Freak-Out Friday: Cobanermani456’s Sonic Unleashed Fail Compilation

The definition of insanity is “repeating the same actions over and over again while expecting different results,” so says some famous scientist of the previous century. However, such unyielding determination is to be commended, especially when one manages to succeed despite the odds after several attempts, but at what cost?

Such is the case for this week’s Freak-Out Friday, as we take a look at Let’s Player Cobanermani456’s 40 minute-long compilation of his Sonic Unleashed fails. No, we’re not talking about the base game here, my good readers – we’re talking about the incredibly unforgiving and unfairly difficult stages available via the DLC Adventure Packs, with death after death after death compiled into one glorious video with copious amounts of schadenfreude to delight yourself in. To our younger readers though, be warned, for there be lots of swearing!

That said, pull up a chair, grab some snacks and join in on Cobi’s suffering after the cut!

Continue reading Freak-Out Friday: Cobanermani456’s Sonic Unleashed Fail Compilation

Mash-Up Monday: Endless Possibilities X 400m Dash

In 2007, after years of barbs and jabs at one another from either side of the 90s Console Wars, celebrated company mascots Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog finally starred in their first crossover game in the aptly titled Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. 2008 marked a brand new start for the Blue Blur in his own games as well, with the release of Sonic Unleashed later that year on several platforms – a game that brought new life to the series with transitional 2D and 3D gameplay and the Boost ability, a mechanic that went on to become a staple in later titles until recently. Continue reading Mash-Up Monday: Endless Possibilities X 400m Dash

Super Bunnyhop looks at the first level of every main Sonic game

The YouTube channel Super Bunnyhop has uploaded a 39-minute look at the first level of every main Sonic game. Hit the jump to see it, and also to get a full list of the games covered. Continue reading Super Bunnyhop looks at the first level of every main Sonic game

Defend It! The Completionist Defends Sonic Unleashed

Following the disastrous 2006 release of the next-gen Sonic the Hedgehog on Xbox 360 and PS3, early demos and trailers of the next instalment in the main series helped manage to generate a ton of positive press for SEGA and the Blue Blur, as they hinted at a return to the high speed platforming fans and critics have come to know and love over the years. Sonic Unleashed was soon unleashed onto the gaming world, and the end reception the game had received is mixed, split right down the middle – like night and day!

Continue reading Defend It! The Completionist Defends Sonic Unleashed

Hero of Legend’s Lookback Part 2: Sonic Unleashed for Wii

Yep, as I hinted in part 1 of my lookback featuring Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, I wanted to do my next one on Sonic Unleashed for the Wii! Have a look at part 1 right here (and comment! I’d really love some more feedback. :) ).

So now onto the lookback:

sonic_unleashed_wiiDeveloper: Sonic Team/Dimps/Xeen/O-TWO Release Date: Nov 18th 2008 (NA) Nov 28th 2008 (EU) Nov 27th 2008 (AUS) Dec 18th 2008 (JP)

So this is what everyone considers to be the afterthought version, the side project, the thing to chuck out there for a quick buck… which apparently worked too well as the Wii version was apparently not only the highest selling version, but APPARENTLY outsold both the PS3 and 360 versions combined. Well that’s one reason Wii got Colors exclusively. :P

So for a long time we always thought it was mainly by Sonic Team with Dimps doing the daytime design work, but after exploring the endless world of the interwebs, I found the websites of Xeen and O-TWO and spotted the Wii version on both sites under games they worked on. As I noted last time, those two indeed worked on Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity, and there’s the old interview where a Sega employee (think it was at one E3) where it was said it indeed used the Zero Gravity engine, all signs point to it being correct.

The game runs in 480p, 16:9 widescreen like Zero Gravity and all other Sonic games on Wii, however it runs in 30fps, also like every other Wii Sonic game except for Zero Gravity. Why did a spin-off accomplish what main games wouldn’t do? At least not until Sonic Lost World, and even then Zero Gravity is a locked 60fps where Lost World dips at times…

For those unfamiliar with the latter two teams, Xeen actually was the main dev of Rhythm Thief on 3DS and O-TWO mainly works on various 3DS eShop games like Skater Cat and Cube Tactics, they also helped on the more recent Puyo Pop games.

