Is It Time For The Sonic Franchise To Let Go Of Archie Comics?

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 Studios

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…

IDW

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.

Archie delays upcoming Sonic comics again, doesn’t solicit Sonic for May

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.

Sources: Comic Vine, Previews World

3,653 Nights: 10 Years of Sonic and the Secret Rings

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!

Seduce Your Significant Other With These Romantic Amy Rose Facts

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

TSS Merchandise Review: Kidrobot Blind Box Figures

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

Sonic Talk 41: How Are The Puppies Having Puppies?!!

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?!!

TSS Review: Castle Fine Art Sonic the Hedgehog Gallery Opening

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

Sonic Talk Episode 40

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

HoL’s Musings: Sonic’s Future and Potential on the Nintendo Switch

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 2017provided 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

Sum-Up Sunday: Bricks, Booms, and Mania, Oh My!

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:

Continue reading Sum-Up Sunday: Bricks, Booms, and Mania, Oh My!

TSS Review: Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice for 3DS

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?

Continue reading TSS Review: Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice for 3DS

Sonic Talk 39: Stuffed Full of Cheese

 

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!

TSS Review: Eggman’s Dozen

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!

Continue reading TSS Review: Eggman’s Dozen

Sonic 25th Party On the Ground Live Coverage (+Mania impressions, updated)

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)

Jason Griffith gave one last performance as Sonic in a Toonzai Fall 2010 Preview

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

TSS Reviews: Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Wii U version)

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?

Continue reading TSS Reviews: Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Wii U version)

TSS Review: LakeFeperd’s Sonic Chrono Adventure

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

E3 2016: Sonic Boom Fire & Ice Preview, Jason’s Take

“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

E3 2016: Sonic Boom Fire & Ice Preview, Alex’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

E3 2016: Interview With Aaron Webber

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

E3 Day One Summary + Fire & Ice First Impressions

As a veteran of six (as of this year) E3s, I have begun to enter the show with a certain amount of confidence. “I’ve done this all before” I tell myself, “I’ve got this.” Every single year, this show finds some way to prove my confidence premature. For the first time since I started going to this show back in 2010, I had a lot of genuine difficulty logging time on a Sonic game. Or really, any game SEGA or Atlus had on display. Continue reading E3 Day One Summary + Fire & Ice First Impressions

Sonic Talk 37: Bubsy Modded

In this month’s Sonic Talk, join Jason, Alex and GX Echidna as they discuss the Ratchet and Clank movie, Star Fox Zero, the Lego Dimensions Sonic rumor, Jon Gray leaving Archie comics, Sonic conventions, the new Sega Genesis hub with mod support on Steam (while driving Alex nuts about Bubsy mods) and…Sonic facial Cream? Continue reading Sonic Talk 37: Bubsy Modded

The Spin: “We are Sega, Your Lunchbox Will Use Our Packaging… Resistance is Futile!”

So we’ve not had an instalment of ‘The Spin’ for a while, the last time we had one was when the live-stream panel at SXSW kicked off, which was insightful if only for the number of people on twitter who said “Lolz complaining that no games were announced” even some people in the comments of that article said this, despite the fact at the top of the article it said “We knew there would be no games” and how the panel felt like a big missed opportunity since all the guests ended up being set dressing instead of actually contributing in some way. My eyes were practically spin-dashing given how many eye rolls they completed. Continue reading The Spin: “We are Sega, Your Lunchbox Will Use Our Packaging… Resistance is Futile!”

TSS Review: Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (3DS)

The biannual bash of gaming’s top titans is here again and it’s a far more enjoyable fare than a certain recent movie featuring two other huge fictional rivals. Mario and Sonic return to the Olympics with their biggest roster ever and a surprisingly meaty single-player experience. However, with this being the fifth outing for this mascot sports series, is it too much of the “same-old, same-old”, or is there enough meat in the portable outing to be worth a purchase? Continue reading TSS Review: Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (3DS)

Hands On: Sonic Blast Ball

While entertaining my Canadian cousin last week, we got in a game of Bowling at Round 1 in Puente Hills, California. Round 1 is a Japanese owned franchise of arcades in America that carry the latest and great games straight from Japan. While checking out some Sega UFO catchers, the sight of a certain blue hedgehog immediately caught my eye. Of course, that being the brand new Sonic Blast Ball. Continue reading Hands On: Sonic Blast Ball

