Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games E3 Screenshots, releases in 2016

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Nintendo’s E3 2015 Digital Event has come and gone, and while Rio 2016 had no presence in it, Nintendo opened an E3 2015 press site (as they do every year) and put up new screenshots and a fact sheet of the game, and as GameFly noted earlier, Nintendo is officially confirmed to be the publisher in at least NA, and surprisingly, the game is actually due next year in 2016 claims the fact sheet, presumably for both versions (it just says 2016 with no version specified).

See the new screens of Wii U version and a couple from the 3DS version below:

Download the Freedom Planet demo on Wii U, get it at 15% off at launch

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK0LoW6cJmQ[/youtube]

UPDATE: Release info is also confirmed. The game will release on August 3rd in NA (and they’re hoping to launch at the same time in EU) for $15 as shown in the Press Release below:

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Original Article: Nintendo today announced a neat new promotion that goes like this; 9 Indie titles on Wii U will get a special demo, and downloading said demo between now and the 22nd, allows you to get that game for 15% off for the first month after the game has been released!

One of those is the Sonic-like Freedom Planet, already announced to be Wii U-bound back in March.

Here’s a new Wii U-specific trailer just released:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBPAZV1OoZg[/youtube]

For reference, the other 8 titles are:

  • Runbow (13AM Games)
  • Mutant Mudds Super Challenge (Renegade Kid)
  • Typoman (Headup Games)
  • forma.8 (Mixed Bag)
  • RIVE (Two Tribes)
  • Soul Axiom (Wales Interactive)
  • Extreme Exorcism (Ripstone)
  • Lovely Planet (tinybuild and QUICKTEQUILA)

Have you downloaded the Freedom Planet demo yet? What are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comments!

3 new screenshots of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wii U leaked

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Well, it would seem an eagle-eyed person by the name of PeDaRoYs at Marioboards (and LukA8 at our forums for pointing to that!) spotted that the official Rio 2016 blog accidentally posted at least three new screens of the game, which were quickly removed moments later.

Luckily, the urls still work, so the three shots are still viewable below:

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The user also spoke about other screenshots, one of which apparently shows Rosalina:

Other photos were:
-Sonic competing in Archery
-Zazz (against Yoshi) preparing to serve in Table Tennis.
-Rugby 7s with 3 Marios, 2 Sonics, Diddy Kong, Boom Booms and Egg Pawns
-Rosalina, Daisy, Peach and a female Mii competing in Synchronize Swimming

Hopefully the other screens will be found soon enough, but if not, E3 is only a bit over a week away where we’ll know much more!

GameFly lists Nintendo as the publisher of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wii U and 3DS in NA

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So finally we have a little bit of extra news as a follow-up to the game’s announcement the other day, the rental site GameFly, which commonly lists info on unannounced games which turn out to be correct, have just put up the listings of Rio 2016 for Wii U and 3DS, and indicate that just like Sochi 2014 before it, Nintendo is back to publish Rio 2016 in NA (and likely EU), as opposed to Sega who published the first three games in the west. Nintendo has published every entry in Japan to date.

Now what’s REALLY puzzling, is that GameFly lists the Wii U version as TBD (to be determined), but the 3DS version for December 31st 2016. Dates on any site are always likely to not be final until confirmed by the publisher, but also, London 2012 did come out a bit later on 3DS than on Wii, missing the 2011 holiday season, likely to avoid releasing with Generations 3DS? Who knows. But that’s all we got so far!

When more comes, we’ll post it!

UPDATE: Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games unveiled for Wii U and 3DS

Yes indeed! Just announced in the Japanese Nintendo Direct (at 18:26 in the video), surprisingly, the next Olympic game is indeed on the way, AND on both Wii U and 3DS! Continue reading UPDATE: Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games unveiled for Wii U and 3DS

Sonic amiibo support coming to Yoshi’s Woolly World for Wii U, but in what capacity?

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlBR2dJ_mGw[/youtube]

So it was announced in a new trailer today for Yoshi’s Woolly World for Wii U (developed by Good-Feel, the developer of Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Wario Land: Shake It) that you can use over 40 amiibo figures to give Yoshi a costume based on the character as demonstrated in the video which showed Yoshi as Mario with that familiar mustache (quite bizarre-looking if I’m honest lol!), as that Gorilla who refers to himself as an ass (Donkey Kong), or as Link (he just got even greener!).

You can see a big line-up of supported amiibo near the end, one of which includes Sonic, but as we’ve seen in numerous other amiibo-supported games, this doesn’t guarantee Yoshi will get Sonic-ized. Full circle from Sonic Lost World anyone? 😛

But if so, does this mean wool Yoshi will also be a spiky blue pin cushion?

We’ll report when we find out what the exact functionality of Sonic’s amiibo and if he does get a Sonic outfit.

Unseen64 details what happened during Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric’s development

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mo7esa1Tfk[/youtube]

Look Ma! We’re in the thumbnail!

Yes, it’s the story you’ve waited for, finally we get some answers as to why the game went, well, boom. Some quick key details include confirmation that the game was intended for “unspecified next-gen consoles”, the game was mostly done in this form, and Sega gave Big Red Button so little time to do the Wii U port when the exclusivity deal happened. Another highlight is that the footage in the debut trailer (that went bangarang on your ears), actually was NOT Wii U footage after all.

More can be seen in this 5 and a half minute video.

Thanks so much to Liam aka Tamaki from Unseen64 for this wonderful look into the game’s development. 🙂

Sonic Boom RoL Once Had a Beautiful Hub

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmM28X7m_WA[/youtube]

Big Red Button developers have been busy again by recently uploading more test footage and concept art from Sonic’s last console outing Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. In the above footage taken from Tuan Nguyen’s demo reel (with Skylanders footage cut, thanks to SSMB’s Blue Blood), we can see the scrapped beautiful hub world first seen in the GDC 2013 CryEngine 3 demo footage in a playable state.

Devon Roderick has also released two test footage clips in the above video, one of a cutscene and one of an NPC.

Creepy Shadow

Onur Cayli has released a large amount of images showing character renders he worked on, including the rather creepy looking Shadow render you see above.

What do you think of these latest releases? Do you wish the beta hub made it to the final product? Speak out in the comments.

Sources: Tuan Nguyen’s demo reel, Devon Broderick’s demo reel and Onur Cayli’s portfolio

Sonic Amiibo Racing Suit coming to Mario Kart 8

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Ever since Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing came out in 2010, people have been clamouring for the blue blur to take to the track against his rival and undisputed king of the go-kart. Thanks to the wonders of Nintendo’s Amiibo figures, that fantasy is now one step closer to becoming a reality!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJwVNhaZYyA[/youtube]

Announced in the most recent Nintendo Direct, an update for Mario Kart 8 on 23rd April will allow players to gain access to a brand new set of racing suits for their Mii character, provided they have the relevant Amiibo… and among them, Sonic the Hedgehog himself! It may not be the real deal, but that Sonic costume is looking pretty snazzy – and if nothing else, it adds a bit more value to your figure outside of Super Smash Bros.!

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The question that arises now though… which blue spiky thing will be the most notorious on the circuit? Sonic or the Spiny Shell? If it’s anything like how Sonic treats Mega Man in the trailer above, we may have a new contender!

