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Sonic Retrospective - 25th Anniversary


RK64
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Hello everyone! Haven't posted here in a long while but I've been busy on other forums making a Sonic Retrospective to celebrate the series 25th Anniversary! The Blue Blur has has a long history and its only fair I celebrate it :). 

Made a lot of topics covering games across all three eras (Genesis, Dreamcast, Modern) and I still have a lot left to go!. Will be posting them chronologically here and I hope you all enjoy celebrating the Blue Blur's anniversary! 

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Classic Series: Sonic the Hedgehog 1

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I played through this years ago and loved it, but I want to go back to this, as I want to play through a lot of games in the series this year to celebrate the anniversary. 

So, lets all scream......SSSEEEEGGGAAA!

*Cough*

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The core gameplay is what we all know and love; a blue hedgehog that runs fast named Sonic runs through colorful zones to stop a round man name Dr. Robotnik from trapping innocent creatures inside robots. You go through six zones with three acts before facing him one final time to save the day!

Sounds simple and that is Sonic's charm; the game is simple to control with only one button to jump and the D-Pad to run and roll. But the games mechanics are interesting; Sonic is all about maintaining your speed and playing with the level to get the best path. 

For example, you can roll down a hill and build up crazy amounts of speed, then launch high in the air and collect a ton of rings. Or, you can just run down the hill and get some of the rings. Or even just jump before you hit the incline, and progress down the lower path. 

Level design like this allows the game to feel fresh and interesting, allowing you to try to get the best times for repeated replays. 

Anyway, the first zone is Green Hill Zone and we all know it:
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It has the iconic theme that we all have ingrained in your brains and I love the theme a lot:
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Iconic music beating in the background as you run through a great opening level. Mechanics are introduced naturally across the three acts and you fight against Robotinik using a ball-and-chain weapon. Very easy fight but still, a nice opening to this classic.

The rest of the levels are interesting as they push more Mario-like platforming instead of the speed-focused nature that Green Hill give the impression of. 

Also have thoughts on the other zones too:
-Spring Yard: This zone is fun, with the pinball like gimmicks (bumpers, lots of springs, ect) and the platforming felt really rewarding. Also really loved the track in this zone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8Av...353F7F&index=4
-Labyrinth Zone: Was not looking forward to this, as I hated this zone when I played this originally.....but I ended up having a good time here :). Liked how Sonic felt underwater, the platforming felt really rewarding for going out of your way (ring boxes, invincibility, shields in hidden spots) and the music was great too. The boss for this zone was BS originally but I got to grips with it over time. Not nearly as bad as I was expecting it to be honestly.
-Star Light Zone: Hands down my favorite level in the game so far. Love the track that plays here and its so rewarding to have another Green Hill-like level after all the platforming-focused levels prior to this. Getting those upper paths felt great and the boss made good use of a gimmick (platforms that can fling a spike in the air, and when it lands on the opposite side, it launches Sonic higher or in the boss fight, the spike can hit Robotnik). 
-Special Stages: They were not really hard at all to me and it was fun doing really well in these stages :)

Overall, this is a great game and you can play it on almost anything! PSN/XBLA, PC, handhelds and the like! The 3D Classics version is a great version as well :). 

Going to close this with the images for the great special stages, as they are really tripy.
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Classic Series: Sonic the Hedgehog 2


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Sonic 2 is a game so many of us grew up on and is the Classic Era Sonic game that I have the strongest connection to; played through this a lot of times both when I was little and when I was in high school XD!

This is one of the sequels to Sonic 1, as while production of Sonic 2 progressed, ideas about time travel and level design ideas/concepts were brought to the table. At some point, Sega was like "You know what, lets make this two games" and thus Sonic 2 was split in half. One half was a platforming-focused time traveling adventure that really pushes the mechanics from Sonic 1 (momentum physics) while the other half was a speed focused sequel with level designs pushing for more forward-focused platforming (though extra paths and exploration was still present).

Will cover CD latter, as I love that game a lot, but Sonic 2 rocks and I want to talk about that first.


The core gameplay is the same, Sonic runs super fast & rolls around....but he has a new move; the spin-dash. He can rev-up in place by mashing the button while holding down on the D-Pad. Letting go lets you move with a burst of speed, allowing you to really take advantage of the level design and get through lops even faster.

Sonic also has a new friend this time out; Miles 'Tails' Prower. He is a two tailed fox that was bulled growing up and after being inspired by Sonic's heroic's, started following him around. He kept up and Sonic to him in as his side kick and younger brother. Together, they fight Dr. Robotnik who is attacking South Island.

The set up is the same as Sonic 1, but with the third act for each stage cut (outside of one zone toward the end of the game). You have two acts, with a boss at the end as special stages to complete by collecting 50 rings and jumping through a ring that generates after hitting a checkpoint. Its simple, so you can just jump in and have fun :D.

What Sonic 2 does so well is the focus on speed. Sonic 1 has levels like Green Hill, Spring Yard and Starlight Zone that pushes speed but it doesn't compare to Sonic 1. Chemical Plant, Casino Night, and more push speed far more then any stage in Sonic 1 and it feels so great rolling super fast down hill.

Sonic 2's stages are really ironic as well, considering many of its level themes are still used today in the series:
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I love many of these zones and they are such a blast to process.

*Cough*

Anyway, the music here is fantastic, like any Sonic title.











https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quYF_G3zwp8&list=PL79F03A209D48391D&index=11

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l51_8ogFESI&list=PL79F03A209D48391D&index=16

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyuAk7Y8Vpo&list=PL79F03A209D48391D&index=21

Really great soundtrack and each track fits its stage like a glove.

Overall, wonderful Sonic game and something I'm sure we all played before :D!

If you have a 3DS, play the 3D Classic's version. 

But the Vita has a version of this to, thanks to the Sega Genesis Collection. Its part of it alongside Sonic 1, and it works in NA PSN and you need a PS3 to transfer it over to your Vita. 

If you have a Smart Phone, play the release head by Taxman and Stealth. That version is special, as not only can you play as all the Classic Era cast (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles) but you have Hidden Palace Zone fully restored! Its a two-act zone like the others and its great to see original content being added-in to a decade-old game :).

Here is gameplay footage if you are interested :D.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORt1VhKP7hI

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This is a good start, yet I am usually the sort of person to do these sort of topics.  So I think I'll do the one for Sonic CD

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Classic Series: Sonic CD

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Sonic CD is kind of the underdog of the Genesis games as it was originally released for the SEGA-CD.  Eventually the game was ported to Windows '95 and encoded the P mixes of the stages as Redbook Audio.  The Windows version was the one that I owned growing up.

This is the other Sonic 1 sequel that is talked about.  But it gets a bit deeper from other than just being one-half of the Sonic 2 project, led by Naoto Ohshima.  This originally began as a video shown at the Summer CES 1992 show in Chicago as a version of Sonic 1 to be ported to the Sega CD.  Likewise ther was also mention of a CD port of Sonic 2 upon its completion.  The only known footage of this idea was of loading screens of Sonic standing on a CD holding a CD upwards and preventing Eggman from stealing it.  Naoto Ohshima wanted to expand upon gameplay and cast of characters, adding the Time Warp mechanics and adding Amy Rose and Metal Sonic to the cast.  Amy was an interesting cast as she was originally from the Shogakukan manga (although spelled differently as エイミー rather than エミー) with this as her main look.  Perhaps out of coincidence, both Sonic CD and Sonic 2 had a robot based on the Blue Blur.  Despite Sonic 2 being the more played game, Metal Sonic proved to be more popular thanks to advertising.

The elephant in the room was that Sonic CD is the first of two Sonic games to feature more than one soundtrack.  The original Japanese version was by Naofumi Hataya and Masafumi Ogata, going for a mroe j-pop feel that would be prevalent in Sonic Adventure.  Accompanying the opening and closing FMV cutscenes is Keiko Utoku of the band Mi-Ke performing "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" or Toot-Toot Sonic Warrior as its often called and "Cosmic Eternity - Believe in Yourself."  Keiko was one of the two voice actresses in this game, voicing Sonic himself.  The other was Lyn Harris voicing Amy, in what little voice acting she had.

Here's a small sample of the Japanese OST:

The Japanese soundtrack was also used in the European Mega-CD release and all the way up to beta 920, a review copy for North America.  But then SoA contacted Spencer Nilsen, the composer of several Sega CD games including Spider-Man and Ecco the Dolphin, to rescore the game.  Replacing Keiko's now classic song was "Sonic Boom" playing in both the opening and ending.  This change in sound also leaned towards the urban-rock band vibes which were popular in America, and even seeped into the Sonic Adventure titles thanks to Jun Senoue.  Sonic Boom was performed by Pastiche, a Californian pop group.

The US soundtrack was the one kept for the PC and Gems Collection releases.  Only recently has the original Japanese become available in all regions thanks to Christian Whitehead and Stealth in the 2011 remaster.

Controlling Sonic is the same as Sonic 2, only now he has a Strike-Dash that he can use to gain running speeds while on foot.  In Sonic CD, this move does not mean invulnerability like in Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble.  The Spin Dash has taken a step backward, now becoming a stationary ball rather than a chargeable elipse.

The "Rounds" are divided into 3 "Zones," with the being a quick jog to the boss fight.  The only exception to this rule is Stardust Speedway where the boss fight is the entire stage: the climactic race against Metal Sonic.  The reason for the name change of Acts and Zones is unknown.

The meat of gameplay is timetravel and Sonic's actions in the past can affect the future.  Let's use Palmtree Panic as an example:

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A frequent idea amongst the developer was that the levels are supposed to be more fantastical versions of the zones from Sonic 1.  Desert Dazzle was the only level to be scrapped, but there exist two remnants of the idea.

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In the Sonic Jam and Mega Collection versions of the ending as well as the ingame pencil tests, and eventually the Taxman remaster, Sonic runs through an unknown region of the Little Planet and avoids being attacked by an antlion robot.  Eventually this level was christened Desert Dazzle and was almost going to be in the Taxman version but was cut in order to stay authentic to the original version.

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Sonic CD was also one of the first games to be adapted in comics, both Fleetway and Archie in 1994-1995, one year after the game was released.

The Sonic CD arc of StC follows directly from Pirates of the Mystic Cave Zone.  At first the Freedom Fighters are to be taken to the Veg-o-Fortress (a prominant location in Sonic Spinball).  But then Captain Plunder arrives and saves their hides.  Amy is kidnapped by a robot resembling Sonic giving his location as Never Lake.  The attacker reveals himself as Metallix the Metal Sonic (an unintentional Dalek shoutout made by Nigel Kitching (remember the BBC was not airing Doctor Who at the time)).  Sonic chases Metallix onto the Miracle Planet and does battle, but it is a lost cause.

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Time travel comes in when a tinier Sonic from the future arrives with a Time Stone gicing the present one the idea on how to fight Metallix.  This creates a stable timeloop where Sonic is ultimately the one who tells himself how to beat Metallix.

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The Archie comic decided to make Sonic CD the story of their 25th issue, focussing instead on the fateful race against Metal Sonic.  The one you are seeing here eventually became Shard, one of the protagonists later down the line.  This issue marked the debut of Amy Rose and was one of the first stories to use art by Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante, giving it an anime look, closer to the games rather than SatAM.  One page includes some nods to other forthcoming or available games for the 32X and Saturn, including a billboard cameo of Espio and Vector

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Nice job covering Sonic CD Tailikku! Didn't know the full origins of the game, so thank you for sharing :D. Going to cover Sonic 3&K and Chaotix now, so hope you all enjoy this :). 

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Sonic 3&K - Classic Series

This game is a pure classic and hands down one of the finest 2D platformers I’ve ever played. Next to CD, its my favorite Classic Series game. But to be fair, every Classic era Sonic game rocks, so you always win!

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This game is playable through the following:
Wii: VC release/Sonic Mega Collection/Wii U: VC release 
360: Digital Release with Lock-On features restored
PS3: Sonic Genesis Collection; Both Sonic 3 & S&K are on it but Lock-On isn't working
Genesis/Mega Drive: Original version
Nintendo DS: Sonic Classic Collection; Lock On Restored
Saturn: Sonic Jam (lock-on works)

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Okay, will speed up my comments man. Wait a minute buddy ;).

The games origin stems from Sonic 3 being a massive project for Sonic Team. Yuji Naka wanted it to be a 3D platformer originally but after that idea crashed and burned, they went back to the idea of a 2D platformer like 1, 2 and CD. Interesting that we still got 3D Blast out of this though, a game I will cover in the future.

NeoGaf Member Man God also pointed out a reason why we got two games out of this, so will share his findings. Thanks man :D! 

Originally Posted by Man God 

Considering I've already brought up spinball here's the gist of why Sonic 3 was broken up. RK128 isn't entirely wrong, S3&K would have been a gigantic game and would have been near the top end of game cart costs back in the day (Probably right around the 100 dollar mark that a few games hit in the end of the 16 bit era) and that might not have been a great move, but the real reason why Sonic 3 was turned into two games was that Sonic 3 absolutely, positively had to be out by December 1993....and even after splitting it it was clear that it was not going to make it out for the holidays. So Sega rushed development of Sonic Spinball as their big Sonic title for the holidays...and it did fairly well actually! I'm not a fan of the game at all but it didn't crater or anything and really good for a title that went from concept to shelves in less than six months.

Originally Posted by Man God 

The division of the two games has less to do with S3&K being too big for one game and more to do with S3 absolutely positively having to ship on a certain date.

Anyway, they made so much content for Sonic 3, it couldn’t fit on the cart! Sega saw this and thought of an amazing idea; why not cut the game up in half, and release each part six months from each other? Even better, make the Sonic & Knuckles part of the game lock-on to other 2D Sonic’s and add more replay value for those.

But the biggest point of this as once you lock on Sonic 3 with Sonic & Knuckles…..the full game was unlocked! 

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This was magic for many during this time; no game ever did this before and the only prior case was maybe the Game Genies or Action Replay carts for the NES/SNES/Genesis at the time. This never happened for a major game release, so this was really impressive. Will fully explain how this works latter on but this is one of the many, many great qualities to this classic. 

The story for Sonic 3 & Knuckles is of Sonic and his buddy Tails visiting Angel Island on the hunt for Robotnik after hearing wind of him going there for some reason. Along the way, our boy Knuckles knocks Super Sonic out and takes the Emeralds from him, laughing in Sonics face before running off. 

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So starts the long, epic 12 Zone adventure with Sonic & Tails exploring Angel Island’s locations to find the emeralds, fight Robotnik and find out what is Knuckles beef. Love this story as, its acted out through gameplay. 

Every major scene before boss fights, major story beats toward the Sonic & Knuckles half of the game, and more are done really well and give natural transitions between the different acts within zones. 

Having fire overtake Angel Island after fighting a robot at the end of Act 1, having the ground rumble and shift around during Act 2 of Marble Garden Zone, the entire last three zones as a whole; it feels cinematic but it doesn’t detract from the quality Sonic gameplay we come to love and enjoy from past 2D Sonic’s.

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The gameplay is almost 1-to-1 with Sonic 2; Sonic can spin-dash, roll and jump like before in addition to core level design being what Sonic 2 tried to but further fleshed out with longer paths and more rewards for exploration. Basically, it nails the balance between Sonic CD and Sonic 2, leading to a really strong game. 

Some differences is through the Elemental Sheilds, Tails, and Knuckles. The Elemental Shields are special shields that everyone can use….but Sonic has some unique abilities when using them. 

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Water: Gets the ability to breath underwater (everyone), bounce attack when pressing jump in the air (Sonic only)
Fire: Walk over lava/fire (everyone), Air Dash when pressing jump in air (Sonic only)
Electric: Draws in rings (everyone), Double Jump when pressing jump in air (Sonic only)

This gives Sonic far more versatility and really pushes the exploration aspect; it feels great using these and it makes some sections all the more better (no worrying about hunting for bubbles in Hydrocity Zone!).

Tails returns from Sonic 2 but he can fly in the air this time out. Even better, you can plug in a second controller for player two and they can pick up Sonic and help him fly to higher spots. This rocks, as it can be really helpful with trickier platforming sections. 