TSS REVIEW: Sonic Adventure Music Experience 2016, Tokyo

A large proportion of the fan base to this day cite the Sonic Adventure series as being the pinnacle of the Sonic the Hedgehog gaming experience; on the most part, the games were their first jaunt into the Sonic Universe, and have defined what they come to expect from titles to this day. Being one of the more senior fans, Sonic Adventure was an exciting revival of my favourite video game franchise, after several years of stagnation and the glory days of the Megadrive now a distant echo. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic Adventure Music Experience 2016, Tokyo

Five Worst Gender Counterparts that the Archie Sonic Comics Created

I’m sure you’ve seen gender counterparts before. After Mickey Mouse became a household icon, they made Minnie Mouse as a love interest. When DC decided that Superman needed a counterpart to peer his ability, they eventually settled on Supergirl. When Mattel wanted to claw more of the market share through their Polly Pocket toys, out came Mighty Max. On paper, creating a gender counterpart for an established character isn’t in itself a bad thing; sure, your basic premise is “let’s take this person, but flip their gender”, but it’s a foundation so simple that it can be span into many creative, interesting and fun directions to suit whatever purpose the story and series needs it to. Continue reading Five Worst Gender Counterparts that the Archie Sonic Comics Created

TSS REVIEW: First4Figures Tornado Exclusive Edition Diorama

Now… the last time I wrote about a First4Figures statue in detail was back in 2013, and it wasn’t exactly a happy experience, my statue along with several others had a number of problems, mysterious black marks, badly manufactured joints to name but a few. This, combined with problems with a number of previous statues finally broke the camels back. So I cancelled all my outstanding orders for statues with them, since then I have not bought another F4F product, that rule was in place for me until I saw evidence that they were taking their quality control seriously.

And oh boy, how they have gone above my expectations. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: First4Figures Tornado Exclusive Edition Diorama

The Spin: The Power of Panels

So I watched the 25th anniversary panel at SXSW the other day and… I’m a bit conflicted, see I knew there wouldn’t be any games announced at it, it’s been said constantly, unless you were living under a rock or found out about the event a few moments before it was due to start, it was hard not to know, aside from it being officially confirmed that there would be no game announcements, so many other Sega/Sonic sites and commentators were saying it. Continue reading The Spin: The Power of Panels

Sonic Talk 36: Super Talk Bros

An episode 24 years in the making! But not really. Join Alex, GX and Jason as they talk about Yo-Kai Watch and Street Fighter 5 in “Stuff talk”. We also talk about the long lost SegaSonicBros arcade prototype, the Sonic movie coming in 2018 and why are Sonic comics facing such huge delays. All this, a comedy segment with GX and Reef from Spindash and more! Continue reading Sonic Talk 36: Super Talk Bros

11 Sonics Drawn Badly, by SSMB

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

The Top 15 TSS Articles of 2015

So throughout the year our site monitors and keeps tracks of various statistics because numbers are fun. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what were the top 15 news/articles of 2015 on TSS according to total views, I have discounted individual images or hub pages like the Home page.

Please keep in mind that due to the data loss earlier this year, some of the articles featured are no longer on the site meaning their positions might have been slightly altered had they remained online. Continue reading The Top 15 TSS Articles of 2015

The Spin: 2015 In Review “Nothing Happened”

2014 as you may recall was ‘The Year of Sonic’ and lets be honest, it was pretty awful, in fact it was one of the worst years for decades which finished with one of the worst games for decades. So 2015 couldn’t be any worse right? 2015 had to be better right?

Well… in around 3 days time it will be 2016, so how have the last 360ish days been if you are a Sonic fan? Well… Urm… Continue reading The Spin: 2015 In Review “Nothing Happened”

Sonic Talk Episode 35: Jolly Holly Hedgehog

Merry Christmas from Sonic Talk!

While I have dreams of lightsabers dancing in my head (this was recorded on Dec 17 so I was pretty anxious to go see Star Wars), Alex and GX talk all things Xenoblade while I zone out. Then, We discuss the latest game from Yuji Naka “Rodea the Sky Soldier”. Other topics include Sonic Boom DVD coming to the UK, updates for Sonic Dash 2 and Sonic Runners, my opinion of Sonic Lost World on PC and much more! Merry Christmas and a Happy Life Day!

Because Why Not: Creators, Copyrights and Chaotix

And you thought the music was a tangled web of who did what. It is, but that opener sounds cool.

Unamused
…It was really that bad?

The Sonic franchise has a plethora of characters scattered about throughout its history. A comparatively small selection are still in active use (most of which were represented in Sonic Generations), others were one-offs that are now restricted to mentions and cameos, and then there’s a small sect of characters that were completely cut when Sonic made the jump from 2D to 3D with Sonic Adventure. For fans of these characters, there are often calls to bring them back, and the Chaotix’s redebut in Heroes is cited as to why it’s feasible. But are they comparable, or is there something special about the trio that came back?

