TSS Review: Jun Senoue’s The Works III

Good things tend to come in threes, and this is certainly no exception with Sonic-themed music releases of 2019 so far; the phenomenal Team Sonic Racing soundtrack saw general release with the launch of the game in May, a new Crush 40 compilation is due in July, and sandwiched between these is Jun Senoue’s third instalment of “The Works” collection.

Continue reading TSS Review: Jun Senoue’s The Works III

Talkin’ Bout a Sonic Revolution: We Visit the 2019 Fan Convention

Every year in June, Sonic fans and press alike (and the guys at The Sonic Stadium happen to be both!) descend unto the arid, star-studded land of Los Angeles to take on the ‘Video Gaming Superbowl’ that is E3. But, every year, on the Sunday before E3 festivities begin, there’s a whole other party happening in the same city just for Sonic fans. Continue reading Talkin’ Bout a Sonic Revolution: We Visit the 2019 Fan Convention

Ex-SEGA Employee’s Instagram Account Is A Treasure Trove Of Sonic The Hedgehog History

Ex-SEGA European Product Manager Tony Takoushi has recently created an account on instagram, and has shared an array of incredible images from early 90s Sonic merchandise, to original and development artwork from Sonic the Hedgehog designers.

Continue reading Ex-SEGA Employee’s Instagram Account Is A Treasure Trove Of Sonic The Hedgehog History

TSS Preview: Sonic at the Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020

TSS was given the opportunity at E3 to get a first hands-on look at the Sonic at the Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020 mobile title, set for release to coincide with the event next year, and although this date is still some time away, we were permitted to play a few rounds on an early demo of the game! Continue reading TSS Preview: Sonic at the Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020

TSS @ E3 2019: The Sega Genesis Mini (and not-so Mini) Hands-On

While a good chunk of Sega’s booth was dedicated to Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, there was a corner showing off some of Sega’s other properties slated for release later this year. Among them was the Sega Genesis Mini, Sega’s answer to the NES and SNES Classic. I sat down in a bean bag (which means my fat rump had a hard time getting back up) and sampled SEGA’s miniaturized console.

The first thing you’ll notice when playing the demo at E3 is that the part of the booth you’re at looks like a living room, complete with a bean bag to sit in. Much like the virtual living room in some of the recent Genesis compilations, there are posters of Genesis games everywhere, along with with old VHS tapes with cheesy labels like “Cartoon collection! Do not erase!!” on them. They really went all-in on the “90’s bedroom” aesthetic.

The nostalgia doesn’t stop with the booth aesthetic, as the mini console itself gets a lot right. Its controller has an ergonomic feel and shape that perfectly replicates the original, and the console itself is a faithful, shrunk-down recreation of SEGA’s 16-bit system. Once you boot the mini console up, you’re treated to a screen filled with about a dozen Genesis titles, with the rest coming into view as you scroll down. I don’t know if I care for this, as it shrinks down the box art and makes each game feel less important. Hopefully, the interface can customized in the final product.

Despite the September release date, the console already feels ready for release, as all 42 games were playable on the show floor. I went with Mega Man: The Wily Wars and Road Rash 2 for this preview. Both played great and judging by Road Rash 2 alone, are identical to their original versions. The emulation is perfect.

Holding start for five seconds brings up a menu where you can make a save state and exit back to the main menu. There’s your usual options such as screen filters and what aspect ratio you want the game in, but one of the most interesting features is the language menu. You can set the game menu to many different languages and the games will play in their original language as well. Going back to aspect ratio, another neat feature is that many of the games feature a more natural 16:9 aspect ratio by zooming in on the game while keeping the UI in place. Sonic 2 was shown off as an example of that. It keeps the sprites from looking stretched, but at the cost of zooming in on the picture a bit.

Overall, with a great controller, cool menu features and pixel perfect emulation, the Sega Genesis Mini is something to get hyped for. It blows the old AtGames Genesis consoles out of the water in every way, and should definitely be worth picking up come September.

Adam Tuff on SEGA’s giant controller

In addition to the regular kiosks, SEGA also had a Genesis Mini running on a giant, 5-foot-wide Genesis controller that folks could play Streets of Rage and Sonic 2 on. When I tried to play Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant level, I had to stretch my arms out and punch the A button with my first just to get around. While it was a neat novelty, it wasn’t exactly the most wieldy controller, since I couldn’t even spindash with it.

 Still, even on this giant cumbersome monstrosity, I was able to get enough rings to enter the special special. As I began maneuvering Sonic and Tails through the half-pipe, a crowd formed around me. Despite the massive controller, I made it through and even got a small amount of applause! Here’s hoping SEGA’s booth features and equally cool gimmick next E3.

