Last year, Nintendo has announced that they will be closing the doors of the Wii Shop Channel for the original Wii indefinitely on January 30, 2019. The change comes as the company has moved on to online networks for the 3DS and Switch, and so, after more than twelve years of activity, the Wii Shop Channel and all its services (Wii Virtual Console, WiiWare, and Wii System Transfer Tool) will go offline at the cut-off date early next year.
UPDATE: I just found out and added that Marvelous (then known as MarvelousAQL) helped with Mario & Sonic London 2012 3DS!
Hello again! 🙂 Over the past while I’ve made lookbacks covering two Sonic games on Nintendo systems, specifically Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity and Sonic Unleashed, both for Wii, and I thought, you know what, why don’t I just cover the whole history? Of course, the opinions in this article reflect my own thoughts and may not reflect the thoughts of the other Staff members. With that, let’s start from the very beginning…
A rivalry past, comes friendship to last
Yep, as I hinted in part 1 of my lookback featuring Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, I wanted to do my next one on Sonic Unleashed for the Wii! Have a look at part 1 right here (and comment! I’d really love some more feedback. ).
So now onto the lookback:
So this is what everyone considers to be the afterthought version, the side project, the thing to chuck out there for a quick buck… which apparently worked too well as the Wii version was apparently not only the highest selling version, but APPARENTLY outsold both the PS3 and 360 versions combined. Well that’s one reason Wii got Colors exclusively.
So for a long time we always thought it was mainly by Sonic Team with Dimps doing the daytime design work, but after exploring the endless world of the interwebs, I found the websites of Xeen and O-TWO and spotted the Wii version on both sites under games they worked on. As I noted last time, those two indeed worked on Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, and there’s the old interview where a Sega employee (think it was at one E3) where it was said it indeed used the Zero Gravity engine, all signs point to it being correct.
The game runs in 480p, 16:9 widescreen like Zero Gravity and all other Sonic games on Wii, however it runs in 30fps, also like every other Wii Sonic game except for Zero Gravity. Why did a spin-off accomplish what main games wouldn’t do? At least not until Sonic Lost World, and even then Zero Gravity is a locked 60fps where Lost World dips at times…
For those unfamiliar with the latter two teams, Xeen actually was the main dev of Rhythm Thief on 3DS and O-TWO mainly works on various 3DS eShop games like Skater Cat and Cube Tactics, they also helped on the more recent Puyo Pop games.
So here’s another thing to point out and it’s a biggie. The Wii version was basically the darling of most review sites, while the HD versions were slammed and some even rated it lower than Sonic ’06, ouch. I’ve only played the 360 demo in terms of HD version experience and it wasn’t my cup of tea, all the footage I’ve seen so far shows it being NOWHERE near as bad as Sonic ’06, and no, I don’t think Sonic Boom will be either, there was more than just technical issues being why Sonic ’06 was poop.
So what about the Wii game itself you ask? Well I REALLY liked it, it certainly has some glaring issues which of course I’ll dive into, but first let’s talk about the gameplay.
It’s very true the game is pretty one-sided in favor of the Werehog stages, basically for every day stage, you get 3 night stages. Some night levels even take place like 3-5 in a row, yikes. But the daytime stages are purdy fun. One thing I really enjoyed was the limited boost usage where it’s divided into small bursts at a time rather than go hedgehog wild. It allows you to strategize more in when to use it, also I like how after every 30 rings collected, its max amount increases AND fully restores it. I also like that *puts flame shield on* it’s SLOWER! I don’t like boosting like a bajillion miles and hour with little to no control, no sir, I don’t like that. Just give me a sense of going fast but being able to see things around me and being able to control what the hell I’m doing while boosting!
A major bonus on Wii is the medal system, you never have to worry about searching far and wide (I ain’t singing it, get that out of your head!) for medals, instead they’re rewarded depending on your rank in all levels, where as B gets you one, A gets you two, and S gets you all three medal in the level. Much easier. I just encourage you to try and get an S rank in the night levels on the first go if you don’t want to play them again.
Speaking of the night levels, here you focus on using the Wiimote and Nunchuck to fight in a sort of Wii Boxing/Punch Out style, and honestly, once you get the hang of it, it works REALLY well, I never used another control setup, I know, crazy right?
S ranking in the night levels is a bit tricky, you have to collect all the experience (called Force), rings, and beating the stage fast enough. But just be quick and break and collect everything you see and you should be okay. Here’s a tip: instead of punching boxes and whatnot, RUN into them, they break automatically thus saving you a lot of time.
