TSS Review: Sonic The Hedgehog Stretch Armstrong Toy

Growing up in the 90’s, I can remember seeing adverts for a very unique toy, Stretch Armstrong, he was a super hero who in the adverts would stop crime by using his powers to stretch, bit like Mr Fantastic from The Fantastic Four, only he later got a Dog and then a dedicated villain. Continue reading TSS Review: Sonic The Hedgehog Stretch Armstrong Toy

TSS Review: Sonic The Hedgehog Bath Balls

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOhirStDZWU

Product Purchased By Author.

Today we’ll be taking a look at the Sonic Bath Balls, a charming little toy/cosmetic product which was released in Japan earlier this year. The above video contains footage of what it’s like to actually use one, so if you’re curious to see what the effect it has on water as well as human skin check it out.

Not Quite Blind Bags…

So the idea is, you buy a bag at random and then take a bath with the bath bomb. As the bomb dissolves you are left with your toy. Typically, these blind bag toys have no clues as to what’s inside them unless you weigh them.

Well this is where things get interesting, because these blind bags do have an identifier! Each bag has a code printed on the back, there are 5 different codes which relate to the different characters. Each code ends with the following combinations.

  • 005A = Sonic
  • 005B = Amy
  • 005E = Shadow
  • 005C = Tails
  • 005D = Knuckles

So it’s completely possible to get a full set of these without ever buying a single duplicate!

Blue Bubblegum

Even before I opened the individual bags, there was a noticeable smell coming from the retail box. Upon opening a bag and unwrapping the first bomb it really kicked in. I can’t really say for certain what the smell was, but it reminded me a lot of those old bubblegum flavour pop drinks you used to see kinds in schools drinking a lot. Or like how back in the 90’s the most exotic flavour of ice-cream you could find was that blue bubblegum flavour.

So if you want to smell of bubblegum, these are a must.

Turns The Water (And Your Skin) Blue!

If you want to see what happens when you actually drop one of these into water, skip to 8:30 in the video posted at the top of this article.

Watching the ball slowly dissolve in the water, the liquid quickly turned a deep blue colour with a lighter blue foam over the top. Only, it’s not just the water it turns blue, it also changes your skin a noticeable blue colour. You might at this point be thinking ‘does it wash off?’ Well… no, not completely.

The blue colour remains on your skin for a while, even if you rub your hands with soap and water you won’t get it completely off.

It makes me wonder how many people got these and just threw them in the bath with themselves. At least they’ll get an audition at the Blue Man Group if that did occur.

Toys in The Tub

The actual toy itself is… Surprising high quality and really well made! Out of the 5 figures I’ve got, all 5 are nearly flawless, no paint errors, no build errors, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them.

The level of detail on them is also surprisingly high. Shadow actually has his jets carved into the sole of his shoes, Amy’s eye lashes are painted correctly and there is no sign of paint bleeding at all.

Even very small details like eye pupil colour, there is no sign of paint bleeding or errors on any of the toys.

They’re also quite durable, they remind me a lot of the old Monster in My Pockets, you can squish them a little but they’re not going to break unless you twist and pull them violently.

10/10 Too Much Water

This is one of the most surprising products of the year, I was expecting the toys to be really low quality, lots of paint errors, poor build construction with no way to tell what figure was inside each bag.

Instead, these are some of the best quality toys I’ve seen for a long time. Given their size and cost you would expect these to be very low end toys. But the opposite is the case, the quality is very high and is supported by a keen attention to detail.

Over here in the west the closest thing I can think of to compare these too if we go by price point and concept would be the Tomy Gacha toys. The difference is night and day, Tomy’s Gacha toys often feel and look very cheap, fall apart with ease and have a lot of paint errors, whereas in Japan’s product does more and is putting the western offerings to shame.

Definitely recommend these if you can still find them. Just beware turning yourself blue.

TSS Review: Sonic Boom Episode 1 & 2

Can you believe it’s been over 10 years since Sonic X left the airways? We’ve had a long time to debate the good and bad of Sonic X , love it or hate it, it’s been 10 years since the last Sonic cartoon, unless you include Night of the Werehog. Continue reading TSS Review: Sonic Boom Episode 1 & 2

TSS/SEGAbits Review: Sonic Pocket Adventure

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Years ago, I was working on a review of Sonic Pocket Adventure for Sonic Stadium, in an effort to increase TSS’s coverage of Sonic’s more obscure titles. Unfortunately, taking screenshots was a pain, so I left it incomplete. A year later I found myself needing to come up with content for my (relatively) new job over at SEGAbits, so I repurposed this review into an article for them. Now, as part of the #Sonic23on23 intersite celebration, I’m bringing this article back to you folks in the hopes of rousing some interest in this fun little game! You can find the original article here, as it was posted back in November of 2011.

