See Prototype Windy Valley Recreated for Sonic Adventure DX

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As you may or may not know, the Windy Valley which appeared in the final version of Sonic Adventure wasn’t the same one that was shown through pre-release material. A year ago (today, in fact!), Sonic Retro unearthed data from a Sonic Adventure prototype which contained a partial amount of this stage, as well as data from old versions of Ice Cap and At Dawn. Cut to today, and we have the above video thanks to Retro member evilhamwizard – a mostly complete version of what was once Windy Valley. Obviously this is still a work in progress with clearly unfinished camera and textures, but seeing a playable version is certainly a treat wouldn’t you say?

That’s not all though. There’s a second video available showing off the first “act” of Windy Valley also. This one’s a little more complete with more enemies and rings abound, and a little bit of camera work. Of course it’s not perfect, but like it’s been said, it’s all a work in progress.

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Three cheers to evilhamwizard, and everyone else over at Retro who made this possible! If you wanna give these levels a shot, you’re free to do so if you own the SADX Mod Loader and the US version of Sonic Adventure DX for your PC. You can download the mod here, but be warned you’ll be fighting the camera. If you want more info, be sure to check out the original article over on Sonic Retro. Also, make sure you let us know what you think of this prototype Windy Valley in the comments below – good or bad?

Sonic to run the London Marathon to fight Leukaemia

6232-18He’s the fastest thing alive! Sonic the Hedgehog will be partaking in the upcoming London Marathon to raise money to fight leukaemia. Well, er… that’s almost the truth. Inside that costume is twenty-two year old Lewis Griffiths from York, wearing his five kilogram Sonic the Hedgehog costume, in fact. He’ll be wearing it for the duration of the 26.2 mile marathon course coming up on the 13th April. Now that takes some dedication if I’ve seen it.

Speaking to the Leukaemia CARE Charity, Lewis explains he’s running the marathon in the name of his cousin who was diagnosed with the disease when he was nineteen. Thankfully, he has since then been cured, though it’s not the end of the line for him as he will need multiple hip replacements and chemotherapy treatment following this. He’s also taking on the challenge for himself to help his own personal rehabilitation of his right leg which has had several operations on.

“I am so pleased to be running for Leukaemia CARE and cannot wait for race day. From my cousin’s experience, I know that blood cancers can be beaten but the after effects of treatment can impact on people’s lives for a long time after recovery.

“Leukaemia CARE support people at the time of diagnosis and beyond, and help people to deal with issues that may affect them after treatment. As well as this, I wanted to get my confidence back and what better way than running 26 grueling miles to test myself, whilst also raising money for charity?”

Well if this wasn’t a good reason to give a little money to a charity, I don’t know what is. If you want to donate to Lewis’ cause, you can do so over on his Virgin Money Giving page. Good luck from all of us here at The Sonic Stadium, Lewis!

 

Sonic Amateur Games Expo 2014 is a go!

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It’s that time of year again! SAGE 2014 Act 1 has begun, the central hub for fangame developers to show off their work to the Sonic community. From February 23rd to March 1st, you can head on over to the SAGE website and try out a ton of fangames. This year has a plethora of titles to try including the Sonic CD-esque Sonic Time Twisted, the 3D Sonic Lost Adventure, and a game by a member of our community, Shirou Emiya, Digimon Heroic Battle Spirit – yep, it’s not just limited to Sonic titles!

You can head over to the SAGE website now to try these and tons more – plus, members of the SAGE team are doing a livestream showcasing the various entries to the expo this year. What’re you waiting for? Go go go!

California’s Sonic Revolution Convention Announces 2014 Date and Venue

SoCalFollowing the first California-based Sonic the Hedgehog fan convention last year, Sonic Revolution returns in 2014 for a second time, promising to be an event even bigger and better than before.

If you’re a resident of California, or can travel to Orange County mid-June, you can look forward to a day of Sonic-themed events, including a showing of an exclusive clip of Sonic Prologue film along with a Q&A with the director, an appearance and performance from the Sonic the Hedgehog cover band Serenity Seven, as well as opportunities for gaming and fan art showcasing.

The event venue and date are as follows:

Date: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Time: 10 AM to 6 PM
Location: The Marquis Room at the Holiday Inn Buena Park
Address: 7000 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, California 90620

Tickets will be up for grabs on the 1st of March, 2014, and will be available through EventBrite for free. There will also be discount codes available for those wanting to stay the night at the hotel venue.

