TSS Review: Sonic Mania Soundtrack & Vinyl

Growing up in the early 90’s it was impossible to avoid the music scene pervading daily life; seductive R&B tones danced through ear-worm melodies, from songs that would https://www.sonicstadium.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=50098&action=edithang at the top of the charts for weeks. From this musical era came the Sonic CD soundtrack, of which I speak specifically the Japanese/European version, which for many forms the epitome of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog sound. Twenty-something years later, we see the classic series revived through Sonic Mania – complete with a brand new soundtrack. But how does this compare to it’s 1990’s predecessors?

Continue reading TSS Review: Sonic Mania Soundtrack & Vinyl

Sonic Talk 47: Sonic Mania is Runnin’ Wild!

Well let me tell ya somethin’ brother!! I was at Venice beach pumpin’ iron when I heard someone listenin’ to a podcast! It had these three nerds, Jason, Alex and GX, all talking about that new Sonic game, Sonic Mania and heapin’ a bunch of praise on it! Jason was reviewing that new Sega game, Yakuza Kiwami and giving his hands on impressions about Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. They also talked a bunch about all the news on Sonic Forces and reviewed some of the latest episodes of Sonic Boom! Continue reading Sonic Talk 47: Sonic Mania is Runnin’ Wild!

My History with the Archie Sonic Comics

It’s been a month since the announcement that the Archie comics will no longer produce it’s long-running Sonic the Comic, and that a new partnership with IDW will continue to keep Sonic alive in print. Information on the new incarnation of the comic is set to be divulged at New York Comic Con in October. Before we look to the future of Sonic the Comic, why don’t we take a look at the past? In this feature I would like to talk about the many aspects of the American comics, starting with my own 24-year experience with the comic strip adventures.

Continue reading My History with the Archie Sonic Comics

Mistaken Identity: Fang and Bean Are Not What You Think They Are

In the past, I’ve talked about Sonic facts that aren’t true. We’ve seen various reasons for such misinformation to become fact. However, I don’t think we’ve seen such a web of different reasons play out to get to the points we have with these misconceptions.

The misconceptions? We’ve been getting Fang and Bean’s species wrong for decades.

Continue reading Mistaken Identity: Fang and Bean Are Not What You Think They Are

The Spin: The Notion of ‘A True Threat To Sonic’

[This article will contain some spoilers for Sonic Mania, so if you’re waiting for the PC version, see you next week]

You know how some people have these phrases that they use to try and articulate their feelings? Especially when it comes to Sonic games? Well today we’re going to look at one of them; this one:

“I want the villain to be ‘a true threat to Sonic”

Continue reading The Spin: The Notion of ‘A True Threat To Sonic’

Sonic On The Road: Playing Mania on Nintendo Switch

Sonic Mania has officially released on a number of home consoles, but perhaps the most interesting release has to be on Nintendo’s newly-launched Switch platform. With its home-portable hybrid design, it makes it relatively easy to play the latest Sonic platformer on the move. So, a couple of our TSS reporters went walkies with their Switches to see if the experience was any good. Some of them found a pretty blurry line between the real world and the Sonic world… be careful out there, Switch users. Continue reading Sonic On The Road: Playing Mania on Nintendo Switch

Sonic Mania ‘Drawn Back to the 90s’ Competition: THE WINNERS

WOW! Last week, we asked you all to ‘draw like a 90s kid’ to celebrate Sonic Mania’s launch tomorrow, and boy have we been bowled over by the humungous response (and amazing talent)! It seems like everyone’s nostalgia-bone has been well and truly tickled. Let’s take a look at the winners – and some honourable mentions – below! Continue reading Sonic Mania ‘Drawn Back to the 90s’ Competition: THE WINNERS

TSS REVIEW: Sonic Mania

Note: This review qualifies as ‘spoiler free’, but it does contain information on stages, gameplay elements and story concepts that have already been made public by official SEGA marketing channels. Be aware, if you’ve been on a total media blackout.