So here’s another thing to point out and it’s a biggie. The Wii version was basically the darling of most review sites, while the HD versions were slammed and some even rated it lower than Sonic ’06, ouch. I’ve only played the 360 demo in terms of HD version experience and it wasn’t my cup of tea, all the footage I’ve seen so far shows it being NOWHERE near as bad as Sonic ’06, and no, I don’t think Sonic Boom will be either, there was more than just technical issues being why Sonic ’06 was poop.

So what about the Wii game itself you ask? Well I REALLY liked it, it certainly has some glaring issues which of course I’ll dive into, but first let’s talk about the gameplay.

It’s very true the game is pretty one-sided in favor of the Werehog stages, basically for every day stage, you get 3 night stages. Some night levels even take place like 3-5 in a row, yikes. But the daytime stages are purdy fun. One thing I really enjoyed was the limited boost usage where it’s divided into small bursts at a time rather than go hedgehog wild. It allows you to strategize more in when to use it, also I like how after every 30 rings collected, its max amount increases AND fully restores it. I also like that *puts flame shield on* it’s SLOWER! I don’t like boosting like a bajillion miles and hour with little to no control, no sir, I don’t like that. Just give me a sense of going fast but being able to see things around me and being able to control what the hell I’m doing while boosting!

A major bonus on Wii is the medal system, you never have to worry about searching far and wide (I ain’t singing it, get that out of your head!) for medals, instead they’re rewarded depending on your rank in all levels, where as B gets you one, A gets you two, and S gets you all three medal in the level. Much easier. I just encourage you to try and get an S rank in the night levels on the first go if you don’t want to play them again. :P

Speaking of the night levels, here you focus on using the Wiimote and Nunchuck to fight in a sort of Wii Boxing/Punch Out style, and honestly, once you get the hang of it, it works REALLY well, I never used another control setup, I know, crazy right?

S ranking in the night levels is a bit tricky, you have to collect all the experience (called Force), rings, and beating the stage fast enough. But just be quick and break and collect everything you see and you should be okay. Here’s a tip: instead of punching boxes and whatnot, RUN into them, they break automatically thus saving you a lot of time.

So how about dem graphics? Well it’s no secret it’s not as pretty, and frankly, it’s not even close to the graphics of the Colors team’s output (Secret Rings, Black Knight, and Colors), hell, the game runs in 30fps so to me it’s kind of beneath Zero Gravity. Plus there’s something BIZARRE about the image quality where when the Werehog stages begin, he looks VERY weird with how the jaggies move about, like it’s not polished and… ugh, I can’t put my finger on it! The game could’ve used the useful Deflicker technique where it softens the image to reduce jaggies, like a free fake Anti-Aliasing of sorts. A lot of Sonic games on GC and Wii used it, as most famously Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl. It honestly helps a bit I’ve noticed, but I’m no expert so…

Also need to mention this graphical glitch in the first main daytime Adabat stage where you reach the bottom of a 2D section where you’re on the water, and the water just flickers really badly, but this is the only case of that, but it always does that there.

However, when played in HD on Dolphin, it surprisingly shines! Here is a gallery made by a person named zetabio who made DOZENS of screenshots of it in 1920×1200.

So all-in-all, I really enjoyed the game and I highly recommend it as long as you’re not going to puke as soon as you look at it and don’t mind the Wiimote controls. Actually it supports the GameCube controller (not usable at the moment on Wii U of course) and the Classic Controller if you prefer. :)

I’d give it an 8.0 out of 10. It’s not my fav Sonic game, but I still really enjoyed it as I said. It’s hard to say if I prefer Zero Gravity over Unleashed, I kinda prefer Zero Gravity due to it’s vastly superior polish.

That’s it for now! Hope you’ve enjoyed the 2nd lookback. :D Hopefully I’ll do another down the road again, but these two were the most under the radar/underrated of the console games last gen so I felt the warranted lookbacks the most.

Sonic Unleashed Now on Playstation Network

Sonic Unleashed PS3 Box art

Well… better late than never?

Sonic Unleashed has been… uh… Unleashed onto the PSN nearly 6 years after it’s original release. So if you’ve been after a copy of this for a while and your efforts to get a physical version have failed, this might be an option for you.

