By the fans, for the fans. Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to Sonic Mania, a game does the unthinkable in 2017: get everyone excited for Sonic the Hedgehog again. And by everyone, we’re not talking about just fans of series, but folks who have been withdrawn since the days of the Genesis, people who haven’t considered playing a Sonic game since 1995. And there’s good reason for that too, after a year of development, Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, PagodaWest, and a whole gaggle of friends, members, and family from Retro and beyond have created one of the series best entries ever.
Play Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed with the Sonic Retro & SEGAbits community! We’ll be playing the PC version on Steam and livestream it. It’s not too late to send a friend invite to us (SEGA Channel Retro) to come play. We’ll pool together 9 players and play for two rounds, then we will restart the room to let more people play. You may get a chance to play with us more than once! Be sure to run Transformed to make it easier to get you spotted, but we’ll try to make sure everyone gets to play with us at least once!
It’s been three years since the last Summer of Sonic, but this year the UK-based Sonic the Hedgehog convention was brought back for “One More Run” thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that reached half the requested amount inside 5 hours, and smashed the intended target by over another 50% on top. Clearly the fan demand was still there 3 years on, and excitement about the show reached fever pitch when it was confirmed shortly after the 25th anniversary party in San Diego that our friends at Sega America had generously supplied some demo pods for Summer of Sonic – attendees would be the first in Europe to play the hotly anticipated Sonic Mania. So, how’d the event go? Let’s find out, shall we?
This is Sega Europe. They do things like localise games from Japanese and release them in the UK, Germany, France, Australia, etc.
Oh, did I say localise games? Old hat. Their current job is to say “no information at this time” to any questions on Twitter. Over and over and over again. This is a shame, because SoE used to be the best Sega division, and SoA has rather cheekily stolen this title in the last couple of years.
The only reason I can think of for them doing this (other than just tormenting the audience, and I can’t see this as a logical business decision), is that they don’t think they’ll make any money on a release. That the translation won’t get them sales, and that they need some incentive or something.
Right. They want some incentive? Let’s bloody GIVE them an incentive! If the only thing they’re going to listen to is cold hard cash, I think we can do that.
We only just got an official worldwide release to Sonic Runners, and SEGA and Hardlight Studios aren’t wasting any time on the next free-to-play entry.
Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom was spotted yesterday on the Google Play Store. As the name suggests, Sonic Dash 2 uses the Sonic Boom variants of all the characters and Sticks. The game also offers new tilt mechanics for the energy rope segments, and includes a three-character team gameplay mode that requires you to switch between characters to adapt to the track based on the situation presented.
Currently, it looks like not many (if any) devices are able to download the game, but if for some reason you’re one of the 100 million downloaders of Sonic Dash, and if you’re itching for even more endless runners/Sonic Runners has disappointed you, SEGA has you covered.
Of course, it should go without saying that an iOS version will be released, but hasn’t been spotted on the App Store at the moment.
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Originally, I was just going to throw up a clip of The Critics’ Jay Sherman just saying his trademark line of “It stinks!” but that would be simply broadside-ing with an elephant gun what at its core is a good game wrapped up in layers of garbage, like one of those Babushka figurines.
So, let’s talk Sonic Runners. Even though Sonic Dash is still very much a thing and is celebrating 100 million downloads by shoe-horning in a brand it has no business even associating with in Angry Birds, Sonic Team decided it wanted to take a stab at this crazy bizarre world known as mobile freemium development.
Enter Runners. Simple enough premise: Sonic and friends run to the right and collect gems and rings through an obstacle gauntlet of spikes, enemies, dash rings, pits, loops–you name it. At the end of each segment, Sonic encounters Eggman hauling a stash of goodies and is tasked with smacking that old greedy capitalist of all his money for your own purposes. Then the level speeds up and repeats with a more difficult layout. Rinse and repeat two more times to max speed until you eventually die.
Throughout this, you’re treated to very simple stories of Team Sonic helping out Animal friends, lost Chao, and even scared groups of Wisps in their battle to stop Dr. Eggman from whatever anti-environmental/furry critter plot he’s hatching for that chapter. It may sound like I’m complaining or ready to just eviscerate the game, but this isn’t the case.
Fire up your Saturn consoles. The Point of View Sonic Xtreme prototype is ready to go.
