Sonic Forces: Soundtrack Style Is Character Dependent

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

Sonic Forces E3 Impressions: Jason’s Take

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.

Sonic Mania E3 Impressions: Alex’s Take

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

Sonic Forces on Nintendo Switch E3 Impressions


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:

Jason’s Take:

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.

Sonic Forces: Custom Hero E3 Impressions

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

Sonic Mania E3 Impressions: Jason’s Take

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

E3 2017: Sonic Forces Nintendo Switch footage

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.

Sega’s E3 Photo Booth is Incredible “It Has a Trampoline!”

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!”

Sonic Forces E3 Impressions: Alex’s Take

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.

UPDATE: Sonic Forces E3 Trailer Reveals New Villains

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.

Also released was this key art piece.

We’ll keep you updated with more information as we get it.

Sonic Forces & Mania Demo Footage Showcased on Twitch Stream

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

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 Talk 38: A Song of Fire and Ice

Join Jason, Alex and GX as they discuss Mighty No. 9 and Mario and Sonic Wii U. Then, Jason and Alex discuss their experiences at Sonic Revolution and this years E3 along with their opinions of Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice We end the show with Sonic Producer, Chibilola answering your Twitter questions! Lots of good stuff in this episode so give it a good listening! Continue reading Sonic Talk 38: A Song of Fire and Ice

Mystery of New Animation in Sonic Boom Fire and Ice Solved

You may have seen the new Sonic Boom Fire and Ice E3 trailer and seen a brand new cartoon scene mixed in with cuts from the first season. Many speculated that this new spot consisting of Sonic and Amy using teamwork together was from the “totally not confirmed” second season. Not so! Continue reading Mystery of New Animation in Sonic Boom Fire and Ice Solved

Yes Even More Sonic 25th Anniversary Details Posted! E3 ‘Sonic’ Event planned!

About a month ago, we posted news about License Global doing a ‘salute to Sonic’ in their upcoming May issue… well.. that issue is now out, and there is a rather large article with contributions from Ivo Gerscovich, chief brand officer, Sonic the Hedgehog, and senior vice president, SEGA of America & Kristen B. Zimmer retail licensing manager, SEGA
of America. Continue reading Yes Even More Sonic 25th Anniversary Details Posted! E3 ‘Sonic’ Event planned!

TSS @ E3: Hands On Yuji Naka’s Rodea the Sky Soldier

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As someone who covers Sonic news and previews for Sonic Stadium, this has been one of the worst E3’s ever for Sonic news. Despite Sonic Boom : Fire and Ice and Mario and Sonic at the 2016 Rio Olympics coming soon, neither of them were on the show floor. The closest things to Sonic games at E3 are Freedom Planet (a preview is available for a limited time on the Nintendo E-Shop) and Rodea the Sky Soldier. A game designed by Yuji Naka and published by NIS America.

Rodea the Sky Soldier is an action platform game that heavily involves flying. You play as Rodea, a cyborg, cat-like boy who has woken up from being asleep for 1,000 years only to find the enemy he destroyed centuries ago has returned. The game play itself is very reminiscent of NiGHTS and a little bit of Sonic Adventure which I will get into momentarily. In the game, Rodea has an arsenal of different moves at his command. The main one being a targeting lock-on that let’s Rodea fly to enemies and locals. You can also hit the “B” button to fast attack targets such as large, hovering robots.

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If you remember that in Sonic Adventure, Sonic can get special shoes that allow him to quickly grab a trail of rings that are in the air. That aspect is in Sky Soldier as well. You can target a line of yellow crystals and fly to them. This often acts as a trail to quickly get to the next floating island or set piece. When done properly, it gives the game a sort of speed-run feeling. You also use this targeting system to target enemies and boost to them for an attack or find a piece of island to land on before your flight meter runs out. Flying around these crystals, enemies and such gives the game a bit of a “NiGHTS” feeling while still being pretty original. However…

The Wii U controls are very difficult to get a good handle on. I tried the demo on two different occasions and during both times I found myself target the wrong spot and flying either into a wall or on the underside of an island before falling to my death fairly often. Both moving your character and targeting are on the same stick while the camera control is on the right, but you can’t use the camera controls if locked onto a target. It made it so I was having difficulty getting through even some of the earlier stages. Even after learning what does what and playing the game for over half an hour, I still couldn’t master it. Perhaps it’s the regular button/dual stick combo that is the problem. This game was originally meant as a Wii game only and I can see Wiimote/Nunchuck controls actually being a benefit as it feels like targeting would be much more effective by aiming with the Wiimote thus allowing your character to move while targeting. Sadly, I found out from the gentleman showing off the game that only the Wii version (which comes with the Wii U version of the game) has those kind of controls.

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One other minor negative is that the graphics haven’t really gotten much of an HD upgrade from the Wii version. It’s definitely a higher resolution, but the low polygon count and bland textures remain. Even the CGI cutscenes are still fairly low res. The biggest highlight here is the 2-D artwork looks very high-res and sharp on the Wii U version. However, since the graphics aren’t a major upgrade, it may give me a good reason to stick with the Wii version included.

 

Which is a shame since this game shows a ton of potential and originality. It’s the most…”Yuji Naka” of Yuji Naka’s Prope Studio games. It feels fresh while still having feature reminiscent of NiGHTS and Sonic Adventure. However, it also feels like a game from those times as well. It’s controls are archaic and the game itself seems about ten years behind the times. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing more on Rodea the Sky Soldier and hoping the full version proves my fears wrong.

Rodea the Sky Soldier will release on Wii U (with Wii version included) and 3DS in North America on October 13th and in Europe on October 16th.

 

 

Sega will not have their own booth at E3 this year

E3-logoWell now. As was heavily speculated not long ago, Sega have confirmed to GameInformer that they will not have their own booth, but say they will be “collaborating with our various business partners for this year’s E3 show”.

Full quote below:

“Over the next months, SEGA of America will be focusing on the restructure and relocation to Southern California, and we have decided to not attend E3 with our own booth this year,” a representative told us via email. “With the majority of our bigger titles launching later in 2015/2016, particularly those from our AAA studios Relic Entertainment, Sports Interactive and Creative Assembly, we are concentrating our efforts for some of these major announcements after our relocation. Instead, we will be collaborating with our various business partners for this year’s E3 show.”

My take? I don’t recall much with Sony other than Yakuza 5, and nothing that I can recall with Microsoft. Nintendo is the only one of the three I can see them working with, especially if Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games happens or not. Hell even GameInformer speculates about “Sonic hanging with Nintendo”. I mean we already have his amiibo outfit in Mario Kart 8 to start the year, so who knows.

Will SEGA appear at E3 2015?

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What could possibly spell bad news for Sonic the Hedgehog fans expecting a mainline Sonic title this year. SEGA has oddly not registered to show at E3 on the showfloor, and the deadline is fast approaching.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo announced their list of exhibitors who will be appearing to show off their latest titles – however, SEGA is nowhere to be found. The expo is commonly used for big announcements in the industry and giving journalists their first chance to try out some developing or announced video games.

Image from Sonic Boom's E3 2014 booth.
Image from Sonic Boom’s E3 2014 booth.

With the very real possibility SEGA’s absence, it could be seen that Sonic Runners, the recently released mobile only game developed by Sonic Team, could be our only Sonic title this year. Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka has confirmed that Sonic will still be coming to home consoles, but nothing has been revealed as of yet.