If you want to buy this game and the Neo Geo Pocket you’ll need to play it on, you can find them both over at eStarland.

After SEGA retired the Game Gear in early 1997, they suddenly found themselves on the market for a new handheld to support. That same year SEGA threw its weight behind the Tiger’s Game.com, offering Tiger the licenses to several of its franchises, including Sonic. This deal would give rise to the worst shit SEGA ever slapped its name on. As the Game.com quickly dropped dead at the sight of the Gameboy, SEGA threw its support behind another, much better handheld: SNK’s Neo Geo Pocket Color. This support would only yield one SEGA game in the American market, in the form of Sonic’s last portable adventure before going third party: Sonic Pocket Adventure.

Sonic Pocket Adventure is a classic Sonic platformer. It utilizes the classic Sonic physics that we all know, love, and miss. If you’ve played any of the old Genesis titles you should know what to expect here: a physics based platformer that requires the player to use momentum and quick reflexes to get to the end of each stage.

The physics work well and feel right. You won’t ever find yourself standing on walls or walking up ceilings here. The controls are responsive, and the levels are largely well designed. This game was made before endless bottomless pits became the default method of making Sonic games hard, so the difficulty feels fair here. Like any side scrolling Sonic game, there are seven chaos emeralds to collect, and they are required to play the final boss and beat the game.

SPA holds the unique distinction of being the last “classic” Sonic title. In fact, the game’s content is actually an amalgamation of all three games from the original Sonic the Hedgehog trilogy. The locations of the first six zones were taken from Sonic 2, as are the half pipe special stages. The final zone was based around Scrap Brain from Sonic 1. The final two boss areas were taken from the Death Egg boss and Doomsday boss areas from Sonic & Knuckles. Finally, the music is all derived from Sonic 3.

That being said, don’t take that to mean this is a port. SPA is in fact more like the upcoming Sonic Generations: its taken locations from previous games and has built all new levels in them. All of the bosses are also completely original, aside from Mecha Sonic. The music has also been redone, since the Neo Geo Pocket couldn’t handle Genesis music anyway. Finally, the game also has a set of puzzles that you can only complete from collecting pieces in game. This mode likely won’t attract anyone other than the hardcore completest, but it does offer players something else to strive for once they’ve beaten the game, especially since these pieces are not easy to find.

SPA plays like the Sonic game people have been demanding for decades. It’s got the right physics and it’s got the right level design. This is a classic Sonic game in every way, except for perhaps the title screen since that features green eyed Sonic. Of course great game play isn’t everything, especially not in a Sonic title. The visuals and audio also need to hold up.
Before I talk about how this game’s visuals measure up, I’m going to talk about the Neo Geo Pocket’s hardware for a bit. It was originally marketed as a “16-bit” color handheld.

While it was certainly graphically superior to the 8 bit Game Boy Color, it couldn’t hold a candle to what we typically expect from a machine like the Genesis. This is the best looking Neo Geo Pocket game I’ve played thus far. The colors are bright and vibrant, the boss sprites are large and detailed, and Sonic himself is the best looking sprite I’ve played on the NGP. Most of the sprites have fairly limited colors and utilize a lot of white and black, but Sonic’s sprite is fully colored. The backgrounds look great, and the art style of the old games shine through pretty effectively here.

While SPA is one of the best looking games on the NGP, it also highlights some of the system’s limitations. For one, the levels here don’t look nearly as good as the original stages they were based on. There is less detail and everything looks blockier. There is also one vital problem that keeps SPA from being a triple A Sonic title: the frame rate. Frame rate issues are common in the NGP’s action games and unfortunately SPA was not an exception. The frame rate isn’t persistently poor, but rather pops up when there is a lot going on on-screen. The problem isn’t persistent enough to run the game, but it’s still far too noticeable to be ignored

The music selection is pretty solid, with tracks from Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, and even a few from Sonic Jam. The first two have my favorite tracks out of all of the old school Sonic games, so SNK certainly picked good tracks to bring over. Of course, the NGP’s audio quality isn’t as good as the Genesis, so the tracks don’t back quite the same punch, but they are still a very good reason to keep the volume up.

