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 the Hedgehog Has Been Inducted Into The Video Game Hall of Fame

Sonic the Hedgehog has now been put in the accolades of fellow major video game franchises such as Pac-Man, Super Mario and Zelda. Today, Sonic the Hedgehog has been inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame. With Sonic being well known for his speed, it didn’t take long for Sonic to reach the Hall of Fame that’s now celebrating it’s second year. Here’s the announcement from the official site. Continue reading Sonic the Hedgehog Has Been Inducted Into The Video Game Hall of Fame

Tails Can’t Handle This 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Credits Sequence

One of the things we’ve loved about the Nintendo 3DS SEGA re-releases is just how much time and care has been placed into every title. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is no exception, having recently landed on the Japanese eShop. It’s all down to developer M2, whose efforts clearly show that they care about the games they’re looking after. This is no more apparent than in this quirky credits sequence for Sonic 2. Continue reading Tails Can’t Handle This 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Credits Sequence

Side Scroller Sanctuary: A Classic Trilogy Retrospective

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 08.59.00
Art by Veronica Vera, Not Enough Rings

This is a retrospective I did of the classic trilogy of Sonic games for SEGABits, celebrating the hedgehog’s 23rd anniversary week last year. I decided to spring (get it?) new life into it, since I was feeling pretty nostalgic today and recently played through these fantastic titles again I remembered how much of a treat they are. Let’s get to straight into it!

Ah, birthdays. The perfect times for parents to get out those old, embarrassing pictures of you when you were a baby. Our spikey blue hero is no exception to this, however his own classic outgoings were never something to be embarrassed about. In fact, many fans still refer to the original trilogy of games as some of the best games the series has made. I’m not far removed from this ideal, and as such I wanted to look back at these old gems of classic gaming, chronologically.

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

Filled with the sights of chequered hills, loop-de-loops, and the iconic sound of the SEGA chant on the boot up, the original Sonic the Hedgehog released in 1991, setting the stage for a future 23 years of Sonic. So much about this classic has been said already, but it’s worth giving it another run through, right? Let’s look at why this title is so iconic, and how it laid the groundwork for the future.

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Sonic’s well known for his speed, yet this title doesn’t really capitalise on that gimmick during your time with it. A key element with Sonic is that speed is earned as a reward for your skill and mastery of a level, and this really is the title which began that train of thought. Green Hill Zone is easy enough and gives the player plenty of freedom to get used to Sonic’s top speeds and style of level design, but immediately after, Marble Zone punishes you for trying to charge in without thinking.

This isn’t the only zone which forces a player to slow down and plan what their next moves are. The iconic Labyrinth Zone brings Sonic to the speed of snail underwater, all while avoiding deadly enemies and remembering to collect those all important air bubbles to ensure you don’t drown. Fortunately, in between these two platform heavy zones are Spring Yard and Star Light. As long as you’ve mastered rolling by that point, there’s crazy high speed thrills to be had.

Rolling is the key way you’ll be the speed demon this time around. Since the hedgehog has a speed cap on foot, putting yourself into a ball lets you bypass that. This is where the idea of rewarding a player’s mastery of a level comes in – you’ve gotta know what dangers lie ahead and the layout of the acts so you can most efficiently beat the clock and overcome the obstacles in your path. My current best on Green Hill is about 24 seconds.

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To finish the game 100%, you’ll need to defeat the final boss with six Chaos Emeralds in hand. Collecting the emeralds wasn’t much of an easy feat back in the day, especially when you’re going in blinded – the rotating stages could often get frustrating, especially if you didn’t know what you were doing (GOAL? That’s not my goal, that’s the exit!), and accessing them in certain zones was a nightmare (specifically, holding onto 50 rings). More recent versions like the current mobile ports allow you to quit and retry special stages, making it significantly easier on the player. A change I welcome, since it’s totally optional.

Sonic the Hedgehog is a solid title. It’s a little overrated nowadays, but without the iconic ideas it introduced we wouldn’t have its two sequels that built on the ideas and created fantastic experiences. The level design is solid, the visuals for its day were great, you can achieve a great sense of speed and the bosses are nice mix of challenging to simple. If I was going to recommend a version of this game to you, it’d certainly be the rebuilt mobile version, even with the touch screen controls. It’s the best port of this game to date.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)

Jump to a year later, and say hello to Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Building upon its predecessor, Sonic 2 features more zones, more Chaos Emeralds, more bosses, more characters… and is commonly referred to as one of the best titles the Sonic series has ever made. It’s certainly one of the most popular and best selling, and only helped to propel Sonic to further mainstream popularity back in the day.

I think part of what makes Sonic 2 so successful are its zones. Sure we start with the typical green hill-ish zone once more, but immediately after we’re thrown into Chemical Plant, sporting purple water and giant ramps to roll down. Later on down the line there’s an ocean of oil, a bright casino, a chase in the sky… these unique level tropes were fantastic to look at and run through. All of these are enjoyable in their own way, sporting some individual platforming and exploration ideas in all of them. Not all of them live to this standard, but even then they still have some great level design.

Side_spring_sonic_2

Something that should be noted about Sonic 2 is that the design has shifted to push much more of the “speed” gimmick. You’ll find yourself flying down giant hills and soaring into the air often, and loop-de-loops are common. This makes for some exhilarating moments you feel in control of. This speed focus can also be seen in the inclusion of the brand new move, the Spin Dash, now a staple of the franchise. Revving yourself up and releasing to a top speed is extremely satisfying, and helps to overcome those ramp issues you might have struggled with once before.

