Sonic gets a mention in Penny-Arcade

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A lot of popular references to Sonic seem to focus on the new Sonic games these days, so it’s always a nice change to see reminiscing about the good old days; something I was delighted to spot when I visited the popular web comic Penny-Arcade today.

Today’s comic delves back into the past of one of their fictional protagonist’s history, in which he was a lowly SEGA fanboy amongst a school of SNES gamers. As well as what appears to be a reference to the horde of Sonic games that appeared on the Megadrive/Genesis (and that possibly Sonic was the only “memorable character” to feature in games on the console?), there’s also a quick quip about SEGA’s obsession with lock-on cartridges and software!

You can check out the new comic here, and hopefully later today there will be a news post which will discuss the subject of the comic in greater detail.

So, did you fight in the console wars, and what was the SEGA/Nintendo split in your playground?

Preview: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games

Ten years ago and the thought of Mario & Sonic appearing in a game together was either a dream or sacrilege depending on how extreme your opinions were. Since Sega left the hardware business and Sonic games crept onto Nintendo consoles the dream started to take shape and were finally brought into crystal clarity in the guise of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. A sports themed minigame collection  might not have been what many hoped for when gaming greatest rivals first met but has proved a popular enough idea to shift over 10 million copies worldwide thus far. A sequel was inevitable and a ‘Winter Olympics’ theme obvious. Not wanting to disappoint Sega recently revealed the existence of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. I was invited down to Sega’s London HQ to take a closer look.

Eager to capitalize on the success of the first game but not arrogant enough to think it perfect Sega have been hard at work improving things for the sequel. Very early on it was realised the DS version suffered in comparison it’s bigger brother on the Wii so there has been considerable effort going in to making each version feel like a different experience. The controls are also getting an upgrade with Sega trying to make them more intuitive and physical. Many sports in the first game had similar controls, especially those involving any sort of running. This time you’re likely to see things mixed up a bit and from what I’ve played I can say Sega are well on their way to nailing that.

A point they were keen to stress was that for multiplayer all events will be unlocked from the start avoiding the scenario of having to unlocking them all from scratch should you want to take the game over to a friend’s house for a knockabout. Apparently many players didn’t get as far as unlocking all of the Dream Events which is a scenario Sega wish to avoid this time round. Speaking of Dream Events Sega have been working closely with Nintendo and have been granted much more freedom with them meaning more items will appear from Sonic and Mario’s world to be used in whatever bizarre races they have planned this time.

The Olympic Committee has been keeping a watchful eye over things as well dictating that the game must be referred to as the “Olympic Winter Games” rather than just the “Winter Olympics”. The agreement is a two way street though and means Sega can feature real world places in the game. For example Speed Skating takes place in a cartoon approximation of the real Richmond Olympic Oval.

With all of the facts out of the way it was time to see the game in motion. The first thing to note before being shown ‘Downhill’ skiing for the first time by a Sega rep was a much improved tutorial that actually had a video detailing what you needed to do before setting off from the blocks. This was immeasurably more effective at getting the message across than reading sometimes pages of text in the original to get a handle on the event. Things only got better from there as it was evident to see the graphics have been vastly improved looking clearer and with more detail on screen. Spectators look a lot livelier and less like cardboard cut-outs and character animation in general has improved to allow more expression in the cast.

During certain races you’re given the ability to ‘boost’ by tapping the A button on the Wii Remote. The animation is different for each character but is usually a throwback to the past. Sonic for example does a spindash while Tails lifts a few feet from the air and propels himself forwards with his twin tails. Mario on the other hand has a spinning move as last seen in Mario Galaxy and Luigi appears to shoot himself forwards out of an imaginary cannon as seen in Smash Bros. As well as looking good tactical boosting could shave a good few seconds off your time.