Lastly comes our boy Knuckles. Unlike Sonic, he doesn’t chuckle and is quite powerful! He can glide in the air and climb walls, making him great for exploration like Tails. In addition, he can smash through large rocks in some stages allowing you to get through paths Sonic & Tails cannot access when playing as them. Some of these extra paths are really different level design wise, making them like extra acts for plugging in Sonic 3 on-top of S&K.

This is how Sonic characters should all play; everyone having one core element making them unique but still controlling how Sonic does. Tails and Knuckles can spin dash, roll and jump with no problem, making them added replay value for the game when you are done as Sonic/Sonic & Tails. 

The levels are all great with some creative themes. For example, you don’t start out in a green hill location but a tropical jungle, having new swinging gimmicks and some underwater sections if you explore enough. Another example is Ice Cap, as you start out snowboarding on hills, then you explore ice-filled caves. My favorite levels are Ice Cap, Angel Island and Lava Reef for how dynamic and fun they are. 

Sonic 3&K has a lot to offer outside of the main story though. One case of this is that you can collect the seven Chaos Emeralds like in past games but you also have the Super Emeralds, which you can only get when playing S3&K. They allow Tails to use a super form and it gives Sonic a bit of a power boost as Hyper Sonic. 

Another example is a MP mode, which Sonic 2 had (and I glossed over) but here its more interesting. You have more stages to play, racing modes are really fun and I love how the levels lop during the racing mode. 

Now I will cover the soundtrack and we got a bit of a history with this one. Sonic 1 & 2 were composed by a JP musician, so it makes sense that Sonic 3 would do this as well. Pop Icon Michel Jackson helped compose a few tracks (Ice Cap, Sonic 3 Ending theme, Carnival Night) and the only reason he wasn’t credited was because he wasn’t too happy with how it sounded. The Sega Sound Chip wasn’t the strongest thing in the world, so sadly he didn’t want his name linked to the game. 

But that doesn’t mean the game sounds bad, as it sounds great! So many of the themes are iconic and sound awesome.

Angel Island Zone
Hydrocity Zone
Ice Cap Zone
Flying Battery Zone
Lava Reef Zone
Sky Sanctuary Zone
Doomsday Zone

Sonic 3&K’s score is still remembered today for it being so high quality, so its great to see some of these tracks like Sky Sanctuary, Angel Island, and Flying Battery used in newer games. 

One last thing to cover is the lock-on technology, as it works different per Sonic game:
-Sonic 1: Blue Sphere – Due to emulation issues at the time, they couldn’t put Knuckles or Tails in Sonic 1. So despite the menu giving you this:

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You can end up playing hundreds of special stages based on Sonic 3&K’s version of them. If you loved them with your time with them, then it’s a nice way to kill an hour or so.

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-Sonic 2: Knuckles in Sonic 2 – You can play as our boy Knuckles in Sonic 2’s levels. The game doesn’t change too much but some level design is changed a bit to support his gliding ability and his special stages are easier.

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-Sonic 3: Sonic 3 & Knuckles – You can play the intended game Sega and Sonic Team set out to create. You as Knuckles in every Sonic 3 stage while you can also play as Tails in every Sonic & Knuckles stage. This also unlocks the Doomsday boss fight (if you got the Chaos Emeralds or Super Emeralds) and access to the Super Emerald Special Stages. 

Overall, this is a classic and I really like this game a lot. Revising the Classic series has me appreciating them a lot and hopeful that the anniversary game coming this year remembers these classics. 

 

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Classic Series - Knuckles Chaotix

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This game is unique out of all the games I covered so far.....as I never played this before. I tried this game out two days ago for the first time and.....well, going to comment on it now :). 

The story is that Knuckles visited Carnival Island to check on his buds the Chaotix (the colorful group you see in the intro screen) but Dr. Robotnik captures them in a special mechine, with Metal Sonic escaping with him. Knuckles frees one of them, Espio and him and Knuckles team up to save the rest of the Chaotix while going after the Chaos Rings Dr. Robotinik is after.

However, the story between the US/EU and JP versions changed a bit, so going to post something a fellow Gaffer pointed out. Thank you Supaidaman for pointing this out to me! 
 

Originally Posted by Supaidaman 

About the storyline changes, I think I can summarize them:

In the US version, Knuckles is visiting "Carnival Land" because why the fuck not. Eggman is there. The End.

The Japanese one has much more to it: A mysterious island suddenly surfaced near Angel Island. Then, Eggman decides to create a base which is also a murder theme park (because why not) to exploit the power of the Chaos Rings found in the island (that's why every enemy releases a black ring instead of an animal). Knuckles goes to investigate and finds the rest of the Chaotix there, already doing their "investigation"

Gameplay wise, this is your traditional Classic Sonic game; you spin dash, jump, roll and use your character specific ability to explore levels at high speeds. But what makes Knuckles Chaotix so interesting is the ring system.

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Each playable character holds one of these rings and you can do quite a bit with this mechanic.
-You can hold them in place to press on switches or allow you to rev-up and launch into a run
-Pick them up and throw them around
-Fling yourself toward your buddy and get higher jumps

It allows for some fun speed running, as the hold ability can really build up a lot of speed. 

And that is a good thing, considering this games level design is very strange. On one hand, you have zones like Speed Slider that are linear and focus on you going fast.

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....However, you have stages like Amazing Arena which forces you to find a Clock to hit before progressing to the goal post. And when you have no idea how to get there and the level design pushing you all over the place.....you will hit a lock-out point by Stage 3 of this place and you have to do the WHOLE level over again X(.

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So, the level design is a mixed bag, with some stages being really fun while others being either 'meh' or outright frustrating.

But lets move on to the characters, as this is the Classic Era game with the largest playable cast.

Our boy Knuckles has all of his abilities from Sonic 3&K; can glide and climb walls, like a champ. He doesn't chuckle like Sonic either ;). 

But we have the Chaotix Crew, who got their first appearance in this game! 

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Vector can climb walls like Knuckles & has a eight-way air dash with pressing the jump button, Charmy is the most broken as he has unlimited flight and Espio can run on walls. 

Mighty was introduced in a earlier Sonic game (SegaSonic the Hedgehog) but this is his first appearance in a 2D platformer. Its rumored that his inclusion in the game is due to how Sonic was supposed to be here (same with Tails) but was gutted at some point. Even his sprites mirror Sonics in early prototypes of this game (called Sonic Crackers).

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Anyway, like Vector, he can kick off walls but otherwise, Mighty is the 'Sonic' of this game. 

We also got two other playable characters; robots named Bomb and Heavy.
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The former explodes when he bumps into robots while the latter is, well, Heavy. 

So one would imagine "Okay, with this large cast, I can pick whoever I want and play that team-up and enter any stage I want, right :D?"

Wrong, you would be my friend. The way Chaotix works is that everything is randomized. I'm serious with that; as while you have seven characters to play as, you can only pick one (the character you play as) and your partner is decided via mini game.

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You have some input for which is your partner character, as you can press a button to move the crane down and in-able it to move left/right but that is it. The characters shuffle around at the bottom and after you select your character, that is it until you play the game again after beating a level.

Level selection is far more randomized though. After selecting your party, you head to the level select area but you don't just select a level, you have to jump into the selector then it goes all over the five zones, then it lands on one. 

It isn't a problem (unless you land on Amazing Arena) but its important to point this out; the game flow of Chaotix is very different compared to past Sonic's. Stage selection and character selection being randomized goes a long way in changing how you go into the game. It makes every replay different and with five acts for the five zones, you have plenty of replay value.

Overall, if I sound like I have mixed thoughts on this......its because I really feel mixed on this game :l. The way you deal with levels, the design of them itself, and the team-up mechanics all are odd additions that, in contrast to Sonic CD where the Time Travel element really clicks with me, the new elements here don't always hit home to me sadly.

However.....I really love a good deal of this game.

Firstly, is the visuals. They continue the outlandish and trippy tone that CD created, leading to some really great looking stages.

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Bright, colorful and perfectly matching the Sonic series in my mind :D.

Secondly, the special stages are great.

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They are Mode-7 looking locations that have you moving left, right and jumping to collect X amount of Blue Spheres per round. The timer is the amount of rings you get in the normal stages, leading you to be pushed into collecting a lot of rings prior to entering these stages.

What makes them so fun is that they loop around and well, feel fair. You don't restart or die when you miss X amount of sphere's in a round, you just circle back again to get the ones you miss. The stages are wide and open, and with some tight controls, it makes them quite fun to complete. 

You only have to get six Chaos Rings and you have 21 chances to enter the stages; its very fair and fun. 

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Lastly, is the killer soundtrack. We all heard Door into Summer thanks to the Generations remix....but where did it come from? THIS game!

This game has an amazing soundtrack and stands next to the prior classic games in stride. 

Title Screen
Amazing Arena 1
Botanic Base
Marina Madness
Speed Slider
Techno Tower
Isolated Island
Final Boss
Partner Select
Special Stage

This music is really great and matches the surreal tone of the game quite nicely.

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NeoGaf Member Contributions!
In the NeoGaf thread I made covering this, found a lot of great information people pointed out for me, so wanted to share that here :). They are credited via NeoGaf User Name, so thank them for the following information!

-I found this while searching for images for the OP and was surprised! The game has an unfinished character within the games coding that can crash the game
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It controls like Tails and fly around when mashing the jump button, so its likely garbage data from when Sonic & Tails were originally supposed to be in the game.

-Psxphile clarified that the specials stages are NOT Mode 7 like, but literal 3D stages using 32X hardware to render them. Thank you for the clarification!

-Late in the thread, poster Haganeren shared some great Gifs he made for his review of the game, so thank you for sharing this! These are great gifs and I really appreciate you sharing them with us all!

Originally Posted by Haganeren 

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Best part of the game.

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Wrong direction

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Full speed ! (With bad framerate from the gif... I'm still learning to do that...)

-The story between the US and EU versions changed a bit, so going to post something a fellow Gaffer pointed out. Thank you Supaidaman for pointing this out to me! 

Originally Posted by Supaidaman 

About the storyline changes, I think I can summarize them:

In the US version, Knuckles is visiting "Carnival Land" because why the fuck not. Eggman is there. The End.

The Japanese one has much more to it: A mysterious island suddenly surfaced near Angel Island. Then, Eggman decides to create a base which is also a murder theme park (because why not) to exploit the power of the Chaos Rings found in the island (that's why every enemy releases a black ring instead of an animal). Knuckles goes to investigate and finds the rest of the Chaotix there, already doing their "investigation"

-Hasney pointed out that the final boss with Metal Sonic Kai was supposed to have more attacks/animations but was cut prior to the games launch. Thanks man for the information! 

Originally Posted by Hasney 

Wonder if it would have been better if they got the time they wanted for the game instead of being rushed out before the 32X died. I mean, some of the prototypes have cool ideas like Metal Sonic KAI

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-If you played CD, you will love this little bonus. If you wait around for a minute, Metal Sonic attacks you with different attacks/animations. Thank Mr. Badger for the information! 

Originally Posted by MrBadger 

Oh, I don't know if this has been mentioned yet, but there's a secret in this game where if you stand still for a minute, you get attacked by Metal Sonic. It's been ages since I've played Chaotix, but I remember him having a few different attacks

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Overall, this is a game that while flawed, is enjoyable. Its a shame Sega never remastered this or put this part of a Sonic Collection. But, hopefully this year or latter, it will be. As I consider this to be a fun action platformer that while having some issue, is still worth playing.

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Next stop:  Cartoon Tie-ins.

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Also released on PC, Mega Collection, Gems Collection, VC, Sonic Adventure DX, etc...

Sonic Spinball was developed because of the delays made to the release of Sonic 3 and Sega needing a game by the Holiday season of 1993.  Sonic Team was not involved in the development, but the US branch, STI, was.

The first released footage of the game was at CES 1993, showing the Toxic Caves with a limestone BG.  The footage also featured Eggman wearing his cartoon outfit like in the final battle, making it more of a spacesuit, watching Sonic's progress up Mt. Mobius.  The footage was originally put up on Sega-16, but has since been uploaded to YouTube.

The music was done by Barry Blum, Brian Coburn, and Howard Drossin.  Interestingly, the original release of the game featured the classic Masato Nakamura theme.  However, Nakamura owns his original compositions for Sonic 1-2, so Sega needs to pay him royalty fees.  Four tracks from the game were released on the Sonic Boom CD that came with Toys Я Us preorders of Sonic 3.  This game is the only one to tie into SatAM thanks to the Trapped Alive bonus stage containing Muttski, Rotor, Bunny, and Sally along with Tails and some Flickies.  Ian Flynn has used this to explain how Sonic met Sally post-SGW in the Archie Comic.

Speaking of Archie, Sonic Spinball was the very first game to be adapted in the comic as the top story of issue 6.  The adventure cuts short when Robotnik ejects Sonic from Mt. Mobius, despite his plot being foiled.  Sonic would later return to the volacano to fight pre-Shard Metal Sonic one last time, in a semi adaptaion of  Sonic OVA.

Spinball also contains ties to AoStH thanks to the appearance of Scratch in the March bonus.

This would not be the only game to feature SatAM.  STI, lead by Chris Senn, would work on an original title in the series based on SatAM featuring Sonic fighting Swatbots and doing parkour moves.  This Genesis demo was cancelled before moving to the 32X as Sonic Mars.  Here the plot would revolve around Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and the Freedom Fighters fighting Robotnik in a strange dimension called Micro-Mobius.  This game concept was the first appearance of Tiara Boobowski.  The Mars concept was cut and replaced with Sonic Xtreme... which was ultimately cancelled.

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That same year, Sega ported Puyo-Puyo to the Genesis and had plans to bring the game to the West.  The franchise was still in its infancy so people couldn't relate to Arale and the cast of Madou Monogatari.  Instead, Max Taylor suggested giving it the Sonic treament, replacing the cast with Dr. Robotnik and his Badniks from AoStH.  Oddly enough, all of the Badniks were the bounty hunters that appeared in the first episode of the show, with the exception of the SSSSS Squad.  The final battle was against Dr. Robotnik, replacing the Dark Prince Satan from the original Puyo Puyo.

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Thank you again Tailikku for the help! That was some great information and lets keep this train going with a few more games!

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Classic Series: Sonic 3D Blast

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This game is interesting, as its one of many firsts for the Sonic series. Not only is it the very first 3D game for the series but it was also the first Sonic title that was developed by a Western Studio; Travelers Tales. This studio is famous now for the hit Lego series but they did A LOT during the Genesis/SNES era.

The original Toy Story got a Genesis/SNES game that used pre-rendered character models (like DKC on the SNES) and worked with hand drawn animation, using it for a really damn good Mickey Mouse platformer called Mickey Mana. 

I never played their Toy Story 1 game but I LOVED Mickey Mania, underrated gem :). Fun Fact: Twisted Metal and God of War Creator David Jaffe was one of the head guys behind that game! 

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So, while Sonic Team moved on to new projects/IP (Nights into Dreams, Ristar, Burning Rangers) after Sonic 3&K, Sega called them up saying “We love the technology you use for game development and we want you to make a 3D platformer in the Sonic series on the Genesis!” Remember how I said in the 3&K thread where Naka wanted Sonic 3 to be a 3D platformer? This idea came back here and Travelers Tales made it a top-down isometric platformer with Sonic’s goal being to save the little critiers that pop out of Robotnik’s badniks. 

Every level’s goal is to save five creatures per section, with each level having 2-3 sections to clear. How can Sonic do this? Simple! He jumps, rolls and spindashes his way through robots to save the creatures and they follow him after being saved. They are useful, as you can use them to make a ‘trial’ that allows you to pick up object high above some red springs and can warp you to the next section of the level when you touch a special ring. 

The issue……is that every time you get hit, you lose the little creatures and they fly all about, with you chasing after them AND the lost rings. Remember Yoshi’s Island where baby Mario cries when Yoshi gets hit? How about having to find that flying bubble with additional coins and stuff scattered around? Sounds fuuuun…… 

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To be serious for a moment, I don’t mind this system as it’s a nice different take on the traditional Sonic gameplay style. Levels being mission focused give them meaning and with open levels to explore, it is fun to me honestly :D!

I have issue with how Sonic controls, as he is a bit stiff. Makes some of the harder platforming moments a bit tricky. 

But overall, it controls well enough and I have fun running around in this game. 

