SAGE 2021 Hands-On with Pico Sonic

I remember the days of bootleg NES cartridges with ROM hacks that would bring Sonic to the NES with usually poor results. Titles like “Sonic 6” would take an existing Mario or other platform game and drop a Sonic sprite into it and maybe change a few enemies. They were always a pale imitation of the Genesis classics. Pico-Sonic goes below even NES limitations and still manages to feel authentic to the Genesis Sonic era.

“Pico Sonic” by Komehara is everything a demake should be. It lowers the pixel count, coloring, and sound bites to an underpowered 8-bit engine, but still keeps the core of the 16-bit original intact. It’s a one-level demo of Angel Island Act-1 done on the Pico-8, a fictional mid-80s game console with specs that fall between an NES and an Atari 7800.

Even with those limitations, Komehara pulls off an amazing little port. Sonic’s animations are all there along with his cool spring bounce pose from Sonic CD. The physics are intact as well, and Sonic’s roll, spindash, and overall sense of gravity are done perfectly. While this level is inspired by Angel Island, there are some limitations that slightly hinder the experience. The rocks don’t break apart when you hit them and there are no real enemies to be found. Instead, your main goal is to find all seven chaos emeralds scattered throughout the level. This gives you a major incentive to explore. If you don’t get all of the emeralds before finishing the level, it asks you to try again, basically giving you the bad ending.

While I would have liked to have seen some enemies in the level, Pico Sonic is a surprisingly charming fan game that shows that Sonic can still work as a game even on very low-powered hardware (or in this case, emulated low-powered hardware.) I’m hoping to see Pico Sonic return to SAGE next year with some more updates.

SAGE 2021 Hands-On With Sonic Rush 3D

Sonic Rush has always been my favorite portable (non-Switch) Sonic game, so to hear there was a demo of it done in full 3D interested me greatly. After playing the demo, I will say it resembles Sonic Unleashed as much as it does Sonic Rush. It’s also a fun ride that needs a bit of work.

Project directors ChickenWingJohnny, EnderElectrics, and Temzy have done an impressive job taking Sonic Rush’s low-poly 3D graphics into a fully 3-D environment. It includes the same boost and trick system as the DS original, but with a modern touch taken from Sonic Unleashed levels like Windmill Isle and Jungle Joyride. The level environment in the game is a mix of those two levels and Water Palace from Sonic Rush. This felt appropriate, as the background of Water Palace has always reminded me of Apotos/Windmill Isle.


In fact, in the opening cutscene, it’s Apotos that Sonic tells Tails he’s dropping into as in this version, Water Palace and Apotos are connected! This cutscene also perfectly encapsulate what I love about this game’s visual style: it replicates the low poly models and low res textures of the DS original. I love it when newer games combine retro 3D visuals with modern HD resolutions. It helps give it a sharpness while still having a dated look. As you jump into the level, a nice mix of “Back to Back” by Hideki Naganuma and “Windmill Isle Act 1” by Tomoya Ohtani plays as you run down, hit your first bumper, and attack some badniks in mid-air.

This moment is where the first problem lies: Sonic Rush 3D has very poor homing attack implementation. When attacking badniks or pawn bots, Sonic’s targeting reticle has to be on-screen. If he hits an enemy and pops up into the air, the robot in front will often be just out of view, and when you tap “A” again, Sonic will pass right over the enemy if the timing is just slightly off. It’s partially due to Sonic’s wonky physics in this game. At times, he controls well, at other times, you can boost off a ramp and fly through the air, missing where you’re supposed to land. You can also easily run onto walls and pathways you’re not meant to go to. This could lead to some shortcuts for speedruns, but also lead to drops and deaths that are entirely not your fault.

Despite them standing right in front of you, you can easily miss them.

The same cannot be said for Sonic’s drifting controls, which are perfect. When playing Unleashed or Generations, I always felt Sonic’s drifting had him sliding too far. In this game, you have perfect control of the blue blur when drifting into corners. I was impressed with how well it worked. The boost works decently as well, resembling its visuals from the DS game.

However, moments where the boost is actually needed are few and far in between. You can go through most of the game at a fairly decent clip without boosting at all. There are a few exceptions, like a rush of water you have to outrun and a lower path near the end where you need to slide under then boost again to avoid drowning. There’s also a hallway of pawn bots you can plow through with it. If you want to add some flash to your playthrough, you can press the “Y” button repeatedly after being launched off a ramp or spring. This lets you do the same trick maneuvers as the DS original, and even ends the same way, with a flicky flourish animation. That’s a nice visual touch!

