The Sonic Amateur Games Expo—or SAGE—is finally returning for another round this year, as novice and aspiring developers from all over the web come together and share their efforts with the Sonic community at large. It is at SAGE where people enjoyed a wide variety of fan-made games and ROM hacks, such as Sonic: Before the Sequel, Sonic Time Twisted, and Sonic 2: Dimps Edition, or some intentionally awful and crudely put-together monstrosities at RAGE (Really Amateur Games Expo), which is also hinted to return.
Among this year’s lineup is the open-world 3D fan-game Green Hill Paradise which took the Internet by storm over the past summer, a 2.5D sidescroller with Sonic Incursion, and a Smash Bros. clone with a Sonic Boom coat of paint called Sonic Boom and the Smash Crew. There are too many promising gems to namedrop all at once, but you can check out the SAGE 2016 trailer below to see more fan-games in action!
The Sonic Amateur Gaming Expo has once again come to a close, so what better time to discuss our favourite games. And who better to join the discussion than Lewis aka SonicYoda, reviewer and affiliate of this years SAGE event. Continue reading SAGE Round Up Discussion
It’s that time of year again! SAGE 2014 Act 1 has begun, the central hub for fangame developers to show off their work to the Sonic community. From February 23rd to March 1st, you can head on over to the SAGE website and try out a ton of fangames. This year has a plethora of titles to try including the Sonic CD-esque Sonic Time Twisted, the 3D Sonic Lost Adventure, and a game by a member of our community, Shirou Emiya, Digimon Heroic Battle Spirit – yep, it’s not just limited to Sonic titles!
Haven’t had the chance to pop on over to this year’s Sonic Amateur Games Expo? Well, you’re in luck. Katzu Niku and InstantSonic have announced an extension through Tuesday, known by most of us regulars as the annual “SAGE Hangover.” I believe this year’s hangover is the first “scheduled” one. Usually, we leave all the shit on and there just happens to be people still chillin’. At any rate, we’re still partyin’ like it’s 2000. All the booths are up, the chat is still open and the SAGEcast is still jammin’. If you haven’t seen any of the projects that I recommended, you should go see them now.
One thing is for certain… there will be more Sonic Fights Robotnik fan fic readingson the SAGEcast channel! To prove how epic these readings have been, here’s a clip of Mike Pollock, the voice of Dr. Eggman, reading a line from it. Yeah, I know. Awesome.
Broniks, I have been spending the last few days all up in this new hack called the “Retro Channel.” If you read my SAGE 2010 review, you know that I think it’s the best project to come out of the community in a long time. I’ve been trying to best other Sonic Retro members for days now on the online leaderboards. Hey, I’ve even managed to get a few achievements! Sonic 1 hasn’t felt this fresh since they hacked the spindash into it. The whole concept of online interactivity is awesome. So, today’s poll is:
Have you checked out the “Retro Channel?”
Yes. (Tell us about your experience!)
I just heard about it.
More werehogs, please.
If you want to download the ROM, get it here. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everybody. Here’s your weekly, unrelated Sunday video:
Normally, I do big reviews for the better titles and round-up reviews for everything else at SAGE, but I don’t have the time to do that anymore. I’m a busy guy. Plus, there are a lot of turds at this year’s SAGE (more than usual). I really don’t want to have to rail on 10+ projects. That said, I’m going to give you a run-down of what games you should check out before the show ends today. Hey, I’ll even provide a link to the projects’ websites, so you can download them long after the show is over!
I have five, truly amazing projects that I will review in detail below. Afterward, you can check out snippets of the projects that are above-average, but failed to captivate me like these top-five could.
Sonic 1: The Retro Channel
If you only get the opportunity to see one thing at SAGE, please make it this project. “Retro Channel” is the new hotness by Cinossu/Hapi-San that merges Sonic games with an online database at Sonic Retro. Imagine if our current world of online leaderboards and achievements existed during the Genesis era. Well, in a nutshell, that’s what this project is doing.
The first “Retro Channel” enabled hack is for the original Sonic the Hedgehog. You log into the game with your username and password for the Sonic Retro forums. Once connected, your scores, times, achievements and other miscellaneous play data will be transferred to leaderboards on the official Retro Channel website. You can play each act one-by-one or tackle the entire game like it were 1991.
The game’s new HUD keeps track of your score, time and rings, as usual, but also counts up badnik kills and player damage. Now, you can prove to your friends that you beat Scrap Brain without getting hit! If you press start in the hub world, you can see your achievements. These achievements are very clever and sometimes difficult to obtain (unlike those super lame SEGA ones)! Achievements range from quick enemy kills to exploiting game glitches!
Other features include a boss attack mode and the ability to insert your own music for a completely custom soundtrack. Retro Channel is for the fans, by the fans!
When you head over to the Retro Channel website, make sure you download the right package. You need to have the latest Gens emulator with the MDP plugin. Check out the action in the video below.
When hacks started showing up to SAGE about three years ago, I was ecstatic. Firstly, it was the merger of two great communities, SFGHQ and Sonic Retro. Secondly, there are some really talented hackers out there who can create original experiences within the groundwork of the Genesis games. Hacks like Sonic 2: Retro Remix give you those perfect Genesis physics and something new to look at.
However, just because you’re in the Genesis hardware, it doesn’t mean that you have to make a game akin to Sonics 1 through 3. Sonic 2 Retro Remix feels more like the modern, two-dimensional outings of the blue blur and less like the original Sonic 2. Homing attack, wall jumping, that mid-air spin attack from the Advance games and tons of speed are the gameplay hallmarks in this hack, which can be exciting and frustrating all at the same time.
The homing attack works great. I’ve never been an advocate against the homing attack in the second dimension, but rather SEGA/Dimps’ abuse of forcing you to use it to cross pits or reach new areas instead of platforming. Here, it’s to your benefit only. If you so choose, you can play the game without using it, which is fantastic. The wall jump, unfortunately, has to be used and it is clunky as hell. You have to hold onto the wall with the Genesis “A” button, then jump with “C” and the direction you wish to go. I’ve said this before in SAGE reviews: the wall jump should be mapped to only one button, not two. I reset the game when I was forced into a wall-jump section. I simply couldn’t do it. Again, I’m not against wall jumping, but shit… at least make it usable if you’re going to force me to use it.
