Sonic Mania: The Twitter Experience

While Sonic Mania is taking many gamers back in time to the nineties, much about the Sonic hype experience is very different to that enjoyed some twenty-plus years ago. One of the biggest changes to the gaming experience has been the emergence of social media, which allows developers, critics and fans to react and interact in a way that simply did not exist back when Sonic was rocking in 16-bit.

As the reception of Sonic Mania has been nothing short of phenomenal, we thought we’d take some choice posts from Twitter as a roundup –  we hope you enjoy!

Needless to say, this post will have some spoilers from the game.

First up, a collection of tweets from Sonic Mania’s developers, including former Sonic Stadium staffer and Sonic Mania’s level designer Brad Flick:

Naturally, some former Archie Sonic artists and writers had some things to say about the game. Artist Jon Gray (who worked as an artist on Archie Sonic, as well as much behind the scenes until his departure a few years ago) and Ian Flynn (Archie Sonic’s primary writer for over a decade, and the man who first put Bean, Bark and Nack/Fang together as a trio), also commented on the game’s release:

It is no secret that online games media hasn’t exactly had many kind words to say about Sonic over the last decade and a half. While many games have generally received reasonable scores, they’ve tended to focus on the poorer offerings. Here, I’ll be highlighting some tweets from both general gaming media as well as Sonic/SEGA news people and websites. The reaction to Mania’s release has ranged from glowing to downright perplexing, from the controversial “Sonic games have never been good” sentiments to some funny observations.

While I’ve enjoyed highlighting some tweets from Sonic creatives and games media people, the true highlight of my Sonic Mania twitter experience has definitely been the fan reactions – often the hardest demographic to please when it comes to Sonic games. I’ve also gone ahead and included some artists who posted their gorgeous fan art:

Do you have any favorite twitter reactions to Sonic Mania? Let us know in the comments!

Turn it Up and Get Down to Stardust Speedway Act 1 from Sonic Mania

In the preorder trailer that debuted two months ago, we caught a glimpse of another returning Zone to Sonic Mania in the familiar form of Stardust Speedway. The hallmark stage from Sonic CD where the Blue Blur finally confronts Metal Sonic became a fan-favourite for its differing yet memorable theme tunes between time zones and regional releases, courtesy of Naofumi Hataya and Spencer Nilsen.

Continue reading Turn it Up and Get Down to Stardust Speedway Act 1 from Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania: Behind the Scenes Panel from San Diego Comic Con

Check out the Sonic Mania panel at 2017 to get all the details we couldn’t cover! Join host Aaron Webber with guests, Takashi Iizuka, Christian Whitehead, Tee Lopes, Tom Fry, and Simon Thomley as we get more details on what went into this game.Get the full scoop on the game, check out some wacky glitches and the fan Q&A it’s all here! Continue reading Sonic Mania: Behind the Scenes Panel from San Diego Comic Con

SDCC Sonic Mania Panel Roundup & Special Stage Reveal

San Diego Comic Con played host to the Sonic Mania Development team yesterday, in a panel that included Takashi Iizuka, programmers Christian Whitehead and Simon Thomley, alongside lead artist Tom Fry, composer Tee Lopes and SEGA community manager Aaron Webber. Our man in the field Jason Berry was at the panel, and captured the events as they happened via The Sonic Stadium Twitter. Continue reading SDCC Sonic Mania Panel Roundup & Special Stage Reveal

Additional Members of Sonic Mania Dev Team Revealed

Following Sonic Mania‘s success at E3 (and nominations for multiple awards at the event) come the revelations of more of those involved in the game’s development…and it really is a who’s who of some of the most prominent talent in the Sonic the Hedgehog community! Continue reading Additional Members of Sonic Mania Dev Team Revealed

The Spin: Sonic Maniacs In The Making

In more than ten years of writing for The Sonic Stadium, this article has by far consumed the most time, and required the most revisions. I guess this is because sometimes it’s hard to really convey what you mean when you’re in love, and I can say without a doubt that I am already in love with Sonic Mania. Continue reading The Spin: Sonic Maniacs In The Making

Sonic Mania is Now ESRB-Certified for All Platforms Except Nintendo Switch

Receiving news about a delay for a video game is a bittersweet occasion. On one hand, it means having to wait all the longer for a game’s already highly anticipated release as its launch is pushed further ahead, but on the other hand, one can’t really complain about extra polish to ensure greater quality from the final product. Continue reading Sonic Mania is Now ESRB-Certified for All Platforms Except Nintendo Switch

Rumour: Sonic Mania to Include Animated Cut Scenes?