TSS @ E3 2019: Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Hands-On Impressions

Three years after they last went head to head, Sonic, Mario and friends are finally back at the Olympics with Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. SEGA is making sure everyone is aware of this, as the two mascots are not only on the E3 badge insert this year, but take up a huge chunk of real estate in the LA Convention Center’s West Hall. To anyone entering the West Hall, the booth leaves a heck of an impression. It not only shows the game on giant screens, but has a climbing rig for attendees to try out. With Sony and Microsoft doing their own thing, this is the first time in over 20 years that the West Hall belongs mainly to Nintendo and Sega. Continue reading TSS @ E3 2019: Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Hands-On Impressions

Sonic Talk 61: Sonic Team Sonic Racing Team Racing Sonic

No “what we’ve been playing” this time. We get straight to the Sonic Talk as there’s a lot to discuss. From the Sonic movie delay to terrifying Sonic children’s costumes to new Sonic voice actors to finally, the all new Team Sonic Racing (or Sonic Team Racing as GX keeps saying by accident). Continue reading Sonic Talk 61: Sonic Team Sonic Racing Team Racing Sonic

TSS REVIEW: MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE – Team Sonic Racing Original Soundtrack

If you aren’t already feeling ancient at the prospect of Sonic the Hedgehog turning 28 next month, here’s a fact that’ll age you; it’s been 7 years since SEGA Sound Director Jun Senoue led the creation of a Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack (Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2, for those who can’t remember!).

Senoue’s absence has been by no means a sabbatical, having been involved in several other SEGA titles – as well as peripherally with most Sonic games – and regularly performing with a multitude of live acts across four continents. Those who have taken the reigns in the meantime have accomplished some phenomenal feats, particularly Sonic Mania composer Tee Lopes who pulled a rabbit out of a hat with a perfectly blended score of old and new material, while simultaneously tipping the hat to the synonymous tones of the 90s titles. But with the classic itch well-and-truly scratched, many have longed for the return of Senoue and his trademark rock sound, in the context of a modern Sonic game.

As such, the anticipation for MAXIMUM OVERDIRVE, the Team Sonic Racing Original Soundtrack, reached fever pitch. Expectations have flown high based on the calibre of the tracks that had been drip-fed to us via Sonic the Hedgehog’s social media channels over the last few months. Now that the full OST has been released, we can firmly say that it does not disappoint.

Continue reading TSS REVIEW: MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE – Team Sonic Racing Original Soundtrack

TSS Review: Team Sonic Racing

It says a lot about Sumo Digital’s developing competence when the team can create a sequel to a much-loved racing spinoff series, nearly seven years after the last entry, on (seemingly) a much tighter budget, and yet still manage to find ways to make the experience appear like a full-priced premium package. Continue reading TSS Review: Team Sonic Racing

TSS Interview: Takashi Iizuka Hints At Dodon Pa’s Return as ‘Master of Ceremonies’

Team Sonic Racing is officially out tomorrow, and everyone is super-excited to get behind the wheel with the blue blur once again. But perhaps the person most excited about the game’s release is Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka, who will now get to fully enjoy playing multiplayer kart racing games with his son. Continue reading TSS Interview: Takashi Iizuka Hints At Dodon Pa’s Return as ‘Master of Ceremonies’

The Spin: Why Sonic’s Movie Design (Probably) Shouldn’t Change

To say it has been a tumultuous week in the Sonic the Hedgehog fandom is something of an understatement, with the first movie trailer seeing release and receiving a less than favourable reception (at time of writing, dislikes outweighed likes by 2-to-1 on YouTube). Continue reading The Spin: Why Sonic’s Movie Design (Probably) Shouldn’t Change

Sonic Talk Emergency Podcast: Movie Trailer Panic

We didn’t want to wait until the end of the month to talk about this one. Recorded the day after the trailer’s release, Jason, Alex and Chris discuss their opinions on the Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer. We may have seen leaked images early, but we weren’t going to pass judgement until we saw the hedgehog in motion. Well we did and…..it’s even worse than we thought. Join us and listen to what we thought of Sonic, James Marsden, Jim Carrey and more.

You can listen to it here:

Download it here. You can find our RSS here.

TSS Interview: Sumo Digital on Team Sonic Racing

Sumo Digital has been a close partner of SEGA’s for many years, ever since the Sheffield-based studio worked on a console port of OutRun2 back in 2003. But in recent years, the developer has worked on several racing games featuring Sonic the Hedgehog – Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, which were released to critical acclaim.

For the third outing, the company’s new Nottingham studio has taken a brand new direction with the series, focusing on Sonic’s friends and co-operative teamwork. We caught up with Derek Littlewood and Ben Wilson to find out more about the creative process that went into making Team Sonic Racing! Continue reading TSS Interview: Sumo Digital on Team Sonic Racing

TSS Preview: Team Sonic Racing

We were invited this month to attend SEGA’s Team Sonic Racing Preview Event, hosted deep in the heart of London’s Shoreditch, and get our hands on the game’s latest build! What happened was an action-packed day filled with tournaments, time trials and a LOT of gameplay impressions. So, let’s get right to it!