Will you be dressing up your Mii racers in the Sonic suit later this month, either for a leisurely lap or to pelt the residents of the Mushroom Kingdom with Koopa shells? Let us know in the comments!

Sonic Advance Heading to Japanese Wii U eShop Next Week

Sonic Advance, the first in a trilogy of Sonic GBA platforming adventures will be available to purchase on the Japanese Nintendo eShop as of next week. The 200MB game will officially launch on February 18th for the price of ¥702 (Approx $5.90/£3.90). Continue reading Sonic Advance Heading to Japanese Wii U eShop Next Week

Sonic Boom: The Rise and Demise of a Spin-Off

SB12014 has been a significant year in my books; To mark my 30th I’ve been fortunate enough to have also celebrated Sonic the Hedgehog at three different events across three continents with many fellow enthusiasts. 2014 has also been a year in which SEGA has proven it can still put on a show. Sonic Boom (the fan event, now in its 4th year) was yet another fantastic showcase of the best of what the Sonic franchise has to offer, including the a troop of extremely talented musicians, artists and voice actors presented in an incredibly well executed evening. Sonic Boom (the show, the 5th Sonic the Hedgehog TV series to date) is currently airing State-side entertaining kids young and old alike with its unique brand of slapstick sitcom comedy, packaged snuggly into accessible, digestible episodes. But while two Booms seem to have won over the fans, the third, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for the Nintendo Wii U, is most certainly not – and it doesn’t take much searching to find there is a rather polarised, negative opinion of the game.

The game’s origin is unusual in that it is rather Inception-esque: a spin-off game from a TV show, which in itself inspired by the Sonic the Hedgehog series. If SB:RoL were to be purely judged as a tie-in with a TV show, it could be taken as a typical endeavour designed purely to reinforce sales of merchandise.

SB2Unfortunately, SB:RoL doesn’t get off the hook that easily for several reasons; most notably, the Big Red Button brand bred high expectations with many fans for a full and thorough development of something potentially fresh and exciting. It seems like cracks in the game began to manifest fairly early on, likely compounded by the en-mass exodus of staff from the developer. Furthermore, the herculean marketing drive for the game across the many months led many to believe that something special was in the pipeline, myself included. This was further reinforced by the waves of concept art and character designs which came cascading out from official releases; peaks at lush, organic environments and teasers of gargantuan mechanical leviathans confronting our heroes was more than sufficient to induce salivation from a large fraction of the fan base.

So what, in the end, did Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric deliver? The premise is something like this: Sonic and his friends accidentally awaken Lyric, a biomechanical snake with a penchant for destruction, and it is up to the heroes to collect crystals in order to prevent him from eradicating life from the planet. The game takes a triple threat format of speed, puzzle-solving and exploration stages, interspersed with arenas where the player does battle with an onslaught of cybernetic creations.

SB4The game commences with an apparently arbitrary flash-forward before switching to a brief encounter with Eggman and Metal Sonic, after which the player is dropped into the world and SB:RoL begins to show it’s true colours. The bulk of the game consists of navigating through a number of linear dungeons lying off a main hub world. From the get go it becomes strikingly obvious that the sheer scale of ambition in this title has been its demise, resulting in a lack of focus on any element of gameplay. Speed sections, at full pace, give the players few chances to react properly to any obstacles; bizarrely you can also slow to a snail’s pace with virtually no consequence, other than to prolong the experience. Sections involving combat require little to no skill or tactics, and can be completed successfully with the age old art of button bashing. Additionally, there is no consequence in running out of rings as death simply results in an instant respawn, meaning players can operate with near immunity throughout. From start to finish puzzles lack variety or originality and will fail to challenge even the youngest players, and although some differential is offered through each of the characters wielding their own unique abilities, most areas can be navigated regardless of character selected, rendering differences in skill sets as arbitrary and pointless on the most part.

SB3Contrary to what some of the early screens indicated, the worlds of SB:RoL feel empty and flat – almost reminiscent of a past generation game that might have been expected from a title released ten or even fifteen years ago. The sparseness of the realm is baffling as the characters can only saunter along at a leisurely jog (ironically unless you are on water) requiring the player to traverse vast distances to get to and from areas and characters of interest. A number of optional quests delegated by supporting characters fail to provide any unique gaming experience, with the rewards providing no noticeable benefit gameplay whatsoever. What’s more are the numbers of objects dotted around such as crowns and “shinies”, which seem to serve no purpose other than to be sought after by completionists. Fortunately, only one game-breaking bug was encountered in the play through, but demonstrates a distinct lack of any comprehensive QA tests having been carried out.

The story is inconsequential and predictable on the most part, and includes two completely inexplicable encounters with Shadow, the inclusion of which can only really be explained away as fan service. The dialogue in the game is probably one of the highlights, with Mike Pollock once again stealing the show as the voice of Dr Eggman. However, amongst the fleeting moments of humour are the endless cycles of character soundbytes that remind the player repeatedly of the obvious (e.g. ramps can be used as ramps), over and over again.

Needless to say the overall state of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is disappointing, but the problem with this title, and the continuing problem with modern Sonic games, is much more deep-seated. SEGA has in recent years felt the need to perpetually reinvent Sonic in aid of keeping the franchise fresh to younger audiences. While the redesign of Sonic and fellow protagonists are probably subjective and down to personal preference (and although they are not ‘canon’ could be argued as uncalled for anyway), the deviation from what makes Sonic games so special is where these modern Sonic titles fail. The Sonic games that fans fell in love with back in the nineties won over flocks of gamers because of their originality, their pace, their music and the worlds they painted – it was because of this revolutionary take on the platformer that Sonic became immortalised as videogame legend. While other successful franchises, such as Mario, continue to grow and evolve with ever increasing computational capabilities, we’d have expected Sonic to do similarly. But while Mario retains a familiar identity (characters, themes) and first and foremost its high-calibre of gameplay, Sonic games of recent have futilely attempted to mimic the architecture of others; one recent exception is Sonic Generations, a title that retained the core of what constituted as quintessential Sonic gameplay, and succeeded because of this.

The other great successes of recent have also been the fantastic revampings of classic titles for iOS by Taxman and Stealth – two veterans of the Sonic community. While the success of these titles will have been partially due to the capitalisation on nostalgia, you can ask any die-hard Sonic fan about these versions and they will tell you they aren’t the original game – they are loving restorations, painstakingly tweaked with additions that have breathed more beauty into what were already masterpieces. This duo are already demonstrating they can do the same with Sonic & Knuckles, and we can only hope that this title will get a similar official release. If I was in the shoes of those responsible for mobile gaming at SEGA, I’d be asking these guys to build a whole new game with a neo-retro look around the old engine; retro sells.

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From a consumer perspective some of these moves made with Sonic Boom seem logical, and perhaps, as stated before, this game should only be regarded as a spin-off – but from a fan perspective there is a great fear that Sonic is or has mutated into nothing more than the face for market products with, as opposed to a high-calibre game series lovingly constructed by an enthusiastic and capable ensemble and equally loved by those who play them. I hope that the overwhelming opinion on this title will be observed by the powers that be, and that the criticisms, or perhaps even the suggests from the fans and reviewers alike are heeded. I, like many others, am extremely passionate about the Sonic universe – and we want to see great games created.

