The IGN coverage thus far has left a lot of unanswered questions. Unsurprisingly, ten minutes of lightly edited gameplay footage without narration or context hasn’t proven itself to be a great way to premiere this game for the first time. We’ve seen a bit of the combat, we’ve seen a little world traversal, and we’ve seen more sky grinding than Final Rush and Rail Canyon’s unholy lovechild. But there’s some BIG aspects we still don’t know about. Big aspects like what the game is.Continue reading Sonic’s New Frontiers: What We Still Need From Sonic’s First Open World
So, Sonic Frontiers gameplay has finally been unveiled, thanks to two videos this week that outlined two key concepts; exploration of the open world, and advanced combat techniques. Now that we’d had a chance to digest and absorb all the information, our gut reaction is… we didn’t… hate it?Continue reading Sonic Frontiers Gameplay Impressions
For as polished as Sonic Unleashed’s graphics are, its biggest visual flaw is its framerate. The Xbox 360 version played at a mostly steady 24-30 (capped) FPS, while the PS3 version was worse for wear despite an uncapped framerate that would bring the game up to 48FPS on occasion, but dropping to 24FPS or below ruining the flow of the game.
In many ways, the game’s graphic-intensive “Hedgehog Engine” was a bit too ahead of its time. It couldn’t keep a steady 30 FPS on the most powerful system of that era. It would take 2011’s Sonic Generations to iron the kinks out. While the Werehog levels weren’t affected too much by the framerate, several daytime Sonic levels dropped frames horribly. Jungle Joyride became a slideshow at times. Now, in 2022, Sonic Unleashed’s full potential has been unlocked thanks to the Boost Mode on the Xbox Series S/X, bringing the game to a steady 60 FPS.
To me, this brought the game from a guilty pleasure to a legitimately good Sonic title. Sonic’s daytime levels run as smooth as silk, giving you better handling and control. Even the Werehog levels feel less cumbersome as Sonic now feels faster and more responsive. There seems to be less blur as well. The high framerate allows for a faster response time. I can honestly say I was actually enjoying the Werehog levels for a change.
That doesn’t mean the game’s old flaws aren’t still present. Medal collecting near the end game is still soul-crushing, the Werehog levels are still a bit too long, and having the camera suddenly change position when you’re balancing across a steel beam is still as irritating as ever. That said, if you love this style of Sonic gameplay, it’s never looked or played better than it does on Series S/X.
The Series S/X boost mode also improves other Sonic titles as well. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed gets a 60 FPS boost, and Sonic Generations runs at both 4K resolution and 60FPS.
To see Sonic Unleashed in action on the Series S/X, check out our gameplay video below.
*** SPOILER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PLOT DETAILS FROM THE END OF SONIC 2 ***
I am a Knuckles fan. His name is my online handle, which I’ve been using consistently since the early days of the SEGA forums. I love his moves, his lore, and even his weird comic series. So, naturally, I was excited when Paramount announced a Knuckles-centric TV series a few months ago, starring the red, dreadlocked knucklehead. It wasn’t long before my worry over Sonic 2 fumbling things tempered that excitement with anxiety, but now that I’ve seen the movie that anxiety has given way to enthusiasm. Knuckles was the best thing in that movie and I am ready for a show about him.
But…what exactly will the Knuckles series be? All we know about it is that it’ll be a live action series on Paramount Plus. I can’t imagine something like that being done without a sizable budget akin to Disney+’s MCU and Star Wars offerings. That is an assumption I will be running with for this article. What do I want from the Knuckles series? A lot, but I’d like to think my hopes are at least somewhat realistic (yes, including this first one.)
It’s Time to Go Off-World
The Sonic movies have been consistently teasing us with a larger universe. We’ve been given brief glimpses of Sonic’s home and the mushroom planet, Tails has talked about a “village,” and Knuckles’ introduction was even preceded by strange masked aliens, initially introduced in the Sonic 2 Pre-Quill comic.
It’s high time the Sonic Movie Universe make good on those teases and actually take us somewhere. A planet hopping space adventure would be the perfect backdrop for a TV show. Likewise, a TV show is a great place to flesh out multiple locations beyond Earth in the Sonic Movie Universe. I wouldn’t expect most of these locations to be especially fantastical or grand for purely budgetary reasons, but I will definitely take “generic desert planet” and “rusty cheap-looking backwater planet” over “Knuckles goes to New Jersey.”
Make it Knuckles, Sonic and Tails’ First Adventure Together
Yes, this is a Knuckles show, but that doesn’t mean Sonic and Tails can’t get in on the action! Sonic 2 served as an origin for the trio coming together as friends, but there is no better medium for their first proper adventure than a TV show. Explore their chemistry. Let them talk and explore their interactions outside of the context of a movie climax. Let Sonic be the fish out of water as he’s taken to places Knuckles is more familiar with.
As fun as Knuckles is, I think he was at his best when he had Sonic and Tails to bounce off of, so it’d be a shame to separate them for his small screen debut. Let Knuckles have the main plot and the spotlight, but allow Sonic and Tails to tag along for the ride.
Bring Back Knuckles’ People…and Make Them the Bad Guys
Look: I don’t care what Knuckles said, Longclaw didn’t wipe out his entire tribe. They are alive, and if they are meant to be dead, undead them, because they would make the perfect villains for this series. It is already firmly established in these movies that the echidnas are the power-hungry aggressors. They were the ones who created the Master Emerald, they were the ones who used it for war, and they were the ones who hunted down the owls and attempted to take Sonic’s power. They can certainly be three dimensional villains. Giving them a reason to be so power hungry would only make them more interesting. But ultimately, Knuckles needs to come down against them.
