TSS Discuss: Sonic Boom

boom

It’s been a little while since Sonic Boom’s initial unveiling, which fans were surprised with a totally new branch of the Sonic franchise, boasting new character designs, a new video game, television show and merchandise. If you missed anything important this week, be sure to check out our Sum-Up Sunday where all the important stuff is noted down in one handy dandy article. Now as avid Sonic fans ourselves, some of the writing team of The Sonic Stadium wanted to weigh in on our own initial thoughts regarding this brand new, re-imagined Sonic, as well as the possibilities the future may hold for this brand of the franchise we know and love.

HoL

So, what do I think of all this? Well, let’s go back to the teaser last year. When they showed the silhouettes last year, I was really confused and concerned. Knuckles was the biggest concern with how he had a radically different shape then ever before. Sonic was also a bit concerning with the extra spikes, but Tails and Amy had pretty much no different changes, just different clothes, so that was fine to me. Also the news of the show made me worry it was going to be some cheap flash cartoon akin to My Little Pony, and I’m not crazy about modern flash cartoons, they just feel like a cop out and cheap work-around versus the traditional cel animation of old.

But I realized they indeed meant it was going to be CGI, so my imagination turned more towards Sonic’s peer Pac-Man who was also rebooted in the same way, and I’ll say this right now; I adore Pac-Man & the Ghostly Adventures, there I said it! Hey, it has Canadian voice actors (many of whom were in the old DiC Sonic cartoons, bet you didn’t know that!) and it’s written by Ken Pontac, go figure, he rocks in this show, not as much in the recent Sonic games.

So fast forward to the present and… I’m super excited! When we first got our taste via the leaked Sonic and Knuckles designs, I was really impressed, they looked closer to the modern designs than I expected, I was worried we were going to get Nickelodeon-esc designs.

So then finally the full unveiling came via the leaked trailer, and it indeed is the 3rd Nintendo exclusive! And I’ll say this right now also, that just makes it even more exciting to me, the fact that Sega’s putting what is arguably Sonic’s biggest evolution since Sonic Adventure 100% on Nintendo is just effing incredible. Kudos Sega, kudos.

I’m a diehard Nintendo fan and only play on Nintendo’s systems (I was introduced to Sonic most specifically with Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on GameCube), and I always appreciate any exclusives that are designed from the ground-up, fully tailored to the strengths of Nintendo’s hardware, because lord knows virtually every port ever on Nintendo systems is gimped as hell.

And crazier still is that Sonic Boom is being shaped by none other than key members from Naughty Dog, who created Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. The founder is Bob Rafei, who was the big art director and character designer on both! And the 3DS version is by the same folks who took over from Sucker Punch and made Sly 4: Thieves in Time, just wow. I hope they use their experience and make the 3DS version their own and not a copy of the Wii U version. Make it cel-shaded!

I can’t finish without talking about the TV show clip now can’t I? I was very impressed, while the dialogue didn’t really have much to it, the delivery (especially by Mike Pollock as Egghead I MEAN Eggman) was really great. And the animation is fantastic! It’s at least direct to DVD quality, which is a good thing.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m super excited for this and can’t wait to see more! I hope you liked my opinion piece. 🙂

DMK

I think it’s fair to say SEGA certainly weren’t kidding when they hailed 2014 as a year to remember for Sonic the Hedgehog. As the announcements trickled out from New York on Thursday, I was perhaps one of the lucky ones, away from my computer and missing the inevitable explosion of immediate reactions. But that’s not to say I was completely calm and collected about the scenario – when I caught my first glimpse of the new character designs, I was absolutely ready to toll the death knell and proclaim “Sonic Doom!”. What had they done to my beloved series? Why was Sonic covered in tape? And what on earth had Knuckles been taking to get those muscles?

But the more I read up on things, and the more I analysed the TV and game trailers… the more I liked what I saw. My knee-jerk reaction to the new look was undoubtedly out of shock and fear of change – after all, let’s face it, Sonic’s not exactly had the best reputation when it comes to reinventions – but once the dust had settled and I collected my thoughts, Sonic Boom actually sounded like a rather appealing proposition. A well animated CG cartoon with top notch voice work and some decent writing? Hell yeah! A brand new teamwork-based game giving each character individual abilities and being developed by some of the industry’s finest in the genre? Shut up and take my rings! I’m very intrigued to see what this new take on the franchise has in store, and whether it manages to reach its full potential will be a key factor in deciding just how good a decision SEGA have made in revitalising their mascot.