Like the Genesis games, Sonic has momentum going all over the place and trademark Sonic elements are here in full force:
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Sonic is fast here and it leads to some fun levels. 

Green Grove is the trademark Green Hill-like zone with a great theme in the Genesis version (Saturn/PC version here). 
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Rusty Ruin is a bit of a tricky stage with Sonic having the gimmick of turning into a spinning top that can smash through pillars:
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Spring Stadium is the pinball level of the game, with springs being everywhere and with everything having this 3D craze going on, level design has more layers then before. So, getting to the top of the stage and hunting for the Flickies is a bit tricky. 
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Diamond Dust is the snow level of game with ice physics coming into the picture. The tricky controls become even more tricky here but.....this theme in the Genesis version pushes you through and makes this a really great stage to run through.
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Volcano Valley is the lava level of the game with, well lava being all over the place! Using the fire shield can be very helpful here, as it allows you to walk over fire with little issue. I'm assuming the level design here was focused on you retaining you're shield as long as you can......
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Gene Gadget and Puppet Panic Zones are more or less the the same; factory stages with you dealing with the hardest platforming in the game. What makes Puppet Panic Zone so interesting is that Act 1 and Act 2 function different compared every other level in the game. Act 1 has you freeing Flicky's from pillars in the stage (the story of the game literally states that Robotnik didn't get a chance to robotize them in time, so 'Gotta go fast!' *cough*) while Act 2 is a normal Sonic stage. You just run to the end and that's it; no more saving Flickies (as you saved the last few in Act 1). 
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The bosses with Robonik are very easy (outside of the Extra Final one), as due the 3D perspective, they make it very easy to get to the weak points and provide plenty of rings (about.....10-20 for each boss) to survive. 

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The game is enjoyable and despite some issue with the controls, I enjoyed my time revisiting this one :D! 

Travelers Tales is a great developer and between this and Sonic R, they did right on the series part. Them and the team behind Sonic 2 did a great job with Sonic :).

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Travelers Tales was commissioned into making a Saturn port of 3D Blast in a short time as a back-up for Sonic Xtreme being scrapped.

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So, one must ask "How do you take a Genesis game, and make it look better on a stronger console? We don't have enough time to remake the game......" But, they DID do a lot to make the Saturn version better then the Genesis version :D!

Controls: The Saturn got an analog controller version thanks to Nights into Dreams being made, so, that was supported for this version of 3D Blast. It makes the controls a bit better, leading to platforming being a bit more responsive.

Visuals: This is the most interesting one (next to the special stages), as the colors are more detailed and a bit more realistic if that makes sense.
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As one could see, added texture was given to stages and in some cases, special effects were added in some stages like Rusty Ruin Zone:
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So, visually, the looks a bit better :).

Special Stages: I didn't touch on this, as the Saturn version has some of the best special stages in Sonic history. Its more or less a updated take on the Sonic 2 half-pipe but....Sonic is in 3D for the FIRST TIME?!?

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np76lPXKfCo

Sega of Japan produced these special stages to make the Saturn version different from the Genesis and PC versions, and they rock! Sonic controls well, the visuals and music are great here and its just nice seeing Sonic in full 3D. When this came out (1996), it was the very first time many people saw the Blue Blur moving in 3D on consoles at the time; it was some sight to behold and it got people hyped for the possibilities of the Saturn for Sonic.

We got Sonic the Fighters prior to this and that looked great! But its nice seeing Sonic run around in 3D though :). 

The Genesis Special Stages? Oh, they looked like this:
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I mean....its impressive for the Genesis and stuff, but nothing compared to the Saturn version. So, that makes it the best version hands down, right? 

Interesting enough, the PC version got a unique special stage too! NeoGaf Member Rlan pointed this out and here is footage of that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF5uKs8mz8I

Thank you for sharing man!

Music: 
Well, this is the element that will make you chose one version over the other, as just like Sonic CD, 3D Blast has different soundtracks based on which version you play. 

The Genesis version was composed by Jun Senoue (known for his latter work on the Adventure and 3D titles) while the Saturn/PC version was composed by Richard Jacques, know for his future work on Sonic R and latter down the line, the All Stars Racing series. 

Saturn/PC Soundtrack:
Green Grove Act 1
Rusty Ruins Act 1
Spring Stadium Act 1
Diamond Dust Act 1
Gene Gadget Act 1
Volcano Valley Act 1
Puppet Panic Act 1
Puppet Panic Act 2

Genesis Soundtrack:
Green Grove Act 1
Rusty Ruins Act 1
Spring Stadium Act 1
Diamond Dust Act 1
Gene Gadget Act 1
Volcano Valley Act 1
Puppet Panic Act 1
Puppet Panic Act 2

The main difference between the two is that the Genesis version is rooted in the Genesis era being focused on catchy themes and melodies while the Saturn version is present to build up atmosphere and establish the tone for each stage. Both are great for different reasons but like the CD soundtrack, some prefer one over the other. I love both and I like tracks in both OST's (Rusty Ruins Act 1 rocks in both versions for example!)

Conclusion: 
Both are great versions of a fun game, so....give both a look! The Saturn/PC version so far less common compared to the Genesis version but still, its nice to have options.

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I liked playing this game and while it isn't up there with the other Classic Era platformers, its still a good action adventure for the blue hedgehog :D.

 

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Classic Series: Sonic the Fighters

READY TO FIGHT! EVERYONE READY FOR A SUPER SONIC RUMBLE!?

SONIC THE FIGHTERS!

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*Cough* Just had to do that :'). Fighting games always have great announcers. 

Anyway, Sonic jumps into the 3rd Dimension for a rumble with the best of them, with the goal being collecting all eight (they found an extra one?) Chaos Emeralds to fly a ship to the new Death Egg. 

Sonic and friends each have an Emerald and are fighting to collect them all. Who's going to win? And who is going to save the world?! YOU DECIDE!

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This is a fighting game developed by Sega Division AM2, who are known for the Virtual Fighter series but also made other games like Fighting Vipers and Fighters Megamix....you know, the fighting game with the car :D?

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So they are known for making some really fun games, so do they do Sonic and company justice with his very first fighting game? I think they do even if the game has some issues.

You have a number of buttons to use; Attack, Kick, Shield, and Grab. Sounds simple but imputing combos feels very odd to me though it could just be from the fact I'm used to playing 2D Fighters (this is a 3D fighter). It works though and each playable character has different attacks.

Sonic, the Blue Blur rolls around at the speed of sound spindashing into his foes, making them confused rolling around them and has a wind up punch to use.
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Tails 'Miles' Prower has the ability to attack with his tails, spindash like Sonic and has a really good grab that picks up the foe and slams them into the ground.
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Our boy Knuckles joins the fight too, punching and gliding his way into the battle. He can spindash as well in addition to having powerful punch attacks. He also doesn't chuckle either ;).
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The last three 'major' characters here are Amy Rose (Sonic CD), Espio (Knuckles Chaotix) and Fang (Sonic Triple Trouble).

Amy uses her hammer to attack 
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Espio uses his tongue to attack alongside turning invisible at points of the match. 
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Fang has a pop-gun that shoots powerful attacks and jumps quite high in the air.
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So, the cast is filled with friends we meet over the course of this retrospective but we got some new faces and one returning one. Bark & Bean are new characters made for this game (which also appear in Megamix) while Robotnik returns as a boss and extra fighters in the PS3/360 version of this game. 

We also got a character that is both new and old; Honey.
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She looks to be a new character....but she really is a Sonic-themed version of this character from the game 'Fighting Vipers'
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Quite.....the different character honestly XD! She was an unfinished character in the original Sonic the Fighters but when the game released on PS3/360 in 2013, they restored her, Metal Sonic, and Robotnik for the game as 'bonuses'. Nice to see added content given to a older game :).

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LETS FIGHT!

Okay, the stages in Sonic the Fighters are a mix of new locations and new parts of older zones in Sonic history.

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South Island from Sonic 2 turns into a arena, same with Mushroom Hill and Casino Night as well:
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The stages all come with a great score that, like every Sonic game, sounds great :).
Intro Theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM9F...346D64EA6BD58A
South Island - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGlW...346D64EA6BD58A
Character Select - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9YQ...346D64EA6BD58A
Sonic vs. Knuckles (Special Theme) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQMv...6BD58A&index=4
Mushroom Hill - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdt-...6BD58A&index=6
Flying Carpet - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaR-...346D64EA6BD58A
Casino Night - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTF-...346D64EA6BD58A
Canyon Cruse - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or0S...BD58A&index=11
Super Sonic! - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uybf...346D64EA6BD58A
Death Egg 'Metal Sonic's Theme' - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v4p...BD58A&index=20
Sonic's Theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JvK...346D64EA6BD58A
Bark's Theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGRh...ature=youtu.be

Killer soundtrack and one that really matches the mood of the fights!

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FINAL ROUND!

The last bit of information to cover is the 2013 re-release of the game, as it really is a great version. Not only is Dr. Robotnik a playable character and Honey is restored (was unfinished in the original/GC & PS2 release in Gems Collection) but we got online added into the game! Adds a lot and its fun to brawl with our friends online. 

You can also play this game on the GC (US/JP) or PS2 (EU) through Gems Collection too :). 

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GAME OVER!

So, did I enjoy this game? It was fun to go back to it and while it took a while to get used to the mechanics, they are fun and rewarding when you get used to it. Its not the best fighting game ever made by a long shot and AM2 did better work on other projects during this era (VF2, Fighting Vipers, Fighters Megamix) but for Sonic's first round in the ring, he did well. 

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Classic Series: Sonic R

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Its part of the Sonic Gems Collection on the GameCube and I'm surprised with this. I played this a great deal when I was younger but hated it for its wonky controls. Went back to this today and.....its fun :).

Its not a great game, heck, its not even a good game in many respects. The game lacks content with only five tracks and the playable characters aren't that different from one another. But the games saving grace is two things; the visuals and the soundtrack. 

Visually, it does look a bit dated. But it has this charm to it that makes everything 'pop' off the screen. Not to mention its vibrant and colorful like the Genesis games, making it have the iconic Sonic look. 

Music.....where to begin :'). Its soundtrack is legendary and iconic to the sonic series:
Can You Feel the Sunshine?
Back In Time
Living in the City
Diamond in the Sky
Work It Out
Super Sonic Racing

This stuff is great and screams Sonic. Its cheese, stupid and dumb. But its very catchy, has a great melody, and the lyrics are great XD! Love the entire soundtrack and its great to see this be part of the series in future Racing titles and even in Sonic Generations.

Overall, enjoyable racer that while aged and flawed, was a lot of fun to revisit for a bit :).

 

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Classic Series: Sonic 1 & 2 Master System/Game Gear

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Hello! Next up on the Retrospective is the Master System & Game Gear versions of Sonic 1 & 2. 

So, why didn't I cover these with my normal Sonic 1 & 2 threads? Because they are very, very different games. New zones, changed level designs, no special stages, collecting the Chaos Emeralds within stages and 0-Ring Boss Fights; quite the difference!

So, lets go to the stories for each game! 

Sonic 1 is the same as the Genesis/Mega Drive version; Dr. Robotnik invades Sonic's home and he fights back. But Sonic 2's story is a bit different; Dr. Robotnik capture's Tails and its up to Sonic to collect the Chaos Emeralds; if he doesn't collect all seven and give them to Robotnik, Tails is goner! 

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This leads to both games being quite different zone wise from the 'main' versions of the game. Sonic 1 MS has unique zones such as Bridge Zone, Jungle Zone and Sky Base but the main zones (Labyrinth, Green Hill, Scrap Brain) are still present. Sonic 2 MS has entirely unique places for the entire game (outside of a return to Green Hill). 

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So, we got two new adventures to blast through! Can we process this experience ;)? 

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Sorry, sorry; tired joke XD!

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Sonic 1 MS/GG's level design is a lot more focused on being balanced with speed/platforming, compared to the original Genesis/MegaDrive versions which had speed-focused levels (Green Hill, Spring Yard, Star Light) and platforming focused-levels (Labryth, Marble). This allows the game to be more enjoyable in some respects.....but the level design can be a bit prick-ish at points. 

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See these? They are going to be your best friend in Sonic 1 & 2 MS/GG, as they are all over the place. You don't die when you touch them, only lose rings but these alongside bottomless pits make level design focused on you being very careful through levels. 

But its a great challenge and is rewarding! ......In the Master System version. Sonic 1 & 2 on the Game Gear has bad screen-crunch, so you can't see everything around you. It is really, really bad with Sonic 2 Game Gear......as this it makes things a lot harder then they really have the right to be. 

Take this boss for example:
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You can't see the balls landing on the ground, so you can't avoid them to let them attack the robot in the pit; you will die a lot :(. This is where the Gems Collection comes into play!

You can make quick-saves and restart from any point you had trouble with. I played these games using Sonic Adventure DX (Sonic 1 GG) and Gems Collection (Sonic 2 GG) so it helped a lot and made this issue more managable :).

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Now that I got my biggest issue out of the way, lets talk about the levels in detail!

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Looks like Sonic is excited to learn about the levels XD! 

Okay, Sonic 1's stages are like I mentioned before, focused on melding platforming + speed and in my mind, it does it a bit better then Sonic. Manly from it being more consistant. Every level has a decent amount of speed vs in the Genesis version where you have two long zones with a major focus on slow platforming (Marble and Labryinth).. 

Sonic 2's stages are home to a number of fun gimmicks to play with. Take Sky High Zone for example. Sonic has this hang glider he can use to fly across the stage, controlling a bit like Cape Mario from Mario World:
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If you nail the controls using this, you can fly past a lot of the zone. Or you can take the platforming focused path (filled with spikes) on the ground. Or, you can use your speed to stay on the middle path and use the cloud springs to say in the air for a long time. 

It was one of my favorite zones in the game :). Every zone in Sonic 2 Game Gear works like this and it allows for some really fun platforming :D!
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So overall thoughts on level design? Solid and it does a great job emuating the 'Sonic' feel the Genesis games focus on.

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Next up is the presentation and it does a good job. 

Art style for both games are simple (due to the 8-bit nature) but they stick out well to the point that they are quite nice looking. 

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The music for both games rocks, as while we got some remixes for Sonic 1, Sonic 2 is entirely new tracks with one notable exception.
Sky High Zone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QKx...8PD70&index=24
Green Hills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBgC...8PD70&index=15
Boss Theme (Sonic 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qhql...g8PD70&index=6
Aqua Lake Zone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qmf...k7i1cu4ug8PD70
Ending Theme (Master System): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA2e...k7i1cu4ug8PD70
Good Ending Theme: http://api.viglink.com/api/click?for...%3D245ea71VCE8
Gimmick Mountain Zone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn84...k7i1cu4ug8PD70
Green Hill (Sonic 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVUK...768DBC15D73A37
Bridge Zone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkS_...D73A37&index=4
Sky Base Zone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NFk...D73A37&index=8
Boss Theme (Sonic 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUHY...73A37&index=12
Scrap Brain Zone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Dch...D73A37&index=7
Life Lost: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq4F...73A37&index=15
Boss Theme (Game Gear): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMtc6ao5uQM

Both of these games have amazing music and they stand alongside the other iconic tracks from the Classic Era :). 

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Also interesting is that Sonic 1 GG/Master System was going to have Marble Zone! NeoGaf Member Ferr986 corrected me regarding the ending themes but also brought attention to this track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU6T5pb9nhs This is Marble Zone's 8-Bit rendition....so it was likely meant for a real Marble Zone in Sonic 1 GG/MS but they ran out of time or something and never put it in the final game (though its hidden away inside the rom). Thank you for sharing this with us man :D!

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So, overall thoughts on these two gems? Really fun platforms that while very hard, well worth playing! Some of the best games from this Era for Sonic and stands right next to the Genesis games in my book. 

Honestly was surprised with these two games and being surprised was one of the reasons I started this retrospective; revisiting games I thought were bad or thought were 'Meh'. But, my mind completely changed with these two games; iconic classics that everyone should give a look :D!

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......Just play the Master System versions though; the screen crunch is my only major issue and the Master System version fixes that. 

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Spoiler
16 hours ago, RK64 said:

Nice job covering Sonic CD Tailikku! Didn't know the full origins of the game, so thank you for sharing :D. Going to cover Sonic 3&K and Chaotix now, so hope you all enjoy this :). 

