Sonic Mania (Switch)

Now Sonic can be Super Sonic!

That review I said I was going to do? It’s here.

In other news – I’ve got all the Chaos Emeralds! The special stages are pretty hard, the 4th and 6th ones especially so. Somehow, the 7th was very easy and I completed it on my first go without even gaining much speed.

Now to play through the rest of the game for the proper ending!

Sonic Mania (Switch): COMPLETED!

Sanic

Just a short post about this, because I’ll be writing a full review in due course, but oh my. It’s good. After so many letdowns and missteps, Sega have finally come up with a truly fantastic Sonic game. Only they didn’t, did they? A team of fans did instead. Tch, eh?

I love the new takes on old zones, new versions of old bosses, new remixes of old music. Levels which are mashups of old levels. New levels which feel like they are from old Sonic games but aren’t. It’s all exactly what I wanted from a new Sonic game.

Sonci Mania

There are a few later zones which don’t feel quite as good as earlier ones, and a handful of bugs, but it’s nigh on perfect. Well done to all concerned.

And yes, I bought it, played it, and completed it in a single day. I’d avoided all media to do with the game since they started revealing zones and features, so almost every level was a complete surprise. Even those I knew about had surprises. Lovely.

Now to get all the Chaos Emeralds. Which is Hard.

Lego Dimensions: Sonic the Hedgehog (PS4): COMPLETED!

Toot Toot Plastic Warrior

After a few false starts a few weeks back, where we were unable to progress past Metropolis Zone due to a bug that prevented Eggman from appearing, we had a bug-free playthrough today which allowed us to finish it. And let me say this: it’s bloody awesome.

Visiting Lego versions of Green Hill Zone, Metropolis Zone, the beach from Sonic Adventure, Sonic 2’s Special Stages, Marble Zone and (Sonic’s least favourite) Labyrinth Zone – as well as Chaos appearing – it does a better job of celebrating the Sonic series than Sonic Generations ever did.

sonic the hedgehog

It’s genuinely funny too. Gollum appears at one point, looking for gold rings. Eggman says “Get a load of this!”. Omachao chaosplains how to play (“Fire is hot!”, “Pushing blocks makes them move!”), it’s filled to the brim with egg puns, Amy the Overly Attached Girlfriend, and so on.

The hub world for Sonic is pretty good too, with areas based on Ice Cap, Carnival Night, Sandopolis Zone, and others. There’s even a snowboarding section, and Sonic quotes lines from some of the songs in his games!

It’s funny to think that Traveller’s Tales, who are part of TT Games, who make the Lego titles, actually made Sonic games in the distant past – Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R were theirs.

And of course, you want to know how this expansion compares to the others, right? Well: Sonic the Hedgehog > Adventure Time > Midway Arcade > Doctor Who > The Simpsons > Ghostbusters > Back to the Future.

Yep. It’s the best. Here’s my playthrough, in case you don’t believe me.

Sonic Blast (3DS): COMPLETED!

Sanic

You know something? That Sonic Triple Trouble wasn’t so bad after all. You know what was bad? Sonic Blast on the Game Gear.

No, not Sonic 3D Blast – that’s a wholly different game, being in isometric and with Flickys to save and stuff. This is a standard Sonic platformer, or should I say, sub-standard. On paper it sounds great – platforming, Sonic, no Tails, 3D rendered graphics. However, the platforming is dire and the 3D rendered graphics are so low resolution they look terrible. Sonic has a giant head, appears to be permanently tilted out of the screen, and only two frames of animation.

He doesn’t seem right in the context of the levels. I’ve never been a big fan of the graphical style (and I’ve lamented before about how awful Super Mario Ball and Donkey Kong Country look too) but never before has it looked so ugly and jarring.

It isn’t just the graphics that I hate about the game though. The physics seem off too, and the levels are tiny. You get just one chance at each chaos emerald, and you have to hunt for the entrance to the emerald special stage in Act 2 of each level – it’s very easy to miss them completely. Luckily, the specially stages are incredibly easy despite the dreadful collision detection, due to how slowly Sonic runs. They are much like a cross between the Mega Drive Sonic 2 (into the screen, collect rings) and Sonic 3 (seems to be on a ball) special stages, but not as much fun.

sonic blast

The main levels are dull, and several seem to be watered down levels from Sonic & Knuckles – there’s a Sandopolis level (Yellow Desert Zone) and a Lava Reef Zone (Red Volcano Zone), but they’re sparsely populated and boring. If they were doing that I’d have hoped for a Super Sonic Space Chase like in Sonic 3 & Knuckles if I completed it with all the emeralds, but no – just a weak additional final boss.

sonic blast

In all, it feels like a Sonic game driven by having a new graphic style and written by some people who saw a Sonic game in a shop window once but have been given access to some of the assets. I’m glad I’ve played Sonic Blast, but only so I know not to ever again.