Sonic Pocket Adventure is the last hurrah of the retro Sonic era, before the character jumped headfirst into the art style and world we know today. As a send-off to this era it works pretty well, even if that probably wasn’t the intention at the time. It is an adventure I would highly recommend to any Sonic fan, and considering Neo Geo Pockets are pretty reasonably priced and have a great selection of still exclusive games to choose from beyond Sonic, I would highly recommend picking one up. While it does have a poor frame rate and retreads environments we’ve seen before, it also revisits the 16 bit era of Sonic in fashion that only a game from this era could do. Pick it up.

I would like to end this review with a fun fact: did you know several people who worked on this game would later go on to found Dimps, the creators of every handheld Sonic adventure since this one? Dimps was formed by several former SNK employees shortly after the company’s acquisition by Aruze. Dimps has since gone one to become the go-to developer for Sonic’s side scrolling handheld adventures, one of their latest efforts being a little game called Sonic Rush Adventure. How does that game measure up to their first effort? Find out here!

You’ll Love:

  • Great, classic Sonic game play ripped straight from the Genesis classics
  • Lots of call backs to old locations, but still uses all new level design and bosses
  • Best looking game on the Neo Geo Pocket
  • Combination of old school game play with all new level design make this a game every Sonic fan should seek out

You’ll Hate:

  • Frame rate problems
  • Doesn’t use any truly new locations

TSS Review: Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed for the Playstation Vita

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Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed is an awesome racing game. Even with the release of Wii U’s Mario Kart 8 it remains my favorite mascot racer thanks to its balanced, more skill-focused game play, well-designed transformation mechanic and spectacular track design. Sonic Stadium already has a pretty awesome, in-depth review which you can read here, so I’m not really going to go too in depth about the game itself. Instead, this review will be focusing on how well (or poorly) the Vita port realizes a game meant for considerably more powerful hardware.

In terms of speed and game play, All Stars Racing Transformed is a nearly flawless translation of its console counterparts. The creative, huge courses are all here with their epic set pieces and scripted moments unblemished. If anything has been compromised during porting, it certainly isn’t noticeable. The NiGHTS stage is stilled filled with enemies and rings, the Skies of Arcadia stage still finishes with an epic fleet battle and they are still sights to behold. All of All Stars Racing Transformed’s racing mechanics have always been faithfully brought over, with all the speed and drifting mechanics from the console versions intact. Still, this game isn’t a one-hundred percent accurate conversion, as there are some minor issues and noticeable downgrades from the HD versions.

2014-06-08-181624In terms of controls, things can get a little cramped thanks to the Vita’s small form factor. All Stars Racing Transformed is a game that relies heavily on drifting for building speed and getting around turns, so you may be reaching for those trigger buttons a little more than you’d like to. Still, after logging dozens of hours on this version of the game I found this to be only a minor issue. The game’s physics have always taken a serious hit, especially in the water stages. Waves are no longer as large and bouncy in this version and areas where huge waves once tossed racers are now nothing more than minor nuisances. The loss of wave physics make the races a little less chaotic and exciting than they used to be.

The most noticeable difference lies in the graphics. The textures have been downgraded significantly. They now look much flatter and contain less detail. Lighting and various other effects have either been severely reduced or removed entirely, making it a little more difficult to see in some of the darker stages and making the entire game look considerably less flashy overall. I am happy to say that as of this review the frame rate is no longer a problem: even in the busier stages the game runs smoothly and the hiccups that were prevalent in even the HD versions are nowhere to be seen here.

Though really, the downgraded visuals are not only expected, but they do very little to damper the fun. The game runs well on the Vita and nothing of value has been lost. What you trade in visuals you gain in portability, as this is pretty much the same exact game, shrunk down to a device you can take anywhere. If this is the price for a portable All Stars Racing Transformed, I am more than willing to pay it.

All Stars Racing Transformed for the Vita is far from the definitive version, but it is worth owning if portability is attractive to you. It has to cut some corners, but in the end it provides the best portableY mascot racer money can buy, cutting out some of the flash while leaving in all the meat. So whether you want to fight off the boredom during summer travel or if you just want to be able to play this awesome racer any time you want, this game comes with high recommendations. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t quite live up to its HD brothers.

You’ll Love:

  • Portable All-Stars Racing that plays just as well as on the consoles
  • Solid frame rate
  • Creative courses and a roster that will make many a SEGA fan squeal

You’ll Hate:

  • Graphics have received a significant downgrade
  • Constantly pressing the Vita’s trigger buttons will make your hands hurt
  • Isn’t receiving any DLC from the PC version, including Ryo Hazuki

Freak-Out Friday: Winter Run – Join with perfect Bob the hedgehog in this endless running game

winterrunbob1

Winter Run – Join with perfect Bob the hedgehog in this endless running game

…I’m not kidding. That’s the actual title.

