SAGE 2002 saw the debut of a triple threat from Gameplay Studio - a development outfit formed by Matt the Yak. The first of the bunch, called Beyond Sonic, naturally does not include Sonic as a playable character in the demo. Makes total sense. Yep.
Instead of the blue blur, Beyond Sonic seems to star Knuckles, and Knuckles only at the moment. But that's probably a good thing - it's always nice to let someone else have the spotlight sometimes. And now it's Knuckles' turn.
The demo revealed six playable levels - including fun mini games such as 'avoid sharp pointy things'. Playing the game was very pleasant indeed - it all ran at a smooth pace, and while Knuckles' standard gliding moveset is present, it works slightly differently here. As you start to glide, you shoot up in the air and then start to descend, which means that tall obstacles can be overcome with a degree of ease.
The basic goal of many of these levels were simply to get the end, but some of the stages also had alternative challenges. For example, the 'Find the Emerald Shards' gimmick has returned, much to many people's disgrace... including even Knuckles! Some levels that ask you to get to the end sometimes end up becoming a bit more complex than that. The stage goal is not always at the far right of the screen either, which encourages some exploration too.
Right then, niggle time. It always happens. ^_^ In some cases, the animation of the characters are not up to scratch 100% of the time. You'll find yourself going a bit 'off' because the animations are a bit jumpy. Some of the stage design is quite bland too, such as the first few levels. On top of that, the odd control mechanism to make Knuckles glide (you have to jump, then press another button to glide) sometimes does your fingers in - a chance to modify that before release would be nice on the thumb.
These niggles are pretty much nothing compared to what you're getting though - a great comedy title, with some good gameplay thrown into the mix. Even the Emerald hunting doesn't seem that much of a chore. If this is the standard when we get the final version, this'll be a sleeper hit.
- Original music
- Differing level goals
- Great comedy value
- Jumpy animations - why?
- Controls are a bit awkward
- Level sparsity (is that a word?)