7 Days of NiGHTS: NiGHTS Turns 25 Today, and We’re Celebrating All Week!

Sonic isn’t the only game franchise with an anniversary this year! His other, less popular younger sibling has one too! Twenty-five years ago on July 5, 1996, Sonic Team’s NiGHTS into Dreams… launched for the SEGA Saturn, and we’re celebrating that all week with a series of seven articles, 7 Days of NiGHTS. These articles will explore various aspects of the NiGHTS franchise, as well as my own personal experience with it.

In addition to articles, we will also be running NiGHTS streams at 5PM EST on our Twitch all week, running daily NiGHTS tweets on our Twitter, and we’ll be featuring a bunch NiGHTS track or two on this week’s SEGASonic Radio.

NiGHTS is a character that has long had connections to Sonic via cameos and easter eggs, so if you’ve ever been curious about the games behind it all, we hope you’ll enjoy this!

And also stay tuned for more Blue Blur Legacy articles, which will be coming back soon, and running through the year!

Come back to this article, or keep an eye on the front page, for the articles running throughout the week!

Monday:         25 Years of NiGHTS (Part 1)

Tuesday:           25 Years of NiGHTS (Part 2)

Wednesday:     How NiGHTS Won Me Over

Thursday:         NiGHTS into Merchandise: A Brief Overview of NiGHTS Merch

Friday:         The Spin: NiGHTS Journey of Dreams is Sonic Team’s Most Underrated Game

Saturday:          NiGHTS into Sonic (Team): A Brief History of NiGHTS Cameos

Sunday:            TSS Roundtable: Our Favorite NiGHTS Memories

Sonic Sounds: The Best of 30 Years of Sonic the Hedgehog Music

A defining element of the Sonic the Hedgehog series is the superb soundtrack that has accompanied our favourite characters across 30 year’s worth of adventures. Here’s the top 10 of what our resident music maniac T-Bird considers the best of three decades of music featured in the Sonic Universe!

10. Sonic R

Often dismissed as cheesy (but come on folks, Sonic is often super cheesy), the Sonic R soundtrack is the first entry on my list. While not everyone’s cup of tea, very few Sonic series soundtracks come close to being anywhere near as upbeat at this first foray by Sonic into a more contemporary sound, drawing from late 90s dance and Eurobeat. Authored by the one-and-only veteran composer Richard Jacques and embellished with vocals provided by TJ Davis (previously of D:Ream and Gary Numan) Sonic R is packed with plenty of guilty pleasures – not that there should be any guilt of course! We think Sonic R has a solid-gold track listing, and we will always sing Can You Feel The Sunshine at Karaoke, given the chance!

Highlights: Can You Feel the Sunshine?, Living In The City, Number One.

9. Sonic Heroes

Follow in on the coat tails of the Sonic Adventure series, the Sonic Heroes soundtrack continued the tradition of maintaining a thematic landscape, heavily drawing on the rock sound that worked so well for the last two titles. Sonic Sound Director Jun Senoue once again utilises his links to the world of melodic rock to recruit the vocal talents of Ted Poley (Danger Danger) and Tony Harnell (TNT) for We Can, in addition to two belting themes from Crush 40. Employing industrial electronic act Julien-K to provide an angsty theme to Shadow the Hedgehog’s team in the form of This Machine is perfect. There are far too many great stage themes to list in this game, but the fact that Wave Ocean and Bingo Highway have seen so many reworks and remixes since 2003 is testament to the enduring nature of this soundtrack!

Highlights: What I’m Made Of, This Machine, Wave Ocean

8. Sonic Rush

A unique entry to this list are the funky tones of the Sonic Rush soundtrack. Lead by the rather eccentric Hideki Naganuma (if you don’t believe me check out his Twitter), the genius behind the unforgettable Jet Set Radio soundtracks, provides an infusion of funk, soul, drum and bass, and a mountain of samples from every corner of the music industry. Naganuma’s approach delivers something that is seldom replicated anywhere else, and will leave anyone earworms for days to come. From the happy-go-lucky Back 2 Back to the darker tones of Wrapped in Black for the final boss, you won’t believe that something so powerful can output from a DS.

Highlights: What U Need, A New Day, Wrapped In Black

7. Sonic Unleashed / World Adventure

In a tonal shift from most other Sonic titles, sound director Tomoya Ohtani elected to take the soundtrack to Sonic Unleashed down a more orchestral avenue, to reflect the more cinematic qualities of the game, the environment, and the exploratory nature of the game’s hub worlds. What is delivered is a grandiose performance from the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, interjected with fast-paced and floaty drum and bass day tracks, and the cool jazz strings and flutes for night stages, more often than not arranged by an unsung hero of Sonic sounds, Fumie Kumatani. Although the Werehog battle theme finds itself being overused, its hard not to adore this soundtrack for its variety.

Highlights: Apotos Day, The World Adventure, Cool Edge

6. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive / Genesis)

It doesn’t get much more definitive than the theme to Emerald Hill Zone (with the exception of Green Hill of course) and as such Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s soundtrack ranks high in this list. Composed by Dreams Come True superstar Masato Nakamura, the music collection featured on the title is one of the most definitive to have featured on the Mega Drive / Genesis, exploiting the full range of channels available to deliver a soundtrack with depth and character, with catchy hooks and brilliant basslines. The game concludes with a rendition of DCT’s Sweet Sweet Sweet, to bring the feels as you save the planet once again.

