switch
News concerning all things fast and blue over the past few weeks has started to pick up quite a bit, and since a lot has transpired following the release of Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, I think it’s fair to say that a quick recap of recent events is in order!
Read on below for the full breakdown of our Sonic coverage since the Fire & Ice launch:
Title: Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (played on 3DS XL model)
Developer: Sanzaru Games
Release Date: September 27th, 2016 (NA), September 30th, 2016 (EU), October 1st, 2016 (AUS), October 27th, 2016 (JP)
Review copy provided by Sega
Here we are at last. It’s been almost two years after the Sonic Boom branch of the series launched with the TV show and the accompanying Wii U and 3DS games. We now have the second main Sonic Boom game (depending if you view Rise of Lyric on Wii U and Shattered Crystal on 3DS as a sibling pair of games), and this time it’s only on 3DS. Like Shattered Chrystal before it, Fire & Ice is once again developed by Sanzaru Games, who is also known for the Sly Cooper HD trilogy remaster and the fourth Sly game a few years back on PS3 and Vita. While Big Red Button’s Rise of Lyric launched in a poor and buggy state on Wii U, Shattered Crystal on 3DS was considered to be at least decent, though it had issues of its own. The question is, how does Fire & Ice fare?
This podcast was (not) brought to you by Totino’s!
Alex takes over hosting duties this month as we talk about our trip to the Sonic 25th Anniversary celebration and San Diego Comic Con along with our impressions of Sonic Mania, along with our thoughts on Project 2017 and Sonic in Lego Dimensions and our thoughts on Sonic Mega Drive from Archie comics. We only focus on one major topic this week so this episode is mercifully shorter than usual. Enjoy!
Emphasis on the dozen, add more yolks.
If the history of fiction has proven anything, it’s that villains are far more likely to be more fun to watch than the heroes. So a natural way to get a great arc on paper is to shove all your villains in one place and see how it unfolds. Eggman’s Dozen does exactly that, but will it prove the perfect dish or be a case of putting all the eggs in the wrong basket? Read on and find out!
There’s more to the Sonic 25th Anniversary Party then just announcements. In this post we will be posting video and photo coverage directly from the party! Whether it’s a lightning interview or just having fun in line, we’ll be posting it here in addition to news coverage! Continue reading Sonic 25th Party On the Ground Live Coverage (+Mania impressions, updated)
I just bumped into this and had to share it. Jason Griffith, who most know voiced Sonic in the Sonic X anime in 2003 until Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing in 2010, actually did indeed still voice Sonic for at least one last time in a half hour Fall 2010 Preview of Toonzai on CW4Kids. You can see the full video below. Continue reading Jason Griffith gave one last performance as Sonic in a Toonzai Fall 2010 Preview
Mario and Sonic was always the topic at the Copa.
With the Olympics just weeks around the corner, Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for the Wii U is finally out on the shelves. Promising more characters, better graphics, 14 Olympic events and an array of content, will this game have you partying like you’re in Maracanã, or will you be left thinking of it as Barren da Tijuca?
Sonic Before the Sequel, the breakout title for then-fledgling game developer Felipe “LakeFeperd” Daneluz, shattered expectations for a fan-developed 2D Sonic game after its initial release in 2011. The full-length retro-styled game lived up to its ambitious name thanks to its gorgeous presentation, its ingenious Zones, a charming story featuring Sonic and Tails meeting for the first time as they try to stop the Death Egg’s launch, and, as of its rerelease for the online Sonic Amateur Games Expo in 2012, a stunning original soundtrack that even saw praise from THE Jun Senoue. Continue reading TSS Review: LakeFeperd’s Sonic Chrono Adventure
“A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is bad forever.” – Shigeru Miyamoto
While these words aren’t necessarily true (just look at Duke Nukem Forever), a delayed game with the purpose of fixing it’s issues can only make a better game. Such seems to be the case with Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice. A game originally scheduled for November 2015 that looked like it might be just a slight improvement over the original, but nothing major. Fast forward 8 months later and lo and behold, we seem to have a pretty good game on our hands. Continue reading E3 2016: Sonic Boom Fire & Ice Preview, Jason’s Take
I didn’t care for Shattered Crystal back at E3 2014. Between the maze-like level design and clunky character switching, the game left me frustrated by the end of my 20+ minute play through of a single level of the game. My opinion of the game improved somewhat when it was finally released, but many of the issues I had with it remained. If Fire & Ice’s E3 demo is any indication, Sanzaru has learned a lot from their last game’s mistakes. Continue reading E3 2016: Sonic Boom Fire & Ice Preview, Alex’s Take
Yesterday, I sat down in a quiet location of E3 with the master of memes himself, Aaron Webber. We discussed a little bit of Sonic Revolution, Sonic in Lego Dimensions, but mostly Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice. You’ll hear about improvements made due to the delay, the trailer cutscene, the length of the game and much, more! So please watch and enjoy. Continue reading E3 2016: Interview With Aaron Webber