Sonic on Sale

sonic-the-hedgehog

Xbox Live is continuing its sale giving gamers additional presents up to the New Year. Today’s deal is on everything Sonic, well almost everything. Take 60% off the normal price of the following tittles.

Sonic 4, Episode 1

800

320

60%

Sonic Adventure

800

320

60%

Sonic Adventure Upgrade

400

160

60%

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

400

160

60%

Sonic the Hedgehog

400

160

60%

Sonic the Hedgehog 3

400

160

60%

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb6ibNBFtcE[/youtube]

Thanks to Major Nelson for the info. Now get out there and get the goods!

Sonic 3

Sonic 3 - Sega Genesis Box
Games with speed have always caught my attention so Sonic had to eventually come along into the mix for the pick of the week. Sonic 3 defined how a Sonic game should be and should always be. The game not only delivers a beautiful gameplay experience but a wonderful sound score among other things. The replay value is great and the best part of all, the game saves! Yeah, you have three spots to save your progress and come back for more. Sonic 3 is the Sonic game you should play, screw that crappy Sonic 4 game.

Sonic 3 - Title Screenshot

The game starts you off like similar Sonic games. You usually start up in some type of jungle area which developers did on purpose mainly because there could be a new Sonic player out there just getting into the series and wanted to introduce them to the game mechanics with lots of freedom. Sonic veterans will also enjoy the first couple of stages as they can get familiarized to the changes of the game from the previous counterpart. Moving on, the game is what you expect of a Sonic game back in the early 90s. It’s fast, fun, and has a wonderful sound track. There are many reasons why this game is on the top of the list. Sonic comes with some new tricks up his sleeve but you’ll have to figure that out for yourself as this article is meant not to spoil your fun by exploring this game. I’m just here to give my opinion anyways and it’s only up to you to take my opinion into account.

Sonic 3 - Gameplay Screenshot
Furthermore, this is a game that you won’t feel trapped and stressed out. The game delivers difficulty in a savvy way. You can just feel the flow and try your best. If not then don’t worry because you can save your game and continue on after you broken a few windows or walls from rage of losing in the game.

To conclude, this game is everything that a Sonic game should have been and if it wasn’t for the downfall of transferring Sonic to 3D so bad then we wouldn’t be seeing the horribly painful games nowadays. I say if it didn’t work in 3D then go back to the 2D games but with Sonic 4 being just a so-so game, I think it’s too late to go back now.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1: A Mediocre Adventure Begins!

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 title
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 title

It has been sixteen dark years since the last true Sonic game made its debut. Sega ventured on towards 3D adventures with their signature Blue Flash and since then the fandom that followed Sonic slowly converted to Mario or lost interest in the platform genre as a whole. The masses cried out, their faces stained in the salt of dry tears for Sega to remember the past, remember their roots! After witnessing the success of Megaman 9 and 10, Sega’s minds opened up to hope and the prayers of their fans finally fell upon eager ears. Sonic the Hedgehog 4, the continuation of the main 2D adventure line was to be restored! Thousands upon thousands of loyalist creamed their pants at the mere thought of Sonic returning to his true form. Surely, Sega would remember what made Sonic great.

Unfortunately, they didn’t. The return of Sonic is anything but a sequel to Sonic and Knuckles. The developers of Sonic 4 didn’t seem to know what made Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Knuckles stand on their own as epic platforming adventures. All that they remembered was the formula of level design and loops. The game plays like a mix mashed combination of both Sonic 1 and 2.

The first thing I noticed about this game that bothered instantly once I noticed it, was Sonic’s amazing brakes. I remember in the old games that Sonic used to come to a skidding stop. In this iteration of our hero, he just stops. If you want Sonic to stop where you want, he will. Sometimes midair I could just stop moving forward during an initial jump and slide down an invisible wall when all I wanted to do was reduce my jumping speed. The biggest most daunting issue I had with this was when I’d complete a zone with 50 gold rings and attempted to jump into the bonus stage golden ring at the sign post. Most of the time, I’d run right past it and think “Crap!” and try to run back in time as Sonic zooms off screen. As I made the jump toward the ring, autopilot would kick in and Sonic would just collapse like a ragdoll to the ground in front of it and walk away off screen again.

