Scrapped Sonic and the Black Knight Poster Found

Sonic & the Black Knight promo poster

The Sonic Stadium has uncovered what appears to be an unused promotional poster for Wii exclusive Sonic and the Black Knight. The poster was created by a company called KJSCoverArt who have designed a lot of album covers for various artists, as seen on their portfolio. We assume this image must have been made pretty early on because you’ll notice Sonic is wearing two of the same gauntlet he wears in the game instead of just one, as well as a helmet, which looks much like Shadow/Lancelot’s. Other changes include slight differences in Caliburn’s hilt and the game’s logo.

What do you think of this artwork? Would you have preferred Sonic to have worn more armour? Speak out in the comments.

Source: KJSCoverArt

TSS @ E3: Hands On Yuji Naka’s Rodea the Sky Soldier

rodea_skysoldier

As someone who covers Sonic news and previews for Sonic Stadium, this has been one of the worst E3’s ever for Sonic news. Despite Sonic Boom : Fire and Ice and Mario and Sonic at the 2016 Rio Olympics coming soon, neither of them were on the show floor. The closest things to Sonic games at E3 are Freedom Planet (a preview is available for a limited time on the Nintendo E-Shop) and Rodea the Sky Soldier. A game designed by Yuji Naka and published by NIS America.

Rodea the Sky Soldier is an action platform game that heavily involves flying. You play as Rodea, a cyborg, cat-like boy who has woken up from being asleep for 1,000 years only to find the enemy he destroyed centuries ago has returned. The game play itself is very reminiscent of NiGHTS and a little bit of Sonic Adventure which I will get into momentarily. In the game, Rodea has an arsenal of different moves at his command. The main one being a targeting lock-on that let’s Rodea fly to enemies and locals. You can also hit the “B” button to fast attack targets such as large, hovering robots.

Rodea-the-Sky-Soldier_

If you remember that in Sonic Adventure, Sonic can get special shoes that allow him to quickly grab a trail of rings that are in the air. That aspect is in Sky Soldier as well. You can target a line of yellow crystals and fly to them. This often acts as a trail to quickly get to the next floating island or set piece. When done properly, it gives the game a sort of speed-run feeling. You also use this targeting system to target enemies and boost to them for an attack or find a piece of island to land on before your flight meter runs out. Flying around these crystals, enemies and such gives the game a bit of a “NiGHTS” feeling while still being pretty original. However…

The Wii U controls are very difficult to get a good handle on. I tried the demo on two different occasions and during both times I found myself target the wrong spot and flying either into a wall or on the underside of an island before falling to my death fairly often. Both moving your character and targeting are on the same stick while the camera control is on the right, but you can’t use the camera controls if locked onto a target. It made it so I was having difficulty getting through even some of the earlier stages. Even after learning what does what and playing the game for over half an hour, I still couldn’t master it. Perhaps it’s the regular button/dual stick combo that is the problem. This game was originally meant as a Wii game only and I can see Wiimote/Nunchuck controls actually being a benefit as it feels like targeting would be much more effective by aiming with the Wiimote thus allowing your character to move while targeting. Sadly, I found out from the gentleman showing off the game that only the Wii version (which comes with the Wii U version of the game) has those kind of controls.

rodea

 

One other minor negative is that the graphics haven’t really gotten much of an HD upgrade from the Wii version. It’s definitely a higher resolution, but the low polygon count and bland textures remain. Even the CGI cutscenes are still fairly low res. The biggest highlight here is the 2-D artwork looks very high-res and sharp on the Wii U version. However, since the graphics aren’t a major upgrade, it may give me a good reason to stick with the Wii version included.

 

Which is a shame since this game shows a ton of potential and originality. It’s the most…”Yuji Naka” of Yuji Naka’s Prope Studio games. It feels fresh while still having feature reminiscent of NiGHTS and Sonic Adventure. However, it also feels like a game from those times as well. It’s controls are archaic and the game itself seems about ten years behind the times. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing more on Rodea the Sky Soldier and hoping the full version proves my fears wrong.

Rodea the Sky Soldier will release on Wii U (with Wii version included) and 3DS in North America on October 13th and in Europe on October 16th.