For this first (and possibly only) edition of Because Why Not, I’ll be covering that central question by doing two simple things; firstly, a collation of classic characters and the company that first introduced them into the series. Secondly, and because it’s a bit more of an ambiguous area, I’ll be working out who created who in Chaotix by individual, and then we’ll go from there to wrap around to the opening thought. So, let’s get to it, it’s quite a mess out there!

Two’s Company, Three’s Outsourced

There’s always something interesting I notice in regards to character creation origins. While the most prominent examples are well known, the more obscure and older parts are either largely forgotten or outright unknown.  This can be exemplified more clearly with regards to how people view who made what between the classic games and the more recent games; most fans can easily tell you that the likes of Sonic Chronicles and the All Stars Racing series were outsourced, but not as many can tell you the same of Sonic Triple Trouble or Tails Adventure. It is often assumed that most were made under Sonic Team’s eye when the reality is that they had a hand in surprisingly few of them, although most were still kept within other branches of SEGA.

So with this in mind, here is a rundown of each of the characters that existed prior to Sonic Adventure, and the company that first introduced them. If we know anything about who created them, they will be included.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic the Hedgehog) – Sonic Team. He was famously created by Naoto Ohshima as part of internal deliberations between several staff. The hedgehog was picked due to exemplifying the ball mechanic and being very streamlined in look. It has inspirations from Bill Clinton and Santa Claus, apparently.
  • Dr Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik (Sonic the Hedgehog) – Sonic Team. He was also created by Naoto Ohshima, but his design was one of the early protagonist designs before it was re-adopted for the main antagonist. Apparently takes heavy influence from Theodore Roosevelt. The Ivo Robotnik name didn’t exist in Japan until Sonic Adventure as it was conceived solely for localisation.
  • Miles “Tails” Prower (Sonic the Hedgehog 2) – SEGA Technical Institute (The part which was effectively the main Sonic Team unit between 1992 and 1995, although other parts of it made spin-offs like Sonic Spinball and the vapourware Sonic X-Treme). The fact his design process was similar to Sonic’s is less famous, but the kerfuffle over his name is still pretty well known. Creator credit is given to Yasushi Yamaguchi, would was insistent on using the name Miles and managed to get a compromise on it.

    Sonic CD Amy
    It’s almost like one of those “this is how I see me, this is how other people see me” virals.
  • Amy Rose (Sonic CD) – SEGA Enterprises (who aren’t Sonic Team, but had one or two key staff). Game creator credit is with Kazuyuki Hoshino. She’s based off a character from the 92-93 Manga, but the design is a combination of Hoshino’s preferences in women at the time and Ohshima’s fashion preferences.
  • Metal Sonic (Sonic CD) – SEGA Enterprises. He was also created by Kazuyuki Hoshino, and he has some very detailed technical aspects to his construction available.
  • All characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic Spinball and/or Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine) – DiC, not a game team. It is important to stress that it doesn’t mean that DiC owns them, it just means that DiC made them. And the reason why it’s not separated into two different points is because Scratch is the only character to feature in both games. There’s a bit of trivia for you!
  • Mighty the Armadillo (SegaSonic the Hedgehog) – SEGA-AM3. This is the first real swerve off expectations. SEGA had multiple arcade divisions in the past, and they made this as opposed to Sonic Team. Mighty could feasibly be based off a concept armadillo we know of.
  • Ray the Flying Squirrel (SegaSonic the Hedgehog) – SEGA-AM3. Some say he’s based off Tails concepts from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but there’s no tangible proof of that as far as I know.
  • Knuckles the Echidna (Sonic the Hedgehog 3) – SEGA Technical Institute. Again, less famous than Sonic’s and Tails’ creation histories, but we do know bits and pieces. For example, his very early concepts had him as a dinosaur, and after the Echidna bit was cemented he was green for a bit. Creator credit is given to Takashi “Thomas” Yuda.
  • Fang the Sniper AKA Nack the Weasel (Sonic Triple Trouble) – Aspect Co. They were responsible for most of the Game Gear games, although most didn’t introduce new characters. He’s one of the few outsourced characters where we know where Fang’s creator credit lies for absolute certain; a freelance artist who calls himself Touma. He even used aspects of Fang’s design in some of his later works.
  • Vector the Crocodile ([Knuckles] Chaotix) – SEGA Enterprises, although he is definitely derived from Sonic 1 concepts that were created by Naoto Ohshima.
  • Charmy Bee ([Knuckles] Chaotix) – SEGA Enterprises. Like Amy, he is based off a 92-93 Manga character.
  • Espio the Chameleon ([Knuckles] Chaotix) – SEGA Enterprises. In early stages, the game appeared to have Espio in a more headline role based off the prototypes that have been discovered over the years. Makes sense since he’s an original character for this game, and it also justifies why he was picked out of the game for Sonic the Fighters.
  • Heavy and Bomb AKA the Mechanix ([Knuckles] Chaotix) – SEGA Enterprises. We know nothing of these guys and they’re barely characters, more like walking handicaps.
  • Bearenger, Fockewulf, Carrotia and Witchkart AKA the Villains of Tails’ Skypatrol (Tails’ Skypatrol) – SIMS Co. Ltd. One of the few Gamegear games not developed by Aspect Co. and a branch of SEGA that went independent about 2002-2004. No wonder it didn’t see an international release until 2005.
  • The Battle Kukku Army (Tails Adventure) – Aspect Co. There’s two artists in the credits, and one of them is Nobuhiko Honda, who would later be responsible for the new characters and redesigns in Sonic Heroes, and the new characters in Shadow the Hedgehog. He also acted as enemy character designer in Sonic Adventure 2. That said, he was also an artist in Triple Trouble where he obviously didn’t design Fang so I wouldn’t count his future work as concrete proof he has credit for the Battle Kukkus. The Fang cameo that’s present in the game would be natural to expect given that he’s the company’s biggest contribution to the franchise.