What do you think of these developments? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks to Ogilvie over at SSMB for the heads up!

TSS Discuss: Sonic Boom… After E3

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Following E3, tons of new information regarding Sonic Boom was released in all areas of this franchise launch, with that in mind, we here at TSS decided to share our thoughts on what got shown.

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Hogfather – Boom Wii U: (Primarilly based on the E3 B-Roll video). Now… it hasn’t gone unnoticed by a lot of people that if anyone has a negative criticism of the game, regardless as to how well justified it is, they’re then subject to a barrage of “Well you shouldn’t” or “Well it’s just early” or in some laughable cases “You call yourself a fan!?” So let me deal with a few of these as I go on.

“You shouldn’t judge a game at this early stage.” Why not? This is a product, Sega want people to buy. They want people to pre-order the product, if the product put out does not look very good, give me one reason why anyone should stay silent on problems with it? You put out something which people don’t consider to be up to scratch… you can bet people will respond to it.

So with that out of the way let’s talk about the problems it has right now.

“This isn’t like other Sonic games! It’s different! You should expect a different type of game” NO!? Really!? You mean when they announced that this would focus on combat and co-op, it was actually going to focus on combat and co-op!? This excuse is really wearing thin, and it’s not an excuse, it’s desperation, take out the characters, slap in random new IP’s in place of Sonic, you still have lifeless speed sections with no enemies, traps or anything inspiring other than boosters and jump pads followed by automated sections everywhere. Gone are the homing attack chains, now we have ener-beam swing, so once again we’ll get homing attack esq segments of gameplay.  You still have button mashing fight sequences confined to arenas which open up once all enemies are defeating, combat so far has shown nothing interesting other than hammer the button an point the stick in said direction.

This was becoming a tiresome trend in the middle of the last gen, now, we should expect more and be demanding more from games which have a form of combat within them.

Here is how every boss fight shown currently works. Use the beam to grab something, throw it at the boss. Then use a finish move. I’m playing as Sonic why am I not using a spin attack to weaken the boss? Oh wait not normal Sonic game. All right switch to Knuckles punch that boss to weaken, oh wait, not a normal… Amy! She has a hammer go on smack that… oh wait… Tails! Use your… beam to throw a robot/missile/object at Eggman/Giant drill thing/other boss… you see the problem? Why should I get excited when the boss fights we’ve seen are all dealt with in the same manner?

Dialogue is great, but it needs toning down, every 5 seconds someone feels the need to say something. Go play Puppeteer on the PS3 and see how long you can cope before you are rolling your eyes at the sun fairy who constantly comments on your actions and you’ll see how quickly it becomes annoying.

With regards to the ‘new footage’ which shows textures and lighting effects in place, and I agree, this makes the game ‘look’ a lot better. You certainly can’t dismiss it as ‘looking’ like a PS2 game when it ‘looks’ fine.

However, there is a problem with this footage, it’s from the same build, or at least it’s from a very similar build, you can tell by several elements within it. This means that all what Big Red Button did was the following… ‘they change the value of the effects within the code from 0 to 1.’ Do not be under some illusions that this game will somehow undergo a transformation in the next 3 months, this is what we’re getting, and based on what’s been shown so far, it feels like it was designed as every stereotype movie license game.

Finally… there is this….

“Call yourself a fan!?” Grow up. Fans are not nor should they be mindless drones who must support every product or decision made by the owners of the IP. This mindset is degrading to your non argument and a pathetic attempt to try and hide or re-direct criticism. You should not instantly rush out and buy or support anything just because you are a fan of something, you are free to criticise something so long as there is grounds to support what you are saying, just as you would if you wish to praise something.  Otherwise, we can apply that criticism to the movie. Since the majority don’t like the sound of a live action Sonic movie made by the people who brought you The Smurfs 2!? But who knows it’s early and it’s not like any other Sonic game so… oh… Yeah exactly, doesn’t exactly work when it’s something you’re not looking forward to does it?

TlDr: I like the character designs, I like the idea behind what Boom is (to a point), and I like the world that they’re trying to create… however, it all comes down to gameplay. Boom looks like it’s a painfully average game. If stuff comes out between now and release date which really shows it off, or if Sega wants to send me a preview copy and it’s amazing, I will gladly change my stance on it. But right now, based on that disastrous E3 B-Roll footage and the fact the gameplay looks so generic and dull, just looks painfully average, and this angers me, because I really wanted to like it.

Boom 3DS: Looks great, full of action, lots of variety in the gameplay modes, looks far more engaging than the Wii U version. Would like to see a lot more from it, we’ve seen how the different characters can be used in each stage, really want to see more of the game.

Cartoon: Main attraction for me. Looks absolutely fantastic, verbal and visual humour, the animation actually looks really good for a TV Show.  Roll on Winter season so we can see more of it.

d039243d0917679ed9762e415af2f9e8Brad – I wanna start off this with saying that unlike the majority (and completely shockingly for me personally), I think Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is still looking like it’s going to a be an enjoyable, completely new take on the franchise. I went into Boom expecting a completely different gameplay experience, and that expectation is true. A mix of puzzle solving, platforming and combat are all key elements to RoL, and especially the latter has surprised me with how fast paced and enjoyable it looks. What I fear most is that RoL is trying so hard to depart from the conventions of Sonic they’re afraid to dip into his identity – springs lack their signature star design and are instead replaced with boring, glowing blue circles without even a hint of the classic noise there. Jumping has no classic sound to it, and the spin dash lacks its famous rev. These little touches would just add a little injection of Sonic identity into RoL which I think it could really use, since the character dynamic and dialogue is all on point. Even if it’s sounding a tad repetitive at times.

And I share the unpopular opinion on Shattered Crystal. I think the game looks dreadfully boring. Absolutely nothing about the title stands out for me. It feels like it’s poorly imitating the classic games while trying to inject the floaty, boosty ideals of the Rush games. The visuals are nothing special and while the focus on exploration may be nice, there’s no sense of challenge in the platforming footage I’ve seen and the speed is nothing like Sonic Rush or the classic titles. Also, Amy being a damsel in distress? After Rise of Lyric so brilliantly defines her as a confident new woman who don’t need no Sonic? It’s a little frustrating to say the least. I have no interest in picking up this version in the slightest.

The TV show stands as a highlight amongst all three however. Though we haven’t seen much footage yet, I can already see the top notch production values there. Character models are spot on and the animation is stellar and smooth, almost like actual top quality CG cutscenes from the Sonic games themselves. The characters, like in RoL, seem to be written perfectly in line with their characters, and the humour genuinely made me chuckle at times. We can’t really get a real grasp of the plots themselves being interesting or not (though we know each episode is stand alone) but it’s looking like a fun, uplifting romp. This is the one I really have my eye on and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

doctormkDoctor MK – It’s been a few months now since Sonic Boom’s initial reveal and, while the uproar over the new character designs has significantly quietened down, this new branch of the franchise still remains a controversial one – and E3 only really added to that notion.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U is a game that I simply cannot decide how I feel about. On the one hand, I’m thrilled that we’re going to be seeing a return to a more story-driven Sonic title after the wafer-thin plots of Colours, Generations and Lost World, and the characterization on show for the main cast is far beyond what we’ve seen from Sonic Team’s efforts in recent years. Plus, the talented voice cast working on the series at the moment finally get a real chance to shine with plenty of dialogue and some genuinely well-written lines – however, it’s something that will need to be handled with care. In just the couple of levels shown in the E3 demo alone, voice clips were heavily repeated and recycled – hearing the same old grunts and “nice kill, Sonic!” every few seconds over the span of the entire game could grow tiresome, no doubt about it. But it’s the gameplay that is arguably holding Rise of Lyric back the most. Speed has been thrown out of the window (aside from in specific, often automated sections of levels) in favour of exploration and combat, making this a mish-mash of the Sonic we know and love and something not unlike Sonic Unleashed’s Werehog stages, all at the same time. It has potential and I’m by no means writing it off yet, but I need to see more before I can truly get on board with it.

