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Game News, Miscellaneous

PAX Show Floor Hands-On Preview of Sonic CD on Xbox Live Arcade

Sega’s latest classic title up for download services proves to be an important stepping stone for the company. Not only is it a port of a rare Mega/Sega CD title, the collaboration behind the project showcases the 10+ year old game running with optimizations and slight changes that help solidify Sonic CD’s place among the previous games. Not since Street Fighter has a game seen this level of work, both for those who prefer games to stay as true to the original as possible as well as please those who are looking for optimizations to solidify the functionality between the Sonic games. What was shown off in the PAX demo was the entirety of Palmtree Panic, with two special stages that would be randomly chosen for each playthrough for the sake of the demonstration. Honorable mention goes to our good buddy Ken Balough who was also there at the Xbox Live Arcade booth to help fill in the gaps of what to expect.

No doubt the most promising feature is the ability to change between two different spindash types for the game. However, the demo available only allowed for players to utilize the Sonic 2 & 3 Spindash feature. While the sound effects were still similar to the original version of the game, the spindash execution itself was much more streamlined compared to the original Sonic CD. You still have to charge up Sonic before he goes blasting off, but it is much easier to access places that would normally be more difficult to reach because of this optimization. Because of the new spindash feature, the screen does not pan in front of the player as it did in the original. In the final game, the screen will pan if the legacy spindash feature is turned on.

The gameplay otherwise feels exactly as it did in the original game. Load times are quicker for sure, enemies move as you expect, the stage gimmicks, such as Sonic going through the giant 360 degree loop, are also in place. Some additions including the 16:9 widescreen presentation that properly fills the screen in both regular and special stages help with the viewing area even without the camera panning in front of Sonic. The only real oddity I came across was the stage boss in Act 3; during the part where Eggman falls from the sky, the player can still damage the boss before he begins his attack movement.

The special stages in this version take advantage of the modern hardware, well, as modern as a flat “Mode 7-like” plane with UFOs flying around can get. The 3D plane turns much more smoothly as the UFOs scale properly in the 3D space. Item UFOs are much easier to identify; Light blue represents ones with shoes, and the darker bluer ones represent rings. Of course, the time bonus UFOs are still the same light blue with red bars and will appear when 20 seconds are left on the clock. The smoothness of which Sonic runs around, (or if he gets bounced around,) makes it easier to tell Sonic’s trajectory as he travels. Despite the upgrade in presentation, control is still fully digital, (i.e. no analog,) when turning Sonic left and right.

Another feature unique to this version is a filter effect for the graphics that blur the pixels for a more smoothed, anti-aliased look. Similar to Super 2xSai or Super Eagle filters that work on all the objects on screen. The filter works by applying them per object, however the effect seemed a bit blurry, and the smaller details of some sprites became a bit tough to make out. Ken did state that the feature was still being worked out as it was thrown in shortly before the PAX showing. For purists, players can easily turn the filter off and enjoy the original look of the game. In the demo the filter feature’s switch was mapped to the Left and Right Bumper buttons of the Xbox controller, which are likely to change into a menu function in the final build.

Despite the low volume of the TV, one could determine that the music was without a doubt the Japanese soundtrack. Unfortunately, Ken confirmed that the US soundtrack would sadly not be available in the final version. (Sidebar from me: You can use the Xbox 360’s built in music player to blare your rare Sonic Boom! Music CDs.) What Ken stated on the matter is that they are still working to see what would need to happen on the legal side of things to get the US soundtrack in the final game. While DLC is a possibility, he’d much rather try to include the music for free, whether they can get it in the final or added in through a patch.

While the game was being shown on the 360, Ken did state that the game is coming out on a host of platforms including PS3, Android, iOS devices and on the PC through Steam. A WiiWare version is currently not planned. The game is on track for a release later this year, and already looks very promising. Alas, no disc based version of the game will go on sale.

Finally, on a side note. Those of you who are at PAX make sure to go check out the booth. Last few times I checked over at Microsofts booth, Sonic CD was literally untouched. Go be a bro, check it out and say ‘hi’ to Ken. I bet he’s quite lonely!

Arcade Games, Game News

Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Spotted in Arcades

Spotted out in the wild (or as wild as Chuck E. Cheeses can get), we have our first look of the arcade version of Sumo Digital’s Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, already undergoing location tests around the U.S.

While it’s unlikely it’ll include any new content that the console versions don’t already carry (power drifting and items are all accounted for), the game comes with three gameplay modes set.

Time trial – Race alone to set the fastest times on each track – there are “Staff Ghosts” to beat.

Quick Race – Race and battle against others, single or multiplayer.

Grand Prix – Progress through a single player, three race championship.

Other details include the game running on Ringwide hardware and a small aesthetic of  the seat changing colors via lighting.

[Via Arcade Heroes]

Arcade Games, Game News

Two new Sonic games announced

Contrary to what you may think, the two newest Sonic games coming out this year aren’t coming to the Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3 or Xbox Live Arcade–they’re just coming straight to the arcade. Sega Amusements USA has released two new arcade games under their new “Sonic Allstars” (no apparent relation to Sega All-Stars) series: Sonic Air Hockey and Sonic Basketball.

Sonic Air Hockey table

Sonic Air Hockey is an air hockey game utilizing the Sonic character and first of the Sonic Allstars lineup. The unit is all dressed up in bright white and Sega blue, the Sonic Allstars branding with a giant Sonic right on the surface of the playfield. This air hockey table is suitable for 2~4 players with a wider playing surface to accommodate 4 players. The unit has a built in ticket dispenser for redemption with an adjustable ticket payout, and the Sonic Allstars line enables operators to build a Sega / Sonic themed area in their locations. It features a polycarbonate scratch-free playfield, redemption ticket payout, electronic coin mech, 2 & 4 player available, neon overhead lights, aluminum body, side and center safe guards, chasing LED lights, time / score display, and Sega-branded pucks.

Sonic Basketball

Sonic Basketball is a ticket redemption game with a built in ticket dispenser, where players are challenged to hit the target scores to move onto the next level and to try to beat the highest score. With each level cleared, the game play will change, the level of difficulty increasing with each stage. The title features include linking up to 15 units, original hip-hop mix music, a high quality bass speaker, built-in ticket dispenser, and Sega-branded basketballs.

Keep a lookout for both of these new machines at your local arcade!

Game News

Sonic 4: Episode 1 also an iPhone title! July Release date!

Wow SEGA. Great job tucking away that special information.

Sonic 4's REAL Release date and last platform! And if you don't believe it, click the image for the source image on SEGA's website!

There's even an interview with Iisuka!

UPDATE: Well that was fast. SEGA has removed the images from their website already. At least we grabbed them while we could!