Only eight characters were available to select but more were promised. On both Wii and DS versions only Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy were selectable from Sega’s team with Mario, Luigi, Peach and Yoshi from team Nintendo. Eggman and Wario features in the games CG opening though and Shadow was shown in a video for the DS but it’s a safe bet to assume all the summer Olympic crew will show up for some Winter Olympic action with the possibility of some new faces. Before I could even ask who the Sega rep in charge said she couldn’t comment on that. I can tell you it won’t be Espio and Charmy of the Chaotix as they resumed their job waving flags and firing the starting pistol at the side of the track.

Two events were playable on the current build for the DS and three were available on the Wii. On the DS the Skeleton and Snowboard Cross; the former being controlled by the stylus alone and the latter using the DS’s face buttons. The Skeleton involves your chosen character hurtling head first down a chute similar to bobsleigh but a lot more dangerous looking and on what appears to be an expensive baking trey. The run up at the start is performed by you frantically waving the stylus horizontally back and forth on the screen until you enter the chute. Then you guide your character left and right, avoiding the walls which slow you down and swiping the stylus up when your character glows yellow for a speed boost. Snowboard Cross couldn’t be more different with you following a course with the d-pad and holding ‘Y’ to lower your character when you want to move at speed. You can drift by pressing the shoulder buttons and do tricks off ramps with ‘B’.

Sega’s goal for the DS version was to try and simplify the controls over the admittedly complicated original but still retain enough scope for skilled players to excel. The DS version will also allow for full 4 player action using just a single cart. To separate it from its big brother further the DS version will feature an ‘Adventure Tour’. A picture was shown of an island a little like the one shown in Sonic Rush Adventure but with more snow. Other than that Sega weren’t giving away any further information about it.

The first event shown in the Wii version was Downhill skiing. It could be played with a variety of control schemes suiting every Wii owner. You could simply use the Wii remote on its own, tilting it to turn your character down a course in-between flags. Add a nunchuck and you have to turn both but crouching with them or holding them low brings your character to a crouch affording them some extra speed. The ultimate combo was with Remote, Nunchuck and Balance Board. I’d never been on a balance board before but it was easily the most fun of all the options even if it was the most difficult to get a handle on. I might have looked like a fool in front of everyone but I didn’t care as my mind was focused on shifting weight to get my character to move in the desired direction. It was an honour to sacrifice my dignity to get into the spirit of the game to give a better insight here.

The fairly simple objective of following the track and staying on the course won’t get you the best time though as more skilled players will venture towards the flags on the inside of the course gaining more speed for their daring. Get it wrong and miss a set of flags and you get a three second time penalty which is instantly added to the clock. Its risk vs reward but if playing on split screen multiplayer it’s very hard to resist taking a few chances to stay ahead or catch up. You can’t fight on the track though as Downhill skiing is usually a solo affair. You opponent appears on your screen as a ‘ghost’ so you can see them as you play at the same time in split screen but you can’t interfere with their race. You can however press ‘A’ for a boost to try and catch up. Be careful though as you only have one so use it wisely.

Speed Skating; 500m was next and the sole control input was a Wii Remote. Again the event looked deceptively easy with you moving the remote from side to side each time making the character on screen put another skate forward. The keyword this time was rhythm. Madly swish your remote from side to side as you do in the sprint portion and you’ll haphazardly move forwards but not very fast. Instead the game informs you if you’re moving the remote too fast, too slow or with a ‘perfect’ in multicoloured letters if you hit the sweet spot. Again you can boost with the ‘A’ button but while it speeds you up it’s easy to mess up the rhythm directly after. Due to a love of rhythm action games this was easily my best event and as ArchangelUK can vouch for me I kicked ass at it on multiplayer.

The final event, the Bobsleigh, was easily the most elaborate. Using the Balance Board in single play or just a single remote in multiplayer it also ended up being the most enjoyable. Bobsleigh was aptly demonstrated by three Sega reps and AAUK sat in a line of chairs. If you’ve ever seen the movie Cool Runnings you’ll know the start of a Bobsleigh race is imperative. Firstly you run, achieved by waving the Remote up and down and in multiplayer. Secondly you need to get in the Bobsleigh itself one at a time, pressing ‘A’ in the right order. Once inside the idea is to hold the Remote to your chest and move from side to side to steer the sleigh down the course. In single player this is fairly easy and if you’re using the Balance Board you can even sit on it for added authenticity. With up to four players in multiplayer things can be a lot more difficult as I can personally attest to. It looked way too much fun to pass up having a go.