This doesn’t mean Sonic 2 is devoid of the platforming that Sonic 1 embraced fully. You’ll still need to slow yourself down at points and slowly make your way through areas. However, I can’t deny that Sonic 2 feels more linear. As long as you’re not playing blind, for most of the game you can comfortably charge forward and not get punished too often – apart from one or two zones. You can make up your mind if this is a strong suit for the hedgehog or not.

Sonic 2’s lowest points for me come in two areas – Metropolis Zone, and the special stages. Metropolis Zone is well known to be Sonic 2’s most difficult stage for good reason. The badniks are the toughest in the game and most cheaply placed, often found in almost unavoidable spots. You’ll find Shellcrackers waiting at the top of high ledges to knock you back down, or running ahead where a Slicer will suddenly appear and throw its twin blades at you. But aside from these guys, there’s platforming blocks with spikes that stick out of them, conveyor belts above lava, gears that you travel across, corkscrews to run up and black platforms that crush you. The corkscrews should be noted as one of the more challenging obstacles since they’re almost always littered with the exploding Asterons who will knock you down to the ground the minute they detect your presence. And the worst part? All of this goes on for three acts, rather than the usual two.

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And anyone who played Sonic 2’s special stages will understand where my pain comes from. Like the previous game, you’ll need 50 rings to access them, however this time it’s via checkpoints via levels. Never assume past the first few zones you’ll get to the special stages without actively trying to keep your rings. The special stages themselves are now iconic, sporting a half pipe design and littered with rings and bombs. Often though it’s difficult to see what’s ahead of you, I feel the design of them tries to confuse you in later stages. There’s no chance you’ll complete all of them blind. It took me many tries on later special stages to get to the end, and remember if you get thrown out you’ll have zero rings and have to collect 50 again. And of course, there’s nothing more frustrating than having the ring count needed and reacting to a sudden bomb in your way, but Tails just isn’t fast enough and you lose out on the goal. It could be just me, but I’ve always found these stages a nightmare, even more than Sonic 1.

Overall, Sonic 2 is a much more enjoyable title than its predecessor to me. It builds on the good of the original and expands on it. The level design gives more freedom for thrilling moments, the spin dash is a smart and satisfying addition to Sonic repertoire, the music is catchier and captures the essence of each zone brilliantly and the visuals look great and really capture the atmosphere of the zones. If you pick it up on mobile platforms, you also get access to the once forgotten Hidden Palace Zone through a certain pit which many remember the misery of…

Sonic 3 & Knuckles (1993/1994)

And finally, we come to the big one. Famous for making use of “lock-on technology” and creating the biggest 2D Sonic game to date, Sonic 3 & Knuckles is the true version of Sonic the Hedgehog 3. There’s so much more content here and improvements, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles to date still stands as my favourite title in the series, and my most played one too.

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Pushing on from Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles goes on to push more of a mix of high speed sequences and platforming. For me, it’s almost perfectly balanced here. There’ll be times where the hedgehog will do his thing and curl into a ball and zoom across the screen at a thrilling speed, and the game won’t punish you for having that fun. But then it slows down, and you have to methodically make your way through areas. Even the famous water zone Hydrocity contains high speed, water slide based segments. The design of the levels is expansive and feels far more immersive to travel through in general, since all acts and zones have transitions here.

Storytelling is a much bigger thing in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Unlike its predecessors which story was told in the levels themselves (to such a subtle point, you wouldn’t be reprimanded if you didn’t know it existed), this title actively shows the adventure which the speedy blue hero has through effective zone transitions, and events within levels which change their atmosphere (see – Angel Island setting on fire). The story isn’t intrusive, but still pushes you to want to keep moving and defeat Robotnik and his scheme to build the Death Egg. It’s also nice to see the rivalry between Sonic and new character Knuckles build and build to a point where they butt heads, and eventually unite. Seeing the Death Egg rise again above the clouds in Sky Sanctuary Zone feels suitably like a challenge to the player, and works on a great story level also.

The game contains fourteen zones overall, which is a pretty comfortably long adventure. These zones also continue with the unique zone trope ideas, creating a collection of enjoyable levels which never feel like retreads of ones you’ve already been to. What’s even better is that zones can be different from act to act – it might just be visual differences like Mushroom Hill’s seasonal changes throughout the zone or seeing the Death Egg in the background of Launch Base, but certain zones like Sandopolis go from traveling a outside in the desert to being inside a pyramid haunted by ghosts, and Lava Reef goes from being a scorching hot cavern to being a crystal wonderland.

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Alongside the focus of storytelling and unique level tropes, Sonic 3 & Knuckles also contains music unique to each act. This aids the progression idea significantly, but is just downright a pleasure to listen to. Act 2 is commonly a remix of Act 1’s music which feels just different enough to be both recognisable and brand new. It really helps create an atmospheric change too, such as Launch Base Act 2 feeling like a calm before the storm, or Hyrdocity Act 2 feeling like you’ve travelled to the deepest part of the waters. A special exception is Lava Reef Act 2, which completely changes its music style to suit a complete new area, and an idea of a mystery unravelling itself – this area leads to the discovery of Hidden Palace Zone where the prophecy of the Doomsday fight is, and where the Master Emerald lies.