Highlights: Emerald Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, Mystic Cave Zone


5. Team Sonic Racing

The most recent entry into this list is the soundtrack to Team Sonic Racing, another titled directed by Senoue-san. Not only is TSR packed with rearrangements and mash-up tracks from previous Sonic games, The SONIC ADVENTURE MUSIC EXPERIENCE, including long-time Crush 40 session bassist Takeshi Taneda and Crush 40 percussionist Akht, drive the heart of this assembly of octane-fuelled compositions, with a massive supporting cast including TORIENA, Hyper Potions, Tee Lopes, and Tyler Smyth (Dangerkids). As such, Senoue and company have delivered what is definitely one of the high-water marks in Sonic the Hedgehog music of the modern era.

Highlights: Ocean View Lap Music, Frozen Junkyard Lap Music, Boo’s House Lap Music

4. Sonic CD

I am going to have to cheat here in that this entry is a two-for-one and include both the American and Japanese soundtracks here (controversial, I know..and not the only time I will cheat either!) for quite different reasons. Naofumi Hataya and Masufumi Ogata’s masterful works are lined with J-Pop sounds, that while might sound a little contemporary and dated, are some of those associated most with Sonic games by the old guard. Spencer Nilsen’s soundtrack on the other hand delivers a much more ambient and darker tone to the game, completely changing the atmosphere; it really goes to show that a soundtrack can completely change the feel of a game. Regardless of which camp you fall into, you can’t deny that both games come armed with a great opening and closing vocal tracks.

Highlights: Sonic Boom, Tidal Tempest (US), Stardust Speedway – Bad Future (US), Comic Eternity (JP), Metallic Madness (JP), Boss!! (JP)

3. Sonic Mania

A modern classic. I probably don’t need to say much more than I have previously, in that Mania’s soundtrack is nothing short of a love letter to Sonic music through the ages. Fan-turned-professional musician Tee Lopes’s universal understanding of the DNA that comprises Sonic the Hedgehog soundscapes is nothing shy masterful, and has set a lofty standard for whatever follows in it’s wake in 2D Sonic titles. Lopes takes the best of the existing material and gives it a polish, breathing new life into well known tracks without detracting from what made them so brilliant in the first place. Additionally, Lopes demonstrates repeatedly throughout that his own compositions are just as phenomenal. Indeed, this is a soundtrack for the ages, and it feels criminal to select just three tracks as highlights!

Highlights: Prime Time – Studiopolis Zone Act 2, Blossom Haze – Studiopolis Act 2, Skyway Octane – Mirage Saloon act 1

2. Sonic 3 & Knuckles

A close call between this and the number 1 spot for sure, but many will hardly be surprised to see this game near the top of the listings. The songs of Sonic 3 & Knuckles are a culmination of tracks that are the very epitome of what makes Sonic soundtracks so good – a completely unique aural experience that has been much emulated but never replicated. Whether it’s the incredible “guitar” licks of Flying Battery, the “steel drums” of Angel Island, or the even the  driving basslines of Ice Cap, this game sounds incredible even to this day, and further augments this great game. The calibre of the soundtrack is hardly surprising given that it’s authors include the likes of Senoue-san, Michael Jackson music director Brad Buxer, and in all likelihood the King of Pop himself!

Highlights: Hydrocity Act 2, Flying Battery Zone Act 1, Sky Sanctuary Zone

1. Sonic Adventure 1 & 2

The crowning jewels of the music of Sonic the Hedgehog are the timeless masterpieces that are the soundtracks of the Sonic Adventure series – and yes, I couldn’t pick a favourite. Pulling out all of the stops, Senoue et al. pulled out of the collective minds not one, but TWO massive musical landscapes to embellish the plethora of game environments, with no constraint on musical genre. Songs like the pop-punky Escape from the City and the spectacular power anthem that is Open Your Heart are unmatched in their power, driven home with a triple threat of galloping guitar work, thunderous percussion, and soaring vocals.

Nearly every playable character across the two games have their own distinct theme tune and genre, so their really is something for everyone. This format extends to the stages but is never forced, in fact quite the opposite; breaking into a vault to a jazz soundtrack has never felt so sincere to a 1960’s secret agent film with I’m A Spy…For Security Hall, or the slow Hawaii-esque guitar twangs of sitars that rings throughout Azure Blue World as Sonic adventures across the beach of Emerald Coast. I’m sure many fans will have stopped in Station Square, Mystic Ruins, and even a Chao Garden or two, to just pause and take in the atmosphere delivered by this soundtrack.

A perfect soundtrack for one of the most celebrated games of the series.

Highlights: Too many to list!

Honourable mentions:

Here’s a handful of soundtracks that just missed out on featuring in the top 10:

Sonic Triple Trouble (Game Gear) – there are lots of 8-bit gems that missed out here, but Sonic Triple Trouble is a real diamond in the rough; Sunset Park Act 3 is a real highlight, and Fang the Sniper’s theme exudes a Mexican standoff – perfect for this rootin’ tootin’ sharp shootin’ Wolf. Or Gerboa (who knows!)

Sonic Colors (Nintendo Wii) – A tonally different game once again, Colors deserves a mention here as it’s soundtrack perfectly complements the lighter tone of the game itself, and Tomoya Ohtani gladly provides this in his distinct fashion.