Continue reading TSS Preview: Team Sonic Racing

Sonic Talk Episode 60: Super Smash Butts

On this latest episode of Sonic Talk, hosts Jason, Alex and GX talk about all the latest Sonic news, including the library of the SEGA Genesis Mini, the return of Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, the development materials for Sonic 2 released by game artist Tom Payne, and the last few issues of IDW’s Sonic comic. Continue reading Sonic Talk Episode 60: Super Smash Butts

Check Out These Fan-Made Sonic Stages In Super Smash Brothers Ultimate

With the launch of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s Stage Builder this week, fans have set about creating a multitude of distinctly Sonic-themed stages.

Check out our favourites in the article below!

Continue reading Check Out These Fan-Made Sonic Stages In Super Smash Brothers Ultimate

Sonic X is Coming to Blu-Ray (in SD)

Don’t blink! Don’t think! Just go-go, go-go, g-g-g-g-go-go down to your local video store on May 28 to pick up Sonic X: The complete series on Region 2 SD Blu-Ray! (God, that was corny.)

The good folks at Disctek Media are bringing all 78 english language episodes in one volume. (Sorry Japanese sub fans, you’ll have to stick with Hulu for now.) This includes the extras from the DVD version as well as the original pitch video where the world of Sonic X had a lot less humans.

The Blu-Ray retails for $69.99, but you can pre-order it from rightstufanime right now for $45.47. Check out Brady Hartel’s Twitter for more info. In the meantime, here’s the cover.

Sonic Talk 58: Sonic Got Bamboozeled

On this much shorter episode of Sonic Talk, Jason discusses Apex Legends (that other game with Roger Craig Smith) only for GX to suffer a power outage which results in about half an hour of our discussion being cut off. We still have plenty of Sonic news and a review of the first dozen issues of IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog. So prepare for 45 minutes of Sonic-y goodness!

Community Interviews: LEGO Ideas Sonic Set Designer, ‘toastergrl’

Last month, the Sonic community was dazzled by an incredibly creative sight – a design pitch for an official Sonic Mania-themed LEGO set. The creation, by Sonic Robo Blast 2 Kart developer ‘toastergrl’, featured a Sonic Mini-Fig alongside some custom Badnik models and a huge Death Egg robot – and has been the talk of the town ever since. With a concerted push to drum up as much support as possible to make the design a reality, we spoke with ‘toastergrl’ herself to learn more about the project. Continue reading Community Interviews: LEGO Ideas Sonic Set Designer, ‘toastergrl’

‘Just Give Him Gloves!’ The Sonic Community Reacts to the Sonic Movie Design

So, if you hadn’t noticed already, the design for the blue blur in the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie has been leaked. Take a moment to look at it, absorb its detail. And then, let us know what you think… because the rest of the community sure did, on social media, and as you’d expect reactions have been… slightly… mixed? Continue reading ‘Just Give Him Gloves!’ The Sonic Community Reacts to the Sonic Movie Design

The Knuckles comics were weird…and I loved them

When I was a kid, I had a special appreciation for media that didn’t talk down to me and tried to tell a good story with interesting lore and backstory. Knuckles the Echidna, a 32 issue monthly comic series from Archie Comics, did just that. Given Knuckles’ 25th anniversary, I thought it would be nice to revisit the comics in some way. I haven’t read them in some time (due in large part to their lack of easy digital availability) so I will be recounting my memories of the comic’s tone and themes somewhat vaguely and broadly. Hopefully, I will be able to do a deep dive into the comics in the future.

I had been reading Archie’s Sonic comics for a couple of years when the Knuckles the Echidna series got going. Knuckles was a character that got my attention before I was even exposed to his first game thanks to his cool design, his weird abilities, and most importantly his place in the story. Knuckles was that cool guest star character who only popped up occasionally, making his appearances feel special. He could not only could go toe to toe with Sonic himself, but often would, making him Sonic’s “rival,” at a time when that concept was still fresh to my young mind.

To me, Knuckles was the coolest Sonic character. I must’ve not been the only kid who thought that because Knuckles became pretty popular in the comics. His occasional appearances turned into regular back story appearances, which lead to a mini series, which finally led to a monthly ongoing…which was weird as all heck, but also very neat.

Enerjak, an all-powerful chaos-fueled being [Image Credit: Sonic News Network]
As I said before, the Knuckles series didn’t talk down to kids and tackled some subjects that most kids media didn’t put much focus on back then. The world had politics, including three distinct factions: the fanatical technophilic Dark Legion, the fascistic (and later racial minority) dingoes, and of course the citizens of Echidnapolis (who were predominantly echidnas, of course). The series even featured an entire arc devoted to the world’s politics and the tension building up between the factions. The comic also wasn’t afraid to deal with death and romance, going so far as to devote an entire three-issue story arc to Knuckles and Julie-Su’s budding love-life.