 

 

Retrospective: The Colours Still Feel So Right

soniccoloursretro

2010 was an interesting time to be a Sonic fan. At the start of the year, the franchise was at one of its lowest points, with jokes about the Sonic Cycle being thrown around every which way following the downward spiral of quality in the games – Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic ’06, Sonic and the Black Knight… even 2008’s Sonic Unleashed, the closest thing to a step in the right direction we’d seen, was critically panned and bogged down by poor design choices. Luckily, there seemed to be a shining ray of light on the horizon, one that the entire fanbase was clinging their hopes onto, something that promised to set the series back on track at last…

That game was Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. And we all know how that turned out.

Yes, rather unjustly in retrospect, it was the disappointing sequel to the classic Sonic trilogy that garnered the most attention in 2010. Instead, there was another, far better, far more memorable Sonic game released that year that deserved to receive the lion’s share of fan interest. Announced slap bang in the middle of the Sonic 4 hype, Sonic Colours – or Sonic Colors, for our American readers – was eternally in the shadow of its downloadable counterpart, with only a month separating the two games’ release dates in October and November respectively. It’s understandable, of course – the game’s rather obscure title and lack of concrete gameplay details upon its initial reveal made Colours a bit of a harder sell compared to the prospect of a follow-up to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Even I’ll admit, I thought Sonic Colours would be a puzzle or spin-off title when I first saw its announcement… but fast forward a few months, and it ended up being one of my favourite Sonic games of all time.

NE Sonic Colours Wii 5

Whereas Sonic 4’s hype train went out of control before well and truly coming off the rails, the more quiet and subtle excitement surrounding Sonic Colours actually worked in its favour. When the astonishingly good reviews came rolling in – that all important first score of 86 from NGamer and an 8.5 from IGN, to name but a couple (let’s just forget that 4.5 from Destructoid though, eh?) – it caught us all by surprise and made us appreciate the game even more. It not only surpassed Sonic 4, it trampled all over it and gave us the first genuinely good Sonic experience in years. Say what you want about the game, but you cannot deny that Sonic Colours set alight the hearts of several fans and critics again after oh so long.

So what was it about the title that sparked off such acclaim? Well… a bit of everything, really. Presentation-wise, Colours definitely delivers on its title – this is a bright, quirky, visually appealing adventure that really pushes the graphical boundaries of the Wii to their limits. While we’ve since seen the likes of Planet Wisp and Starlight Carnival recreated in high definition in Sonic Generations and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, their original incarnations still hold up beautifully on Nintendo’s last-gen system. What really stands out about Colours though is its sheer imagination, fusing recurring Sonic tropes into entirely fresh new locations such as the tropical casino aesthetic of Tropical Resort and the watery Chun-Nan that is Aquarium Park. Despite being a modern 3D title, Colours captures the vibe and essence – and, dare I say it, magic – of the classic era better than ever before (arguably better even that Sonic 4 did), to the extent that famous badniks like Motobugs even make their long-awaited return with a few new twists of their own.

Sonic Colours Wii screen 1 1st Aug

Musically, the soundtrack is also up there with the finest in the series – and that’s an impressive feat considering how consistently brilliant Sonic music tends to be (Chronicles notwithstanding). Almost every tune is a joy to listen to, ranging from the adrenaline-pumping sounds of Terminal Velocity to the gentle and serene Planet Wisp tracks. It’s also the last time we had a vocal song as the main theme of a Sonic game – can you believe it’s been four years already? – and, while Cash Cash’s Reach For The Stars and Speak With Your Heart aren’t to everybody’s taste, they’re serviceable enough and undeniably catchy for those who want to sing along as the credits roll.

Most importantly, Colours nailed the gameplay. Taking the day stages from Sonic Unleashed as a basis, cutting out all of the nonsense like medal hunting and Werehogs, every stage was a high octane blast of speedy Sonic fun. The level design is top notch with some hugely enjoyable courses to overcome right from the off – there’s no messing around with opening cutscenes or tutorials, you press Start at the title screen and you’re straight into Tropical Resort Act 1. It’s a platformer at its most straightforward – clear one level, move onto the next, rinse and repeat until you face off against the world’s boss, then move onto the next area – and it’s all the better for it, with nothing to get in the way of the fun and preventing it from becoming sidetracked by anything unnecessary.