Sonic Forces – Controversial, but why not! Forces, while being one of the poorer outings of Sonic in recent years, has some crackers in the soundtrack, and a smattering of catchy drum and bass-centric vocal songs. Let’s also not forget the heavy hitting Theme of Infinite provided courtesy of the Dangerkids!

Sonic Generations – This has probably missed out on the top 10 for being more of a revisiting of old soundtracks, but is nonetheless brilliant, and there are some phenomenal reworkings of Sonic CD’s Sonic Boom, and a blistering version of Heavy Arm’s theme.

Shadow the Hedgehog – Not to everyone’s taste, but I adore this soundtrack, which is heavier than a heavy thing, and a firm favourite of metal fans for sure. The theme song, I Am…All Of Me, is one of the most powerful Crush 40 songs going, and never fails to get the blood pumping.

Sonic Song Sin Bin:

Sonic Underground soundtrack – Apologies to the Sonic Underground gang, but this falls firmly in the sin bin – and although I am often one for a bit of cheese, this is too difficult not cringe through. Sonic and his band should probably not give up their day jobs! I will make one exception here – and that is the theme song, performed powerfully by Michael Lanning. That rocks.

Wonderman by Right Said Fred – During the advertising campaign in the early 90s, SEGA teamed up with dance-pop act Right Said Fred to create the bizarre Wonderman, which while making tenuous mentions to spin attacking and power sneakers in the lyrics, has little else to do with Sonic. It peaks at number 55 in the British charts, which tells you everything you need to know. Watch the bizarre music video below:

Sonic Jam (Games.com) – Barely a soundtrack, this game features single-channel renditions of stages from earlier Sonic games, that are unrecognisable due to having their tempo reduced by an order of magnitude.

Agree with our list? Don’t agree with our list? Let us know your favourite Sonic songs and soundtracks in the comments!

Sonic’s Way Past Cool Comic Legacy

Sonic’s legacy in comics is almost as old as his legacy in games. From 1991 onward, Sonic’s stories have been depicted in sequential art, from one-shots to decades-spanning series. From a little promo comic to IDW, and with three different series from three different companies running at the franchise’s height of popularity in the 90s, the breadth and length of Sonic’s comic legacy is nearly unmatched in the video game space.

Continue reading Sonic’s Way Past Cool Comic Legacy

Blue Streak Speeds By: Sonic’s Animated Legacy

Back in the 90s, when Sonic was the newest, hottest video game property on the block, having a cartoon was always a telltale sign that a game series had truly made it. Mario had a series of them, Legend of Zelda had one, Earthworm Jim had one, and even Bubsy almost had one.

Continue reading Blue Streak Speeds By: Sonic’s Animated Legacy

Exclusive Interview: Takashi Iizuka Talks Colours, Origins, 2022 and Sonic’s Legacy

There is perhaps nobody more eager or proud to be wishing Sonic the Hedgehog a happy 30th birthday than Takashi Iizuka. Having been deeply involved with the franchise since Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the Sonic Team leader’s hands have touched every single era of the blue blur’s legacy. From designing stages for the Mega Drive classics, to directing fan favourites like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2, to producing the fine-tuned boost-era titles Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations – he’s seen it all.

Continue reading Exclusive Interview: Takashi Iizuka Talks Colours, Origins, 2022 and Sonic’s Legacy

Happy 30th Birthday, Sonic The Hedgehog – The Blue Blur’s Lasting Legacy

It is hard to believe, but a blue hedgehog that runs at the speed of sound is now 30 years old today. So, let’s take a moment to reflect on the impact that the franchise has had around the world.

Continue reading Happy 30th Birthday, Sonic The Hedgehog – The Blue Blur’s Lasting Legacy

Most Influential Moments in Sonic Games

With Sonic’s 30th Anniversary in tow, we wanted to look back on some of the more memorable and Influential moments (or arcs) in the games’ stories. These aren’t simply surprising or epic situations, but story arcs, notable moments or any kind of cutscene that made a lasting impact on the series’ continuity and character development.

Continue reading Most Influential Moments in Sonic Games

What Made Sonic the Hedgehog Such An Influential Video Game

The original Sonic the Hedgehog is a game that has been ported and re-released on as many consoles, mobile devices and toasters as you can shake a stick at, and for very good reason. It’s a bona fide classic. The 1991 Mega Drive release remains one of the most iconic video games ever made, and cemented the blue blur’s status as a pop culture icon.

Continue reading What Made Sonic the Hedgehog Such An Influential Video Game

Blue Blur Legacy: Celebrating Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th Anniversary

Thirty years. SEGA’s plucky blue hedgehog has been running for three whole decades. For some of us 1990s kids who grew up playing the original game on Mega Drive/Genesis, it seems absolutely crazy to think that not only would we still be playing Sonic games, but that the SEGA mascot’s popularity is stronger than ever in 2021. For those that grew up in the 2000s, the fact that Sonic Adventure 2 released twenty years ago may make you feel similarly ancient.

Continue reading Blue Blur Legacy: Celebrating Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th Anniversary

Sonic Talk Podcast, Episode 76: The Year of Luigi of Sonic

This episode: Sonic on Series S, and Ian Flynn’s 15th Anniversary

Continue reading Sonic Talk Podcast, Episode 76: The Year of Luigi of Sonic

What Could SEGA Announce At Sonic’s 30th Anniversary Livestream Event?