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Sonic 3&K - Classic Series

This game is a pure classic and hands down one of the finest 2D platformers I’ve ever played. Next to CD, its my favorite Classic Series game. But to be fair, every Classic era Sonic game rocks, so you always win!

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This game is playable through the following:
Wii: VC release/Sonic Mega Collection/Wii U: VC release 
360: Digital Release with Lock-On features restored
PS3: Sonic Genesis Collection; Both Sonic 3 & S&K are on it but Lock-On isn't working
Genesis/Mega Drive: Original version
Nintendo DS: Sonic Classic Collection; Lock On Restored
Saturn: Sonic Jam (lock-on works)

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Okay, will speed up my comments man. Wait a minute buddy ;).

The games origin stems from Sonic 3 being a massive project for Sonic Team. Yuji Naka wanted it to be a 3D platformer originally but after that idea crashed and burned, they went back to the idea of a 2D platformer like 1, 2 and CD. Interesting that we still got 3D Blast out of this though, a game I will cover in the future.

NeoGaf Member Man God also pointed out a reason why we got two games out of this, so will share his findings. Thanks man :D! 

Originally Posted by Man God 

Considering I've already brought up spinball here's the gist of why Sonic 3 was broken up. RK128 isn't entirely wrong, S3&K would have been a gigantic game and would have been near the top end of game cart costs back in the day (Probably right around the 100 dollar mark that a few games hit in the end of the 16 bit era) and that might not have been a great move, but the real reason why Sonic 3 was turned into two games was that Sonic 3 absolutely, positively had to be out by December 1993....and even after splitting it it was clear that it was not going to make it out for the holidays. So Sega rushed development of Sonic Spinball as their big Sonic title for the holidays...and it did fairly well actually! I'm not a fan of the game at all but it didn't crater or anything and really good for a title that went from concept to shelves in less than six months.

Originally Posted by Man God 

The division of the two games has less to do with S3&K being too big for one game and more to do with S3 absolutely positively having to ship on a certain date.

Anyway, they made so much content for Sonic 3, it couldn’t fit on the cart! Sega saw this and thought of an amazing idea; why not cut the game up in half, and release each part six months from each other? Even better, make the Sonic & Knuckles part of the game lock-on to other 2D Sonic’s and add more replay value for those.

But the biggest point of this as once you lock on Sonic 3 with Sonic & Knuckles…..the full game was unlocked! 

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This was magic for many during this time; no game ever did this before and the only prior case was maybe the Game Genies or Action Replay carts for the NES/SNES/Genesis at the time. This never happened for a major game release, so this was really impressive. Will fully explain how this works latter on but this is one of the many, many great qualities to this classic. 

The story for Sonic 3 & Knuckles is of Sonic and his buddy Tails visiting Angel Island on the hunt for Robotnik after hearing wind of him going there for some reason. Along the way, our boy Knuckles knocks Super Sonic out and takes the Emeralds from him, laughing in Sonics face before running off. 

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So starts the long, epic 12 Zone adventure with Sonic & Tails exploring Angel Island’s locations to find the emeralds, fight Robotnik and find out what is Knuckles beef. Love this story as, its acted out through gameplay. 

Every major scene before boss fights, major story beats toward the Sonic & Knuckles half of the game, and more are done really well and give natural transitions between the different acts within zones. 

Having fire overtake Angel Island after fighting a robot at the end of Act 1, having the ground rumble and shift around during Act 2 of Marble Garden Zone, the entire last three zones as a whole; it feels cinematic but it doesn’t detract from the quality Sonic gameplay we come to love and enjoy from past 2D Sonic’s.

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The gameplay is almost 1-to-1 with Sonic 2; Sonic can spin-dash, roll and jump like before in addition to core level design being what Sonic 2 tried to but further fleshed out with longer paths and more rewards for exploration. Basically, it nails the balance between Sonic CD and Sonic 2, leading to a really strong game. 

Some differences is through the Elemental Sheilds, Tails, and Knuckles. The Elemental Shields are special shields that everyone can use….but Sonic has some unique abilities when using them. 

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Water: Gets the ability to breath underwater (everyone), bounce attack when pressing jump in the air (Sonic only)
Fire: Walk over lava/fire (everyone), Air Dash when pressing jump in air (Sonic only)
Electric: Draws in rings (everyone), Double Jump when pressing jump in air (Sonic only)

This gives Sonic far more versatility and really pushes the exploration aspect; it feels great using these and it makes some sections all the more better (no worrying about hunting for bubbles in Hydrocity Zone!).

Tails returns from Sonic 2 but he can fly in the air this time out. Even better, you can plug in a second controller for player two and they can pick up Sonic and help him fly to higher spots. This rocks, as it can be really helpful with trickier platforming sections. 

Lastly comes our boy Knuckles. Unlike Sonic, he doesn’t chuckle and is quite powerful! He can glide in the air and climb walls, making him great for exploration like Tails. In addition, he can smash through large rocks in some stages allowing you to get through paths Sonic & Tails cannot access when playing as them. Some of these extra paths are really different level design wise, making them like extra acts for plugging in Sonic 3 on-top of S&K.

This is how Sonic characters should all play; everyone having one core element making them unique but still controlling how Sonic does. Tails and Knuckles can spin dash, roll and jump with no problem, making them added replay value for the game when you are done as Sonic/Sonic & Tails. 

The levels are all great with some creative themes. For example, you don’t start out in a green hill location but a tropical jungle, having new swinging gimmicks and some underwater sections if you explore enough. Another example is Ice Cap, as you start out snowboarding on hills, then you explore ice-filled caves. My favorite levels are Ice Cap, Angel Island and Lava Reef for how dynamic and fun they are. 

Sonic 3&K has a lot to offer outside of the main story though. One case of this is that you can collect the seven Chaos Emeralds like in past games but you also have the Super Emeralds, which you can only get when playing S3&K. They allow Tails to use a super form and it gives Sonic a bit of a power boost as Hyper Sonic. 

Another example is a MP mode, which Sonic 2 had (and I glossed over) but here its more interesting. You have more stages to play, racing modes are really fun and I love how the levels lop during the racing mode. 

Now I will cover the soundtrack and we got a bit of a history with this one. Sonic 1 & 2 were composed by a JP musician, so it makes sense that Sonic 3 would do this as well. Pop Icon Michel Jackson helped compose a few tracks (Ice Cap, Sonic 3 Ending theme, Carnival Night) and the only reason he wasn’t credited was because he wasn’t too happy with how it sounded. The Sega Sound Chip wasn’t the strongest thing in the world, so sadly he didn’t want his name linked to the game. 

But that doesn’t mean the game sounds bad, as it sounds great! So many of the themes are iconic and sound awesome.

Angel Island Zone
Hydrocity Zone
Ice Cap Zone
Flying Battery Zone
Lava Reef Zone
Sky Sanctuary Zone
Doomsday Zone

Sonic 3&K’s score is still remembered today for it being so high quality, so its great to see some of these tracks like Sky Sanctuary, Angel Island, and Flying Battery used in newer games. 

One last thing to cover is the lock-on technology, as it works different per Sonic game:
-Sonic 1: Blue Sphere – Due to emulation issues at the time, they couldn’t put Knuckles or Tails in Sonic 1. So despite the menu giving you this:

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You can end up playing hundreds of special stages based on Sonic 3&K’s version of them. If you loved them with your time with them, then it’s a nice way to kill an hour or so.

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-Sonic 2: Knuckles in Sonic 2 – You can play as our boy Knuckles in Sonic 2’s levels. The game doesn’t change too much but some level design is changed a bit to support his gliding ability and his special stages are easier.

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-Sonic 3: Sonic 3 & Knuckles – You can play the intended game Sega and Sonic Team set out to create. You as Knuckles in every Sonic 3 stage while you can also play as Tails in every Sonic & Knuckles stage. This also unlocks the Doomsday boss fight (if you got the Chaos Emeralds or Super Emeralds) and access to the Super Emerald Special Stages. 

Overall, this is a classic and I really like this game a lot. Revising the Classic series has me appreciating them a lot and hopeful that the anniversary game coming this year remembers these classics. 

 

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Classic Series - Knuckles Chaotix

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This game is unique out of all the games I covered so far.....as I never played this before. I tried this game out two days ago for the first time and.....well, going to comment on it now :). 

The story is that Knuckles visited Carnival Island to check on his buds the Chaotix (the colorful group you see in the intro screen) but Dr. Robotnik captures them in a special mechine, with Metal Sonic escaping with him. Knuckles frees one of them, Espio and him and Knuckles team up to save the rest of the Chaotix while going after the Chaos Rings Dr. Robotinik is after.

However, the story between the US/EU and JP versions changed a bit, so going to post something a fellow Gaffer pointed out. Thank you Supaidaman for pointing this out to me! 
 

Originally Posted by Supaidaman 

About the storyline changes, I think I can summarize them:

In the US version, Knuckles is visiting "Carnival Land" because why the fuck not. Eggman is there. The End.

The Japanese one has much more to it: A mysterious island suddenly surfaced near Angel Island. Then, Eggman decides to create a base which is also a murder theme park (because why not) to exploit the power of the Chaos Rings found in the island (that's why every enemy releases a black ring instead of an animal). Knuckles goes to investigate and finds the rest of the Chaotix there, already doing their "investigation"

Gameplay wise, this is your traditional Classic Sonic game; you spin dash, jump, roll and use your character specific ability to explore levels at high speeds. But what makes Knuckles Chaotix so interesting is the ring system.

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Each playable character holds one of these rings and you can do quite a bit with this mechanic.
-You can hold them in place to press on switches or allow you to rev-up and launch into a run
-Pick them up and throw them around
-Fling yourself toward your buddy and get higher jumps

It allows for some fun speed running, as the hold ability can really build up a lot of speed. 

And that is a good thing, considering this games level design is very strange. On one hand, you have zones like Speed Slider that are linear and focus on you going fast.

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....However, you have stages like Amazing Arena which forces you to find a Clock to hit before progressing to the goal post. And when you have no idea how to get there and the level design pushing you all over the place.....you will hit a lock-out point by Stage 3 of this place and you have to do the WHOLE level over again X(.

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So, the level design is a mixed bag, with some stages being really fun while others being either 'meh' or outright frustrating.

But lets move on to the characters, as this is the Classic Era game with the largest playable cast.

Our boy Knuckles has all of his abilities from Sonic 3&K; can glide and climb walls, like a champ. He doesn't chuckle like Sonic either ;). 

But we have the Chaotix Crew, who got their first appearance in this game! 

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Vector can wall kick, Charmy is the most broken as he has unlimited flight and Espio can run on walls. 

Mighty was introduced in a earlier Sonic game (SegaSonic the Hedgehog) but this is his first appearance in a 2D platformer. Its rumored that his inclusion in the game is due to how Sonic was supposed to be here (same with Tails) but was gutted at some point. Even his sprites mirror Sonics in early prototypes of this game (called Sonic Crackers).

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Anyway, like Vector, he can kick off walls but otherwise, Mighty is the 'Sonic' of this game. 

We also got two other playable characters; robots named Bomb and Heavy.
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The former explodes when he bumps into robots while the latter is, well, Heavy. 

So one would imagine "Okay, with this large cast, I can pick whoever I want and play that team-up and enter any stage I want, right :D?"

Wrong, you would be my friend. The way Chaotix works is that everything is randomized. I'm serious with that; as while you have seven characters to play as, you can only pick one (the character you play as) and your partner is decided via mini game.

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You have some input for which is your partner character, as you can press a button to move the crane down and in-able it to move left/right but that is it. The characters shuffle around at the bottom and after you select your character, that is it until you play the game again after beating a level.

Level selection is far more randomized though. After selecting your party, you head to the level select area but you don't just select a level, you have to jump into the selector then it goes all over the five zones, then it lands on one. 

It isn't a problem (unless you land on Amazing Arena) but its important to point this out; the game flow of Chaotix is very different compared to past Sonic's. Stage selection and character selection being randomized goes a long way in changing how you go into the game. It makes every replay different and with five acts for the five zones, you have plenty of replay value.

Overall, if I sound like I have mixed thoughts on this......its because I really feel mixed on this game :l. The way you deal with levels, the design of them itself, and the team-up mechanics all are odd additions that, in contrast to Sonic CD where the Time Travel element really clicks with me, the new elements here don't always hit home to me sadly.

However.....I really love a good deal of this game.

Firstly, is the visuals. They continue the outlandish and trippy tone that CD created, leading to some really great looking stages.

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Bright, colorful and perfectly matching the Sonic series in my mind :D.

Secondly, the special stages are great.

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They are Mode-7 looking locations that have you moving left, right and jumping to collect X amount of Blue Spheres per round. The timer is the amount of rings you get in the normal stages, leading you to be pushed into collecting a lot of rings prior to entering these stages.

What makes them so fun is that they loop around and well, feel fair. You don't restart or die when you miss X amount of sphere's in a round, you just circle back again to get the ones you miss. The stages are wide and open, and with some tight controls, it makes them quite fun to complete. 

You only have to get six Chaos Rings and you have 21 chances to enter the stages; its very fair and fun. 

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Lastly, is the killer soundtrack. We all heard Door into Summer thanks to the Generations remix....but where did it come from? THIS game!

This game has an amazing soundtrack and stands next to the prior classic games in stride. 

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Amazing Arena 1
Botanic Base
Marina Madness
Speed Slider
Techno Tower
Isolated Island
Final Boss
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Special Stage

This music is really great and matches the surreal tone of the game quite nicely.

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NeoGaf Member Contributions!
In the NeoGaf thread I made covering this, found a lot of great information people pointed out for me, so wanted to share that here :). They are credited via NeoGaf User Name, so thank them for the following information!

-I found this while searching for images for the OP and was surprised! The game has an unfinished character within the games coding that can crash the game
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It controls like Tails and fly around when mashing the jump button, so its likely garbage data from when Sonic & Tails were originally supposed to be in the game.

-Psxphile clarified that the specials stages are NOT Mode 7 like, but literal 3D stages using 32X hardware to render them. Thank you for the clarification!

-Late in the thread, poster Haganeren shared some great Gifs he made for his review of the game, so thank you for sharing this! These are great gifs and I really appreciate you sharing them with us all!

Originally Posted by Haganeren 

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Best part of the game.

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Wrong direction

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Full speed ! (With bad framerate from the gif... I'm still learning to do that...)

-The story between the US and EU versions changed a bit, so going to post something a fellow Gaffer pointed out. Thank you Supaidaman for pointing this out to me! 

Originally Posted by Supaidaman 

About the storyline changes, I think I can summarize them:

In the US version, Knuckles is visiting "Carnival Land" because why the fuck not. Eggman is there. The End.

The Japanese one has much more to it: A mysterious island suddenly surfaced near Angel Island. Then, Eggman decides to create a base which is also a murder theme park (because why not) to exploit the power of the Chaos Rings found in the island (that's why every enemy releases a black ring instead of an animal). Knuckles goes to investigate and finds the rest of the Chaotix there, already doing their "investigation"

-Hasney pointed out that the final boss with Metal Sonic Kai was supposed to have more attacks/animations but was cut prior to the games launch. Thanks man for the information! 

Originally Posted by Hasney 

Wonder if it would have been better if they got the time they wanted for the game instead of being rushed out before the 32X died. I mean, some of the prototypes have cool ideas like Metal Sonic KAI

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-If you played CD, you will love this little bonus. If you wait around for a minute, Metal Sonic attacks you with different attacks/animations. Thank Mr. Badger for the information! 

Originally Posted by MrBadger 

Oh, I don't know if this has been mentioned yet, but there's a secret in this game where if you stand still for a minute, you get attacked by Metal Sonic. It's been ages since I've played Chaotix, but I remember him having a few different attacks

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Overall, this is a game that while flawed, is enjoyable. Its a shame Sega never remastered this or put this part of a Sonic Collection. But, hopefully this year or latter, it will be. As I consider this to be a fun action platformer that while having some issue, is still worth playing.

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Nice, I love the lengthy post on Knuckles Chaotix =) Just a quick correction though, Vector can climb walls like Knuckles. He doesn't have a wall kick. Vector also has a dash attack that you can angle in 8 directions.