Orbinaut – Sonic the Hedgehog
Orbinaut – Sonic the Hedgehog

Our hero also seems to enjoy walking like a robot because his running animation from start to finish is one of the least inspiring displays of speed picking up I’ve ever witnessed in a game before. His legs stiff up like Al Gore as he slowly walks forward. I seemed to be in top speed during this ridiculous take off as Sonic trudged off with an ungraceful motion due to his lack of kneecaps. Suddenly, his legs would turn into red blurs as he ran at what was supposed to depict top speeds. Regrettably, the robotic movement lacking any fluid shift was already top speed so this animation lacked any real dramatic achievement.

An inclusion to the core game play is a homing missile aerial dash which was introduced in Sonic Adventures. While this attack was a welcome addition to the 3D adventure, its transition to 2D is rather obnoxious. The difficulty of calculated attacks and hitting small openings on enemies vanishes with this ability and takes away from the nostalgia of Sonic. Many menacing old school villains which took clean precision and timing to kill, such as Orbinaut, become trivial obstacles in Sonic’s path with the addition of the aerial assault.

Super Sonic by MRi
Super Sonic by MRi

The tracks in the zone Sonic robotically glides through are lacking any real enemies. Sure a villain shows up every now and then but they are easily bypassed with the homing attack. Most of the perils in the levels are spikes and pitfalls but the track you go by makes these traps seem more like scenery than anything else as most ramps toss you over spikes. Pitfalls can be easily avoided since the levels are set up in multiple tiers and you can go cascading through the air and end up landing on a lower section of the zone. When you do die though from pitfalls, it is a surprise as there are no real warning signs of its upcoming occurrence. 90% of the time you land on something when you fall. 10% of the time there just isn’t anything and the plummet is so stretched you don’t even realize it’s a pitfall until you hear the reminiscent Sonic fatality sound.

Super Sonic makes a return once you manage to collect all the Chaos Emerald in their tilt-a-whirl secret zones. I did mention earlier how the game is mostly comprised of traps, remember? Super Sonic doesn’t seem to really run faster than his blue form and there aren’t many enemies in the way to pummel through. What you end up having is useless invincibility that slowly eats away at your life force. I didn’t find any use for Super Sonic in this game at all since most deaths were instant kills anyway.

Another thing that peeved me about the game was the music. Sonic is known for its memorable songs. I can still remember a few and hum them every now and then when I sit on the toilet seat while reading a book. The musical director for this installment must have been Keyboard Cat as all of the songs use and abuse repetitive keys with a trumpet blaring every so often. I can’t recall a single song in my head right now despite how hard I may try.

The art style in the game lacks any inspiration at all. In fact, most of the zones are just rehashed models of zones from Sonic 1. The backgrounds in the game are bland and look like something found in a free game application on the Android Market. I was reminded of games with a smaller budget and less gameplay like Totemo as I ventured further through the game’s uninspiring scenery. Some of the cogs you were supposed to interact with in Dr.Robotnik’s Lair (Yeah, I said it. Eggman sounds stupid.) seemed to be part of the background because of their dull color and slow almost shuddering movement. There were times I’d be standing around a level wondering what I am supposed to be doing only to realize that the background was actually part of the foreground.

Robotnik – Sonic the Hedgehog
Robotnik – Sonic the Hedgehog

Speaking of the good doctor, he seems to have lost that knack for creativity we had come to know his boss battles for. In each of the four zones, you fight a familiar nostalgic battle with Robotnik. As your heart flutters from your excitement of revisiting these famous bouts, half way through the battle Robotnik changes gears and gets a bit more hardcore. Each of the initial four encounters are pretty easy and Robotnik does his usual fleeing as you free your bunny friends. When you finally reach Robotnik’s space station, Sega decided to pull a Mega Man and have you fight Robotnik again in each of his four forms you battled him in throughout the campaign. The only difference in these battles from the previous skirmishes is that the doctor kicks up his rage a notch. None of his geared up antics were too difficult and are unbelievably forgettable. I just beat the game two hours ago and I can barely remember any of his new antics. To top off the insult of mutilating old battles, they decided to change one of the greatest fights with Robotnik at the end of the game. Robotnik jumps into the colossal robotic version of himself with a jetpack from Sonic 2. The major difference between that battle and this one is that you have a homing jump and there are a ton of openings to hit the suit this time. To say the least possible without ruining the tactics involved in this battle, I didn’t have to think or struggle too hard to end the game.