In a move that surprised absolutely nobody following the god awful monstrosity that was “Jiffy and the Super Hedgehogs” in YOLOLabs’ now nonexistent A Hedgehog Dash (feel free to check out Sonic Retro’s review on that particular Sonic knock-off), yet another faker has emerged on the iOS market – introducing perfect Bob the hedgehog!

But you need not hear me spill out the questionable contents of this completely original game! Here to provide commentary is our special guest from The Sonic Show, my good friend “Let’s Player of the North” Tanner!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIKbr72ZMxg

Thank you Tanner, for your great and noble sacrifice. I will carve your face into a continent in remembrance.

Oh, and get this. There’s actually an in-app purchase in this title, “copyright” to Lambro Solutions. Just one.

Remove Ads.

Pay a dollar to remove the one and only thing that makes up Winter Run.

WELP, let’s break this down real quick, TSS Review style!

YOU’LL LOVE
+ Absolutely nothing!

YOU’LL HATE 
– Ads everywhere that you have to pay to remove;
– ‘Solo Bobico’;
– No single player mode, bad news bears for those without internet;
– Collision detection out the wazoo, floors don’t exist;
– “THOSE ARE ‘RINGS’, NOT ‘COINS’, GAH!!”
– No really, literal stacks of ads;
– “Oh my freaking god, how does that thing even LOOK like a hedgehog!?”
– Yourself if you actually used up iPod/iPhone memory space for this (unless you’re Tanner for the sake of this article);
– “THIS IS NOT A ‘GAME'”;
– Did I already mention ads?

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m not willing to “join with perfect Bob” on his winter run anytime soon. 

Back to Soleanna for me then!

winterrunbob11winterrunbob10winterrunbob2winterrunbob3winterrunbob4winterrunbob5winterrunbob6winterrunbob9winterrunbob8winterrunbob7

 

TSS Review: Funko’s Sonic the Hedgehog ‘Pop!’ Vinyl Figures

For 15 years, Funko have been making products based on characters from pop culture. Their range is expansive with hundreds of franchises and over a thousand different products. They’re also no stranger to the Sonic brand. A few years ago they made several Sonic toys based on their Wacky Wobblers line, so it’s not like this is the first time they’d had a go with the Sonic license.  However, it is the first time that they’ve used the Sonic license for their ‘Pop! Vinyl’ line. Now the Funko Pop range has a certain ‘style’ to it, so how do Sonic, Tails and Knuckles look after their Funko Pop transformation? Well… Continue reading TSS Review: Funko’s Sonic the Hedgehog ‘Pop!’ Vinyl Figures

TSS Review: This LA Convention Centre Escalator

We get a lot of requests here at TSS for reviews and news on various different items. Today we finally review something that fans have requested for a long time… This LA Convention Centre Escalator.

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The escalator makes travelling different floors a breeze, one just has to stand on the pannels and hold onto the handrail. The escalator will take you under it’s own power to the desired floor destination. Travel both up and down, no online pass required, multiplayer mode is supported with aproximately 20-30 people able to use the esculator at a time with a co-op mode for parents with small children.

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The escalator has a built in safety cut off switch and emergency power off button. This is designed to prevent injury in case of emergency, such as a badnik attack. The views from the escalator are catered to the videogaming individual, with directions to various exhibits and demonstration booths, as well as merchandise and refreshments stalls.

Transportation takes under 30 seconds. This is recommended escalator for those attending E3.

And it looks awesome.

You’ll Love

  • + You can go up.
  • + You can go down.
  • + It’s free to play!
  • + It looks amazing.

You’ll Hate

  •  – You’re not at E3 =(

Source: Gamekyo

Stick to TSS for more E3 news this week.

The Late Review: F4F Exclusive Tails Statue

f4ftailsWelcome to a new and hopefully not regular feature on TSS that I’m calling ‘The Late Review.’ What is The Late Review? Well, whilst I will always try to review something a few days after the said product comes out, something’s not possible, be it due to financial reasons, slow delivery or what is more likely, my own lazy bones just doesn’t want to do it, things can get delayed. In today’s case, it’s a bit more complicated. Anyway on with the review.

Continue reading The Late Review: F4F Exclusive Tails Statue