Sonic Mania continues to build levels of excitement in our senior staffers not seen since the nineties; we’ve adored every little element and reveal of what is set to be a fitting homage to Saturn/Genesis/Megadrive-era Sonic, lovingly crafted by the Mania team. Continue reading Rumour: Sonic Mania to Include Animated Cut Scenes?

Check Out Tee Lopes’ Fresh New Sonic Mania Remix for Green Hill Act 2

It’s no secret by now that Sonic Mania will be borrowing many classic elements from the Blue Blur’s genesis years to shape up for one hell of a throwback experience. One of these elements that will no doubt delight Sonic 3 & Knuckles fans is how Tee Lopes has been composing the game’s soundtrack, as SEGA already confirmed that each Act of a given stage will be given a unique musical score. Continue reading Check Out Tee Lopes’ Fresh New Sonic Mania Remix for Green Hill Act 2

New Enemy Character and Green Hill Zone 2 Revealed for Sonic Mania

The Sonic the Hedgehog social media pages have revealed the origin of yesterday’s teaser image of a leg, with the owner of the appendage being a new Badnik on the Block, named Heavy Gunner. HG is part of the Hard Boiled Heavies, who while no further detail was given, will no doubt be antogonists of Sonic and friends in the new game. Continue reading New Enemy Character and Green Hill Zone 2 Revealed for Sonic Mania

UPDATE: Sonic CD Becomes Free-to-Play on iOS, Forces Users to Pay to Remove Ads

UPDATE: SEGA has reached out to us with their statement on the error, telling us that the issue has been resolved!

As part of a special promotion, Sonic CD is now free with ads (regularly priced at $2.99) from the App Store. For players who previously purchased Sonic CD, ads were mistakenly added to their game. This was not intended and the issue has now been resolved. Players will need to update to the latest version of Sonic CD (2.0.1) on the App Store. We apologize for the error.

Original story continues below.

Continue reading UPDATE: Sonic CD Becomes Free-to-Play on iOS, Forces Users to Pay to Remove Ads

UPDATE: New Sonic Mania Footage Reveals a Familiar Desert Zone, and Tails and Knuckles Playability

UPDATE Oct. 27: Additional commentary-free footage of Mirage Saloon, Tails, and Knuckles has been added to the original story, courtesy of Polygon and GameSpot.

At the 25th anniversary party, the debuting Sonic Mania trailer confirmed that Tails and Knuckles would be returning as playable characters for the retro celebration title. Today, we finally have footage of the pair, along with the reveal of a brand new desert-type Zone, seemingly inspired by the cut Desert Dazzle stage from the Sonic CD remaster. Continue reading UPDATE: New Sonic Mania Footage Reveals a Familiar Desert Zone, and Tails and Knuckles Playability

Three Weeks Remain for Limited Edition Sonic Mania T-Shirts on Amazon

Sonic Mania keeps looking better the more we see from it, and all the more so with every little bit of footage sprinkling forward towards its Spring 2017 release. With that in mind, what if we looked better the more Sonic Mania we have on ourselves? Your dreams can come true today, as SEGA is selling a pair of official Mania T-shirts through Amazon – a Studiopolis Zone-based shirt and a “Triple Theat” tee starring icons of the game’s three playable characters.

However, this promotion is running for this month only, up until September 30th, and at the moment is only available through Amazon US. The Studiopolis tee, as well as a Triple Threat design with the Sonic Mania logo printed on it, were previously available on Amazon UK, though their listings appear to have vanished.

Have a closer look at the shirts themselves in the gallery below!

