Tag Archives: Sonic Team

Sonic: Lost World Debut Trailer Goes X-treme!

Sega has admittedly brought back Sonic from the dead with Sonic Colors and Generations, but the franchise is not back to its full glory yet. Enter Sonic: Lost World, a Nintendo-exclusive title for both the Wii U and 3DS. While it’s too early to judge whether this will really put Sonic back on the map, the snippets of gameplay in this trailer is absolutely awesome. Younger gamers will liken it to a Super Mario Galaxy-esque experience, but older Sega veterans will think even further back in time.

Here’s some gameplay of Sonic X-treme, a cancelled Sega Saturn title which uses a “fish-eye” point of view, combining 2D and 3D elements. Much to my surprise, Sonic: Lost World is obviously heavily inspired by Sega’s past efforts…it’s almost a remake of Sonic X-treme, which actually works really well when combining the Super Mario Galaxy elements into play. I never expected Sega and Sonic Team to look back in this cancelled game with a disastrous development process in order to go forward. It’s a good place to start up a concept from.

Sonic Generations Review

Sonic Generations (Available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Nintendo 3DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Parent Talk: Sonic the Hedgehog is a classic game mascot. He’s a perfect, family-friendly character, like Nintendo’s own Mario.

Plays Like: Other Sonic the Hedgehog games, specifically a combination of the original series and the more recent Sonic Colors.

Review Basis: Achieved S rank on all Acts, completed most of the side missions.

Note: The Nintendo 3DS version bears significant changes compared to the console and PC versions of the game.

The media hasn’t been kind to Sonic the Hedgehog. Most Sonic game reviews begin with a clichéd statement about the series’ fall from grace. Well, my opinion is that Sonic has been “back” for quite some time. After a successful line of great platformers on the GBA and NDS, Sonic has returned successfully to consoles with the pleasant surprises like Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 and Sonic Colors. Generations arrived in time for the blue blur’s 20th anniversary and Sonic Team did its best to celebrate all that is Sonic. If you’re a fan, Generations is a must.has done its very best to celebrate everything that is Sonic. If you’re a classic Sonic fan, this a must-have.

The Great:

A perfect mix of old and new. SG caters to the older, grizzled retro-game enthusiasts who grew up with Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis in the early 90s and to the younger crowd who were introduced to SEGA’s mascot with Sonic Rush, Sonic Unleashed, or Sonic Colors. The game is divided into two halves, represented by the two playable versions of Sonic. Classic Sonic looks as you remember, complete with cute, chubby little pot belly. Modern Sonic has more advanced skills, an edgier style, and attitude to match.

Both play styles are perfected here. Classic Sonic plays similarly to the original Sega Genesis classics, right down to the physics. Modern Sonic finally comes into his own too, fully developing after years of experimentation. The result is a satisfying and fresh platforming game that longtime fans will love.

The Good:

+ Colorful, expressive graphics. Sonic’s world has never looked prettier. Classic levels enjoy a dramatic makeover, now presented in brilliant current-gen graphics. The retro and modern stages come with unique nuances, but both were given proper effort and dedication. They’re filled to the brim with detail.

+ Great level design. Sonic the Hedgehog’s mission is always to balance the thrill of speed with solid platforming. A quality platformer challenges the player to find the best route to the end. Sonic takes that to the extreme; you must react fast enough to reach convenient pathways. Doing so nets you hidden goodies and handy shortcuts. Every level is layered well, with many alternate paths.

+ Excellent boss fights. Several of Sonic’s old enemies return. Metal Sonic, Shadow the Hedgehog, Silver the Hedgehog, Dr. Robotnik, and more appear as potential foes. Battles are unique and interesting because they each come with unique rules and gimmicks. Classic Sonic fights Metal Sonic, so the rules and play style for that mimic the original games. The battles against Shadow and Modern Sonic could have been ripped right from Sonic Adventure 2.

+ A celebration. So much of Sonic’s repertoire is found here. Levels are faithfully recreated (including my personal favorite, Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant), and tons of songs throughout the franchise play out.

+ Classic Sonic perfectly represents old-school StH, which should satisfy purists. Sonic is still fast, but the focus is more conservative. He can run, jump, and spin dash his way through intricately-layered 2D levels. The character model and physics are on par to emulate the right feel.