So how about dem graphics? Well it’s no secret it’s not as pretty, and frankly, it’s not even close to the graphics of the Colors team’s output (Secret Rings, Black Knight, and Colors), hell, the game runs in 30fps so to me it’s kind of beneath Zero Gravity. Plus there’s something BIZARRE about the image quality where when the Werehog stages begin, he looks VERY weird with how the jaggies move about, like it’s not polished and… ugh, I can’t put my finger on it! The game could’ve used the useful Deflicker technique where it softens the image to reduce jaggies, like a free fake Anti-Aliasing of sorts. A lot of Sonic games on GC and Wii used it, as most famously Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl. It honestly helps a bit I’ve noticed, but I’m no expert so…
Also need to mention this graphical glitch in the first main daytime Adabat stage where you reach the bottom of a 2D section where you’re on the water, and the water just flickers really badly, but this is the only case of that, but it always does that there.
However, when played in HD on Dolphin, it surprisingly shines! Here is a gallery made by a person named zetabio who made DOZENS of screenshots of it in 1920×1200.
So all-in-all, I really enjoyed the game and I highly recommend it as long as you’re not going to puke as soon as you look at it and don’t mind the Wiimote controls. Actually it supports the GameCube controller (not usable at the moment on Wii U of course) and the Classic Controller if you prefer.
I’d give it an 8.0 out of 10. It’s not my fav Sonic game, but I still really enjoyed it as I said. It’s hard to say if I prefer Zero Gravity over Unleashed, I kinda prefer Zero Gravity due to it’s vastly superior polish.
That’s it for now! Hope you’ve enjoyed the 2nd lookback. Hopefully I’ll do another down the road again, but these two were the most under the radar/underrated of the console games last gen so I felt the warranted lookbacks the most.
This will be the first in hopefully a line of lookbacks I will be doing related to our fav Hodgepodge err I mean Hedgehog.
I also plan on hopefully getting some video content down the road for the site, mostly I’m waiting for YouTube to unlock their 60fps setting so you can see classics like Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and the recent Sonic Lost World in glorious 60fps, I’ve done some clever editing of 60fps recordings to blend them to 30fps showing a “fake” 60fps video (which I will show an example of below!).
Also I want to address anyone that’s wondering if a 3rd Big Red Button research post will happen. The answer is actually yes, BUT I will wait for Sonic Boom’s release and compile the credits and then dig into it to get the info on who else worked on it. So for now it’s on hold until then.
But for now, let’s get to the lookback!
Why are you looking at this? This is crap! You may ask. Well to me, it is NOT! And I will explain hence the point of the lookback.
For one thing, this is a pretty damn technically competent game, and what I mean by that is, this game first of all runs in a brisk 60fps not only in gameplay, but in ALL in-game cutscenes, just like in Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and Sonic Heroes. Second, it supports 480p and 16:9 widescreen, so it’s pretty nice even on an HDTV. Now I can’t speak for Sonic ’06 as I’ve (blissfully?) not played it, but I believe it is the ONLY Sonic game of last gen (Wii, 360, PS3) to run in 60fps all the way through and not in either certain parts or very unevenly throughout. Same goes for the cutscenes, Sega’s been pretty happy with always forcing cutscenes nowadays to run in 30fps only (this includes in Sonic Lost World to my disappointment), so this game really does do things later games by the main branch of Sonic Team don’t, think about that.
Now to talk about the gameplay. For me, the gravity mechanic is honestly inferior to the air mechanic in the original, however, the Gravity Dive is pretty satisfying to use, as is the gravity turn technique when you do it right. The items to me don’t really matter much aside from giving you rings and gravity power. The special attacks mean nothing to me as they activate right away and you may not even be able to reach an opponent, also you don’t need it if you’re ahead. You can seemingly use these attacks to access shortcuts specific to a class, but I never get it to work right (likely just me) XD.
Now the part most hate, the controls. To me, they’re JUST FINE! If you’ve played the original on GameCube no prob, then you’ll feel right at home with the GC controller here. On Wii U, you’re forced to use the Wiimote only seemingly (think you can use it on its side or vertically), I tried it on its side Mario Kart Wii/Excite Truck style and I actually had no real issue with it.
