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  • Sonic Team's E3 2003 Preview - The Full Roundup

    View the list of Sonic Team games that are being showcased at E3 2003.

    Sonic Team and Sega have released information on some of their newest games to hit your consoles, that will be showcased at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3). It marks Sonic's first appearance on a console other than a Nintendo one, and some tasty GameCube exclusives too. Take a look see...

    Sonic Heroes

    No screenshots have been released as of yet, but rumours are abound that, since Sonic Team are (allegedly) reluctant to ever make a 3D Sonic game again, that this will be a 2D action game for the blue blur. According to the press release, Sonic Heroes also marks Sonic's debut on PlayStation 2 and Xbox, which makes us a tad dubious, given the GameCube 'port over' treatment, without any exclusives for the majority of Sonic fans that actually bought Nintendo's console. Apparently however, like PSO, the GameCube version could be released well in advance of Microsoft and Sony's consoles.

    Sonic Adventure DX

    This one's a given really. You can catch the information in the Games Information Section. If you don't know yet, there'll be extra missions (meaning more emblems to collect), revitalised graphics and the whole Game Gear Sonic game catalogue. Sonic Team have done away with the overly-shiny graphics, which is great - let's hope the annoying camera converted from the Dreamcast version disappears sometime soon also.

    Phantasy Star Online Episode III: CARD Revolution

    A GameCube exclusive apparently, PSO returns for a third episode, only this time (a lot like the Game Boy Pokemon spin off game) you use playing cards for your offensive and defensive moves.

    It all sounds a lot like Lost Kingdoms really, and if it's not GameCube exclusive (meaning that Sonic Team may be able to implement a really cool link up with the GBA e-Reader by releasing a PSO Card Series), then this title really doesn't have much going for it. If it's on Xbox and PS2 as well for example, there's not much chance of an e-Reader link up happening, which can be the only appealing sounding part of this game.

    Nevertheless, we're intrigued. Naka-san hasn't done much wrong yet, so here's hoping... Judging by the only-released screen, the perspective of PSO Ep 3 seems to be turn-taking battling, harking back to classic Phantasy Star rather than free-style like every other PSO title to date. This can be either a good or bad thing depending on your viewpoint really. Still.

    Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg

    Very very nice indeed. After a couple of years of useless (to us fans anyway) ports to GameCube, we were wondering when, if ever, Sonic Team would get their imaginitive form back from the days of the Sega Saturn. It looks like our prayers are answered, with Billy Hatcher - which seems like a cross between an all-new 3D platformer and a Skies of Arcadia style RPG. These are just assumptions on our part though.

    You raise monsters from hatching them out of eggs and go on some random quest to save the world. Possibly. It looks like Sonic Team are going to expand their patented A-Life system through this game, previously used on Sonic Adventures 1 & 2's Chao creatures and also in NiGHTS' NiGHTopians. After Sonic Adventure DX, you'll be seeing the good old Sonic Team as it once was, Saturn and Dreamcast-era.

    Sonic Battle

    Sonic Battle is a fighting game starring Sonic. Yes. Call me pedantic, but it does sound like Sonic Team are trying to gain from HAL's Super Smash Bros. achievements here. But meh. The game itself is in an isometric 3D style, which is quite strange for a fighting game - it looks like a free-roaming fighter, much in the same vein as Smash Bros, but using a points system (unless that's merely one of the game modes).

    The sprites are updated Sonic Advance ones, but we question the Shadow sprite to a certain extent. Never mind. Without a '2D' handheld manic fighter in sight, it looks like Sonic could fill the gap of a GBA Smash Bros. Melee.

    Sonic Pinball Party

    It seems like most of you have forgotten about this game already! Save for some newly-released screens, there's not a lot more to go by on the information front: it's the spiritual successor to Sonic Spinball for the Game Boy Advance, only this time Sonic takes a step back and is merely part of the background. This game calls for some serious pinball! 'Sabbuse'!

