With the Sonic Amateur Games Expo closing up this week, we decided to take a look at some of our favourite (and least favourite) games from the event. Continue reading The Opinion Zone: SAGE 2016 Special
After a week-long run, the 2016 edition of the Sonic Amateur Games Expo finally unveiled its biggest surprise from the online fan game festival. An early demo has gone live for a project called Sonic Utopia, which seeks to recapture “the best of Sonic’s style and tie it together in a cohesive [and intuitive] experience” in 3D. Continue reading Try Out the Classic-Inspired “Sonic Utopia,” One of SAGE 2016’s Biggest Surprises
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!
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 readings on 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.
All hail Tankbot.
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.
Sonic 2: Retro Remix
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.
The E:02 Engine
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
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 this site 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.
Sonic 2: Dimps Edition
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.
Sonic Zero Remastered / Sonic Genesis
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.
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!
Just in time for the Olympics!
When I was the director of the 2007 Sonic Amateur Gaming Expo, I had a lot of objectives to meet. The year prior, the show was a bust. The layout was the same as it was in 2005 and only a couple games garnered the attention of everybody, one of them including the debut demo of my fangame, Sonic Nexus.
I had to attract a new audience and fangame creators to return the show to prominence. I went balls out on advertising, found every fangame creator at SFGHQ, Sonic Cage Dome, and YouTube, and told them to get their ass in the show.
With that ready, I needed a layout. I went with a simple idea that changed every day. It would be “Sonics From Around the World.” Sonic would change costumes on the site to suit the worldly theme of the day. I found them while cleaning out my huge “My Documents” folder and I wanted to bring them back and share them with everybody.
The art was drawn by Steven M and colored by Phoenix Gamma.
Seven worldly Sonics for seven days of community fun. Memories…
I hope you enjoyed these, everybody. I’ll leave you with an alternate Caesar Sonic. Et tu Shadow?!
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.
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/
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.
Read up on the last few years of the expo at Sonic Retro’s Wiki. Ah, 2007… so many memories for me as director…
Sonic Stadium is your place for all kinds of positive, community happenings. Stick with us and you’ll find more fun things to do with that blue hedgehog who happens to run fast.
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!
With that said…
The Sonic Amateur Games Expo has opened once again for a 2001 showing. This is the place where all kinds of Sonic the Hedgehog fan games come together and show the community what they’re made of. This is the third SAGE to ever take place; the first happened last year, which we missed, but we were able to report on SAGE 2 back in March – you can read that here. Check out the new show by going to the SAGE website.
It’s time for the opening of the second ever Sonic Amateur Games Expo. I felt a bit silly for missing the show six months ago, so I thought I’d give you full coverage this time around. And, to tell the truth, I’m glad. SAGE 2 was a lot more successful than its predecessor – although a technical hitch did occur during this year’s show, by and large it was a barnstorming success.
So, what can we expect from all the budding Sonic Fan Game developers then? It’s a good job we’re here – take a look after the jump. Continue reading SAGE 2: Complete Coverage
Last year, a bunch of cool fan game community guys organised an online event called the Sonic Amateur Games Expo. It was a showcase of upcoming projects that put Sonic into various fan-created gaming scenarios. Well, it was so popular that it’s coming back for a second run this year! Continue reading Sonic Amateur Games Expo Opens For A Second Show