The special stages here are the most enjoyable I’ve played in the series thus far – Blue Spheres is even a little addicting. The idea is to turn all the blue spheres into red, but touching a red sphere kicks you out of the stage. Unlike previously where you had to collect 50 rings, these stages are accessed via hidden giant rings in stages. This encourages the player to explore these large stages high and low. The stages themselves contain I believe the right mix of challenge for those who are blindly going in or are experienced – obviously, if you know these stages well, it’ll be smooth enough sailing to fight against the increasing pace, with only a little pressure kicking in at top speeds in later stages. But a newbie player will feel that pressure each time they enter a new stage. I never found myself wanting to throw my controller in rage even when I was kicked out once or twice on my first tries, it often felt like a mistake on my own fault. Either way, it’s always satisfying to create a square of red spheres and turn them into rings.

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There’s a few other little improvements I want to mention about Sonic 3 & Knuckles too. First off is the ability to have multiple save files which comes with level select, meaning you can pop in to any zone you fancy after you’ve finished. Second run throughs with Super/Hyper Sonic is something you may do often, I know I did. I also enjoy how each character feels just unique enough to want to use all three – Sonic’s has a insta shield which gives momentary protection, but more importantly he can take advantage of the new elemental shield powers which are a lot of fun (my personal favourite is probably the electric shield – double jump plus a ring magnet), Tails’ flight ability is finally usable here and helps out newbie players in difficult area and to find hidden secrets, and Knuckles has his own unique pathways and specifically designed sections (and story!) only he can traverse through. Because of this, replayability is far increased from what was there previously. Finally, I think the game’s multiplayer needs a little shout-out. These aren’t anything much more than races against a friend, but there’s fun to be had and the music found in these levels are hidden gems.

The reason why this title will stand among all other to me within this franchise might be partially down to nostalgia, but everything it does it does so brilliantly to me. It succeeds on a lot of levels – it takes steps visually with the environments, the music is lovely and easy to get addicted to, the level designs feel sprawling and fun to speed through, the story is told non-intrusively but is still surprisingly engaging… it feels it took all the best and worst elements of the previous two and made it all just downright fantastic. All three of these games will always stand on a pillar to me for their impact of the franchise, but this game especially holds a special place in my heart.

What are some of your favourite memories of the classic games? Sound off in the comments below and let us know.

Happy 20th Birthday Sonic the Hedgehog 3!

Sonic3_titleIt still feels like only yesterday! Sonic the Hedgehog 3 turns the grand old age of 20 today, marking two decades since the title hit the shelves way back in 1994 for the SEGA Megadrive / Genesis; this date also marks the anniversary of the introduction of Knuckles the Echidna to the franchise. While not one of the best selling Sonic the Hedgehog titles to date, Sonic 3 is heralded by many as one of the definitive titles released, along with it’s sister title Sonic & Knuckles, which will also be celebrating it’s birthday later this year.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 still causes debate to this day with regards to the level of involvement Michael Jackson may have had in the creation of the soundtrack.

How will you be celebrating today? Maybe you’re having a speed-run party, rocking out to some remixes of your favorite levels, or perhaps you’re digging a hole in the back garden to hide your emeralds in? Share your thoughts, ideas and reflections in the comments!

Kickstarter for Megadrive / Genesis Retrospective Art Book Launches

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The popularity of crowdsourcing to fund projects has gained much momentum recently, and only a few months ago, we featured a news article for the Not Enough Rings parody comic book, which was successfully funded.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the release of the SEGA Mega Drive (or Genesis, depending on where you live), a new kickstarter project has been launched by Read-Only Memory (creators of the Sensible Software book) which will be of interest to many of you: SEGA Megadrive / Genesis: Collected Works. This project looks to be nothing short of amazing, describing itself as a compendium of production artwork, interviews and development sketches.

The book will of course showcase a host of Sonic the Hedgehog material, but will also contain much from other loved franchises such as Streets of Rage, Phantasy Star and Golden Axe to name a few; it also aims to feature images and illustrations that have seldom been seen by the public across its 300 pages.

In addition to this, the creators of the book have already secured interviews with an incredibly impressive line-up of SEGA staff, past and present, including Naoto Oshima, Kazuyuki Hoshino, Yuji Naka, Yuzo Koshiro and Yu Suzuki.

For a pledge of £30 (about $45), you can secure yourself a copy of what is set to be the ultimate coffee table history book. If you’ve got the cash to splash, £250 will not only get you a copy of the book, but an exclusive limited edition print (1 of 100), created by Naoto Oshima, especially for the campaign.

At time of writing, the campaign has already doubled its initial funding goal, so you can pledge in confidence. This is surely one book you don’t want to miss out on!

[P.S. If you love your kick-starters, you might want to check out Far From Faith, a comic set to be animated by the very talented Lynne Triplet, known to many of you at TRiPPY of NiGHTS fame!]

SEGA 3D Classics Confirmed for Western Release

It seems that Sonic the Hedgehog is finally coming to the Nintendo 3DS eShop… but this time, he’s not alone: he’s got some friends along!

Through a recent Nintendo Direct Mini, Nintendo of Europe President Satoru Shibata has recently confirmed that the SEGA 3D Classic series will be coming ’round the European eShops soon, with the SEGA Blog confirming North American releases as well. Added features with the Genesis rereleases include 3D depth, a staple for Nintendo’s appropriately named handheld, and toggling sound formats if 3D Sonic the Hedgehog is of any indication.

Nintendo Direct Mini Presentation – 18.07.2013

Though no official release dates have been given yet, the following games, announced from 5:15 onward, are set to roll out in the near future!