Sonic Triple Trouble (3DS): COMPLETED!

Something’s come along and it’s burst our bubble.

When I started playing this (it was cheap on the eShop, in case you’re wondering), I was convinced I’d never played this before. I mean, why would I? It’s got Tails in.

sonic triple trouble

But then after a while it seemed awfully familiar. Especially the bit with the bouncy apple things. If only I kept a record of all the games I’d played somewhere. OH WAIT I DO. Yeah, nine years ago I played it on my PlayPal Game Gear clone emulation handheld device thing. Blimey. Nine years.

You’ll not be surprised to hear it hasn’t really improved since then. It’s not awful, but the cramped viewport makes the jumps hard and reaching some of the special stage TVs is a pain. On the plus side, unless you choose Tails as your character (and if you do, you need to be taken out and shot), he’s hardly in it.

Anyway, I completed it somewhat easily, with all the emeralds, and now I’m going to play Sonic Blast. Self-loathing as I am, see. Still, at least it isn’t Sonic Unleashed or something.

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure (NGPC): COMPLETED!

Over Eggmanning it.

It has been a long time since I played a Neo Geo Pocket game, but having figured out why they hadn’t been working on Retropie (games have to be .ngc files, if you’re interested) I got stuck into Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure.

sonic the hedgehog pocket adventure
Hammer! Hammer! I am! Hammer! They put me in the mix!

I remember being slightly disappointed when I bought it for my Neo Geo Pocket Colour back in the day. There I was expecting a new 2D Sonic platformer, perhaps a 2D version of the excellent Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast. After all, it shares the same art style as that title, on the menus and box and stuff. Instead, what I got was a rehash of the Mega Drive version of Sonic 2.

As it turned out, that was awesome.

And it still is. Certainly, each level looks like a level from Sonic 2 – there’s your Emerald Hill zone, and your Aquatic Ruin zone, and your Metropolis Zone, but for the most part the levels have different layouts. They also all have new bosses, and Knuckles makes an appearance too.

"Knuckles you eediot!"
“Knuckles you eediot!”

There are reworked versions of the music from several different Sonic games, not just the second one, and the final stage more like the end of Sonic 3 and Knuckles than Sonic 2. Add to all this the hidden puzzle pieces hidden round the levels which you can collect and complete, and you can see why I loved it so much all them years ago. I think, bar remakes of Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure might be my favourite handheld Sonic title too.

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Oh, and yes – I got all the Chaos Emeralds. I totally forgot the final one though, and had to redo the end boss to get it! That unlocked the final, final stage, which I also finished. Phew.

3D Sonic the Hedgehog (3DS): COMPLETED!

Mr Needlemouse

You may be aware that I have completed the very first Sonic the Hedgehog game a number of times in the past, but the 3D version, on the Sega 3D Classics Collection? Nope.

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OK, I lie. I have. Sort of. You see, I already own 3D Sonic the Hedgehog – buying it when it appeared on the 3DS eShop as a single title. That was about three years ago though, despite me thinking it was actually earlier this year. I completed it back then, and today I completed it again via the 3D collection.

There’s little more to say. It is still an excellent game. It’s still very easy, and I obtained all the Chaos Emeralds. I did choose the “bulbous CRT” 3D effect to play through with which was pretty cool, if pretty pointless. Um, that’s it.

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Sonic 3 & Knuckles (MD): COMPLETED!

Sonic is best of all the animals

I’ve completed this many times through the years, but it’s been quite a while since last time, and even longer since a full all-emeralds run. So I did that.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles
Hey Knuckles – punch Tails for me, would you?

It’s clear that Sonic 3 & Knuckles is still the best Mega Drive game. It looks and sounds incredible, has varied levels, gimmicks and bosses, and is actually huge. Yes, I know it sort of cheats by spanning two cartridges, but that’s irrelevant as far as I’m concerned as together they are the best game. Some people will say Sonic 2 is better. Those people are wrong.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles
Hey Eggman – could you laser Tails for me please?