Finally. We’ve all waited nearly six months for a morsel of information on what SEGA may be planning to celebrate Sonic the Hedgehog’s 30th Anniversary. For a character best known for his lightning-fast speed, updates have been almost-controversially slow. But yesterday, SEGA revealed a special livestream taking place on May 27th focusing on Sonic announcements and news. So, what could they have lined up?

Continue reading What Could SEGA Announce At Sonic’s 30th Anniversary Livestream Event?

The Spin: So About Those SEGA NFTs… (Updated)

Update: On May 4, Double Jump.Tokyo announced plans to move onto an Asset Mirroring System to diversify cryptocurrency payment sources and move towards environmentally sustainable options.

Almost a week ago, TSS reported on SEGA buying a stake in Double Jump.Tokyo and announcing plans to mint and sell NFTs. According to the official press release, SEGA expects to sell NFTs of art and music assets from classic SEGA IP, and plans to incorporate the technology into new IP – to which the reaction from Sonic fans on social media were mainly negative.

Debates have since ensued over what does and doesn’t constitute an environmental impact, and whether or not NFTs themselves contribute to that environmental impact. The short answer is, no, SEGA’s NFTs won’t dramatically contribute to the massive global resource sink that is crypto mining. However, this investment indisputably moves SEGA into that economy, and that itself has caused concern for many fans, including myself with regards to what direction their business is moving. In this article, we will address what exactly the technology is, why it’s controversial, and why I personally am concerned.

So let’s address this by first starting with the baseline. What is the blockchain, what is cryptocurrency, and what is an NFT?

Blockchain technology is a manner of storing data where all new data is grouped into chunks (or “blocks”) and added to the end of a long running chain of data. Each chunk has a unique ID or a “hash,” and the blockchain knows what order all the blocks are in because each block contains the hash of the previous block. Because you can only add new blocks at the end of the chain, blockchains act as a running record, or a timeline, of the data. Every person participating in the blockchain keeps copy of the blockchain and becomes partially responsible for helping maintain the blockchain.

Bitcoin and Ethereum are two of the most widely used cryptocurrencies today, and they both currently require “mining” to sustain themselves. The currency itself is the reward users are issued for helping create new blocks and, in turn, helping maintain the blockchain. But the process of creating new blocks is like having your computer play a guessing game with every other mining computer.

I’m oversimplifying this, but here’s basically what happens:

The blockchain needs to get its next block because it contains all the new transaction data that it needs to store (stuff like “Sonic transferred 0.01 Ethereum to Tails”). It does so by incentivizing miners to figure out what the next block’s hash will be. Using an algorithm, your computer processor churns out guesses as quickly as it can. If it can correctly guess what the new hash will be, the new block is created, and the first person to do it gets awarded with some cryptocurrency for doing so. To find the “right” guess for the next hash, miners could be attempting tens of millions of incorrect guesses before a new block is made.

So if you have a computer that can process hash guesses faster than others in this constant worldwide lottery, you have a better chance at “winning” the next block’s reward. Or if you have a really nice GPU capable of mining. Or a whole rack of computers. Or an entire warehouse. Or an industrial complex strategically located near a cheap coal-fueled power grid. All of those processors doing all that computing work to produce tens of millions of wrong guess calculations just so the blockchain can process another ten or fifteen seconds of data, and only one person or business (or pool of people) gets rewarded each time.

Much like cryptocurrency, NFTs are a kind of data that can be stored in a blockchain. NFTs are a piece of metadata that specify a URL to a file, and an owner. So, for example, if I’m a digital artist, and I want to sell my work, I can host it on a server (or find a hosting service), use a service to create an NFT of that art, and sell it on a marketplace with whatever selling rules I choose attached to it. The catch is, it will be bought with cryptocurrency, because NFTs are generally sold in cryptocurrency marketplaces. However, any NFT runs into at least one important risk: if that file specified by the NFT ever disappears from the server, or if the server outright goes away, (or if you run into complications with marketplaces and terms of service) you may eventually wind up owning a dead URL.

Because the whole crypto economy is still in wild flux, a lot of companies are making very public, often cynically motivated moves into crypto to wrangle quick profit out of it, to establish themselves as impact-making players in the crypto space, or to just avoid being left behind. Kodak tried and failed to gain foot in that space, right before moving into pharmaceuticals (no really, they actually did that). You may remember that time years ago when a New York iced tea bottler spiked their stock value by changing their name to “Long Blockchain Corp.” The current NFT boom was in part sparked by the NBA selling collectable video clips, the rarest of which are reselling for literally hundred of thousands of dollars. You can bet every entertainment company is discussing NFTs internally whether they actually intend to mint them or not. And if they aren’t discussing it, their investors are.

Maintaining a blockchain does require a certain amount of power across all the computers working within it, but when people discuss the ecological impact of cryptocurrency and NFTs, they usually mean mining. So long as cryptocurrencies hold significant monetary value, there will be an arms race to get them, and the only ways to compete are through either size or efficiency, and both come with huge caveats.

The majority of mining still uses some combination of renewable and non-renewable energy, with more half of all energy consumption coming from non-renewable sources. More miners and bigger miners mean more demand on power plants. Hydroelectric stations can only produce power at a certain rate, while wind and solar can only generate power when conditions are optimal. However, mining is a process that demands consistent and intensive power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Thus miners turn to fossil fuel plants, like coal, oil, or natural gas.