In the middle of Sonic Mania’s main adventure mode, Sonic is warped to the Little Planet and finds himself in a spectacularly familiar place. Golden speakers line a series of curvy narrow chutes that catapult our blue hero into the sky, against a starlit backdrop. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania Collector’s Edition & vinyl soundtrack back in stock; new t-shirts

Sonic Mania is out now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and set to release on Tuesday 29th August on Windows PC. Here’s all you need to know about getting a hold of the game on your system of choice, and all the merch we know of!
Continue reading Sonic Mania Collector’s Edition & vinyl soundtrack back in stock; new t-shirts

TSS Roundtable: Our Hopes and Expectations for Sonic Mania

It’s the final weekend before Sonic Mania is released, and boy has this been a game that a lot of fans have been waiting a long time for. A pure sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles is what a lot of people have asked for, and this collaborative effort between Christian Whitehead, HeadCannon, PagodaWest Games and SEGA aims to fulfil just that. So, with that in mind, what does our Sonic Stadium team think of the project, and what are our collective hopes and expectations for the game? Take a look, below. Continue reading TSS Roundtable: Our Hopes and Expectations for Sonic Mania

SONIC MANIA WEEK: Your One-Stop Shop for Mania News and Info!

Welcome to ‘Mania Week’ on The Sonic Stadium! To celebrate the upcoming release of the SEGA/Whitehead/HeadCannon/PagodaWest collaboration project, we will be spending the next week producing a whole heap of awesome content – all about the Mania! This post will house links to all of the stuff we have planned, in one easy location, so keep this page bookmarked and come back often! Continue reading SONIC MANIA WEEK: Your One-Stop Shop for Mania News and Info!

Sonic Talk 46: Comic Con Carne

In this month’s episode, Jason talks about his trip to the San Diego Comic Con and we discuss all of the big Sonic news that happened during the event along with recent news, including some Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces discussion, Archie’s Sonic cancellation, IDW’s Sonic acquisition and much, much more! Continue reading Sonic Talk 46: Comic Con Carne

SONIC MANIA COMPETITION: Drawn Back to the 90s [CLOSED]

Sonic Mania is right around the corner, and you’ve probably pre-ordered the digital version a hundred times over (definitely not an exaggeration), right? What’s that? Something missing? You wish you had the money to grab yourself a Sonic Mania Collector’s Edition on PS4, or that you had the chance to get it before it sold out? Well, boy are you in luck – because we have five of these bad boys to give away courtesy of SEGA Europe.

[This contest is now closed – please stay tuned for winner announcements]  Continue reading SONIC MANIA COMPETITION: Drawn Back to the 90s [CLOSED]

TSS REVIEW: Cook & Becker’s Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Art Book

As perhaps one of the most highly-anticipated collector’s items in recent memory, Cook & Becker’s 25th Anniversary Sonic art book has a lot of expectations to meet. It’s not easy to produce an elegant video game-themed art book at the best of times, so working on such a project for a franchise as iconic as Sonic no doubt comes with extra pressure. Especially when the blue blur has been through so many design changes over the years. We recently got our hands on a copy; is it worth your hard-earned money? Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Cook & Becker’s Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Art Book

TSS Review: The Sounds of Sonic Concert (With Video Highlights!)

On Thursday, July 20th in the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront, I witnessed a concert by Sonic fans, for Sonic fans. A rocking music extravaganza with trumpets, saxophones, guitars, drums a keyboard and a lot of passion. It’s obvious that Shoto Nakama wanted to create something special and he truly has.

It started off with the usual stuff. Sound tests, followed by a ton of trailers. There was a funny moment as I watched Jun Senoue hanging out on the side, head-banging to his own tune, “Infinite’s Theme”.

The first song off the bat is of course, “Green Hill Zone”. The saxophone and trumpets really added a jazzy vibe to this classic tune. The video screens off to the side were showing off the original classic along with a bit of the level from Generations. Next, we go from the first Sonic tune, to one of the newest, Studiopolis! It’s cool hearing an instrumental version of a tune almost entirely programmed digitally and it’s done really well.

Next up, the lead singer, Dave Ross came onto the stage along with Crush 40’s own Jun Senoue. Now this was a rock concert! “Live and Learn” was the first tune up and they really rocked it. Dave shows a strong passion in his singing and a great range as well. Especially since the next song up was “Believe in Myself”. A song originally done by female singer Karen Brake, was sung by Dave himself and he did a surprisingly faithful version.

I gotta say this about Dave. He really knew how to work the crowd and was full of energy. When he wasn’t rocking out onstage, he was constantly jumping off the stage and running around into the crowd, giving out high-fives and making damn sure that the audience was having a great time.