The comic also had a lot of backstory and lore. The tension between the Dark Legion and the citizens of Echidnapolis went back hundreds of years, to events involving Knuckles’ ancestors feuding over how technology should be used in echidna society. Before that, there was Enerjak, a power-mad entity created when one of Knuckles’ ancestors absorbed eleven of the island’s twelve chaos emeralds (yes, twelve) in an attempt to return Angel Island (called simply the Floating Island in the comics) to the planet. The series would often dive into this history to give the current day plot line a greater, more epic context, since the conflicts the comic covered often had roots going back centuries.

The comic had some echidna politics [Image Credit: Sonic News Network]
The comic also had loads of weird, often sci-fi concepts. The Dark Legion, who served as the comic’s primary villain faction, often sported loads of cybernetics to display their devotion to technology. These cybernetics could look kind of gruesome to me as a kid. Then there was the Brotherhood, a clandestine organization made up of Knuckles’ living ancestors, who as it turns out were inexplicably long lived, with the oldest being hundreds of years old at the start of the series (I’m not sure an explanation was ever given for that). The comic opened with the Dark Legion escaping from an alternate dimension known as the Twilight Zone, while the second arc focused on two dimensions holding the separate cities belonging to the echidnas and dingoes collapsing in on each other. Then there was Knuckles himself, who was genetically modified when his father, Locke, irradiated his egg with chaos energy to give him special powers.

So yeah, the comic was cool…and weird. Putting my childhood nostalgia aside, it was also flawed. The writing could feel stiff, and many characters often sounded like they were speaking with the same voice. The comic didn’t always make use of what should have been interesting plot revelations, such as when one member of the Brotherhood turned out to be a former leader of the Dark Legion.

This reveal did not have the emotional pay off one would expect: his son, who held a special hatred for the Legion, turned on him immediately, while the rest of the Brotherhood did not seem to express much emotional grief over their son/grandfather/great-grandfather/etc turning out to be a villain the whole time. We were also denied the satisfaction of a reunion between the Brotherhood and the man the Legionnaire replaced.

The lineage of guardians who protected the Floating Island, and later joined the Brotherhood. The living ones go all the way back Hawking, the one with the hat [Image Credit: Sonic News Network]
As I said before, its been a long time since I last read these comics. I don’t remember how pervasive the issues I mentioned above were, but they are there. As much as I enjoyed them as a kid, I couldn’t help but feel a bit…underwhelmed upon revisiting them.

That said, there’s still plenty about the comic that did age well. The interior art was mostly done by Manny Galan, one of the best artists Sonic comics have ever seen. He nails the look of a the comic’s characters and world perfectly, and his work is still a joy to look at. The comic also employed an interesting concept with its covers: each cover of the comic’s three issue story arcs could be combined together into a single image. These covers were mostly done by Sonic comic legend Patrick Spaziente, often depicting epic scenery and action.

The covers didn’t go together cleanly, but would often tell their own little stories. Here we have the arrival of the Dark Legion, a past tragedy from their formation, and the climactic present-day battle [Image Credit: Sonic News Network]
It’s kind of unfortunate these comics are so inaccessible in an age when nearly any comic can be bought online. This does, unfortunately, bring us to one of the reasons why I have difficulties going back to these books even when I do have access to my old copies: the Ken Penders lawsuit.

This is something I’d rather not get into right here, so I will keep it brief: I think every artist should be compensated for reprints of their work, and I wish Archie had worked something out with Penders to make that happen. I hope IDW does what they couldn’t. I also think that, by copywriting the characters he created, Penders effectively destroyed this comic’s legacy. Its characters will never be able to grace any Sonic comic continuity again. They have already faded into complete obscurity and they will never again be able to interact with the game characters they were created to flesh out. I think this is very unfortunate.

Though, in a sense, the Knuckles series being inaccessible does feel right to me. Back when the Knuckles comics were being made, I had difficulties getting ahold of them. My local book store didn’t carry them and the comic book stores that did kept going out of business. So to get them, I’d have to go to a Books-A-Million in Potomac, Virginia, which was an hourlong drive. I didn’t get to go often, but whenever I did and I got to see that Knuckles comic on the rack, it was always special. That reflects my feelings on the comic as a whole: special, memorable, and a series that will always evoke my childhood to me. I do hope inaccessibility does not become this series’ fate. So far as I’m concerned, it at least deserves more than this.

Maybe one day.

How McDonalds Couldn’t Keep Up With The World’s Fastest Hedgehog

Happy birthday to Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which turns 25 years old today! As Sonic the Hedgehog mania reached fever pitch in February 1994 with playgrounds across the plane buzzing with Sonic 3 hype, with plentiful promotions abound (but the less we talk about that Right Said Fred single, the better!)