    happy bark
    Do you know the homage origin of this polar bear? Answers on a post card please.
  • Bark the Polar Bear (Sonic the Fighters/Sonic Championship) – SEGA-AM2. There’s one character designer listed in the credits, so it’s probable he was designed by Masahiro Sugiyama. He seems to be the only one not based on a previous SEGA-AM2 character, but I wouldn’t say it’s an impossibility. He went on to cameo in Fighters Megamix, Virtua Soccer and Shenmue.
  • Bean the Dynamite (Sonic the Fighters/Sonic Championship) – SEGA-AM2. Like Bark, probable individual credit would be with Masahiro Sugiyama. Based on the protagonists Bin and Pin of Dynamite Dux. He shares the same cameo list as Bark.
  • Honey the Cat (Sonic the Fighters/Sonic Championship) – SEGA-AM2. Again, probably credited to Masahiro Sugiyama. Based off Honey (Candy in the west) from Fighting Vipers. Her mirror form appeared in the introduction to the Saturn version of Fighting Vipers.
  • Metal Knuckles (Sonic R) – Traveller’s Tales. There is a specified character designer though, and it’s…Yuji Uekawa? Yeah, some of the SEGA staff were advising and occupying roles in this, including head of Sonic Team Takashi Iizuka (as Game Design Director, with the Japanese personnel who had gone to STI in America now back with SEGA Enterprises in Japan since the production of NiGHT). It’s actually pretty easy to see considering how faithful to the franchises’ established elements Metal Knuckles is. While definitely based on the same design logic as Metal Sonic, he’s still British-made in terms of company. I think Sonic R is one of the first outsourcing jobs made by a company entirely separate to SEGA.
  • Tails Doll (Sonic R) – Traveller’s Tales. Also presumably credited to Yuji Uekawa. One thing to note is that when asked about production of figures based on the Sonic R exclusives (Jazwares asked SEGA about Metal Knuckles), Jazwares explained that they don’t have the rights to some of the characters for the merchandise aspect as they were not developed SEGA of Japan. So despite Uekawa’s involvement, the developer took precedence here. Again, same design logic as Metal Sonic, only this time it takes on the form of a doll-like creation. Funnily enough, Sonic Adventure would show similar dolls of all three of the Triple Threat in mass-produced forms. But they’re not linked to this Tails Doll.

What we can take from this list is that there is, by and large, a distinctive pattern between the classic characters who have gone to become hallmarks and those who have gone on to become scrap fodder. Most of the scrapped (not all) were made by one of the branches away from the central Sonic Team unit, with a couple being completely outsourced (on a developer level, anyway).

This is all well and good, but then why were characters from SEGA Enterprises later brought into the Sonic Team fold, and how come others didn’t? Well, if we want to get to the root of things, we’re going to have to look at the game that’s the exception to the rule.