  • 3D Altered Beast
  • 3D Ecco the Dolphin
  • 3D Galaxy Force II
  • 3D Shinobi III
  • 3D Sonic the Hedgehog
  • 3D Space Harrier
  • 3D Streets of Rage
  • 3D Super Hang-On

Plan on downloading these babies once they reach their street dates? Giving a whirl on Mega Drive titles you never got the chance to play before? Picking up a bigger SD card for your 3DS as a precaution? Taking up extra shifts for extra money? Finding the com—you get the idea.

Mash-Up Monday: Dilapidated Sky High

Nothing like kicking off the week with PUNCHING and KICKING and such! Feel like the world’s turning against you for some reason? Then RAGE!

This quaint little music mash-up was put together by foreversonic from RadioSEGA! Featuring something that most SEGA fans would enjoy, especially those of this Genesis classic, is always welcome!

Dilapidated Town from Streets of Rage with Sky High Zone from the 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog 2!

https://youtube.com/devicesupport

Found an interesting mash-up somewhere on the web? Have one of your own that you’d like to see get featured on The Sonic Stadium? Then what’s the hold up? Send what you got over to vizardjeffhog@sonicstadium.org!

“Sonic the Hedgehog: Omochao Edition” Will Test Your Skill, Patience

What started off a joke hack has become so much more.

Everybody knows that Omochao is annoying, but only one man has the balls to make an entire ROM hack out of it.  Sonic the Hedgehog: Omochao Edition is an exercise in obnoxious from Sonic Retro staffer Cinossu that injects Sonic Team’s favorite floating tutorial into the classic Sonic experience.  While many people will be initially turned off by Omochao’s presence, there is much more to this hack than meets the eye, as it fundamentally changes the entire Sonic the Hedgehog experience.

The hack’s premise is to avoid being annoyed.  See that ring?  Don’t touch it.  See that badnik?  Don’t touch it.  If you do, Omochao will pause the game to inform you of your miniscule accomplishment and play the 1-up fanfare.  With every object you touch, the fanfare becomes longer and longer, making you reach for your emulator’s fast-forward key.  There have been many “don’t touch stuff” Sonic hacks in the past, requiring players to have lightning-quick Sonic skills and an intense amount of patience, but this one bests them all.

At this point, you’ll either be so annoyed that you switch off or be compelled to power through Green Hill without touching anything to collect the game’s medals and rewards.  While it sounds impossible in theory, Cinossu and his testers have been thorough, finding the optimal paths that require the least amount of item contact.  There is a way to beat the stages, but you have to stop, think and be smart about it, using the tight controls and level design present in the original Sonic the Hedgehog.  If there is a section where item contact is necessary, the game gives you an “Omochao Protective Shield” that allows you to progress without being disturbed.

Also, check out this “perfect” run of Labyrinth Zone.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Omochao Edition is more than a novelty, as it brings more than a patronizing robot to the table.  You’ll be able to select any stage from the outset (presented in a well-designed hub world) and medals and rewards for perfect play.  If you can get over the initial annoyance of the hack, the additions and improvements reward players for dedicated play and elevates this hack above other “joke” hacks that lose their appeal after a few minutes.  Future updates will give Omochao a voice through Cinossu’s SonMP3 plug-in, additional levels and Retro Channel support, allowing players to share their frustration online.

As noted, this hack is not for everyone, but if you want to give it a shot and avoid Omochao, here’s what triggers his prompts:

  • Collecting Rings
  • Item Monitors (doubly bad, as each individual item inside will also bring up a message)
  • Invincibility Running Out
  • Power Sneakers Running Out
  • Extra Lives
  • Destroying Badniks
  • Bouncing on Springs
  • Stepping on or Pushing Objects on Buttons
  • Getting Hit
  • Getting Killed
  • Drowning
  • Getting Game Over (will also eject you from the level and reset your saved Emerald Count)
  • Getting Time Over (will also eject you from the level)
  • Touching Lamp Posts
  • Getting the Giant Ring (without a protection shield)
  • Finishing the Act (without a protection shield)
  • Finishing the Zone (without a protection shield)
  • Hitting the Boss (without a protection shield)
  • Defeating the Boss (without a protection shield)
  • Getting in that Last Hit (without a protection shield)
  • Collecting a Chaos Emerald
  • Touching a GOAL Sign

Good luck.  Download and learn more about Sonic the Hedgehog: Omochao Edition here.

Sonic Comic Review #226-229: “Sonic: Genesis”

In Sonic #225, Eggman created a new Death Egg that he took into space to reset the entire world. He not only succeeded, but shot Princess Sally to death with a gun turret. What precedes was supposed to be a celebration of Sonic’s 20th Anniversary, but turned into a boring, dragged out story that adds nothing to the main comic. The characters are for the most part, vanilla in their behavior and everything seems by the numbers. By the time it is over, everything is back to the way it was at the end of 225 making this entire detour pointless. This is Sonic The Hedgehog: Genesis.

It begins after the big reset with Sonic (who’s now looking more like his classic self, but still has the green eyes) running through Green Hill and bashing some Motobugs. He comes across Snivley who’s been capturing Flicky’s to encase into Badniks for his uncle, Dr. Eggman. Snivley attacks Sonic using the old ball and chain bit from the first boss encounter. Sonic smacks it good and Snivley flys away in his damaged Egg mobile. Sonic then opens up one of the cages from Sonic 2 (only now in a Sonic 1 level) to reveal some Flicky’s along with Antione Depardeu (his last name from the cartoons), Boomer (AKA Rotor. Now going by his old name. Wait, “Boomer” was the name of the traitor in Silver’s book. Could it be?) and…hoo-boy. Sally.