Continue reading Three Weeks Remain for Limited Edition Sonic Mania T-Shirts on Amazon

New Sonic Mania Footage from PAX West Shows off More of Green Hill and Studiopolis

Sonic Mania is the return to form classic fans have sought after for years, and expectations are high since its debut appearance at the 25th anniversary party in San Diego, revealing a remixed Green Hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog as well as a brand new stage with Studiopolis Zone. With this year’s PAX West winding down, more footage from the game has surfaced, all direct feed and featuring both Zones on full display!

Check out GameXplain and Polygon’s differing playthroughs of these levels after the jump, and be sure to leave us your thoughts in the comments.

Continue reading New Sonic Mania Footage from PAX West Shows off More of Green Hill and Studiopolis

Unused “Desert Dazzle” Stage Image Found in New Sonic CD Port

After an earlier hint with the numbers ’32’ and ‘8’ from Christian Whitehead aka The Taxman, fans have discovered an hidden image in the newly released Sonic CD port that reveals an unused stage called Desert Dazzle. In response to the find, Whitehead has explained at the Sonic Retro forums that this re-release was originally going to feature two new levels: Desert Dazzle and a boss fight called Final Fever. The levels were cut because Sonic Team “felt the game should not deviate too far from it’s original form”.

Oh boy…

So what is this image doing in Sonic CD?

Basically, earlier on in the remake’s development there were 2 new levels: Desert Dazzle & Final Fever (another boss)

Neither level was fully complete, and we had to make the call whether or not to go ahead and finalize them. Sonic Team felt the game should not deviate too far from it’s original form, and in retrospect it was for the best since we had a lot of other work to do anyway.

I left this image in since it’s quite a groovy looking Zone, and it also serves as a way for you to get to the stage select as Tails.

Source: Sonic Retro

Thanks to Christmas Doggy at the SSMB for the heads up!

US Soundtrack Option Confirmed for Sonic CD Port

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XocqXz6UH4s&feature=channel_video_title

Three new videos of the Xbox Live Arcade version of the upcoming Sonic CD port have hit the net courtesy of YouTube user The360Preview. In the above gameplay preview video we can see an option for the US soundtrack, which is kind of odd considering SEGA had previously stated that there were copyright issues with those tracks, but Christian Whitehead has confirmed over at Sonic Retro under his online tag ‘The Taxman’ that the US soundtrack is indeed present in this port.

Haha far out, not exactly sure how this was filmed and by who (PartnerNET strikes again)?

But yes, oh ye of little faith. US soundtrack is in, and also loops seamlessly like the JP version in this game.

Opening
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHLoXLCVIW4&feature=channel_video_title

Ending
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87V5pOM72tY&feature=channel_video_title

Sources: The360Preview YouTube channel and Christian Whitehead @ Sonic Retro

Thanks to Blue Blood at the SSMB for the heads up!

Ken Balough Speaks On PartnerNET Version of Sonic CD

Late last month, a game-testing friend of mine hopped on Twitter and talked about what he was going to be testing on PartnerNET that day.  Sonic CD was one of the games and he was disappointed with what was a 4:3, 30 FPS demo with performance issues.  Well, that Tweet made its way around and some confusion ensued, especially since the news of Christian Whitehead’s involvement in the port was made known a few days prior.  (Fact checking, how does it work?)

While the PAX demo of Sonic CD cleared up some of that confusion, Sonic CD Brand Manager Ken Balough gave me a ring this afternoon, wanting to make everything clear.  “The version of Sonic CD developed by Christian Whitehead has never been on PartnetNET.  The PAX version that is widescreen and runs at 60 FPS is the version,” said Balough.

SEGA has been susceptible to PartnerNET leaks in the past, but the version of Sonic CD on the service was never meant to be for private testing, let alone known to the public.   Balough noted, “The PartnerNET build wasn’t created by Sonic Team.  It was something that we were playing around with to see if a port would work.  It was never intended to be played by anybody outside of the company.  When we were thinking seriously about this project, we started looking at talented developers.  That’s where Christian, his Retro-Engine and Sonic Team come in.”

“It’s a non-story at the end of the day.”  Words we’ve heard many times.  Many, many times.