To put it simply – Sonic Boom, you’re growing on me. Well, everything but Knuckles, anyway. Sorry Knuckles.

Jono

The hit of new information when all the details about Sonic Boom were revealed initially left me feeling alienated as a fan. It seemed like the Sonic I’d known for so many years was gone, and that those who may have seen themselves as veterans of the series now had no place in the new territory that the hedgehog would be moving into. More details came about, and now that I’ve had time to reflect, I’m actually eagerly anticipating the direction that this new canon can go.

I almost think that the best thing SEGA have done is how they’ve handled Sonic Boom’s reveal. In a way, showing the silhouettes off such a long time ahead of this reveal was probably the best decision they had at their fingertips. It gave the fan base some kind of expectation on what we would be seeing, and I dread to think what the reaction would have been like if these designs and universe suddenly came as a bolt from the blue.

As far as the game goes, it still looks a little ways to go before it’s ready. Character models and animations etc definitely need tightening up, and we haven’t yet been shown any real idea of how the game will play. That will come to light when the time comes, though. The main thing I’m excited about is the TV series. The teaser that’s been shown is a joy to watch and has remained consistently so on all my subsequent re-viewings. It’s witty, full of action and it keeps the Sonic most of us know intact.

As far as Sonic Boom goes, I think that Sonic’s audience focus is definitely shifting now. I’m sure many readers of TSS are those who grew up loving either Sonic’s classic era or his recent outings. I think a lot of people forget that yet another new generation of fans are also getting into the series, and SEGA would be wise to tap into this new wave of fans that may be discovering Sonic for the first time.

Basically… GIMME MORE!

Hogfather

Cartoon: Looks awesome, except for when Sonic runs in his scarf.

Game: Filter out all the PR stuff and talk about how ‘we completely understand the characters…’ this is what you get.

Battles with normal enemies take place inside arenas, 2 player co-op mandatory, Sonic uses a whip to attack certain enemies, no chaos emeralds so no Super Sonic, which is kinda ok with me since it’s a very overused mechanic that lost any special value years ago… though watch there be some kind of super form through whatever Deus Ex Machina device is thrown into this one.

Daddy Longlegs Sonic with that scarf which looks cool in the concept art, but looks ridiculous in motion.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to be bad, but you can call it a new branch of the franchise as much as you like, some people will still go into this thinking ‘Sonic game’ and end up being disappointed when they find out it’s not one. A lot of this reminds me about other instances where it feels like a new IP is trying to use an old IP to try and sell an idea instead of trying to make an original game that would have been a perfectly strong series on its own.
At the moment, my expectations and hopes are low for this. There are a bunch of glaring problems such as ingame character models looking awful, barren stages and why does Tails look like a zombified flying chimp in ‘that one screenshot?’

When we actually get details on the gameplay, see it in action instead of being told what the characters act like (seriously, this is a Sonic game, everyone knows what the characters are like). Then maybe everyone will be in a much better position to make judgements. But right now, do not expect a Sonic game, because this isn’t one. Give us more details before anyone can decide if it’s a good game or not.

P.S. Stop complaining about how Knuckles looks, yes he has become a giant. But if you read his bio on the official website, for once he actually sounds like a decent character.

vedjf

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t gone through the song and dance of redesigns before. Also being a Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Rayman fan, I’ve seen my fair share of drastic changes within my favourite franchises. And…in none of the cases was it ever particularly too bad. Sure, I pretty much lost interest in Rayman with Origins, but that was because I was brought up on Rayman 2 and the franchise went to the gameplay style of Rayman 1. Crash I stuck with, and for the most part turned out fine (I have a few gripes with Coco for personality, but the others were okay and I prefer new Tiny to old) and would have loved one of the redesigns planned in 2010 before it was cancelled. Spyro I stuck with, and while the Legend series was too dark for me (literally; I couldn’t see what was happening on-screen which is why I haven’t done New Beginning or Eternal Night), Skylanders has been enjoyable if not really pricey, and the series takes more and more cues from the classics with each instalment.