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for 3DS, on the other hand, looks more initially promising on face value. The characters are still slower and the focus still remains on exploration, but the level design is much more familiar to what we’re used to from a traditional Sonic game, and that ultimately might be the deal-breaker for many fans. Again, it’s difficult to form a solid opinion on it just yet, but it’s one to watch for now at least.

And finally, the cartoon. Unless the games seriously impress upon release, I’m certain that Sonic Boom’s TV series will unanimously be the best part of this new approach to Sonic. The animation is smooth, the voice cast are in full force, and there’s some brilliantly memorable scripting (even if it is somewhat random at times!). So all in all then, Sonic Boom as a whole is shaping up to be interesting, that’s for sure – it just appears to be a question of how far you’re willing to accept “this is not a normal Sonic title” if you are to get the most out of the tie-in games.

jbJason the Jackass – As one of the few on staff who has played both games, I can honestly say that the Wii U version is not looking the best right now. Not like, Shadow  or “06 bad, but I’d put it up there with Sonic Chronicles. A game with a pretty good story and easy to get through, but very bland gameplay in the middle. There were some fun spots such as traversing as Amy with her gymnastic moves and her Hammer that can clear away a ton of robots, but playing as Knuckles and pushing a mine cart around for a puzzle was tedious. But as Stephen Frost has stated before, these are small chunks of the game that don’t quite represent the overall product. Hopefully, before November, we can get a better idea of what the full game is like.

That said, there’s something about the 3DS version I really liked. Yeah , the traditional gameplay is so-so. Feeling closer to Sonic 4 than Sonic Rush and the speed isn’t super fast. However, I did like the exploration aspects and the extra levels were pretty fun, especially the rivals race. You’re gonna think I’m nuts, but the game has a bit of a “Sonic Colors” vibe to it what with the overhead map and returning to older levels with new characters who have different abilities. It almost makes the other cast feel like Wisps in a way. I mean, Knuckles is definitely like the Drill Wisp what with his burrowing. This is the most excited I’ve been for a Sonic 3DS game yet.

 nucklesisannoyed Nuckles87 – I think the new Sonic Boom franchise is looking decidedly average, which considering how awful Sonic games and cartoons can be, is almost something of a relief for me. The new trailer for the cartoon that they were playing ad museum at E3 actually looks cool, and I was digging the character centric humor it was hitting at. I will also confess that I couldn’t help but chuckle a little every time I heard Eggman talk about building a new, superior robot that will bring him “evil ham”. Maybe my sense of humor is just lousy? Either way, rather than taking a neutral attitude towards it I’m actually starting to look forward to it now.

As for the games, well, I wrote two whole previews for them at E3. You can find my impressions of the Wii U version here and my impressions of the 3DS version here. Long story short, I found Boom Wii U to be a decent Sonic themed brawler, free of many of the graphical issues the pre-E3 demo apparently had. I will admit, after being blown away by Lost World’s creative level design last year, Boom is disappointing in comparison, but where Lost World’s final game had high highs and low lows, maybe Boom Wii U will at least provide a more even experience. The 3DS version, on the other hand, seems to be a good game hampered by a poor interface.

For the games, I continue to take a wait and see approach. Will they be awful games? I really don’t think so. They probably won’t be great games, though. I think that, at the very least, they will probably both be decent. By the way, as a quick last minute plug, go check out my interview with Sonic Boom producer Stephen Frost over at SEGAbits.

TSS Discuss: What was your favourite part of E3?

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Since we’re all quite the avid gamers here at TSS, we all watched the circus which is E3 and each of us had their favourite part, be it an announcement, surprise, reveal or bit of news on a project we’ve been anticipating. So we decided to share with you our favourite E3 moments, and likewise, feel free to post your favourite moments from this years E3 in the comments section.

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Hogfather – For me, there were two moments which stood out. The first was the reveal of Bloodborne. Bloodborne is being made by the same people behind Demons Souls and Dark Souls (nope, they didn’t make DS2). This fact alone pleases me. But aside from their history, just look at the game, it looks stunning. The monster designs look scary, the premise sounds like something from an old horror legend, the way the characters move and fight with one another. It just looks like you need to be so much more aggressive, it looks like you’ll actually have to ‘fight’ in this, and by that I mean, physical, almost raw in nature.

The second moment was the new information on No Man’s Sky. Now lets get the obvious out of the way, visually, this looks stunning. But the premise sounds incredible. An entire galaxy, never ending, full of planets you can visit and explore, each with their own ecosystem, plant and animal life.

Just imagining it, an endless universe, all of it explorable, yet impossible to explore, you’ll never finish it, it’ll be forever expanding. You discover a new animal or planet, every other player in the game will know it’s your discovery should they too find it.

You’ll be able to upgrade your ship so you can explore more worlds, or take on more dangerous pirates and other enemies on your travels. Everything about this looks like a grand adventure in outer space, you are the captain, you have the con.

HOLHero of Legend – My highlights were all Nintendo. I admittedly had fairly low expectations (funny enough I was the least excited I’ve been in years) since the last few have been really poor for Nintendo. Like last year the Direct was laggy as can be, and they spoiled their key Wii U games in the January 2013 Direct, leaving only Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze as their sole new Wii U game, yikes. Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, and X (now Xenoblade Chronicles X) were the highlights last year.

This year, holy CRAP did they hit a home run. Not only was the presentation hilarious with the Robot Chicken segments, but the sheer volume of games was easily rivaling their E3 2010 and even E3 2006 showing, that is a high bar folks.

My game of the showing would likely be Bayonetta 1, which while of course being a port, it’s one I was BEGGING for (what, did you all ignore my signature for the past 6 months? XD). I have a personal love for playing high-quality Nintendo versions of classics not on a Nintendo system prior, not so much games out at the same time that are gimped in some way. Bayonetta 1 falls into the former (as does Tales of the Abyss on 3DS, highly recommended!).

Other highlights include Yoshi’s Wooly World finally back from the dead after the only showing at the aforementioned Jan 2013 Direct. What a jump it made. So pretty. As well as Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Never did I imagine that HAL would already be putting out a Wii U Kirby game this soon, and right after Kirby Triple Deluxe on 3DS. They’ve come a LONG way after the long hiatus between Kirby Adventure GCN’s cancellation and Kirby’s Return to Dreamland on Wii.

Disappointed in X being simply Xenoblade, and it’s not even an actual sequel but a spiritual successor. The hell is the point? Also they said way back the game they were making was a new IP. O_o

Should mention that I got to see Sony’s conference in the theater. And honestly I don’t see myself doing it again, felt kinda awkward only just having a Vita and only getting really started in the Sony camp. Sony certainly didn’t give much time to the Vita at all.