The level design is way too reliant on loops. Loops are cool and all, but they lose their luster the ump-teenth consecutive time. Otherwise, the layout and stage gimmicks lend themselves to extreme speed and little chunks of platforming. It’s clearly designed to be more of a “modern Sonic” game from its level design. That comment would be a knock against this hack if it had the terrible physics that plague the official games. Since it’s built upon the Sonic 2 engine, it’s a great rush (see what I did there?).
I had a fun time with this hack. After I tooled around with the main game, I dicked around in the “Adventure” mode, where you run around and hunt for emeralds. If you ever wanted B-Boy Knuckles’ 3D gameplay to go 2D, this mode is for you.
One-level demos (hell, sometimes one act demos) are all too prevalent at SAGE every year. Sonic Axiom is different. It has more content than a couple of SAGE demos put together, featuring five zones. Axiom also manages to not suck on many levels.
What will stand out to you first is the graphical style of the game. Yes, all of the graphics are recycled from previous games, but I’ve never seen such seemless and creative mixing-and-matching of tiles before! These levels are gorgeous (except for the cave level; that one is ugly). There were moments where I was caught thinking that all of the art was original. There were a few background objects that looked out of place, but they didn’t show up often. Thumbs up in that department.
The game stays with the tried and true Genesis gameplay, built within Multimedia Fusion. The “Sonic Worlds” engine that Damizean developed for Sonic Fan Games HQ is mostly accurate, but you will encounter a few weird spots here and there (you can only do so much with Multimedia Fusion). Sonic Worlds is, and always has been, a solid foundation for fangamers and Sonic Axiom really takes advantage of that fact. I rarely encountered issues with it.
Aside from the art and engine, the level layouts are well above-average for a Sonic fangame and feature some clever sections of platforming, something that most fangame creators cannot grasp. I had a blast romping around the large level layouts of Axiom. The music was assisting in said blast, providing some fun, yet sometimes ethereal, tunes. While the music isn’t original, it’s a well-selected soundtrack of recognizable and rarely-heard tunes. I managed to recognize Neon Night Zone’s theme, as it was from Socket, an infamous Sonic clone on the Genesis. I smiled when I heard it.
This game is almost complete. I’m excited at the prospect of the Sonic Worlds engine being apart of a finished project. It’s what my friend Damizean has always wanted.
Nothing much has changed from last year’s release. Just minor improvements to the engine. If you want a rundown of the spectacular E:02 engine, check out Dreadknux’s review from last year. E:02 is one of the best engines out there!
Be the Bullet, also known as “Sonic-‘Em-Up,” is a retro-styled, Sonic SHMUP. I don’t have much to say about this game, aside from that it’s a fun little ditty that you should definitely check out. It’s one of the few games at SAGE that isn’t a traditional Sonic game, so it earns a lot of points for uniqueness.
You run along as Sonic, using the spindash to blast through hoards of enemies. The platforming elements are translated into this Gradius-like environment in the form of pits and spiked bridges. While firing, you can adjust your position on screen. In order to cross a pit, you have to fire and move your return point, represented by an arrow, to the other side. This functionality adds a little more depth to your average, fan-made SHMUP and helps translate Sonic into this new gameplay setting.
The NES feel with the graphics, music and gameplay is fantastic. I can’t get enough of Be The Bullet. I hope Steven M, the game’s creator, keeps working on it in the future and sees it to completion. Be The Bullet is solid from top to bottom.
The following games were above average, but did not “wow” me like the above projects. If you have the time to check out more games, please give these a look.
Sonic Time Twisted
If you’ve been reading thissite for the past few years or follow the fangame scene, you might be shocked as to why I’ve put this game here and not in the list up above. The graphics and music are superb, the level design is true to its source (Sonic CD‘s Tidal Tempest Zone) and the engine is fine, for the most part. Here’s why I didn’t particularly like this year’s release: there’s too much water.
I released a demo for Sonic Nexus with only a water level in it in 2007. That was a risk, as people hate water levels. I can respect a creator taking a risk with a non-green zone for their SAGE demo, but the level still has to be fun. I saw an abundance of parallels between that demo and this Time Twisted demo, the good and the bad. Perplex Puzzle Zone, featured in this demo, is not fun. It’s too submerged in water. I learned from studying Sonic water levels and learning from my Pristine Palisade mistakes that you need to provide more above-water gameplay than what’s given here in Perplex Puzzle. Otherwise, it’s slow, mind-numbingly tedious platforming.
Spending a zone entirely underwater also allowed engine flaws to rear their ugly head. It needs improvement. Luckily, Overbound, the game’s creator, is upgrading to Mercury’s GM engine. This project will still be in my upper-echelon of fangames. It just hit a major speedbump.
Yeah, you guys probably hate this hack. It’s making fun of Dimps’ Sonic games and most of you guys are hyper-sensitive to any criticism regarding the current state of Sonic (cue: paragraphs of bullshit about a “broken fanbase”). There are many people who enjoy this concept, however. If you’ve got a sense of humor or want to see Dimps get ripped on, then this hack is for you… kind of.
Why “kind of?” Well, this parody hack doesn’t go far enough. There are also a few jokes that just fall flat. What’s good in this parody hack is the intentionally bad music, sound design and dumbed-down physics. Sonic’s acceleration is out-of-whack and he can’t jump as high, just like a Dimps game. These physics changes are the setup for mocking speed boosters. Dimps’ use of speed boosters is primarily a way to hide their less than perfect physics and pre-determined curves. If you hit curves with anything less than a running speed, you’ll probably just stand there on the side of a wall. The boosters in this hack are placed accordingly to mimic that design choice or to exaggerate the boosters’ placement with overkill. It’s funny to hit a booster going into a curve and then another booster mid-curve.