Chaotix Conundrum

At the end of the day, Chaotix is quite the oddball hodgepodge of a creator mix. Ideas were taken from pretty much anywhere they could find once Sonic and Tails were decided to be off the cards, and as a result you have pedigree names mixed in with relative strangers. People who worked on the game at the time have explained the long work days and evenings crowded into a car eating takeout meals, which just adds to the strangeness. It makes sense when you consider this; at the time, most of the Sonic Team personnel that had been with Sonic 1 went over with Naka to America by the time Sonic 2 rolled around, so the Japanese side filled out their Sonic efforts with what remainders there were (Ohshima), and either brought in new staff (Hoshino) or dragged others in from non-Sonic branches (A few others).

As such, the Chaotix are usually just written off as ‘unknown’ in terms of creator credit. But I truly believe it can be worked out, and quite easily. For this, we need two things; the Original Character Concept list taken ad verbatim from the credits sequence, and the list of character names seen on the level name cards that appear before you start a stage.

 

Chaotix Character List
Why is it double punctuated?? I don’t know!!
Character Concept List
Original Character Concept (do not steal).

As a starting point, let’s go with the most obvious, and that’s second down in each list;

  • Takashi “Thomas” Yuda: Yuda is the one given credit for Knuckles’ creation in Sonic 3, and Knuckles is the most important character in the game, so it’s easy to guess that he was behind Knuckles the Echidna here too.
  • Manabu Kusonoki: Kusonoki has been in two other Sonic games, SegaSonic the Hedgehog (as a designer) and Sonic Adventure (as a CG movie director). Kusonoki is the only person SegaSonic the Hedgehog and Chaotix have in common, so it’s very likely he’s as much responsible for bringing in Mighty the Armadillo as he was for creating them both for SegaSonic the Hedgehog, which fits with the character list order. This does mean Mighty was the closest to getting in a Sonic Team game from a non-Sonic Team origin (I say close, because SEGA Enterprises isn’t quite there).
  • Kazuyoshi Hoshino: Kazuyoshi is just another pen name for Kazuyuki (we know because Hoshino has talked about his experiences working on the game. His takeaway noodle anecdote is above) aka the guy who made Amy, who was based on a character from the CoroCoro Manga. And wouldn’t you know it, Charmy Bee also appeared in those same Manga. So out of those concept designers, he’s the one with the proven link back to it, thus likely also based Chaotix Charmy on that idea.

Now here’s where things sort of go less certain, but it’s still pretty clear if you look into more of the background;

  • Takumi Miyake (and Yasufumi Soejima). While Miyake doesn’t have many SEGA games to his name (five, apparently), he was everywhere design wise in Knuckles Chaotix. He was Chief Graphic Designer, Attraction Designer, Character Designer, Enemy Designer, Boss Designer and credited for Original Character Concept. That overlap into enemy and boss design makes me suspect that he was the designer for Heavy (as he was doing a lot of badnik designs regardless). The only other game Soejima has to his name at all is something called Dragon Force, so it would fit that he would do a simplistic design, which is what Bomb These both also fit the character list quite nicely.
  • Naoto Ohshima: Ohshima is first in the credit list, while Espio the Chameleon is first in the character list. Seem strange? Not so much if you know his history; beta concepts suggest that Espio was going to be a much more headline character than he was, as many shots say “Starring Espio the Chameleon”. Not only that, but even in the final game he took more prominence that the other Chaotix by both being the one Knuckles rescues in the cutscene and by having a more elaborate background intertwined with Knuckles’ history, and he was the only one of that debuting cast who was also included in Sonic the Fighters. It’d make sense for the man who created the face of the franchise to be given that important role of making a new important character. But the proof isn’t just from his background. Take note of this concept art in the Japanese Chaotix manual;
fangs for the memories
The first thing you’ll notice is the lack of any ground in this place.

Notice the fangs? They were a hallmark of Ohshima’s early Sonic designs before SEGA of America came in a asked for them to be removed. It seems like it’s a common trait amongst his works.

Speaking of that art, the other character on the page is unaccounted for, and just like the fangs, it links back to pre-Sonic 1 history. As is commonly known, there were lots of concepts banded about for the first game, one of which were characters made for a band to be featured in the soundtest and the intro/ending. Due to space and time restraints, these characters were cut and left as ideas. Now, these concepts, as such as Sonic and Eggman, were created by Ohshima as well, and since he was involved in Chaotix as is, it’s very likely that he revived Vector the Crocodile himself and readapted him for it. It would also explain why there’s one less original character concept credited than there are “playable” characters.