When these fossil fuels burn, they release toxins and great amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (this is what people mean when they refer to a “carbon footprint”). Far, far more than we normally make with our lungs. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means higher global temperature because carbon dioxide traps the heat generated by our sun’s radiation. Higher global temperature means disrupted weather patterns. Hotter hots, harsher and more frequent storms, and the oceans slowly encroaching on coastline. On top of the environmental impact, electricity is subject to supply and demand, so higher electrical demand means higher cost for everyone on that electrical grid.

Continued development of more efficient mining technology may, at best, only briefly mitigate the problem. Many cryptocurrency blockchains are designed in such a way that the complexity of the algorithm needed to find the next hash increases once a certain number of blocks are formed. More complexity means more computing power needed, and thus the only possible way more efficient mining could actually work is if advancement itself outpaces the rate that blocks are mined.

So with ALL that out of the way, let’s get back to SEGA.

SEGA entered agreement with and bought a stake in Double Jump.Tokyo, a blockchain/crypto-focused company whose central game My Crypto Heroes allows users to buy and sell game characters and items on crypto marketplaces. My Crypto Heroes’ economy runs on Ethereum, the second most prolific cryptocurrency, just behind Bitcoin. Ethereum is a Proof-of-Work blockchain where anyone’s chance of getting a payday is proportional to the amount of processing power they’re contributing, thus, it is a currency that encourages competitive mining. Ethereum has expressed interest in moving towards a Proof-of-Stake structure that limits who can mine and how much, but they haven’t fully executed on that yet, plus even Proof-of-Stake systems still requires some amount of mining.

We do not yet know what cryptocurrency system SEGA will be operating in, but Ethereum remains at the heart of the NFT marketplace as we currently know it, and Double Jump.Tokyo itself currently deals in Ethereum. Even if SEGA does not do any mining themselves, they will likely be entering an economy that is built on the back of mining.

Thus, opinion splits here:

Do you believe that any engagement with a wasteful mining system is tacit acceptance or approval of that system? OR do you believe SEGA should only be held accountable for what they are directly doing?

Wherever you fall with that will be purely philosophical.

My personal feelings on SEGA selling NFTs is in how it represents them as a business and how they treat their own legacy of games. There isn’t any need use NFTs to make digital collectables. SEGA has made both physical and digital collectables for years through their mobile games, their MMOs, and their partnerships with toy companies. NFTs in concept aren’t a hot new idea. They’re an old idea in a much more obtuse package with a lot of strings attached.

While most of SEGA’s traditional customers don’t own or use Bitcoin or Ethereum, SEGA still sees NFTs as enough of a priority to buy part of a company and get in on crypto. I don’t know if SEGA legitimately sees a long-term plan for positioning themselves in the crypto space, but if they are, selling scans of classic game art is an unambitious and uncreative start.

Optimistically, I’d say that this is just a business diversification that they can divest out of if (when) the bubble bursts. Pessimistically, this is SEGA joining the blockchain to make investors happy or to chase a big pay off. I am not implying in any way that this is SEGA moving away from publishing traditional video games. But companies build reputation by having a clear, strong philosophy, and using that philosophy to drive decisions; I’m concerned that SEGA is buying into this somewhat dubious one – and hopefully they won’t be following in the shallow footsteps of companies like Atari. Nobody should follow in the footsteps of Atari.

Ian Flynn’s First Sonic Comic Turns 15 Today

This year is a year of anniversaries for Sonic in more ways then one, because not only is the franchise itself turning 30, but Ian Flynn’s first published Sonic work, Archie Sonic #160, turns 15. This means that Flynn has now been writing comics for roughly half of the franchise’s entire lifespan, and the time between his first comic, and his next IDW story arc starting later this year, is roughly the same amount of time as between Sonic 1 and Sonic 2006. Yes, that makes folks like myself who remember when they picked up #160 feel rather old!

Since his debut, Ian Flynn has written well over 200 Sonic comics across five ongoing series, alongside a selection of mini-series and one-shots, as well as a couple of Sonic Boom episodes. This gives him the largest body of work of any Sonic writer.

Flynn had been applying for years to the Sonic comic before he was finally brought on. Both he and artist Tracy Yardley! were given a chance to work on the comic by then-editor of the book, Mike Pellerito. Yardley debuted a bit earlier than Flynn in Sonic X #5. Their first story, “See Ya Later Chao,” was written and drawn in 2005, though wouldn’t make it into the book until years later. Though initially not brought on in that capacity, Ian Flynn soon became the head writer of the Archie Sonic book, writing the bulk of the stories from his debut issue on.

Flynn and Yardley!’s debut story, “Birthday Bash,” was a two-part storyline that turned “Evil Sonic” into Scourge the Hedgehog, briefly brought back old school Archie badniks Octobot and Crocbot as a strange fused monstrosity, and also introduced fan favorites Bean the Duck and Bark the Polar Bear as money-grubbing mercs for hire. This duo’s opening chapter would be the first of many, as Yardley became a fairly consistent presence in the Archie books for years. Both Flynn and Yardley would hone their craft over time, introducing bigger and better stories with better art.

On a more personal note, 160 was my big jumping-back-on point for the comics, after dropping them twice in the past. I never dropped them again after this. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Flynn and Yardley significantly redefined how the comics looked and read for the rest of their run. As someone who loved their work, and thought they only got better with time, I was quite content with that.

What are your experiences with Ian Flynn and Tracy Yardley!’s work? Did you pick up #160? Have you ever read that or any other part of Flynn’s Archie run? Let us know in the comments!