What doesn’t work is that the speed boosters create this jerky motion. Chemical Plant Zone uses these speed boosters and they are very smooth. Why aren’t these parody boosters like that? From my experiences with Dimps Sonic games, the boosters do not create this jerky motion.
The homing attack is there and it works as it should. There are segments of the game where you have to use the homing attack to cross pits, instead of using platforms. Platforms were even taken out of the level design to make way for this boring, button-mash-a-thon. I laughed as the string of enemies went on and on.
The jokes fall flat sometimes due to Sonic 2‘s level design. Sonic 2 wasn’t designed for speed boosters and other bullshit. If SOTI, the game’s creator, really wants these jokes to land, then the level design has to be tweaked accordingly.
This parody hack has everything going for it. It just has to go more over-the-top and fix a lot of issues that arise as a result of the jokes its trying to make. If this interview with “Ken Balough” is any indication, we’re in for a fun time in the near future.
Both are games in the Sonic Worlds engine and both are one-level, green zone demos. There’s nothing particularly wrong with them. Both are solid games with good graphics, physics and level design, but they suffer from what I just mentioned; they’re short, they’re green, they’re decent. If you’ve got a moment, you can give these two a shot. Just don’t prepare to be wowed.
I’m exhausted. This concludes my run-down of almost everything at SAGE 2010. If I didn’t mention your fangame, I apologize. I can only write-up so much. There’s also a lot of shit out there on the show floor, but I don’t feel like being entirely negative today. You probably wouldn’t have liked what I had to say anyway.
So, that’s it! Get out there and enjoy some fangames and hacks, knuckleheads.
It’s that time of year again! Sonic Fan Games HQ presents the premiere online event in the Sonic community, the Sonic Amateur Games Expo, is now open!
There are over 30 fan projects to check out! Newcomers, like the popular Sonic 2: Dimps Edition, is on display and playable. Sonic Redux, Sonic Zeta Overdrive, Sonic the Hedgehog 3D and Sonic Phoenix are back, Sonic Babies, a demo at last year’s show, is now a full release and some heavy-hitters make another return appearance in the form of Sonic Time Twisted, Sonic Fusion and Stealth’s E:02 Engine. The featured game, however, is Retro Channel, a SAGE-exclusive project that features a wealth of interactivity.
On the events side, check out this line-up!:
Eggman Voice Challenge with Mike Pollock (Wednesday, August 11th @ 7 PM EST): Think you’ve got the huevos to fill the role of Eggman? Join the REAL voice of Eggman, Mike Pollock, and contestants on Skype to see who can be the best Eggman of all!
Q&A with Corey Bingas (Friday, August 13th @ 2-3 PM EST): The one-time voice of Tails from Sonic Adventure stops by to answer your questions in the SAGE chat room. Since you guys worship voice actors like gods, this chat is for you!
Bad Fan Fic Readings: The heads of the Sonic community get together to read ban fan fiction! Check in daily for times!
Contests? Yeah, SAGE has them. Try your hand at any of the following:
Original Sonic Tune Contest (ENDS Saturday, August 14th @ 12 PM EST): Write your own original Sonic level tune! No remixes allowed here. Be as creative as you can to write music for an undiscovered Sonic world! Winning entries will be decided the last day of SAGE.
Sonic Parody Tune Contest (ENDS Thursday, August 12th @ 12 PM EST): Take any existing Sonic theme with lyrics and turn it into a horrible, twisted parody! Winning entries will be decided on Thursday. This is a written-entry contest, but feel free to record yourself performing your parody too!
Write for TSSZ Contest (ENDS Tuesday, August 10th @ 12 AM EST): In a one-day contest, write the funniest, most inflammatory article possible on something about the Sonic community, whether real or fake. Winners are decided at the end of the day. Can you be the biggest douchebag the community has ever seen?
What are you waiting for? There are games to play, chats to partake in and casts to listen to.
It was only a matter of time before a hack like this one came along.
On the heels of the incredible Sonic 2 XL hack comes a parody of how Dimps has been handling the gameplay in Sonic 4, according to a few members at Sonic Retro. This hack, by SOTI and MarkeyJester, “dumbs down” the physics in Sonic 2, so that nothing can be accomplished without speed boosters. You know, just like the real thing. SOTI gave a run down of the game’s features and future implementations:
Here is what has been implemented in the game so far:
– Speed boosters, freshly programmed and will be in every level (except from SCZ due to obvious reasons).
– Sonic only gameplay (The removal of Tails as a playable character was actually because of using Tails’ VRAM space for the dash pads)
– Boss theme replaced with a port of the Sonic 3D unused track which is being used as a boss theme for Sonic 4.
– A few physics tweaks to dumb down the game, after all – this is Dimps’ take on things.
– Title screen menu removed (no point for 2P mode and the options menu).
– Misplaced sound effects for a few things.
What might be implemented for the release (do note that none of these are promised for the release):
– The Sonic 4 version of the spikeless Bubbles badnik. (Currently being worked on)
– Dust trails.
– “Dimps Style” level design tweaks.
– Jump Dash
– Boost Button
The game is scheduled to see a demo release at SAGE 2010. As Ken Balough would say, “This is truly Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as you imagined it.” Check out some of the later levels and gratuitous speed-boostage in the gallery below (massive “lol” at Death Egg Zone).
UPDATE: New video of an updated build in Casino Night Zone. What’s new? Homing attack. How does this affect the level? Well, aside from the obvious observation that Casino Night wasn’t built for Sonic to be zipping around at whim, it renders the boss fuck-easy:
It’s that time of the year again, folks. The weather is getting warmer, people are barbecuing… and SAGE is on the menu, right next to the potato salad. Delicious! Well, get ready for another grand year of fan games, events and mingling because it’s right around the corner!
So make those finishing touches on your labors of love, and get ready to show them off! To submit your demos or to schedule an event, send the following respective application to: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAGE 2010 is coming to a computer near you August 8th – August 14th at http://www.sagexpo.org!