Christian Whitehead Confirms Sonic CD Port Involvement, SEGA Gives More Details

Christian Whitehead (aka The Taxman) confirmed to Sonic Retro upon the official unveiling of the Sonic CD port on Thursday that his Retro Engine is powering the game. Whitehead also says the game will feature a proper looping soundtrack and an option to play using the original Sonic CD Spin Dash or one similar to Sonic 2. You can see the Retro Engine running a proof of concept demo of Sonic CD on an iPod Touch in the above video Whitehead recorded back in 2009.

UPDATE: Sonic Retro has informed us that it was actually SEGA’s Ken Balough that was interviewed below, not Patrick Riley.

In other news, SSMB and Sonic Retro forum member Shade Vortex attended PAX 2011 and interviewed SEGA staff member Ken Balough about this new Sonic CD port and got some interesting bits of information. You can read the full details below courtesy of Sonic Retro.

SONIC 2 SPIN DASH AND MUSIC

Regarding the functionality of the Sonic 2 spindash, Riley said that the feature could still be removed from the final game if it is found to cause problems within the game, going on to say that developers shouldn’t talk about features so early on for this reason.

More on that point, when asked about the inclusion of the U.S. soundtrack, Riley stated that it is not currently planned for use in the full release, due to licensing issues in using Spencer Nilsen’s soundtrack. However, Sega is trying to work around that and come up with a solution. Meaning, if an agreement is reached, this may include paid DLC, if the game can support it. For now, the game is International soundtrack only.

DOING THE TIME WARP IN THE TIMELINE

When asked about the curious use of Sonic 4 assets in the reveal trailer for the game, Riley confirmed that Sega has retrofitted Sonic CD‘s place in the timeline as after Sonic 3 and Knuckles but before Sonic 4: Episode 1. The rationale behind this was that Sonic CD’s developers never put any direct mention of Sonic CD‘s place in the timeline.

Even if a slight nod to its place exists within the original game itself.

So how exactly does this work? When Sonic CD is released later this year and Sonic 4: Episode 2 is announced, there will be a trailer where Sonic escapes from his time-travelling detour. In all the Sonic 4 trailers, Sonic is chasing Eggman from the left of the screen to the right. In the Sonic CD trailer, there’s a signpost instead, and when he hits it, he takes a detour and does the story of Sonic CD. Once his CD adventure is over, his detour ends, and he goes onto Sonic 4: Episode 2, coming out sometime next year.

Wait… so Sonic 4: Episode 1 happens, Sonic CD, then Sonic 4: Episode 2? I guess this fits with the whole “after Sonic 3 and Knuckles” thing, but wouldn’t this technically make it a side-sequel to Sonic 4: Episode 1 then? Just hit me with the Hazama cameo. Blast you and your odd time travel logic, Sega!

Opinion injection aside, there’s one more point that was tackled.

SONIC 4: EPISODE 2 RUNNING ON THE RETRO ENGINE?

With The Taxman’s earlier details revealing that Sega now owns a license to his Retro Engine, used to power the popular fan game Retro Sonic Nexus, fan speculation rocketed if Sonic 4: Episode 2 will throw away the criticized physics engine it used in favor for the Retro Engine.

And with the precision of Sonic shooting down one of Eggman’s many airships, Riley responded with a flat “No,” continuing by saying that Sonic 4 “will never” use the Retro Engine because the code base is incompatible with the existing Sonic 4 engine, which they are still using for Episode 2.

Hopefully with quite a few tweaks and lessons learned from Sonic Generations. I know, opinion injection again. My apologies.

Special thanks to Shade Vortex for conducting the interview because some of us couldn’t make it to PAX this year.

Source: Sonic Retro – Link 1, Link 2

What are your thoughts on this information? Let us and others know in the comments section below.

Interview: Sonic XG’s Christian Whitehead

If you’re not involved in the Sonic fangaming/hacking community, or even the fan community at large, you might have heard of or seen either Sonic XG or Retro-Sonic at one point or another while perusing forums and websites. Both titles are not only fantastic re-creations of classic 2D-Sonic, but they are influential to others wishing to do the same. At the 2007 Sonic Amateur Games Expo, both of these titles were among the best of the lot, but were each lacking in a department that the other excelled in. XG had extraordinary graphics and design. Retro-Sonic prided itself on its far-superior engine.