The event is also holding a fundraiser in order to generate the capital for hosting the event – head on down to the fundraising page and make a donation; donations of $30 or more will receive a Sonic Revolution shirt and pin.

Further details will become available over the coming weeks through the Sonic Revolution website.

Sonic Boom or Sonic Bust?

SB_LOGO_RGB_WHITEBG_1391691188I remember a time not too long ago where one could wake up to find out that their favourite blue hedgehog had taken up the hover board, had decided that swords were cool, or had a accumulated another new friend to add to the already brimming roster of colourful critters. At the time, Sonic had suffered a spate of mediocre to down-right poor titles, the most notorious being Sonic ’06. The prevailing morale of the online community was pretty low and on the morning of the announcement of Sonic Unleashed, images of the Werehog did nothing to inspire or reassure fans that a title of note was in the making. Forums lit up with debate, sites quizzed their audiences with “will it be good, won’t it be good?” polls and comment boxes became an arena for conflicts of opinion.

Many fans at the time, including myself, were certain that the train of thought implemented in the making of Sonic titles had become intrinsically flawed, with focus on graphics and sheen, rather than gameplay. Many desired to see a return to the roots of what made the classic Sonic titles so good, which ironically backfired somewhat with the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I. The last thing we were interested in was another gimmick, and this is what it looked like SEGA were about to present us with. On this occasion however, I couldn’t have been happier to be proven wrong. I love Sonic Unleashed, from the diverse soundtrack, to the lush worlds, to the level design to the Pixar feel of the characters. While not a perfect game in many respects, it was fun, and had elements to please both old and new fans. Not only that, Night of the Werehog was a fantastic little bonus; ten minutes of distilled genius and beautiful animation.

Fast forward six years and we seem to be back at this juncture once more.

sonicboomSonic the Hedgehog fans have had a lot of new information to assimilate over the last 48 hours with regards to the announcement of Sonic Boom, which will hit screens later in the year in both TV show and videogame incarnations. Scanning through my facebook feed, the general vibe from a lot of the younger members of the community is one of excitement at the prospect of another TV show, after all it has been a decade since Sonic X premiered on western screens (has it really been that long?). However, these announcements have been completely eclipsed by the news and images of the new character designs, which have in the cases for some characters, been fairly drastic.

But haven’t we been here before? If so, what is all the fuss about? Well, a few months back, we were all given a glimpse of some familiar shadows set against a wall. It was obvious that the main characters of the franchise were looking to get a makeover, and internet speculation about whether or not Knuckles had been hitting the gym exploded onto every Sonic-themed forum.

Boom10It seems almost seems surprising therefore, that the community has reacted in the way they have, given there was fair warning substantial changes to the character models were on the horizon. Indeed, Knuckles looks like he has now swallowed the Master emerald in a last-ditch attempt to prevent it from getting nicked. Other characters seem to have been less drastically altered, in most cases proportions have been subtly tweaked, and many would be forgiven in suggesting the team have had a recent run-in with the Andrex puppy. Admittedly, I’ve had a good giggle at some fan parodies and interpretations of these changes. Fortunately, fan reaction has been tempered by a follow up announcement that Sonic Boom would remain an isolated “sub franchise” and that these changes would not be canon.
So again, we come back to the question: what’s the big deal? Why has something like a change in the colour of Sonic’s arms hit such a nerve amongst fans?

Well, the likely answer to that is probably many fold. Firstly and most obviously, many fans probably fear that SEGA are back on down the gimmick route to promote new games. Sonic Lost World didn’t quite achieve the accolade many thought it might, and it’s understandable that there is apprehension over whether this is the dawn of the second era of the so-called “Sonic cycle”. Secondly, and more importantly I think, is the change in the base properties of the franchise. There aren’t many other fandoms that command such a loyal legion as Sonic does, and many are invested in the characters, the stories and the universe on the whole. So when something fundamental is modified, no matter how trivial it may seem to someone on the outside looking in, fans are going to react negatively; after all, why change something that isn’t broken? Indeed, most fans are questioning the necessity of equipping a hedgehog with a scarf and a copious quantity of sports bandages. Perhaps in some cases it is purely personal opinion. More curiously, many have noticed how pedantic SEGA have been in the past with regards to attention to character models, what they are allowed to be doing, and how they are represented in any media. Many perceive this as an almost complete U-turn on this previous ethos, and has opened up speculation to whether or not this is the result of a shift in those who call the shots when it comes to the franchise globally (although a recent statement from Iizuka picked up on TSSZ News announced that Boom will only be available to western markets).

soniclegsThe counter opinion of course, is that sometimes, change is good. You probably wouldn’t be seen dead in the clothes you were wearing a decade ago, and indeed, it could be seen as logical in this sense that over time, some things will inevitably update in order to remain fresh, keep with trends, and of course, interest a new generation. Back in 1998, Sonic underwent his transformation from a short fat spike-ball to a more athletic, green-eyed iteration of himself; that metamorphosis seemed on the whole a successful transition. Examining the timescales between those character models, it does seem like Sonic is well overdue a cosmetic overhaul.