Now you’re likely saying “What? What problem do you have with Sally?” Well, you see folks, the last two major arcs in the comic have had half the attention taken away by Sonic and Sally’s relationship. One was supposed to focus on the villainous wizard, Iron Queen taking control of Mobotropolis, but half the story was focused on Sally dating a cyborg monkey and Sonic not liking it. The current arc is supposed to focus on the…villainous wizard, Ixis Naugus taking control of Mobotropolis (I’m starting to see a pattern here), but half the focus has been on Sally and Sonic dating again. Now, she’s back in this “not-a-reboot” and her and Sonic flirt with each other and make lovey-dovey faces at each other through the whole story. It’s not that I hate Sally, it’s just that I hate what’s being done with her and Sonic as of late. Well, let me rephrase that, I DO hate this version of Sally in particular. Those who accuse her of being a “Mary-Sue” may have some fuel to the fire here. She’s little miss perfect. Everyone’s in love with her. SHE gets her memories back whereas Antione and Boomer don’t. On top of all this, she can now communicate with birds by singing to them like she’s Snow flippin’ White. But the worst aspect of this Sally is her need to have a man constantly come save her. When she’s not constantly surrounded by Antione and Boomer, she’s wanting Sonic’s help. Late in the story, Sonic leaves them behind and Sally is constantly wishing she’d have tried harder to keep him around. So much for the tough, independent gal from the SATAM cartoons. This Sally is apparently nothing without a man in her life.

Now, Antione and Boomer are written fine if not by the book. Antione is silly, does his bad french accent and gets himself into a lot of trouble. Boomer is actually better than he’s been in years. Not only does he have his mechanical smarts, but brawn to match his brain. I’d like to see this version of Rotor stay around. Tails is done very well. He’s not only tech-smart, but back to being the over-eager boy who wants to go with Sonic on his adventures and stick by his side.  Sadly, as much as I liked Antione and Boomer, they added nothing to the story outside of comic relief.

Now back to the story. Part of what makes it boring is that it just goes through the paces of the classic games (Sonic 1 and 2 in this arc) without much plot development. This is especially true of the first two issues. Issue 226 has Sonic and the Freedom Fighters going through the stages of Sonic 1. Avoiding traps along the way and fighting Eggman in a classic boss fight at the end. Issue 227 has Sonic and the Freedom Fighters going through the stages of Sonic 1. Avoiding traps along the way and fighting Eggman in a classic boss fight at the end. Do you see where this could have been done in one issue instead of two?! Watching these characters go through the old videogames stages is not that entertaining. It’s like one of those old, throwaway promotional comics that would show the hero going through the first stage of the video game. It’s okay for a short read that tells you about the game, but very dull when stretched out over two or more issues.

Issue 228 does pick up a bit. Sonic has the Freedom fighters meet Tails for the first time. Boomer is wowed by Tails technical know-how (Watch it Boomer.  He WILL replace you). They then…go through the stages from Sonic 2. Avoiding traps. Yadda, yadda yadda. At least we finally get to know why Eggman reset the planet in the first place. It’s not explained in this particular story, but way back in the past, an alien race known as the BEM took away Eggman’s ability to Roboticize and freed those who already were. Doing the big reset apparently removed that little curse and now Eggman can roboticize (or as it’s called here, “Robotize”) the entire planet at his whim. Snivley mentions that the Death Egg is now powered by the seven Chaos emeralds which they managed to get off-panel. “SIGH!” Back on Mobius, Sally and Sonic come to a breaking point. Sally wants to shut down Eggman’s operations at the source while Sonic wants to tackle him head on. When Sonic gets a flashback of Sally’s death, he decides to head after Eggman without the Freedom fighters to keep Sally safe….WHERE’S THE LOGIC IN THAT?! He’s keeping her safe by leaving her on her own with the others when he’s been saving their necks from traps this whole time?!

Anyway, in issue 229 (which you should pick up just for the great fan funny I wrote in the back of the book “shameless self-plug”), Sally and the FF’s go through the Oil Ocean Zone while Tails flies Sonic straight to Eggmans base in the Metropolis Zone. Sally manages to shut down the oil plant which manages to…shutdown the power at Eggman’s base in Metrolpolis zone? Okay, wouldn’t shutting down an oil plant just kill fuel supply and not kill power directly, or am I just thinking too hard on this? Anyway, Eggman escapes on a ship to the Death Egg and Sonic follows. Both Sally and Sonic (but not the others) get most of their memory back and Sonic has a big duel with Eggman in his giant Egg Robo from the final boss battle in Sonic 2. He very stupidly mentions to Sonic that the Death Egg is powered by the seven Chaos emeralds to which Sonic takes a cut power line and feeds the Chaos energy current directly into himself. Now that he’s super, he disposes of Eggman’s mech easily and uses Chaos Control to reset the reset. Sonic then writes “Hi Sal” on a window of the Death Egg to Sally and as she waves goodbye to him (Note: she’s on the ground, He’s in space. How can she even see him?!), a white light bathes them both. The end.