I’ve got at least one article in the work about Ian Flynn’s Archie run, in commemoration of this anniversary, so stay tuned for that!

Unfortunately, it does not appear that issue #160 has been reprinted in any capacity, but other Flynn stories from #162 onward were reprinted in the Sonic Sagas collection, which can still be found on Amazon.

Special Note: Tracy Yardley!’s pen name ends with an exclamation point. I thought it fitting to include it here.

Fukushima Disaster 10 Years On: Adventurers Explore Abandoned SEGA Games Hall

It has been 10 years sine the devestating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, causing massive loss of life. The folowing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Diachii power plant still has lasting repurcussions, affecting a huge number of lives of those living in and around the Prefecture. A large area around the wrecked power plant – known as the exclusion zone – is still deemed too radioactive to safely live in.

The Youtube channel, Exploring the Beaten Path, spent time in the Fukushima exclusion zone back in 2019, investigating those places that stand frozen in time since 2011. As part of their exploration, a pair of daring explorers has ventured into the ruins of a SEGA Games Hall (with it’s SEGASonic logo still intact on the building) to get a glimpse into life so suddenly brought to a halt a decade ago.

You can check out the video below:

On this sombre anniversary, the thoughts of everyone at TSS are with those who were and still are affected by this disaster.

Article image from @LostHedgie on Twitter.

5 Things the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Movie Needs (And 3 Things It Doesn’t)

So, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie is about a year old now. Like many, I was absolutely surprised to see that it wasn’t a train wreck. I actually rather enjoyed it! With a sequel on the horizon, there are many things I’d like to see, as well as a few things I hope I don’t.

Continue reading 5 Things the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Movie Needs (And 3 Things It Doesn’t)

The Spin: Roger Craig Smith Was Sonic’s Best Game Voice Actor, and Will Be Missed

I was at E3 2010 when I heard the news that Roger Craig Smith would be taking over as Sonic’s voice actor. As I sat in a corner of the convention center and hurriedly typed out an article about it for Sonic Stadium, I was only feeling one thing: excitement. This, on top of playing Sonic Colors – easily the most promising Sonic game I had experienced in years – really made it feel like SEGA was working hard to revitalize the character. 

Continue reading The Spin: Roger Craig Smith Was Sonic’s Best Game Voice Actor, and Will Be Missed

Sonic Prime: An Opportunity To Unite A Multiverse of Fans

Sonic Prime, the latest Sonic the Hedgehog animation due for release on Netflix in 2022, will descend from a long dynasty of animations that reach all the way back from 1993’s slapstick Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, through to the modern charm of Sonic Mania Adventures. Each show has cultivated its own personality, and legion of Sonic the Hedgehog fanatics to boot. Similarly, there are now a multitude of genre-crossing Sonic the Hedgehog video game titles, that you’d be hard pushed to not find something for everyone in the Sonic the Hedgehog universe.

Continue reading Sonic Prime: An Opportunity To Unite A Multiverse of Fans

TSS IMPRESSIONS: Balan Wonderworld Demo

I came to Balan Wonderworld with a lot of skepticism. The last time a Yuji Naka game really grabbed me was 2003’s Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, and while PROPE developed a handful of cool novelties, the studio’s most significant work ever was a Wii game smuggled inside a Wii U game case. Now with Square Enix, Yuji Naka has been given “one chance” to make a platforming game for the RPG giant, and we have our first taste in today’s new demo.

And having played it, I struggle to be optimistic. At all. Moreso with each platform I played the demo on.

Screenshots and animation taken from Switch version.

Despite the style and story and world and characters that scream “NiGHTS into Dreams,” Balan Wonderworld is a basic-to-a-fault 3D platformer. The male or female protagonist in a bout of emotional strife find themself entering a magical theater. Your character is greeted by the ever energetic and whimsical Balan, given a bird, and told to find his or her heart in a fantasy world of memory and emotion.

The demo presents four levels and a boss: the whole of Chapter 1, as well as individual levels from Chapters 4 and 6. The levels themselves are presented as dreamlike sky islands themed around someone external to the story who is also experiencing difficulties in their life. Chapter 1 focuses on a farmer whose corn crop is ruined by a freak tornado. Its levels are full of giant corncobs, haybails, pumpkins, and picket fences. The chapter eventually pits you against the farmer himself, tainted by his depression and transformed by a mysterious masked being.

Balan Wonderworld’s controls are reduced to standard analog movement and a single action such as jump or attack. The costumes your character can equip are the game’s main gimmick, each with a special ability that replaces your action.

These special abilities add some variety, but they quickly go from novelty to obligation.  On their own, the protagonist can only jump, but donning the wolf suit turns your jump into a spinning jump that can break blocks or damage enemies. Soon after, you encounter a kangaroo that replaces your jump with a single flutter-jump, akin to the jump in a Yoshi game. You’re never asked to get clever with these costumes; it’s always obvious which you need to use to move forward. Late costumes in the demo include a gear robot that can activate special gear boxes, a bat that can perform Sonic’s homing attack, and a fox that, and I am not joking, will periodically turn you into an invulnerable, uncontrollable box, but when the game decides to, not when the player decides to. The first time I got this costume, I immediately died, as my character became a box whose momentum slowly slid it off the edge of a narrow platform and into the abyss.