TO SUBMIT A BOOTH
The subject of your e-mail should be “Booth.” Your e-mail should contain a link to your booth where we may download a working demo of your game. This should be the final booth location of where you would like your demo to be linked to on the SAGE website. If this booth location changes, please notify us no later than 48 hours before the beginning of SAGE.”
TO SCHEDULE AN EVENT
The subject of your e-mail should be “Event.” Your e-mail should contain a description of the event you would like to host and what day(s) you would like the event to occur on. If you require specific time(s) to host your event, please provide it to us in your application. If no specific time is provided, we will schedule you at the most appropriate time(s) alongside other events. You will be notified of the time(s) we schedule for you within 24 hours after your intial application e-mail.
The deadline for demo and event submissions is August 1st.
More information, like guests, events and confirmed fan projects, to come in the near future. Get excited!
As a preface to this review, I will say that I am being particularly harsh in my criticisms of this game, because I feel no need to patronize this team or treat the game as “just a fangame,” mostly because of its enormous size, publicity, and history. I’m also sore because I get motion sickness from playing jerky 3D games and am being doing it for spite from all the physical pain it put me through. On to the review…Sonic Robo Blast 2 is a project that has been in development for over a decade and it shows. In the eyes of many fangamers, including this one, it’s in a class of its own. The volume of content and detail in this game is incredible. It is and it feels like a full game. However, it’s far from feeling like a complete game, as there are a large number of truly unfortunate glaring flaws with this game which keep me from really enjoying it. Continue reading SAGE Spotlight: Sonic Robo Blast 2
Last year, I reviewed a game that I’ve been following for quite some time, Sonic: Time Twisted. While I was happy with prior versions, the 2008 demo was surprisingly mediocre and annoying. Overbound (Bryce Stock), the game’s creator surely took notice at the comments and reviews left by the community and gave Time Twisted a much needed, and appreciated, make-over. With one full zone of this new hotness available to play, there are many improvements to see.
Gone is the game’s original first zone, City Edge. In its place, we get “Dispot Drive.” At first glace, I was somewhat shaky about the quality of this demo solely based on the use of the non-existant word “dispot” in the zone’s name. Within the first thirty seconds of playing, however, my doubts were cast aside and the game looked, felt, and sounded like a drastic improvement over previous builds.
Time Twisted is designed to be a spiritual successor to Sonic CD, so with that connection comes the “bulgy-polygonal-pattern” foreground. The yellow diamond foreground is much better than the strange pattern that City Edge, but shades on the side of “too bulgy.” The foreground can sometimes be a bother on the eyes for always bulging out and providing few opportunities for flat or caved-in tiling. Otherwise, the graphics are consistent, clean, and one of the best out there in Sonic fangaming.
The slippery controls of previous builds have been left in the past, as the game feels tighter and a bit more like Sonic CD. While not perfect Sonic physics, they are not game-breaking in the slightest and are tight enough to get you through the experience. I just wish that jump was mapped to a different key, because the space bar is slightly uncomfortable to me.
One thing that hasn’t improved is time travel. The means of how you leap through time is now different than Sonic CD‘s, but there’s still no point to it. I will pose the same question as I did last year: What purpose is there to go back in time? I need a reason to travel, like destroying a roboticizer or something, or else the mechanic is just a gimmick that would eventually wear on me if the demo was longer. Everything needs a purpose and time travel still does not have one.
Time Travel also becomes aggravating due to the aforementioned new method of activating it. Rather than hitting a post and hitting high speeds for a set amount of time, Time Twisted throws you into the past/future once you hit a timepost. There’s no option, like Sonic CD, to time travel. As a result, the game stops to send you back in time with each time-post that you pass and all you will hear is the first ten to twenty seconds of each time period’s music.
Speaking of the music, it’s still great. LarkSS, the game’s composer, has created past/present tunes that complement each other nicely, like the Sonic CD soundtracks. Sound effects wise, the game did away with the “click” sound for when Sonic lands on his feet and that makes the experience leagues better.
Everybody can learn a lesson from Overbound. He is a guy who had his project assailed with harsh criticism, got upset, but still managed to get up and come back stronger the following year. It can only get better from here, so keep up the good work, Overbound.
Perhaps a beacon of hope, glory and good times for many, Sonic the Hedgehog: Project Mettrix has been in the fangaming headlines for quite some time, and with good reason. While many fangames before it have tried to recreate the classic 2D Sonic experience and provide a brand new adventure out of it, Mettrix is the first from-scratch build that, even in its early state, is truly succeeding.
In the new tech demo, codenamed E02, we’re given a tour of four different stages in the updated code. The first is a test level purely for demonstration purposes, but it was real fun bouncing around in this dummy stage using all the contours and springs to our advantage. It seems that Stealth and co are onto a good thing here – focusing on physics-based speed is just what the doctor ordered.
Although introduced in an earlier version – E01 – first stage Shining Island Zone seems to pale in comparison to the Test stage in terms of level design. Granted, the former is practically a playground to trial moves and gimmicks, but you can’t hep but feel that not enough of those curves and loops have been used in the tropical paradise level. The graphics are also showing their age, with block browns and somewhat jarring chequered scenery contrasting the blue skies badly. Luckily, this zone is due for a refit anyway according to Stealth, so we should see it in a much more contemporary state later.
As well as a Special Stage (that works exactly like those from the original Sonic the Hedgehog) and a recreation of Green Hill Zone to demonstrate the E02 engine’s capability to reproduce the Sonic experience to the letter, we were treated to a new stage called Bronze Lake Zone. Created for Knuckles, but as with any stage in this demo you can play as Sonic or Tails too, all to exact Sonic 3 & Knuckles specifications with no odd side effects.
Bronze Lake itself is very nicely designed, and is actually quite a sizeable Zone. Taking cues from past water levels such as Aquatic Ruins, it consists of two huge, differing paths – one leading you underwater and through the depths of the Lake; the other going high into the skies, complete with dinosaur-esque Badniks to boot. Some great attention to detail is used in the scenery and gimmicks as well, such as the leaves on the trees.