Saw a tad of Microsoft’s online but left it due to disinterest. The whole Conker thing is something else. I was actually humored at his “comeback” explaining the trademark renewal, but OH did fans get pissed and I see why, wow (and I love Rare, and dearly miss their Nintendo partnership *sniff*, I’m so getting The Unlikely Legend of Rusty Pup by Conker’s creator by the way for Wii U eShop). Was also kinda half surprised and half not of Kamiya’s Scalebound. That Crazy Buttocks guy on GAF hit the nail on the head last year with that rumor. Was disappointed that he wasn’t on another Wii U game, but eh, can’t be sad with all this Bayonetta goodness and The Wonderful 101 to play now can’t it? 😉

And that’s it for me! 😀

tumblr_mwyetcY3Ck1sxudx7o1_500 JonoD – For me, I found that E3 this year was very much a fleeting kind of affair. There really wasn’t anything this year that had me screaming at the computer screen with excitement.

Whilst I didn’t catch all of the press conference presentations, what I saw of the ones I did manage to catch seemed like the standard affair to me. EA’s conference was loaded with sports and guns… meh. Microsoft had a lot of stuff to cater for a good proportion of the mainstream gamer demographic (and Sunset Overdrive looks freaking awesome), but Sony’s conference had the most of interest for me. There was plenty there to satisfy my more ‘out there’ gaming tastes with titles such as Abzu, LittleBigPlanet 3, Entwined and… The Ratchet and Clank movie. Yep, the Ratchet and Clank Movie.

The movie looks to be an interesting retelling of the Ratchet and Clank story from a different approach, and whilst we haven’t seen much, I’m looking forward to catching this thing in theatres (assuming it makes it as far as ye olde England). The other bombshell they dropped? Original Ratchet and Clank remake… on PS4. The moment I see that, the PS4 system: Sold to me.

Another game I’m looking forward to: Mortal Kombat X. Awful teaser trailer song be damned, seeing the actual game in action was a great laugh, and has me looking forward to severing limbs left, right and center. The kombat (heh) looks to be much improved over last time, as is the game’s overall presentation (the X-Ray moves look a LOT more natural and painful!), and I’m looking forward to seeing what story route the game is going to take. Will have to wait and see there!

It’s funny… Why is it that the games I’m looking forward to most, are the ones I’ve pretty much already played years ago?

vizardjeffhog_iconVizardJeffhog – If there’s one part of E3 that I have thoroughly enjoyed, that had me on the edge of my seat even before the show began just from the sheer amount of hype it potentially generated… it has got to be, hands down, Nintendo’s main E3 presentation through their Digital Event. Heck, what else would a Nintendo fanboy fawn over at this time of year? It was glorious, goofy fun all around, not to mention that it trumped over the other conferences by showing a necessary and gratuitous amount of, well, gameplay instead of relying on prerendered material for the most part, so how could I not highlight this?

Not to say that Microsoft and Sony had nothing to show, don’t get me wrong! Personal highlights on those ends would be the insanely bright and colourful Sunset Overdrive, seeming to be well on its way since its premiere at E3 2013 and downright insane in its execution, and the Ratchet & Clank remasters, seeing as I’ve always been meaning to get into the series but have yet to obtain a Playstation console. On the EA side of things, Mirror’s Edge 2 looks pretty fantastic, and I hope to get my hands on that particular gem in the near future, once I’ve gotten ahold of a PS4 that is! What about Ubisoft though?

But Nintendo. Oh my god, everything I’ve ever could have wanted and then some got showcased, the Robot Chicken skits aside, hilarious as they were. Wanted to star in Super Smash Bros yourself? Now you can! Needed a quality Yoshi experience to make up for New Island on the 3DS? Woolly World has everything! Enjoyed the Captain Toad levels from Super Mario 3D World? Here’s an entire game based around it! Looked forward to Bayonetta 2 but never had the chance to play the first? Bam, here’s both games in one! Kirby: Canvas Curse sequel? Missed Midna of Twilight Princess fame? Open-world Zelda? Make your own Super Mario levels? WhaBAM on all counts!

What really stood out for me, however, was the unorthodox reveal that is Splatoon, Nintendo’s own take on the shooter genre. What makes it unique? Squid-girls blasting coloured ink everywhere for territorial domination, transforming into squids to either swim through ink at high speeds or use as camouflage, and going head-to-head in 4 vs 4 online brawls with these elements in mind! I’m looking forward to see how this IP will evolve over the next few years, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it come 2015!

On a final note, I’ve also had the chance to try out Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U at a local Best Buy for Smash Fest (it’s the same build as E3’s own, so it counts!), and it plays exactly as you would have dreamed. It’s frantic, it’s fast-paced, and it’s chaotic good fun, just as it should be, this time leaning more on the side of Melee than it did Brawl. The game plays fine and dandy with the Nintendo 3DS’s control scheme, and I had a great time breezing and powering up Sonic through Smash Run, the mode inspired by Kirby Air Ride‘s City Trial mode, and wailing on computer players in Gold form within the New Super Mario Bros. 2 inspired level. I also had a run-in with a familiar Sky Sanctuary-native robot within Smash Run, so keep your eyes peeled for these guys once you get ahold of this game!

This did not come without the announcement of a delay from a slated summer release to October 3rd for the 3DS version, but hey, it makes for a better quality product in the end. Besides, the reveal of Mii Fighters, Lady Palutena from Kid Icarus, and Smash co-developer Namco’s own Pac-Man as playable characters all in a single day makes the wait more than worth it… as though everything else about the game doesn’t make it obvious enough!

doctormkDoctor MK – As I’m not a big Sony or Microsoft follower, E3 for me was (as always) all about Nintendo – and I am pleased to say they did not disappoint! While they’ve had some disappointing performances in recent years, 2014 truly was the year that they got things right. There was a lot of debate about whether holding another digital presentation was a good idea, but the Digital Event really proved how to pull it off with aplomb – from the self-deprecating humour of the Robot Chicken sketches to the Reggie v Iwata fist fight, this was all stuff you simply could not have done live on stage.

The real highlight of Nintendo’s E3 approach though has to be the Treehouse Live – almost constant round the clock three day coverage of all their big new games kept interest in Nintendo’s reveals alive long after the excitement for Sony and Microsoft died down. And what games they are! Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS continues to impress (the Palutena reveal making me far happier than it should… perhaps even more so than Pac-Man!) and Yoshi’s Woolly World, the re-woven Yarn Yoshi, looks simply sublime. Classic Yoshi gameplay with that adorable art style and some creative new ideas? Count me in!

In terms of surprises, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker was a game that seemed so obvious in concept that it might never have been made, and though we were all expecting our first look at the new Legend of Zelda… actually seeing it, just wowzers. Stunning visuals, a bold new approach, and open world gameplay will all make up Link’s upcoming adventure on the Wii U. But it was arguably the squid-tastic shooter Splatoon that remains my firm favourite – which is funny really, because I glanced over it a bit during the Digital Event. But having seen more of it via the Treehouse Live, it looks like one heck of a blast, and a much needed shot in the arm for Nintendo’s online multiplayer community. This is definitely one to watch! 2015, hurry up and get here already!

d039243d0917679ed9762e415af2f9e8Brad – First of all, I wanna say that each of the big three did a great job this year. A huge improvement on the previous few conferences gone by even with the high and lows they all shared, most notable being Microsoft who really surprised me with a really enjoyable hour. Because of that, I wanna give a highlight from each of their conferences.