All of the events in the first game were competitive in multiplayer but the Bobsleigh is cooperative. You all have to lean in the right direction at the right time to move where you want to go. Sticking to a yellow glowing racing line for long enough yields a speed boost but with three other players can prove a lot more difficult than it sounds. Watching groups of four people playing this on chairs in their living room is going to be hilarious.

So who would win in a competitive competition between Team Sonic and Team Mario? The outcome of the summer Olympics was kept ambiguous but for the Wii version of the sequel Sega is panning a ‘Festival Mode’. This mode pits the two teams against each other in two separate campaigns to decide an ultimate winner of the Olympic Winter Games. 

Both versions of the game were very early in development and its long term success is going to depend on the variety of different sports and how intuitively the Wii’s various controllers are used. Sega can’t afford to rest on their laurels and simply release a Winter Olympic mission pack because this time the novelty of Mario and Sonic together is no longer a unique selling point. Sega are only second to Nintendo in coaxing out the graphical power of the Wii so that’s not going to be an issue. Fortunately on the evidence presented the game is looking good with every chance to eclipse the original in quality and commercial success. It’s an encouraging start with a number of different events each with their own different and fun control schemes. If only other developers put this much though into how to use the Wii’s controllers things would be a lot brighter on Nintendo’s console. So will it be two gold medals in a row for the Olympic duo of Mario and Sonic? Time will tell but on the evidence I’ve seen so far I wouldn’t count it out.

Rumor: Game Gear Titles DS Bound?

Earlier this week, the GoNintendo blog received a tip from one of its longtime readers, Pezmanmike, regarding the upcoming DS Virtual Console service coming to the Nintendo DSi.  While it has been rumored that the first-party Game Boy catalogue would be apart of the DS Virtual Console service, the Game Gear catalogue is now in the mix as well.

The initial Game Boy rumor surfaced after a Club Nintendo event at this week’s Game Developer’s Conference.  Pezmanmike backed the initial rumor that Nintendo mentioned bringing Game Boy games to a DS Virtual Console service, but also said that “SEGA was interested” in the service.  “Nothing is set in stone, but [Nintendo] is looking into it,” Pezmanmike says.

Will classics like Sonic: Triple Trouble become portable once again?  We shall find out.  Until then, I’ll keep playing an emulated version on my Wii.

[From GoNintendo]

Let’s Go To The City With Sonic Town Tunes & Patterns

Are you cool like me in getting a copy of Animal Crossing: City Folk (or Let’s Go to the City for some of you) for Christmas? If so, you must have considered letting your Sonic fanboyism spill into the user created aspects of the game. The Sonic Stadium is here to help, by providing you some catchy town tunes and patterns to design at the Abel Sister’s shop.

When it comes to some town tunage, your best resource is the database at Animal Crossing Community. If you simply search “Sonic,” you can get 85 Sonic songs, even some from Sonic Unleashed, like the Rooftop theme at Spagonia. Green Hill shows up a few times, along with other classic themes, but “Open Your Heart,” “Live and Learn,” and songs from Sonic X are also in the database. My personal favorite town tunes are the “Sonic the Fighters” theme and “Toot Toot Sonic Warrior.”

As for patterns, the Animal Crossing Community is the first place to go for some amazing Sonic patterns.  The site has 1,421 patterns to choose from and most of them are really awesome and detailed, like ones featuring those wicked Sonic Battle sprites.  The site “Animal Crossing Ahead” has about 200 Sonic related patterns for you to gawk at and use. Click here to head on over to the Sonic pattern page at Animal Crossing Ahead.