To coincide with the launch of the game in the US, branches of the fast food restaurant McDonalds launched their Sonic the Hedgehog Happy Meal promotion, with millions of Sonic the Hedgehog toys ready to be given away from Friday the 4th of February, alongside a sweepstake in which participants could win one of 10,000 copies of Sonic 3.

Continue reading How McDonalds Couldn’t Keep Up With The World’s Fastest Hedgehog

Sonic Talk 57: Two Hours On Three Posters

Another month, another late Sonic Talk podcast! In our “Holiday special”, Jason, Alex, GX and this month’s 4th chair, Cory “Jet” Holmes discuss the latest topics going on in the world of Sonic including Smash Bros Ultimate, Sonic Unleashed on X-Box One, Sonic in “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, but mostly, we dicuss the bizarre design on Sonic in the “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie posters. Like movie Sonic, this podcast has long legs. So join in on the fun and listen in!

The Spin: The Freedom Fighters are Gone (and That’s Okay)

Before you send me a ton of hate mail, let me explain.

First, we gotta go back to the beginning of cartoon adaptions of video games. It wasn’t always easy to do. In the early days of video games you had a protagonist that you played as, an antagonist but no real story tying them together. If there was one, it was VERY bare bones. With very little to go on so the cartoon creators had to come up with some kind of plot that could play for 13 episodes on a Saturday morning. Look at Pac-Man. How do you make a cartoon based on a series of games where the protagonist is a yellow ball that eats tiny, white dots in a maze while being chased by ghosts? If you’re Hanna Barbera, you rip off one of your own properties (The Flintstones) and make it about a family man who’s trust trying to get through his daily life while being chased by ghost-monsters who are trying to find the power-pellet forest because that’s the only thing they’re weak against. Somehow, that was enough for a few seasons and a Christmas special. That’s just one example. There was all kinds of crazy cartoon adaptions of games. Some faithful to the source material, some not.

“Will you give me my @#$%ing boots back already?!!”

Then, in the fall of 1993, DIC came up with two wildly different adaptations of Sonic the Hedgehog that could not be more different in tone. One was “The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog” that aired on weekday mornings. It was a silly, goofy take on the video game franchise. It took inspiration from cartoons such as Ren and Stimpy and Looney Tunes. The other was “Sonic the Hedgehog” otherwise known as “SATAM” by fans because oit played on Saturday mornings. Where Adventures was super goofy, “SATAM” was much darker and took a more serious tone.

Now at this time, there was only two Sonic games and both took place in fantastical lands with only Sonic, Tails and Dr. Robotnik (Knuckles and Amy did premiere in games that year, but that was after the shows had been released). Even the planet they were having their adventures on had no name. Just “zones”. Since like many video game adaptations there was little to go on, DIC (along with Archie comics) made a ton of characters and world-building of their own. Now, I’m not going into what they did with “Adventures” because that’s not important. “SATAM” is what we’re going to focus on. On that show, Dr. Robotnik basically won. He had taken over and polluted the planet to near devastation. The only ones in his way were Sonic, Tails (who was barely used) and the Freedom Fighters. Sally (co-lead character and Sonic’s love interest), Antione (love rival and comic relief), Bunnie (strongman and very encouraging) and Rotor (genius mechanic with the personality of wet toast). The Freedom Fighters were added mainly due to Sonic having a small cast of characters at the time of production.

“I like fish sticks! That’s the closest thing I have to a personality quirk!”

Sonic fans LOVED this show and for most, it’s still their favorite and why not? Sonic and Sally’s constant struggle to end the grotesque and evil Robotnik’s reign of terror made for delicious drama. This series gave us a ton of Sonally fans (fans who ship Sonic and Sally) and who can blame them? Seeing these characters struggle so hard to defeat this tyrant only to fail or achieve very small victories was heartbreaking. They lost friends. They lost family. The only joy they seemed to have was in their comradery with each other and we loved seeing that relationship grow. For a while, Sally was HUGELY popular with fans. So popular that she was the third hero at the Sega amusement park “Sega World” in Australia, had a puppet musical show with her in it and she even got some of her own merchandise.

Sally was a big part of Sega World.

But all good things must come to an end and the series only lasted two seasons. From there, it continued on the in pages of Archie comics for nearly 25 years. Originally, Archie went the comical route with the book, but after the success of SATAM, they turned it into pretty much a continuation of the series, only now with game elements added in as well. However, after many adventures in the Archie comics, the series met it’s inevitable end. When the Sonic comics were picked up by IDW comics, it continued off not from Archie with the Freedom Fighters, but a non-cannon continuation of the 2017 game “Sonic Forces”. For those who didn’t play Sonic Forces, the same basic premise applies. Dr.Eggman (formerly Robotnik) won and had taken over the earth and a small band of resistance fighters led by Knuckles (Who’s brilliant idea was that?) fought back to end Eggman’s tyranny. Sound familiar?