So how could this work? Have them abandon Knuckles. When they went after Longclaw and failed to capture Sonic, they began searching the universe relentlessly for him and the map to the Master Emerald rather than return to him. This would not only demonstrate how far his people have fallen that they would rather hunt for power than go back for one of their own, it would also allow the SMU to explore a different kind of familial loss, and the differences between family by blood and family by love, and why one is more meaningful.
Heck, Tikal could even be introduced as an unwilling pawn of her people. When the Master Emerald is used at the end of Sonic 2, the echidnas learn that Knuckles has it. Tikal is sent under the lie that she’s looking for their people. Knuckles, upon discovering they are alive, agrees to help her find them. Sonic and Tails won’t let him go alone. This gives us the motivation for the planet-hopping adventure as they go from planet to planet, searching for clues, Tikal subtly pointing them in the right direction. This was, in reality, done to separate the Master Emerald from its protectors.
Some version of this, where the story potential for Knuckles’ people is utilized, and Knuckles is made to see the truth about them, feels like the perfect place to take this. It wraps up standing plot points, gives Knuckles a unique group of villains who are personal to him, strengthens his newfound bonds, and gives our tri-colored trio their first test as the Master Emerald’s guardians.
If You’re Going to Focus on Humans, Focus on the Wachowskis
I am going to say something potentially controversial: Tom and Maddie Wachowski are the only decent human characters in the Sonic movies. Everyone else is an annoying cartoon caricature of a human, Jim Carrey worst of all. But even if I liked Carrey, he shouldn’t be here, as Knuckles ought to have his own villain. So since a live action Sonic tv series will inevitably need to spend time with humans on Earth for budgetary reasons, they might as well flesh out the best ones.
Their plot? Well, jumping off my previous point: have them be the ones protecting the Master Emerald while the furballs are out in space. Maybe a few different parties, one of whom were hired by the echidnas, are after the gemstone and they need to go on their own adventure to keep it away from them. They can be hunted by those weird masked bird people from Sonic 2, some random humanoid aliens in make-up, and maybe eventually a certain…bat jewel thief.
Alternatively, if Knuckles and co need a human companion, Maddie can go with them and get some much-needed screen time, and Tom can get paired with Rachel and they’re made to hash their whole thing out.
Bring in Rouge
So if you ignored this article’s spoiler warnings, chances are you already know that Sonic 3 will have Shadow, effectively setting it up to be an adaptation of Sonic Adventure 2. You know who you can’t leave out of any version of SA2? Rouge. Problem is, with Sonic 3 set up to be a story about Shadow, Rouge will almost certainly take a backseat, much like Tails did in Sonic 2. That’s why Rouge absolutely needs to be in the Knuckles series.
There are multiple reasons to introduce Rouge here: she is the closest thing Knuckles has to his own adversary and rival in the games. They are both treasure hunters, and both have an interest in the Master Emerald. So bringing her in as a villain for Knuckles to eventually deal with only makes sense. With the Master Emerald and GUN now present in the SMU, Rouge also has something to do in regards to her own plotline. She has a jewel to hunt and a faction that can employ her skills for covert ops on Earth.
Bare minimum, the Knuckles series ought to lay the groundwork for Rouge’s role in Sonic 3.
Heck, Bring In Some Other Sonic Characters Too
The great thing about TV shows is that you can give a character or group of characters a complete story in a single episode’s run time. The Knuckles series isn’t just a good place to set up some stuff for Sonic 3, it’s a great place to set up stuff for the franchise as a whole going forward.
You know what would be cool? An episode where Knuckles just had to work with the Chaotix. While Sonic, Tails, and whoever else is with them go off to explore a planet or check out its local cuisine (mostly off-screen), Knuckles hires the bumbling detectives to find the next clue for finding his people or whatever he’s doing. Hijinks, of course, ensue.
A few episodes just establishing characters while Knuckles is on his adventure is a stellar way to bring new Sonic characters into the franchise.
Let the IDW Creative Team Work on an Episode or Two
You know who’s been consistently producing the best Sonic stories for the past four years? IDW. Yes, they’re busy people. Ian Flynn is working on a friggin game. I don’t care. Flynn has experience working in TV, Evan Stanley’s been doing great work at IDW for years, bring one or both of them in for an episode or two. I’m sure you all can work it out.
Nothing would make the fandom more excited for the series than their involvement, and they’re input would be nothing but a net benefit for the show. Please make this happen!
Dive Into the History of the Chaos Emeralds
Sonic 2 remained fairly vague on the details regarding the history of the Master Emerald and the Chaos Emeralds. Since Knuckles is the character most directly connected to the gemstones, a series about him ought to dive deeper into their history. How did the echidnas get their hands on the chaos emeralds? How did they create the Master Emerald? What other sorts of conflicts were the emeralds involved in? Heck, where did the Chaos Emeralds come from? SEGA has always been cagey about the Chaos Emerald’s origins, but that’s no reason for the movies to not touch on that in some way.
Whether its Tikal, Knuckles’ people, or a plot exposition fairy, the Knuckles series is the perfect opportunity to dive deeper. And if this does happen, Chaos and the chao ought to also be brought in, at least in some capacity. Chaos was the original Master Emerald guardian after all, and we know he wasn’t inside the Master Emerald in this universe. Maybe when the echidnas took the emeralds, he was imprisoned somewhere or something?