Oddly, Sega never announced this, it randomly appeared in this weeks PSN update, prices are £15.99/€19.99/$19.99. Although it’s not that odd since Sega have still to announce that Sonic Heroes is on the PSN and that’s been on there for several years.

Not sure what else to say on this really, it’s a fun game, the Werehog isn’t that bad once you level him up, though it’s a tragic experience early game. Otherwise it’s quite challenging and has some decent music. Though Generations is a lot better.

Anyone want to place bets on this being a PSN+ Freebie in time.

Source: Playstation Blog.

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.

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.

Sonic Boom or Sonic Bust?

SB_LOGO_RGB_WHITEBG_1391691188I remember a time not too long ago where one could wake up to find out that their favourite blue hedgehog had taken up the hover board, had decided that swords were cool, or had a accumulated another new friend to add to the already brimming roster of colourful critters. At the time, Sonic had suffered a spate of mediocre to down-right poor titles, the most notorious being Sonic ’06. The prevailing morale of the online community was pretty low and on the morning of the announcement of Sonic Unleashed, images of the Werehog did nothing to inspire or reassure fans that a title of note was in the making. Forums lit up with debate, sites quizzed their audiences with “will it be good, won’t it be good?” polls and comment boxes became an arena for conflicts of opinion.

Many fans at the time, including myself, were certain that the train of thought implemented in the making of Sonic titles had become intrinsically flawed, with focus on graphics and sheen, rather than gameplay. Many desired to see a return to the roots of what made the classic Sonic titles so good, which ironically backfired somewhat with the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I. The last thing we were interested in was another gimmick, and this is what it looked like SEGA were about to present us with. On this occasion however, I couldn’t have been happier to be proven wrong. I love Sonic Unleashed, from the diverse soundtrack, to the lush worlds, to the level design to the Pixar feel of the characters. While not a perfect game in many respects, it was fun, and had elements to please both old and new fans. Not only that, Night of the Werehog was a fantastic little bonus; ten minutes of distilled genius and beautiful animation.

Fast forward six years and we seem to be back at this juncture once more.

sonicboomSonic the Hedgehog fans have had a lot of new information to assimilate over the last 48 hours with regards to the announcement of Sonic Boom, which will hit screens later in the year in both TV show and videogame incarnations. Scanning through my facebook feed, the general vibe from a lot of the younger members of the community is one of excitement at the prospect of another TV show, after all it has been a decade since Sonic X premiered on western screens (has it really been that long?). However, these announcements have been completely eclipsed by the news and images of the new character designs, which have in the cases for some characters, been fairly drastic.

But haven’t we been here before? If so, what is all the fuss about? Well, a few months back, we were all given a glimpse of some familiar shadows set against a wall. It was obvious that the main characters of the franchise were looking to get a makeover, and internet speculation about whether or not Knuckles had been hitting the gym exploded onto every Sonic-themed forum.

Boom10It seems almost seems surprising therefore, that the community has reacted in the way they have, given there was fair warning substantial changes to the character models were on the horizon. Indeed, Knuckles looks like he has now swallowed the Master emerald in a last-ditch attempt to prevent it from getting nicked. Other characters seem to have been less drastically altered, in most cases proportions have been subtly tweaked, and many would be forgiven in suggesting the team have had a recent run-in with the Andrex puppy. Admittedly, I’ve had a good giggle at some fan parodies and interpretations of these changes. Fortunately, fan reaction has been tempered by a follow up announcement that Sonic Boom would remain an isolated “sub franchise” and that these changes would not be canon.
So again, we come back to the question: what’s the big deal? Why has something like a change in the colour of Sonic’s arms hit such a nerve amongst fans?