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2 minutes ago, monkokaio said:
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Nice, I love the lengthy post on Knuckles Chaotix =) Just a quick correction though, Vector can climb walls like Knuckles. He doesn't have a wall kick. Vector also has a dash attack that you can angle in 8 directions.

Okay, will edit that now. Thank you for the heads up!

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Awww.... I wanted to do Sonic 3D...

But I have thought of a consolation prize:

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Sonic Chaos was the first game in the series to allow for playable differences between Sonic & Tails (which was also the Japanese title).  The stages were largely based on those from Sonic 2 on Master System and Game Gear.  Aspect's growing experience with the handheld console allowed Sonic and Tails to move twice as quickly as they had in the other games.  As such, players  could use the character's special abilities by holding up and pressing "Jump."  Sonic's special ability is the aforementioned Strike Dash from Sonic CD.  Here it is given an upgrade:  Sonic is invincible for a few seconds after performing the move.  For Tails, players could finally be able to fly through the skies with his namesake.

In retrospect, in 2009, Ken Balough, Sega's associate brand manager, said that Sonic Chaos was "put in a bit of a situation" since a player seeing the 8 bit graphics after experiencing 16 bit graphics would make Sonic Chaos seem "a bit rough" to him or her. Balough added "visually and speedwise, it was just not as impressive as its Genesis brethren."

The story is a bit strange.  Eggman gets his clutches on one of the Chaos Emeralds and uses its power/sends it to another dimension to cause South Island to sink into the Pacific.  "OK, Eggman," says Sonic, "You're charged with contempt of hedgehog. There's no time to lose. Gotta slide, Clyde!"

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The game starts in the Turquoise Hill Zone, fitting with the Tropical Island motif common in most Sonic games.  This stage acts like a hybrid between Green Hill, Emerald Hill, and Palmtree Panic.  This is where players can encounter Boing-o-bots, the cousins of the Motobugs, armed with a abdomen-mounted spring.  The boss called the Lady Bug is a larger version of it.

The next Zone makes me wonder why there are so many names for it:

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The one of the left is the Master System version, the middle one is in the Western and European Game Gear version, and the one on the right is the Japanese version.  It's 2:2 for the Zone title.

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Whatever way you slice it, the Giga[lo]polis Zone is like the Starlight Zone, using 3/4 loops in their 8-bit debut.  There are not a lot of Badniks in the stage.  The boss is the Bead Worm who would later return in the next game.

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I actually have no idea where the Sleeping Egg Zone is on South Island.  It doesn't seem to have any sort of theme, but it looks like it could be the ruins of one of Eggman's bases.  Why else would the Hopping Egg Vulkan be the boss?

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Sonic's worest nightmare come true:  The Mecha Green Hill Zone, guarded by the Tree Crawler.  Where once there was verdant, peaceful idyll, now steel palmtrees deploy coconut bombs and Boing-o-bots trundle across bleak fields of synthetic grass. The ground has been metallized, and the azure skies turned a sickly color. The level also incorporates the 'tilting bridges' from Gigalopolis Zone, that you have to sprint across fast or fall off.

You may find yourself asking: "Doesn't that background music remind me of something"? The music for Mecha Green Hill Zone is a remix of the music in Green Hills Zone, which itself was a remix of "You Can Do Anything" from Sonic CD; Further signifying the link between the areas.

Compare:

Someone even made a mashup of the 8-bit tracks and the Sonic CD opening:

 

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After that nightmare, the game heads to the Aqua Planet Zone, the predecessor of the Hydrocity Zone, pretected by the Sphere-o-bot.  Not much to say other than it being the standard sunken ruins level.

Sonic Chaos was the first game on the 8-bit systems to use the special stages much like their 16-bit brothers.  Hidden in them are the Chaos Emeralds, each in a variable stage.

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After this is the Electric Egg Zone, Eggman's new South Island Base.  It all leads up to a final fight against Eggman's new Laser Walker.  This is the only stage to use different music for the third act, based on the Scrambled Egg Zone.  However, there was going to be a different track instead:

Sound familiar?

---

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Well it should in a little while with this game, known as Sonic & Tails 2 in Japan.  Sonic and Tails retain their old abilities from the previous games but now Sonic and Tails have vehicles and items in specific levels.  This is also the first game to use the "Robotnik" name in all regions.

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Of note is Fang the Sniper, a half-weasel half-wolf critter, from another dimension.  A greedy thief, Fang wants to get the emeralds so that he can sell them on the black market, not knowing what sort of things they can do.  Fang mainly appears in the Special Stages riding his air bike, The Marvelous Queen.

Onto the zones!

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First is the Great Turquoise Zone.  An upgrade of the Turquoise Hill Zone, right down to the boss.

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Next is Sunset Park Zone, which ends with Sonic running along the boss, a giant Badnik transporting train.  Waitaminute...  That theme sounds familiar...

OF COURSE!!  It's that unused Electric Egg theme!

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Next the heroes head to Meta Junglira Zone.  The Bead Worm returns as the boss.

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Next stop: Robotnik Winter Zone, the first time that Japan used the Western name for Eggman in a Japanese-made game.

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Filling the slot of water level is Tidal Plant.  It is in this stage that Knuckles is encountered as the boss.

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The final stage:  The Atomic Destroyer Zone.  Your missions:  rescue Knuckles and defeat Eggman.  Before you can actually get to Eggman...

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Metal Sonic returns!

This game never had a Master System release due to the system's dying popularity in Europe and Japan.

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Nice job with the Game Gear titles! Got a few more to cover :D. 

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Classic Series: Sonic Drift 1 & 2

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Sonic races into action with the Sonic Drift series.....exclusive to Japan for a very long time until they got localized for English in NA/EU with Sonic Adventure DX & Sonic Gems Collection. 

So, are they fun racing games, or poor Mario Kart clones? LETS RACE!

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The game has all the settings/modes you would expect from a kart racer; time trails, GP mode, verses mode with buddies or the CPU and some options to play around with. 

But the gameplay is the most interesting element as.....its Mario Kart in some ways. 

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You have the map on the top of the screen to see where you & the other racers are and you have the rest of the screen for yourself and the race track. How you race with sonic is that one button is to accelerate, one button is for breaking, and one for items you find on the track. This is a bit different with Sonic Drift 2 but will get to that in a minute.

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The controls can be really bad if you don't know how the breaking system works, which is where Mario Kart and this differ greatly. In Mario Kart, drifting can be used to build up nitro/energy (shown with colored sparks), and once you let go, you get a boost foward. With this game, you have a set speed and you get faster over time, but the drift element is for the tracks. 

The tracks are built to be very curvy, leading to you focusing on making hard turns and letting go of the gas at the right points. If you time your inputs right, you can fly past the competition!

Don't have much to say with how items work, as they can either hinder progress or make you go faster. But I understand Sonic Drift 2's systems better, so will talk about that now :). 

Sonic Drift 2 adds a bit more to the mix, with ring collection (which is in the original) being used to build up a special ability for each racer. Sonic for example gets a boost when enough rings are collected. 

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Lets get to the racers now, as each game has unique racers :D.

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Sonic Drift 1 has the above cast; Sonic, Tails, Amy and Eggman. 

But Sonic Drift 2 adds our boy Knuckles, Fang/Nack the Sniper (which will be talked about with the Triple Trouble thread ;)), and Metal Sonic. 

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Sonic Drift 2's track design is a bit better then the original's as new elements like Ice and Sand enter the scene and effect the track design in new ways. Having Ice, Sand and Space settings make tracks visual look more interesting and allows the curvy design become more noticeable. Ice Cap was my favorite track from Sonic Drift 2 :D. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCneRP371nk

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The tracks in each Sonic Drift are named after other zones in the series and like every Sonic title, they have some amazing themes :D.

Green Hill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-nx...BafBa1Cf_YMHuA
Labyrinth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r2h..._YMHuA&index=7
Scrap Brain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU_6...YMHuA&index=11
Star Light: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hupW...YMHuA&index=13

As one can see, Sonic Drift 1 is heavily rooted within Sonic 1 locations and themes. 

But Sonic Drift 2 is more interesting with not just zones from Sonic 1 & 2 appearing:
Balloon Panic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCAc...btKmxFUE9QbwuA
Casino Night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V7u...9QbwuA&index=2
Dark Valley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzUn...9QbwuA&index=4
Desert Road: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpQJ...btKmxFUE9QbwuA
Ice Cap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vAv...btKmxFUE9QbwuA
Rainy Savannah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoZ7...QbwuA&index=23
Final GP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkVZ...9QbwuA&index=9

Sonic Drift 2 has a better ballence of original themes and new themes to play with for tracks and that is always a great thing :). 

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So, what are my thoughts on this racing classic? Meh :l. 

I do feel Drift 2 is the better game here, with the same modes as the original but with more content to dig into (tracks and characters) it feels more interesting then the original Drift. But the games are just okay, not great or amazing, just good. 

For a racing game on the Game Gear, its impressive they made the game to begin with (as I would imagine something like Outrun would have a big issue making the handheld leap at this time period). So, I enjoyed both of these games :). They are just not my favorite pair of Sonic Racers. 

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The Sonic series didn't ditch racing completely though.......it came back to it with some Super Sonic Racing, riding on hoverboards, and an return to the kart racer in the future and they got better and better over time :D! 

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Classic Series: Sonic Labyrinth 

Lets go into the Labyrinth!

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Sonic Labyrinth tells the grand tale of a lost story where our Blue Blur.....was slow?! Yes, Sonic lost his great super speed thanks to a lovely pair of Slow Down Shoes thanks to Robotnik and he has to collect Chaos Emeralds to restore his speed and stop Robotnik by beating his great labyrinth. Now one must ask, why not take the shoes off? Well, he cannot, as they weigh him down and prevent him from running. But he can still use his super spindash. Using this, he spins into the Labyrinth!

Firstly, like the move on Sega's part for explaining why Sonic is slow. Makes more sense then.......this:
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It also gives us a decent enough reason to spin our way into this adventure ;).

Sonic has a slow walking speed he can rev-up into a spin dash and controls like a pinball. He bounces all over the place and can make some great trick shots to fly though the stages faster. 

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You can charge it up to four levels, with the highest sending you flying. I like this set up, as Sonic controls well walking or rolling around. While I liked how 3D Blast played, having a more controllable option for my movement via Sonic moving slow (walking) and fast (rolling) helps a lot to make things fun. 

You're goal is to collect three keys before entering a goal doorway and you do this for every level in the game. You can also collect power ups to make you invincible, increase your walking speed or even pulling a key toward you! 

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The game has some boss fights but they are simple. You roll down a half-pipe and collect rings before heading to the boss. Once you beat them, you get a chaos emerald!

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The game is sadly short (12 levels, 4 boss fights) but is it a fun ride :)? Note how I am being quite kind to the game? Its due to it being okay. 

Its not horrid, bad or great. Its just 'good', with it being a fun little puzzle adventure for Sonic. 

The soundtrack is solid too:
Level 1 Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zfvz...QRppfr&index=4
Level 2 Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXFS...QRppfr&index=6
Level 3 Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TipH...QRppfr&index=8
Before the Boss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTwI...Rppfr&index=12
Boss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfAQ...Rppfr&index=14
Final Boss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI0A...Rppfr&index=15

Its not amazing, but its perfectly enjoyable :). 

I had a nice time playing this and was surprised with how enjoyable the game ended up being to me. Far, FAR from it being next to Sonic 06, Shadow or Chronicles for me. I recommend you give it a shot on your 3DS if you have the time :D! Worse ways to kill a half hour. 

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Classic Series: Sonic Blast 

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Boy......where do I START with this one :l?

Um, Sonic Blast released not long after the launch of 3D Blast. So, Sega thought "Lets make a Sonic 3D Blast like game for the Game Gear! It's more then powerful enough to ru-"

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"Oh my......lets just toss this out to the masses."
"But sir! This looks horr-" 
"PUT IT OUT NOW!"

*Cough* And thus, Sonic Blast, the treasured gem of a game, was graced amongst us mere mortals. Let its amazing pre-rendered visuals, short length and amazing level design shine us through the battle against the lone Boy of Games.

......I'm sorry XD! That was too much fun to write :').

Okay, Sonic Blast is a 2D action platformer like past Sonic games before but it went all Donkey Kong Country on us! Pre-Rendered sprites and more realistic visual style replace the iconic classic era style and its......really ugly :(. Unlike the DKC games which aged quite well or even 3D Blast which looks fine today (heck, they did a great job with the Saturn version of it!). 

So, with the fuggy visuals, is their a good game here? 

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Guess not, huh?

The game has two playable characters, Sonic (who can double jump) and our boy Knuckles (who can climb up walls....and chuckles from the fact he is in this mess). The level design tries to be interesting but the art style the game uses restricts what it can do. 

Remember how enjoyable the level design was with Sonic 1/2 Master System & Game Gear alongside Sonic & Tails games being really enjoyable? That isn't carried over here, likely due to the horrid art direction using too much memory from the Game Gear. 

This comes to a head with THIS zone. 
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Blue Marine Zone.....one of the worst underwater Sonic stages in history. Air currents pushing you all over the place, Sonic/Knuckles controlling like tanks and the horrid physics not working well. 

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The games physics are quite bad to begin with, due to everyone moving like rocks but its even worse here. I got stuck for a good five minutes in a loop from the currents.....in Act 1. And you know what? The zones tend to last only 30 seconds or so. So that fact that I got so stuck is a problem :(. 

The rest of the game is just 'meh' honestly but the visual style and horrid controls really cement it as a bad Sonic. The classic era isn't perfect and this game is a clear example of this. 

Lets move on to the soundtrack, one area where this game does some things right. 

Green Hill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxV5...yK0X4C&index=4
Yellow Desert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZmu...yK0X4C&index=5
Silver Castle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8Dc...qUI9p5Y0yK0X4C
Red Volcano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDDS...qUI9p5Y0yK0X4C
Blue Marine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97JB...qUI9p5Y0yK0X4C

You got that right, only five zones and they have such creative zone names. I do enjoy this version of Green Hill Zone at the very least :). Nice beat and melody. 

Is this a bad game? Yes. Is it a horrid waste of your time? YES! Should you play it? It depends :l. This is the worst Classic Era game, so if you want to see the worse of this era of Sonic (The Golden Age for the series in many respects), then why not :). Its on the 3DS E-Shop (for.....some reason :l). 

SEGAMASTERSYSTEM--Sonic%20Blast_Aug24%20

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12 hours ago, RK64 said:

This is the worst Classic Era game

That's not the worst Classic era game because THIS ONE IS!:

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Dear Lord above... What was SIMS smoking when they made this?  All levels are practically the same:  You fly around an blended-together stage based on the Genesis stages, you throw a ring to activate switches and defeat enemies, and then you fight a boss.  The Training Area is a good example of this.  You would think that it's not a good idea on paper.  We'll you're right.

This is also the only Classic-era game without Sonic and one of two not to feature Eggman.  Instead we have a standard Halloween witch named Witchcart.

What did Tails do to deserve this game?

---

But there is some hope in the form of the next game:

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This game acts as a sort of prequel to Sonic 2 as it follows Tails long before he met Sonic.  The US and PAL manuals cite this as Sonic and Tails taking a break from adventuring.  Either way, Koko Island is attacked by the Battle Bird Armada, due to their dictator, Grand Battle Kukku XV finding the Chaos Emeralds on the Island.  The Archie adaptation changes it to him catching wind of Tails being a flier, despite not being a bug, a bat, or a bird, and wanting to teach him a lesson to keep the young mammal in his place.

This game plays more like Wonderboy than Sonic as it is a Metroidvania.  This game also makes use of items by pressing 1.  Unlike the last game which doesn't feature any other familiar faces, this one has 5 also in the form of items.  The Flickies are mentioned as being native to Koko Island.  Sonic, Knuckles, and Fang appear as items as well.  The Sonic item allows Tails to go into spinball mode.  Knuckles allows you to throw a punch.  Fang increases the chance that a defeated enemy will drop a ring.  As for the last one, the Sea Fox returns as your greatest asset, the Mecha-Fox.  In normal stages, the Mecha-Fox acts a bit like a camera drone, allowing you to scout ahead, but get to a water stage and the robot turns into the Sea Fox

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Now that I got that out of the way, now there's the matter of compilations

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The first that is certainly more well-known in Europe and Australa is Sonic Classics/Sonic Compilation.  It is simply a 3-in-1 cart containing Sonic 1, Sonic 2, and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.  Sonic Classics is also the second of two games that when locked onto Sonic & Knuckles unlocks the full Blue Spheres game.  This is because Sonic 1 is in the last 2 MB of the compilation and Sonic & Knuckles recognizes the last 2 MB of Sonic 1.