Basically, Make This a Weird Sonic Adventure Adaptation Set in Outer Space
I mean, this is basically what this whole article has been leading to, hasn’t it? Sonic Adventure was, in many ways, basically Knuckles’ story. His people, home, and the Master Emerald all sit at the center of the game’s events. It is the perfect game to mine for Knuckles-centric plot elements, and the many changes the SMU has made to the echidnas makes the game’s plot elements all the more enticing for a Knuckles TV series.
As I’ve been writing this, I’ve expected that Paramount already knows what it wants from a Knuckles series. So far, their Sonic writers have had a decent idea of what to take from the games. They’ve already grabbed bits and pieces from Sonic Adventure. I just hope they go back to that well again for this.
*** SPOILER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS PLOT DETAILS AND SCREENSHOTS FROM THE END OF SONIC 2 ***
When I went into the first Sonic movie more than two years ago, I wasn’t expecting much. I was incredibly cynical about the whole affair, in fact. “Sure,” I thought, “they made the design better. But plenty of terrible movies can still look nice.” Then, the Paramount and SEGA logos rolled, and the movie spent the next 13 minutes winning me over, before one moment finally sealed it. It demonstrated this movie was going to be more than pop culture references and Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey. This was a movie about a lonely kid that, shockingly, had a heart. Here, SEGA’s cool blue mascot was in a bad place, and desperately needed to find a way to move forward.
By the end of it he did, and it all started at a baseball field.
After giving the audience a tour of his adopted home, Green Hills, Sonic goes to a baseball game. A team wins, and they celebrate together, something Sonic is clearly envious of. Later, after nightfall, Sonic takes to the field and uses his speed to pretend to be an entire team. As a scene, there is a lot to like here: it features a creative use of Sonic’s speed, it shows what he’s capable of, and it also gives more screen time to establishing his character. The personalities Sonic gives his “teammates” are cute, and Ben Schwartz does a superb job bringing the whole thing to life. But then Sonic hits the ball, fails to catch it, “wins” the game by a hair, readies himself for the same sort of adulation he saw earlier only to experience…nothing. Because he’s alone.
For a moment, his cheerful façade cracks, and Sonic does something he never does in the games: he loses his cool. Overwhelmed by his loneliness, he unleashes all his pent-up frustrations by running laps around the field. This leads to a power outage across the entire Pacific Northwest, which naturally gets the attention of the US government and leads to Sonic getting discovered. More importantly, it also starts Sonic on a two-movie-long journey to finally experience what he saw on that field.
Two years later, Sonic was playing baseball again, but this time he wasn’t alone. He had an entire family to play with, celebrate with, and go off for ice cream with. As a scene, it acts as a very effective bookend to Sonic’s journey to end his loneliness and find his place in the world. Years after losing one family, he’s found another.
The through line these scenes book end ultimately make up the emotional core of these otherwise fairly trivial popcorn flicks, which makes them probably the most important ones of the entire film series so far. As cool as any of the action sequences are, and as effective as the characterization is for Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails, it would all mean next-to-nothing without that emotional core. Enjoyable movies aren’t built on action, pop culture jokes, weird Jim Carrey antics and Olive Garden gift cards. They are built on character, more specifically making audiences care about those characters.
Caring about Sonic and wanting to see him find that family he so desperately needs gives those action scenes weight. They make the bad jokes and Jim Carrey antics bearable. They make Sonic feel like a character and not a walking collection of dated references, and they give him a means to connect to characters like Tom, Tails, and Knuckles, creating the most effective and impactful scenes across both movies.
Of course, plenty of movies do the “found family” thing better, with Pixar’s Luca and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy executing it more effectively. The concept is also nothing new for Sonic as a franchise. Tails is Sonic’s little brother in the games, and the Freedom Fighters are basically Sonic’s surrogate family in both SatAM and Archie. Regardless, if someone had told me a few years ago that I’d get a little emotional at a scene in a Sonic movie where Sonic called a human “dad,” I’d call you a damn liar.
These movies had everything going against them from the beginning. From out of touch executives, to the terrible track record of video game adaptations, to how regularly terrible movies with cartoon animal sidekicks usually are! And yet, somehow, Sonic was able to find box office, audience, and (modest) critical success. Twice. Some will put the credit on the redesign and “listening to fans,” but the actual reason is much more fundamental: the movie’s writers were smart enough to give the characters heart, rooted in a game of baseball, that sprang forth into the most successful video game film franchise of all time.
As we move forward into a wider cinematic universe, I can only hope the Sonic Movie Universe’s creatives don’t lose sight of this. That heart is something that must be built upon and expanded, in order to keep audiences invested in these characters and their adventures.
Sonic’s 30th may have been a slow year for Sonic games, but it didn’t stop SEGA from celebrating the event with videos, performances, and other fun and/or incomprehensibly weird features.Continue reading 2021 was the Year of Online Events
Sonic is no stranger to the FOMO demon that is mobile game limited time events. He’s hung out with PAC-MAN, he jammed with Taiko no Tatsujin, and Puyo Puyo Quest… is also a thing. That happened. And I really, really wish didn’t.
Anyhow, SEGA went mad with Sonic guesting in mobile games left and right. Here’s the breakdown:
Ulala: Idle Adventure
Ulala is an idling RPG where you and three other pre-historic adventurers team up to travel many lands, grinding experience and taking on bosses in automated battle. You’ll incrementally upgrade your fighter with equipment, abilities, and animal friends. This was one of the few games I legitimately enjoyed my time with and continued to play regularly for six months. You get some pretty significant benefits chipping in about $5 a month. If you’re after event cosmetics, the cost is miserable, but if you just want to play the game, it’s pretty generous.