+ Modern Sonic is satisfying and fun, finally solidifying his play style. Compared to Classic, he has a wider variety of maneuvers. His levels are a combination of 3D and 2D elements that come together beautifully. Sonic can use his homing attack and boost abilities to soar to areas that Classic Sonic can’t touch, speeding through areas with amazing speed. Classic Sonic’s levels evoke nostalgia, while Modern Sonic succeeds due to thrill ride levels.

+ Unique level gimmicks. For example, Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors introduces some of Sonic’s abilities from that game.

+ RPG elements. This is the most unexpected aspect. Sonic unlocks abilities by completing missions. These can be equipped after they’re purchased from the store, and bring a wealth of different effects. They dramatically affect the game’s balance, making revisiting previous levels more fun.

+ Sonic’s friends are back, but in the appropriate context—Sonic is the star, while they’re helpers in side missions.

+ English and Japanese voices. The voice work is much better than in previous games.

+ Fantastic remixes of classic songs.

The Bad:

– Framerate hiccups. During some intense scenes, the action freezes briefly, but that is debilitating for a game intended to be fast. Across several stages, I experienced an occasional hiccup upon a key moment where I needed to jump or move, which often resulted in losing rings.

– Camera problems. Though infrequent, the camera can be problematic. During one mission, I had to bounce a music note back and forth by hitting it with Sonic’s homing attack. However, several times the camera shifted behind a piece of scenery, making it impossible to see. The camera also failed to keep up with me in another stage, which is never good.

– The abilities aren’t necessary. They’re fun to play with, but not essential to the game. I finished all the Acts before I bothered to equip them.

– Control issues. For several sequences, you need pinpoint accuracy to guide Sonic. Several times trying to make Sonic boost, he instead took off in the opposite direction and vaulted off a ledge. I also found it difficult to drift and turn properly at times.

– Too dependent on nostalgia. Generations relies on catering to fans. The gameplay and secrets are tailor-made for Sonic lovers, but if you’re new, the attachment won’t be there.

The Lowdown:

Sonic the Hedgehog may still fall short of Mario’s AAA standards, but claims of his demise are exaggerated. Sonic Generations is an excellent love letter to fans old and new, and another great notch in the belt for the franchise. After Sonic Colors, Sonic 4, and now Generations, the blue blur is on the right track. If you ever loved a Sonic game, please check out Generations.

Score: 8.5/10

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 Review

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 (Available on XBLA, WiiWare, PSN, and iPhone)
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: October 7th (iPhone), October 11th (WiiWare), October 12th (PSN), October 13th (XBLA)

Parent Talk: Sonic the Hedgehog is a vibrant, family-friendly platformer.  Not a single game in the series is inappropriate for children; spin-off Shadow the Hedgehog being the sole exception.  Parents, you need not worry.  It’s Sonic!

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a throwback to the original Sega Genesis hits, similar to other retro-revivals like Mega Man 9, Bionic Commando Rearmed, and Konami’s Rebirth games.  It’s a nostalgic run down memory lane, filled with pleasant memories of everything that made Sonic so appealing in the 16-bit era.   Though Sonic’s latest skills, like the homing dash, are now present, the design is much closer to the original Sonic the Hedgehog.

The Great: Classic Sonic.  Gameplay is simple and sweet, bringing the franchise back to basics.  A wasteful plot is nowhere to be seen, and secondary characters have taken a hike.  The game instead focuses on play, which rejuvenates the magic of the 16-bit era–the opening screen even has that classic “SEGA!” shout.  There’s great satisfaction in finding hidden routes, acquiring Chaos Emeralds, and beating up Eggman/Robotnik.  Modern games may suffer from being pretentious and drawn out, but not this.

The Good:

+ Visuals.  Sonic the Hedgehog 4’s art style keeps with the modern Sonic games rather than the classics, but that’s fine.  The different zones are brilliantly colored and well-drawn, although the XBLA and PSN versions edge out the WiiWare version thanks to a higher resolution.  Everything runs well and smooth, with a constant framerate and solid presentation.  The level of detail is excellent.  StH4 represents what the classic games would look like in HD.  Nice going Sonic Team!