The game doesn’t stand on its own in the series. Fans who may run for this installment of Sonic’s latest and greatest adventure for scraps of nostalgia will be sorely disappointed and only the most hardcore of Hedgehog fans (Laraque) could find any real entertainment in this game. I, on the other hand, wish I played Comic Jumper instead. It is only the first episode of the Sonic 4 series, and more episodes may add more features but the lackluster experience of Episode 1 has left me with the taste of duran fruit in my mouth, something I never want to taste again regardless of presentation.

Sonic Crackers

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Sonic Crackers

Was this to be Sonic 4, an extension of Sonic 3 or a mash up of various Sonic games into one? There are still some who debate what this game was to be but the common wisdom is that Sonic Crackers was an early prototype for the game that would come to be known as Knuckles Chaotix for the Sega 32x system.

Sonic Crackers

This uncompleted game features Sonic and Tails who are tethered together by rings, which also appears in Knuckles Chaotix. Sonic can pick up tales and throw him to higher areas and use “bungie-like” physics to pull him up to platforms.

There were two main uncompleted levels in Sonic Crackers that had music, but no sound effect as well as bonus areas (which you entered when you died or completed the first level). There are no enemies anywhere within the zones and you cannot collect any rings but lose a large amount when you die. Also when paused you can float around the world and un-pause to get to new areas.

Who am I?

One of the first things you will notice if you get your hands on a copy of the ROM is that Sonic Crackers is named Sonic Studium. This alone has caused some to believe it was to be a completely new chapter for the series. What we have learned about ROM’s is that they don’t always contain the correct or real name of a game.

Sonic Crackers

Also the name “Studium” is not a misspelling (at least not by us) it is how it is spelled on the code. As we all know “Studium” is not a real word. Now they could have meant Stadium, but even so it is not the name of the game.

4/1/94

Another theory about Sonic Crackers is that it was a hoax by Sega.  The reasoning behind this is the date of release was April 1st 1994. While in the planning stages for Sonic 4 a new technology was announced called Lock-On, no one knew what Lock-On technology was.

Sonic Crackers

In the Sonic Crackers game Sonic and Tales are linked together by rings and a tether and the idea was that people would believe (mistakenly) that this was the Lock-On technology.

The Sound of Music

One of the reasons it was believed Sonic Crackers was its own game at one time was the music. In the end, when Chaotix was released you could hear some similar sounds between its music and the one from Sonic Crackers. However, some believe the music sounds as if beats and tones where taken away.

Sonic Crackers field zone

The idea is if Sonic Crackers was either a fake or a very early build the music would sound less complex on Crackers and more complex on Chaotix.

Industrial Zone

The first level has an industrial theme which looks a lot like the Techno Tower level from Chaotix that fuels the fire that this was just an early prototype of that game. In the ROM you can move freely through the level and as stated before you can pause the game and “float” to wherever you want.When you reach the top of the level the “Game Over” music activates and that leads you into the first “Field” or bonus level.

Sonic Crackers

The music and palettes within the game changes each time you enter which shows that a time of day features was already being tested. While you cannot conventionally die on this or any of the other levels once the times reaches three minutes you get the “Game Over” music.

Field Level A

This bonus level has a pink and yellow tile on the floor as well as rainbows and waterfalls. It appears to be in the sky as there looks to be clouds in the open areas of the level. However, despite the different sections you cannot interact or fall through anywhere within this zone.

Sonic Crackers

You can exit this stage by hitting any button.

Circus Zone

The second level in the game has a carnival/circus theme which resembles the Speed Slider Zone from Knuckles Chaotix. You cannot beat this level as it just loops around, but after one minute of play time the game over music activates.

Sonic Crackers

The overall level design looks fun with tons of loops and spins however the prototype was buggy making it had to walk on the “floor”

Field Level B

The second field is much darker and has more of a technical feel to it. It appears you are high above a futuristic city, but once again you cannot interact or fall through the level.

Sonic Crackers

In this video, made by PaxPredicate, you can see all the zones and bonus levels for Sonic Crackers. In addition, he points out many of the bugs in the game including the physics issues with the connecting rings, the lack of rings even though when you hit spikes you lose a ton of them and the level instability.