That inexplicable box might be the best metaphor for this game. It feels simple, yes, but also sloppy, unrefined, and aimless. As soon as you control your character, you’ll feel an incredible disconnect as their animation shows them sprinting at top speed… as they slowly trod forward at an agonizing pace. No matter what costume you wear, the character’s dismal speed and anemic jump barely change. Enemies appear infrequently, rarely pose a threat, and are dispatched with the most basic head-jump or suit power. Stage design gives some room to explore, but blocky layouts and ledges only give the illusion of scalability and hem you into the places where the game expects you to go. The game sells itself on the themes of expression and choice but doesn’t give the player the tools to accomplish either.

I opted to try the Switch version of the demo first, and was met with muddy textures, no anti-aliasing, and periodic framerate drops. The jaggies are noticeably worse on handheld mode’s 720p screen. I hoped moving to my Xbox One S would resolve this, and some of the lighting does indeed seem slightly better, but the game retains its incredibly cheap and unpolished visuals. Chapter 1’s stage geometry uses an effect that warps the level towards or away from you as if on the inside or outside of a sphere, but the seams where the stage deforms are incredibly noticeable from a distance and may actually be one of the culprits for the jerky framerate. NPCs constantly dancing in unison vanish when you get too close, and props that litter the stage don’t react to your presence or interactions. The whole environment feels static and detached from your character.

The Steam version came with its own complications. Running it on a 2080 at 1080p, anti-aliasing off and graphics set to their lowest, the game struggled to reach above 20 frames per second. The only exception was when I Alt+Tabbed to another window, at which point, the framerate shot up to 60, until I brought the game back into focus.

The back half of the demo shows some promise. It increases the complexity a bit, but the gameplay in this demo fails to grasp the most basic expectations of modern 3D platformers. If it hopes to deliver on a satisfying experience, the game has huge hurdles to overcome.  It’s a $60 game competing with modern benchmarks like Super Mario 3D World, A Hat in Time, and New Super Lucky’s Tale.  Keep an eye on reviews when it launches in March, but if you want to test it out now, you can do so on most major platforms.

Fan Stories: Meet The Guy That Made His Own Sonic Pinball Machine

Can you believe that Sonic the Hedgehog, a game series whose design has often been compared to the physics of pinball, has never had a ball-flipping table to call its very own? Not even SEGA, who once dabbled in producing licensed pinball machines, thought to build a table for its very own Casino Night-visiting mascot. This is a matter that Ryan McQuaid, avid Sonic fan and pinball restoration wizard, hopes to rectify with his award-nominated homebrew project, ‘Sonic Spinball’.

Continue reading Fan Stories: Meet The Guy That Made His Own Sonic Pinball Machine

Stadium Events for week of Jan. 17 2021

Good day, and welcome all to the inaugural Stadium Events, our upcoming special events, streams, podcasts, and assorted miscellanea.

Are you not on our Discord? You should probably be on our Discord. You can do so here (and don’t forget to read the #rules!).

Did you know Sonic Stadium has a Twitch channel? It does, with content every week! If you can’t watch live, the VODs are archived for two weeks, and later on YouTube (eventually, there’s still a lot of uploadin’ work to be done).

Here’s what you can catch this week:

Sunday Jan 17
7 PM EST / 4 PM PST / (Mon) 12 AM GMT
Almost Every Sonic
GX and guest attempt to play every Sonic game, no matter how obscure!
Lego Dimensions – Main Story Part 3
Saturday Jan 23
7 PM EST / 4 PM PST / (Mon) 12 AM GMT
Sonic Mania on Luna
Shigs tests out Sonic Mania on Amazon’s new streaming platform
Sunday Jan 24
7 PM EST / 4 PM PST / (Mon) 12 AM GMT
Almost Every Sonic
GX and guest attempt to play every Sonic game, no matter how obscure!
Lego Dimensions – Main Story Part 4

Community Spotlight: Animator Flawlessly Recreates Sonic Movie Scene in Style of Old Sonic Cartoon

Ever wonder what it would be like if, instead of being live action, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog was just an extended episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog? No? Well too bad, animator and Youtuber FlippinDingDong clearly did, and the result is great:

Not only is the animation spot on, to the point that I briefly thought this was just a dub of a scene from the show, but the voice acting is also a superb imitation of Long John Baldry’s performance. Got to love how he rolls those Rs!

YouTube isn’t exactly the friendliest place for animators these days, so be sure to head over there to give this video a comment and a like to help it with the algorithm! Definitely deserves it in my opinion.

TSS Review: Puyo Puyo Tetris 2

What happens when you combine the eternal classic Tetris with SEGA’s adorably funny Puyo Puyo? Well, you get Puyo Puyo Tetris, a multiplayer puzzle game that was so successful that it warranted a full-on sequel!

While Sonic the Hedgehog is our main focus, we occasionally like to take a dive into SEGA and Sonic Team’s other offerings, and we’ve found something special in this mash-up series!

Continue reading TSS Review: Puyo Puyo Tetris 2

SEGA 60 Kicks Off Week of Content With Wallpapers, Avatars,

SEGA’s 60th anniversary website is having a weeklong celebration of Sonic this week, and they’re starting things off with some Sonic avatars and wallpapers. The wallpapers utilize the 30th anniversary render released earlier this year, while the avatars use Sonic Mania stock art. To download them, you can either sign up over 60th anniversary website (which nets you a free copy of NiGHTS for Steam), or check them out below:

Continue reading SEGA 60 Kicks Off Week of Content With Wallpapers, Avatars,

Xbox Series X/S Launches Today – These Are The Sonic Games You Can Play Right Now

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, we don’t mean Christmas – pfft! – but instead Next-Gen Console Day! This month sees the launch of two new platforms in the Xbox and PlayStation family of gaming systems, and we couldn’t be more excited about both. Today, Microsoft formally releases the Xbox Series X and S, and with backwards compatibility a major factor we decided to dig into the archives and check which Sonic the Hedgehog titles you can play from Day One.