Those of you who, like me, pine for another title with the same DNA as Unleashed, will no doubt be as giddy as I to see stunning pieces of concept art of environments, and some extremely amusing facial expressions from the cast, which lead to believe we will be getting a game with rich worlds to explore akin to Unleashed. Those worried about the game have had some reassuring news in that the development is in the hands of those behind the Uncharted and Jak and Daxter franchises (now developing under the name of Big Red Button), and if the quality of these titles are a reflection of what the next Sonic game will be like, we have nothing to worry about. The attitudes of SEGA have also markedly changed in the past half-decade, with the growth of an extremely competent and capable community team who have been receptive of fan feedback.  On top of this, the connection to fans has been reinforced through events such as Sonic Boom in the states and Summer of Sonic in the UK, which have both received an incredible reception from attending patrons.

I think as a community we have matured in many aspects; after all, many have now been fans for over twenty years; some are now employed in the video game business and are more able to understand the intricate nuisances that go into making a video game. That said, I think we shouldn’t fall into the trap of becoming grumpy old women and men, and forming opinions on changes purely because they “aren’t as good as they were back in the good old days”. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to whether or not you think the new direction Sonic is taking will be good or bad, as after all the main component at the end of the day is personal preference. I hope as an older and somewhat wiser community, we can hold final judgement of the “Sonic Renaissance” until we’ve seen the final product.

After all, we’ve only just read the first page of this new chapter of Sonic the Hedgehog.

20 Years of Sonic the Comic

STCp1Twenty years ago, many veteran fans amongst the community will probably remember racing to their local newsagents in order to grab the first issue of Sonic the Comic for the paltry price of 95 pence, and thumbing excitedly through the first pages of Sonic and SEGA-themed strips. In the many years that followed, fans saw the publication of 223 issues, 9 poster magazines and several special one-offs across nearly a decade of production.

The comic was renowned for its well-pitched storylines that appealed to both the younger and older audiences, for expanding the Sonic universe beyond the canon of the game and introducing several original characters; some of whom suffered a grisly demise (poor old Johnny Lightfoot!). For the majority of issues, the comic was presented by Megadroid, a robot reminiscent of a SEGA Megadrive (and later a SEGA Saturn), who took to naming the readers “Boomers” (and the writers “Humes” – short for “Humans”). As well as the Sonic-themed strips, the comic included a whole host of stories from SEGA titles such as Golden Axe, Decap Attack and Streets of Rage, as well as features and reviews on games, as well as fan art and mail; many fan-works featured were created by many of those who have remained fans to this day! Indeed, the publication garnered many fans, and some of you reading this today will probably owe STC as your introduction to the world of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Continue reading 20 Years of Sonic the Comic

SEGA Announce Staff Layoffs Across US and EU

SEGA today announced that due to expected heavy losses for the last financial year, the company would be undergoing a structural reform, and thus a number of staff redundancies have been announced across the board.

According to IGN and TSSZ, the entire US QA testing department will be shut down amongst losses amongst other departments such as marketing.

Consequently, SEGA will be trimming it’s roster of games, keeping it’s developing focus on titles such as Football Manager, the Aliens franchise and Sonic the Hedgehog among some of the names to be retained. SEGA did not say which games will be cut, but the company have stated that the reduction in size will benefit in sustained “profitability”.

Although not strictly Sonic-themed news, this announcement will undoubtedly impact the franchise all the way down to the community teams who deal with TSS and other fan sites.

We will keep you posted on any impacts in the Sonic Universe as they come.

FINAL SEGASonic:Radio Livecast: Sunday, 3PM GMT

SEGASonic: Radio, TSS’ livestream of 24/7 Sonic the Hedgehog music, will unfortunately be closing it’s doors on Sunday for some much needed renovation. The station has been in a state of gradual deterioration for some time, with shows becoming increasingly intermittent and scarce, mostly due to other (mostly real-world) obligations of the DJs.

Continue reading FINAL SEGASonic:Radio Livecast: Sunday, 3PM GMT