Where do I begin? Well, I’ve already shown some of the negatives, so let me first shine some light on the good things in this mini series within a series. First off is the artwork. The first two issues were drawn by legendary Sonic artist, Patrick “Spaz” Spazinate with layouts by Tracy Yardley. The final two issues were done by Yardley himself, though you could barely tell because the transition was done so well. Actually, I preferred Yardley’s art on the last two issues. Spaz’s work was great of course, but it felt like a mish-mash of two artists instead of one because, well. It was! That doesn’t change the fact that it’s the best artwork I’ve seen in the book in years. If nothing else, Genesis is pretty on the eyes. Excellent work from both artists.

Also, it should be noted that while I don’t care for the way Sally was treated in the story (Remember girls, you need a man in your life at all times!) and Sonic to some extent, I felt the rest were handled well. Tails especially. I loved seeing him and Sonic racing through Chemical Plant Zone together. Now, back to the bad.

This comic was just plain dull. The second issue told the exact same story that the first issue did. It doesn’t pick up at all until the third issue and even then, it feels like it’s just going through the paces so you can see some of the levels from the old games. It’s slow and that’s not something I’m used to from Ian Flynn. Even in his worst stories (the Silver arc in Sonic Universe comes to mind), the pace is fast and full of action. Here, it feels like it’s plodding along to meet the four-issue mark so they can sell it as a graphic novel. It could have easily been told in two issues instead of four. It treads the same material over and over. “Another earthquake! Eggman must be behind it!” “Look out for XX trap at the XX zone!” “Let’s fight Eggman again!” “Look! I am Antione and I am doing something silly and getting into trouble! Not unlike C-3PO!” “I’m Sally and I want sonic so bad! Why did I not try harder to convince him to stay with us?!”

Now, I know what you’re gonna say. “But Jason! It’s not really over yet! 230 has a prologue!” It doesn’t matter. Sonic: Genesis was billed as a four-part mini-series within a series and that’s how I’m reviewing it. If 230 has some Genesis effects pouring into the main continuity (like Rotor staying Boomer I hope.), then maybe there was some value to come out of this book. But frankly, the way I see it now it was a pointless endeavor to try to add a 20th Anniversary celebration to the comic and a major letdown for an arc that was hyped since the San Diego Comic Con of last year. I think this would have been better off as a separate mini-series just to see how Ian would handle the comic if he were to start it all over again. In the end, “Genesis does”….nothing to move the plot of the main story. What a waste.

Overall Score: 5/10

By the way, since the main arc is so incredibly long, I’ll just be reviewing it issue by issue. Sonic Universe will still be review once every four issues unless you’d like me to review it issue by issue. In which case, comment below to tell me.

Classic Mega Drive Titles Coming To PSN, Sonic 1 Now Available

After being exclusive to PS Plus members for four weeks, Sonic the Hedgehog was made available to purchase from the PS Store for non-subscribers yesterday in Europe, and Tuesday in the U.S. The game costs £3.99/$4.99 and continues to be free of charge for PS Plus subscribers for another week. Trophy hunters will be pleased to hear the game does indeed include Trophies; 12 of them to be exact.

Bronze
* Centurion – Get 100 or more rings
* Clear Green – Clear the Green Hill Zone
* Fast Green – Beat Green Hill Zone Act 1 in under 35 seconds
* Fast Marble – Beat Marble Zone Act 1 in under 80 seconds
* Star Light Zone – Get to the Star Light Zone
* Spring Yard Zone – Get to the Spring Yard Zone
* Labyrinth Zone – Get to the Labyrinth Zone

Silver
* Chaos Emerald – Get one Chaos Emerald
* Chaos Master – Get all the Chaos Emeralds
* Win – Beat the game
* Fast Win – Beat the game in under 40 minutes

Gold
* Perfect Win – Beat the game without dying

SEGA’s Digital Campaigns Manager Mike Kebby took to the EU PS Blog yesterday and announced the release schedule for three of five other SEGA Mega Drive titles making their way to the PlayStation Network.

* Sonic 2 – free for PS Plus users on April 6th, released onto PS Store on April 20th
* Streets of Rage 2 – free for Plus users on May 4th, released onto PS Store on May 18th
* Golden Axe 2 – free for Plus users on June 1st, released onto PS Store on June 15th

Altered Beast and Comix Zone will be released afterwards, but unfortunately SEGA’s not set dates for those titles yet.

As yet we can’t confirm the release dates for Altered Beast and Comix Zone, but they will be rounding up our Mega Drive Classics schedule.

Source: EU PlayStation Blog

Nostalgia Trippin’

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A resident member of the SFGHQ forums, my buddy Cstyler showed up on Monday with a pleasant and awesome surprise.  He has created these images of the old Genesis levels with a pseudo-3D viewpoint.  Each aspect of a level’s background is twisted and skewed to create a new, yet trippy, perspective.  In short, they’re epic.

These images have become an instant hit and I thought that I’d share them with the rest of you.  If you have a standard 4:3 monitor, they make a great desktop wallpaper (they’re not quite to scale, but they’re close enough). Spring Yard, pictured above, is especially epic.  Check out the entire gallery of these new look classics past the jump:

Continue reading Nostalgia Trippin’

Green Hill + Green Hill = Euphoric

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL2aB–sYt8

Just a quicky for you guys here on a chill Sunday.  I stumbled upon this Green Hill mash-up earlier and I thought that it sounded like the greatest thing ever.  YouTube user, Akuago220, combines the original Green Hill orchestration on the Genesis and lays it over the updated version found in Sonic Adventure 2: Battle.

It’s ear sex, man.