Green Hill Zone - an old standby

With these links, you should be well-equipped to start a Sonic fashion trend in your town (which is probably named either “Pooptown,” “Buttville,” or “St. Fart” from my estimation).  If you have an awesome pattern or song for Animal Crossing and you would like to share it with us at TSS, drop me a PM and I’ll totally:

a) Put it in my town

b) Fan Spotlight it

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

Nintendo Show First Clip of Sonic and the Black Knight

The other day, Nintendo Japan held a conference and showed the world that they did care somewhat for their core gamers, announcing a heap of games for Wii and DS that are likely to satisfy a few people at least. What interested us however, was the inclusion of the first ever footage of upcoming game Sonic and the Black Knight. You can see the three-or-so second clip towards the end of the video, above, round about 3:45.

It basically looks exactly like Sonic and the Secret Rings, with a sword. And more grey. And an assumption of much more flailing about. There was an open green field though, so that will sort of make up for… something. Interesting reveal nonetheless. Thanks to Brent and Christian who pointed this out to us.

Nintendo Japan Conference Videos

Nintendo: Samba Wii 1:1? Hopefully In A Second Version

We’ve played an early version of Samba de Amigo for the Nintendo Wii. Found it kinda inaccurate in places – but hopefully something that will resolved in the final version, when using two Wii Remotes instead of a Nunchuk. But that new Wii Motion Plus gadget coming out next Spring? Ooh, wouldn’t that have made Samba de Amigo play exactly like the Dreamcast original with no accelerometer guesswork?

Wired.com’s Chris Kohler thought exactly the same thing, and mentioned to Nintendo’s Cammie Dunaway how Sega could have benefited from the new technology – had they heard about it, obviously. Her response?

Wired.com: If I was a developer, and I had a game that was in development that could potentially make use of this, I’d want to delay it until after this device came out. Just as an example, Sega is doing Samba de Amigo, which is a maraca-based music game. With two Wii MotionPlus controllers, you could play the game identically to the original arcade version.

Dunaway: And Star Wars Clone Wars. Hopefully there will be rapid second versions.

Not entirely sure SEGA are all that keen on re-releasing a re-release with technology the console should have arguably had in the first place. Especially since the Wii version of Samba de Amigo comes with Pay-to-Play features to download additional tracks. Could you see a second edition of Samba come Spring ’09? We personally couldn’t, but then nothing’s impossible – look at the Guitar Hero series. Or hell, even Samba de Amigo ver. 2000.

Nintendo’s Cammie Dunaway: I’m Not Faking It – Wired.com’s Game | Life

Japanese Mario and Sonic DS site open

Nintendo Japan have opened a website for Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games DS version.

Aswell as new screenshots and character pages the site show’s how some of the control schemes work with the touch screen. There’s also a page for the events where some aren’t selectable right now and have a shaded screenshot.

Sonic the Hedgehog confirmed for Super Smash Bros Brawl!

It has long been rumored. It has appeared on dozens of fake box shots. Heck, the rumors even made several appearances in retail ads. Now, we can finally confirm it, thanks to IGN: Sonic the Hedgehog will be in Nintendo’s upcoming Wii brawler. Here is a direct quote from IGN’s Nintendo 2007 Conference coverage:

14:24: Smash Bros. has been delayed in Japan until January 24, 2008.

Nintendo shows a new trailer. Sonic is going to be a playable character! The trailer shows him transforming into Super Sonic.

The game will include online fights. In addition, it will have online cooperative play of some form.

That makes two games Sonic will be crossing over with Mario in…within the space of a few months. This has most certainly been an interesting year for Sonic, hasn’t it?

You can view the movie that revealed Sonic here. You can see screens of the character here.

Even retailers want Sonic to Brawl

Before commenting, please read the article thoroughly, as there have been some misunderstandings.