Perhaps the greatest asset to Mettrix however, is its Source engine itself. For a player, it’s the perfect recreation for some classic 2D platforming action. The physics and object collisions are all present and correct, just as if you really were playing a sequel to Sonic’s finest outing. For a developer and fan modder however, this engine is a wet dream, for you can don your coding hat and start creating your own Sonic levels using Mettrix as a base! There’s a list of fan-created addons for the game already available on Mettrix’s website and as the engine gets further in development there’s no question that more complex things can be achieved on it.
Overall, Mettrix provides a very enticing prospect for the fangaming community – on the surface, an enjoyable replication of a 2D classic. Under the skin, a complex yet accessible coding base that can be used to create your very own levels in the same vein. Check out Mettrix’s tech demo E02 at their SAGE booth.
Sonic Nebulous will most likely go down in history as one of the first ever fully completed fangames at a SAGE event. But there’s a lot to be excited about here too besides such accolades, as Nebulous brings its own quirks and innovations to a game that otherwise is inspired by the roots of the classic Sonic games.
One of the most impressive things about this game is that the graphics are entirely customised sprites. All of the backgrounds, foregrounds and characters have been crafted from scratch, and the additional scenery and easy-to-follow storyline helps bring a very moody atmosphere to Mobius. It really feels like you’re battling for the planet’s freedom here.
The main innovation in Nebulous is the screen rotation, that kicks in when you’re at a point where a wall links up to a roof. The screen rotates to sit exactly along the wall or roof you’re on, so there’s no over or under-rotation. A notable point about this is how well-programmed this feature is – the camera snaps back to position if you jump back onto the ground from the roof.
All of the individual characters have their own special abilities and play styles, showing off the abilities of the game engine, and with 30 characters to choose from it’s amazing to think that Pink Ninja Monkey Studios have thought of all the possibilities for each one while still keeping true to their personalities.
The game so far is great – I only found a couple of problems with it. For example, as Fang I seemed to miss some rings when running into them as if their “action point” was set a fraction too high, and another thing I miss is there being checkpoints in the middle of levels. This however is covered with the levels not being too long to do in one run (even if it is after a couple of tries).
With a unique design style, thirty characters offering tons of replayability and an interesting story to boot, Nebulous is definitely one of the more ambitious and playable titles at SAGE. Give it a go at their booth here.
Stealth is the master of bomb-dropping. To list a few, he has ported Tweaker’s Sonic 1 Megamix hack to the SEGA CD, tricked morons with news tips, and released a port of Sonic 1 for the Game Boy Advance that doesn’t suck. At this year’s SAGE though, Stealth has outdone himself. His long-time project, Sonic: Project Mettrix, has been successfully been ported to the Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation Portable.
Project Mettrix uses Stealth’s “E02 Engine,” a multi-platform game development tool for 2D games. Mettrix has been around for quite some time, but it is really flourishing with the E02 treatment. Now, you can play and create custom levels for Mettrix on your Wii and PSP.
Those with homebrew enabled Wiis should download this game right away and experience this momentous occasion.
The 2009 Sonic Amateur Games Expo is celebrating its 14th showing and does not disappoint yet again with 40+ fangames for you to play. InstantSonic, KTZ, and the members of Sonic Fan Games HQ have been working for months to put this annual event on for all of you, so head on over there and have some fun!
Aside from the fangames, there are many cool events to check out. The SAGE chat room is always happenin’ and ridiculous. An awesome chat client is provided on the site, but can be accessed through programs like mIRC (irc.rizon.net, #sagexpo). In the chat room, you will be able to talk to Mike Pollock, the voice of Doctor Eggman, and Tom Payne, the level artist for Sonic 2. Check the “Events” tab to see when they pop in the chat room.
Also, the ever-entertaining SAGEcasts are broadcast from a flash player on the site. Sonic community members from all over will be broadcasting their music, thoughts, and sketches throughout the week.
The biggest online Sonic community event is waiting for you to come on over and enjoy yourself! It runs from July 25th through the 31st.
Sonic Robo Blast 2 has been in development for 11 years. To think that we’d be playing a “version 2.0” makes me feel old, despite me only recently turning 22 years old. A day before the 2009 Sonic Amateur Games Expo opens, Sonic Team Jr., the game’s developers, have released this new version, three years after the last demo.
Version 2.0 has a completable, polished, yet unfinished single player campaign. The team’s leader, AJ Freda, has assured that there are so many improvements to the game that “to list them would be exhausting.” With this release, however, AJ will be leaving the team and turning over control to his other members. He is expecting a child soon, so we in the community wish him well on fatherhood and his future endeavors. It certainly is the end of an era.
It’s a strange time to be in the Sonic community at the moment, particularly if you run a fansite. For years, we’ve been able to post – as webmasters on TSS, Retro, SFGHQ, CulT or any other site – our thoughts and feelings of being Sonic fans, and not have to worry about possible tabloid ramifications in doing so. Running a website such as this is a hobby, nothing more, so personal feelings are surely going to be thrown into the mix. But these days there’s less of a feeling of community due to nobody talking to one another – perhaps as a result of such prejudicial fear.
It’s been harder for the poor guys behind the Sonic Amateur Games Expo this year, who are now the new targets of such unwanted gossip. With festivities kicking off tomorrow, there have been fangame creators who have had some trouble in getting demos online, or in other cases pulling out of the show entirely. Such activity isn’t new; as a dedicated (and at times, official) coverage-provider of the SAGE event, I know that such bad situations are part and parcel of a hobby activity that dedicated fans undertake in their spare time. Sometimes work gets you down, you have a kid, money’s tight, or some social event happens in your life, and you just need to put your fan project on hold for a bit. With such trivial matters being highlighted as headline news though, it’s even less fun for those fangame creators involved.
This next week is all about celebrating Sonic fangames, and the people behind those projects who put their free time into it all. They don’t owe us anything. They’re hardly obligated to even finish their games (and many who set out to make a fangame seldom do). SAGE was created to be a structured exposition on the year’s best fangames, but again it’s not an obligation to show your game. Fangames aren’t a business, it’s a hobby. Some of can forget that we’re only in this community to have some fun.