I’m still ever hopeful that Sonic will return to form very soon, and I certainly hope by the time my 40th rolls around that the Sonic franchise will have found its stride again. In the meantime, the show must go on.

Many thanks to Nintendo PR for supplying TSS with a review copy of Sonic Boom

TSS Review: Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U)

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Developer: Big Red Button Release Date: NA/EU/AUS: Out now, JP as Sonic Toon: Dec 18th, 2014

So here we are, the game that was supposed to mark a new chapter in Sonic’s long and treasured history as a new side-series running in parallel to the current Modern Sonic series. Sega entrusted this new series to a not-so-new developer named Big Red Button, I say not-so-new as they’ve been around since 2008! Big Red Button is a team formed by veterans from Naughty Dog, however, that’s where seemingly that relation ends. For a further look into Big Red Button and the folks who worked on the game during the last few years (note that some have departed from the company in the past few months), check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my articles about Big Red Button.

Now before I get to the main review, I want to make clear that sadly I have NOT completed the story for the game as I originally intended, so I want to make sure you know that fact to judge my thoughts on the game more fairly, my deepest apologies.

Also note that this is my very first professional review, so this is a new experience and I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to say.

So I will make the following into a few categories, rather than just put the whole thing in one, as in, I will speak about the game’s Gameplay, Story, Graphics, Audio, and the overall conclusion. I will also do something a lot don’t; I will provide an additional opinion based on the current price, and a bargain price in the conclusion, as a lot of people judge games based on price and can be more willing to pick a game up if they find it for like $10 or $20, also a lot of reviews pan a game for being too short for $50, that sort of thing.

Let’s begin!

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Gameplay:

So the gist of the gameplay is; it’s a beat-em-up with a decent amount of platforming, why can’t I call it vice-versa? Because I kind of find it’s more focused on the combat than the platforming though there’s quite a bit of it as well. You have your punches and your ground pound moves. All characters function basically the same but have some special touches to them, such as Sonic having his homing attack, Tails can glide and use long-ranged weapons like what appears to be a fire cracker shooter, Knuckles is obviously the strongest but I also find Amy with her hammer to be not far behind Knuckles. Amy is able to kill the snake enemies with a single swing which is pretty handy.

Combat is relatively simple, I never felt I needed to go beyond just mashing X or Y to attack, there’s no real strategy, I also find using the enerbeam in fights to be very clunky and they just don’t seem to work, even when I grab, swing, and throw them. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. It’s certainly not as elaborate as in Sonic Unleashed. You are able to unlock things such as upgrades and acquire items to help, but I didn’t really get to experience those fully yet. You also once in awhile find these tiny robots that run from you, and when you kill them, they drop a weapon. Only one I got to try out was a wind gun that shoots a tornado. It was cool, but it has a limited amount of uses. Fun gimmicks I guess.

As far as exploration is concerned, I don’t find any of them to be that fast, only Sonic is when you spam the Spin Dash move, and that’s a stretch since it’s only a bit faster and is absolutely nothing like in Sonic Adventure or Sonic Lost World. Outside of the auto-run sections, Sonic is not his Gotta Go Fast self, so get that out of your head if you came in for speed. And as far as the number of said sections, there aren’t that many and they’re over after a minute or two. You’re slowly running around and fighting a lot more. It’s a side dish. I did find the running on water sections to be pretty fun, at least I wasn’t bumping into obstacles every 2 seconds.

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Story:

Now we get to what is arguably my favorite part of the game. Yeah the cutscenes are very unpolished so you see jerking objects here and uber low-res textures there and you wonder why they had the camera up close in clean sight of then. But the character animation and writing is a true highlight, especially the former. The animation is very high quality and the animators should be given high praise. Buuuut I would not say the same thing for the in-game “cutscenes” where you see the characters just stand there like zombies flapping their gums, Amy is not a pretty sight in these. As for the story, the plot is interesting if not the most original (guy stumbles upon an ancient evil, lets it loose, he done goofs, he tries to undo it), but I really like the characterization. Knuckles is probably my fav of the group, but I also really like Lyric and how he animates, I wouldn’t call him intimidating, but he works, still it would’ve been cooler is he was an Owl (Owlyric?), but what can you do? The humor is part of the highlight. From the subtle facial expressions to the one liners, I certainly laughed and I love anything that can make me laugh.

I will say some of the story so far is really out of place, such as Shadow’s appearance is so far unexplained and feels very shoehorned and that is NOT a good thing. I like to know why things are the way they are unless they let the audience figure it out as a mystery. This is not one of those times. Will there be some big reveal that explains everything? From what I’ve read, that’s not likely.

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Graphics:

It’s a double-edged sword. At times it can look really nice, but the severe lack of polish hurts it so badly. It’s got a very lovely style, especially when you’re outdoors. But the graphical issues such as really bad shadow pop-in, the horrifically low-res textures, especially in cutscenes. Not to mention the game only runs in 720p and 30fps, so they don’t even make up for the short comings with trying to be more ambitious with the technical specs. The game was made using Cry Engine 3, and is the very first Wii U game to support it that’s been released, and honestly I feel that was a huge mistake. The engine very likely not only was not optimized properly for the console, but also they had to exclusively try to work in a function that the engine never used before; split-screen. I’ve not used the mode myself, but as I’ve seen in footage, when you use split-screen/co-op via the TV and GamePad, most shadow and lighting detail vanishes, and apparently the framerate can be even worse, which by the way can get a bit sluggish at points, even in cutscenes.

Lighting is another visual highlight, but again, it’s hard to overlook the flaws. However, I also want to bring to attention some of the geometry and effects of the outdoor sections. When you’re up-close to plants, they do have subtle animation and you see some particles floating in the air, I really, REALLY liked those details.

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Audio:

The voice acting is REALLY good in this game. No one really stood out as being bad, they all really delivered and were really fun to listen to. The music which was composed by Richard Jacques of Sonic R and Sonic 3D Blast Saturn fame, which to me is nothing like the aforementioned games, it does set the mood and some of the outdoor areas had a really nice tune to listen to. Personally the soundtrack could’ve been less orchestral and more upbeat like previous games, but it’s not a big deal. I personally hoped they would’ve brought in someone familiar with classic western platformers like Crash, Spyro, Jak, Ratchet, and Sly (Rocket gets no love…), but I guess they wanted someone familiar with Sonic to do it, even if the music isn’t anything like the series ever had before. Also, Jun Senoue was in the US for a long time as part of the now closed Sonic Team USA, wouldn’t he have been a way more appropriate pick?

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Conclusion:

So in conclusion, it was not at all what I was really hyped for, I mean I was hoping it’d be a gorgeous adventure though big expansive open worlds, like that infamous Cry Engine 3 demo showed. What’s that, they took that out? *sigh*

The game in a word is… okay. It’s not the worst thing ever, but it’s really hard to recommend it, especially at $50. What really needs to happen is after like 6 months, is that they release a patch that fixes so much in the game, that could give it a much needed and deserved second wind. If you find it for $20, I would say check it out. Compared to Sonic Lost World, if you want exploration, go with Sonic Boom, it’s got that, even if some environments like the desert level are really boring and some of the indoor ones also don’t feel all that exciting to look at or explore. I really hope we see a patch, I truly do. It needed many more months, like at least 6 more months in the oven to polish what they had. Why do so many not follow the wise words of Shigeru Miyamoto?; “A delayed game is eventually a good game, a bad game is bad forever” or something along those lines.