Soon after, these projects combined to form a fangaming juggernaut. The perfect Sonic engine and the definitive fan-sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles merged to become “Retro-Sonic XG.” However, the buzz was short lived. The RSXG team, Christian Whitehead (Taxman), Euan Gallacher (Sir Euan), and Joseph Waters (Nitemare) are rarely heard from and thus, XG gradually vanished… until today.

The creator of the Retro-Sonic engine, Whitehead, re-surfaced when it was announced that my Sonic project, Sonic Nexus, would also be using the engine, thus creating the “Retro-Sonic Series.” The 2008 demo of Nexus motivated Whitehead to construct a brand new version of Retro-Sonic, one that would optimize the development of both games. After the successful launch of Nexus’ demo, Christian retuned to Retro-Sonic XG. Now that months of work has been put into the title, he’s ready to unveil new information and screenshots with the world. Click the image thumbnails to make them full-size.

BF: Welcome to the TSS Interview of Christian Whitehead, Christian Whitehead.

Christian Whitehead: Thanks?

BF: OK, let’s begin with the question that is on every RSXG fan’s mind.  The project has been out of the community’s conscience for the past year or two.  Nobody knows if it’s dead or alive.  When you joined the Nexus team, that raised further suspicions that you had left the project.  Could you assure the readers and the community at large that RSXG is alive and well?

CW: Yes, I can.  As most people know, a fair portion of development time in 2008 was spent creating the new revised edition of the Retro-Sonic engine, along with the RSDK and the 2008 Nexus demo. Before then, I had already converted a fair portion of the assets from Sonic XG into the 2007 version of Retro Sonic. While most people will groan at yet another engine change, this is the definitive change, and has already increased the productivity on the RSXG project. 2009 will be the year of Retro-Sonic XG though, as part 1 is slated for release, much in a similar vein to how Sonic 3 was released before Sonic & Knuckles.

BF: Part 1, eh?  So, we’ll see 6 of the 12 zones in Sonic XG this year?

CW: Yes. Rather than putting out another 1 level demo of Final Fall, I wanted to finish a ‘complete’ work of sorts… and half a game is a more realistic target to keep us motivated.

BF: That’s an idea worth stealing, if you’re a fangamer.

CW: Haha, yeah. Even as half a game, there will be a lot of content.  The aim is the same scope as Sonic 3, in terms of level sizes, bosses and the like.  Which I guess makes sense, since RSXG is a sort of spiritual sequel that picks up where Sonic 3 & Knuckles ended.

BF: Yes, RSXG does what a lot of “Sonic 4″ fangames wish that they could do, in my opinion.

CW: And there are a LOT of those.

BF: Tell me about it.  Now, after Nexus’ release, you talked about the new Retro-Sonic Development Kit (RSDK).  How does the new RSDK benefit the development of XG?

CW: One of the big benefits, I reckon, has been the improved stage editing tools within RSDK. It’s now much quicker to setup tile mappings and stuff, so the process of building all the level set pieces is much less tedious. The updated scripting system, ‘TaxReceipt,’ is also more powerful than before, which makes for some cool cutscenes, graphical effects, etc etc. We’re aiming for a level of graphical quality on par with the 32bit Sega Saturn.

BF: Excellent!  We talk about the RSDK, because we’re plenty familiar with it and how it works.  However, readers might not understand what we’re talking about.  What exactly is the Retro-Sonic Development Kit?

CW: Basically, the RSDK is a suite of tools that I created to design content for the Retro-Sonic engine. There are visual editors for Stages, Parallax, Tiles, Objects, etc. In addition there’s text based scripting with syntax hilighting and other additional setup menus for stuff like stage ordering and resource management. Since everything is scriptable, it’s actually possible to make games other than Sonic, too.

BF: I’m totally making a Socket fangame after Nexus then.

CW: Socket?