It has long been speculated that Sonic might be in Nintendo’s upcoming fighter Super Smash Bros Brawl. Now, two of North America’s biggest game related retailers, Best Buy and GameStop, haven added even more fuel to the fire, by apparrently including Sonic in their own SSBB ads. Keep in mind that these ads where made by their respective retail companies, and are by NO MEANS a confirmation of Sonic being in the game. This stuff isn’t from Nintendo or SEGA. These ads are very simple cop y and paste affairs using pre-exisiting CGI promotional images from SEGA and Nintendo. Such practices are very common among retailers that make their own ads, and the Wii logo in the ad used below is very commonly used in makeshift (fake) box shots in GameStop ads. Continue reading Even retailers want Sonic to Brawl

Smash Bros Brawl: “Sonic’s Already In The Game”

A Spanish interview with Smash Bros. Brawl director Masahiro Sakurai reveals that Sonic the Hedgehog is already present in the Nintendo fighting game, and awaits SEGA’s approval before implementing him into the final product.

The interview, initially posted by Shakidna on Sonic CulT forums and then translated by ICEknight of The GHZ, is the first real confirmation of Sonic’s existence in the game, and is no doubt news to get many fans excited.

Responding to a direct question of “Are you going to include SEGA’s mascot, Sonic The Hedgehog?”, Sakurai gives the following:

“Well… That’s a tough question, I’ll tell you that Sonic’s already in the game, but we’re still waiting for a last confirmation from SEGA. Due to the proximity of the game’s release, SEGA’s deadline to submit their confirmation is the 26th this month, and in that date the official site will be updated about the inclusion or not of SEGA’s mascot in the game. I’m personally crossing my fingers.”
Continue reading Smash Bros Brawl: “Sonic’s Already In The Game”

Sonic and Mario finally in cahoots!

omfg wut????!?!?!?!?!?!

First off, we’d like to apologize for both our downtime, and being so late to deliver the most widespread of news. Rest assured, though, we’re bucking up, and promise to deliver the latest Sonic News from now on, yadda yadda, you get the deal. Anywho, on with the show…

If you’ve snooped around the internets lately (or Sega’s website, to be more specific), you’d notice this little gem. What’s this? Sonic and Mario? In a game together? This isn’t a photoshop, right?

And indeed, it isn’t! Continue reading Sonic and Mario finally in cahoots!

SEGA Mega Drive games on Revolution

In news that will no doubt carry some irony – not just because SEGA and Nintendo have been rivals for years, but because Sonic’s fast and SONIC NEWS isn’t in this instance – Satoru Iwata, president of the house of Mario, has revealed the Nintendo Revolution will include the facility to download SEGA Mega Drive games.

At his keynote speech during the Games Developers Conference in San Jose, Iwata went on to say that the next Nintendo console will include an online download service, where players can access a huge back catalogue of past Nintendo titles (Warning: Rare may not be included). Continue reading SEGA Mega Drive games on Revolution

It’s a Sonic Revolution

Rumour has it that a Sonic game is in development for Nintendo’s next-gen console: the ‘Revolution’.

The large videogaming site ‘IGN’ recently revealed that ‘Sources’ close to SEGA had confirmed that SEGA are indeed creating a new Sonic game for the unusual little console.

SEGA have given no confirmation that such a game exists, but reports place Yuji Naka as director on the project; if this is the case then Yuji is certainly stretching himself thin, what with the development of ‘Fifth Phantom Saga’ and the next-gen Sonic title for PS3 and XBOX360. Continue reading It’s a Sonic Revolution

Nintendo Gamecube – And Sonic Adventure 2 Battle – Launch in Europe

Well, it’s about bloomin’ time! After launching in Japan in September and in North America in November, Nintendo has finally launched its latest console, Gamecube, in UK and rest of Europe today. Only took them seven months!
Continue reading Nintendo Gamecube – And Sonic Adventure 2 Battle – Launch in Europe