From Microsoft, the entire trailer for Sunset Overdrive made me chuckle and super envious of all the Xbone users out there, because man does that look fun. It has a a bright, comic charm to it that’s undeniably infectious, and the gameplay itself outside of the gunplay looks extremely fun. Also, special shout out to “Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha” for making me laugh (again) like a total idiot, and premiering Rise of the Tomb Raider which I can’t wait to see much more from, even if it’s not an exclusive. Great stuff.

Sony had quite a few strong points. No Man’s Sky finally captured my interest, Uncharted 4 looks visually stunning, and there’s new games coming from the developers of Limbo and Journey, two excellent indie titles. But honestly my favourite moment goes to the announcement of LittleBigPlanet 3, and the pure surprise of it. Reps get on stage, and say “hi, we’re here to show off LBP3” like it’s nothing and the crowd reacted fantastically. Looking at the new cast of characters and the increased creativity options available (and, developed by Sumo Digital!), LBP3 is shaping up to be a great game for this year. Also, I really can’t not mention Arkham Knight. If it wasn’t delayed to next year, it would have pushed me to make it my favourite. Because goddamn, it looked absolutely incredible.

Finally, Nintendo. They had a really enjoyable conference this year with Robot Chicken segments that were tongue-in-cheek laughing at themselves plus fans/critics, and the epically memorable Reggie versus Iwata showdown was super fun to watch play out. However, my favourite moment is almost certainly a tie between the new Legend of Zelda game announcement, and the first true trailer for the upcoming Pokemon generation three remakes for 3DS. I’d say Zelda takes the cake here just for the presentation itself, as Aonuma simply clicked his fingers and suddenly this gorgeous, vast and sprawling huge world appeared behind him, while he explained you could travel to all the areas you could see before you. After a short chase sequence done completely on the in-game engine, I was so excited and happy that I was squealing.

Oh, and let’s not forget the wonderful and beautiful Aisha Tyler, the presenter of the Ubisoft conference for the third year. She’s an absolute star and I hope to see her in the future. It’s been a pretty great E3 2014! Even if most of the games are coming out next year, hehe.

jbJason Berry – I’m with Hero on this one. Nintendo really knocked it out of the park this year. Between the recent launch of Mario Kart 8, the huge Smash Bros tournament at Best Buys, cool original IPs like Splatoon (Which was incredibly fun to play) and a brand new, open world Zelda, things are finally starting to look up. Surprisingly, I was also impressed with X-Box One’s lineup. Especially Sunset Overdrive which is giving me Dreamcast vibes with it’s “Jet Set Radio meets Ratchet and Clank” style of game play, Ori: The Blind Forest was full of feels, playing Halo in 1080P/60FPS is a must and Scalebound from the director of Bayonetta! Sadly, Playstation failed to impress me for the first time in years. I’m sure I’ll love LittleBigPlanet 3, but no other exclusives got me excited.

nucklesisannoyedNuckles87 – E3 was full of nice, small surprises this year. In terms of how much they interested me, this was probably the best year since 2010. Bayonetta 2’s new demo kicked all kinds of ass, of course. As a fan of point and click adventure games I’m excited for the re-release of Grim Fandango, which will be getting a port to Playstation platforms later this year and finally give me a chance to play it. Though I didn’t get to play it since I left my PS4 on the other side of the country, Entwined was a really cool new game to see, and between that and Abzu it looks like Sony is going to continue to amazing by supporting and providing some of the most artistic and creative content in the industry.

On the Nintendo end of things, I am glad they gave us a brief glimpse of next gen Zelda and made it clear that the game game in the franchise was going to be sprawling and wide open. Smash Bros continues to be one of my most anticipated games this year, especially now that Miis and Pac-man are coming. Star Fox, Splatoon and Giant Robot were all welcomed surprises, but my favorite was easily the announcement that Wii U owners will not only be getting an enhanced port of the original Bayonetta, but they will be getting it for free with Bayonetta 2.

As a huge Halo fan, the announcement of the Master Chief Collection was easily my highlight of their conference. Not only are we getting four awesome Halo games in one package, not only are we getting every single multiplayer map, not only will all of these games feature enhanced resolution, but Halo 2 will also be getting the full anniversary treatment, with remade Xbox One graphics! On top of that, they are bringing over the entire multiplayer experience completely untouched, something I’ve been wanting to re-experience ever since the servers for the Xbox version went off line back in 2010.

I really dug this E3. Though this year wasn’t exactly filled with huge announcements, there were more than enough small ones to make me happy. Jason and I also got to hang out with Sven for a bit after the show ended!

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So you might be wondering, ‘hey, didn’t any of you like Sonic Boom?’ well funny you should ask that, we’ll be discussing Sonic Boom (all aspects of it) in a future update.

P.S. This moment was also rather wonderful.

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He can make people bow on demand, he’s that powerful.

So agree/disagree with anything mentioned here? Did something else catch your eye? Let us know in the comments.

TSS@E3 – Hands-on: Sonic Boom Shattered Crystal

Boom-3DS-20For a second opinion, please head over to SEGAbits to check out Shigs’s thoughts.

It’s felt like years since I’ve played a new handheld Sonic title that I’ve really enjoyed. Sonic Colors, Generations and Lost World have all had stages I’ve liked, but as a complete package none of them seem to be able to reach the level of the Sonic Rush titles. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal is going to change that trend, if my time with the E3 demo is any indication.

Shattered Crystal brings some really interesting ideas to the table. Instead of focusing on the typical multilayered super-fast platforming Sonic is known for, Shattered Crystal’s primary focus is exploration, with some brief speed areas in between large, expansive, almost labyrinthine areas. These stages are huge. As I was playing I constantly tried to go off the beaten path to find every nook and cranny, which often resulted in me uncovering small hidden areas. Sometimes however, I found myself on a completely new path that took me further into the game. The exploration is facilitated by the diverse cast of Sonic characters at your disposal in the game.

At the start of the game you will only have access to Sonic, with Knuckles, Tails and Sticks being made available later on. Each of these characters have their own moves that allow them to access specific parts of a given stage: Sonic can blast through these large blue blocks that block certain areas, Tails can glide on air currents that allow him to access high places and get over gaps, Knuckles can dig through specially marked areas to get around walls and access hidden areas, and Sticks can hit faraway switches with her boomerang. Between these different abilities you can solve a variety of simple environmental puzzles and explore an expansive level design that is the very antithesis of “hold right to win”. Doing that here will rarely get you anywhere, except maybe dead.

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Compared to The Rise of Lyric, Shattered Crystal is much closer to a typical Sonic experience. All of the characters have a homing attack, are able to boost anywhere in the game, there are loop-de-loops, booster pads and checkpoint posts, and the overall game just feels a lot more familiar. That isn’t to say there aren’t some serious differences though. Much like the Wii U game, lives have been removed and rings now act as a life bar. It’s now possible to switch between characters on the fly, allowing you to easily choose the right character to bypass certain obstacles. Though this game feels more familiar, it is still quite distinctive in its own right.

