Sound Test Saturday: Super Sonic Racing – Otamatone Deluxe Cover

Mere words cannot do justice to this cover by self-proclaimed “World’s Okayest Violinist and Master Otamatonist” Mklachu, but never in my life have I needed something so much and never known until I received it.

Continue reading Sound Test Saturday: Super Sonic Racing – Otamatone Deluxe Cover

Sonic R Soundtrack Now Available on iTunes and Amazon Music Worldwide

Sonic R OST

UPDATE: It’s now available worldwide on iTunes. In the UK the album will set you back £7.99, while individual tracks are priced at 79p each.

SEGA Japan has today announced that the soundtrack for the SEGA Saturn classic racing game Sonic R is now available via digital download in Japan. You can grab the seventeen track album, which includes fan favourites like Resort Island : Can You Feel The Sunshine? and Super Sonic Racing, for ¥1,600 from iTunes and Amazon Music.

Source: SEGA Japan Twitter

The Sonic List: My Guilty Pleasures

"....You like what?!"
“….You like what?!”

Given that this is the Sonic fanbase, it should surprise no one that there is a lot of product out there that many feel is…..below average. The mid-2,000s is still an era that Sonic is recovering from in terms of brand image. Basically, there’s a lot of “crap” out there and to be honest, many of us enjoy some of that crap. Many things that are downright hated by most in the fanbase. There are Sonic Underground fans, Shadow the Hedgehog (game) fans, Sonic Rivals fans…..even people who like Sonic ’06! They do exist.

And hey, I’m not gonna bash on someone for what they like or tell you that you have poor taste. This is the Sonic fanbase, a little poor taste comes with the territory. (I’m just kidding! Don’t hurt me!) Even I got some choices that tend to be frowned upon that I genuinely enjoy. Here’s my list of guilty pleasures in the Sonic franchise.

The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic's love of drag goes too far.
Sonic’s love of drag goes too far.

Okay, this one’s low on the list because there’s still a good chunk of the fanbase who’ve enjoyed it . That said, you gotta admit that for the most part, it’s still pretty awful. The comedy is almost strictly for young children and the characters and stories are just too goofy even for someone like me who really enjoyed Sonic Colors. Sonic and Tails come off as bad Looney Tunes wannabes and tend to be bland. So why do I still enjoy the show? Two Words. Doctor Robotnik.

Truly the only way to really enjoy the show is NOT through Sonic and Tails, but by enjoying the ridiculousness of Dr. Robotnik himself. He comes off as the worst, most ineffectual villain, but the way he’s designed and the constant abuse he takes from both his stupid lackeys and his hilarious, overbearing mother (who has the same moustache as him) make Dr. Robotnik the reason to watch the show. This is punctuated by the late Long Jon Baldry’s voice which was perfect for the role. I’ll even admit that there are some episodes that are actually genuinely good. The main one being the four part time travel story which also had the best animation of the whole series.

The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Not good enough to be considered a quality show, but just barely bad enough to be a guilty pleasure.

Sonic 4: Episodes 1 and 2

"....WHY DID I THINK THIS WOULD WORK A SECOND TIME?!!"
“….WHY DID I THINK THIS WOULD WORK A SECOND TIME?!!”

I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a minute Jason! Wasn’t this in your list of WORST Sonic games in the past generation?!!” Well yeah, as a game that dares to call itself SONIC 4, it comes nowhere near living up to that lofty goal. However, let’s look past the title. What if this game was called…I dunno “Sonic’s digital arcade adventure” or “Sonic the Portable” as some background images have hinted at and it was just a simple, arcade downloadable without having to live up to that huge legacy? Well then, it’s actually a pretty good set of games. There I said it.

Even a fair amount of critics looked past the number and had fun with the title. IGN stated “Sonic is back, baby!” while the very critical Jim Sterling actually lambasted against the Sonic fans who were hating on it. Episode 1 may have had poor, robot-like physics and had its levels clearly based on classic Sonic games. But I thought the level design was decent and it had a good pace and flow to the game that I hadn’t really seen since Sonic 2. What I mean by “flow” is that the game keeps you moving along and giving you platform and enemy challenges without the need to constantly stop you and slow you down (except for that damn torch puzzle).

Torch Puzzle
“Why am I carrying a torch? The Olympics are over!”

This “flow” however, wasn’t quite there for Episode 2. While the physics were redefined and made a whole lot better and the graphics were improved greatly, to me, it didn’t quite have the proper pacing and flow in the level design that the first one did. I mean really, a water level in the first zone? That said, I’d say it’s still about equal to Episode 1 and some levels are pretty dang good. I’ll even go as far as to say this. I…..like Sonic 4 episodes 1 and 2 better than Sonic 1. Don’t kill me!