So when SAGE opens, people should all just kick back and enjoy that hobby, whether those people be the creators showing off screens, videos and demos of their labours of love; or the visitors that play, watch and get impressed with the work that one or two people at home are capable of achieving.
Tomorrow, TSS will be covering SAGE, and we’ll be in it to have some fun. Come and join us, or play the games yourself when the site opens at http://www.sagexpo.org/
Above is a screenshot of a game coming to SAGE ’09 in 2 weeks, called Sonic Attitude by SFGHQer Endri Lauson. The game is a 2D sidescroller in full 3D. LOOK AT THE PRETTY. LOOK AT IT.
Endri originally designed Attitude for the Nintendo DS, but the recent screenshots that have been coming in have been for the PC version. Endri built the PC version from the ground up in his own custom software development kit:
One thing that I would like to note is that I redefined the engine for the PC version. The PC version will now feature a brand new engine entirely customized by me myself. I like to call it, “Attitude Engine”. It’s an entire SDK for developing Sonic games for PC. In fact, you can you it to develop other types games but Sonic games, but the main sources included are for Sonic in general. The main features in the engine I belive is SSAO and almost-with-no-pre-calculations-at-all Global Illumination.
To play the 2008 tech demo of Sonic Attitude, check out Endri’s website (translated from Portuguese) and follow the progress Endri makes on the game at the official thread at Sonic Fan Games HQ.
Sonic: Time Twisted has been a mainstay at SAGE since 2006 and, if you remember my review of it on the Stadium front page last summer, I was let down by how little of it had changed over the years and how the awkward design choices ruined the experience. Well, it looks like Overbound, the game’s creator, has addressed all the issues with his project and is looking to deliver at SAGE 2009. Below is a video of the new hotness:
The 2009 Sonic Amateur Games Expo runs July 25th through the 31st at “http://sagexpo.org.” It is the biggest online community event that showcases the best Sonic fan projects around.
UPDATE: Since people decided to be silly and troll the comments box with “NEW SKOOL RULZ,” Overbound has now made sure to cater to your audience. You can thank him later:
Last year, during a SAGE radio broadcast (SAGEcast), video game music man, DOM (in his “Andross” voice filter), and other expo goers teamed up to do a dramatic performance of one of the worst Sonic fan-fictions ever, “Jurassic Park and the Sonic Crew.” This year, they’re doing it again and they need your help. Find or write an awful Sonic fan-fiction and submit it to InstantSonic, the director of SAGE ’09.
This show is hilarious and it will be again. Trust me. If you have a terrible idea, write it down and submit.
Submit an abomination of fiction to “sageradiomania AT gmail DOT com.”
A long-standing community tradition run by Sonic Fan Games HQ, the Sonic Amateur Games Expo is an online showcase of the dozens of Sonic fan projects in the works. This year’s event will be run by community oldbie, InstantSonic, along with KTZ. The show will be a week-long celebration from July 25th through the 31st. With the show a little over three months away, that gives prospective participators enough time to whip up a project and a booth (website).
Submit all booth registrations to email@example.com, along with a game demo to be displayed in a SAGE Attraction video.
Submit all SAGEcast radio show concepts to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you DO NOT send InstantSonic a concept of what your show will be called and what it will be about, you will not be able to broadcast. Also, try to limit all broadcasts to 30 minutes to an hour.
The show will feature regulars like Sonic: The Fated Hour, Sonic Nexus, Emerald Ties: Crossing Fates, Sonic Nebulous, and much more! I am truly optimistic for this year’s show.
Yeah, the demo is here. Once we missed SAGE, we took our dear sweet time, but now it is here to make your Labor Day even more awesome. You can play two acts of Sunset Shore and that’s about it. However, the level is sprawling with branching paths, so it warrants a few playthroughs for you to see everything. Nexus truly illustrates what a person can do in the brand new Retro-Sonic interface, so we hope it is a clear too you indication that this summer was a long, time-consuming process on making a brand new iteration of the engine. We also felt that we should take our time in creating our ideal product, as a hasty release definitely will piss people off (see: ProSonic). It was time well spent.
Secondly, you can record your best time with screen capture software and upload it to YouTube for a chance win $15. Yes! All you have to do is post your time attack run as a video response to the contest “hub” video, WHICH IS RIGHT HERE!
Finally, I encourage everybody to read our Nexus website and development blog, as the team and I will be updating it frequently, Smash Bros. Dojo style! You’ll see new screenshots, features, gameplay videos, and updates at least once a week, if not more. New music will be added to the on-site player periodically, as well. The community has always been left in the dark when it comes to Nexus’ development, as I only have been shedding light on details around SAGE time, but now, you can read about it year round. The website is essentially the game’s manual, so it will have all the goods. The first feature on the site is “Meet That Badnik,” where we go in-depth on one of Robotnik’s mechanical mercenaries. You can expect articles of similar quality coming down the pipe.
Sonic Frenzy Adventure is one of those games that started a long long time ago and was never quite finished. Unlike most projects which ended up being canned though, SFA has stuck with it and is here to prove that ambitious fangames can be seen through from beginning to end. The question is though, is it still relevant in today’s fangaming scene, with Sonic Nexus and Retro Sonic ushering us into a new, exciting era of the hobby?
What it does, it does pretty well and in an entertaining fashion. You’re not going to walk away from the latest Frenzy Adventure demo thinking it’s a poor excuse for a fangame. Clearly a lot of detail and attention has gone into this game so far, with a stonking 16 Zones promised plus a Chao raising minigame. The presentation for each Zone is impressive, and BlueFrenzy has thrown some good gimmicks and ideas into each one. Continue reading SAGE 08: Sonic Frenzy Adventure
Time Twisted and I have a history together. The game debuted during the same SAGE as my project and we have made an appearance at the show for three years running now. It is always a good sight to see that a project is still alive. Secondly, we both chose the path of emulating Sonic CD, which is a plus, in my book. It remains a highlight of the show for anybody looking for a demo with more content than most (three zones here, broskis). Nonetheless, personally, I am gradually more and more disappointed with each subsequent release.