Now for other bits, note that this does indeed include the late Deem Bristow’s voice clips from Sonic Adventure 2: Battle for Eggman. Mike Pollock does actually contribute new lines for the gravity moves which work. Also this is NOT the only game of the gen to use the original voice actors! You’re asking “What?! I’ve not heard such a thing, what are you referring to?”, well I’m referring to Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games on DS! That game features reused clips for Omochao and Big from Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Adventure/Sonic Heroes respectively (Omochao just says “Ciao” HA… and Big says, what else, “Froggyyyyyy”).
So what about that video I promised? Why it’s below, footage I recorded of the game in the “fake 60fps” I mentioned. I recommend you download the video in 720p, and watch it in 1/2 the size on your offline player for the cleanest and smoothest viewing experience, in case your internet lags the framerate. Enjoy!
So my views overall on the game? I think it’s very much worth playing. By the way, I’ve beaten the whole story. I actually like how the cutscenes feel very Sonic Adventure 2: Battle-esc, in some scenes like one with Jet, the scenes ends abruptly, just like in SA2B, so that made me smile as hey, anything that reminds me of that game is cool in my book.
The story itself is also feels like the Adventure-era, it’s deep, not goofy like in the recent games, and Knuckles even references himself as a treasure hunter, nice touch Sega. The best term I can give it? Sonic Adventure as a racing game with the 4kids cast, seriously, it’s even got the Chao market ala the Chao Garden where you buy the gear WITH YOUR RINGS, come on people! XD
Speaking of 4kids, also consider this is the only full-fledged on the mark sequel to a pre-gen sonic game. I don’t put Sonic 4 in this category, that’s another story, but here the game has the same voice cast, the same structure, virtually the same everything, but it’s on a newer-gen console. And I actually really liked 4kids in this. Also Jason as Jet gets bonus points from me for sounding like Terrosaur from Beast Wars (who was voiced byDoug Parker), greatest show of all-time, you missed out big time if you didn’t watch it.
I also next want to address the PS2 version, and sadly I can’t personally speak for it as I’ve sadly not tried it out. I really want to compare the two. I BELIEVE it lacks 16:9 (the back cover shows 4:3 screens and I don’t recall seeing footage in 16:9) and could also possibly run in 30fps as no footage I’ve seen hints at 60fps. I think I’ve heard it does support 480p, but again, I can’t confirm officially without having played it, gotta put that in my to-do list!
Also I personally think it was a Wii game at heart and then ported down to PS2, consider how the original looked on GameCube (developed by Now Pro), the textures in that had no filtering in the stages so you literally saw the square pixels, aka like a DS game, I was floored at that even way back in 2006. Also I think the environments are more complex in Zero Gravity which would be thanks to more advanced hardware. Also it feels like the PS2 version is a downgrade like they removed things rather added any to the Wii version. Take the water in Aquatic Time, the water has lovely reflections of the stage and I think there’s some bump-mapping
Also, I want to comment on Sonic Free Riders on Xbox 360, again I’ve not played (and I certainly don’t want to other than to see how it runs in person), I can’t believe how obviously low budget it looks, for one thing all cutscenes are in stills instead of in full-3D, also it seems to be more in a mission structure if I recall than purely racing, but it could be foggy memory on my part. Something tells me Sega was prepared due to it being a Xbox 360 Kinect exclusive (personally, I think this was a really strange and bad idea) so they didn’t spend as much as they would’ve like in the previous two games, saving on the cutscene work certainly helped them.
Also, ever notice how first, Rumblebee seemingly was absent in Free Riders, second, he was actually the singer also in Sonic and the Secret Rings, AND was the announcer in all of the Mario & Sonic games? Wow, kinda fond of Nintendo ain’t he?
Also, did you know that the developers Xeen and O-TWO also worked on Sonic Unleashed Wii and PS2? Dimps only did daytime stage design work in that. I heard once the game did use the Zero Gravity engine, this pretty much confirms it! I have more to say, but perhaps I’ll save that for the future wink wink nudge nudge.
Anyway, if I had to give a score, I say it’s at least a solid 8 out of 10, but it’s just my opinion because I love what it accomplished and think it was a really solid game under any rough spots reviewers said of it. If you’re lucky, you can still find it in the $20-$30 range, sadly it’s the ONE Wii standalone Sonic game that isn’t everywhere still, so you might have some trouble findng it at least brand-new.
So there you have it! I hope this was an entertaining read for you all, and I hope to have more for you later on down the road.