Christmas Adden-dee-dum: Well, as it turns out, we may have found out that step between the famous band concept art and Vector’s reappearance in Chaotix! User Black Squirrel over on Sonic Retro found pages from Computer and Video Games #126 (aka a very old British magazine issue), featuring an article on the then-hot topic (since it was the May ’92 issue) Sonic the Hedgehog (See references for images). In the background, you can see various different pictures depicting the band in amusing situations. There are a couple of interesting points;

  • Interviews with Ohshima have indicated that Sharps changed species during production, from a chicken to a parakeet. This colouring fits more for a parakeet, and heavily suggests that this was later in development and more finalised. This would apply to all of the characters.
  • The bands’ dud have changed from matching Sonic’s red and white to blue and yellow.

Considering that you can see a fraction of Vector on the right side in image 1, and he appears to have the yellow underbelly his Chaotix design would have, a hypothetical later concept Vector in blue and yellow would match the Chaotix design far more than the early concept. This is even stronger evidence that Vector was wholly Ohshima’s work if not much actually had to be altered for the official game design.

A Formal Meta-Analysis Essay Subtitle Like Conclusions or Discussion Goes Here

Right, now we’ve done the listing part, it’s time to take a look at our possible options in terms of what it means for the scrapped characters.

Option 1: The characters were cut for copyright reasons. I suppose since all the characters not used now are outsourced (or just insignificant, in the case of Heavy and Bomb), it’s technically possible, but I find it highly, highly unlikely to be the case. Even if their usage in the games since Adventure has just been old art assets, their image would come with a cost if they didn’t own copyright. And they wouldn’t let Archie have at them in their comic, because that counts as new material.

Option 2: Sonic Team have a negative bias against non-Sonic Team creations. At least it’s somewhat more feasible than option 1, but it still seems far-fetched. How would they recall the origin of each and every one of them given that there’s at least a dozen to keep tabs on, while also focusing on the franchise’s current situation, and everything in between? I don’t think they’re that petty, especially when some of the possible creators were still with the series at the time of Sonic Heroes’ development (Honda has a big role there to boot), or are still active on Sonic to this day (Uekawa, who did cover art for the portable titles for a good while, and now puts out monthly official art on Sonic Channel).

Option 3: Sonic Team have a positive bias for Sonic Team personnel creations. Now this one seems more in the realm of reality. Charmy is pinned down as Hoshino. While he wasn’t on Sonic Team when he began at SEGA, he was folded into it by the time of Sonic Adventure, and in a fairly important role to boot, and he was . It seems natural that one of his creations would get preference. Vector and Espio meanwhile are pegged as Ohshima. Ohshima left after Sonic Adventure, but he has the small credit of being the creator of Sonic as a character. Plus, both Hoshino and Iizuka seem friendly with him even after all these years. It would only be natural for them to want to keep what he made up to that point. Of course, they had to be retooled a bit because Sonic Adventure essentially marked a streamlining of the continuity which edged Chaotix out of canon, but they’re at least still there.

  So after all this, we’re essentially left with two overall conclusions, based on the above. The first is that we’ve had the information available to us to work out who made who in the Chaotix. Ohshima created Vector and Espio, Yuda created Knuckles (but that’s obvious), Kusunoki created Mighty, Hoshino created Charmy and Miyake/Soejima created Heavy and Bomb.

  The second is a heavier one; essentially, the Chaotix (the modern line-up, not the classic) always had a bit of an edge that the other non-main cast didn’t. Their creators weren’t just staff from other teams; they’re notable players in Sonic’s overall history. Citing the Chaotix as an example of when Sonic Team revived old characters and how it’s possible to do it again is essentially meaningless when they were always in the correct position to be brought back, it might have even been an eventuality as opposed to fortune. And with the aforementioned streamlining of the continuity with Adventure in combination, the scrapped characters will probably never get a look-in on being revived.

Rest in aPpearances
Here lies Fang, the Cream the Rabbit of his time.

So there we have it, we’ve covered creators, copyrights and Chaotix. Now, when do we start on Chaos, chili dogs and mint candy?

Sources;

All credit information is taken directly from their respective games’ credits.

The information about Espio’s backstory is taken from the Japanese Chaotix manual.

The Touma information; Touma: The Man Who Birthed a Sniper, TSSZ

The Hoshino anecdote, the Sonic Team separation information and the band in the Sonic 1 intro information; SEGA Mega Drive: Collected Works

The Metal Knuckles figure information; Interview with Joe Amano, SEGA Blog

3-Player SegaSonic the Hedgehog Playthrough Image; SegaSonic the Hedgehog 3 player arcade game 60fps, arronmunroe

Japanese Chaotix manual image; Sonic Retro

Later Sonic Band Design Discovery; Black Squirrel, Sonic Retro

Sonic Band art; Computer and Video Games #126. [image 1], [image 2], [image 3]

TSS Review: 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for 3DS eShop

3D Sonic The Hedgehog 2 BannerDeveloper: M2 Release Date: July 22, 2015 (JP), October 8, 2015 (NA/UK/EU) Price: 800円/$5.99/£4.49/€4.99

Review copy provided by Sega

3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the second Genesis/Mega Drive Sonic game to hit the 3DS eShop again comes with added stereoscopic 3D visuals and other new features as the original did before it. I played the game from beginning to end, and actually for the very first time ever as well. This will be a fresh perspective from someone who has never played the game fully before which may surprise some people. I would be lying if I said I’ve never played the game before, because I did in fact play it in Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube way back in 2002. However that was more in bite-sizes and playing around with the infamous debug mode (can’t go wrong with instant Super Sonic).