Easter Egg?

While it’s definitely rough around the edges in its current state, Sonic Rush 3D is pretty fun. I can’t wait to see Sonic Rush 3D come back next year with more updates, along with some fixes to its physics. It feels like an Unleased de-make as much as a Sonic Rush remake. I think “Sonic Rush Unleashed” might be a better name for this project. Now, they just need to add Blaze the Cat into the mix.

You can find the SAGE demo of Sonic Rush 3D on the official SAGE 2021 website.

Submissions Are Now Open For The 2021 Sonic Hacking Contest

It is that time of the year again. In 2 months, the 2021 Sonic Hacking Contest begins. And if you have been in the process of creating an entry for this year, then you will want to get ready. The SHC 2021 website is open, and you can now send in your submissions.

Continue reading Submissions Are Now Open For The 2021 Sonic Hacking Contest

Sonic Streamers Plan to Run Through Sandopolis Zone 601 Times Back-to-Back

What’s that age-old saying… “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again”? Well, a UK-based Sonic fan is taking that phrase a little too literally, as he and a group of mates have announced a plan to race through the first Act of Sonic & Knuckles’ Sandopolis Zone more than 600 times in a row! That’s very brave!

Continue reading Sonic Streamers Plan to Run Through Sandopolis Zone 601 Times Back-to-Back

Fang the Sniper or Nack the Weasel? Character Creator TOUMA Explains The Two Names

Depending on which region you grew up in, you might have come to know one of Sonic Triple Trouble’s main antagonists as either Fang the Sniper in Japan or Nack the Weasel in the west. But why the two names? Character creator ‘TOUMA’, explained to fans via twitter this week as to the origin of the two aliases, amongst other bits of character information!

Continue reading Fang the Sniper or Nack the Weasel? Character Creator TOUMA Explains The Two Names

Hydrocity Zone Act II Theme Gets Funky With This Big Band Cover!

Nothing beats a good bit of funk – especially when it’s a big band cover version of the theme to Sonic the Hedgehog 3’s Hydrocity Zone!

Composer Tyler Mire leads a big band ensemble complete with reeds, horns, and rhythm section in this phenomenal tribute to one of the greatest 16-bit era Sonic sounds. You’ll want to listen to this more than once to properly aborb all of the layers to this!

Tyler Mire on Youtube

Submit Your Questions for Mike Pollock and Johnny Gioeli for Race for Good 2021

Do you have a burning question to ask legendary voice actor Mike Pollock? Or perhaps you want to know what Crush 40 vocalist and rock star Johnny Gioeli’s perfect Sunday is? Well, you now have the perfect opportunity to ask! As part of the Race for Good 2021 event, Mike and Johnny will be available to answer your questions in a Q&A on June 26th – and from today you can submit your questions for them both.

Continue reading Submit Your Questions for Mike Pollock and Johnny Gioeli for Race for Good 2021

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?

This Zoetrope Sonic Cake is Way Past Cool!

There have been many famous and infamous Sonic cakes seen on the internet over the years. Some “Special”, some traumatizing, and some… different. But this zoetrope cake made for a 2-year-old’s birthday really takes the…. y’know.

Continue reading This Zoetrope Sonic Cake is Way Past Cool!

Sonic Game Speedruns Are Back For Summer Games Done Quick 2021 Online

For the second year in a row, Summer Games Done Quick is going to be an online-only event. But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t going to be any speed-runs. And for Sonic fans, you’ll be able to see some speed-runs of 5 different Sonic games this year.

Continue reading Sonic Game Speedruns Are Back For Summer Games Done Quick 2021 Online

Race for Good 2021 Announced for Sonic’s Birthday Week, Featuring Special Guests Mike Pollock and Johnny Gioeli

Sonic community streamers Andy ‘The British Andy’ Wilson and Pete ‘TitansCreed’ Nethercote have formally announced the next ‘Race For Good’ charity event, and this time around, they’ve brought company – along with interviews with special guests Mike Pollock and Johnny Gioeli!

Continue reading Race for Good 2021 Announced for Sonic’s Birthday Week, Featuring Special Guests Mike Pollock and Johnny Gioeli

Fans Seek to Continue Sonic Boom Themselves Through Project M2

A bunch of Sonic fans have gotten together to resurrect Sonic Boom as a YouTube series. Called “Project M2,” the fan show is already well underway, with locations, character riggings, and storyboards in the process of being made.