By this point, if you’ve been hanging around the Sonic Scene for a fair bit of time, you know that unreleased games and prototypes are somewhat of a big deal. From Sonic 1 pre-alpha images, MegaDrive rom dumps of prototypes, and even some newer material with previously thought lost to time assets (see: Hidden Palace and its return to prominence in 2013 and the prototype Windy Valley in Sonic Adventure), it’s not uncommon around here.
So what’s so special about this prototype, released by Sonic Xtreme researcher JollyRoger? In its ill-fated development, Sonic Xtreme went through a lot of changes from a 32X game codenamed Sonic Mars to a Saturn game running on the 3D NiGHTS engine (in reality, a completely separate engine under the name Project Condor), to the more well known trippy fish-eye lens look. However, prior to the game being scrapped entirely, SEGA of America attempted one last ditch effort to realize the project by having the title exported to a company named Point of View.
What resulted is the demo video seen above. Forum user and prominent Sonic Xtreme research guru Andrew75 ascertained how this step may have transpired in the game’s development.
From what I gather, sometime in the middle of Sonic X-treme’s development, Sega outsourced the completion of Sonic X-treme to Point of View studios, without the knowledge of technical lead Ofer Alon or artist Chris Senn, who were working on the PC and Saturn engine and levels.
Point of View used assets from the original effort and developed a level converter to convert Sega Technical Institute’s engine levels into the binary format used by POV’s own engine, which had already been used before for several other games on a variety of
platforms, such as Saturn, Playstation, Nintendo 64, PC.
There is a whole lot more information available in the topic on the forum and through Senn’s website. However, for those of you that can play burned Saturn games (tricky stuff. Don’t try it at home) or have access to play it through certain other means, you can nab the iso right here with mirror links in the topic.
If you frequent around the Sonic community a fair bit, you’ll know that the reception of Sonic’s latest foray into marketing gimmicks didn’t exactly take well with the fans (though the TV show is worth your time for some good mindless fun.) With the release of sales figures from SEGA, we can now see how this new splinter brand performed, and the news is quite dreadful with the games pulling in over a combined 490,000.
Yes, both Shattered Crystal and Rise of Lyric combined could barely claw their way to over a half-million units, making them some of the worst performing Sonic games, possibly of all time. A hard metric to gauge given strange releases on Game Gear, NeoGeo Pocket Color, and even taco-shaped mobile the N-Gage, but easily the worst in modern times.
Of course, the lukewarm-to-negative reception of the Wii U and 3DS variants, as well as (now-patched) goofy levels of glitches certainly didn’t help the matter, drawing Rise of Lyric frequent contention with Sonic 2006 for the worst in the series.
Worse still is the figure is in the nebulous realm of units actually sold to customers or the total combined units sitting out on store shelves or boxes in the back. So the 490,000 figure may very well be a “best case” scenario.
Previously, Sonic Lost World sold 718,000 units combined, as a marker of the series trend on the Wii U and 3DS and were lukewarmly received. Prior to Lost World, Sonic Colors performed better at over two million units sold, but with the caveat that the Wii and DS had monstrous consumer bases by 2010.
The current downtrend for Sonic and the continued diminishing returns in quality are signs that maybe it’s time SEGA seriously considers putting the Sonic brand on hiatus for a few years (see Capcom with Mega Man… hopefully) or completely overhaul the creative process at Sonic Team (read: fire some people, even the studio head.) But, with the likes of Sonic Runners already on the horizon, it looks like regardless of reception, SEGA will run Sonic full speed right off the edge and into one of the series’ infamous bottomless pits.
While the verdict on Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric is pretty clear at this point, not much attention has been given to its 3DS counterpart Shattered Crystal. Made by Sly Cooper developer Sanzaru Games, this title tries to add kinda-Metroid-like elements while having a hero switching mechanic similar to Sonic Heroes. Unlike the Wii U version, SEGA was confident enough to put up a demo of the game on the eShop before release. And while it wasn’t particularly impressive, the sample given was pretty decent. So the question is if the full game holds up.
So here’s the deal with this Sonic game: it’s not really much like a normal Sonic game. Rather than being about trying to take the fastest path to the finish, a lot of time is spent exploring the levels as you can collect a bunch of crystal fragments and blueprints in most of them. These also take a lot longer to finish than your usual Sonic stage, as they can easily take up to 15 minutes to complete if you’re looking around for collectables. You can also switch between four characters in these stages: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and newcomer Sticks, all of whom work very differently from past games.