So, how is Sonic Boom shaping up compared to those reboots? Pretty tame actually. The characters don’t look that unrelated if not for a few design quirks. And the personalities we’ve seen are pretty much what they were in Colours onwards. My main gripe with what we’ve seen so far is that I didn’t particularly enjoy the humour in the clip of the show, but that’s all down to taste. I don’t think I’ve seen enough of the game to make a comment on it too specifically.

And that’s generally the attitude I’m taking with Sonic Boom right now; I want to wait until more information comes to light before I make a more solid opinion on what is being offered with this so-called renaissance. Since I’m very much a character fan, I’ll be keeping an eye on whether other Sonic characters return (moreso for the show than the game since the game is set-up) and how their dynamics play in the new branch, as well as seeing what the inevitable new cast bring to the table. I’ve held back like this in the past and have been pleasantly surprised at the other end (Dino-Rang the fruit kebab fiend is adorable!), but who knows if this will end up being as well-liked. If not, I have the option of ignoring Sonic Boom and sticking to SEGA Sonic unlike the other redesigns which is a nice cushion to have. It’ll be like the Mega Man franchise where there’s more than one series you can be a fan of!

I also hold some reservations over the success of the push on a broader scope, but that’s neither here or there…

Sym

When I applied for the writing job on The Sonic Stadium, I wrote a blog post which expressed my desire to see Sonic establish himself more uniquely and become more relevant, fearing he wouldn’t be around much longer if he didn’t. And then, 2014 comes around and we’re greeted with this. A whole new, re-imagined Sonic the Hedgehog. I was surprised to see Sonic Boom be greeted by such positivity overall by the fanbase, including myself.

From what I’ve seen so far, I feel that Sonic Boom has some huge possibilities resting on its shoulders. Boom stands as a potentially huge success story for our blue hero – one that can capture the hearts of a whole new generation of fans and re-engage fans of old. Its desire to be new without hesitation feels refreshing. Whilst games in the past few years have, to me, felt the need to rely on older mechanics and nostalgia to keep fans engaged, or take too much inspiration from existing successful franchises *ahem*, Boom strives to separate itself from his Japanese counterpart and truly try to craft a whole new 3D Sonic experience. The fact Boom will be launching with four main characters, which are all playable, cements this idea of confident reinvention to me.

The only thing that I fear for with Sonic Boom is the chance that the developers strive too much to be different from traditional Sonic and lose sight on what once made the franchise special to begin with. But from what I’ve seen from the show and game so far, it doesn’t feel like I have reason to fear yet. This goes for the show especially. With its seriously wonderful looking CG animation, top notch voice acting and spot on writing which feels more faithful to these character’s personalities than ever, I have a feeling it could be the best on-screen adaptation Sonic has had yet. I don’t feel like I’ve seen enough of the game yet to lay down proper judgement, but I do hope those character models are worked on, since the rest of the visuals and art direction looks beautiful.

Overall, I am truly looking forward to seeing where Boom takes us. Let’s hope it’s onward and upward!

There we go! You’ve heard what we think so far – but we wanna hear your thoughts too. What do you think of Sonic Boom? Are you worried or are you excited? A little bit of both? Are we doomed forever because of blue armed Sonic? Sound off in the comments below and let us know! We’ll be sitting at our writer’s roundtable waiting patiently for your responses.

(Psst – also, don’t forget! You can also check out the new Sonic Show Podcast which Sonic Boom is also the topic for discussion. Enjoy!)

SEGA eShop Blowout: Get Your Game Into Gear on the 3DS!

9026626091_346ff8966aNo doubt continuing on from Nintendo and SEGA’s newfound partnership, today marks the release of not one, not two, not three, but four Game Gear games on the Nintendo 3DS eShop! We’ve already seen the likes of Sonic Triple Trouble and Sonic Blast hitting the Big N’s 3D handheld system, but now you can add some more titles to your digital retro SEGA collection, with two Sonic themed games leading the pack.

Continue reading SEGA eShop Blowout: Get Your Game Into Gear on the 3DS!