Also, click here to check out Jason Berry’s review of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal for 3DS!

So that’s it! What did you think?

Sonic Boom 3DS Theme hits Europe on Friday

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They’ve been out in the US for almost a week now, but this Friday will see Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal making their way to European shores – and that’s not all! Revealed via Nintendo’s UK 3DS Facebook page, the Sonic Boom 3DS theme (which has been available to American 3DS owners since last week) will also be hitting the handheld come 21st November… and best of all, it’ll be completely free to download!

The Sonic Boom 3DS theme initially displays only Sonic and Tails, but scroll it along and it’ll eventually showcase all five members of the main cast, including Knuckles, Amy and Sticks. You can get a better preview of the theme in the video below, alongside a sneak peek at a 3DS StreetPass puzzle – there’s no confirmation yet whether this will be arriving in Europe as well as the theme, but we’d place a good bet on it!

http://youtu.be/7IR35VRD7aU

Will you be downloading the Sonic Boom 3DS theme on Friday, be it in addition to the games or just to decorate your handheld menu with everyone’s favourite blue hedgehog? Let us know in the comments!

In the meantime, stay tuned for our TSS reviews of Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal, both coming your way soon!

New Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Cutscene “Soak it all in”

PLEASE READ THE HEADER BEFORE WATCHING (Otherwise, it looks like Sonic wants to hit on Amy and is too shy to go for it.)

The GameStop Expo had a new build of the Toxic Waste level from “Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric”. This time, you can go through the whole thing and head outside. I thought I had made a second recording of this, but something happened and the first half of this cutscene got lost. The beginning of this scenario goes as follows (this is not word for word, but close)…

Sonic and Amy escape with the crystal in hand. Amy looks around at the new area they’ve discovered. “It’s beautiful!” She says. Sonic is growing impatient. “Let’s keep moving!” Amy asks him to wait. “We’re finally done being chased by giant robots. Let’s just rest for a second and soak it all in!” Sonic decides to wait, but it’s obviously killing him inside. The video follows from there.

Look closely and you can see the beginning of the next level.

There was a few new bits of dialogue during the level as well. At one point while collecting rings, Sonic retorts “I got more rings to rule them all!”

UPDATE: First Sonic Boom Pre-Order Bonus Revealed

UPDATE 2: Sega’s twitter provided a HQ PNG pic of the box for your viewing pleasure:

Bu9BMZQIEAAgIcX.png origUPDATE: Offer also available in Canada at EB Games.

ORIGINAL STORY:

An advert for the gaming store GameStop shows what appears to be the first pre-order incentive for Sonic Boom.

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For all customers who pre-order Sonic Boom at a North American branch of GameStop will receive a Sonic action figure which comes with an accessory called ‘The Ancients Crystal.’ Doesn’t seem to matter if you pre-order the 3DS or Wii-U version of the game, you’ll still get your figure so long as stocks last.

Interestingly, the first pre-order bonus is an actual physical item and not digital content, typically GameStop would offer some sort of pre-order bonus code if the game supported them.

We’ll keep you up to date with any more pre-order bonuses or incentives as and when we find them.

Thanks to SSMB member LovieHats for bringing this to our attention.

New Sonic Boom Speed Level Video and More New Demo Details from SDCC

While at the San Diego Comic Con, I managed to capture some footage of the new speed level from Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. The demo starts off with Sonic and crew in a cave you can explore a little bit (not shown in the video) from here, you can take off and go through the new speed course which does feature a few obstacles, but only at the beginning and ending. Leaving the cave into the lush jungle is a beautiful scene. What I find odd is that they decided to go with this new, shorter speed level rather than the old one. Especially since this new one has had some glitch issues in every other playthrough. My feet fell through the floor in one, Ben over at Segabits had a similar problem and the guy demoing the game for me fell through into nothingness at one point too. Why rush out a new, not tested enough demo when the old one worked fine and was longer? Oh Well. BTW, if you see some frame skips, that’s from my iPad recording and not the game itself. A small update on the Sonic and Amy Chemical Factory level. I got confirmation from Kellie Parker that my eyes were not deceiving me and that the games graphics have improved a touch over the E3 build. Also, during the cutscene with Quincy, Amy and Quincy’s mouth now move during their conversation. It might have just been me, but while playing the level again, I found more areas with secret items and it made me want to explore the level more. Combat’s still weak though. One other new thing is that while the opening cutscene with Tails and Knuckles is gone, you get more gameplay near the end with another Guardian chase. This time you have to dodge and jump over pipes while running away from the giant robot. The game is starting to grow on me, but don’t get too excited. Right now, it’s gone from a C- to a C+ in my book. That puts it at average licensed video game fare like the mediocre Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures.

New Sonic Boom: RoL Details Revealed, Chaos Crystals, Time Travel & More

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVT93XgmRME[/youtube]

An E3 2014 demo and interview with Big Red Button’s Mark Vernon has revealed some new details on Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U. The previously seen crystals are called ‘Chaos Crystals’ and there are nine of them to collect through the game’s story. Vernon also goes into more detail about the game’s time travel element and reveals that players will go to the past and the future, seeing areas in both times.

The name of the underwater base level played is ‘Ancient Template’ and in this demonstration we get to see some of the hidden areas of the level. Vernon gives us a look at the collectibles menu and a ‘Freeze Rod’ weapon that, as you guessed, freezes enemies in ice. It’s clarified that while these weapons are obtained from enemies, the enemies can’t actually use them and they are one-time limited use only. You can’t store them.

Vernon also explains that collectibles will earn you upgrades, which aren’t just for making your characters stronger, but also unlock new abilities. When asked about a release date, Vernon says he can’t remember the exact date, but it’ll probably be the first half of November. Finally, merchandise fans will want to stick around until the end to have a close look at some of the upcoming Sonic Boom action figures.

Source: The Family Gaming Team

SEGA Japan to Demo Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric in Livestream Event June 30th

Sonic Boom Logo

SEGA Japan has announced that they will be demoing some of their upcoming games via a livestream event over at NicoVideo Monday June 30th at 9pm JST (1pm BST). Among the games present will be Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U for its first public demonstration in Japan. Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka will also be on hand for a Q&A with viewers, so we may see some new details come to light. We’ll pass along any new media and information that comes out of the presentation.

Source: NicoVideo

Sonic Boom’s E3 Makeover

Our own Hogfather brought this up on our message boards. Look at this snapshot from Sonic Boom’s pre-E3 B-Roll footage.

Sonic Boom pre-E3

 

Looks like an old PS2 game right? Super bland textures. No lighting. Now look at the same area from footage taken during E3.

Sonic Boom E3Holy cow! What a difference!  It looks 100 times better.