But enough of the history lesson. While the IDW comic has introduced two new heroes, Tangle and Whisper, the Freedom Fighters are nowhere to be found. Why? Who knows? Could be they are tangled in some kind of copyright issue, could be Sega would rather focus on the cast that appears in the games rather than a 25 year-old cartoon. Whatever the reason, Sally, Bunnie, Antione and Rotor are gone….for now. But in my personal opinion, that’s fine. Maybe, just maybe it’s time to let them go. Why? Several reasons.

Reason #1: They are characters that only exist outside of the games.

One of their final appearences.

Like I mentioned before, when SATAM premiered, there was only TWO heroes in the games, Sonic and Tails with Amy and Knuckles only premiering in brand new games that year. Nowadays, our heroes include Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, Big, Cream, Blaze, Vector, Espio, Charmy, Silver, Rouge, Shadow and…did I leave anyone out? These characters exist in the games and the comic needs more focus on them rather than characters who are cartoon and comic exclusive with their only game appearance being a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Sonic Spinball. The comic exists to expand the world of the games. The CURRENT games. With a cast so huge that a lot of nerds bitch about it while hypocritically complaining that Luigi’s evil twin brother isn’t playable in Smash. My main point is that the comic’s are there not only to make a profit, but to help promote the games. Something the Freedom Fighters have never been a part of.

Reason #2: Thanks to shows like Sonic X and Sonic Boom, The SATAM fan base is shrinking.

“Sally? Sally who?”

Remember when I mentioned that the 90’s were full of Sonally fans? This was very true. If you browsed the internet on the Sonic fan base during the late 90’s early 2,000’s it was all about Sonic and Sally. Then Sonic X happened and there became more and more kids who grew up on that cartoon rather than SATAM and gradually a good chunk of Sonic discussion and fan art went from mostly Sonic and Sally to Sonic and Amy and that’s only getting bigger. In fact, I rarely see Sally or the Freedom Fighters in fan art on my Twitter anymore.

If you need any more proof that they are not needed anymore, just look at the reaction when the IDW comic premiered without them. There was no outrage. No controversy.  Almost zero. The only thing close was an online article where they were upset about Ian being vague about their return and that’s it. Instead, the internet got flooded with fan art of the newest hero for the Sonic book, Tangle the lemur.

Reason #3: The comic has a new band of Freedom Fighters AKA “The Resistance”

“So wait, I’M the leader?! On a scale of 1-10, how %$#@ed are we?”

As I said before, the IDW Sonic comic is a non-cannon continuation of the Sonic Forces story line. A story where Sonic has a new band of freedom fighters all based on game-related characters and is pretty much twice as big as the original Freedom Fighters. Knuckles is the leader this time with Amy as the strategist which allows Sonic the freedom to world travel and help build up the resistance to the currently-defeated Eggman and any new villains that may rise in his stead. This includes brand new characters to help freshen up things, making bringing back the original Freedom Fighters a moot point. They’re not needed.

Reason #4: Their stories have been told.

“Our children are cute and biologically impossible!”

Let’s face it. Archie did just about everything they could with them. Twice, we’ve seen Sonic and Sally’s future where they were king and Queen. We’ve seen Eggman/Robotnik fall, rise, fall again then rise again like a rollercoaster. Antione finally gave up on Sally and eventually married Bunnie. Finally Rotor became more useless than ever after Tails became the mechanical genius. The character evolution was basically in limbo. Even in a reboot, what more can they do with them?

Now, all that said, does this mean they’re gone for good? Who knows? Just because they are not being used in the comics anymore doesn’t neccesarily mean IDW can’t use them in the future. Like I said, could be legal entanglements, could be they just have no current use for them. Maybe rebooting them and introducing them to a new audience would be great, but as I see it, it’s unnecessary.

Would I like to see them back? Sure! Who wouldn’t? But I think there NEEDS to be a reason to bring them back and currently, I just don’t see it. If you want more of the Freedom Fighters, there’s always other methods like fan-fiction or fan comics like Archie Sonic Online. A fan-created continuity of the Archie Sonic comics. Thing is, sometimes it’s good to let things go if it’s outlived it’s purpose rather than let things drag on. Here’s hoping to see more of the Freedom Fighters in the future but if we don’t, well that’s okay too.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not neccesarily those of Sonic Stadium.

20 Years of Sonic Adventure Merchandise

To celebrate 20 years of Sonic Adventure, we take a brief look at some of the best Sonic Adventure-themed merchandise released in 1998 and beyond!

Continue reading 20 Years of Sonic Adventure Merchandise

Happy 20th Birthday Sonic Adventure!

Sonic Adventure celebrates it’s 20th anniversary today after hitting screens in Japan way back in 1998.