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  • Latest Sonic News

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    • Wraith
      Okay, and why do you think "It's Mario" is a thing you can just say to equate to unprecedented staying power? Do you think the brand is just magic or did Nintendo earn that momentum, somehow?   In the fighting game community we've got this term known as the 'mental stack'. To some it up, the more mechanics the game gives you to worry about, the less you're going to be able to meaningfully keep track of them all, which can cause frustration. When platformers went 3D, the stack went from moving in 2 directions, to a near infinite amount with a camera that also had to be nursed and the new problem of depth perception. It sounds trivial for those of us that had been playing 3D games for a while, but it was a legitimate issue for developers, critics and players alike. Even Mario Sunshine was getting dinged for it's shoddy camera. If Nintendo can't figure it out everyone's in trouble. On the flipside, aiming and shooting a gun is remarkably simple and easy to understand. Controlling the camera is now where the majority of the gameplay lies instead of something you have to keep in mind along with your character, so it's intuitive in 3D the same way platformers used to be in 2D. With 3D platformers, the stack had become large enough to shave their universal appeal down by to a noticeable degree. Most developers, including Nintendo at a point, saw the decline in interest and incorrectly assumed they needed features from those other genres to keep up. What Nintendo eventually found when they released New Super Mario Bros on the DS and it outsold every 3D mario game up to that point, and most of the ones that would come after, was that the opposite was true. A big part of a platforming game's appeal is that it's easy for anyone watching to understand, pick up, and start making progress in without much overhead. It's also why the Mario Galaxy and 3D World games take place on pockets of level design instead of open fields. They were scaling down when the genre as a whole was getting too big and too unfocused on what actually made it interesting in the first place. You can't appeal to that same market when your platformer is also a beat em up shooter RPG with the most epic story ever and 7 unique characters. There's definitely a large niche for that, but not as large as 'simply move right and avoid danger' So yes, you literally do not need more than running and jumping to be successful. You can add whatever features you think you need to stand out, but you have a better shot if yo stick to some core principles. If Mario's not enough proof for you, there's a whole 2D platforming boom from both big companies and indies in the 10s serving as evidence while 3D platformers remained a seasonal thing. No one was sick of 'running and jumping' from every metric we can measure. Even Sonic Team themselves are aware of this to a degree. The boost gameplay is an incredibly streamlined version of the 3D Sonic we know and love, with a lot of things peeled out to focus on simplified platforming challenges. Say what you will about Sonic Colors, but it found more success than the Adventure titles despite the fandom hangups. With Megaman I'd link back to the example above. I think there's a reason 3D Megaman games aren't so common The game stayed 2D where dropping additional elements on top of the player is easier without overloading the stack. 3D shooter-platformer hybrids in general were rare, with Ratchet and Clank deciding to focus more on the shooting as it went and Metroid Prime committing more to platforming with it's lock on system. It's more common now to see shooters that expect you to juggle complex movement challenges with precise shooting mechanics, but just look at what respawn decided to prioritize when it came to transforming Titanfall 2 to Apex Legends. Titanfall 2 was focused heavily on movement, most of which was chopped clean out of Apex Legends for mass appeal. Blending shooting with running and jumping, as it happens, isn't so simple. Add the logistics of controlling Sonic to it and you get even more issues. Sonic isn't just a fast character that will stop on a dime if you ask him. He's also meant to be loose and imprecise to a certain degree. That fundamentally flies in the face of lining up a reticle exactly, and relying on auto-aim takes a lot of the fun of the genre away. It's why no one is thirsting for shooting mechanics back even though they were technically a part of every game in the 2000s. The concessions to get them to even work with sonic in the first place robbed them of their fun! You could argue Sonic Team could have kept working to make their unique take on shooting fun, and I agree. I've had several ideas over the years on how to salvage most of the alternate gameplay styles, but that doesn't change the reality of what we do get. Maybe Sonic Team had the vision all along and just needed more time to execute it or maybe they never had a clue. We'll never really know for sure, but the games they did release are locked in. I'm not saying genre blending isn't okay. Of course it's okay. The original Sonic games are an eclectic blend of platformer and pinball. You just have to consider what concessions you're making to accommodate both of them and whether you can still a fun game around that. Since Sonic was already a unique mix of genres, adding more onto the top is going to be more challenging problem to solve than most. It would take a more discerning, precise designer and I don't know if ST's ever had that instinct.
    • Stasis
      My thoughts having just completed the update. There is no way this is a side story; this is the true ending. Having not touched Frontiers for a while, jumping back in to the update comes as a surprise as the difficulty is exponentially more difficult. Sticking to just the main story path, the towers and trials just take some practice and it feels rewarding completing them, although Trial 5’s perfect parry is where things become unfair and is where I dropped the difficulty to easy, and even then took multiple tries of what seemed an impossible task. However, once you get attacks and patterns down it’s relatively straightforward. Everything that follows is a major overhaul that is only let down by some ill placed trees, a not so easy target to lock on to and a method to progress to the next phase that I triggered by chance after failing the first time. This now sits as one of the best finales to any Sonic game and is also complimented by keeping the original ending as both work together to tell a complete story.  While I’ve not dabbled too much on the map, it seems by talking to characters that a lot of the unanswered questions are now answered. The new characters are a bit of a shambles though, with paths seemingly usable with a selected character until reaching a certain point, Tails flight upgrade destroys map traversal (although fun) and they don’t quite gel with the games dynamics.    Overall, so far I’ve enjoyed the update. Is it perfect? Not at all. Was it a welcome addition to the game? Absolutely. There’s passion on display here for the first time in years and although the devs capabilities are kinda lacking or are being pushed due to constraints, it shows they want to push towards a bigger and better future.     
    • Wraith
      If they had distanced the narrative part of it away from frontiers some, or framed it as some sort of challenge pack with less narrative singificance, they could have had more leeway, but they made the active choice to frame it as the true ending of the game instead. An essential piece of the puzzle. Sonic Team only have themselves to blame if it sours the experience for anybody.
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