They’ve announced the project alongside a Patreon, which will allow them to cover costs already incurred. Anyone who pledges $20 or more will gain access to work-in-progress assets, such as the aforementioned locations, character riggings, and storyboards, of which more than 20 are already available. According to the people behind the project, the Patreon funds are only meant to cover the cost of production, and the completed episodes will be made available for free to everyone on YouTube.

While they largely seek to stay true to the show, they will be integrating their own ideas into a few things, mostly in the set design.

All of this was announced via a YouTube video. The guy explaining the info does a remarkably good Roger Craig Smith Sonic impression, so it’s probably safe to assume he’ll be doing the voice for the show! Check out their Patreon here, and their announcement video below:

Save the Date! SAGE 2021 Starts August 21

This year’s Sonic Amateur Gaming Expo will be coming a bit earlier than it has in recent years: it’ll be running from August 21 to August 27. In addition to the start date, SAGE also revealed their new logo and tagline for the year, which you can check out in the tweet below:

SAGE is a long running Sonic fan game expo that celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. You can check out our coverage of last year’s SAGE here.

Watch this INCREDIBLE Upscaled Sonic CD Opening!

An incredible cleaned and upscaled version of the Sonic CD opening has been released by Sonic Retro members Tanks and Quazza – you can watch the full remaster below on Youtube!

This consciencious upscaling utilises AI, which while the authors acknowledge is controversial to those communities working on archiving genuine articles, is a wonderful way to get around issues with compression that are intrinsic to versions that have appeared on the likes of Mega Collection.

Quazza has also made an interesting discovery in that a few frames in the OP appear out of order – and here’s his comparison:

We think this is a wonderful piece of work bringing new life to a much-loved piece of Sonic the Hedgehog history.

Source: Sonic Retro

Artist Creates Sonic the Hedgehog “Artwork Countdown” For 30th Anniversary

Since June last year, artist and animator Keith Stack has been creating a unique piece of Sonic the Hedgehog fan art each day and posting them via Twitter, in order to count down to the 30th anniversary.

Stack’s pieces range from hillarious parodies to clever commentaries on current events, as well as some wonderful tributes to an incredible cross-section of references to obscure corers of the Sonic series and beyond (we particularly love the very “Bri’ish” take on Sonic the Comic!).

Check out some of our favourites below!

You can view the rest of Stack’s artwork on his Twitter account.

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A Sonic-Themed Playground opens in Brazil

Lookout, Super Nintendo World! Sonic’s got his own themed land too! Albeit much, much smaller, and inside a mall.

Badnik Mechanic’s youtube page has reported on a Sonic-themed playground inside the Vila Vella shopping mall in Brazil. The playground has rings to jump through slides, checkered tubes, obstacle courses, and more, all with a Sonic theme around it. It uses a Green Hill background and cardboard cutouts of Sonic, Eggman, and Tails from different eras. Whether this playground has Sega’s blessing or not remains to be seen.

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

Someone Made a Working VHS Copy of the Sonic Movie and It’s Unbelievably Retro

Sure, the internet is great for movies and all, but remember when we used to watch things on physical media? No, not your Blu-ray or DVD nonsense, we’re talking good old fashioned VHS tapes! … What? ‘What’s a VHS, grandpa?’ Why, naturally it was… um, actually VHS wasn’t all that great, but today the ancient format was made ten times cooler, because someone managed to make their own homemade VHS copy of the Sonic movie!

Continue reading Someone Made a Working VHS Copy of the Sonic Movie and It’s Unbelievably Retro

Everybody is Going Crazy Over This Japanese VTuber Playing Classic Sonic Games

If you’re old (like us) or have been living under a rock (like us), you’re probably unaware of the latest streaming craze that’s swept the internet – ‘VTubers’. And this week, the internet has been going gaga over one particular hyper-popular virtual icon who’s on a quest to play all of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games for the very first time.

Continue reading Everybody is Going Crazy Over This Japanese VTuber Playing Classic Sonic Games

Check Out This PHENOMENAL Sonic Mania Studiopolis Zone Guitar Cover!

We love to get technical, especially when it comes to some amazing fretwork in Sonic the Hedgehog covers! Guitar virtuoso RichaadEB has set him self the immense task of covering Tee Lopes’ toe-tapping theme to Studiopolis Zone Act 1 – and what an incredible job he has done!