We take a look back at what made this game one of the most enduring Sonic the Hedgehog titles, and why SA1 was such a trailblazing title in not only the series, but in video game history.

The Hype

SEGA of the 90’s certainly knew how to pull out all of the stops when it came to generating a buzz around the next Sonic game, and the anticipation of what was in store brought kids and grown-ups alike to fever pitch…and the announcement of Sonic Adventure was no different.

On the 22nd of August 1998, a few thousand lucky punters were invited to attend the first presentation of Sonic Adventure at the Tokyo International Forum – an event that was luckily recorded for posterity (which you can watch below). The first foray into the world of 128-bit high speed action was introduced by Yuji Naka, entering the stage in Rock star fashion by emerging from a balloon to a face-melting guitar riff.

The event also showcased a “Making of Sonic Adventure” semi-documentary presented in a light-hearted manor, in which Sonic Team embarked on a fact-finding trip to central America to visit the Tulum Ruins, the Caribbean Sea, the Tikal Ruins of Guatemala, and Machu Pichu amongst other locations – all of which influenced stages in the game.

Some members of the Team even became ill on their research trip from altitude sickness – talk about dedication to the cause!

The design

Sonic has undergone several redesigns in his 27 ½ year history (we won’t mention the most recent!), but most fans regard the Sonic Adventure iteration of the neon protagonists to be one of the most successful. Characters traded their pot-bellies in for coloured irises and longer limbs, allowing for some incredibly elastic posturing that would become Yuji Uekawa’s instantly recognisable stylisation which remains the norm for modern Sonic artwork to this day. While the classic design of Sonic has since been translated to 3D, the modern Sonic style allowed for a much easier transition to the medium.

Dr Eggman was given a particularly significant redesign, along with both western and eastern franchises aligning on the Japanese name (although Robotnik would be kept as the name for his grandfather in the sequel).

The story mode

Story was not an element that featured heavily in Sonic the Hedgehog games until Sonic Adventure; in fact, one of the initial ideas while the game was on the development bench was to in fact create a Sonic RPG. For Sonic Adventure to include cut scenes and a narrative was a significant change to the game, and novel in that it in itself was derived from the intertwining stories of six different protagonists (one in fact executed in very few other video games at the time).

The seventh and final story in the game, and the true conclusion only accessible once all six main stories were completed, crescendos in the final showdown with Chaos with the player taking the controls of Super Sonic – something undoubtedly cemented as one of the most memorable video game conclusions for many Sonic fans.

Sonic Adventure was also the first Sonic the hedgehog game to include voice acting (besides SEGASonic Arcade) – and while the jury might still be out on the quality of the dialogue, SA1 is definitely one of the most quotable!

The soundtrack

Hum the Green Hill Zone theme and just about any video game fan will tell you that its from a Sonic game – indeed, the soundtrack has always been a core component of what makes a Sonic game so, well, Sonical!

While Sonic Adventure is not the first video game to include vocal tracks (Sonic CD was doing that five years before) it is one of the first to have a fully-fledged album-like feel, complete with a swathe of character themes and a main anthem Open Your Heart, performed Crush 40, that is unparalleled in magnitude. The intro FMV undoubtedly still brings goose bumps to many!

The shift to a rock-centric soundtrack, a decision made by first-time Sonic Sound Director Jun Senoue, was a bold move; the music for the original trinity of Sonic games were after all composed by Masato Nakamura of Dreams Come True (and most likely Michael Jackson), resulting in a prolific pop influence. However, the move would prove highly successful and would be followed up with the equally popular Live & Learn in the sequel.

The magic of the soundtrack however derives from a brilliant use of multiple genres – rock, pop, rap, electronic, and jazz to name a few all feature throughout.

The game’s soundtrack has endured long enough that it has been celebrated since with the Sonic Adventure Music Experience, which saw Senoue-san and company re-record and perform key songs from the game and its sequel.

DLC

The Dreamcast was the very first games console to provide a connection to the internet as standard, and as such, Sonic Adventure is the very first game in history to include downloadable content! This came in the form of the Sonic Adventure Christmas download, which was only available for the first few days of release (it was no longer available after Christmas day). While this content only included Christmas trees in station square which played played music and gave a seasonal message when interacted with, it was another example of how SEGA and Sonic games were well ahead of the curb.

Happy birthday Sonic Adventure!

What makes Sonic Adventure special to you? Let us know in the comments!

 

TSS Review: UK SEGA Shop Merchandise – Christmas Edition!

It’s that festive time of year again! As always, we at TSS won’t be able to sleep on Christmas eve as we are too excited thinking about the Sonic the Hedgehog merchandise Santa will be bringing us in his sleigh! We must have been particularly good this year (we’ve only been completing hero missions), as Europe and the UK now has it’s very own dedicated SEGA Shop crammed with new and exclusive merchandise.