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Ahhh Sonic Jam, what is effectively the final Classic Era game in the West.  While it boasts the original four Genesis games, the main show is Sonic World.

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Sonic World behaves as a 3D-interactive bonus menu where the player can listen to music, view artwork, watch videos, and view the History of Sonic (I actually learned that Sonic was sponsored by Cherry Coke for a bit).

Sonic World also contains a sort of time trial where Sonic must complete a mission in a set ammount of time.  These include collecting rings, touching the Checkpoints, grabbing onto Tails, finding the cheat codes, and popping balloons.  Completion of the final mission (Get 100 Rings) will unlock the credits.

According to Yuji Naka, Sonic World was actually a working beta for Sonic Adventure.

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This was how I was introduced to Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, and their locked on games.  It is simply a Windows port by Sonic Team, HIC, and USP.  There is the matter of the elephant in the room.  When the game was released, all of Michael Jackson's composed tracks were replaced by new ones composed by Masaru Setsumaru.  So rather than go with the MIDIs from the CD, I'm going with ValleyBell's arrangements from Sonic 3 Complete.

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Our next stop is on the PS2 and GameCube with Sonic Mega Collection (+).  It's not so much the "ultimate" Sonic collection, than it is a collection of MegaDrive games with Sonic characters.  Also hidden within the game are bonuses, unlocked by entering codes or playing a certain ammount of times.  First there are the ones found only in Japan:

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The Ooze, made by the same team as Sonic 2, Spinball, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles.  Go to options and press ^LvR^ZvL^RvZ

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The Comix Zone, Howard Drossin's magnum opus in terms of sound and voice acting.  Go to Manual mode and press  ZZZ^^^vvvLRZ.

In all regions players can unlock Blue Sphere, Flicky, Knux in Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Ristar by playing games certain ammount of times.  Flicky and Blue Sphere can also be unlocked by having PSO or SA2B on your GCN memory card

In the PS2 version, Comix Zone and the Ooze will be unlocked if you have Sonic Heroes on your memory card in all regions.  This same version also contains the Game Gear versions of Sonic 1, Chaos, Drift, Labyrinth, Mean Bean Machine, and Blast.

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America got shafted when it came to Gems Collection, as it was only released on GCN.  This game contains Sonic CD, Sonic R, and Sonic the Fighters as well as the remaining Game Gear games.  Out of all the compilations, this one has the most non-Sonic games:

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The only bonuses that the West got were the two Vectorman games, unlocked by having Sonic Heroes or Mega Collection on your memory card or playing the collection for a total of 5-7 hours.  This is a bit dissappointing considering what Japan got:

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It's not just the original Streets of Rage, but also the second and third games as well.

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Bonanza Bros. is aslo present in the game.  What's strange is that the data for these four games is still in the code but not enabled due to coding.  By hacking it is possible to still play them.  Also what is strange is that a few more games are found to have been planned:

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first is Sonic Eraser.  This was technically the first game that Sonic starred in before he got his own game.  It was released only on the Sgea MegaNet addon to the MD via the Sega Game Library cartridge.  The game was rediscovered by Phugolz from Sonic CulT, when she discovered that Sega's Japanese website was releasing paid downloads of MD games.  Nemesis, using the burned CDs provided by Phugolz, then converted the ISO files to bin files, making them playable on regular Genesis emulators.

and perhaps the strangest not-quite additions to Gems Collection were:

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My theory is that the prescense of the Wonder Boy MD games may have been a test for the Sega Ages Monster World Collection on PS2.

---

Wait a minute, something's missing and it's not the Ultimate Genesis Collection...

 

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WTF!?

That's right, this is the transitional post from the classic era to the Modern Era, and SADX is the bridge. How?  The entire Sonic Game Gear library, which in my opinion is much better than in Gems Collection.

So without further ado...

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To many or us, our first experience with Sonic Adventure was kiosk demos at major US retail stores (mine was the Merrillville, IN Target).  This was the first game to place an emphasis on story more than gameplay, opting for more of a Roshamon-style depending on who you are playing as.  Big is almost completely out of the loop, only concerned for Froggy.  Sonic is concerned about fighting Eggman and stopping Chaos.  Tails follows Sonic's goal as well, only branching away later on to become an independent individual (much like in the Fleetway Comic).  Knuckles is concerned with restoring the Master Emerald.  Amy wants to help Lilly reunite with her family.  And then there's Gamma, whose story can be compared to an episode of Samurai Jack.

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From a gameplay standpoint, all the characters have their own way of getting through the stages.  Sonic's involves getting to the goal.  Tails adds a layer to that by racing against Sonic or Eggman depending on the stage.

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As Knuckles, he needs to find the three pieces of the Master Emerald in each of his stages.

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Amy's stages have her run from E-100 α "ZERO," functioning similar to Sonic's.

Gamma's stages see him shooting enemies to increase his time ending with a fight against another E-100 series robot.

Big's are all about fishing for Froggy.

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This game saw the debut of Tikal, a young echidna girl from 4000 years prior to the events taking place.  Her story is told through flashbacks showing the origin of the ME and Chaos.

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Speaking of, Chaos was also introduced as the first final boss in a game that has Eggman as the main antagonist.  And that's another thing I should bring up, thanks to Clyde Mato of Legends of Localizations.  Here is the original scene of Sonic and Eggman in it's original Japanese

エッグマン:ほーっほっほっほ! ソニック!
(Hohohoho! Sonic!)

ソニック:お前は! Dr.エッグマン!
(It's you!  Dr. Eggman!)

エッグマン:いかにも!ワシこそ この世に並ぶ者のない天才科学者、Dr.エッグマン様じゃ!
(Indeed!  I am the great Dr. Eggman, the greatest scientific genius in the world!)

ソニック:…久しぶりだな。
(…It’s been a while, huh?)

And in English:

Eggman:  Ha ha ha ha! If it isn’t Sonic!

Sonic:  Look! It’s a giant talking egg!

Eggman:  Silence!  I am Dr. Robotnik, the greatest scientific genius in the world!

Sonic:  Whatever you say, "Eggman"!

This was the first Western game to make the Eggman name more widespread than the classic Robotnik name.  Likewise this was also the first game to use extensive voice-acting in both English and Japanese.

Sonic was voiced by Jin'ichi Kanemaru, giving the blue blur an Engrishy voice.  Tails was voiced by Ryo Hirohashi, making her the first mainstream female Tails voice.  Knuckles was voiced by Notobushi Kanna, making him sound like a hothead.  Of course Eggman was voiced for the longest time from 1998-2015 by the late Chikao Ohtsuka, who passed away last year.

In English, the cast recorded in San Diego, directed by Lani Minella.  Sonic was voiced by Ryan Drummond, emulating Jun'ichi to a T.  Tails was voiced by Corey Bringas, in a manner similar to Chris Stephen Welch from AoStH.  Knuckles actually had his lines recorded twice between one of the demo versions and the final release, both done by Mike McGaharan.  Amy's voice was Jen Douillard, who was 10 at the time of recording.  And the best voice in the game:

Yeah, you heard right:  Big the Cat is Duke fucking Nukem.  On that Bombshell:

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Go check it out at the Midwest Media Expo this year.

And of course there is the music headed by Jun Senoue.  This also marked the game debut of Crush 40 with Open Your Heart.

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On my next post (I'm reserving it for myself) see how Sonic handles in his final game on a Sega console.

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Great job covering the Tails' games, the compilations and Sonic Adventure! 

Going to cover  Heroes next :). 

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Dreamcast Era: Sonic Heroes

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This is a game that unlike any 3D Sonic from the early-mid 2000's (Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, Shadow the Hedgehog, Riders, 06, Secret Rings), feels like a classic Sonic game. You have the game filled to the brim with colors and Genesis looking locations. Clear blue skies, checker-board textures, and character models reflecting the Dreamcast style but also having a Genesis touch. 

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I love this about the game and one thing that makes it hold up great today visually. The soundtrack is great too, with iconic themes that still are memorable today. 

Seaside Hill
Grand Metropolis
Hang Castle (Version 1 and 2)
Bullet Station
Casino Park
Egg Fleet
Final Fortress 
What I'm Made Of

This soundtrack is hands down one of my favorite from this era of Sonic (with only SA1 and 2 beating it). The character themes are great too, likeTeam Sonic's and Team Chatoix's being my personal favorites. 

The gameplay is very smart on Sonic Team's part. This was released right around a good year or so after Sega ending making consoles and going third party. Nintendo was enjoying a few exclusive Sonic games on the GameCube and GBA but the series didn't hit Xbox and PlayStation yet. So, with Heroes, they scrapped the engine they used for the Adventure games and use the Renderware Engine, with the intent for it supporting every major platform on the market. Meaning, it would support a Sonic game on PS2, Xbox and GameCube.

Fast forward to January 2004 and Heroes is released in US and EU (came out in 2003 in JP). What makes Heroes different is that in may respects, its a soft reboot for the Sonic series.

It still remembers events in the Adventure and Genesis games but in a lot of ways, its a re-introduction to the Sonic series. You have everyone having colorful looks, the world being a 3D Genesis Sonic style wise, and the best elements from the 2D & 3D games coming back. What this means, is that the series got reintroduced to many through Heroes.

Heroes plays different from the Adventure games as instead of having Sonic being the 'core' game and his friends having unique gameplay styles to pad out the game, we have a team system that controls the same across all the four playable teams. You can swap between three members for each team (Team Sonic: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles/Team Dark: Shadow, Rouge, Omega/Team Rose: Amy, Cream, Big/Team Chaotix: Espio, Victor, Charmy) and each member falls within three styles (Speed, Flight, Power).

Speed: Sonic-style gameplay with you going fast
Flight: Can fly in the air and shoot your partners as weapons
Power: Can attack with great strength and throw your teammates in different ways (Omega Shoots them, Knuckles uses them as boxing gloves & throws them, Vector shoots them out of his mouth, Big his his like baseballs using his fishing poll). 

This allows the game to feel like Sonic but also have the large cast built up since the Adventure games. So, no gimmicks to pad out the game, no annoying fishing or treasure hunting stages to get in the way of the core speed gameplay and the game feeling the most focused out of any 3D sonic game for a very long while (not until Unleashed in my opinion). 

I love this, as thanks to everyone playing the same, the levels can be constructed with a core focus allowing them to be tight and full of hidden paths to take. Its like you are playing Sonic from the Adventure games but have two buddies following you around and can swap to them at any point.

The game uses its level themes really well, as you have the iconic tropes from the Genesis games (Hill, Casino, Chemical Plant, Forest/Jungle, Eggman Base) but some new locations that haven't been in the Sonic series for a while (Haunted house). It creates some really imaginative places and opens up level design in cool ways. 

You are a pinball in one stage but the next you are exploring a castle upside down. Sometimes this presents issues with too many stage gimmicks being thrown at once (Frog Forest comes to mind with the rapid vine swinging) but its not enough to become a problem.

My original thoughts on Heroes was that it was a great game with three problems: control is slippery, special stages suck, and camera gets in the way. Revisiting the game now, the control still is slippery but not nearly as bad as I remember it. It could be better but its not horrid like as bad as I thought before. 

The camera can be an issue but its good enough. The special stages are fun to me now, as I had little issue getting three of the Chaos Emeralds so far. Oh, forgot to talk about that XD! 

The special stages are molded after the Sonic 2 stages with you collecting orbs instead of rings and you can boost in these stages as you collect orbs. You have to get the emerald before it hits the goal ring at the end and they can be very hard. 

Overall a very enjoyable game and one I have fond memories of :). 

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Ladies and gentlemen, my favorite Sonic game.

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This game presented the next natural step in the evolution of Sonic Adventure's storytelling, aiming for more of a documentary type of story, as present in the "Location - time" screens.  In a similar way, this game also featured its own mythology that continued into Sonic Heroes and Shadow the Hedgehog (more on that later since I want to give that game some justice in this topic), making this the beginning of the Shadow Arc.  This was by way of a report written in the Japanese strategy guide (allegedly by Rouge) about The Truth of 50 Years Ago...

In the report, Rouge collects her findings from while she was working undercover for Eggman and reveals Gerald's intentions for creating Shadow.  Gerald's dearest granddaughter Maria suffered from an illness "NIDS: Neuro immunodeficiency syndrome", by which medical treatment was difficult to provide. Although she seemingly could not expect recovery from this, medical treatment research was continued aboard the ARK, before they finally thought the incurable disease could be conquered because of Gerald's declaration of his new immortality studies. Advanced research was strictly confidential, inside the ARK. Records state, "Project Shadow" was named this because of the sarcasm involved in not actually being able to create a Shadow.  When the original prototype was created (the Biolizard), the image of success went to their heads, and eventually the Biolizard proved to be unstable, and it was encapsulated by GUN.  Shadow was created sometime later throough means unknown at the time of the game's release, but later shown to be the work of Black Doom.  That same week was the coup that shut down the ARK and the death of Maria.

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I know it's a lot to take in thanks to Rouge snooping as usual.  But it does help explain why Gerald created Shadow.

But either way, with the story, both sides give the perspective of that specific team, notably when playing as the heroes, Sonic has to fight the Egg Golem the old fahsioned way, although not like in Sonic & Knuckles.  The Dark story however cuts out the fight and instead shows Sonic giving the Golem a boot to the head.  Before Shadow fights Sonic again, it cuts out the dialogue where Sonic presents the fake Emerald.

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Perhaps the biggest controversy that happened with the game was the alleged death of Shadow.  It was quite shocking to see a perfectly healthy character just get killed off so suddenly, never more so since JENOVA-in-Sephiroth's-form killed Aerith in FFVII.  Shadow's death cause a lot of backlash from the fans when they argued if "he's just hiding" or if he should stay dead.

I've been putting this off for a bit but now:

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This game saw the introductions of two new permanent additions to the cast.  The first was Rouge the Bat, a GUN agent and treasure hunter with an eye for jewels.  I have lovingly compared Rouge to Black Widow, and Lani Minella (the original voice of Rouge) agress with where I'm coming at.

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The second of two characters is our dear friend Shadow.  TVTropes has compared him to Wolverine and has even compared Ryuko from Kill la Kill to Shadow, even putting common knowledge about him (thanks to his own game) as spoilers for the anime.  For a while, Shadow seemed to the the franchise's deuteragonist as he had his own arc surrounding his mysterious past and developed his character.  I will try and give his game a look later on down the line.  Perhaps something else that is notable within the fandom was Kevin "AAUK" Eva modelled his old site, Sonic Wrecks off of Shadow, long before it redirected to Last Minute Continue.

As the game has a focus on good and evil, many of the stages are counterparts to others for instance:

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Wild Canyon vs. Dry Lagoon

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Prison Lane vs. Iron Gate

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Final Rush vs. Final Chase.

Of the gameplay styles from the previous, only three returned: Running, Shooting, and Digging.  In fact development of the game was originally centered around a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure gameplay starring Sonic & Knuckles and Eggman.  It is possible that the parallel stages are a remnant of that idea.

And of course there's the music and voice acting.

To kick things off:

Kick the Rock

A Ghosts' Pumpkin Soup

E.G.G.M.A.N.

I'm a Spy

Rumbling Highway

Vengeance is Mine

For True Story

and the all important, official anthem of the Sonic Franchise:

And now for voices:

Of the original cast of SA1, only five returned not counting recycled clips of Elara Distler and Jon St. John.  Everyone else was new to the series.  Mike McGaharan was replaced by Scott Drier as the voice of Knuckles, making him sound a bit rougher.  Shadow was voiced by Ryan's acting friend Dave Humphrey, recommending him to Sega after his performance as Jefferson in 1776.  Maria was voiced by Moriah Angeline, and Gerald was voiced by Marc Biagi.  Marc would later return in Sonic Heroes as the voice of Vector and recently returned as Strider Hiryuu.  Tails' new voice for this game was Connor Bringas, Corey's brother since he had just hit puberty and couldn't do the voice anymore.