During the Sonic event, the blue boy himself has been thrown into this world by a portal, and he’ll need you to recharge enough energy to send him home by playing a very basic Sonic Dash-like minigame, and then inflicting as much damage to Eggman as possible. Your reward for completing tasks (and/or spending heaps of premium currency) is Sonic and Eggman cosmetics, the coolest of which is Eggman’s mustache, which lets your character pilot the hovercraft between encounters.
Fist of the North Star LEGENDS ReVIVE
I’m a bit of a Shonen Jump fan, and my heart leapt at the thought of just how profoundly asinine this would be. I was not disappointed.
Legends Revive is a gashapon (or gacha) character collecting RPG following the events of the Fist of the North Star manga and anime, where expert martial artist Kenshiro walks the wasteland of the post-apocalypse and punches brawny Mad-Max rejects until they explode into viscera. So yeah, perfect game to add Sonic to. There’s no context to why Sonic’s there. He just is, bringing along a bunch of music that either doesn’t quite fit the tone of the game, or fits it perfectly.
The game itself is a mess of a design. The RPG part is simple, just tap your characters in the order you want to attack, do it at the right time to maintain a combo, and occasionally pop off super moves. But there are so many menus and modes and stores and daily missions stacked on top of it. The menu is awash in icons, it’s barely navigable and incredibly disorienting.
It’s not a good game, not in the slightest, but it had me hooked for a solid month on the novelty of running through the story and watching an extremely overpowered Sonic go super with his 1980’s beefcake anime buddies as Live and Learn blares out my tablet speakers.
Dx2 Shin Megami Tensei: Liberation
I’ve seen that game’s title arranged about five different ways, so I don’t know what word order is supposed to be the most accurate anymore.
Sonic as a demon in an SMT Digital Devil-style world is conceptually funny, but the game just couldn’t hold my attention very long. Your avatar is conscripted into a war between two factions of fighters, each battling SMT style with digital demons on your phones. Much like the series proper, you’ll be recruiting, fusing, and building elemental combos with various demons, though this edition lets you recruit via gacha.
It isn’t bad. The visual style is very SMT, the characters can get a little wild, and boy is there plenty of story. But I think my hesitance just comes down to my lack of experience with the primary series. If you’re an SMT fanatic and don’t mind juggling your standard free-to-play complications, it seems like it has a touch more depth than you might expect from a mobile RPG.
Cookie Run: Kingdom
I’m mad that I like this game. It doesn’t deserve praise, but darn it, it has really solid production values, fun characters, and entertaining writing. It’s also EVERY irritating mobile game design wrapped into a single package. Not only is it a town-building timer-waiting resource-tapping slog, but it’s also a gacha-collecting RPG-incrementing money-dumping grind.
The Sonic content was pretty entertaining, but it was designed for players at a much higher level than you could likely get to in the brief time the event ran. You could get adorable cookie version of both Sonic and Tails, but only by exchanging rings for pulls from a specialty limited-quantity gacha. If you got seven Chaos Emeralds from it, you could unlock one of the two heroes, but it sure seems like that seventh emerald was rigged to be the VERY LAST item you’d nab from the lot.
The production value of the Sonic content itself is great, with Smith and O’Shaughnessey doing voicework for the duo. With the event’s town-building decor, you can fill your town with Green Hill palm trees and chili dog stands. The cookies are cute, and they can do anything that any of the other characters can… but if you wanted them to get you past the third stage of their special Green Hill Eggman Battle stages, you’ll be out of luck. The power requirement jump between each Sonic RPG stage was huge. But don’t worry, for only $20, you could get the big pack that might net you 60% of a Sonic. Or one of the dozens upon dozens of subscriptions and packs in their store. I’d legitimately love to see the story to its conclusion, but I just don’t think I have the patience, persistence, and fortitude to do so.
It was beyond unusual to get a continuous stream of Sonic mobile game guest appearances, but I predominantly have three takeaways:
First, the best crossovers are the ones that are just completely nonsensical and provoke the strongest dissonance possible.
Second, trying to grapple with three Japanese/Korean gacha RPGs across three months is both expensive and spiritually draining.
And finally, Puyo Puyo Quest currently has somewhere in the realm of 2500 characters and character variants, and many of them are deeply upsetting. The Sonic event from a previous year returned, and I got Ringo cosplaying as Shadow. The game is a worse version of Puzzle and Dragon. I’m ending this article with a picture of Arle dressed as Eva Unit 001:
Happy New Year, I guess?
While it may still feel fresh in everyone’s mind, Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces were released in late 2017. We are four years divorced from those games (five by the time we get the next major release), with only one Sumo Digital racer and a piece of significant DLC between. We as Sonic fans don’t typically have to wait as long for the next big thing, even if the next big thing is a disappointment. We’re hungry, and we can’t stop thinking about what’s next.
2021 came with multiple new game announcements, a couple new trailers, and in spite of all that, we still don’t have a firm idea on what that next thing is.
May’s Sonic Central was a firehose of announcements, from the first official reveal of Sonic Colors: Ultimate to King Ice’s big gaudy necklaces to putting fictional doctors and athletes in Sonic mascot suits. But wedged in there were announcements for Sonic Origins, a collection of the core 16-bit Sonic platformers, and some sort of game where Sonic runs through the woods with digital effects (we now know as Sonic Frontiers). Despite these reveals, both slotted for next year, we have not actually seen their respective games. We’ve seen messaging, aspirations, and broad genre and style proclamations, but we’ve not seen an actual fully-formed game idea that will clearly go on to become a retail product.