We take a sneaky peak at some of the great Sonic gear on offer right now…

Continue reading TSS Review: UK SEGA Shop Merchandise – Christmas Edition!

TSS Review: Classic Sonic Totaku Figures

With the popularity of Amiibo figures, it was only a matter of time before other companies followed suit. Gamestop saw the profit in this and with their “ThinkGeek” brand made their own line of exclusive, “Amiibo-ish”, non-electronic figures called Totaku. They don’t interact with your games in any way, they just look pretty on a shelf and they have a plus-shaped base that allows you to connect the bases together for a nice display. It’s a neat way to get non-Nintendo figurines to stand side by side with your Amiibo ones. There are many characters in the line-up including Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Parappa the Rapper, Sackboy, Lara Croft, Kratos and many others.

But of course, I’ll be focusing on the classic Sonic trio recently released. Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are all here in their classic glory. Each one with their own fine details. I’ll be going over each one individually.

Sonic

Sonic has his old finger waving pose with a 16-bit ring laying at his feet. There’s striped grass at the base with the checkerboard dirt underneath showing that he’s standing in the Green Hill Zone. This is the same for all three figures. The paint job is fairly well done with a few very tiny blemishes here and there. For instance, the white of the eyes bleed a tiny bit into the muzzle, but only if you’re looking at it from an upper angle. It’s a common flaw in Sonic figures. The ring has several different pixelated levels of colors to make it as exact to it’s game counterpart as possible which is a very nice touch.

Knuckles

Here he comes! Rougher than the rest of them! While he’s not guarding the master emerald, Knuckles is standing over a green chaos emerald. He’s got a cute smirk on his face and looks like he’s ready to enjoy a good fight at a moment’s notice. This is a real solid figure with no paint blemishes at all. Probably my favorite of the bunch.

Tails

Last but not least, Tails is seen flying just above the striped grass. Shown in a pose that says he’s ready to go and an adorable smile on his face, Tails paint job is also flawless. The only downside to this figure is that he has no extra object on his base. No ring, no emerald, just Tails.

Overall this figure set looks great. With the plus-shaped bases and striped grass, you can make a nice display that connects the three figures together. $10 American each isn’t too much for these quality figures. They also make a nice gift for the holidays. You can pick them up at Gamestop in the US, EB Games in Canada or GAME in the UK.

Sonic Talk 56: In Good Spirits

Oh…..My….God! An episode of Sonic Talk that’s up just days after being recorded rather than weeks?!! That’s insane!!

Join Jason, Alex, GX and our special-guest-maybe-new-fourth-chair Queen Misty Lakes as we discuss the latest games, Sonic’s upcoming movie and his cameo in Ralph Breaks The Internet. We also discuss the delay of Team Sonic Racing and how everyone in the Sonic Universe might have a slight cameo in Super Smash Bros Ultimate thanks to the new spirit mode. Listen in and join the fun!

Happy 30th Anniversary to the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis!

Thirty years ago, SEGA launched the SEGA Mega Drive in Japan, starting a 16-bit revolution. Less than a year later in August 1989, that system would come to American shores as the SEGA Genesis. A year after that, in September of 1990, the Mega Drive would finally reach Brazil and PAL regions, building on the success of its predecessor the SEGA Master System. Continue reading Happy 30th Anniversary to the SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis!

Happy 18th Birthday, The Sonic Stadium!

That’s right! On this very day, at the turn of the new millennium, The Sonic Stadium formally opened its virtual doors to the world. It was a very different world back then – people used Yahoo to search for things online instead of Google, Napster was the fresh new way to download music (not altogether legally), the hottest ‘meme’ was the Hampster Dance and the Sonic online community was just getting started. Continue reading Happy 18th Birthday, The Sonic Stadium!

Team Sonic Racing @EGX 2018 Hands On Impressions

Approximately one year ago, I wrote a very lengthy hands on impressions about my experience playing Sonic Forces at EGX 2017 and boy oh boy it set the cat amongst the pigeons didn’t it? One year on, a new EGX has come and a new very different Sonic game is on the horizon, as I did a year ago, I went to the expo and played a lot of Sumo Digital’s Team Sonic Racing.

Continue reading Team Sonic Racing @EGX 2018 Hands On Impressions

TSS Review: Sega Ages Sonic The Hedgehog

If there are three things we’re sure of in life, it’s death, taxes and the original Sonic the Hedgehog being ported to just about every Nintendo system. So what sets Sega Ages Sonic The Hedgehog apart from the billion other ports of the game? Continue reading TSS Review: Sega Ages Sonic The Hedgehog

Team Sonic Racing – The Gamescom Preview

For all of Sumo Digital’s noise about wanting to develop a relatively simple and accessible game, there is a surprising amount of depth to be found during a race of Team Sonic Racing. Certainly more so than in pseudo-predecessor Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Continue reading Team Sonic Racing – The Gamescom Preview