Well, the likely answer to that is probably many fold. Firstly and most obviously, many fans probably fear that SEGA are back on down the gimmick route to promote new games. Sonic Lost World didn’t quite achieve the accolade many thought it might, and it’s understandable that there is apprehension over whether this is the dawn of the second era of the so-called “Sonic cycle”. Secondly, and more importantly I think, is the change in the base properties of the franchise. There aren’t many other fandoms that command such a loyal legion as Sonic does, and many are invested in the characters, the stories and the universe on the whole. So when something fundamental is modified, no matter how trivial it may seem to someone on the outside looking in, fans are going to react negatively; after all, why change something that isn’t broken? Indeed, most fans are questioning the necessity of equipping a hedgehog with a scarf and a copious quantity of sports bandages. Perhaps in some cases it is purely personal opinion. More curiously, many have noticed how pedantic SEGA have been in the past with regards to attention to character models, what they are allowed to be doing, and how they are represented in any media. Many perceive this as an almost complete U-turn on this previous ethos, and has opened up speculation to whether or not this is the result of a shift in those who call the shots when it comes to the franchise globally (although a recent statement from Iizuka picked up on TSSZ News announced that Boom will only be available to western markets).

soniclegsThe counter opinion of course, is that sometimes, change is good. You probably wouldn’t be seen dead in the clothes you were wearing a decade ago, and indeed, it could be seen as logical in this sense that over time, some things will inevitably update in order to remain fresh, keep with trends, and of course, interest a new generation. Back in 1998, Sonic underwent his transformation from a short fat spike-ball to a more athletic, green-eyed iteration of himself; that metamorphosis seemed on the whole a successful transition. Examining the timescales between those character models, it does seem like Sonic is well overdue a cosmetic overhaul.

Those of you who, like me, pine for another title with the same DNA as Unleashed, will no doubt be as giddy as I to see stunning pieces of concept art of environments, and some extremely amusing facial expressions from the cast, which lead to believe we will be getting a game with rich worlds to explore akin to Unleashed. Those worried about the game have had some reassuring news in that the development is in the hands of those behind the Uncharted and Jak and Daxter franchises (now developing under the name of Big Red Button), and if the quality of these titles are a reflection of what the next Sonic game will be like, we have nothing to worry about. The attitudes of SEGA have also markedly changed in the past half-decade, with the growth of an extremely competent and capable community team who have been receptive of fan feedback.  On top of this, the connection to fans has been reinforced through events such as Sonic Boom in the states and Summer of Sonic in the UK, which have both received an incredible reception from attending patrons.

I think as a community we have matured in many aspects; after all, many have now been fans for over twenty years; some are now employed in the video game business and are more able to understand the intricate nuisances that go into making a video game. That said, I think we shouldn’t fall into the trap of becoming grumpy old women and men, and forming opinions on changes purely because they “aren’t as good as they were back in the good old days”. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to whether or not you think the new direction Sonic is taking will be good or bad, as after all the main component at the end of the day is personal preference. I hope as an older and somewhat wiser community, we can hold final judgement of the “Sonic Renaissance” until we’ve seen the final product.

After all, we’ve only just read the first page of this new chapter of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Sonic Generations Unleashed Project Mod Now… Unleashed!

unleashedproject-logoAfter a little over a year in development, Sonic Retro community members Dario FF, Twilightzoney, and Chimera have released what is likely to be the one of the greatest non-Christmas presents PC gamers could ever ask for. For those who own Sonic Generations, start howling with joy, because the Unleashed Project Mod is finally available to the public!

The mod replaces the Generations stages with the daylight levels from Sonic Unleashed! That’s right: Apotos, Mazuri, Spagonia, Holoska, Chun-nan, Shamar, Adabat and Empire City have been successfully ported and beautifully remastered in high definition for your gaming pleasure! Not to mention a brand spankin’ new White Space to go with it, complete with its own Unleashed White Space Medley!

Be sure to thank the Unleashed Project Team, because this is a job well freaking done. Check out the release trailer after the jump!

Continue reading Sonic Generations Unleashed Project Mod Now… Unleashed!

Mash-Up Monday: Savannah Citadel’s Giant Egg

Billy Hatcher Mash-Up Monday? CyanBlur, I approve!

The Gamecube classic’s main theme is thrown together with Savannah Citadel Day for Mazuri from Sonic Unleashed!

Savannah Citadel – GIANTEGG

Found an interesting mash-up out there on the world wide web? Have one of your own you’d like to see featured on TSS? If so, then send what you got over to vizardjeffhog@sonicstadium.org!