While I don’t think the infamous Sonic Cycle has held real power for over a decade, SEGA’s marketing strategy remains as frustrating as ever: they seed teasers and extremely limited reveals long before they show any context, letting everyone’s mind go wild with possibilities before eventually grounding us in the reality of the game they are actually making. I’ve seen so many fans envision what Sonic Frontiers would be/could be/should be based on slow pans of landscapes and 4chan leaks from 2019, but the hard reality is that we still know very little of what that game is now and what it will be a year from now. The Game Awards trailer only contains three real pieces of information about the game:
1. The next Sonic game is open world.
2. It has open, natural environments with ancient-civilization-style points of interest dotted throughout.
3. There are one or more giant enemies.
At the very least, these core concepts have been around long enough that a CG animation studio (Marza or otherwise) was able to complete pre-rendered cutscenes for the trailer. What they don’t show during this trailer is what Sonic does, which, you know, is kind of important for a game. But the goal here admittedly wasn’t to show the game itself. The goal was messaging, and the message is, “We are working on the next game, and we’re winding up for a big risky swing.”
Weirdly, Origins is an even tougher nut to crack. We’ve either seen 60% of the game already if the collection compiles the Retro/Star Engine remakes (or some modification of them) while finally adding Sonic 3 & Knuckles to the lineup, or we’ve seen literally nothing if they’re using some other engine to recreate these games in 16:9. That said, development must have been incredibly early when SEGA announced it, since the Sonic Central reveal contains no actual video of the collection itself (as denoted by the “Original Gameplay” disclaimer in the corner and all the 4:3 footage of Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles).
In the same vein, we still know precious little about next year’s new animated series, Sonic Prime, save for some concept art we weren’t supposed to see. We know it’s some manner of multiverse show coming from Man of Action and WildBrain, two groups whose outputs vary wildly in quality and demographic aim. If there’s any room for more definitive feelings about a future Sonic project, the one space where we did get a trailer with plenty of information was for Paramount’s Sonic 2 movie. It’s more Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey antics, but with game references and Idris Elba. You probably already have a sense of whether or not that appeals to you.
I’m left excited and anxious for 2022, not because I can point to anything and say “I think this will be good” or “I think this will be a trash fire.” I just need to know. 2021 wasn’t an appetizer, it was looking at a menu and imagining the best and worst possible scenarios. Making a satisfying open world game is difficult and time consuming for any development studio, but Sonic Team certainly have plenty of time. Templates for really satisfying open world games exist, such as Breath of the Wild and Shadow of the Colossus, and the Frontiers trailer has an interest in both.
These 2022 projects are still a ways out, it’s worth reiterating that. But who can blame us for walking away from 2021 disoriented. We were told so much, and yet we were told so little. Until we actually have a clear vision of what next year’s games and cartoon are, we’ll be entering 2022 still waiting for trailers.
Connect the dots, people. And not just the official LEGO theme “Dots.”Continue reading What Are These Pins For, And Do They Point to More LEGO Sonic?
Sonic hacks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from character swaps, to whole new games, to things that use the existing physics and levels to do something completely crazy! Drmelon’s SNOLF goes for the latter, offering a very different spin on Sonic 2 as Sonic is now a golf ball. But is this hack a fun spin on Sonic 2, or is it too frustrating? The answer is both.
SNOLF: Tournament Edition basically turns Sonic 2 into a 2D golf game, with the end of the stage acting as the hole. You line Sonic up and take swings to get him through the stages. Each button acts as a different kind of club, so you can get weak to strong swings. Button A is a putter swing for light taps, B is regular, and C is a driver, which offers the strongest swing. To measure, you have a ring that goes left and right and then up and down so you can get the proper angle. You also have some control of the ball when it is rolling, but not in the air. Because of that, the are moments where you can’t get the momentum to go further, whether it’s rolling from the top of a cliff, or going straight up and down on a spring. When this occurs, the trick is to try and get a swing in mid-air to get a bit further. There’s also a multiplayer mode for up to four players in competitive and cooperative play.
Swatting Sonic through the Sonic 2 levels is both novel and frustrating at the same time. It took me a long time to get any good at this hack and I still had to just give up at Chemical Plant Zone Act 2. There are moments when it seems like it’s just near impossible to traverse any further, not to mention many moments where you can get stuck for tens of swings (I still don’t know how I managed to beat Robotnik in Emerald Hill). Many times, I felt like throwing down my controller in defeat. That said, there are some options to make your experience less frustrating. For example, you can set it to only do Act one of each zone so you don’t have to go against Robotnik.
After everything that’s been said, SNOLF is definitely something you should check out at least once. It’s difficult and frustrating as hell to play, but its unique challenge kept me coming back despite the times I wanted to toss the controller. It’s just crazy and unique enough to give it a go.
To many die-hard Sonic fans, Sonic 4 is a game unworthy of its title, with a physics engine more closely related to Dimps’ DS past than the Genesis/Mega Drive trilogy. But what if Sonic 4 was a Genesis game? CHRdutch gives us a taste of what that might be like in this Sonic 1 hack which covers Splash Hill Zone acts 1-3.
Splash Hill Zone act one mimics the original Sonic 4 level fairly closely. There are some sacrifices made. Gone are the pulleys and rope swings and in their place are rotating platforms. However, it does have much of the original’s poor level design, including the lack of slopes, narrow loops, and completely unnecessary dash-pads. CHRdutch also does an impressive job trying to copy Sonic 4’s game play quirks into this Sonic 1 hack. When rolling into the air off a wall, Sonic will fly up with his arms stretched open and completely defenseless. Sonic also has a forward boost with a double jump. While there is no homing attack in this version, it can hit enemies when used right and works well for a quick boost forward. However, since this is a hack that still relies on Sonic 1 physics in some form, it doesn’t replicate Sonic 4’s physics, so you won’t find things like wall-walking here. That’s a nice improvement in my book, though.
While Splash Hill act one and act three are pretty faithful to the original, Act two offers its own original design. Keep on the upper path, and you can get to the goal quickly. Fall into the lower path, and you’ll be running underwater. Unlike Labyrinth Zone, it doesn’t feel slow and it won’t take too long until you can find your way out. It’s a well-done level. Also impressive is how well the original soundtrack comes over to the Genesis with little sacrifice. Now, from what I recall, Jun Senoue wanted to get the soundtrack as close to the Genesis sound as possible. Still, I’m surprised at how well remix composer LackOfTrack was able to bring over the soundtrack almost perfectly. At times, it’s exact.
Sonic the Hackable: Splash Hill shows both the flaws of Dimps 2D design while showing the strength of the Genesis Sonic’s physics. While not a perfect 1:1 port, the changes made are for the better. If you were wondering if Sonic 4 could work or even be improved on the Genesis, CHRdutch’s Sonic the Hackable seems to be a solid “yes”.
Sonic 1’s earliest tech demo is something that has only been preserved in screenshots from game magazines, and was only ever shown publicly at some events in 1990. This demo featured many different backgrounds, enemies, and visual elements. Fans have long wanted to get a taste of what this old demo was like, and MCTravisYT and crew’s hack, Sonic Debut, gives us all a chance to live out that fantasy, by giving us a glimpse of what could have been if Sonic 1 had been produced with its earliest concepts intact.
The first thing of note is that Sonic looks and feels just a bit different here. MCTravisYT has put in new sprite animation to better represent the artwork of early screenshots. Also, Sonic is now more vulnerable in the way he jumps. One button press gets him to jump while a second rolls him into a ball. It’s not bad, but a little hard to get used to. I tend to forget that I can’t attack an enemy from below and end up getting hurt.
Speaking of getting hurt, there is a new life and damage system in Sonic Debut. Rings are now just coins. Fifty coins get you a new life represented by a star on the bottom-left screen. When you get hit, coins don’t explode out of you, but rather, you gain health by hitting monitors with hearts on them. The hearts are also numbered on the bottom left screen. On the plus side, this results in you not losing your coins when hit, so getting enough coins for an extra life is easy. However, it’s much easier to lose track of how many times you’ve been hit. Thirty years of losing rings when damaged is in my muscle memory, so it feels strange that one ring won’t save you anymore.
Besides new sprite work for Sonic, there are new Badniks about. One is a robot pig who shuffles to the side and drops bombs out of his belly while the other is a blue, gremlin-looking thing that looks more like a tooth-shaped monster than a Badnik. I call him a “Cavity-Creep”. The two returning Badniks include Buzz Bombers and yellow Choppers. The only other new obstacle is a large ball that rolls along, though it’s more in the way than a threat.
The level layout is very different, as it’s now more linear and a bit larger. That said, neither the upper or lower path seems to offer the player any advantage. The level design leaves a bit to be desired as there are a few instances where going too fast can lead to your death. There’s one spot that always seems to get me where I’m rolling and a spike trap comes up and bounces Sonic back and forth until he runs out of health and dies. It becomes a case of studying the level rather than having fun with it. Robotnik’s boss fight is different as well. There’s still a large wrecking ball on a chain, but now it’s separated from him. The boss fight is a bit more vertical and you have to use elevated platforms to attack him. It’s a fun change as it requires a bit more skill to finish Robotnik off.
That said, MCTravisYT’s Sonic Debut isn’t about its level design as much as it’s giving us a bit of a “What if?” in terms of looking at Sonic in his earliest form. When it comes to early Sonic, we only have screenshots to go by and Sonic Debut is a very interesting look at what might have been. If this was what Sega put out, would it still have been a huge hit? It’s hard to say. Still, it’s compelling to see someone try their hand at filling in the blanks with this entertaining Sonic hack. I’d recommend this to anyone curious about Sonic’s roots, or those who would enjoy a different take on a classic game.
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
It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a proper Sonic compilation game, and with the recently announced Sonic Origins on the horizon, a couple TSS Staffers got together to share our hopes and expectations.Continue reading TSS Roundtable: Features We Want From Sonic Origins
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.
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)
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, 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
When I was 18, it was in 2010 and I had yet to become a Sonic news writer. It was also the year that I got Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on the Gamecube. I wanted to get all the game’s emblems, only to learn that doing so meant that I had to go raise these little creatures that are called Chao, enter them in races and Karate tournaments, and get some emblems there. It didn’t take long before I discovered that raising these cute, adorable Chao is fun and addictive. Now, a decade later, I think it’s time that Sonic Team decided to bring that back.
It may be hard to believe, but Sonic Colors, the Sonic Team game exclusively for Nintendo consoles that supposedly sparked a minor renaissance of sorts for the series, has been on the scene for a decade now!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of Jason Berry and dot not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TSS staff.
Guilty pleasures. Fan favorites. Cult classics. Names used for a variety of entertainment from movies to music and of course, video games. Usually, it refers to something that is flawed, but nonetheless, enjoyable.
The same can be said for a lot, and I mean a LOT of Sonic games out there. Games that are seriously flawed, but still have some fans who enjoy them. I’m still baffled by some people who say that they loved Sonic ‘06 but hey, don’t let me tell you what not to enjoy. Heck, I kinda like Rise of Lyric and that game is in an even more unfinished state than ‘06.