Really, for all intents and purposes, this should be an amazing Sonic game, because it tries to correct so many complaints people have with Sonic’s side scrolling handheld affairs. In addition to being extremely non-linear, pitfalls are easy to spot in the opening stage and the game rarely moves with any serious speed. Even with the boost button the game never approaches the speed of the Rush games, which could often move too fast. So what’s my problem with this game?Unfortunately, it’s the level design and the interface.

Both the level map and character selection share the touchscreen, and players have to switch between them in order to access the different functions. In the demo, which starts with all the characters unlocked, this was a problem. In order to move smoothly through a level you need constant access to all four characters so you can quickly switch to them on the fly, but in order to make your way around the complex level design without getting lost you need access to the map screen. This game isn’t slow and methodical like other Metroidvania type games: there is constant movement and action here, and this game is at its best when you’re able to move through stages seamlessly. This interface results in awkward pacing and frustrating stop and go gameplay.

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When I first played the demo I preferred to keep the lower screen on the character selection screen, but I quickly found myself becoming lost and going in circles to the point where I was growing increasingly frustrated. So I switched to the map screen and thought my problems were solved….until I began to run into a constant flow of obstacles that required different characters, a few of which I didn’t realize were there until it was too late, causing me to fall to a lower area and forcing me to make my way back up. So I found myself constant having to switch between screens twice with many of the obstacles I encountered in order to ensure I always had access to the map screen and didn’t become lost again.

As an experiment, on the final day of E3 I attempted to run through the demo with just Sonic as my character. Since Sonic is the only character available at the start of the game, I thought that perhaps I might be able to blast through the whole demo as Sonic and enjoy a more seemless experience. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a Sonic only path, so it seems that all of the characters will be needed to traverse through at least some stages in the game.

As a huge fan of Metroid, I would love to see a Sonic game like this actually work. The most painful part about this is that I feel it almost does. I feel like there is a great game here, hidden behind a frustrating interface that makes exploration and puzzle solving more of a chore then it should be. Interface aside, there are so many parts of this game that work! The level design feels like it could yield endless possibilities and I found myself constantly torn between which way I should go since I wanted to see as much as I could in the small amount of time I would have with it. I love that feeling, and the great thing is that after three playthroughs I know I haven’t seen everything in that one single stage.

The rivals race with Sticks is also a lot of fun. It’s probably the closest this game comes go traditional Sonic, with loads of ramps, loops, Mobius strips and straight-aways. You can go nuts with the boost button here, and let me tell you that in terms of physics this is probably the best handheld Sonic has felt in a long time. The characters feel like they have weight again, rather than hollow plastic action figures come to life. It feels like momentum kind of means something here, too. Finally, there’s also a 3D tube level, which adds a nice bit of behind the back 3d excitement to the proceedings. It’s nothing spectacular, but it was fun.

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After five years worth of E3s, there are three things that can usually be fixed between the demo and the final product: interface, controls, and minor graphical issues like frame rate and texture pop-in. These demos are always examples and works in progress, and I’ve seen these issues be fixed before. This game’s two major problems are its interface and framerate (which fell well below 30 frames for a sizeable portion of the demo), so this game could certainly still be a lot of fun. Personally, I’d like to see the character screen either integrated with the map screen, or mapped to the d-pad like it is on the Wii U version. I found myself preferring to control the game with the analog stick, since the game feels like it was made to work well with analog control. Alternatively, character selection icons could be relegated to one side of the map screen, so they can be accessed quickly there.

Provided Sanzaru finds a solution to this issue, this could be one of the best side scrolling Sonic games in years. If they don’t, this may unfortunately continue the string of mediocre handheld titles that the Sonic series has been left with since they were tied into the console releases. Either way, we’ll find out when the game is released in November.

TSS@E3: Check Out The Sonic Boom Blackboard

Sonic Boom E3 Blackboard

One of the things I miseed while at the Sonic Boom booth yesterday was this huge blackboard which appears to be from Tails workshop where he appears to be studying some of the enemy robots and making a little robot buddy of his own. Also, Sonic, Knuckles and Amy leave some comments of their own on the board as well, with their chalk representing their color. I haven’t seen it around on the internet, so I thought you’d enjoy it in full form.

UPDATE: Official Sonic Website Hints at a Sonic Movie

UPDATE: Confirmed! Sonic movie is happening!

So the official website for Sonic the Hedgehog recently updated (most likely to fall in line with the new E3 Sonic Boom news). However, eagled eyed SSMB member Blue Blood spotted a rather curious addition to it.

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In the top tabs, you can clearly see a tab for TV & ‘Movies.’ And yes this is still live at the time of posting, though the page itself is not 

Now this could just be a play on words, or it might even be a few episodes of Boom spliced together to make a larger story. Though when it follows several big hints that a movie is in the works, this is likely to only add fuel to that.

Comments again you my friends.

Thanks to Blue Blood for the tip.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric E3 Trailer

It’s E3, and you know what that means – games, games and more games! Best of all, we get brand new footage of existing titles and that extends to our very own blue blur. And as such, SEGA have released a brand new trailer for Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric especially for E3. See your first hint at the story of Rise of Lyric and quite a bit of new footage of gameplay and cutscenes with some pretty comedic narration (poor Dr. Eggman!), including your first look at the villain himself – Lyric.

Check it out above and let us know what you think in the comments. We have two of our TSS staff at E3 as we speak, so we’ll be coming at you soon with some original content regarding Boom. Stay tuned!

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal E3 Trailer

Incoming E3 content! Nintendo have just released a trailer for Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for Nintendo 3DS. Showing off a plethora of gameplay from our heroes traversing the environments with their unique abilities, you can certainly see the classic 2D Sonic game influence injected into the game with speedy sections and corkscrews abound. Check it out above and leave a comment below letting us know what you think. Will you be buying Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal?

Sonic Boom Banner at E3

Every year SEGA usually has some Sonic promotional material inside the E3 building. Usually it’s in the form of large decals along the escalators, but this year it’s something different. Sonic Boom’s got a banner at the LA Convention Center entrance. Take a look!

sonicboombannerThough we’re at the show, we haven’t gotten our own photos of the banner yet. We’ll be sure to bring you some of our own photos of Sonic stuff at E3 over the coming days! This photo was posted on Twitter by NintenDaan!

See the Clean E3 Footage of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric

That glorious sound! The gameplay footage recently released by SEGA of Sonic Boom for E3 has finally been released in its full glory. No voice overs or previews, just clean cut in-game audio in high definition. You can hear a little of the music available, and more importantly some of the quirky comments exchanged between our heroes whilst adventuring, some which genuinely gave me a little giggle. These also help to point out points of interest in the adventure field or how to progress. It’s a pretty effective (and entertaining) alternative to helping the player.

Be sure to check it out above and leave a comment below telling us what you think, and keep your eyes glued to TSS during E3 where we’ll have our own impressions to share with you regarding Sonic Boom, and who knows what else.

TSS Review: This LA Convention Centre Escalator

We get a lot of requests here at TSS for reviews and news on various different items. Today we finally review something that fans have requested for a long time… This LA Convention Centre Escalator.

lostworldescalator1

The escalator makes travelling different floors a breeze, one just has to stand on the pannels and hold onto the handrail. The escalator will take you under it’s own power to the desired floor destination. Travel both up and down, no online pass required, multiplayer mode is supported with aproximately 20-30 people able to use the esculator at a time with a co-op mode for parents with small children.

lostworldescalator2

The escalator has a built in safety cut off switch and emergency power off button. This is designed to prevent injury in case of emergency, such as a badnik attack. The views from the escalator are catered to the videogaming individual, with directions to various exhibits and demonstration booths, as well as merchandise and refreshments stalls.