This brings up an important question. Why in the world was that B-Roll footage ever allowed to be shown to the press and public in the first place? This does nothing but sour peoples feelings towards the game.  It even affected my thoughts on the game on Sonic Talk pre-E3 (plug, plug).

If anything positive can be said, it shows how much a game’s look can be improved in just a short time (or it could be the effects were turned off to help stabilize frame rate). In the meantime, check out both videos below to see some of the other differences.

Original B-Roll from the Sonic Show

[youtube width=”600″ height=”345″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdaGYQIh0DE[/youtube]

Now, this new footage from Nintendo World Report

[youtube width=”600″ height=”345″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srz_xVXat3I#t=14[/youtube]

 

TSS@E3 – Interview With Stephen Frost

[youtube width=”600″ height=”355″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU3neKGNktA[/youtube]

While on the E3 show floor, I got a chance to interview the producer on Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, Stephen Frost. We talked about the game, some fans concerns and Sticks. I was originally going to do a transcript of the interview, but it’s 16 minutes long and that’s a lot to transcribe and it’s been a long week and I’m lazy. Besides, this way you get to hear it straight from the man himself and reading is overrated anyway. Enjoy!

UPDATE 2: First Gameplay of Sonic Boom Appears, Multiple Previews Surface

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaY7XPc0VQA[/youtube]

UPDATE 2: Thanks to Jayko Reynolds on YouTube, we now have a montage of all existing gameplay footage released so far for both Rise of Lyric and Shattered Crystal. I’ve added them to the article below, thanks to Sonicrush1991 in the comments for the heads up!


UPDATE: Looks like the original Gamexplain previews have sadly gone private. Instead, I’ve replaced the above video with an interview with Stephen Frost which also contains gameplay footage.

Original article detailing the Gamexplain preview is as follows.


And then suddenly, out of nowhere! The first footage for both Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (Wii U) has just appeared under an exclusive first preview from Gamexplain, showing off direct gameplay and commentary preview which you can see above, and footage of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (3DS) you can see below. Needless to say, this is pretty exciting – yet all the more surprising, considering the fact E3 is just a week away now and gameplay footage is showing up early. Gamexplain go into detail about what levels were available and there experiences, but what’s most important to us all is that gameplay.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhDkFMtj0aQ[/youtube]

Combat is certainly a focus of the games as you can tell, with Sonic shooting off multiple hits and racking up a combo meter. The bulk of the game expected to carry out here. Punches, kicks and spin bounce attacks are seen as Sonic surprisingly more slowly moves around the field. Gamexplain details a scanning device on the gamepad to look around the environment and scan for points of interest. Rings also work differently in Boom, more akin to Unleashed where you only lose a partial amount of rings per hit. Certain characters also have unique abilities than allow them to traverse unique areas like Sonic’s spindash and Amy’s hammer acrobatics, and these characters will range from being just a duo to having all four on screen depending on the area you’re exploring. There’s a lot to take in which the preview goes into great detail in, so make sure you check it out. Also, check out those models! They look much better than their initial debut a few months back. Lovely.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–0dLu-dRWk[/youtube]

The 3DS plays a little differently however. Instead of 3D environments which debuted with Lost World 3DS, everything is back to 2D for Sonic Boom and takes advantage of a world map over a hub world for progression. It’s apparently far more similar to classic Sonic games with springs, platforming and jumping on your foes. These stages are non-linear however – you explore the areas freely and find your own way. The word “adventure” is stressed a lot, and there’s a “Metroid style map” you can bring up to see the areas you’ve explored. There’s also rival races and speedy levels available on the handheld version. Curiously, Amy is not a playable character here, the game instead opting for newcomer Sticks, using her boomerang to help solve puzzles in the game world.

Check out some other previews from gaming outlets here:

  • How Do The Two New Sonic Booms Compare? – Gamespot
  • The Different Faces Of Sonic Boom – Game Informer
  • Don’t call it a reboot: Sonic Boom is just a ‘different branch’ of the Sonic universe – VentureBeat
  • Sonic Boom Hands-On: Eggman Defeated By Sonic’s Electric Lasso – Siliconera
  • Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal on 3DS is a throwback to classic 2D Sonic – Gamesradar

Needless to say, Boom is definitely a new direction for our speedy blue hero. But it’s looking pretty good so far. Be sure to check out both videos and let us know just how hyped you are in the comments!

Stephen Frost speaks about why things have been quiet regarding Sonic Boom

Sonic Boom LogoStephen Frost kindly paid our forum a visit today to elaborate on why Sonic Boom hasn’t been booming over the past few months since the unveiling. Here’s his whole post:

I’ve been asked to chime in a bit here so I’ll do what I can to share some info with you all. I’ve said it a few times in the past, but there were key reasons why we announced the Sonic Boom initiative when we did. Along with that, there are a lot of partners involved with Sonic Boom so we have to be mindful of their timelines and requirements for their respective fields. It’s not just about a game anymore… This is a large group effort so any announcements and information shared publically needs to really be planned and organized carefully. We need to make sure that things we reveal don’t impact other parts and vice versa.

I completely appreciate the fact that you fans are hungry for info specific to the games, I really do. And that’s why we all work these endless late nights and weekends… It’s to get all the pieces in place for when the campaign does really kick off. We still have a ways until the cartoon and game launch, as well as the new toy line, so we need to pace all the info appropriately. And it all starts as we head into E3. You’ll learn more, for sure, but not everything. And the reveal of new assets and info should be more frequent from that point on. But trust me when I say there is no lack of effort by anyone involved with Sonic Boom. This is, by far, the biggest united effort I have personally ever seen Sega be involved in. We want to share everything with everyone because we are so excited… We just can’t… Yet.

So, please be a bit more patient. I’m working on screens and commenting on releases so stuff is coming. We will even have a bit of a surprise in there for you, as well as the first info and assets for the 3DS version. There is quite a bit of cool stuff ahead so hang in there.

So there you have it, it shouldn’t be much longer. I can’t wait to see what Sega brings to the table at E3!

Sonic Lost World Shipped 710,000 Copies Worldwide

It’s that time again – sales talk! SEGA just released their newest sales data as of March 31st 2014, and with it comes updated numbers for Wii U exclusive adventure Sonic Lost World. Let’s see how well it’s done! Continue reading Sonic Lost World Shipped 710,000 Copies Worldwide

(Europe) Buy and register Mario Kart 8 on Club Nintendo and you can choose to get Sonic Lost World or Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games for FREE digitally on Wii U

Mario Kart 8 Europe Promotion

Long title is long. Anyway, during the big unload of Mario Kart 8 information via the surprise Mario Kart 8 Direct and outside of it, Nintendo unveiled a promotion where if you purchase Mario Kart 8, either by buying it at retail, buying it digitally on the eShop, or buying the copy that comes with the special Wii U Mario Kart 8 Bundle (aka, you buy it new, you get this), and register the code that comes in the box on Club Nintendo (buying digitally does this automatically), you get to choose from one of 10 Wii U games to download from the eShop for FREE, among of which being the Wii U version of Sonic Lost World and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

This however is only for our European fans, because for North America, folks there instead get to choose from four games instead (all four are choices in Europe), they also say for people in Australia to check the Nintendo of Australia website in the coming days for more info.