When it came down to gameplay, the physics are similar to Sonic Panic, in that they are manageable and are not intrusive to the action. A much needed improvement that I noticed this year was the beefed-up spin-dash. It only takes one touch of the space bar to power up Sonic to full speed and that is a godsend, in my opinion. The core gameplay experience does not twist the fun, but there are a few questionable gameplay choices that will. For example, ring loss is, apparently, absent. Sure, it happens, but I cannot collect any rings. None.
Time Twisted, as stated earlier, takes after Sonic CD and its time travel element. In previous years, I did not think there was a reason for the time travel, as Overbound, the creator, might not have thought of a purpose for it at the time. That said, now that development is three years in, there should be a reason why I should even bother going back to the past. I had to destroy something in the past levels of Sonic CD, so there was a reward for keeping my speed up in the present. Here, I am simply unmotivated to brave the journey through time. Time Twisted treats this feature like a novelty and it feels phoned in for the sake of having time travel while other fangames do not. Continue reading SAGE ’08: Sonic – Time Twisted
SAGE director, Shadix, and I got to interview Richard Jacques during SAGE and we had an extensive discussion on his favorites, creative process, and various other thoughts. The interview takes about a minute to get into it, as there’s a strange hiss for a bit, but yes, there is an interview after that noise. Also, whenever a caller-hangs up, there’s a bit of dead air. Technical difficulties, ya know.
Also, reminder! At 9 PM EST on Thursday, August 20th (which would be today), Mike Pollock, the voice of Dr. Eggman, will be in the chat channel to field questions and on the air to host a gameshow! It’s a can’t miss event!
There are always short demos on the show floor, so I’m combining them into one post here. Today, I’ll be reviewing a few of the lesser known titles at the show, in order to give them some exposure. The bigger games you already know about and will be getting larger reviews, like Fated Hour, later this year. I’m holding those off, as they always update with bug fixes and stuff throughout the expo.
The following, arbitrary scoring system will be used for these review round-ups:
Sucks: Avoid at all costs
Kinda Sucks: You might like it, but probably not
Meh: Doesn’t suck, but isn’t cool either
Interesting: Worth your time
Way Past Cool: Must see!
SONIC PANIC – Meh
Spike has had this game running for nearly 3 years now and this year, we get new content and a brand new name. Formerly named, “Sonic the Hedgehog 4,” Sonic Panic follows Sonic as he chases Robotnik across various galaxies and planets. The demo features the Planet Mech level of Rail Road, which is a Genesis revamp of Sunset Park from Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble on the Game Gear. I am a complete sucker for Game Gear levels, so I went into the demo with modest expectations.
First off, you will notice that the music is awful. The instrumentation is simply horrific and you will be cursing FL Studio for having such poor guitar samples. Once you get past that, your attention will be directed towards the “close, but not quite” physics of the game, which are decent enough. Jumping could use some improving and the spindash is extremely weak, but otherwise, the whole gameplay experience is serviceable and is hardly game-breaking in the slightest.
As a Genesis-styled game, the level design features branching paths and “awesome secret walkthough wall shit.” While it is nice to have many places to go, there is simply not much to do. The whole level is devoid of any activity, mostly due to the lack of badniks, as I only encountered a couple. There are a few industrial-themed gimmicks in there to tide you over in spots, however.
Augmenting the demo’s emptiness has to be the graphics. Essentially everything is black and any variety the foreground tries to offer is thrown out the window. There is the occasional yellow, construction stripe, but that is about it. The background is nice, with the sunset and all, but the black silhouettes of the towers in the background have no contrast to the foreground, thus adding to the black attack. Continue reading [SAGE ’08 Review] Review Round-Up #1
The man on the left is Kuzko. He found his groove in Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove. In this forgettable animated movie, starring David Spade and John Goodman, Kuzko (Spade) is turned into a llama by some crazy, usurper bitch and Pacha (Goodman) has to save him. They run around and do a whole bunch of wacky shit, avoiding the crazy, usurper bitch as much as possible. They get to Kuzko’s palace to reverse the process, an epic battle ensues, and Kuzko returns to being emperor and the big, stupid, comic relief character teaches some kids how to talk to woodland creatures. What does Kuzko learn? While a llama, he changes his arrogant, selfish ways and embraces the world and the people that inhabit it. His 180-degree turn is truly heartwarming, albeit formulaic and uninteresting.
What does Kuzko have to do with a Sonic fangame? Well, BlazeHedgehog’s Sonic: The Fated Hour has been in development for ten years. Ten. Read up on it, because I’m not lying here. Finally, after years of gameplay changes and data wipes, Fated Hour has finally found its “groove” in the alpha version of Sonic Worlds. Kuzko’s change of heart happens after he is transformed back into a human and Fated Hour is at this point still in the “llama” stage. The project has made a huge change for the better, hopefully leading to greater things, but there is still a long way to go to fully develop its character, like Kuzko.
Fated Hour offers up your standard fare of Genesis-styled gameplay, while expanding upon it to keep it more unique amongst the sea of booths at SAGE this year. These new inclusions are first made apparent by Amy Rose, who offers to explain the controls to the game. Rather than only have the jump button, there are four in use during the game. However, only two are in use during this showcase: jump and jump cancel. Jump cancel will break the ball Sonic normally goes into during a jump and allows him to grind a rail or wall-kick. The multiple button setup sounds good on paper, but trying to wall-jump between two walls with two buttons is cumbersome and mapping Sonic’s wall-stick to the jump button or making it automatic would work better. When the game offers high scores for best times, the time-attackist might have difficulty trying to blow by a section of wall jumping. This button tandem is like an old man, because it threw off my groove. Continue reading SAGE ’08: Sonic – The Fated Hour
IT’S FINALLY HERE! THE 2008 SONIC AMATEUR GAMES EXPO IS HERE!
We invite any and all Sonic fans to come to the 13th iteration of this long-standing, Sonic community tradition, hosted by one of the community’s original sites, Sonic Fan Games HQ. Play the latest and greatest fan projects all in one place for one glorious week of celebrating not only Sonic the Hedgehog, but our community as well.