In total, it probably took about four hours. I’d forgotten just how big it was. I only died three times, one death being a Time Over on Flying Battery 2 (I’d spent ages looking for Super Emeralds, and just squeaked past the final lamppost when the time ran out – lucky!), but then the game was never really difficult – especially once you’re able to be be Super or Hyper Sonic. Nor does it matter that it wasn’t hard – it’s just great. Apart from Tails. Oh god does he need to die. He actually killed me on one of the end boss fights as he hit Eggman first and I fell through him instead of bouncing off.

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Sonic the Hedgehog (MS): COMPLETED!

Sonic Got All The Chaos Emeralds

Sonic the Hedgehog
Impossible.

Sonic the Hedgehog on the Master System was, at the time, quite an achievement. It may not have been as technically polished as the Mega Drive original, but it was a good approximation given the more limited hardware, and it steered away from simply being very, very fast by focussing more on the platforming. I quite enjoyed it at the time.

It has been quite a long time (read: over a decade, I expect) since I last played 8bit Sonic the Hedgehog, and several things surprised me: It was just as easy as I recall. It stands up better today than I expected. Mostly, I was amazed at how I still remembered where all of the hidden Chaos Emeralds were. Except for the one in Scrap Brain Zone which I stumbled across, luckily.

Those electricity pylons are really weedy compared to the Megadrive ones.

It’s a fun platformer with some excellent music (Jungle Zone was always my favourite, and still is) and one of the best games of its type on the Master System. When you compare it, technically, to earlier games like Psycho Fox and Alex Kidd (both still excellent) this does things unheard of on the console at the time.

And that’s it completed, with all the Chaos Emeralds in tow. Excellent.

 

3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (3DS): COMPLETED!

tumblr_nw03uvo8mr1svmpf2o1_400Twenty-odd years ago, many a Saturday morning would be spent playing Sonic. Or Sonic 2. Or Sonic 3. And today, a Saturday, I played and completed 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Nintendo 3DS. It was awesome.

Like Gunstar Heroes and the first 3D Sonic the Hedgehog, the 3D here is mostly subtle. The original parallax layers are now given actual depth, and although this makes it feel more like a pop-up diorama than properly 3D it still makes the lovely 2D sprites look fantastic. Where the 3D really shines, however, is in the Special Stages. At first, they make your eyes bleed, but when you get used to them the into-the-screen 3D is fantastic and really adds to the stages.

tumblr_nw03w7sh0a1svmpf2o1_400Apart from all that, 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is still Sonic the Hedgehog too. Complete with all the bugs, but without any of the slowdown (which was only really noticeable in Mystic Cave Zone anyway). It’s still a great game, and it’s still a joy to play.

I did find it incredibly easy, mopping up all the Chaos Emeralds early on. Which actually makes the game a little harder as you don’t pick up so many extra lives as once you hit 50 rings and jump in the air, you become Super Sonic and your rings start counting down – it’s unlikely you’ll hit 100. You also feel the need to rush through the levels once you’re Super Sonic as you don’t want your rings to run out, especially if they do so when you make it to a boss!

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And in just over an hour, it was all done. Eggman beaten (or possibly scrambled), and ending sequence go. Woo! So, Sega – when are we getting 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 3, eh?

3D Sonic the Hedgehog (3DS): COMPLETED!

Um, yeah. So I now own 12 (different) copies of the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. And that doesn’t even include the Master System and Game Gear versions – just the Megadrive one, and it’s ports. This is the only one in 3D though.

OK, so it’s not “as 3D” as 3D Space Harrier. This is a gentler, more incidental 3D, with all the layers of fore- and background parallax now on their own 3D plane. You know what? It looks fantastic. Sure, it doesn’t add anything to actually playing the game, but it feels like this was always how Sonic was supposed to be. Gorgeous.

And I’ve completed it. It isn’t hard, and I’ve played it enough times so I’d like to think I wouldn’t find it even slightly tricky, which I didn’t. In fact, I completed it with 27 lives (never losing any) and all 6 Chaos Emeralds collected by the time I finished Spring Yard Zone. Hello ladies.

Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed (Wii U)

I decided I would push on with replaying all the events on 2 or 3 star.

This consisted mainly of me playing events on 3 star, failing $hlmun times, then having to play it on 2 star (failing not quite as many times), before repeating the sequence on another event. And doing this lots.

Net gain? I now have 68 stars. I need 95 to get onto the next tier in the World Tour.