But here on 3DS I played the game fair and square… with one exception, which I promise to address in the review you are about to read.

Sonic 2 Screenshot 1

Home Menu of the game

To begin, I wish to clarify that I only merely tried out the 3D the game is offering, and in my personal opinion, it doesn’t add much to the game at all. You’re not going to get something revolutionary unless you love 3D to begin with (to me, 3D is a complement, rather than a needed feature in games, it doesn’t mean much to me other than minor amusement). In particular, I found the 3D in the special stages, which a lot were looking forward to seeing in motion, really doesn’t work much at all. Especially since the frame-by-frame motion of the stage doesn’t mesh with the 3D and can indeed be hard to handle. The game may be called 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but to me the real appeal is that the game is on it in all its classic Genesis/Mega Drive glory and in native 320×224 resolution to boot, no more blurry upscaling here. I also want to quickly mention that I did not play the multiplayer mode in the game because I don’t have anyone else to try it with so this review is squarely about the core single-player game.

With that aside, let’s talk about the game. This is a tad difficult, because people reading this have a lot of expectations, because the vast majority have played all the classics and love them dearly, and I can very much see why and the appeal. My personal experience with Sonic 2 is actually not as rosy as you’d imagine it to be.

Sonic 2 Screenshot 2

Regular gameplay of Emerald Hill Zone in Original Mode

Let’s start with the good, and there are certainly great things to talk about. First off, it’s a beautiful game, the game on 3DS indeed still runs at a brisk 60 frames per second and you really get that classic sense of speed when going fast. Also the aforementioned native resolution just makes the pixels shine, and of course you have beautiful color reproduction and it being on an LCD and everything. You’re looking at the game literally how it was supposed to look.

There’s also the music by the same composer as Sonic 1, Masato Nakamura. His tunes are back, and sound exactly as they should and great as always. I must say and others have pointed this out; when you boot-up the game on 3DS the “SEGA” chant is bizarrely lower-quality than it should be, I tested Sonic 1 on 3DS and it sounds fine. I’m not sure why that is, M2 are famous for their attention to detail and skills in porting and emulating, so I won’t fault them for it. There must be a reason, but it’s not that big of a deal, it sounds alright otherwise and the music and sound effects are just fine. Actually it needs to be brought up that the sound effects tend to favor one over the other where certain occasions will only play one sound over and other at the same time, but that’s likely just to emulate the Genesis/Mega Drive’s limitations.

Sonic 2 Screenshot 3

Special Stages

With the good out of the way, it’s now time to look at the bad, and there are some major topics to cover. The biggest of them all is what you see right above; the special stages. Is it the format with the half-pipe? No, actually the gameplay is legit fun and trying to grab each row of rings and whatnot is fun yet challenging. Sure the spike balls can be a bit of a pain to avoid, but overall that’s just fine. The real thorn, is Tails. Tails has a problem; he is not only able to grab rings, but he is not invincible, and he’s not one to avoid hazards. This is a critical problem. As you may know, the goal is to collect the amount of rings required to get through three sections until you finally reach that precious chaos emerald with 7 to collect in total. Tails likes to hog rings and loses them constantly, he cannot hold on to rings to save his life, so it comes down to you having to make sure Sonic is the one to grab them before Tails does. But there are times when it’s just a constant case of where you’re less than a handful of rings short of the goal, and this happens a lot.

There are other issues in the game and surprisingly, it comes from Sonic’s trademark; his speed. The very soul of the franchise, the very thing Sega used to combat Nintendo and Mario himself. Sonic loves to move fast, who doesn’t? There’s just a problem, he doesn’t get much of a chance to do just that, because you usually have an enemy right in his path who you’ll bump into and lose all your rings. This can be pretty bothersome, but admittedly it’s not the worst thing (that would be the aforementioned special stages issue), but it is an annoyance all the same.