+ Multiple pathways.  Several stages hide alternate routes, which adds incentive to replay the game several times.  Some are easier to find than others, so there’s always a nice sense of accomplishment after finishing a level a new way.  There’s also the drive to collect the Chaos Emeralds.  The Bonus Stages are taken directly from Sonic 1, where Sonic behaves like a pinball in a free-fall.  I didn’t like some level design aspects, but more on that later.

+ Decent music.  The soundtrack isn’t as quality as classic times, but the tunes are still solid and surprisingly catchy.  Sonic Team ditched the hair metal from the 3D Adventure games and chose music that’s more appropriate for a retro revival.  The Lost Labyrinth Act 2 sports a particularly cool stage theme and the Mad Gear Zone Act 1 stage is sweet too.

+ New abilities.  Sonic Team clearly tried to implement Sonic’s homing dash into the older Genesis gameplay.  For the most part, this works beautifully.  There are portions where executing consecutive homing dashes can help you reach unfamiliar territory or nab secrets.  It’s fun to use makes an already fast game even faster.

The Bad:

– Easy.  Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is, without question, ridiculously easy.  Without breaking a sweat, I amassed about 50 lives before the final showdown with Eggman.  The low difficulty would definitely help newcomers to the franchise (which is likely Sonic Team’s intention), but veterans may scoff at the lack of challenge.  The game is fun regardless, but fans expect Sonic games to put up some kind of fight.  There may be a tough area, but it’s a bit of a cheap shot.  In the final battle against Eggman, the ground eventually gives out and you have precious seconds to attack him—this completely catches you off-guard the first time.

– Design conflicts.  I said above that the homing dash is a valuable skill, but that isn’t always the case.  Sometimes the homing dash doesn’t fit appropriately and is more disadvantageous than anything.  For example, facing Eggman the first time and using the dash from a distance works well, but the recoil sends you into harm’s way.  Most boss encounters end up this way, with the homing dash being the less advantageous attack.  Considering how fans would undoubtedly want to use it heavily, it’s possible the developers did this on purpose to prevent them from relying on it too much.  It’s a minimal complaint.

– Lack of co-operative play.  Even though the design of the game went back to basics, it’s strange that there is no two-player option from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or 3.  It doesn’t impact the game negatively, but it would have been nice to see.

– Short.  There are four main zones: Splash Hill, Lost Labyrinth, Casino Street, and Mad Gear Zones.  Each has three stages.  There are seven special stages and the final showdown with Eggman.  This sounds time-consuming on paper, but Sonic games are all about speed—so levels end quickly.  Compare that to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which had 10 main zones and the final showdown at the Death Egg.  Sonic the Hedgehog 1 featured six main zones, each with three acts.  Granted, StH4 is only “Episode 1”, so more stages will come, but that doesn’t lengthen the game.

The Lowdown:

While not as quality as the Genesis games, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a fun throwback to what made the franchise so attractive.  It’s short and really easy, but the gameplay is simple and engaging enough to warrant a purchase.  It’s a proper revival for Sonic the Hedgehog and reminds us why he was such an icon in the 90s.  This one is a must-download for the fans.

Sonic Classic Collection Review

Sonic Classic Collection (Only available on Nintendo DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Compilation
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA
Release Date: March 2, 2010

Parent Talk: Sonic Classic Collection prides itself on containing four games in one Nintendo DS cart: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. Two additional “lock-on” games are also available, essentially alternate/expanded versions of Sonic 2 and 3. These Sega Genesis Classics are considered among the best 2D platformers of all time. As with most classic compilations, the goal is to preserve and maintain the nostalgia, though that doesn’t mean they feel old and archaic. The younger generation can definitely enjoy them without problem.  In fact, the 2D Sonic games are known to be far better and less complicated than the modern 3D installments. As a parent, do not let “nostalgia” and “classic” scare you away. Gameplay and controls couldn’t be simpler despite the raised learning curve because of the fast nature of Sonic. The instructions are even conveniently explained in the bottom screen and can be accessed any time. As for violence, this is Sonic the Hedgehog for crying out loud! It’s perfectly suitable for kids, especially since most, if not all the enemies are robots.

