This has certainly been a bit of a Sonic week. Yesterday, Sega gave everyone a reason to revisit Sonic Frontiers by releasing the first of three free content updates. Today? The existence of Sonic Origins Plus has been officially confirmed, with a trailer featuring what they’ve added to last year’s celebration of Sonic the Hedgehog.
What’s that? There’s more Sonic news? Seems like yesterday there was absolutely nothing to talk about. Yet here we are, with more Frontiers footage, a closer look at Sonic Origins, and even the reappearance of the original Sonic CD in an unexpected place. So without further ado, let’s jump in.
Back in May, Sega and the Sonic Team gave the world its first look at the next major installment in the Sonic the Hedgehog video game franchise. A quick CG trailer, we didn’t even get a name for what was to come next. Speculation ran rampant, especially for those who were paying attention to every whisper of a supposed leak. When it comes to Sonic, after all, you can’t help but wonder what form a game will take, especially one made in the third dimension.
In a Sonic “double-header,” the Game Awards not only showed off the first trailer to the theatrical Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but also gave us the first in-game glimpse of Sonic Frontiers. Take a look at the trailer below:
In November of 2012, Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed dropped to a positive critical and fan reception. Some considered it a contender with Mario Kart, while others would argue that, at the time, it may even have surpassed it. Transformed, unfortunately, had its fair share of bugs, some of which were sorted but many that, to this day, haven’t been. Fast forward to today, and after a healthy delay, we now have Team Sonic Racing. Gone are the transforming vehicles and colorful SEGA cast, instead replaced with Sonic mainstays and a focus on cooperative gameplay. And while in a few areas, Team Sonic Racing feels like a step or two towards improvement, it takes several flights worth of stairs tumbling backwards.
So, Sonic Forces. It’s tough to know what to say about it. The game has been out for a while now and admittedly this review is coming a little late, but if Forces shows us anything it’s that the franchise itself needs to slow down and take time for a bit of reflection. Having had longer to digest the game, perhaps we can have a better idea of what went wrong, what went right and just how we got here.
The first trailer for the game in 2016 could be described as confusing. Announced as Project Sonic 2017, many fans (myself included) really didn’t know how to parse what they had just seen. After what had then been years of light, fluffy, Saturday morning cartoon-esque stories, we had a trailer showcasing a seemingly ruined world, overrun by Eggman’s giant Death Egg Robots destroying everything – and wait, Classic Sonic’s here too? Just what is happening? That question, along with the fact that this was being developed by the team behind Colors and Generations, was enough to raise eyebrows and generate significant interest in the title, even alongside the also-announced Sonic Mania. It’s fair to say that expectations were tempered (especially after Lost World) but many fans were expecting a return to the ‘boost gameplay’ that, love it or hate it, has probably been one of Sega’s more successful attempts at doing Sonic gameplay in 3D yet.
So is that what we got? Well, kind of.
The steady trickle of Team Sonic Racing news continues, with the release of this short ‘Part 1’ video covering some of the game’s soundtrack. Featuring Jun Senoue, Takeshi Taneda and Act., this video not only shows us actual studio footage but also some new clips of the game in motion alongside it. Market Street in particular looks fantastic as Blaze bounces off hot air balloons and Shadow does some extremely slick drifting through a tight-looking S-bend.
Part 1 features Market Street and Green Light Ride, as well as Frozen Junkyard so while it’s mostly stuff we’ve heard before, Frozen Junkyard is new and almost has an Ohtani vibe to it. It’s also just nice to see Jun and Co jamming together in the studio. As well as this neat little bonus, Sega have announced the Japanese pre-order bonuses for the game – hit the jump to see what’s up for grabs.
SEGA seems quite happy with the success of last year’s release of Sonic Mania. Sonic Team took a risk with passionate independent developers has paid off. After it became quite possibly the best commercial iteration of 2D Sonic, SEGA thought it would be best to entice players with not just added content but also a reason for players to put it on their shelf. SEGA is giving you several ways to experience Sonic Mania Plus, the expansion for the original Sonic Mania coming out for all digital releases of the game including Steam as well as disc and cart based versions for all consoles containing the full game and the Plus content. SEGA was kind enough to give us a Nintendo Switch copy for review a week before launch.
Much of what you come to expect from Mania echoes from Neo Hazard’s review when the game originally released. A lot of it’s key points remain the same here, such as sharing significant connections with the development team that could show bias in this review. If you want to know more about the main game, you can read about those thoughts in Neo’s original review. Surprisingly the development team also saw fit to make changes to the main game to tighten up the experience in some areas which does not need the Plus expansion. This includes revised boss patterns, updated level layouts to accommodate for the new characters and making certain challenges easier to handle. Whether you’re buying into Mania for the first time or looking to check out Encore Mode with Ray and Mighty, this review will cover what’s changed and what’s new. The Plus in Sonic Mania refers to the fact that it really is just more of Sonic Mania. While there is one new level the Plus content is more of a remix of what all is available. This is ideal for those who have mastered Sonic Mania along with more features that are enticing to newcomers and the small price is like leaving a generous tip at your favorite walk-in restaurant.
A new E3 means a new Sonic game and this year’s major Sonic release is a pseudo-sequel to Sumo Digital’s SEGA crossover games. While the first outing had SEGA’s superstars matching together in SEGA Superstars Tennis, the remaining titles revolved around Mario Kart racer-inspired titles with the previous one featuring transforming vehicles in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. As the name implies, Team Sonic Racing calls for Sonic & Nobody Else All-Stars Team Racing. Some folks from Sonic Retro and SEGAbits, including myself had hands on playtime from SEGA’s booth at the show floor. You can either hit the jump to check out impressions from me and Neo Hazard or hop over to our sister site SEGAbits for a tertiary (or perhaps quaternary) view from SEGAbits writers Kori-maru and Dakota.
Sonic Mania is now older than a month. What was once a pipedream of a brand new Sonic developed by fans has finally happened. David The Lurker, Cinossu, Overlord, Bartman3010 and InstantSonic lend their voices to talk about the Mania and not-so Mania about Sonic’s return to 2D glory before the start of this year’s Sonic Amateur Games Expo and the Sonic Hacking Contest. Music composed by Tee Lopes. Expect spoilers in this one!
Inside SEGA’s booth were a dozen demo stations for both Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces making their first and last E3 appearance. Con-goers did their best to pilfer posters given out any way they can. E3 was packed this year due to the convention allowing the public to enter for the first time in years which means the lines were more than double and that means plenty of eager people wanting to check out whats new.
Hit the jump for our thoughts. (Bartman3010 and Neo Hazard)