Sonic R

"Got places to go. Gonna follow my rainbow!"
“Got places to go. Gonna follow my rainbow!”

Let’s just put it out there, Sonic R is a bad racing game. It only has five tracks plus five more mirrored, the drifting is horrible and takes forever to get used to and you can probably beat and unlock everything in under 3 hours. So why is it so appealing to me? This is why.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8Tid2htBlE&list=PL9F64DA808270DC84[/youtube]

The soundtrack by the brilliant Richard Jacques and singing by the lovely TJ Davis is just wonderful and just puts me in such a mellow and happy mood that I could give a crap how short the main game is and I just sit back and play. I get a handle on the drifting and the game becomes easier and easier. I just sit back and start unlocking stuff while my ears are being gently caressed by these smooth tunes. By the time I’m done, I’m just totally chill. Sonic R. It’s like the gaming equivalent of weed. Ah man, that hit the spot. I need more Richard Jacques, so here’s the next on my list.

Sonic 3-D Blast

"I'm having a blast! Heh, heh. Get it? Cuz.....nevermind."
“I’m having a blast! Heh, heh. Get it? Cuz…..nevermind.”

I don’t think anyone disagrees that Sonic 3-D Blast was far superior on Saturn than on Genesis. However, many would disagree whether it’s a good game or not and that’s understandable.  It’s not a great game by any means but that doesn’t mean it’s without its charm. The game is on an isometric plane in which you have to bop badniks to free the flickies only this time, the flickies follow you to a warp ring of safety. Only problem is that they will scatter in several directions if Sonic is hit by anything. Then, it becomes an annoying fetch quest of grabbing them all again. The other problem is that the isometric angle makes it hard to get you precise location to hit an enemy. I will say that it does have a decent exploration aspect due to its “3-D-ness” and it’s at least something different from what was the usual norm of Sonic game at the time.

The main reason I enjoy this game is due to both the Saturn’s major upgrade in the visuals, but once again we get a smooth-jazz soundtrack from the great Richard Jacques.  No disrespect to Jun Sunoue who did a great job himself on the Genesis version, but I always loved Jacques Saturn compositions and this one is no exception. The best one and the biggest difference between the two games is in the bonus levels. Click here to see the Saturn version. Now click here to see the Genesis version. The Genesis version just has some bland, rickety bridge while the Saturn version not only does a great job bringing back the Sonic 2 style bonus stages, but has such awesome music that I go out of my way to collect enough coins just to go back to those stages.

Sonic 3-D Blast on Saturn may be just an okay game to some, but its improvements over its Genesis brother makes it seem sooo much better than it actually is that I can’t help but enjoy it.

Sonic Unleashed (HD)

"It's either me or Big the Cat in Sonic Adventure 1. Take your pick."
“It’s either me or Big the Cat in Sonic Adventure 1. Take your pick.”

Screw all the critics, I LOVED this game! Yes, the Werehog is a silly concept (as is a super-fast blue hedgehog), the Werehog levels are WAY too long and the medal collecting gets REAL annoying later in the game not to mention Eggmanla-OKAY! OKAY! This game has its problems but not really any more than the other 3-D Sonics did. Frankly, I’d still rather play through a Werehog level than one of those horrible Rouge/Knuckles levels from Sonic Adventure 2.

What I love about the game is not only those breathtaking, high-speed Sonic daytime levels, but the atmosphere it brings. While others scoff at the hub worlds and find them boring, I loved looking around the villages with their beautiful backgrounds and great detail. I even enjoyed talking to the local townsfolk who FINALLY looked like they fit in a Sonic game for the first time in history. This is mainly thanks to the designs by the Gurihiru duo who also still work on Marvel Comics including Power Pack. I think Japan had it right by calling it “Sonic World Adventure” because that’s what it really felt like to me, a world tour.

You can disagree that the Sonic Unleashed opening is the greatest thing ever, but you'd be disagreeing with fact.
You can disagree that the Sonic Unleashed opening is the greatest thing ever, but you’d be disagreeing with fact.

Then there’s that AWESOME opening animation! Easily the most impressive piece of Sonic animation ever shown and still gives me goosebumps just watching it. Plus, it just had such a quality feel to it. Even if you didn’t like it’s design at times, it felt polished. While I think Unleashed is Far from perfect, I don’t believe it’s the disaster some make it out to be.

So what Sonic game, cartoon or whatever do you love that’s not exactly popular? Let us know in the comments. I might do another one of these “guilty pleasure” lists sometime in the future.

Jason’s guiltiest pleasure is being the president of the Tommy Turtle fan club.