SEGA Working With Nintendo and Namco on ‘Triforce’ Arcade Hardware

SEGA may have given up the home console race, but it’s still finding ways to surprise us in the hardware scene. And this latest news may shock you – the company is going to be collaborating with Nintendo and Namco on a unique arcade board called Triforce.  Continue reading SEGA Working With Nintendo and Namco on ‘Triforce’ Arcade Hardware

Sonic Visits Nintendo Offices for ‘First Day At Work’

Sonic the Hedgehog, reporting in for his first day of work… at Nintendo! Yeah, we thought this bit of PR was a little wacky ourselves, but it’s all in good fun. Nintendo’s official website covered the initiation of SEGA’s mascot, which featured the two characters shaking hands and having a great time. Apparently Sonic is also fast at magazine cover turnarounds too. Continue reading Sonic Visits Nintendo Offices for ‘First Day At Work’

Sonic Team Saving a Surprise for Nintendo’s Space World

Seems like Sonic Team has a little surprise up its sleeve for the upcoming Nintendo show, Space World, in Japan. The developer will be showing off four games, three of which we know about (Phantasy Star Online for Gamecube and Sonic Advance and Puyo Puyo for Game Boy Advance). Which leaves one more unannounced title to speculate about. Interesting. Could the Gamecube be getting a Sonic game, perhaps?

SEGA Says ‘Maybe’ to Sonic and Mario Crossover

Oh Sega, you absolute tease! After Yuji Naka poured water on the idea that Mario and Sonic could star in a game together, it seems that Sega of America’s president Peter Moore is going against that, stating that the company is keeping its options open.
Continue reading SEGA Says ‘Maybe’ to Sonic and Mario Crossover

Peter Moore Talks SEGA/Nintendo Collaboration Possibilities

Peter Moore spoke to IGN Cube about two things: the possibility of a joint Sega/Nintendo RPG and the sightings of Sonic in Super Smash Brothers Melee for the Gamecube. While Moore said that both are just wishful thinking right now, it would not surprise him to see something of either calibre be announced. Sega will be at Spaceworld to show their Dreamcast line up and other future projects, The Sonic Stadium will keep you posted.

Woah Woah Woah! Hold the Phone! MARIO and SONIC?

No, this is not a blatant lie – there is very big rumour that Sega and Nintendo are indeed in working on a game. But – and get this – this will be a landmark game that’ll bring Sonic and Mario together for the very first time! According to the latest issue of the UK ‘N64’ magazine by Future Publishing, the news sounded pretty much like it was no rumour – so if this is true, it will bring a tear to many feuding Nintendo/Sega fans of old. Truly remarkable news. Sonic and Mario, joining forces it seems, the thought of it is just… wow! And I mean WOW!

SEGA-Nintendo RPG Not Happening, According to Yuji Naka

Remember me telling you about an RPG that Sega and Nintendo were rumoured on working on together? Well, a recent interview with Yuji Naka suggests that the rumours were indeed just mere speculation, and Sega and Nintendo are currently not making a game together. Continue reading SEGA-Nintendo RPG Not Happening, According to Yuji Naka

Stick with Ninty for Sonic Team! Confused?

Probably. But those of us that have a Sega Dreamcast, like me, are likely thinking about what console to get next. Seeings as Sega is currently not making any more consoles, the sensible option would be to grab the machine that has the most Sega support going for it. Well, at this stage it’s hard to tell, but in an interview led by IGN, Yuji Naka, Sonic Team boss (and God in many people’s eyes), has said to stick with the Nintendo GameCube should you be a full on fan of Sonic Team. Continue reading Stick with Ninty for Sonic Team! Confused?

RUMOUR: SEGA and Nintendo in RPG Cahoots?

In a recent article in the UK edition of Nintendo Official Magazine, it was noted that Sega and Nintendo are working together on a top secret RPG for Ninty’s new knight in shining armour, the GameCube. We already know that Sega is releasing a number of games on the console, including Phantasy Star Online, so this wouldn’t seem too far fetched.

In any case, it really seems like Sega has hit the ground running when it comes to third party development. Beware, Electronic Arts!