Edit @ Aug 11th, 2014 2:53PM EST: I just remembered this little bizarre point. Anyone remember this article at Eurogamer where Sega confirmed in November 2005 that a sequel to Sonic Riders would be released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3? Huh, wonder what happened behind the scenes that caused this unexpected shift that made the game a Wii and PS2 game instead, hell was it even true to begin with? The world may never know…
Well, you’ve been waiting for this one folks!
SEGA have just announced the follow up to last year’s SEGA All-Star’s Tennis with their new title: SEGA All-Star’s Racing! Once again the huge line up of famous faces from SEGA’s past are pitted against each other on the race course for some high-octane action! Don’t expect to be confined to the ground though! It looks like anything goes in this racer, with the line up of vehicles including cars, planes and…bananas?
The game looks set to include the obvious multiplayer title, but with a few twists, as Gary Knight, European Marketing Manager at SEGA states: “The team have pushed the boundaries on what you would normally expect and created a different and unique party racing title whereby you really can’t take anything for granted!”
The game looks set for an early 2010 release, and will be heading to the Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, XBox 360, PC and Nintendo DS!
Be sure to head over to the Official Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Website to watch the trailer, read up on the game and see some nice flashy in-game screenshots!
So, the next question is, which characters will be making it into the game, and what will they be driving?
Personally, I’m hoping for Big the cat in the Froggy Mobile…
You better believe they will. Spanish gaming magazine ‘Nintendo Acción’ have rumoured a wintry themed follow up to the immensely popular ‘Mario & Sonic and the Olympic Games’ that’s to be announced in the next issue.
The original Mario and Sonic (released November 2007) saw the clash of two great gaming icons for the very first time, celebrating the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. Hints in Nintendo Acción’s text (of which is written in Spanish, of course) state that the next meeting between both SEGA and Nintendo’s mascot characters will not be much different from the first, sad news for anyone hoping for a more traditional style of crossover game.
The scan was first posted on the Internet by unofficial Nintendo blog site ‘GoNintendo‘, and despite pointing them in all the right directions, still classes the sequel as a rumour until the revealing issue is out on the market.
What’s your take on the rumour? Are you all for Mario and Sonic’s second trip to the Olympics, or are you craving for something a bit different this time around? Let us know in the comments below!
Do a Barrel Kart!
Of course you can! Or so says gaming website ‘WorthPlaying‘ last November. It seems twenty one new images of the game were added, some of which SSMB members claim to have never seen before, so why not take a chance and go and give your eyes a good oogle at them yourself? Check out the screen shots here and here, and a big thanks to SSMB members TodStar and Tizo for pointing them out!
Sonic and the Black Knight is heading to the Wii this Spring. You can check out the latest two trailers for the game posted here earlier last weekend!
With the recent announcement of Sonic’s sword wielding Wii adventure coming out next Spring, fans and gamers as a whole were stoked wondering whether or not this was to be the first game incorporating Nintendo’s recently E3 announced ‘Wii MotionPlus’ accessory. Unfortunately however, after some investigation work on Game Informers part, it doesn’t look like any games boasting the new Waggle Plus peripheral are set to emerge for quite some time.
Oh my. Look at all the wonderful colours!
Fear not Wii owners, your retro gaming dosage of Sonic the Hedgehog doesn’t stop at Sonic 3D, oh no! You may remember our very own TSS journalist Shadzter reporting yesterday morning that a mysterious Sonic related game rating appeared on the OFLC web site. Fans of the blue speedster pondered on to what this game might have been, ‘Sonic and the Seven Dwarves’ perhaps? But no, rest assured after confirmation by the ESRB site that it is none other than the original 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog wonder that’s hitting the Wii’s Virtual Console service in the near future.
Thanks to SEGA’s recent ‘deal’ with Nintendo allowing Master System games to become available on the service, for the low price of around 500-600 points you can relive the hedgehog in his glory days by downloading the first game that sent Sonic off flying released in parallel to the Mega Drive/Genesis equivalent. Knowing SEGA and Nintendo, we should also be seeing other Sonic Master System games hitting the service in the future too, those being Sonic 2, Sonic Chaos and maybe even the 8-bit versions of Sonic Spinball and Dr. Robotniks Mean Bean Machine. All of these titles are fantastic fun and VC releases will be great for those unfortunate souls who have never ventured away from the 16 bit era of Sonic before.
Check back with TSS and stay in the ‘know’ about the release of the title on the VC. Keep on saving those pennies- I mean, points!