Sonic 2 Screenshot 4

Super Sonic Mode

There’s also the platforming that needs to be addressed, while Sonic is able to hop around platforms alright, Super Sonic is a nightmare at times. He is as slippery as butter, especially at Wing Fortress. A major issue is that you are forced to transform once you collect 50 rings after a mere jump, you have to lose all your rings to avoid doing so but it’d be much better if you could either use a different button to transform (or just hit the jump button a second time in the air), or have the option to return to normal and retain your rings.

Another minor issue though this is solved anyway but is one that existed in the game’s design; I’m not fond of having to play the game all in one go. I grew up with games with save files, I can’t imagine playing a game where if you have to leave or take a long break, you’ll have to leave the system on or be forced to shut the system off. This however is fixed in two ways anyway, one in the actual game where you can use the level select cheat via the sound test, but not everyone would’ve known this especially in the early nineties. The second, which is by far the best thing about this version of the game and you will be so thankful it exists, is the use of save states. Save states truly saved the game for me… no pun intended. This is so useful in many ways, but most of all in the special stages where you can save at any point in them, even to the very ring spot. Trust me I used this feature to the fullest and I am so thankful for it. I honestly would not have beaten the game without it.

Sonic 2 Screenshot 5

Ring Keeper Mode, along with the Pause Menu

The 3DS version does add a Stage Select option in the bottom screen menu you can access from the start of the game (handy for returning players). As well as a Ring Keeper mode that gives you 10 rings at the beginning of each act and cuts your ring loss in half instead of losing them all. This mode can actually indeed make things a lot easier for you, particularly when going after special stages or trying to collect enough rings to become Super Sonic. Though save states when used right arguably do the job better; save when you collect rings, if you get hit, revert to said save instantly. It really depends on what you need it for, or if you even want to use save states. Options are always welcome of course. The CRT mode allows you to give the graphics a color-bleeding, blurry appearance in addition to curving the outer corners of the screen, as if you were playing on a real CRT television. You actually are able to use the 3D to view it like it was in a curved screen, but again it depends how much value you see in that.

The game also allows you to unlock Super Sonic Mode by beating the game without getting all the emeralds. At the beginning of each act you’re given 50 rings so you can just jump once and turn into Super Sonic straight away. This is handy because as mentioned the special stages are quite a handful, and they’re far easier to access just as long as you don’t wait too long and your ring count goes below 50 when being Super Sonic. It’s up to you if you want to beat the game in the old fashioned way, which is what I did. I was determined to play it as close as possible to how it was designed to be played, but I could not handle the lack of saving and the other issues I need not bring up again hence the use of save states.

In conclusion, understandably most of the review has been focusing on the game itself, rather than the 3DS version itself. The real question is for those who played the game at some point on other systems would be; “is the 3DS version worth it?”. The answer to that question is; it comes down to if you’ve had issues with the game and if you want to put up with them again, use the options available, or if you find that the issues are too off-putting to work with again. Really the port offers nothing amazing or grand for returning players other than the save states which will make replays far easier. And the aforementioned native resolution makes the game on a graphical front an attractive incentive. Of course there’s also the portability and the use of actual buttons compared to the mobile version for example.

As for me, honestly despite the annoyances I’ve had, I enjoyed my time with the game. The port is most attractive to me due to the native-resolution, save states, and the general portability of it. The port served my needs perfectly. So the answer to me is yes, it is worth it. However if these benefits don’t interest you and/or you’ve gotten your fill already, then no, it’s likely not worth playing yet again. I am personally hoping we’ll see 3D Sonic 3 and 3D Sonic & Knuckles as soon as possible on the 3DS eShop. Sonic 3 & Knuckles being the one I did play the most by far in Sonic Mega Collection (though again mostly in debug mode, I gave up playing it legit at, where else, the drum).

You’ll Love:
+ Save states, you’ll be so thankful for them.
+ The visuals really are a sight to behold with the sprites, colors, and native resolution making the game look super clean.
+ It feels like you’re playing a real Genesis/Mega Drive game on the go, kinda like the Sega Nomad, but not nearly as heavy or power-consuming.
+ The music is of course great to listen to.
+ When you go fast, it is fun to do and see.
+ Super Sonic is awesome, when you’re able to use him to his fullest.

You’ll Hate:
Tails in the special stages doesn’t co-operate, he’s the real hazard in them.
Going fast is a blessing and a curse, you’ll bump into many enemies unless you take it slow, which kind of defeats the purpose don’t you think?
Super Sonic is like butter, do not use him if you’re focusing on very specific platforming sections.
3D and other features such as a CRT-style mode don’t add a whole lot, it’s more of a “meh” point than a hate point, but it’s still worth mentioning.