Transportation takes under 30 seconds. This is recommended escalator for those attending E3.

And it looks awesome.

You’ll Love

  • + You can go up.
  • + You can go down.
  • + It’s free to play!
  • + It looks amazing.

You’ll Hate

  •  – You’re not at E3 =(

Source: Gamekyo

Stick to TSS for more E3 news this week.

RUMOUR: Episode 3 to be Announced at E3?

TouchGamerCommentTouchGameplay recently uploaded a 13-minute long gameplay trailer for SEGA and Hardlight’s upcoming mobile game, Sonic Dash. So why am I telling you this again? Well, what’s interesting is the above comment made on the video by TouchGameplay. They claim to know that SEGA are currently working on a ‘new 2.5D Sonic game’ due to be released this year, which would fit nicely into the category of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 3. Of course, it could be a completely different main-series game or it could be pure speculation. Who knows?

Excited? I’m sure you are! As always, we’ll keep you updated with all the latest as soon as we hear it!

Thanks to SweeCrue over at the SSMB for the heads-up!

SEGA Reveals Their E3 Lineup

SEGA has revealed their list of games they will be showcasing at E3 this year (not including any possible surprises). Among them is Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, so expect to see more media and information revealed when the show opens on Tuesday.

* Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
* Aliens: Colonial Marines
* Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz
* The Cave
* Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
* Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown
* Jet Set Radio

A currently unannounced digital download port of Sonic Adventure 2 is also expected to make an appearance.

Source: SEGA Blog (via SEGA Bits)

WIN Tickets to Video Games Live in Los Angeles!

Hey, you! Are you going to be in Los Angeles next week? Video Games Live, the awesome orchestral extravaganza dedicated to video game music, is going to be playing at the Nokia Theatre on June 6th – and thanks to our friends Tommy Tallarico and SEGA of America, The Sonic Stadium has five pairs of tickets to give away!

These tickets are extra-special, though. Not only do you get to see the show with a friend or loved one, but you get VIP backstage party passes which will also give you instant front-of-the-line access to the post-show meet and greet! Which will involve Sonic Team leader Takashi Iizuka among other “special guests” from SEGA. Continue reading WIN Tickets to Video Games Live in Los Angeles!

Sonic Boom: Behind the Scenes

One of the most frequent questions we get asked every year is whether or not Summer of Sonic would ever be held in the United States, but due to many reasons “SoSUS” never come to fruition. Unsurprisingly though there has been a huge demand for a Sonic convention state-side, and it was really only a matter of time before one materialised.

With the Sonic’s 20th anniversary around the corner, SEGA of America spearheaded plans to create their own official convention, the appropriately named Sonic Boom. Aaron Webber, the newly appointed Sonic Brand Manager took on the role of chief coordinator for Sonic Boom and got in touch with Dreadknux and myself a few weeks back, and cordially invited us both to the event.

We didn’t need to be asked twice!

The convention had been carefully timed to coincide with the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles’ downtown convention centre venue. Sonic Boom was scheduled to take place in the moody and ambient environment of Club Nokia, a versatile bar come night club within walking distance of E3; a perfect site to celebrate twenty years of Sonic the Hedgehog.

I arrived at the venue early in the afternoon with Aaron, and before we’d even made our way upstairs we were greeted by fans queuing outside Club Nokia; some of them had been camped out since 6am that morning in order to score a place inside the venue as they had not been able to acquire a ticket. If that’s not dedication, I really don’t know what is! Kellie and Julian from the American community team (who you will know from the Free Stuff Friday videos!) were running around upstairs in the venue coordinating the setup of stands, pods and making sure everything was in place – a familiar scene to anyone who has been involved in the organisation of Summer of Sonic!

Even more familiar faces were up on stage as Jun Senoue, Johnny Gioeli and Alex Makhlouf (from Cash Cash, the band involved with the Sonic Colors soundtrack) were performing a dry run of the tracks they were going to be playing later on that evening. After a warm reunion with the guys I sat back to take some snaps and enjoy the privileged position of being an invited guest backstage at an event. I must have looked pretty dumb, but nevertheless I could not get rid of the huge grin on my face as the guys blistered through their fresh new set list, which included a brand new version of Sonic CD’s “Sonic Boom” and Sonic R’s “Super Sonic Racing”. What’s more, Alex’s accompaniment on synthesiser added another layer of ecstasy to the already monstrous set, and took the lead on the funky fresh new version of “Escape from the City” which will be gracing the in-game soundtrack for Sonic Generations!

I got an opportunity to briefly catch up with Johnny after rehearsals, and as always was up for a bit of laugh, as you can see from the picture (although I don’t think SEGA will be taking him on as their new mascot – stick to your day job, Johnny!). Another act rehearsing on stage before the doors opened was the cast of Needlemouse the musical. American fans will remember this bunch as the winners of the 19th anniversary competition last year, and were the lucky recipients of a trip to Japan to play Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode One. These guys were fantastic and incredibly animated on stage, so much so most of us assisting set up had to pause to watch and laugh at the jokes they were cracking. AJ and the bunch came to talk to me after their run-through, and were even kind enough to let me have my picture taken with them – an absolutely great bunch of guys and gals and well-deserving of the incredible ovation they received later in the evening (watch their performance here!).

By 5 o’clock the venue was taking shape, with the merchandise stands set up (each entrant received a Sonic hat, a special edition Sonic Generations T-Shirt and badge set) and nearly twenty gaming stations were primed and ready to give the throng of rabid Sonic fans outside a chance to play the demo of Sonic Generations. A number of photo booths had also been established to allow fans to record photographic postcards and video messages for Sonic’s birthday (you can check out Aaron and my postcard here, Dread’s postcard here and Yuji Naka’s here). Outside a huge queue of fans had formed, eagerly awaiting entry into the venue. Aaron and I went outside to rattle the crowd up a bit, and got to shake the hands of a few fans that had recognised Aaron and me.

At 6 o’clock sharp the doors opened and the mass of fans piled in. I took a brief trip upstairs to the VIP lounge, where the likes of Iizuka-san, Oshima-san and Naka-san were meeting other industry members at an exclusive VIP event. Unfortunately I was not introduced to Naka-san, but I was reintroduced to Iizuka-san, who smiled courteously as we had already met that week! Dreadknux appeared at the venue after his busy day at E3 (and was fashionably late as always!) and we proceeded downstairs to the main event floor.

A heap of guys came to greet Dread and I (there are far too many of you to mention!) and it really made our day – so if you came up and said hi, thanks loads; it really a pleasure to meet you all! TSS staffer, Sonic Retro writer and Sonic Show star Brad Flick was down on the time trial competition station hastily jotting down top scores on Green Hill Zone – you will have to keep an eye out for some hilarious pictures of Brad and Dreadknux in their bronik poses! Similarly to Summer of Sonic, there were a massive variety of cosplayers at the event too, including SSMB’s own mikeblastdude who came in an awesome Metal Sonic getup, and an excellent Charmy the Bee cosplayer. We also caught up with Scarred Sun from Retro and Shayne representing TSSZ news. I’ve never met either in reality before so we got to have a good chinwag and posed for a few photos for posterity – both are fantastic people and I certainly hope we get to all meet again in the near future.

Aaron appeared on stage to welcome all of the guests to Sonic Boom, and it wasn’t long before Jun, Johnny and Alex were on stage blowing the socks off all those in attendance. A lucky few spotted Naka-san on the event floor and managed to grab his autograph and a photo before he disappeared backstage once more. Jun, not one for passing up the opportunity to meet fans, came down off stage with the legendary Sonic guitar to sign autos and pose for pictures with a handful of fortunate fans.

Following Needlemouse: the Musical, the best of the cosplayers were invited on stage to participate in the cosplay contest, and Iizuka-san, Miyamoto-san and Senoue-san were all invited up to wish Sonic a happy birthday and to sing him a happy birthday song…and of course, Sonic was present too, along with his birthday cake! It wasn’t long before Dread and I found ourselves up on stage, telling the Los Angeles crowd all about Summer of Sonic. I had been really nervous beforehand about how the crowd would receive us on stage (especially considering the acts we were following!) but the audience were really receptive, and cheered us on – thank you all for letting us talk to you briefly, and hopefully we’ve enticed some of you to come to Summer of Sonic!

Naka-san and Miyamoto-san, along with Oshima-san joined the cast on stage at the end of the show once again and were presented with the graffiti artist’s drawing of classic and modern Sonic which had been created over the course of the evening. I’m sure most will agree the evening past all too quickly, and before long it was time to close up the evenings proceedings.

Dread and I pitched in to assist with the clean up, and ended up collapsing in the dressing room to have a chin-wag with Alex (who is also a massive Sonic nerd by the way!) After moving a precious cargo of guitars, we emerged on the street next to the Nokia theatre and ran into our good friend Richard Jacques, who was just as surprised to see us as we were to see him! Exhausted, we crashed for a few drinks at a local bar as well as a few last photographs of the day, and toasted the success of Sonic Boom.

I’d like to end by applauding the fantastic job Aaron and the team at SoA did putting together an event of this magnitude in such a short period of time, and all those involved in the stage entertainment over the course of the evening. America has now had a taste of a Sonic convention, and I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of Sonic Boom. I’d also like to thank Aaron on behalf of Dread and myself for sponsoring our trip to Sonic Boom; I’m sure I also speak for both of us by saying we are both honoured and flattered to have been considered during the creation of this event to represent Summer of Sonic; we’ve had the time of our lives, and I’m sure I speak for hundreds of other fans when I say…

SONIC BOOM ROCKS!!!

E3 2011 Preview: City Escape in Sonic Generations

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQuphp-hQGA

Nuckles87, the cooler than cool T-Bird and I have just finished a behind closed doors look at the City Escape level from Sonic Generations. Playing the game for everyone was producer Takashi Iizuka. There were a few surprises in store.

He first played through as classic Sonic who avoids the street almost entirely. Running and jumping around constructions areas and over rooftops. There’s a more classic version of “Escape from the City” playing with lyrics. (NOTE: Both versions have a brand new remix. Modern version has extra new lyrics.) Throughout the classic level, the GUN truck was chasing little classic Sonic both in and around backgrounds, giving the 2-D levels more of a 3-D look. This truck has a vendetta. He hates Sonic with a passion and want to run him down no matter what. Classic Sonic did ride on a board similar to the ice level from Sonic 3. Unfortunately, he quit the level before getting to the end.

The truck was very persistent, as he then was following Modern Sonic. His level plays very similar to the Dreamcast version as he rides the blade and follows a similar but different path than the original. Much like classic does in Green Hill Zone. The big difference is Unleashed-style gameplay coming into effect. Guess who makes a return to tell you what to do? That’s right. Just like in the original version, Omachao is back.  The badniks in both levels are the same mechs from the original SA2 and you homing attack though them in the same way. Along the way, you can see missing posters. I noticed one had a picture of Ray and Mighty, while the other had Bean and Bark. At the end, the GUN truck is chasing you down, similarly to SA2, only this bad boy has friggin’ sawblades sticking out all over! Iizuka died when he ran too slow on the side of a wall and the truck hit him. A good producer, just not so good a player.

 

Sonic Generations is looking better and better. I don’t think there can be a better 20th anniversary homage to this little blue blur. Now I wonder when we are getting video of Spagonia?

E3 2011: Sonic Generations Preview

Last year, Takashi Iizuka separated the Sonic fandom into classic fans and modern fans, claiming you couldn’t please both. A year later, one of Iizuka’s own creations looks like it will prove this statement false.

This is it. If Sonic Colors could qualify as a dessert, Sonic Generations is definitely looking to be the main course. The HD graphics are beautiful, better then Unleashed. The physics in the classic game play are nearly dead-on, with all the momentum of the classics intact. Modern Sonic’s levels are as fast as they were in Unleashed, without any pesky QTE sequences getting in the way. As awesome as Sonic Colors was, I can’t help but believe that any disillusioned Sonic fan who still believes Sonic is still down in the trash of the gaming industry will finally see this game as his redemption.

Graphically, Generations is a veritable tour de force of color and style. The art style of Green Hill shines through vividly here. The flowers and rocks and green checkerboard grass are all how you remember them, except this time rendered in stunning fully 3D HD polygons. It’s great to see the classic style of the old games rendered so well here. On top of these beautiful graphics, Sonic Generations is also the first game to be rendered in eye popping 3D across all platforms! That’s right, the 3DS version isn’t the only one getting the 3D treatment. Both the PS3 and the Xbox versions will be capable of displaying in 3D. The 3D effects aren’t terribly noticeable during classic Sonic’s game play, but during the speedy sections of modern Sonic’s level the 3D really pops. Things aren’t all rosey with the visuals though. Much like the Sonic Colors E3 demo last year, this demo does have a rocky frame rate. The game can become really choppy at times. Hopefully this issue will be resolved by the time the game arrives in stores this holiday.

Despite the funky frame rate, the game is still incredibly fun to play. Classic Sonic’s game play is likely to be the biggest crowd pleaser. I’m happy to say I tried all the tricks Brad told me about for Sonic 4 last year, and the results were good. Unlike Sonic 4, Sonic Generations’ Sonic does not stop dead in his tracks or in mid air when the player stops pushing forward on the controller. Sonic cannot stroll up inclines, nor can he stand on walls or in loops. Gravity will push you down hard if you don’t gather enough momentum.

That being said, classic Sonic still moves way faster than he did in the Genesis games, and the level design itself is a bit different. There are still a lot of bumpers that bounce you around in some places, but there is not one booster pad in site. There were many diverse paths to try as well. It’s not an exact replica of the classic Genesis games, but it still acts as a nice, effective homage.

Modern Sonic game play is as you’d expect: really fast, very boost centric, and incredibly hectic. Modern Sonic’s version of Green Hill is a fun level, and it’s certainly well designed. Those disappointed with Sonic Colors being a mostly 2D game will be happy to know that at the very least the Green Hill stage is more 3D then it is 2D.

All in all, Sonic Generations is shaping up to be even better then Colors, and something that should finally please retro fans and modern fans alike. This game does indeed outdo Sonic 4, Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic Colors in on fell swoop, if this stage is any indication. Hopefully, this game won’t hit any pot holes along the way, such as the sudden revelation that classic Sonic is murdered and replaced by a jealous Bubsy the Bobcat half way through. Fingers crossed, people!