Field Testing

Now you can get your hand on this game. Pretty much it is a simple Google search and you can find a ROM for it. I used the GENS win-32 emulator to try the game out, but I have confirmed it works with many of the other popular Sega Genesis emulators. Keep in mind the game will be buggy and there are no bad guys or sound effects and you cant really finish the final level. However, it was still fun to try if nothing else than for research purposes. There are two flavors of Sonic Crackers. They are the 1MB dump and the 2MB over-dump. The 2MB over-dump contains about half of a prototype Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. The precise game that the prototype is for has not been determined.

CSI Sonic Crackers

During my research I found a few emulation sites that have people decompiling Sonic Crackers in order to learn more about the game and try to either complete it, fix the current prototype to become stable or incorporate it with an existing Sonic game. Now, I don’t know if these guys want the press so I won’t mention who they are, but the good news is many of them plan to release a copy you can play on an emulator pretty soon. If this happens and it’s safe and stable and they allow it I will follow-up and bring it to you.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1

For fans of the classic Sonic games Christmas has come early. This month you will be able to purchase Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 on the iTunes App Store, Wii Shop Channel, Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in just about a week.

Story

The story takes place right after Sonic and Knuckles. With Mecha Sonic destroyed and Eggman defeated Sonic returns the Master Emerald to Angel Island, but as you can guess the ol Doc isn’t going to take his defeat lightly.

Characters

SONIC:

Sonic is back and retains all his signature moves from the previous series including super speed, spin dash and homing attack. After defeating Dr. Eggman Sonic flies off into the sunset with Tales. Soon after he decides to take off on his own to discover a new territory and so begins the next adventure.

Dr. EGGMAN

Sometimes when you lose you think back on what you did wrong. After his defeat Dr. Eggman decides to go back and revisit and refine the best of what he created in the past. What this means for fans is some of the best areas and badniks from the previous titles with some new improvements.

Zones

Like many of the classic Sonic games Sonic 4 will bring you something old and something new. Some zones will have that familiar feel, but with updated graphics, music and badguys.

Splash Hill Zone

This zone will mirror many of the starting zones from classic Sonic including The Green hill zone. This costal paradise has green trees, rolling hills and bright blue waters, a perfect place for Dr. Egghead to start his mischief.

You can expect a lot of what you saw in Angel Hill with lots of rolling hills, spikes and springs to rocket you across the landscape. You can also swing from vines to get to higher ground and the waterfalls look pretty cool and you can swim up them to get to your destination.

Lost Labyrinth

Some fans call them zone clichés and I guess I have to agree to a point, but there is a reason for the pattern and in this case the old mixed with the new makes a great combination. In Lost Labyrinth the theme is ancient ruins in the vein of Aquatic Ruin from Sonic 2 and Marble Garden from Sonic 3. However, while this zone has the underwater ruin feel of its predecessors it adds a lot more including a Indian Jones style mining cart riding experience and you even get chased by a bolder and yes the water bubbles are still there.

This zone really takes the ruins aspect to the max; it almost has a Tomb Raider feel to it. There are classic areas to the zone including running through a maze, traversing underwater and needing to take in air bubbles. In addition you can ride a mine cart roller-coaster style and try and keep your balance on a metal bolder. If that isn’t enough there are water slides and a part where you have limited light.

Casino Street

It’s all bright lights and big city, the Casino inspired zone is taken directly from Sonic two and expanded upon with more bells and whistles than a Vegas slot machine. Speaking of which the Sonic slots are back where you can win or lose coins. Also returning is the pin ball themed areas that bounce you around the zone.

I loved the Casino Zone from “2” the slot machines were my favorite and I’m glad to see it back in “4”. I loved what they did with the playing cards being able to ride them and play mini-games with them. The pinball areas are well done and look to be a lot of fun and the over-all theme is presented nicely.

Mad Gear

It is the world Dr. Eggman wants to see, industrial with gears and pistons and I am sure a ton of pollution. This zone is in the same vein of Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant or Sonic 3’s Metropolis Zone. The colors here are not as bright and vibrant and that’s the point.

Every Sonic games has a zone like this which represents what kind of world Eggman wants, the steel and iron replaces the glass and trees of earlier levels. Also often the levels are harder to speed through as you end up spending more time jumping and avoiding traps and pitfalls.