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But then there's the sad part about this game:  This was the final game released on Sega hardware.  Sega announced that year that it would be leaving the hardware industry.  Sonic was left without a home...

Wait who's that on the horizon?

"It's-a me, Mario!"

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/3/35/Sonic_with_mario_pose_2.png/revision/latest?cb=20090420052309

To the shock and joy of fans everywhere, Sonic was finally given a more permanent home thanks to Nintendo, their old rivals.  The first game that Nintendo received from Sega for the GameCube was a port of SA2 which expanded upon the multiplayer mode, the Chao Garden, and made the original online DLC unlockable or available by default.

Later that year, Sega decided to give Sonic a go on Nintendo's GBA in the form of another subseries I want to talk about in a future post, Sonic Advance.

But very recently this game along with Sonic Adventure have come under-fire for sucking.  This sparked when the Game Grumps began playing Sonic Adventure and Arin began criticizing it rather harshly.  Then ProJared reviewed the second game on PSN and also criticized it harshly, only praising Sonic/Shadow's stages and the Chao Gardens (the most tedious part in the games).  That's a point I want to bring up:  The Chao Gardens were made so that first time players could potentially practice the action stages in order to get better rewards for their Chao.

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You did a great job covering SA2 :D! I grew up with the game and while I have some personal issues with it (Treasure Hunting radar being broken X() its far from a bad game. Sonic Adventure I am a bit more fond of due to it feeling like Classic Sonic in 3D, where SA2 felt like a prototype to the Modern Formula we got with Unleashed in some respects (focused level design on going forward, paths focused on getting better times, ect). 

Arin really hates Sonic for some reason (likely was a fan but fell out after 06 and Secret Rings launched). Can't say I blame him, but he shouldn't be that harsh on the series :l. It has a lot of great games post Sonic 3&K (as we are seeing here with this retrospective we are working together on making!). 

Since you are going to cover Advance 1, I guess I will cover Advance 2 & 3 when I get to it.....and I also want to be the one to cover Ow the Edge :'). That will be a complete blast XD! 

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11 hours ago, RK64 said:

You did a great job covering SA2 :D! I grew up with the game and while I have some personal issues with it (Treasure Hunting radar being broken X() its far from a bad game. Sonic Adventure I am a bit more fond of due to it feeling like Classic Sonic in 3D, where SA2 felt like a prototype to the Modern Formula we got with Unleashed in some respects (focused level design on going forward, paths focused on getting better times, ect). 

Arin really hates Sonic for some reason (likely was a fan but fell out after 06 and Secret Rings launched). Can't say I blame him, but he shouldn't be that harsh on the series :l. It has a lot of great games post Sonic 3&K (as we are seeing here with this retrospective we are working together on making!). 

Since you are going to cover Advance 1, I guess I will cover Advance 2 & 3 when I get to it.....and I also want to be the one to cover Ow the Edge :'). That will be a complete blast XD! 

Actually I was thinking of covering the trilogy + Battle and OW THE EDGE, so you can cover Pocket Adventure, Rush, and Shuffle

10 hours ago, baba_944 said:

I really feel like pissing off the Sonic fanbase (I was to distance myself from them). Can I do Sonic The Hedgehog 4?

If it means giving the game a chance (like I would, thanks to having episode 1 on my tablet) then be my guest.

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Classic Series: latest?cb=20130218133346

    Where to begin? "Sonic The Hedgehog 4" is an episodic series which was released in 2010 that serves as a (true) sequel to Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles and "Sonic The Hedgehog Compact Disk". Taking place after the fall of the "Death Egg", Sonic takes off on another grand adventure, this time alone. Short on money, Robotnik rebuilt all of his old badniks in the off-chance to finally get rid of that pesky blue hedgehog. The gameplay in the first episode is sleek and amazing. The only gripes I have about the first episode is that the Sonic model's glossy and the extra lives music. I've gotten so tired of that jingle. I hated "Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & knuckles", so I didn't mind (but actually really loved) that they rehashed the first two games. The music is amazing; reminds me of the first two games. I prefer this over "Sonic 3 & Knuckles" 1000x fold. Also, my favorite aspect is that "SEGA" designated the super transformation to a button.

latest?cb=20110309214124

 

    Then we have the second episode. Little planet is back, and this time, Robotnik wants to (and succeeded?) in roboticizing the planet. Tails makes his return after being absent for 1.5 games (chronologically). This game introduces the first teamwork game, which will be later seen in "Sonic Heroes" and "Sonic Advance 3". This teamwork gamplay has the following combos: the "Flying Combo", in which tails flies you over deep pits and high places; the "Rolling Combo" in which you curl up in a ball with Tails and smash through objects; ad the "Swimming Combo" which Tails helps you swim through the water. This game (admittedly unlike the first episode), came up with some very unique ideas that were later implemented in later games. It worked really well in here. I haven't played SA3 yet, so I can't judge it.

latest?cb=20120301214747


   

    The musical composer took a page from the first episode and it really shows here. The music's great. The one tune that I found myself humming a lot is "White Park Act 1".  The zones are very unique, though. An great example is "Sylvania Castle Zone".  Unlike how "Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1" rehashed "Green Hill Zone" and "Emerald Hill Zone", "Sylvania Castle Zone" has it's own unique environmental detail. Fireflies flickering in the foreground, fishes swimming in the water, and  berries growing in the foreground.

latest?cb=20120406185615

 

    Also, for the first time since "Sonic 3 & Knuckles", is the inclusion of new badniks. The following badniks make their debut: Zoomer, Fullboar, Snowy, Sandworm, Scarabesque and Steellion. Not only are these badniks new, but they also have unique powers. Steellion freezes the water to block your path, Zoomers swoop down to attack you,  Sandworms pop from the background to attack you (you can't kill them), fullboar charges at you, and scarabesque creates a dung ball and rolls it at you from a high platform.

latest?cb=20120215011815

 

    All in all, "Sonic The Hedgehog 4" is a very underrated game in the Sonic franchise and should take a look at again.  

 

 

Here's some music:

 

Splash Hill Zone Act 2

White Park Act 1

Splash Hill Zone Act 3

 

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Modern Era:
Sonic Advance Trilogy

SAdvUSBoxart.jpg

Indeed this was Sonic's first original game on Nintendo, co-developped by Dimps and Sonic Team.  This game is simply a modernized version of the tried and true formula starting with Sonic 2 using zone based on classic stages.  The plot is simply Eggman wanting to create his Empire using the Chaos Emeralds.  The only instance of continuity porn is the boss of Angel Island

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/1/1b/Mecha_knuckles.png

According to the Japanese strategy guide, Mecha Knuckles was made by Eggman after watching Knuckles in action during the events of Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

Gameplay is divided just like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles:  Sonic is the fastest, can do a W-jump, do a skid attack like in SA2, grind on rails, and a short jumpdash.  Tails can fly/swim and whip his tails.  Knuckles can glide, climb walls, tread water, and 1-2-shohogken his way through stages.  Amy is the slowest, cannot spinjump or spindash, but she makes up for it by using her hammer, slide headfirst into enemies, and do a highjump by pressing vB.

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The next year, gamers were treated to the sequel, but it it suffers from a spike in difficulty.  This story instead sees Sonic heading off alone to to face Eggman, when he encounters a young bunny also after Eggman, on the grounds of her mother being kidnapped.  Knuckles and Tails have also gone missing.  Amy is also not present, unless unlocked.

All characters can now perform various stunts when flying through the air and not curled in a ball (i.e. after being launched from a spring or similar). These are activated by being launched off of any spring, trampoline or ramp, then holding a direction on the D-pad and pressing R Some of these stunts can be used to destroy enemies in the air while not spinning or to reach high-up places.

The difficulty comes in the form of two things:  accessing special stages and the boss fights.  The boss fights are similar to the Jet Mobile from Sonic 3 & Knuckles.  You are constantly on the run after a boss so this format makes any attack other than jumping and Sonic's insta-shield or Cream's ability to command Cheese to attack completely useless, and once the player has lost their rings it is difficult to regain them as they fly off the left side of the screen; both of these facts have led to the bosses being heavily criticized by fans. Spin-dashing, however, is possible, but extremely difficult to do in real time: one must go to the right side of the screen, then suddenly brake, and very quickly stop braking, duck and Spin Dash before reaching the left side of the screen.

And to access the special stages, you need to find the Special rings hidden through each stage.  Easier said then done thanks to the over-emphasis on the trick/boost feature.  And if you get to the SS, you'll have to collect a certain amount of rings in a limited time while avoiding ZERO.  Unlike the previous game, the emeralds are not shared.  So the normally unlocked-at-the-start features such as Sound Test, Tiny Chao Garden, and Amy must be unlocked through Chaos Emerald collection.

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/0/02/Advance2_Cream.png

This game was the technical debut of Cream the Rabbit as well as her pet Chao, Cheese, and her mother Vanilla.  Cream first appeared in the extras menu of Sonic Mega Collection, but the concept of a rabbit throwing something dates back earlier:

http://lastminutecontinue.com/wp-content/gallery/conceptart/S/sonic-the-hedgehog-1/sonic-rabbit.png

Like 1990 earlier.  Cream was based on this unused rabbit character who would have been the hero, but was replaced by Sonic when Sonic Team realized that it would slow the game down to have to pick up and throw things.  Ristar did the pick-up-throw concept a bit better late in the Genesis' lifespan, but Cream perfected it.  Cream was also not going to appear in this game, instead debuting in Sonic Heroes, but it was delayed so Amy was pushed out of the spotlight and made a secret character.

---

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A big change in the series on a portable system.  Sonic Battle was one of the three games I got in 2004 for my birthday.  This game plays a bit more like Capcom's Power Stone titles.

The story goes that Eggman discovered a strange orange robot called the Gizoid amongst his grandfather's research and attempts to awaken him, using a Chaos Emerald.  When the robot refuses to respond, he throws it out, but to his horror discovers that he needs more Emeralds.

Enter Sonic finding the robot washed up on Emerald Beach and establishing a "link" with the newly-cristened Emerl.  Shadow appears and warns Sonic not to let Eggman get his hands on Emerl.

Of the four GBA games, this one is the most story heavy, dividing it up into "episodes" revolving around each character:  Sonic, Tails, Rouge, Knuckles, Amy, Cream, Shadow, and Emerl.  But beware!  Eggman has also sent out Chaos Gamma, a rebuilt E-102, and the E-120 Phis, a series of robots built similar to Emerl.  Of the four games, the ending is the most heart-wrenching.

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The final GBA Sonic game.  This one literally one day before my birthday.

Sometime before the events of the storyline, Dr. Eggman builds a robotic assistant based on and using parts from Emerl named Gemerl. Gemerl's designed to be a loyal, obedient copy of Emerl. As such, he can learn new attacks, and can meld himself seamlessly with any mechanical device. Eggman tears the Earth apart when an experiment using Chaos Control goes awry, and Sonic is separated from Knuckles, Amy, and Cream and is stranded with Tails. The two begin to search for their friends and the source of the trouble (which is the separation of the Chaos Emeralds). But like always, Eggman is making everything from doomsday devices to strange contraptions and is trying to vanquish Sonic once and for all.

So take the plot of Unleashed, kick out the Gaia elements, and throw in elements of Chaotix.

Perhaps the saddest thing about this game was that this was the absolute final game to feature the original cast from 1999.  Deem Bristow, who voiced Eggman in the time between this and Sonic Adventure, passed away.  At the same time, Yuji Naka made the decision to replace the voice cast with 4Kids actors, in order to make things consistent between the games and Sonic X.  What's the worst that could happen?

hqdefault.jpg

Oh... dear god!

---

to be continued in Shadow the Hedgehog

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15 hours ago, Tailikku said:

Actually I was thinking of covering the trilogy + Battle and OW THE EDGE, so you can cover Pocket Adventure, Rush, and Shuffle

Sounds good to me :). I REALLY want to cover 06 though, so can I handle that one?

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Modern Era:  Shadow the Hedgehog

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/c/c1/Shadow_ps2_us.jpg

The second multi-platform game in the series, also appearing on GCN and Xbox.  This game is the only game post-Sonic Adventure not to feature Sonic's name in the title.

Now where to begin?

Sega first revealed the game and its tagline ("Hero or villain? You decide.") at the March 8, 2005 inauguration of Sonic the Hedgehog into the Walk of Game.  Takashi Iizuka has stated that the game was made to gauge for an older audience since the general consumption starting in '93 was to a younger crowd.  And so work began, taking influence from Constantine, Underworld, and the Terminator series, creating the groundwork of one of the darkest games in the franchise.  Returning from the development of SA2 was the use of a branching storyline based on Shadow's goal in the previous stage.  I beleive Frobman had some good images to represent this when Psyguy reviewed this game a few years ago about Shadow either helping, ignoring, or stealing candy from a baby.  Adding to this, Yuji Naka stated that it would be more in character for Shadow to have a gun rather than Sonic.

Of course the game has a huge elephant in the room that must be addressed:  This is the first time that the 4Kids cast did voicework in the games, again due to Yuji Naka's consistency comment and due to Deem's passing in 2004.  The only remaining 4Kids actor working on the series is Mike Pollock, making him the reigning champion of Eggman voices for 13 years and counting (Happy 51st birthday to Mike btw)!  Of course this change was met with a lot og criticism especially when the game had swearing involved (Shadow has the mout of a sailor, shouting "Damn" every-so-often, in addition to Sonic, Epsio, Knuckles, and Abe Tower).  The best example:

and among other memetic lines:

GUPE8P-1.thumb.png.438eaa67c717396a76c21GUPE8P-5.thumb.png.b22dcebbdec32bd90388b

And now for the story:

Picking up sometime after Sonic Heroes ended, Shadow is left wondering why he cannot remember the things that his allies are attributing to him.  It so happens that the nearby Westopolis is observing the 50-year return of the Black Comet.  Out of the sky come the Black Arms, the hostile alien race native to the comet and their leader, the villainous Black Doom.  Doom claims that he made a pact involving the Chaos Emeralds with Gerald, and that it's time for Shadow to pay up.  At the same time, Eggman, Sonic, and GUN are involved in the fight against the aliens.  Shadow must decide who to follow as all parties are after the Chaos Emeralds and know something of Shadow's past, and he intends to get them first and make one of them talk.

I seem to recall Rory comment that this game has a "black ice effect" in place, but I have yet to see it having played it on Dolphin.  Psyguy has also commented that the "swords use ammo."  They don't, they just get dull.

And now for the music, mostly by Jun Senoue

The Chosen One by Mona Lise Overdrive

Almost Dead by Powerman 5000

Waking Up by Julien-K

All Hail Shadow by Magna-fi (Crush 40 remix as heard in Sonic '06) (Hybrid Mix from the True Colors album) (mashup of the Magna-fi and Crush 40 versions)

Who I Am (Lost Track) by Magna-fi

Broken (Lost Track) by Mona Lisa Overdrive (while they were still known as Sins of a Divine Mother)

I am... All of Me by Crush 40

Never Turn Back by Crush 40

E.G.G.M.A.N. Doc Robeatnix Mix by Bentley Jones (you'll hear more of him in the future)

Tripod Baby (Japanese promotional theme) by m-flo from their Dope Space Nine remix album

Perhaps one of the most well-known bits regarding this game and the fans was when Evildoc did a two-part series called "The Suffering Doomed Shadow Show," and I remember the agony of when Jay "Discoponies" put the first part up in the inaugural episode of the Sonic Show only to not touch up on it later, and when AAUK rectified it when he took over for an episode.

As I have also said last October, this game is as close as we can get to a Zombie Apocalypse in the Sonic 'verse.  Only replace zombies with the black creatures and the necromancer with Doom, and there you go.  Adding to this, it is hinted that Doom might have ignited the Echidna war that was mentioned in Sonic Adventure (going by his comments in Glyphic Canyon), and it is shown that he indirectly led to Eggman's turn to villainy thanks to Eggman looking up to his grandfather, who ended up going insane due to Doom indirectly causing the GUN coup on the ARK.  In essence, Black Doom is responsible for nearly every evil deed in Sonic's world, save for the Deadly Six, Erazor Djinn (we'll get to him in a later post), and Solaris.