But what I want to talk about are Sonic games that were poorly reviewed by critics, but still enjoyed by fans or vice-versa. Games that are on the cusp of greatness, but some element holds it back. Games that make you say “yeah, it’s not the best, but I like it.” Games that are polished in their design, but their design is ultimately flawed. These are my five Sonic games just shy of greatness.
Sonic and the Black Knight
This is low on the list because it’s genuinely a bad game in the design department, but it has two elements that really shine. Sonic and the Black Knight was the second in the short-lived storybook series just after the arguably better Sonic and the Secret Rings. So why is this one on the list and not Secret Rings? While I didn’t care much for the constant stop-and-slash gameplay of Black Knight, there were two things that really stood out for me.
One, the story is actually one of my favorites in the series. Sonic is back in a storybook world, only this time, he has the knowledge from the previous game to know that his friends are not the same ones from his world and only look the same in appearance. Also, Sonic’s smart enough to realize that something’s off with the titular villain and the surprise twist reveal is something I didn’t see coming. It also includes a moral that, well… you don’t see very often.
Two, the music! Crush 40 is back along with a great, guitar-heavy soundtrack by Jun Sunoe and other talented composers including Tommy Talarico. There are also a few remixes of previous Sonic music, but overall a rockin’ soundtrack to a sub-par game.
Sonic Lost World
Boy did everyone love this game when it made the early rounds at preview shows like E3 and Comic-Con. Most people gave this new and very different entry in the Sonic series a lot of love… until it came out. It’s not that changing the formula for once wasn’t a good idea. I love the boost formula but could’ve used a break. However, once again as most games you see on this list, the biggest flaw is the game design.
Sonic Lost World was doing it’s best to rip off Mario Galaxy and it just didn’t work. The level design, for the most part, was very good. It was the controls themselves that fell apart. Sonic with a run button just felt wrong. Not allowing a more analog run control was a mistake in my opinion, but the other problem was the game’s newest gimmick, the parkour control. Basically, Sonic could climb and run alongside walls in a parkour-style to traverse certain levels. However, it was very hit and miss. Sonic would start to slide off the wall very quickly and it was hard to bounce from wall to wall. It took a more advanced level of skill than normally required from a platformer. Surprisingly, the 3DS port had the opposite problem. The parkour controls worked very well and should have been implemented in the console game, while the level design was pure torture. Had we had gotten both solid, parkour controls along with good level design, Sonic Lost Word could have been a hit.
Sonic Forces COULD have been a great game under the right circumstances. It’s using the Hedgehog Engine 2, Classic Sonic is back, you have your classic 2-D and boost gameplay just like Generations. You can even design your original character (do not steal), making every Sonic fanfic writer’s dream come true. In fact, it did okay with critics or at least critics who weren’t that familiar with Sonic. But as a fan of Sonic, you played the game and realized right away that something was off. It looked like Generations, but it didn’t quite play like it.
I think the main problem lies in that a good amount of the team from Sonic Colors worked on this game including the director, Morio Kishimoto. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Sonic Colors. But that game has very different platform physics than Generations or Unleashed. However, this game seems to have the engine of Generations, but with the jumping physics of Colors. Casual game players might not notice, but if you’re a Sonic fan, it’ll throw you off a bit. Like riding a bicycle, only now the bicycle controls like a unicycle.
What also doesn’t help is the terrible writing once again from Pontac and Graff. I’ll admit, I loved the story in Colors and laughed at Eggman’s PSA’s but those two are comedy writers, and every time they attempt drama in Sonic games, it falls flat. Sonic was supposed to be captured by Eggman and tortured for months, but when we see him, he’s the same ol’ Sonic he’s always been. Crackin’ jokes with (not) Zavoc.
“What goes up, must come down…” Much like the quality of gameplay in Sonic Heroes.
Now, Sonic Heroes is definitely one of my “guilty pleasures”. It has a lot going for it that I like. It offers the 3-D gameplay similar to the last Sonic Adventure games, but stripped down to a level-by-level structure, much like the 2-D classics. The new gimmick in this one is that you control three characters at once. One for speed (Sonic, Shadow, Amy, Espio), one for power (Knuckles, Omega, Big, Vector), and one for flight (Tails, Rouge, Cream, Charmy). Four teams with four stories of their own. Sonic Heroes did a lot right. It brought back the Chaotix, introduced Omega, and had probably Jun Sunoe’s and Crush 40’s best tracks in any of their games. “What I’m made of” is unironically a damn good song and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise (not really). For the most part, the “three at a time” formula works and helps keep the platforming gameplay moving at a fairly fast pace. It even did fairly well by critics (for a Sonic game of that era). Seaside Hill is still a joy to play. So what’s keeping it from being one of the best?
Level design. That’s the biggest problem. Sometimes it works great (like the aforementioned Seaside Hill) while others are a disaster. Casino Park and Bingo Highway still infuriate me to this day. The game’s difficulty constantly spikes. You can be having a great time of it only to have one of the most frustrating experiences on the very next level. It also doesn’t help that this was the first Sonic game to introduce a massive amount of annoying talking during gameplay. I just want to reach into my screen and choke Tails every time he says “Look at all those Eggman’s robots!”.For a child with a high IQ, he sure has poor grammar.
Now, if you’re a big fan of Sonic Heroes, I understand. There’s a lot to love here. But it’s definitely not without its faults. Speaking of a very faulty Sonic game that I love…
I friggin’ LOVE Sonic Unleashed! But it’s definitely got its flaws.