Nintendo’s full message on their website:

Mario Kart 8 hits Wii U on May 30th, bringing the series into a new dimension with antigravity racing, exhilarating online play, and the ability to share your race highlights with the world.

Thanks to our special Mario Kart 8 Bonus Game Promotion, if you register the PIN code for Mario Kart 8 in Club Nintendo between 10am (UK time) on May 30th and 11:59pm (UK time) on July 31st, you could claim a free download code for one of a selection of great Wii U games!

Please read the Terms & Conditions for more information.

Users in Australia, please check the Nintendo Australia website in the coming days for more information.

The full list for reach region are as follows:

Europe:

Sonic Lost World

Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

New Super Mario Bros. U

Pikmin 3

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

The Wonderful 101

Game & Wario

Wii Party U

Nintendoland

Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate

North America:

New Super Mario Bros. U

Pikmin 3

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Wii Party U

Which game are you choosing? Let us know in the comments!

Very high-res off-screen development pic of Sonic Boom Wii U reveals HUD

Sonic Boom Crop

So what you see above is an in-development pic of Sonic Boom on Wii U, please keep in mind that anything you see in the debug data on the upper right is in no way an indication of the final product (so don’t panic over the 15FPS bit). Heck many bits aren’t even textured. I personally think it will be a night and day difference when we see the final version of the area. For now, we can have a look at the potential HUD, the general camera angle, and the layout of an area we’ll likely explore in the final game.

This was originally posted in a smaller resolution at AP, but was removed,  due to the appearance of a Wii U dev kit. We’ve decided to only share the main attraction, the actual screen and not the entire pic, we don’t want the Nintendo Ninjas to come after us next!

The large pic you see above was discovered by the user Finn from the Spindash.de forum (it’s best if we don’t link to it as it has the unaltered image), the exact origin of the pic however isn’t clear.

EDIT @ 3:20PM EST: Nevermind, it’s been decided we can link to the Spindash.de post, we just can’t put up the pic ourselves.

Here you go!

Sonic Lost World’s Zelda DLC Revealed, Out Tomorrow

zdlc03011395789310jpg-0a58bc

If you thought Sonic Boom was going to be the only redesign of the speedy blue hedgehog this year… think again! Following on from the Yoshi’s Island Zone DLC last year, the much anticipated DLC for Sonic Lost World based on Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series is finally making its way to the Wii U eShop tomorrow (for free!) – and Sonic’s been taking a few fashion tips from Link himself, it seems!

IGN have posted a video preview of the new zone, which plays very differently to most other stages in Sonic Lost World – it borrows very heavily from its source material, in fact, seeing you exploring Hyrule Field before traversing an eerie and fiery dungeon. Along the way you’ll collect rupees – which are converted into rescued animals upon completion – and face off against iconic enemies including Stalfos, Gorons… and even Cuccos!

With tons of nods to the Zelda series all the way through (including an appearance or two from Link on his trusty Loftwing), this is looking like a very extensive piece of DLC that should give you more than enough reason to dust off your Wii U and boot up Sonic’s most recent outing at least one more time. It’s got to be worth it just to see Sonic running around in that classic green tunic, surely!

Sonic Lost World: The Legend of Zelda Zone will be available to download from the Wii U eShop tomorrow (27th March) absolutely free. Be sure to give it a whirl!

Source: IGN

Who’s at Big Red Button? Part 2 – SuperBots are invading, we need reinforcements!

Big Red Button Entertainment Logo

For Part 1, look here!

It’s that time again! I’ve been busy doing more research on who’s at Big Red Button and working on the Wii U version of Sonic Boom.

Well my findings sort of come in almost two categories; the most common is the mass amount of former SuperBot Entertainment folks, the team behind PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, aka, Sony Smash Bros. Which by the way while it was never going to dethrone Smash, it looked like a very polished game from what I’ve seen, and Metacritic is pretty kind to it (only one reviewer gave it a horrendous 20/100 as the only score below 50, the game clearly is not shit).

The second category is held by one person, and it’s actually most deserving to be the highlight, more on that in a bit. 😉

Let’s start with a brief look at SuperBot. The team was formed in 2009 by a former Sony Santa Monica person (creators of God of War), and they were in fact, a 1st-Party developer of Sony, just as Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, Sony Santa Monica, etc, are.

Well that changed, after All-Stars didn’t sell well (I don’t remember the numbers), Sony cut ties with them, and they were hit HARD, many thought they had closed but they confirmed in April 2013 that they were still active.

Well it seems a lot of them went to Big Red Button, now let’s see who’s there!

Let’s start with Niles Tucker, who was an Environment Artist at SuperBot, is now the same at Big Red Button.

Next is Kevin Hsu, who was a Senior Level Designer at SuperBot, is now a Combat Designer at Big Red Button.

Then we have Johnathan Nielsen, who was a UI (User Interface) Programmer at SuperBot, is now a Programmer at Big Red Button.

Fourth is  Carl-Henrik Skårstedt, who was Lead Software Engineer at, you guessed it, SuperBot, is now a Senior Programmer at, right again, Big Red Button!

Yet again, we have Daniel Ramirez, who was a Senior Character Artist at SuperBot, is now a Lead Character Artist at Big Red Button.

Here we have Mark Vernon, Combat AI Designer at SuperBot, is now Combat Designer at Big Red Button.

Next is Lisa Kapitsas, who was a Producer at SuperBot. Now she’s a Producer at Big Red Button.

What’s that? No more? Wow, I thought this wouldn’t end! XD Seven SuperBot folks, holy cow. This is looking more like a SuperBot-based company than a Naughty Dog or Insomniac one don’t it?

There are a few extras before we get to the big bit, they are the following:

First is Greg Prior, who worked at Sony Santa Monica as a Junior Environment Artist, specifically on God of War: Ascension. He’s now an Environment Artist at Big Red Button.

Second is Dannie Carlone, who also worked at Sony Santa Monica, this time as an Environment Artist, again on God of War: Ascension, is now also an Environment Artist at Big Red Button.

Next is Ben Strickland, this time having been a Junior Designer at High Impact Games (I covered a few HIG folks in the first part), is now a Game Designer at Big Red Button.

Finally we have David Nam, who was an Animator at High Impact Games (but only for a few months, he actually was an Animator for a few years at Wayforward, who makes Shantae, Mighty Switch Force, etc), is now Junior Animator at Big Red Button.

But wait, this person also worked at Disney, as he says specifically:

Created hand drawn animations under the mentorship of Anthony DeRosa, and animated on several scenes for “Winnie the Pooh”

This is leading up to my favorite of the pack, saving the best for last, allow me to introduce Todd Ammons, this guys’ resume will blow your mind. He worked at Disney for many years during the 90’s and early 2000’s as Assistant Animator on MANY Disney Renaissance Era films like Beauty and the Beast, Hercules, Tarzan, Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc as he shows on his site! He also worked on animating in the film Barnyard, and actually worked at Insomniac for a year and a half as Senior Animator, animating in Ratchet Deadlocked and Resistance: Fall of Man. He worked on numerous games at Heavy Iron Studios including Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Spongebob: Truth or Square.