Sonic Colours Pink Wisp screen 1

It’s the Wisps that really steal the spotlight here though. Before 2010, if you heard the words “Sonic” and “gimmick” in the same sentence, you’d shudder in horror. Fishing, treasure hunting, guns, motion controls, stretchy armed brawling, talking swords… you name it, Sonic had probably tried it, often to disastrous effect. But the Wisps did something that none of these other gimmicks were capable of – adding to the basic Sonic gameplay rather than detracting from it or outright replacing it. Each of the different coloured Wisps grants Sonic a new kind of Colour Power to utilise as he traverses his way through a level, be it a quick-firing laser, the ability to hover, or a drill to dig through the earth (or cake, if you happen to be in Sweet Mountain). Each is a bite-sized burst of fun, never outstaying its welcome and often leading to some previously unexplored section of a stage. In a game where the gimmicks are almost entirely optional, you’ll be actively wanting to use them more than ever, going back to previous locales to seek out those hidden Red Rings you missed first time around because you hadn’t unlocked the right Wisp yet. They’re a joyous addition, and it’s a shame that they were used much less gratifyingly in their comeback appearances in Generations and Lost World.

This isn’t even scratching the surface of what Colours brought to the table – a brand new voice cast featuring Roger Craig Smith in his Sonic debut (if you conveniently ignore Sonic Free Riders, as most people do), a more simple and streamlined narrative focusing on just Sonic and Tails rather than the cavalcade of sub-par sidekicks seen previously, the infamous Eggman P.A. announcements, and the first time we’ve seen Super Sonic playable in regular levels in a 3D game. It was a total shift for the Sonic series, both tonally and reception-wise, and it was just the ticket to dig the hedgehog out of the hole he’d dug himself into over the preceding years.

All praise aside, it’s not the perfect Sonic game – there’s some awkward difficulty spikes, it’s only a few hours long, and the story is rather minimal with some love-it-or-hate-it scripting – but it’s by far the most original entry we’ve seen in the franchise in recent memory, Generations included. There’s a certain magic and a certain joy that I get from playing and looking back on Sonic Colours, and that’s something that’s distinct from any other entry in the franchise.

Sonic Colours Wii screenshots 21

In this uncertain age where Sonic is once again descending into mediocrity, it’s enlightening to remember that once upon a time, when even the most promising of projects led only to the bitterness of disappointment, a game like Sonic Colours came along out of nowhere and revitalised the series in a way no one expected. Who’s to say that lightning can’t strike twice…? And, if nothing else, it proves that Sonic can do Nintendo exclusivity right when it puts its mind to it. Sorry Lost World and Boom, but you’ve got nothing on this gem.

With Sonic Colours, SEGA reached for the stars – and boy, did they come close. Four years on and the colours still seem as right and as bright as they ever did. Long may they continue to shine.

What are your feelings and memories about Sonic Colours? We’d love to know your thoughts too, so sound off in the comments! Don’t fall apart, speak with your heart!

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 4: Episode I Sold Best on PS3 on Consoles

SEGA Digital Brand Manager Ken Balough has revealed at the SEGA Forums that Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I sold best on the PlayStation 3 platform on consoles. Xbox 360 came second and Wii last. The news is quite a twist when compared to retail Sonic titles, where Nintendo’s consoles usually come out on top. No information was given as to where PC and mobile platforms ranked.

Will the same happen for Episode II? Time will tell. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II is out now on Steam in the UK, and will be released later today in other territories. The PSN version will also be released later today in the US, then Europe tomorrow. The Xbox Live Arcade version is due out worldwide tomorrow.

Source: SEGA Forums

[UPDATE]Retailer eStarland.com Lists Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing 2 For PS3, Xbox 360 & Wii

UPDATE 08/03/12 23:59 GMT: Well, that didn’t take long. The product pages on eStarland have now been wiped clean and all versions of the game no longer show up in searches.

Original article:
Listings for the Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing sequel we first brought you word about in January have appeared at US retailer eStarland.com. The site lists Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing 2 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii platforms and says the game will be released November 30th 2012, which is likely a placeholder date, because games usually release in the US on a Tuesday, not a Friday. There are no signs of Wii U, 3DS and PS Vita versions, but at this early stage anything could change.