Music

The music still has the melody of some of the earlier games, but a lot more is added to it compared to the tracks of Sonic 2 & 3. In each of the tracks you can hear the slightest hint of the original zone it was created based on and in some cases it is very clear.

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Personally I like the simpler themes of the older games. I understand what Sega is doing adding more to their stage themes, but sometimes simple is good especially for those of us who love to remix.

Interview


From E2 2010

Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about Sonic 4:

  • This is only Episode 1 meaning there will be future episodes
  • There will be alternate endings if you collect all the emeralds and the ending will connect and continue with episode 2
  • There will be 4 total zones with three acts per zone plus boss battles and bonus world
  • There will be achievements which will unlock special endings
  • New skills and characters along with zones will be released in future episodes

Some fans are already claiming Sega is milking it with the episodes, but from the looks of it you will get your money’s worth per episode. This is a complete game and while short will give you the bang for the buck, that is if you are a Sonic fan.

Release Info

Now that you have an idea of what to expect here is the low down on when and where you can find it and for how much:

  • Nintendo Wii – Via Shop Channel – Oct 11th for 1500 Wii points
  • Playstation 3 – Via PlayStation Network – Oct 12th for $14.99
  • Xbox 360 – Via XBL Marketplace – Oct 13th for 1200 Microsoft Points
  • Iphone/Ipad – Via iTunes App Store – Oct 7th for $9.99

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Overall

There was a lot of hate over some of the later Sonic games, fans wanted more of the original, but the question remains if this version will satisfy the purists who want their Sonic 2 & 3 days back with those who don’t want to shell out $15 bucks for what some call “New levels for an old game.”

I, like many old school gamers, care about the gameplay over the flashing lights, we rather play a good game that stays true to its roots than a re-envisioningthat ruins the franchise. The idea of updating slightly, but not changing too much is not new, just look at StarCraft 2 for an example. Personally as a fan of classic Sonic this game is a winner for me. Is it groundbreaking and new, no, but we tried that with Sonic and for me it did not live up to the name.

I look forward to this game and once I get my hands on it will bring you a more in depth review.

 

Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Chemical Plant Zone

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Overall Sonic 2 was leaps and bounds over Sonic 1 and zones like Chemical Plant are why. Though I also loved Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles, for me there will always be a special place in my heart for the Chemical Plant Zone. ~J.A. Laraque

Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Chemical Plant Zone

I have to be honest, long before I played with five and a quarter disks or searched for an Amiga computer, I was a console gamer. I started with the Sears version of the Atari 2600 and throughout the years have played them all. I like to look back on those days when console gaming was unique and in a completely separate world than PC gaming. Thought I have a lot of fond memories of Atari and the early Nintendo and Sega consoles it was Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that really made me a fan of the series and of video game music.

Sonic Chemical Plant Boss

One of my favorite zones was The Chemical Plant Zone. This zone had it all for me, the industrial look, the various tubes and pipes and the music, it just stuck in my mind and I could play it over and over.

It was one of the fastest zones in the game, even from the start you were racing down ramps being blasted by fans, blazing through loops, this zone had it all. With the cityscape in the background and the blue chemical liquid oozing out of everywhere, it just set the scene perfectly.

This zone had break away floors, spring bumpers and chemical hazards, but strangely enough, not many enemies. Truthfully it did not need them as the zone itself was a challenge, one that you wanted to come back to again and again.

sonic-2

I also believe this zone had one of the easiest Robotnik bosses. On his stage Robotnik had you between two rotating platforms. He sucks up the chemicals from the pool below you and tries to dump them on you. The trick was to hit him while he was refilling his chemical tank. What many did not know at the time was if you had a second controller plugged in you could control tails. All you had to do is send tails after him while he filled up for an easy win.

Sonic 2 pic
Sonic 2 pic

The music of the zone is one of my all time favorites. It has that mix of classic 16-bit gaming and an industrial computer music flow. Like almost all of the classic 8 and 16 bit games the music is very catchy even though it is repetitive. It has been remixed countless times, but I find the original fantastic in its own right.

Overall Sonic 2 was leaps and bounds over Sonic 1 and zones like Chemical Plant are why. Though I also loved Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles, for me there will always be a special place in my heart for the Chemical Plant Zone.