Be Sociable and Win a Megadrive/Genesis Ultimate Collection LP!

If you’re one of these hip, cool people who loiters on the Global Networking / Distraction from work site facebook, you can have yourself an opportunity to snag yourself a nice bit of SEGA Megadrive history. Many of you will know that SEGA have produced a limited run SEGA Megadrive Ultimate Collection LP, featuring 6 tracks from SEGA titles such as  Ristar and Golden Axe (for those of you who are too young, an LP is one of those big black disc things that your Mums and Dads have at home in the dusty cabinet – usually featuring Barbera Streisand’s hits and ABBA Gold).

Anyway, if you fancy having a crack at winning one of these, for purely aesthetic purposes or not, head over to the SEGA facebook page, and vote in the current poll that is going: “What is your favourite SEGA Megadrive/Genesis series?” To increase your chances, let the peeps at SEGA know WHY the series is your favourite in the comment box.

If you’re reading this, you are now by law required to vote Sonic…not that he’ll need any help mind you…

Only losers don’t listen to “LOSER”

Hey, do you not want to be a loser?  Then, check this shit out.  Indigo Rush tipped us on a sweet Sega Genesis tribute album, called “LOSER,” and I’ve been listening to it for the past few hours.  I can officially say that it’s badass and you’ll like it.

The album contains an amazing number of tracks, 39 total, of classic Genesis tunes.  A majority of the tracks are Sonic tunes, but Phantasy Star, Ecco, Streets of Rage, Shinobi, Golden Axe, Altered Beast, and more are remixed for your listening pleasure, too.  Man, there’s even an awesome Lemmings remix!

There are a few duds on the album that suffer from poor instrumentation, execution, “playing it safe,” or all of the above, but most of the songs are quality remixes.  If you want to just skip to the Sonic songs, the second-best Sonic is track #23, Casino Night Live.  It’s the classic Casino Night melody played by a small jazz combo with some great solos and improvisation.  As indicated by the word “live,” it’s also performed by real instruments, so the lead trumpet doesn’t sound like a bunch of FL Studio turd.  The combo is tight, clean, and extremely talented.

While that song is pretty wicked, I did say that it was “second best.” Track 34, simply called “Sonic,” is the best song on the album.  This near 8-minute, not safe for work epic features many Sonic songs back-to-back.  The catch here is that there are two guys rapping over it and it’s the best thing that you will ever listen to this year. I’m dead serious. I laughed for about an hour, showed it to all my friends, laughed some more, and made this post. If you don’t have time to check out the entire album, do yourself a favor and at least listen to track 34.

Visit the official site of “LOSER: A Sega Genesis Tribute Album” and download it right now!

Play Sonic 3D Blast Flicky-Free

Sik, over at Sonic Retro, has completed his hack of Sonic 3D Blast that removes the Flickies from the game, leaving you to run around and play the game as if it were a true, isometric version of a Sonic game (where the goal is to simply make it to the end without dying). I must say that I enjoy 3D Blast one-hundred times more than I did (I didn’t really like it, so that’s a huge improvement). Who knew that taking out the entire crux of a game could make it more entertaining?

In this hack, Flickies will still appear, but you will no longer be able to collect them.  The big rings will always let you proceed to the next area and any areas (like the tube in Panic Puppet) that prohibit your advance due to your Flicky count will allow you to go anyway.

With all this fun to be had, however, it must be said that now that the lost, core mechanic of the gameplay makes the game much easier. It was designed around Flicky collection and now you can just blow through every stage without a need to explore every corner of the isometric worlds.  Still, I hate Flicky collection, so it does not bother me that much. I have never been arsed to play this game all the way through, so here’s to Sik for making a mediocre game interesting.

Head on over to Sonic Retro to download the hack!

The Crossfire: Retro Rebooting

Guess who has been busy? Me! Sorry for you Crossfire fans who have had to wait an entire month, but them’s the brakes. With college kicked into full gear, in addition to more Sonic Nexus development after the surge of popularity, I never usually get time to myself. Working on the project, with it being a classic Sonic title and given the positive response that it has received everywhere, got me thinking about something…

In the past week, I have played the absolute hell out of Mega Man 9, Capcom’s return to the original Mega Man series and 8-bit gameplay and presentation. I am enjoying every minute of it, because I am not just riding a wave of nostalgia, but I am also impressed with the refined gameplay. The fact that a game straight out of 1988 can be successful in 2008 is downright admirable and eye-opening. It makes me wonder, as a Sonic fan, if a retro reboot is in order for another blue hero: Sonic. Would a 16-bit foray treading new ground be a commerical success or another step towards irrelevancy? Today, we take a look at whether or not SEGA has the potential to make some magic, akin to Capcom and Nintendo, and if looking backward has the potential to push forward.