A placeholder box art is also on display on the site featuring the first game’s logo with a number 2 underneath it. The product description simply reads “Sonic and friends go back to the track in the sequel to their 2010 kart racing outing.”

Could these listings mean an official announcement is soon on the way? We’ll keep you posted.

Source: eStarland.com – PS3, Xbox 360 & Wii

Sega Confirms No Sonic 4-2 For Wii

Ken Balough has recently confirmed what many wondered at the end of his Gamespot interview. Sonic 4 Episode 2 will not be making an appearance on the Wii console. This makes the third Multi-platform Sonic game in a row not to see release on the Wii. Here’s what Ken had to say.

But no – the reason Episode I was on the Wii was because we wanted to bring the Sonic 4 saga to the widest possible audience. Episode II unfortunately will not be coming to the Wii – for reasons most people have probably guessed, but that doesn’t mean the SEGA isn’t supporting Nintendo platforms, we have a very strong partnership and will continue to do so.

Oh well. Here’s hoping for a disc compilation at some point.

Source [Sega Forums]

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Price Roundup

With the Wii version of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games out now in the US and Australia, and the European release coming tomorrow, you might be wondering what the best deal is online. Well, below, we’ve put together a list of the current prices available for the game and its blue Wii console bundle, as well as some of the extras certain retailers are offering.

UK
Grainger Games: £24.99
DVD: £28.99
DVD (Special Edition: With Money Tin): £34.99
Base: £28.99
Base (Special Edition: With money Tin): £34.99
101CD: £28.99
101CD (Special Edition: With Money Tin): £34.99
BlahDVD: £28.99
BlahDVD (Special Edition: With Money Tin): £34.99
PropelGamer: £29.10
CoolShop: £29.77
SimplyGames: £29.85
The Hut: £29.95
Zavvi: £29.95
Sainsbury’s Entertainment: £29.99
GAME: £29.99
Gamestation: £29.99
Amazon: £29.99
Tesco Entertainment: £30.71
ShopTo: £31.85
GameStop: £31.97
ChoicesUK: £31.99
ASDA Direct: £32.00
Play.com: £32.99
Blockbuster: £34.99
Gameplay: £37.99

US
Toys R Us: $37.49
Amazon: $41.20
Walmart: $49.96
GameStop: $49.99
Target: $49.99
Best Buy: $49.99
Kmart: $49.99

Australia
JB Hi-Fi: $69.00AU
EB Games: $78.00AU
EB Games (Limited Edition): $88.00AU
Mighty Ape: $72.99AU
Mighty Ape (Collector’s Edition): $88.99AU

UK
ASDA Direct: £119.00
Toys R Us: £119.99
The Hut: £124.95
Zavvi: £124.95
HMV: £129.99
GAME: £129.99
Gamestation: £129.99
Gameplay: £129.99
Play.com: £129.99
Amazon: £129.99
DVD: £129.99
Base: £129.99
101CD: £129.99
BlahDVD: 129.99

If you’ve seen some prices we haven’t, share them in the comments below and we’ll add them in.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Launch Trailer

SEGA has released one final trailer to promote the Wii version of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The video gives a brief look at all the game has to offer, including Olympic Events, Dream Events and London Party Mode. The game is out now in the US and Australia, and will be released in Europe tomorrow.

Source: SEGA Blog

Australia and New Zealand Get M&S London 2012 Collector’s Edition

Following the previously revealed Limited Edition, the Australia and New Zealand branches of Mighty Ape are now listing a Collector’s Edition for the Wii version of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Collector’s Edition contains:
– Game
– Money tin
– Stationary Kit
– Beach ball
– Key ring
– Lanyard

You can pre-order your copy of the Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Collector’s Edition at the links below. Both retailers ship worldwide.
MightyApe.com.au: $88.99AU
MightyApe.co.nz: $109.99NZ

If the Collector’s Edition doesn’t interest you, you can order the Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Limited Edition at EB Games Australia for £88.00AU.

The Limited Edition contains:
– Game
– Steel Tin
– Poster
– T Shirt
– Notebook
– Carry Bag

Unfortunately, it appears EB Games doesn’t ship outside of Australia.

With Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games now having a Collector’s Edition, like Sonic Generations did, it’s definitely an expensive year to be a Sonic fan.