Two Pieces Of Sonic R Music In ASR


Do you like fan service? Do you like the music in the SEGA Saturn and PC game Sonic R? Planning on picking up Sonic & SEGA All Stars Racing? Well you’ll be glad to hear that two songs from Sonic R are in your new racing game. Composed by TJ Davis(the singer) and Richard Jacques(the music) the songs that will feature are Super Sonic Racing and Can You Feel The Sunshine, two songs that are still loved by the Sonic fan base to this very day.

What do you guys think about this new development? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Sonic Wrecks

Sumo Digital: ASR Started With Sonic Running

steve-lycettSonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing’s Executive Producer, Steve Lycett, has written a post on SEGA Europe’s official blog discussing the upcoming mascot racing game. Although mostly an introductory post, Lycett mentions the genesis of the game, which was staged very much like Sonic R as opposed to Sonic Drift.

We started off with… Sonic running. Yes running. Not in a car. Not Super Sonic, but Sonic running full pelt around a test track.” Lycett revealed on the SEGA blog, “Next we added Eggman, riding in his Eggpod, but with robotic legs attached. He was running too. Then we added Tails. He was in his Tornado, the red biplane from Sonic 2. Next, we thought ‘It’s a racing game, lets try a car’ and dropped in Amy, in a nice bright pink Amymobile.

Other characters included Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe, riding atop a Chicken Leg creature. Despite how awesome this setup sounds, Lycett tells of development difficulties in maintaining the flow of gameplay.

…It wasn’t all that much fun to play. Our main problem was that all the characters were different sizes. Sonic was Sonic sized, but he was really small compared to Eggman and Gilius on their rides. Worse still was Tails’ Tornado – it was huge! The wings made it really wide.

Coders at Sumo managing to make Amy’s car drift threw up even more possibilities, hampered by the difficulty in giving Sonic a drift function on foot. “How do you get a Hedgehog to drift [like Amy’s car]? Worse still, how do you get dwarf in full battle armour on a parrot faced lizard to drift?

And hence, the result is everyone in a vehicle, as you see here. Lycett humorously asks fans angry about putting Sonic in a vehicle to direct their venom at the creators of Sonic Drift, but also throws down this final nugget of information, hinting at how the planes will handle in Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing:

For the flyers we didn’t want them to have too much of an unfair advantage, so we decided to treat these like hovercraft, they wouldn’t be affected by surfaces that slow the other cars down, but they also wouldn’t have high acceleration. As such Tails’ plane needed a re-design.

Interesting stuff. You can read the whole blog entry at SEGA’s Blognik.

Richard Jacques, TJ Davis to attend and perform at Summer of Sonic

In news that will make you wish you either lived in the UK, were able to get to the UK, or in any case signed the Convention’s attendance form in time, Richard Jacques and TJ Davis have just been confirmed as special guests to the Summer of Sonic event in London. Richard in particular has been kind enough to dedicate some of his time to help organise and set up things, as well as agreeing to a very special performance that will take place on the main stage. What a guy.

The performance in question will be on the piano, with vocal songs being performed by TJ Davis and Lee Brotherton. In particular, you can expect Sonic R renditions from TJ, an exclusive live performance of Dreams of an Absolution from Lee, and a duet of some kind involving both TJ and LB. We’ll leave exactly what that is, along with other unconfirmed tracks, as a surprise until the day. Gets you wetter.

Richard and TJ will also be milling around the convention hall throughout the day, and are more than up for people chatting to them about Sonic and things so go nuts. Richard’s a bit of a confessed Sonic fanboy anyway from what we hear. The two will also join Lee Brotherton and Nigel Kitching on stage after the performance for a Q&A session that will likely rock your world. Four of them, one of me? I call that Pimm’s o’clock.

The Summer of Sonic takes place in 12 days time. Awesome hall? Check. Playtest Sonic games before their release? Check. Win stuff? Check. Community? Check. The greatest lineup ever? Check that shit. August 9th’s going to be hot.

Tesco ‘Price Blitz’ Cuts Cost on Sonic Software

The UK based supermarket chain ‘Tesco’ is currently running a large promotion that it calls ‘Price Blitz’.

The promotion aims to bring a wide range of audio visual entertainment to the consumer at budget prices. On offer are: CD’s, DVD’s, PC software and Videogames, each category is then grouped into a different price range. Understandably the quality and production number of these items will affect their price.

Worthy of note (and the whole purpose of this report) are the Sonic items included in the offer. If you’ve been deterred from buying Sonic’s PC outings or DVD instalments of Sonic Underground, because of the price, then worry no more. Infact the items on offer were already part of value a range, so you can be sure the cost has been slashed severely. Continue reading Tesco ‘Price Blitz’ Cuts Cost on Sonic Software

Official Sonic Gems Collection Information

Earlier today SEGA’s Japanese page for the upcoming Sonic Gems Collection was launched providing a host of new information about the game, all of which can finally be set in concrete thanks to it coming directly from an official source.