And he has an animation demo!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE1–ka5_BE

Here you’ll find clips of Ratchet, Barnyard, Ratatouille, Spongebob (oh my god this is my fav bit), a tiny clip of Home on the Range with Alameda Slim (the villain), among others.Guys, I think we’re in for a TREAT! He’s now Senior Animator at Big Red Button, and here’s his description of the position:

Responsible for development of Cinematic,Character,Camera and Game Animation for the main actors and enemies. Influential in creating a Combat style and adding personality to the heros

That wraps it up. I hope you enjoyed this, as I certainly have!

Mike Pollock and Roger Craig Smith nominated for Behind The Voice Actor Awards

itsamike

It’s seemingly not often that the vocal talents behind the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise receive any real recognition for their work on the series (and disappointingly so) – but rejoice, there is good news on this front at last! Two of the series’ principal cast members have been nominated for accolades in the latest Behind The Voice Actor Awards, and they’ll no doubt be looking for your votes and support to help them take home the gold.

Roger Craig Smith, known of course amongst the fanbase as the voice of the titular blue blur, has been nominated in the Best Male Vocal Performance in a Video Game in a Supporting Role category for portraying the wise-cracking Wonder Blue in the recent Wii U title from Platinum Games, The Wonderful 101. However, it’s Mike Pollock that should be getting special attention from the Sonic fandom, as he has been nominated in the Best Male Vocal Performance in a Video Game category for his role as none other than Dr. Eggman, specifically in last year’s Sonic Lost World.

The two vocal stars are in esteemed company in their respective categories, nominated alongside the likes of Troy Baker (the voice of Espio), Nolan North, and Alan Young (Scrooge McDuck himself!).

We here at The Sonic Stadium wish to congratulate both Mike and Roger on their nominations, and if you wish to cast your votes for them you can do so at the awards page (you’ll need to register for an account first though). The winners are scheduled to be announced next Wednesday (19th March), so you don’t have long to get your votes in!

Very high-res capture of Sonic Boom concept art surfaces

Sonic Boom LogoThe following is a ginormous pic of Bob Rafei and the board full of concept art from Sonic Boom as seen in an earlier video, but this capture might be a proper photograph as it is way too high resolution to be a snippet from a video. At the moment we have no true source of the picture. But nevertheless, it’s here and for you all to see!

Bob RafeiClick the image for the full 3000×2000 version!

One of the most interesting characters shown is what appears to be Marine from Sonic Rush Adventure making her comeback.

Marine BoomMy boomerang’s a little Ty’d up at the moment…

Not only do the colors and the patterns match up, but she is also stereotypically carrying a boomerang and she did speak in an Australian accent before.

Another character, is what appears to be a robot that looks to have very similar features to Emerl, last (and only seen) in Sonic Battle (not counting Gemerl’s appearance in Sonic Advance 3).

Emerl BoomGod dammit Mad Doctor, we didn’t need to turn Emerl into a Beetleworx!

While we don’t have a definite source for the image, we have Eitarou and A Real Human Bean to thanks in our forum for finding (Eitarou) and posting the full image (A Real Human Bean). We also have an adjusted (albeit smaller) shot of the pic by Storme Prince so you don’t have to strain your eyes as much.

Sonic Boom Concept Artwork AdjustedWe had to cut corners to bring you this piece, we apologize.

So there you have it! Enjoy! 😀

SEGA Nerds interview with Stephen Frost

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joufovUM598[/youtube]

SEGA Nerds have put up a video webcam interview with Stephen Frost that explores more about Sonic Boom. There’s some more insight on the 3DS version, as well as more talk about the beginnings, the show, and what not.

There are also code giveaways in the video itself (Stephen shows them on a piece of paper) for 3D Classics Sonic the Hedgehog for 3DS, but I think it’s safe to say they’ve been long taken by now. 😛

Sonic Boom Behind the Scenes: English VAs, Orbot & Cubot Confirmed

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK6uQyteDOU[/youtube]

SEGA have just posted a brand new video to their blog, taking us on a comprehensive behind the scenes look at the upcoming Sonic Boom videogame and TV series. The video includes interviews with many of the crew working on this alternate branch of the Sonic franchise, as well as showing off concept art and work-in-progress gameplay footage. It is reiterated that the game will have a strong emphasis on story and teamwork, as we have heard in other recent interviews.

A look into the voice recordings for the TV series confirms an episode including an alternate-dimension Knuckles, as well giving a feel for the comedic angle the cartoon will be taking. Knuckles sounds like a fortune cookie, but he doesn’t taste like one!

In addition, the English voice cast for Sonic Boom has been revealed. Roger Craig Smith, Mike Pollock, Travis Willingham and Cindy Robinson reprise their roles as Sonic, Eggman, Knuckles and Amy respectively, with Tails getting a new voice actor in the form of Colleen Villard. Interestingly, Orbot and Cubot have also been revealed as part of the cast, voiced by Kirk Thornton and Wally Wingert.

What do you make of all this new info about Sonic Boom? Are you any more or less excited for the game or TV show? Let us know in the comments!

Source: SEGA Blog

Who is at Big Red Button? What is their long quiet history? Let’s have a look and see…

Big Red Button Entertainment Logo

So as my first own created post where I don’t just post big news, I decided to make it about the results of my research about the developer of the Wii U version of Sonic Boom; Big Red Button Entertainment.

Most may have never heard of them before, and you’d be right to not have, because they were formed in 2008, and have not put out a SINGLE title under their name, Sonic Boom will be their first. What on Earth was going on for the last 6 years you ask?

I have some answers, which is why I made this post. 😉 As you may know from the recent interviews, Big Red Button was co-formed by Bob Rafei, who was a AAA veteran from Naughty Dog, so much so he was actually their first employee, how about that?

He joined NDI in early ’95 as its first employee while in the visual development stage of Crash Bandicoot. He played a key role in establishing the look of this series; touching on all aspects of production, from back ground modeling, lighting, texturing, to character rigging and animation.

He worked on all of their Crash Bandicoot games, all of their Jak & Daxter games, and the original Uncharted (that’s where Sonic got his new scarf from you know).

He is also seemingly credited for the art design of Daxter himself:

He was part of the team who earned Best New Character of the Year for his art design of Daxter in the Jak series.

So that’s enough about Bob Rafei, he isn’t the only pebble on the beach. 😉 So who else is there?

Well E. Daniel Arey was the other founder of the company, and he was ALSO a Naughty Dog member. I am having trouble at the moment finding his exact positions in the company. He’s credited with scripts and cutscenes for Daxter on PSP, Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier on PSP and PS2, and the original Uncharted. IN FACT, he and Bob worked on The Lost Frontier as part of Big Red Button.

Remember I said Sonic Boom is their first proper game? That’s still true, because The Lost Frontier actually was developed by High Impact Games who earlier worked on Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters on PSP and PS2 and Secret Agent Clank for PSP (Sazaru Games who’s behind Sonic Boom 3DS actually ported Secret Agent Clank to PS2 later on). Big Red Button only have two sneaked in credits through the involvement of the two founders alone.

Where’s E. Daniel Arey now? Well he’s now Senior World Designer II at Blizzard Entertainment.