Continue reading The Crossfire: Retro Rebooting

Sonic 1 Concept Art Reveals ‘Sonic the Hedgehog Band’

A new discovery within the Sonic community has unearthed new concept art for the original Sonic the Hedgehog game on Mega Drive that features the blue blur in a band, along with a host of new characters that would have predated Miles ‘Tails’ Prower as the hero’s sidekicks. Continue reading Sonic 1 Concept Art Reveals ‘Sonic the Hedgehog Band’

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 BETA – Playing the Legend

Sonic 2 Beta. The image that sparked the biggest conspiracy in the Sonic community was a picture of a level select screen that no-one had seen before, found in the Official Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Guidebook. The booklet featured whole black and white maps to all the levels to the Mega Drive classic and included every cheat possible… Of course, there was one little thing that no-one could quite figure out. Continue reading Sonic the Hedgehog 2 BETA – Playing the Legend

Games Update: Classic Cheat Codes for Your Mega Drive Games

Remember the good old days, when you could use a third party cheat cartridge to expand the limits of what you could do in your favourite Mega Drive games? We do! Which is why we’ve updated the Games Back Catalogue on The Sonic Stadium with a range of codes that you can use on Game Genie carts to play around with some classic Sonic titles.
Continue reading Games Update: Classic Cheat Codes for Your Mega Drive Games

Pulling ‘Sonic Crackers’

Sonic Crackers was announced for the Sega 32X soon after Sonic 1 and 2 was released on the Mega Drive. It’s initial WIP title was actually ‘Sonic Stadium’, believe it or not! Crackers featured much of the same action that you can now find in Knuckles Chaotix, which was released in 1995. It was assumed that Sonic Crackers was lost to the world, but a ROM of the prototype has surfaced and we can now tell you the odds and ends of this curious little game. Continue reading Pulling ‘Sonic Crackers’

Sonic 2 Gets A Cheeky PC Port in Japan

Remember when Sega of America was producing a Mega Drive classics pack for the Dreamcast? Well, it seems like Sega Japan is also getting in on the compilation action – only on PC. Whereas a single Sega Smash Pack exists in the US right now, in Japan there are three such bundles for Windows computers, one of which includes Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Continue reading Sonic 2 Gets A Cheeky PC Port in Japan

TSS REVIEW: Sonic 3D Flickies’ Island

Here’s the final Sonic game released on the Mega Drive, before the blue blur moved on to the Sega Saturn. On a similar note, but on a different whistle, this game marks Sonic’s debut on Sega’s 32-bit powerhouse. A totally new ploy has been devised by Eggman, involving Flickies. These strange birds live in another dimension and can warp anywhere via large rings. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic 3D Flickies’ Island

TSS REVIEW: Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

This is a rather unusual ‘Sonic’ game. Firstly because it’s actually Puyo Puyo in disguise, and secondly because although it features Sonic characters (Robotnik for example), the blue blur himself is nowhere to be seen. Our favourite belligerent scientist can no longer stand the happiness of Beanville, so he intends to use his new invention, the ‘Mean Bean Steaming Machine’ to transform the village’s bean-shaped inhabitants into slaves. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

TSS REVIEW: Sonic Spinball

Sonic Spinball sees Sonic thrown into a world of pinball objects. While you might think that’s quite a basic premise, the game actually feels pretty unique. It’s not your average pinball table… The story? Well, Sonic’s gotten himself in trouble again, isn’t he? After an airborne encounter against Eggman on the Tornado, the blue blur is flung into the sea and into Mount Robotnik’s sewage duct. At least Sonic can begin his counter-attack in earnest. Just watch the smell. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic Spinball

TSS REVIEW: Sonic 3 & Knuckles

When Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are locked together, they produce one of the greatest Sonic the Hedgehog games ever made. This page largely focuses on the changes between playing the games together compared to playing them individually.

Our extensive guide starts off with when Sonic and Tails defeat Eggman at Launch Base. You don’t fight Big Arms from Sonic 3 in this extended version, which is nice. You are then moved on to S&K’s Mushroom Hill Zone, but SEGA have added an extra scene to the beginning of it. It features Knuckles being very sneaky and hiding something. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic 3 & Knuckles

TSS REVIEW: Sonic 2 & Knuckles

Well, here we are with Sonic 2 & Knuckles. It’s Sonic 2, only you play as Knuckles! Still with us? Cool. Graphically speaking, obviously if Knuckles from S&K was just plastered onto Sonic 2, then he’d look weird, so SEGA has done a good job recreating Knuckles so that he doesn’t look out of place. The only downside is, unfortunately, this is still Sonic 2 – you’re just playing as a different character, so no points on the originality side there. But who cares if you’ve got S&K with Sonic 3, right? Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic 2 & Knuckles

TSS REVIEW: Sonic 1 & Knuckles (Blue Sphere)

OK then. I’m not going into great depth with this one, but basically Sonic and Knuckles, when linked with Sonic 1, gets you this monstrous mini-game thing. You can play as either Sonic or Knuckles, through literally millions of Sonic 3 Special Stages. Sounds fun eh? Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic 1 & Knuckles (Blue Sphere)

TSS REVIEW: Sonic & Knuckles

Sonic & Knuckles arrived in the form of a very clever lock-on format cartridge, so that SEGA could continue their massive Sonic 3 saga. To get the most out of S&K, you of course need Sonic 3 but if you don’t have it, SEGA has made it compatible with Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 as well. But on its own, S&K makes for a decent game too… Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic & Knuckles

TSS REVIEW: Sonic 3

A new character, Knuckles the Echidna, is the guardian of a very special Emerald. This is called the Master Emerald, and it is even more precious and powerful than all of the seven Chaos Emeralds. The Master Emerald is situated on the Floating Island, and Knuckles has sworn to protect it – no matter what. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic 3

TSS REVIEW: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Unlike most sequels, the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is actually BETTER than its predecessor. Featuring a new character, Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, and a new two player mode, there’s a lot to keep you occupied. Robotnik starts terrorizing the planet again by capturing all of Sonic’s furry friends and turning them into robots. But now he also has something more sinister in mind. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic the Hedgehog 2