Continue reading Xbox Series X/S Launches Today – These Are The Sonic Games You Can Play Right Now

SHC 2020: Roundup #2: Technically Cool

While many mods exist for the sake of giving a different gameplay experience, there are others whose only interest is to say “Oh man, look at this insane thing I can make this game do!!” Technical achievement won’t interest player, but it it can be impressive in its own way: making things bigger, faster, stronger, or just proving you can do the unexpected for its own sake. In this roundup, let’s look at some technically impressive or technically noteworthy games.

Sonic Delta 40Mb (AKA Sonic Delta Next)
Submitted by Neto

Why put your file size in the name of your hack? Because this game is big. It’s very big. How big is it? It combines all stages, special stages, and characters from Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles into one massive 37 Zone odyssey. The hack uses bank switching to press itself into a format that Genesis standards can allow, some custom sound drivers, and the Sonic & Knuckles engine by way of Sonic 3’s save system. That save system will prove extremely valuable when you put three hours in, and see you’ve only reached Zone 24. Only reached Zone 24.

Beyond the expected character choices, you can select the co-op team of Knuckles & Tails to trek from Green Hill to Sky Sanctuary. The game claims to have followed the logical progression of the emeralds, letting you collect them in Sonic 1 & 2, but staying true to Knuckles stealing them in 3 (sadly, I can’t confirm since I went for the novel Knuckles & Tails playthrough). In a rather unusual choice, this beta prioritizes alpha and beta versions of Sonic 2 stages and names, and includes Wood Zone, Dust Hill Zone, and Hidden Palace Zone among others. The only place to be wary is the stage select cheat, which caused the game to crash when I attempted to load certain levels, often by trying to put characters on incompatible stages (such as Knuckles in S&K Death Egg Zone), but also when I just tried to select a stage normally.

To myself as a non-developer, the impressive feat is just the scale of it all. This is marathon Sonic, a game to occupy most of a day if you let it. Even if its technical achievements don’t do much for you, having those four landmark games stitched together into a single contiguous experience gives a whole era of gaming a gravitas it doesn’t have when separate. It’s not more than the sum of its parts, only because that sum in itself is already strong.

DOOM in Sonic Mania
Submitted by TheStoneBanana

In the realm of getting DOOM to play on every device and in every context known to man, DOOM in Sonic Mania adds an additional menu choice from the Sonic Mania main menu that… just lets you play DOOM. Yeah. DOOM, the 1993 shooter. In Sonic Mania. With controller support. That’s… kind of it. I don’t want to downplay the personal amusement I get playing DOOM from within Sonic Mania itself, but it does exactly what it says it does, and it seems to do it well. Soon as I made my menu selection, I was running around boxy 3D environments blasting demons in the face with a shotgun.

That said, your results may vary, and not just because it’s a shooter that’s older than Sonic 3. The controls feel pretty good on a gamepad, but the limits of Sonic Mania’s button inputs mean concessions had to be made. There’s no mouse support, you’ll have to toggle between strafing and turning, and changing weapons require button combinations. You’ll also need a legitimate copy of DOOM, such as Ultimate Doom on Steam, so you can snag the WAD and put it in the mod’s root folder. If you don’t, you’ll be restricted to the game’s included freeware WAD which will not support custom WADs. On the other hand, if you do, it’ll load in a nifty bonus WAD that replaces Doom Guy’s sprites with Sonic’s face and cartoony gloved hands.

I was unable to test adding other WADs such as Doom II or Chex Quest, but they do appear to be supported.

Sonic Mania J2ME
Submitted by Iso Kilo

So this one requires a bit of clarification. J2ME, or Java 2 Platform Micro Edition, is a Java platform that a number of phone games run on. No, not games on your iPhone or Android. Old flip phones. The kind that used your number pad as the controller. During the years I owned a an old color screen Nokia, I bought and played a handful of… generally terrible games, including a port of Sonic 1 that could, at best, be described as functional.

Sonic Mania J2ME doesn’t make many modifications from the original, but it does show off what can be done to this specific version of the game, such as sprite and music replacement. Marble Zone has Lava Reef music, and Sprint Yard Zone has a few Studiopolis designs.

I personally like this, and I don’t expect many others to. It’s an effort to poke at a really esoteric version of Sonic and pick it apart. It’s just… it’s going to be weird to play. Keep your expectations low. The sprite replacement in this version isn’t thorough, and the game it’s built off of is… it’s bad. It’s a bad but still playable version of Sonic 1. The midi music is grating and will just stop after a loop or two, and there are no sound effects. Sonic’s sprite rotation will regularly glitch until he’s just running backwards and upside-down while descending small slopes. Many animations are linked to framerate, and to quote the hack’s description, “Limit to 30 FPS for a smooth but tolerable experience. Limit to 15 FPS for correct object and animation speeds.” And none of this is the hack’s doing, that’s just the nature of its source material. If you play this, do so for the proof of concept and accept that it’s doing what it can with the tools it has.