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TSS @ SAGE '23: Sonic SMS Remake 3: Timelines Demo Brings New Level Design & Characters to Sonic Chaos


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I have long had an interest in Creative Araya’s Sonic SMS Remake games, but I simply haven’t had a chance to get to any of them…until now.

From what I’ve played of the first two games, these are excellent reimaginings of Sonic’s first two 8-bit adventures, with solid additions to the level design, character roster, and special stages (among other things).

But Sonic SMS Remake 3: Timelines looks to take things even further, with even more drastic changes to every aspect of the game. These changes make this the most promising entry into this fan game series yet!

Timelines remakes the first stage of Sonic Chaos, drastically altering the level design to accommodate what is essentially the game’s brand new game play gimmick: character teams.

The demo has two teams at the moment, with Sonic, Shadow and Silver on one, and Amy, Blaze and Rouge on the other. You can switch between the three characters on each team to get around the stage, using each character’s unique traversal and attack options to get to the end.

Each team is further distinguished with a special trait, with Sonic’s team being centered around speed, while Amy’s team is all about attack power. 

To that end, both Sonic and Shadow are very speed-centric, with Sonic having a drop dash while Shadow has a mid-air dash.

Silver, in addition to having their speed, can also float infinitely through the air, with an additional skill that lets him phase through certain walls, allowing him to reach other parts of the stage and find secrets.

Silver… kind of breaks the game, since his infinite flight can theoretically allow him to simply float over the entire stage. But I personally just used him for whenever I needed to quickly get out of a jam, or explore a different part of the stage.

Amy, Blaze, and Rouge also have all of Sonic’s basic moves, but with additional attack-centric movesets. Amy can smash down on enemies with her hammer ala Mighty’s Sonic Mania attack (and also knock rings to the ground), Blaze has a screen-clearing fire move, and Rouge can…fly, but unlike Silver her flight is limited.

On the whole, these characters are a lot of fun to play, but I’ll admit a lot of my enjoyment comes from the sheer novelty of seeing these characters realized as 8-bit sprites, complete with their unique movesets. 

The Turquoise Hill acts boast solid design. The first one especially manages to showcase beach team’s capabilities well. The second one has a unique look, but most importantly also makes a unique design choice for a Sonic level: it has two completely different level goals on both the left and right hand sides of the stage, effectively making it two levels in one.

Both levels are also very fun to explore, with loads of different paths and secrets. This is good, given that Timelines also has red ring collectibles! I’ve always enjoyed Sonic Chaos, but its levels were a bit basic, so I’m glad to see such complex takes on its opening acts. Given the quality of these, I’m looking forward to what future updates will bring.

In addition to Turquoise Hill, there’s also a few mini games to play. You can collect “time stones” by gathering enough rings to access a special stage, inspired by Alex Kidd in Shinobi World. It seems all of the time stones will be collected via playing other SMS games, which is a very cool idea.

'Shinobi World' is widely considered the best Alex Kidd game, and it plays great, so Creative Araya clearly knows its stuff. I look forward to seeing which other games will be featured!

Once you access the Alex Kidd stage, you will be able to access a weird mini game called “Tiny Animal Place.” It appears…loosely inspired by the GBA Chao Garden. You can pull up grass, move animals around, and tap them to check their demeanor. I must say, I don’t quite get it, but it is harmless.

Speaking of, you can access the animal game via a Sonic Generations-inspired hub world called. There isn’t much to do here yet, though I do look forward to seeing what’s added in future patches.

Finally, the game also features a brand new special stage, and a twist on its bosses. The special stage is different from the Sonic 1-inspired ones from the previous SMS Remake games: you fly forward on a 2D plane, collecting blue spheres while avoiding red ones. The stage grants you extra lives, and is pretty heavily based on the special stages from Sonic Chaos.

The demo’s one boss is technically two in one, featuring both a slightly altered version of Sonic Chaos’ lady bug boss, and a second phase where you need to fight the turtle boss from Triple Trouble.

On the whole, I had a fine time with Sonic SMS Remake 3: Timelines. It shows a lot of promise, looking to be a big improvement over the source material while still embracing the project’s 8-bit roots.

I played this on a Steam Deck using Proton, but it’s also possible to play it via Windows (obviously) and Android smart phones.

You can download the game here. Check out our gameplay video below:

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