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.