It starts out soooo good! That Marza animated intro is the best Sonic…. Anything! (Speaking of, when’s that “Lupin the 3rd: The First” movie hitting the western markets?) We then meet Chip and… yeah, his mileage may vary depending on if he grows on you or not. We then meet humans and OMG!! They actually fit well in Sonic’s world for once! Giving them a cartoon appearance works perfectly. Then, after some story introductions and a training level, we are introduced to our first full level in Apotos, “Windmill Isle Act 2” and OMG is it amazing!! Sonic’s running at incredible speeds through narrow streets that blur by. Dodging buildings left and right, grinding rails and smashing through Badniks. It was the first Sonic game to introduce the 3-D boost mechanics that are still present in the latest games. It all feels sooo good and it’s over too soon.
And then it happens. The Werehog. The thing both critics and fans felt was a bad idea and frankly, still is. Now, don’t get me wrong. The gameplay of the Werehog is actually not that bad! You’re running, jumping, getting into brawls and shimmying on ledges and it works out okay. It just doesn’t feel like that kind of gameplay belongs in a Sonic game. Also, each level is about a half-hour long or more. Compare that to the Sonic daytime levels that clock in at about five minutes. I’m bored ten minutes into the Werehog levels. The one thing the Wii did right was to break them up into smaller levels so you could take a break from them. The Wii version also didn’t have the frustrating medal hunt. Don’t have enough sun medals for the next Sonic daytime level? Too bad. Back to the old Werehog levels to hunt them down.
With all, it’s faults I’d still be lying if I didn’t say that Sonic Unleashed was one of my favorite 3-D Sonic games. The Werehog isn’t gonna be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are far worse Sonic gameplay options out there (I’m looking at you, Big in Sonic Adventure.)
So what flawed Sonic game do you enjoy? Are there any you think I should have put on the list? Let me know in the comments below.
Sonic the Hedgehog fans have been turning their creativity to Nintendo’s ultra popular Animal Crossing New Horizons – check out our favourite designs and customisations below!
Early last year, the world saw the first trailer for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie and we got our first look at what the blue blur would finally look like on the silver screen. To say that fans, non-fans, and society in general had a very negative reaction to what was shown onscreen would be a gross understatement. From his small eyes, his wide head, pasty-white hands with clawed fingers and human-like proportions, Sonic looked hideous. Practically a monster. Continue reading From Worst to Best: Why the New Sonic Movie Design Might Be the Best Sonic Design Ever
It’s the 25th anniversary of Sonic & Knuckles! 1994 was the year of the Death Egg Saga, and on this day 25 years ago that saga ended with a rather innovative little cartridge. You might think of it as the second half of Sonic 3, but I think it deserves a more fitting title: the better half of Sonic 3! True, you can combine Sonic 3 & Knuckles to get the full experience, but today is Sonic & Knuckles’ birthday, not Sonic 3’s, and I say that if you look at them individually, you’ll find that Sonic & Knuckles has just a bit more to offer, and is the better game! Here are 7 reasons why this is the case.
Another month, another (incredibly late) episode of Sonic Talk!
In this episode, we discuss Sonic’s appearance in OK KO!, and how he single-handedly caused the series to end (kidding). We also chat about Tangle and Whisper, a Mighty plush, Sonic #19, Mario and Sonic 2020 Olympics arcade and much, much more! So what are you waiting for? RECENT topics?!! Hah! Like we’d do that!
“Speed returns, in an all new 2D adventure built from the ground up.”
Ten years ago, on September 8th, 2009, mere hours before the 10th anniversary of the Dreamcast, SEGA dropped a teaser trailer for “Project Needlemouse.” Catching the gaming community by surprise, this mysterious project promised to bring Sonic the Hedgehog back to its 2D roots with a new 2D platformer in the style of the Mega Drive games. This project would later be officially titled Sonic the Hedgehog 4, an episodic download game that hoped to please the older Sonic fans who grew up with the classics. Continue reading TSS Retrospective: The Needlemouse Debacle: Episode I
Who doesn’t like the constant reminder that Sonic the Hedgehog owns so much of our free time and money? As if our shelves weren’t already stacked high with game cartridges, many companies go out of their way to create a huge array of irresistible merchandise that become objects of desire amongst large parts of the fanbase. Entities such as First 4 Figures have established themselves as one such company that goes the distance and create highly detailed statues of video game and anime characters, Sonic and friends included, in gravity-defying and dynamic poses true to their source material. But as the complexity, scale, and limited nature / scarcity of these pieces of merchandise increase, so does the cost…
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.
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.
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
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:
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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. Continue reading The Spin: The Freedom Fighters are Gone (and That’s Okay)
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 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.
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.
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.
On October 17th 2017, Sega opened it’s own online shop which had many collectors of Sega merch screaming with delight, even prior to the opening to the opening of SonicMerchandise.Com, fans had been begging Sega to have a store which would be full of exclusive or hard to find merchandise. Continue reading The Spin: Why Can’t EU Order From The Sega Store?
On June 12, 2018 via their E3 2018 Direct, Nintendo finally unveiled Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to the world, coming to Nintendo Switch just in time for Christmas. The celebrated blockbuster franchise is back to reunite gaming’s greatest all-stars, this time with series creator and director Masahiro Sakurai going above and beyond to bring back every single playable character in Smash Bros. history, including one-offs like Pichu and Young Link and DLC characters like Bayonetta and Corrin. Continue reading The Spin: The Case for Shadow the Hedgehog in Smash Bros. Ultimate