The site, which is laced with some beautiful new-classic styled artwork provides us with the following. The game will be released in August this year on Playstation 2 and GameCube. Finally, what everyone has been waiting for, the list of games to be included in this compilation.

Continue reading Official Sonic Gems Collection Information

First Look: Grabbing us by the Gems

Well, with all the rumours being banded about well in advance of E3 2005, the announcement of Sonic Gems Collection was no real surprise, although it was a pleasing addition to the roster of upcoming Sonic titles. ‘Gems’ was first fired up for rumour when SEGA filed a patent for the name of the game, along with a logotype. Many suspected, due to hints being dropped by Yuji Naka and the similar namesake to Mega Collection, Gems would be a compilation of the hard-to-seek Sonic games. One of the bugbears of SMC was the omission of Sonic CD, which Sonic Team would seem want to address.

The demo pod for Sonic Gems Collection was discovered at Nintendo’s E3 booth, which added fuel to the rumours of Gamecube exclusivity. We have a feeling that the game is headed for the PlayStation 2, according to our sources. No word on XBOX, but assuming Mega Collection got the multi-format treatment, it would seem odd that Microsoft would be left out of the Sonic love.

001.jpg 002.jpg 003.jpg 004.jpg 005.jpg

So, WHAT are we getting? Well, first of all, as hinted in the first paragraph, you will be getting Sonic CD and Sonic the Fighters in the compilation, and what journo’s will be playing at the demo pod. This morning, Sonic Team launched an official Gems Collection website, and confirmed a (potentially tentative) game list, below:

  1. Sonic CD
  2. Sonic the Fighters
  3. Sonic R
  4. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (GG)
  5. Sonic Spinball (GG)
  6. Sonic & Tails 2 (GG)
  7. Sonic Drift 2 (GG)
  8. Tails Sky Patrol (GG)
  9. Tails Adventure (GG)

Some may think that Sonic CD, Sonic the Fighters and Sonic R is enough for the compilation, regardless of the conservative choice of adding some Game Gear games. And that’s fair enough. We can clearly see why Sonic Team chose this selection of GG games too – these were the titles that were mercilessly missing from Sonic Mega Collection + on XBOX and PS2 – furthering the idea that this could be heading for consoles other than Gamecube. All the Game Gear games were present in Sonic Adventure: DX however, which makes the selection here rather dubious on Nintendo’s platform.

Despite the appeal of Sonic CD and ‘Fighters, we hope there’s room for some unlockables, akin to the original Mega Collection. Our “Sonic Collectioning” would be complete with at least Chaotix and SEGASonic the Hedgehog in the mix. As mentioned before, it would be slightly odd to have half the offering on a new Gamecube collection being something you could just get elsewhere (SA:DX). The screenshots and common elements seen in Sonic CD and Sonic R show PC versions – which means Gems must be using some kind of PC emulation to run these versions of games. Which is fine by us, as long as we don’t get Windows XP runtime errors booting up Sonic CD.

007.gif 008.gif 009.gif

The extra offerings are what makes a retro compilation from Sonic Team so good. Sonic Jam still remains the ultimate king, with a 3D explorable world full of Sonic history, artwork and exclusive Japanese movies up the wazoo. Sonic Mega Collection managed a timid smattering of Archie cover scans, a yawnsome full scan of their tiresome “Firsts”, and some movies of little interest. Sonic Mega Collection + took things better (or worse) when the only movies they had involved Sonic Heroes in-development scenes (of which half were just the finished movies anyway). Special extras have turned out to be nothing but a crock as of late.

Let’s hope this changes somewhat – the images above, taken from the official website, shows a new section called “Sonic Museum”. According to the Japanese site, there will be many secrets including movies, character profiles and artwork. So far, so good, Sonic Team. So far, so good.

Now we’re all up to scratch on what Sonic Gems Collection is all about, it’s only a matter of time before we get more details. Hopefully, if we can get extras on the scale of Sonic Jam-style quality (even if we can’t have many of the quality Japanese adverts or movies, just having some will suffice) and squeeze SEGASonic the Hedgehog and Chaotix in there, this collection will surely live up to its name.

TSS REVIEW: Sonic R

Sonic R is exactly what it says on the tin – a racing game. Only… the ‘Racing’ is abbreviated with an ‘R’ and it’s not in a tin. It sees you take a whole cast of Sonic Team characters out on a racing revolution! A competition is being held on Sonic’s home grounds, and the blue blur just can’t help but notice it. Sonic can’t turn something like this down. Tails joins him in signing up for the competition, however it they soon find out that it was all just a ploy set out by Dr Robotnik to trap the blue hedgehog. The swine. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic R