During a recent interview with Playstation at E3, SEGA Community Manager Aaron Webber revealed that each character in Sonic Forces (Modern Sonic, Classic Sonic and “the Rookie”) will have their own unique soundtrack style. Continue reading Sonic Forces: Soundtrack Style Is Character Dependent
At the front of Sega’s booth at E3, there were two different lines; one queue was for Sonic Mania, while the other, about half the length, was Sonic Forces. The crowds definitely seemed more excited for one over the other. Have Sonic’s recent flops affected fan’s love for modern Sonic titles, or is there enough love for both the modern era and a fun romp through the golden age? More importantly, has Sonic Team learned from the mistakes of it’s past?
First off, it should be noted that this game doesn’t try to experiment with new game types – it’s a back-to-basics formula of what worked in Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors (the better received 3-D Sonic games since SA2) and building on that. For the first time in a long time, Sega is playing it safe. Do you want me to tell you how modern Sonic plays? He plays EXACTLY like modern Sonic. Do you want to hear how classic Sonic plays? He plays EXACTLY like classic Sonic. If there are any slight differences, I didn’t notice them myself.
The new game mode is played with the avatar, a character you create and referred to as “the rookie” throughout the game. You decide how the character looks and what species he/she is. I believe you buy extra gear for your character through both common gold and red star rings, thus giving a reason for you to replay levels and giving the game a whole “carrot on a stick” feel (although I’m guessing this seeing as how you can no longer regain any rings you lose). This makes some boss battles more challenging as me and Alex watched one poor soul who just couldn’t seem to beat Eggman during the classic Sonic boss fight.
During our play through of the demo, our avatar was generated completely at random; sometimes I’d get a purple cat, other times a black bunny, and there are videos on youtube of some playing as the red wolf from the trailer. Before you enter the level, you’re given the choice between two different “Wispons”, a wisp-powered weapon. A flamethrower Wispon allows you to use the burst wisps to project your character higher into the air, while the other weapon, a lightning whip, allows the player to execute the light speed dash and quickly follow a trail of rings. There were two different stages in the demo depending on the system: the Nintendo Switch got a level very similar to modern Sonic’s stage, in which you eventually travel a slightly different path, and I found this level to be the most fun level in the demo. He/she can use their grappling hook to swing up to higher paths or attack robots via a homing attack. Alternatively, you can also use your Wispon to bring down a whole group of robots all at once. The Switch level was fast, visceral and overall, fun. This was mainly due to going through the levels a breakneck speeds only stopping to attack your enemies, with no real emphasis on platforming.
…And that’s where the PS4 level comes in to play. Oh boy.
The level sees the player racing down the Green Hill zone as it appears to be undergoing industrialization, while being chased down by a giant robot crab while smaller robot crabs try to squash you along the way. This level is entire 2-D and requires precise platforming to get through – if you read Alex’s take on the avatar character, you’ll have some appreciation for why this is a bad thing. The physics while jumping with the avatar doesn’t feel right, and it is almost impossible to turn in mid air; small platforms throughout the stage make playing the level a bit of a chore rather than fun. However if this issue can be remedied for release, then the Avatar mode could be the best new gimmick yet avatar controls much like Sonic. Personally, I don’t want to fish, I don’t want to brawl, I don’t want to pilot a mech. I want my extra character to control like Sonic as I think that is what works best in a Sonic title! It seems that Sonic Team are really investing in the avatar stages, embellished with vocal songs that are only present in their stages. These stages have the potential to be the best stages on the Switch version of the game, and if they can nail the physics, this is looking like it could be a top-tier 3-D Sonic game.
I managed to play the demo on all 3 systems, and one thing I noticed was that PS4 version of the demon was playing on the PS4 Pro…and it showed. The 1080P graphics looked incredible, and were of similar caliber to Sonic Generations on the PC with ultra-high settings. The XBox One version looked to have been running at 720P as it seemed lower resolution; this might be due to anti-aliasing and as Alex mentioned in his article. The Switch version, while still very detailed, appeared to suffer the most graphically and seemed to be at 720 or sub-720P with jagged edges due to no anti-aliasing.
Physics aside, Sonic Forces is looking to be a solid, above average Sonic title. I think Sonic Team have made the right choice to stick to proven game styles, with the new gimmick being pretty much “Sonic with weapons”. I doubt it will beat Sonic Mania in reviews or sales, but still, it appears we are getting two great Sonic games in one year.
Join Alex, Sven and myself as we discuss Sonic Forces. Is it a hit or a miss and what do we think of the new Avatar gameplay? Are we actually getting TWO great Sonic games this year? Tune in!
I still can’t quite believe Sonic Mania is real. It’s certainly the kind of project many Sonic fans have dreamed of: a game by the fans, for the fans, that somehow manages to capture the nostalgia of yesteryear while simultaneously adding new fresh ideas to make it an all-together new experience. This is the video game equivalent of patting one’s head and rubbing one’s stomach at the same time: possible, but difficult to pull off. And yet somehow, Sonic Mania is doing just that, and appears to be doing it flawlessly if the E3 demo is any indication. Continue reading Sonic Mania E3 Impressions: Alex’s Take
I’ve had one question in the back of my mind ever since the Nintendo Switch was unveiled: how the heck was Sonic Project 2017, which was going to be a full-on next generation Sonic title, going to run on this thing? Fairly well, as it turns out, albeit with some very noticeable compromises.
The most notable difference is that the game runs at 30 frames per second – half the rate of the competing systems. Texture and models are of lower quality, with certain effects either trimmed down or removed entirely. The lush, wavy grass from the PS4 version of Green Hill is less lush and wavy on the Switch, and far more jagged, with even shadows being effected. The shadows cast by Eggman’s Eggmobile were distinctly lower resolution, appearing jagged with inconsistent levels of darkness.
Most of these issues, outside of the frame rate, are borderline unnoticeable in portable mode. But in console mode, the flaws are very apparent.
My fellow Sonic Stadium staffer, Jason, also got to see the demo in action, and he had this to say:
A few months back when the Switch version was announced, I’d guessed that the game would be at about half the frame rate of the HD versions and would probably suffer a little in the visual department as well – and I see this is the case.
That said, it’s not as bad as it sounds. There are still some nice effects in here that give it a next gen feel. The puddles of water are still reflective. There’s no real pop-in and you can see far out in the distance. The grass still waves around. The main difference is the lack of detail in some of the textures and the jaggy, 720P or possibly sub 720P resolution which may be due to no anti-aliasing. At least, it appears that way.
All of this is almost invisible in portable mode outside of the locked 30 fps. I’m still considering this version and the PC version as the ports I have preference over, with the Switch offering portability and the PC for it’s eventual modding. If the Switch is your only option, it’s still a solid port – just think of it as a PC game in medium to low settings vs. ultra-high settings for the PS4 version.
E3 demos are of course usually technically inferior to the final product – something we have seen in previous years with Generations and Colors, which both contained performance issues rectified for the final game. The Switch version was never going to be the version of choice for the graphically obsessed. But for those of you who’ve always wanted to take a 3D Sonic game on the go, this looks like it’ll be a great option when it launches alongside the console and PC versions later this year.
We took a bunch of off-screen images with an actual, high quality digital camera for this article. We’re including the ones that best captured the game, with minimal motion blur, in a gallery below. While off-screen still-images are never as accurate at representing a game’s visuals as direct capture footage, these should at least give you a firm idea of the level of graphical quality in this version of the game.
Join Svend, Alex and myself, the TSS E3 2017 team as we sit down to discuss the Sonic games experienced at E3! Today, we’re posting our Sonic Mania discussion, which you can watch in the video below! Continue reading E3 Video: TSS Sonic Mania Discussion
Sonic Force’s decision to include a custom character with a very different game play style has been a decision that has polarised the fan base. It continues Sonic Team’s history to add new dimensions to bolster the established 2D and 3D platforming in order to produce a more broad appeal. Continue reading Sonic Forces: Custom Hero E3 Impressions
I have a confession to make. I was never a huge fan of Sonic Retro. I’d lurk on their forums from time to time and I thought they tended to act a bit arrogant and cocky at times. They’d say that they could make a much better Sonic game than Sega. “Right!” I thought to myself. “A bunch of amateurs make a better game than veteran programmers? Bah!” However, Sonic Mania, lead by Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, is proof that it wasn’t arrogance, but the truth. Continue reading Sonic Mania E3 Impressions: Jason’s Take
Have you been wondering how Sonic Forces would perform on Nintendo Switch? Well wonder no longer! While we were on the E3 show floor, we were able to record some footage directly from a Switch. While it may not be easy to tell, the game is running at a consistent 30 frames per second on the console. As a bonus, you also get some off-the-cuff commentary on the experience from Jason and I.
You can expect a more thorough run down of the Switch version’s performance from us in a video and a write-up later this week.
Away from the actual gaming area, Sega has set up a rather large photo booth in which you can have your photo taken in front of a giant green screen, this will then be digitally imposed onto Sonic Forces/Sonic Mania (we’re unsure which) so you can take away a memento of yourself appearing inside a Sega game. Continue reading Sega’s E3 Photo Booth is Incredible “It Has a Trampoline!”
SEGA has been frustratingly quiet about Sonic Forces since they revealed it as Sonic Project 2017 last year. It’s only been in the lead up to E3 that the game’s identity has begun to take shape publicly. While the game features shades of Sonic Generations, to call it an outright sequel (or rehash) isn’t quite right. The Forces demo is both familiar and new, if not also a little awkward.
The modern Sonic game play is essentially just a polished form of what we’ve been getting since Sonic Unleashed. Visuals aside, this game would be right at home in Sonic Generations, and there is zero learning curve for anyone who’s already played that game. The same can also be said for classic Sonic’s boss battle, which starts out as a new (if not exactly inventive) take on Eggman’s swinging ball weapon, replacing the ball with a buzz saw that cuts through platforms.
After that (easy) fight, Eggman hops into his Egg Dragoon, which first appeared in Sonic Unleashed, and starts attacking from the background. He fires a giant chain gun and chucks rocks and metallic boulders, the latter of which can be hit back to damage him. This part takes longer and is more entertaining, though the boss fight on the whole is fairly easy. The first two parts of the demo are as fun and polished as Sonic has ever been, but they do nothing outstanding or new design-wise. If all you want is more Generations (like me) than you’ll be satisfied with what’s on display for these modes in the demo.
So that’s what’s familiar, but what about the new stuff? Well, the visuals of Forces are a nice upgrade from past Sonic games. While some have complained that the new Green Hill stage looks barren compared Generations, this game looks better than any past Sonic game at an objective, technical level. The demo runs at a near silky smooth 60 frames per second, the first non-PC Sonic game to do so (Dreamcast HD ports notwithstanding). Individual blades of grass in Green Hill now move back and forth individually. In terms of pure polygons, this game is clearly pushing way more than any past Sonic game. These are the highest fidelity Sonic models I’ve ever seen.
That said, as with any E3 demo, the visuals aren’t 100 percent polished. At the end of the avatar stage, during a chase scene, the frame rate does get a little janky. But given that E3 demos typically boast notable technical issues due to their incomplete state of development, what I saw in the demo bodes well for the visuals in the final product. And speaking of the avatar stage, this brings me to what will surely be the most controversial part of this game.
I have felt uneasy about the player-made hero character since it was unveiled. While my time with the character does allay those fears somewhat, I do still have some concerns.
First, the positives: the “wispons”, wisp fuelled weapons that can be used for both attacking and traversal, fit surprisingly well with the flow of game play. During my playthrough, I used what was effectively a lightning whip. It let my character lightspeed dash across trails of rings, reverse the direction of my jump in mid-air, briefly boost forward, and attack and destroy horizontal rows of enemies. Overall, the wispon actually positively benefited the flow of play, and didn’t feel nearly as awkward as it looked.
On the negative side, there’s a learning curve to controlling the character. The character cannot roll, jump dash, or perform any of Sonic’s other moves. The way the character jumps feels different, and potentially awkward. I was missing a lot of jumps in my initial play through as a result, but whether this was because I was used to Sonic’s jumping mechanics and need to simply get used to the custom-hero character, or if the character’s controls simply aren’t very good, I can’t say without spending more time with the game.
Sonic Forces doesn’t look like it’ll be a groundbreaking title, but it ought to be a very fun one. While the hero character is a potential chink in the armor, it doesn’t look like the disaster I thought it might be either.
There will be additional game play impressions later this week, as well as a more in-depth impression of how the hero character plays.
Sega have just released a new trailer for Sonic Forces and it shows us our villains gallery including what appears to be a new enemy for Sonic to fight.
Looks like that Sonic will be facing off against Eggman, Shadow, Chaos, Zavok, Metal Sonic and a ‘mysterious new villain’.
All we know about the villain is that he has a ‘strange new ability’ and his name is Infinite.
We’ll keep you updated with more information as we get it.
SEGA Community Manager Aaron Webber appeared on the E3 Pre-Event Twitch stream along with members of the Sonic Mania development team to, among other Sonic-related things, show off the Sonic Forces and Sonic Mania E3 demos. The Forces demo consists of three parts: a modern Sonic 3D stage, a classic Sonic boss battle, and an “Avatar stage”, which demonstrates the fan-created “hero” character. The Sonic Mania demo showed off the second Green Hill stage and boss. Continue reading Sonic Forces & Mania Demo Footage Showcased on Twitch Stream
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