Next up was “Endless Possibility” which must have been a favorite for the band as it was also the encore of the night. Dave was incredibly into it and seem to really love the number. After that, it was “Reach
For The Stars”. It was great hearing a number normally done mostly in chiptune and tonebox done with full instruments and vocals. Another great highlight of the night. They followed that up with “Escape From The City” which Dave seem to take as something he wanted the audience to do as he jumped off the stage, running around the large crowd. After fooling around for a bit and having Jun do a VERY short guitar solo, they went into “It Doesn’t Matter”, a song that fit Dave’s vocal range very well. The concert wrapped up with another performance of “Endless Possibility”.

All in all, this was a fantastic concert. The people onstage were full of energy and passion for the music they were playing and that passion was absorbed by the crowd watching. Dave Ross had a great vocal range and the performance of a true rock star. They asked if they’d like to see this concert tour close to a town near you. Hell yes, I would! I’ve seen a lot of Sonic concert performances (mostly Crush 40) and this was by far the best one. If they turn this into a full tour, don’t miss it!

Of Manias, Forces, and Serials: A Sonic at SDCC 2017 Recap

San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone for 2017, and this year’s gave attendees the world over a lot to look forward to in forthcoming entertainment. Superhero movie aficionados got an early peek at a number of highly anticipated films for the upcoming year (Black Panther, Justice League, and Avengers: Infinity War to name a few), bitesized previews were shown off for new seasons to Stranger Things and Steven Universe among other hit shows to whet eager fans’ appetites, and in Sonic’s case?

Well, whether you’ve fallen out of the loop or just enjoy a quick summary of last week’s events, allow me to bring you all back up to speed!

Continue reading Of Manias, Forces, and Serials: A Sonic at SDCC 2017 Recap

Sonic Mania: Behind the Scenes Panel from San Diego Comic Con

Check out the Sonic Mania panel at 2017 to get all the details we couldn’t cover! Join host Aaron Webber with guests, Takashi Iizuka, Christian Whitehead, Tee Lopes, Tom Fry, and Simon Thomley as we get more details on what went into this game.Get the full scoop on the game, check out some wacky glitches and the fan Q&A it’s all here! Continue reading Sonic Mania: Behind the Scenes Panel from San Diego Comic Con

SDCC Sonic Mania Panel Roundup & Special Stage Reveal

San Diego Comic Con played host to the Sonic Mania Development team yesterday, in a panel that included Takashi Iizuka, programmers Christian Whitehead and Simon Thomley, alongside lead artist Tom Fry, composer Tee Lopes and SEGA community manager Aaron Webber. Our man in the field Jason Berry was at the panel, and captured the events as they happened via The Sonic Stadium Twitter. Continue reading SDCC Sonic Mania Panel Roundup & Special Stage Reveal

Sonic Talk 45: E3 Mania

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!

Being LGBT in the Sonic Community 🏳️‍🌈

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 🏳️‍🌈

Sonic Forces E3 Impressions: Jason’s Take

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.

Sonic Mania E3 Impressions: Alex’s Take

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

Sonic Forces on Nintendo Switch E3 Impressions


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:

Jason’s Take:

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.

Sonic Forces: Custom Hero E3 Impressions

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

Sonic Mania E3 Impressions: Jason’s Take

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

Sonic Forces E3 Impressions: Alex’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.

The Spin: Sonic Maniacs In The Making

In more than ten years of writing for The Sonic Stadium, this article has by far consumed the most time, and required the most revisions. I guess this is because sometimes it’s hard to really convey what you mean when you’re in love, and I can say without a doubt that I am already in love with Sonic Mania. Continue reading The Spin: Sonic Maniacs In The Making

Six-ish MORE Sonic the Hedgehog Facts (That Aren’t Even True)

“Don’t tell me it’s another one of those super-analytical articles.” “Afraid so.”

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.

Continue reading Six-ish MORE Sonic the Hedgehog Facts (That Aren’t Even True)

The Spin: Balancing Forces

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.

Some of the broad range of accessories seen so far set to feature in Sonic Forces! Credit: Pink Cat (SSMB)

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.

Dreadknux – not appearing in Sonic Forces. Credit: Professor-J

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!

 

Rejected Sonic Extreme Concept Became Sonic Riders, Claims US Developer

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

TSS Review: Sonic Boom Season 2 – Robots From The Sky Parts 1-4

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.

Sonic Talk 43: Switching Forces

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

The Sonic Community April Fools Day Roundup 2017

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

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.