Next on the employee list is a 3rd Naughty Dog veteran, named Eric Iwasaki, who began with Crash 2 and ended at Uncharted 2. He is more of a tech person, working on models and engines. At Big Red Button as the Lead Technical Artist, he’s tasked with getting CryEngine 3 just right for Sonic Boom on Wii U:

Currently lighting, creating FX, authoring tools, and customizing CryEngine 3’s shaders and rendering tech for SEGA’s Sonic Boom™

Next, we’ll move on to an Insomniac person; Victor Murillo, who was an Environment Artist there, but again worked more on realizing 2D concepts into 3D. He began on Ratchet 2/Going Commando and ended at Resistance 3. Now he’s Senior Environment Artist at Big Red Button.

Now we’ll move on to a group of folks while they weren’t at Naughty Dog or Insomniac, they worked at their “Junior” versions so to speak, most specifically High Impact Games (that one’s most known from Insomniac), the three are Justin Rasch, who’s a Lead Animator, Adam Yeager, an Environment Artist, and Shiva Adloori, an Animator. All three worked on at least one of the Ratchet and Jak spin-offs at High Impact (the 3rd person just on Lost Frontier). MobyGames claims Justin was a stunt person in Uncharted 2, but it doesn’t fit with his other work so I’m curious if it’s a different person or not. Hey, could always have been the same person.

Finally as far as employees are concerned, is neither a Naughty Dog, nor an Insomniac veteran, but someone most of the Sonic fandom know very well.

That person is Chris Senn, who many know was basically the man behind Sonic X-Treme. Well he’s now at Big Red Button as Lead Level Implementer. He actually did work on one game that key Insomniac folks worked on previous but it’s questionable how much of his influence remained since this was way before it was even unveiled; Spyborgs for Wii as Design Director. Spyborgs was developed by Bionic Games, which was really a different label for High Impact Games, since most ended up working under High Impact Games on their output afterwards such as Phineas & Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension for Wii and PS3.

So you’re asking “great, we know the names, what the hell did they do for 6 years? Tap their fingers?”, NO! The following as an astounding find by a talented research group who apparently is part of Kotaku called Superannuation. Superannuation ran their own website and they’d uncover stuff you wouldn’t believe, from canned games to who’s at where, etc. The site closed years ago and now mostly run their twitter account. They were a common source for neat finds. Shame they sort of stopped or at least went low.

So about what they found, well back a year ago Superannuation at Kotaku posted this fascinating article about various finds, including what on Earth Big Red Button was up to, and the bold reveals some juicy tidbits:

Big Red Button Entertainment is something of a rarity: a studio that has existed for five years and operated under the radar without having shipped a single game.

Founded in early 2008 by two Naughty Dog veterans—art director Bob Rafei and creative director E. Daniel Arey—Big Red Button had ambitions to become “the United Artists of games.” The duo wanted to use Big Red Button as a vehicle to AAA games that were genuinely accessible and solve the one of the major issues of contemporary games: players not necessarily completing the games they buy.

Arey seems to have left the company several years back to join Blizzard, and he currently appears nowhere on the studio’s list of employees. Curiously, a since-removed page of “Advisors & Consultants” listed him as a “Creative Consultant” alongside Doug Church, who apparently served as a “Creative Advisor” to Big Red Button prior to joining Valve.

Big Red Button spent the first few years of its existence creating a portfolio of original IP, and secured an alternative financing arrangement contingent on the signing of a publisher or similar partner. They briefly worked with the now-defunct Jerry Bruckheimer Games on an IP called “Ten Minute Man.” (The relationship between the two companies actually led a Jerry Bruckheimer Games production assistant to jump ship to Big Red Button.)

As of mid-2010, Big Red Button was pitching IP “to publishers such as Sony, Konami, and Activision.” By spring of the following year, Big Red Button landed an “unannounced major project with third-party publisher,” which seems to be the title they are presently working on.

Big Red Button’s recruitment copy describes the project as a “next-gen landmark AAA console project,” and job openings hint at a cross-generation “character driven, 3rd person action” title with co-op gameplay and some sort of mobile integration. The Big Red Button copy also mentions the company is keen on “delivering authentic gaming experiences that are as fun to watch as they are to play,” so perhaps the game is not too far removed from a cinematic action-adventure title like Uncharted?

Finally, a producer at the studio says the project has a “$19.9 million budget” with an estimated “34-month” production cycle and a present studio headcount of 28 people. Also, the domains itsasnowday.com and monstersurgeon.com—both registered in fall 2011—redirect to Big Red Button’s site, though neither of those quite sounds like a name of a AAA action title

So there you have it, we might know what the budget potentially was for Sonic Boom (granted said info could certainly have changed) and Sonic Boom may have been a cross-gen (meaning released on PS360 as well as Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One for instance), plus it was confirmed the game was multi-platform at one point.

And that’s that! For now. I may create a Part 2 if I find any more information about who may be at the company, there’s still so much to do, so much to see! Thank you very much for reading, hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

Nintendo UK Store offers Mario & Sonic Wii U Bundle

mariosonicwiiubundleThe Mario & Sonic series is no stranger to being a part of console bundles – the London 2012 entry even came with its very own blue Wii system – so this latest announcement comes as no real surprise. No doubt in a bid to cash in on the ongoing Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games as well as to shift a few extra Wii U consoles, Nintendo UK has revealed a brand new bundle featuring the latest entry in the series, exclusive to its online store.

Simply dubbed the “Mario and Sonic Winter Olympics Bundle”, you get a black Premium Wii U console in addition to (of course) Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, NintendoLand, and one of those swanky Mario Wii Remote Plus controllers released towards the end of last year. What’s more, you can get it all for just £299.99, which means a saving of over £75 on the RRP of the individual products.

If you’re swept away by Winter Olympic fever at the moment or are just waiting for the right deal to come along to entice you to join the Wii U brigade… this might be the bundle for you!

Source: Nintendo UK Online Store

Sonic Boom TV world to “reset” in every episode

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc7VQ9Ny1n4[/youtube]

We’ve heard a lot of new information recently about the upcoming Sonic Boom game for Wii U and 3DS, but what of the show it’s actually based on? Well, thanks to the interview above from NintendoWorldReport, we now know a few extra details about the CG animated cartoon.

The biggest new revelation is with regards to the show’s format. It’s been stated before that the show’s primary focus will be humour and comedy with some action thrown in for good measure, but this has now seemingly been cemented by the fact that the world will effectively “reset” at the beginning of each episode – in other words, this series will be more akin to the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon where each story is standalone and can be watched in any order, as opposed to Sonic X which has ongoing story arcs. This will no doubt come as a disappointment to those who were hoping for a more fleshed out story in the cartoon, but it will undoubtedly make for a more accessible experience to newcomers.

Don’t lose all hope for story in the Sonic Boom universe yet though, as it’s already been reiterated several times that the Wii U/3DS games will be heavily driven by narrative and serve as a prequel to the cartoon, setting up the world and its characters which will then be visited in various scenarios during the series itself. In a way, it’s a nice compromise – we get the story and the action in the game, and the quick-fire comedy from the animated episodes. The best of both worlds, perhaps?

What do you make of Sonic Boom returning to the status quo for each individual story? Let us know in the comments!