Continue reading Check Out This PHENOMENAL Sonic Mania Studiopolis Zone Guitar Cover!

Sonic 1 Prototype Now Available to Play for the First Time

Sonic fans will be able to play an actual Sonic 1 prototype for first time ever, courtesy of video game preservation and archivist group Hidden Palace. Hidden Palace, which held a month devoted to Sonic prototypes last year and released three more Sonic prototypes just yesterday, debuted the prototype on the Twitch account hours ago.

Continue reading Sonic 1 Prototype Now Available to Play for the First Time

Prototypes for Four Sonic Games, Including SA2 & Sonic 1, Released

Hidden Palace, a video game preservation and archival group, has released prototypes for Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Spinball, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, and Sonic 1 to the public. These prototypes show what these games were like months before they were completed and released. This gives us insight into the game’s development, often featuring content that was cut or altered in the final release.

Continue reading Prototypes for Four Sonic Games, Including SA2 & Sonic 1, Released

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.

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.

SHC 2020: If You Want Another Sonic Lost World Level, Dead Lines Gives You What U Need

The hacking community isn’t just about Sonic Mania and crazy versions of the 16-bit Sonic games. There are plenty for the 3D games as well, including one by hacker AnotherBlob that takes Windy Hill Zone 1 from Sonic Lost World and turns it into a version of Dead Line Zone from Sonic Rush. While AnotherBlob admitting to rushing it out to meet the Sonic Hacking Contest deadline (ha), it’s a quality mod, though there’s some room for improvement.

Most of the level consists of small platforms and ramps floating in space that end with a fenced tunnel similar to the ones from original Dead Line level. Like any good Sonic level, Dead Line has its share of extra paths and shortcuts. One such path is small, blue ramp that you’ll find early in the level. If you spindash and aim just right, you’ll roll high off the ramp and over a large chasm, giving you a shortcut. There’s also a small, grinding section with some robots on the side, attack them and you can find a tube that will launch you high up to the top of some buildings where more badniks await. 

There are also five hidden red rings, which can be tricky to get to. I’ve only managed to find three in my time with the game, to give you an idea of how hard they can be to get. I got the first when spindashing over that chasm I mentioned earlier, one high up top of a building, and found another on the parkour tunnel near the exit. The level has some good replayability, as there are red rings and paths I still haven’t found even after several playthroughs.

While the level uses textures inspired by the DS original, and utilizes the level’s original music track, Hideki Naganuma’s What U Need, it’s also far from being an accurate 3D adaptation of the stage. The layout is very different and of course, this being a Lost World level, there’s no boost. As a result, this is more of a homage to the level than anything else.

The level has some difficult portions, such as one area where I had to spindash up a steep hills while avoiding spikes and Moro bugs. There is a long parkour tunnel to get through at the end that requires mastery of Sonic’s parkour ability. I stink at parkour and I’m not the best at wall-running, so it took me several tries. The difficulty’s fair, but it’ll definitely test your Lost World skills.

For all it does right, the level does have an issue caused by the flat, blue texture covering most of the structures. At one point, this texturing made it hard to get out of a large area where I had to run up a slope, but couldn’t see the way out. Some more texturing on the structures to make the exits more apparent would be nice, and I hope we’ll get that in a future update.

Texturing issues aside, Dead Line is a solid, well built Lost World level. It requires the full range of Sonic’s parkour moves, which can make it pretty difficult or anyone who hasn’t mastered his moves. It’s good for being a rushed project, and I look forward to seeing what the developer is able to do with more time. If you want more Lost World, you can’t go wrong here.

The Votes Are In! Here Are The Winners Of The 2020 Sonic Hacking Contest

The 2020 Sonic Hacking Contest has come to an end. After a week of live streams, videos, and articles, it is time to hand out trophies to the winners. These entries stood out from the crowd and achieved the highest in quality. Some of them even managed to win multiple trophies.

Continue reading The Votes Are In! Here Are The Winners Of The 2020 Sonic Hacking Contest

SHC 2020: We’ve Gone Full Circle With Sonic Megamix Mania

Our 2020 Sonic Hacking Contest coverage continues as we look at another Sonic Mania mod demo that’s available to download, and it’s another one with plenty of content. It’s time to take a look at Sonic Megamix Mania.

Continue reading SHC 2020: We’ve Gone Full Circle With Sonic Megamix Mania