BF: Shitty Sonic clone with kickass music.

CW: Haha! Man, there’s a new Sonic clone discovered every minute isn’t there?

BF: Yeah, I should start ripping backgrounds from it and editing them to match my foreground tiles.  Nobody will notice!

CW: They will now.  You just said so.

BF: Well, damn.  Let’s move on from my flub and talk “Part 1.”  What are we going to see?  Levels, characters, features?  Give us the low down!

CW: Well, without giving too much away, you’ve got the standard triple threat of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles as playable characters.  There will be 6 zones: Final Fall, Peak Panic, Wood Works, Palm Paradiso, Scorched Spire and Robotic Resort, two of which some some keen players might recognize from their previous incarnations as Retro-Sonic levels. Also, the 7 chaos emeralds make an appearance, which means Special and Bonus Stages.  Finally, plenty of bosses will be ready to attack and a data select menu will save your progress.

BF: When part 2 is released far down the road, will players be able to merge their Part 1 data with Part 2’s data to make a SUPER game?

CW: Definitely, although to make it simpler, we’ll just provide the full game to download and players can just use their existing save file to continue where they left off.

BF: So, players will have to manually copy their data into the new EXE?  Sounds simple enough. Do you think people will manage to fuck that up?  Haha…

CW: Anything’s possible, haha.  I guess we can make an installer… but most people dislike that.

BF: Usually.  Everybody at SFGHQ hates that shit.

I’ve heard rumors that all the level art is completed.  Is it true that you’ll have to do no more graphical work for levels? I ask, because the level graphics always seem to be the hardest part for fangamers and hearing that all the level graphics are done will be a great sign of RSXG’s progress.

CW: Yes and no.  We have graphics for all the zones, but I guess things always get tweaked or updated as you go, due to new ideas that might come up or tile considerations due to the change from MMF2 to Retro-Sonic. But overall, yes, level graphics aren’t too much of a worry now.  In fact, it was one of the great benefits of the merge to me.

BF: It was a good choice.  Retro-Sonic got what XG lacked and vice-versa.  Who initiated the merger and were the level graphics a main reason that you decided to go along with it?

CW: Well, I was the one who extended the offer to Euan and Joseph. I was really impressed with the graphics, presentation and the overall feel of the game. They were paying attention to little details that I, up until that point, hadn’t had a chance to do in Retro-Sonic. I thought, “I should really be doing that!” Then, I considered that I’d only created graphics for about 3 of the Retro-Sonic levels and how much more work it’d take on top of all the other stuff I was doing. The merge just seemed like a good idea to me at the time, and when we had discussions about it, everything just seemed to click.

BF: What was the thought process behind joining up with the guys and I on Sonic Nexus?  Months before the release, I was as surprised as people were on release day on the news that Nexus and Retro-Sonic were joining forces.  You and Damizean were talking without my knowledge, as I never even considered asking you due to the XG merger.

CW: Haha, the fact you guys were considering using the Torque game builder? XD

BF: Oh…right.  Well, it looked like a good idea at the time.

CW: No, seriously… Torque?  XD

BF: It’s in the past. What’s it like working for two projects anyway?  Besides that fact that it is time consuming and probably sucks at times.

CW: Well, for one, I guess, it has been one of the main driving forces that made me do a final restructuring of the Retro-Sonic engine! At least that’s over and done with, but it keeps things fresh for me too, I suppose. If I get a creative block or am bored with one, I can switch to the other. :P

BF: Fair enough.  So, back to RSXG.  I remember seeing pictures of old builds that had appearances from classic Sonic antagonists, like Nack/Fang and Metal Sonic.  Are they still hanging around and/or other villians coming to the party?

CW: Well, everyone’s favorite Egg Garden boss will make a comeback… does that count? Seriously though, in terms of actual “intelligent characters” no, but there may be a few cameo appearances from a classic boss or two. ;)

BF: Coo’.  Well, I’m out of questions.  Do you think that I missed anything?

CW: Yeah, we’ve covered all that there is to know.

Visit the Retro-Sonic Homepage

Visit the old Sonic XG Homepage