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  • 2 months later...

Considering that Miru made the suggestion of covering other media, and I briefly did so with the comic adaptations of Spinball and CD, I figured that we should probably cover animation to help keep the ball rolling.

SOVA_dvd_eu.jpg

Classic Era:  Sonic OVA

Part of the oft-forgotten 5th anniversary of Sonic, this two-part OVA was meant to be a pilot for an anime.  Unfortunately, rentals and purchases were not so hot to engage in an anime.  The OVA finally got a Western release on 9/7/1999 in order to promote the release of Sonic Adventure.  Depending on who you ask, this movie is either a good attempt at Sonic appearing in an anime, or a poor attempt at cashing in.  I side with the good attempt.

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SOVA_vhs_jp1.jpg

Part 1:  Welcome to Eggmanland

The story opens with Eggman monolouging to his latest creation, Hyper Metal Sonic, telling him that he is nearly finished, but needs Sonic's DNA.  The film cuts to South Island where Sonic and Tails live.  Tails has just finished making a jet-propelled boogie-board, and although Sonic is impressed, he's not interested in catching some waves, instead reclining in a beach-chair and listening to some metal.  Tails loses controll of his board, and points out to Sonic that an old friend of theirs has news to give them: Old Man Owl, the President's messenger and our comic releif.  Owl's hovercraft has a fire in his engine he is oblivious to because he's incredibly near-sighted.  Tails is caught in a pickle when he and Owl are about to hit a wall.  Sonic rushes in and saves them.

Owl informs Sonic and Tails that the President wants to see them in his office at the Presidential Palace.  When Sonic and Tails arrive after an impressive Tornado launch sequence, BAM!  Eggman has taken the President and his daughter Sara hostage.  But he has reasons for doing so:  His capital city of Eggmanland has been taken over by a robot of his creation named Dark Eggman.  Dark Eggman then sabotaged the Robot Generator overfilling it with energy.

Sonic scoffs at helping Eggman, not even at Sara's behest, saying that he has no reason to help him given Eggman's track record (99/100 times).  Tails tries to tell him that this could be the 1% that Eggman is in the clear.  Eggman gives Tails a wristbound navigator and the heroes fly off to the portal to Eggmanland.

Now I should probably bring up that Sonic's world of Planet Freedom (no relation to Freedom Planet) is divided into two main zones:  The outer Zone, where Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Sara, and the President live, is known as the Sky Zone.  The inner Zone, where Eggmanland is located, is the Zone of Darkness.  Sky Zone is called such as it is a loose web of floating continents connected by subglacial magma.  The Zone of Darkness is given its name because of the continents frequently cutting off sunlight, leaving it in perpetual twilight.

While Sonic and Tails fly to the portal to the Zone of Darkness, Eggman and Sara are busy playing Virtua Fighter.  Eggman has a massive winning streak: 101 compared to Sara's goose-egg.  And then a robot breaks into the Presidential Palace.  Sara thinks that this is some way of Eggman giving her a ride.  The robot departs with Eggman and Sara in it, while the President is distraut.

Sonic and Tails take the shortcut that Eggman programmed into the navigator, in a sequence inspired by the Sonic CD opening.  They finally hit a warp zone and find themselves in the Ancient Relics.

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/4/42/Ancient_relics_in_the_Land_of_Darkness.png/revision/latest?cb=20130307211427

Or should I say post-apocalyptic NYC.  Climing up the Chrysler Building, Sonic and Tails discover that the Robot Generator's unchecked powersurge is causing the city to sink into the sea.  And it's also here that Tails reveals his biggest fear.

Anything you wanna say against that, Boom haters?

Sonic and Tails head off in the direction of Eggmanland and then this guy shows up

http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/9/9f/Archie_Metal_Robotnik.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20130217183027

It's Dark Eggman.  The Metal Robotnik attacks Sonic and Tails with a potato gun.  Sonic then gets and idea and does this:

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Yeah, very subtle...

Dark Eggman reveals his hidden set of wings and gives chase.  Then he pulls out the big guns, goo-bullets.  Tails is stuck to a wire fence and Sonic is glued to the road, sinking into the water.  When all looks bleak, Knuckles arrives to unstick Tails while he fends off Dark Eggman.  He steps in some goo and depending on which version you're watching he says one of the following:

"Shit!"  "Oh no!" "Now I'm stuck!"

Tails frees Sonic and the heroes pull off a Team Blast.  It is then revealed that unbeknownst to Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, Dark Eggman was piloted by Eggman the whole time, and Sara was his unknowing copilot.

As the sun sets, the lights turn on throughout New York.

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/0/09/Movie_Robotropolis.png/revision/latest?cb=20130307211604

Eggmanland is revealed as Team Sonic heads into the sprawling city.

---

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/d/dc/SOVA_vhs_jp2.jpg

Part 2:  Sonic vs. Metal Sonic

Team Sonic make it into Eggman's base and are attacked by Badniks.  Sonic makes it into the room of the Robot Generator and manages to switch it off.  Things are not as they appear as Sonic is shocked from within the Generator.  Knuckles manages to catch Sonic before he plummets into the abyss.  And then from the ruins of the Generator, Metal Sonic emerges.  Eggman arrives in a hastily reassembled Dark Eggman.  After the mech collapses, Sara's voice is heard chewing out Eggman for being a dirty old man.

Eggman's overall plot was to trick Sonic into heading into Eggmanland so that he could steal his DNA and finish Metal Sonic.  Eggman then taunts Sonic with a fight against Metal Sonic.  Our hero is utterly thrashed and left for dead.  "Sonic will no longer be a pain in my Egg!" he triumphantly announces.  On to phase 2.  Eggman presents Sara with a wedding dress, copypasta'd from Queen Serenity of Sailor Moon fame.  The next part of the plot is for Eggman to get married with Sara and settle down with egg-shaped kids, in a brain bleech inducing shot.

Sonic awakens in a forest somewhere outside of the Presidential Palace.  His first thought: find Metal.  At South Island, Tails and Knuckles learn from Owl that "Sonic" was there last night, forcing the old man to wear his favorite shirt before flying away.  Metal was there.  Tails then does some gadgeteering on the navigator, turning it into a Metal Sonic remote.  The President skypes them, having just seen a silhouette that looks like Sonic's in the blaze that was once Forest Town.  Knuckles may actually have an idea on what Metal is doing, after the explanation is given.

Metal is currently trying to destroy Sky Zone, and will do the most damage by melting the glaciers with the magma flowing within them.  Before they can stop Metal on their own, Sonic announces his survival and that he'll go stop Metal, having heard what the plan will be.  A bad move on his part.

As it turns out Metal Sonic and Sonic can read each others thoughts and see what the other sees.  So when Sonic heard the potential plot, Metal was actually given the plot on a silver plate.

And then as Sonic and Metal stand off at the Glacier, our favorite moment happens:

Immediately afterwards:

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/f/fd/Ouch.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120621205919http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/a/a9/Well_this_is_awkward...O_O.png/revision/latest?cb=20130317052632

So right when Sonic landed testes-first onto the Eggmobile, Metal was looking up Sara's dress, the perv...

Tails, and Knuckles finally arrive.  Tails overflows Metal Sonic, leaving him open to attack.  Knuckles catches Sara from a crash landing.  And then another funny moment:

Now Tails is a perv.  It looks like only the President and Knux can walk away from this without being a perv.

Speaking of, the President's flying limo arrives but crashes into the ice, trapping him and Owl inside.  Metal blocks Sonic from rescuing him, but Knuckles is able to, burning his fedora off in the process.

Sonic and Metal give chase, stepping on Knux in the middle of a whack-a-mole sequence based on AoStH.

Tails tries to stop Metal again, but Eggman shoots the navigator.  Sonic sends Metal into the critically damaged limo, and everyone expects the worst for the President.

File:Metal saves president and owl.jpg

Metal saved the President and Owl.  It turns out that having Sonic's DNA in you automatically means that you can do good.  But it's too late for redemption.

Metal crashes down in the crater.  Sonic rushes in to save him, despite Knuckles' protests.  What occurs next is the saddest moment as Metal finally says something.

 

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Sara tries to cheer up Sonic, but then Eggman arrives to announce that he still has Sonic's DNA on a disc, so he can rebuild Metal to more powerful and less dependant on Sonic's DNA as well.  But then the disc blows up from a turtloid that Eggman fired earlier in the showdown.  Then film comes to a close as they all run accross the snow.

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As strange as it was, this was going to be Sonic's first anime.  Who knows how it could have turned out.  Seven years later, we got that anime as Sonic X, based on the Dreamcast games.

But the fans still remember this.  Brion "Psyguy" Beaubien and Chris "Kirbopher" Niosi did an abridged parody on Fireball20xl called Sonic Bastardized, cementing them as Sonic and Tails in future abridged parodies, save for Kirb's one-off Sega parody where he voiced Sonic and Psy voiced Knuckles.  Heck even I got into it in my early days on Entherial Online writing badly-written sequels to this movie, taking elements from other Sega games, as shown by by signature.

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  • 6 months later...

one last post for 2016 for the gippers:

Modern Era:  The Storybook Series

These were an oddball in the main line-up of games, and are exclusive only to the Wii.  Development for the series began when the team working on Sonic '06 (which will not be getting a post because there's already an on-going topic on here as is) was split in half by Yuji Naka, prior to his leaving of Sega to form Prope.  While one half of the team was working on PS360, the other half was handling what was to be the Wii-port.  When trying to figure out how the game would work using the Wii-mote, the team decided it would be better suited for an entirely new game dubbed "Sonic Wildfire".  I remember seeing this game heavily promoted by Nintendo Power mid-way into 2006 as a Wii-exclusive.  And imagine my shock when I discovered that the game was released ahead of schedule on 2/20/'07, one week earlier than the announced date.  Even more interesting: the Wildfire name was dropped and changed to Sonic and the Secret of the Rings to fit with the new setting.  Before ultimately going with the title we have come to know as:

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/7/77/Wii_sonicandthesecretrings_TargetEdition.jpg

The game begins one night as Sonic is asleep in a study until he is awakened by the genie of the ring, Shahra (voiced by Bella Hudson).  Shahra tells Sonic that she is from the world of the 1001 Arabian Nights and that the world is in danger from an evil spirit known as the Erazor Djinn.  Before Sonic's eyes, pages of the book itself, the one he was reading earlier and using as an eyemask, are starting to vanish.  Sonic becomes Shahra's master and wears the ring itself.

Now gameplay is a bit strange since this was Sega's first title on the Wii and they had yet to figure out how to properly manage motion controls.  Each Zone is a chapter of sorts of the book divided into these areas:

SatSR_Lost_Prologue.png

The Lost Prologue acts as your introductory stage and where Shahra teaches you how to do certain motions with each ability you get.

After the tutorial stages, Sonic runs into Erazor (voiced by Peter Cormican) who attempts to kill Shahra right then and there with a timelimit via the Arrow of Judgement.  The arrow appears as a bolt of flame tied to the target's heart and the only way to remove it is to use the power of the Seven World Rings, which Erazor needs to completely erase the Arabian Nights and escape into the real world.  Sonic takes the bullet and now needs to get the rings for Erazor.

SatSR-Sand_Oasis.png

Sand Oasis is a desert/oasis stage located outside of Baghdad.  Sonic mainly visits here to rescue King Shahryar, husband to Scherezade and writer of the book... wait a minute...

Robotnik_41_(King-Shahryar).png

What's Eggman doing here?!

Yeah it turns out that the denizens of the Arabian Nights take the forms of people that Sonic knows in his world.  And Shahryar just somehow ended up being Eggman.  Anywho, Erazor kidnaps Shahryar while he was explaining what Erazor's plan is.  Sonic chases the pterodactyl that the genie was using and fights off a few of Erazor's minions, rescuing... Tails?!

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/d/d0/Ali_baba.png/revision/latest?cb=20130316113620

Actually, this is Ali Baba, who is not the leader of the Forty Theives.  He's just a simple carpenter like in the original Arabian Nights story.  Ali points Sonic in the direction of Dinosaur Jungle, along the way encountering a giant Scorpion as the first boss.  Defeating this boss, Sonic gets the first World Ring, the Ring of Joy.

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/6/6f/SatSR-Dinosaur_Jungle.png

Dinosaur Jungle fills in for the standard Tropical Island stage seen in many games.  There is only one required mission where Sonic rescues Shahryar.  Upon doing so, Sonic finds where Erazor has hidden himself:

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/3/36/SatSR-Evil_Foundry.png

Sing it with me now: WHO'S GONNA ROCK THE PLACE!?

Within the factory level known as Evil Foundry, Sonic finds Erazor summoning the Ifrit Golem, a genie of fire, in order to burn the remaining pages of the story.  Sonic is no match for it and heads back to Ali Baba to find out how to stop the monster:  he knows a guy named Sinbad the Sailor

 

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/e/e4/SatSR-Levitated_Ruin.png

Sonic is pointed in the direction of Sinbad at the Levitated Ruins, built on the backs of rocs, here designed as giant manta rays.  Sonic finds our sailor

Knuckles-sinbad.jpg

Well at least this one makes sense.  Sinbad has been caged up by Erazor and needs to break loose.  Then he can help Sonic with getting the very thing needed to douse the Ifrit: his blue Water Ring.  It was stolen by pirates hiding out in the Pirate Storm level

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/7/77/SatSR-Pirate_Storm.png

This is possibly the one level where Sonic shows that he ain't gonna let his hydrophobia get in the way.  He eventually encounters Captain Behemoth, the leader of the pirates and reclaims the Water Ring, the ring of Prayers.  After defeating the Ifrit using this same ring and collecting other World Rings, Sonic is directed to the Skeleton Dome, the game's underground level, to get advice from Solomon

SatSR-Skeleton_Dome.png

Sonic first makes his way through a frozen-ashen landscape to find the tomb of the king.

http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/a/a0/King_solomon_cutscene.png/revision/latest?cb=20121204201325

Solomon, son of David, has seen better days.  In fact, Sonic is given two missions from his skull: defeat the Forty Theives, and recover his bones.  Upon doing so, Solomon reveals a bit of info about Erazor:  he is a genie of the lamp.  Only the lamp's master can defeat him.  Solomon then reveals that Erazor is hiding out at the NIght Palace

http://info.sonicretro.org/images/1/16/SatSR-Night_Palace.png

This is it, the final stage.  Sonic must make his way through the various traps that Erazor set up before a fight with the evil genie himself, but not before Shahra gives him what was once Erazor's lamp.  After beating Erazor, he teleports to behind a sealed door that can only be unlocked with the power of the World Rings.  Upon obtaining the Seven Rings in Hand, Erazor reveals that Shahra was in on the plot the whole time.  He tries to convince Shahra to give him the rings, but Sonic wishes that she do what she truly thinks is right.  She collapses and takes a blow meant for Sonic.  Erazor's plot is almost complete as a sacrifice is required to use the World Rings... but something goes wrong:

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/5/5b/Alf_Layla_wa_Layla_1.png/revision/latest?cb=20130720211809

Erazor horribly transforms into Alf Layla wa-Layla, the Arabian Nights istelf.  The sacrifice was incomplete.  At the same time, Sonic decides that two can play at this game:

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/sonic/images/3/3e/Darkspine_Sonic_1.png/revision/latest?cb=20160816173341

Sonic transforms into Darkspine Sonic using the power of the rings, in order to make sure that Shahra's sacrifice will not be in vain.  After a final battle, Sonic is victorious and uses Erazor's lamp to undo the evil genie's actions before sealing him away.  Shahra gives Sonic a final goodbye as he destroys Erazor's lamp in the Evil Foundry with help from Ali Baba and Sinbad.  The book itself reveals that Sonic was playing the role of one of the book's most well-known heroes:  Aladdin.

gen_aladdin_p_4kpufo.jpg

As if Sega's tie-in game for the Disney movie wasn't enough, now they have two versions of our favorite Street Rat under their belt.  And no, Erazor is not so much Robin Williams there, he's more like Jafar here:

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/new-monster/images/0/0b/Thereturnofjafar879.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20131022175107

I'm going to save the second storybook for the new year.

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