Please, hop right into the chat room, look at the schedule, and just read everything there is to read about the show! It’s going to be great!
A word of warning about certain booths: Sunday is usually the slowest day for the booths section, as dead links will be weeded out and some people will be putting up their demos throughout the day, due to time zone differences. Bear with that fact, because it happens every year. Come Monday, everybody should be ready to roll.
Be sure to check here for TSS Staff’s input on all the fangaming action!
It must be that time of the year, being that the few days before SAGE are always filled with last minute hype videos for just about every project. I am well prepared to wait and let ’em all pile up, rather than flooding this here front page, devoting a single news post to a game’s preview video.
With one entire day before the show (which starts at 12 AM EST, by the way), SFGHQ members Aylingling, Nitemare, and Shadow5561 have released preview videos of their SAGE demos of Sonic Zenith, Super Mario Kingdoms, and Sonic Unleashed Advance, respectively. You can check them all out in the links below:
In other news, SFGHQ member, Streak Thunderstorm, has jumped the gun and has released the SAGE demo of Mecha Madness early. You can access his SAGE booth, which has the download to the demo, at the following link:
One last thing to be on the look out for is the ever-updating schedule, because we have added two new guests to SAGE: Lee Brotherton and Eric Iwasaki, a developer from Naughty Dog studios (Crash Bandicoot series). Times have yet to be set in stone, but they are confirmed to be guests in the SAGE chat room. Special thanks goes out to SSMB member EXshad for annoying the living shit out of us until we got him into the chat room schedule.
When the show begins, we will have the entire front page staff reviewing all the games with playable builds. You read correctly, I will not be the only one doing SAGE reporting. Please check back throughout the week for more SAGE 2008 coverage (100% free of pretentiousness and the word “first”).
I pretty much called this one. Since everybody always works up until the last minute on their games, booths, or both, you can register your booth all the way up to the 16th of August, the last day before the show. If you have already registered, but did not submit a link to your playable demo, you can re-register to make your booth a “featured booth.”
Remember, only booths with demos will be accepted as “featured booths,” getting bigger advertising than those without. Another key point to remember is that if you are a banned member at Sonic Fan Games HQ, you are not allowed to enter SAGE under any circumstance. If a member on your team happens to be a banned member, but you are not, you should probably consider kicking him out if you plan to register to what is to be the biggest SAGE of them all. Finally, booths that have dead links on day 1 will be removed without notice. That is all.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SOME EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE OF SOME SELECT TITLES COMING TO SAGE? OOOKAY!!!
This 3-minute video ran at the Summer of Sonic during the day, but if you didn’t go, catch a glimpse of Sonic Nexus’ new engine and animated cutscenes, the action of Sonic: Time Twisted, the beauty of Emerald Ties: Crossing Fates, and more!
CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO SEE THE SCHEDULE! ALL TIMES ARE EASTERN STANDARD.
Pink slots are workshops, red slots are SAGEcasts, skin-tone (wtf color is that) slots are interviews in the chat room, and baby blue slots are concerts. Other colors are just random events.
Well, now we can finally confirm the first SAGE workshop, as Chris Senn, the developer of Sonic X-Treme, has agreed to hold a workshop on game design on Monday, August 18th at 6 PM EST!His regular interview time in the SAGE chat room has been changed from the last post. He is now appearing at 6 PM EST on Thursday, August 21st.Continue reading Current SAGE Schedule released, confirms times and more
Mike Pollock, the voice of Dr. Eggman for 4kids, is going to be a SAGE chat guest along with the aforementioned Ryan Drummond, Chris Senn, and Richard Jacques. Chris Senn’s appearance now has a time and date confirmed. This show just keeps getting bigger and bigger! Here’s the entire rundown of what is brand spanking new as of today:
Sonic GEDA – a game that pays tribute to Sonic CD by emulating its play style
Sonic Fusion – no idea what this game is, but it’s coming
Mike Pollock – time and date have yet to be determined
Chris Senn – confirmed to be in the chat room at 9 PM EST on Thursday, August 21st.
Slingerland’s Super Sonic Super Trvia Game Super Show – there will be a trivia bot in the SAGE chat room, just like there is every year. However, now it will keep track of rankings! The top few people will meet head to head in a live SAGEcast that tests their Sonic knowledge. I am hosting and I will probably be as ridiculous as possible.
That’s all for today, folks! Oh, you want a source for this information? Well, it is not in any SAGE threads yet, but let’s just say that I have my methods (and that would be…talking to the director -easy enough).
Check back for more SAGE updates and check this story out later today at TSSZ when it is copy pasted over there (ouch).
Ugh, it’s 3 AM on Monday…no wait…it’s Tuesday now. I am slaving away on my demo, but for the sake of procrastination, I am going to fill you in on more SAGE game confirmations. With the first day of registration over, the following games were confirmed to show up at SAGE 2008:
ProSonic – Developed by saxman, this Sonic development kit is being hailed to be the “perfect” Sonic fangame creation tool, allowing users to replicate the original games “to the letter.”
Emerald Ties: Crossing Fates – This game has been in and out for years now, sitting on the border of obscurity, but it we are finally going to get to see some new content from this famous Sonic fangame.
Mecha Madness – When it comes to unique experiences, SFGHQ member Streak Thunderstorm has the bases covered. A simple, yet intuitive, combat system, an impressive array of elemental shields, and tried & true Sonic gameplay meets luscious production design to create a can’t miss SAGE experience. Continue reading More SAGE game confirmations!
From now until August 8th, those interested in participating in SAGE are clear to register their project’s “booth” on the expo’s website. Before you go all gung-ho about it, be sure to have the required elements:
List of Member(s) Involved
Your project’s website (booth URL)
Booth image for use on the expo floor (must be 320×240 and a JPEG, GIF, or PNG under 30 KB in size)
An optional element is to include the download link to the game you will be showcasing. Seeing how nobody is ever done with their demos by now, it better be an option.