I know what you’re thinking: another Sonic the Hedgehog compilation? When will it stop?! To be frank, it won’t. Sega will milk the past until they perfect the present. The Genesis Sonic anthology are timeless classics that haven’t been replicated by any subsequent sequel to date. The 2D Sonic Rush series came close, but no cigar. Now that Sonic the Hedgehog 4 (the “true” sequel) is coming to all download services soon, it’s the perfect time to release another collection so people can catch up with the best of the best…not to mention Sega wants to fill their pockets with some Rings and Emeralds. After all, they’ve been in a rut, despite releasing and publishing quality content as of late. Is this release worth 30$? The previous Sonic compilations are easy to find for cheap in today’s market, not to mention widespread digital availability on Xbox Live Arcade and Wii’s Virtual Console. So what does this DS version offer compared to its cousins?

The Great:

It’s awesome to play all four Genesis Sonic games, plus the lock-ons via handheld.  Playing old games on the go revitalizes that retro passion. You don’t have to deal with pixelated graphics since the resolution of the DS screens wipes the antiquated look off these Genesis classics. It’s also convenient to have timeless gameplay in the palm of your hand. SEGA hasn’t tampered with the physics or controls, unlike what happened with the hideous 15th anniversary version of Sonic the Hedgehog for the GBA. Moreover, this is the only modern compilation that offers Sonic & Knuckles’ infamous lock-on technology with no strings attached (try to find Sega Saturn’s Sonic Jam compilation in retail today). I hated the previous collections because of the hurdles to access my favorite game in the series: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. Play Sonic 3 15 times? Seriously? Even the digital versions played around with lock-on functionality. It was already good to begin with…why change it?

The Good:

+ The ability to save in Sonic, S2, and Sonic & Knuckles is long overdue. While it’s not a save state-like functionality that we wanted, it’s good enough for handheld play. I don’t mind restarting Act 2 of Chemical Plant Zone, despite saving towards the end of it. Sonic 3 and its lock-on counterpart retain the same slot system of the Genesis originals…so take that, crappy XBLA ports!

+ Good value compared to the Wii Virtual Console emulations. Just do the math. You’re saving a couple bucks by going with the former.

The Bad:

– Bare-bones ports: don’t expect any bells and whistles with this collection. The extras include some art…and that’s about it. No enhanced graphics, remixed music, or anything of that sort. To add fuel to the fire, the multiplayer has been completely removed.  It would’ve been great to see added Wi-Fi or local co-op. I really miss the good ol’ days when companies put more effort into their retro collections (remember Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the PS2 and GameCube?).

– Could’ve been better priced.  20$ would’ve been more acceptable, despite its default tag being cheaper than the Virtual Console counterparts. Retro re-releases are already overpriced to begin with, especially since this one doesn’t include significant bonuses.

– A small nitpick with the lock-on function.  The combo games are emulated separately from the standalone versions, thus lacking a few perks from physical lock-on (which still exists in the downloadable versions if I’m not mistaken). That is to say, you can’t access the secret top-down bonus stages that appear when locking StH onto Sonic & Knuckles since that option isn’t available to begin with. In addition, your save slots in Sonic 3 standalone don’t carry over to its lock-on counterpart, Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

The Ugly:

The emulation isn’t perfect. While the artifacting isn’t deal-breaking, it’s downright insulting that SEGA didn’t polish the package for release.  The DS is more than capable of handling Genesis games, so why the additional slowdown in Sonic and S2? Also, what’s with the occasional inconsistent, echoic sound effects? These issues are thankfully uncommon and the emulation is perfectly playable, yet perfectionists may prefer the Virtual Console versions as long as there are no additional bugs. Though I completely understand the cropping and resizing of these games to accommodate the smaller screens.  This is strictly a hardware limitation. The result is a mildly annoying look for hardcore fans, but it’s honestly unnoticeable when these games are in motion. It isn’t as significant as the NES Classics’ resizing for the GBA, if you know what I mean.

The Lowdown: Gamers who are new to or curious about our blue hedgehog should buy the Nintendo DS compilation since it’s the most convenient of them all.  For fans who’ve been yearning for the Anthology on handheld, this is a definite must-buy, despite the infrequent glitches and lack of extras.  I can understand the concern about its steep price, however.  To the rest of you Sonic nuts, I’d pass on this and invest in the Virtual Console emulations instead since they’re the most faithful. Besides, I’m sure most of you already own the previous compilations.  I’d only consider this one if the price is halved.