Thankfully, I can see I’ll open a few more events (that I haven’t even got one star for yet) at 70 stars, and some more at 80, so hopefully I can get to 95 without replaying many more events.

However, I heard two terrible facts this week regarding this game:

  1. There’s another unavoidable gate later in the game that needs 145 stars (!), and
  2. There’s a 4 Star difficulty setting unlockable.

Oh my.

 

Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed (Wii U)

Firstly, shush. It’s not a proper Sonic game even by Sega’s standards. It’s a racing game that has Sonic in it. Big difference. In fact, I’m making a protest by not playing as Sonic or any of his idiot chums, instead working my way through Grand Prix mode as former Sega poster boy Alex Kidd.

Alex Kidd who has grown up to be quite an angry, violent young man. I’m sure it’s down to how his parents (Mr and Mrs Sega) dumped him at a young age. In one battle race, the commentator shouted “YOU HIT AMY!” to which Alex responded “I’M GREAT!”. You big man, Alex! Also, the amount of swearing that comes from his filthy mouth when he bumps into rocks and stuff is quite 15 certificate. PEGI 7? I think not.

But what about the game? Is it good?

Oh yes, it is. It’s very good. The best thing Sonic has been in since… ooh, Sonic Rush? Yes – lets randomly pick that. But Sonic is just in it, remember. This is not a Sonic game. After all, Sonic doesn’t need a car.

He might need a boat though. Or an aeroplane. As both those are present in the game, hence the title Transformed. Your car periodically morphs into a different vehicle depending on the bit of the course you’re on. You know, just like in Mario Kart. Oh no! I said Mario Kart! And I was doing so well.

Progress so far as been mainly one starring all the available events in GP mode, unlocking what I’m able to in the process, and reaching an impasse – I need (I think) 90 stars to get through to what seems to be the final event, but since I’ve only been one (and occasionally two) starring everything, I’ve scraped a meagre 46 together. Bumholes.

And so begins the replaying of virtually every event, only on a harder setting. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? At the moment… myuhnuh?

Stuff I’ve been playing recently

It’s another lazy roundup! Yay!

Nintendo Land (Wii U)

I’ve completed the Pikmin Adventure game, which took a couple of hours (and unlocked some more, harder levels). It’s really very good, and has me itching for Pikmin 3. I also played Octopus Dance some more, but no matter how well I do, a controller calibration or disconnection problem happens and I lose. Bah.

Mighty Switch Force HD (Wii U)

Although the level called “Bonus 5” is seemingly the same as one of the levels on the 3DS version, I simply can’t do it. I think some of the problem is that it’s an “autoswitching” level, where you have no control of the in-out switching nature of the blocks. Instead, they switch automatically every three seconds. That’s not so hard in itself, but on the 3DS the sound mix was better suited – you get BRRRP BRRRP SWITCH, BRRRP BRRRP SWITCH, etc. You do on the Wii U version too, but it gets lost in the music and harder to work with. Maybe headphone will help.

Little Inferno (Wii U)

Yeah, I started it again. This is my third runthrough now. A lovely, lovely thing to play with.

Trine 2 (Wii U)

Perhaps my least loved Wii U game. I don’t know why – it is excellent. I just rarely seem to be in the mood for a difficult platform fighty puzzler with really, really, fiddly controls. Having three characters with three different control methods doesn’t really help. It’s a shame because I really do like Trine 2 – I just can’t gel with the controls.

Rayman Legends (Demo) (Wii U)

So happy and clever and fun. The demo consists of three levels. One is a “traditional” Rayman platforming section, one is a new Wii U-centric touch screen controlled section (where you manipulate the level, rather than directly control the character), and the third is the best of all – a full-tilt running level, with jumps and punches timed to hit the riffs in Black Betty by Ram Jam. YES. A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

New Super Mario Bros 2 (3DS)

I’ve found one of the hidden worlds! The mushroom one. And completed it! And then I found a few more exits on some other levels, and completed the levels they unlocked too. Awesome.

Gunman Clive (3DS)

I’m sure it shouldn’t be this hard. But it is. The train transformer boss was really hard. Then the level after was hard. Basically, it’s hard. Good, but hard.

escapeVektor (3DS)

Now on world (area? section?) 5, I think. It’s as least as good as the Wii version, and great for dipping into for just the odd level here and there.

Lollipop Chainsaw (360)

Erm. I wanted this because I like Suda51’s games, right? Not for any other reason. OK? Good. So long as we’re all aware.

Lollipop Chainsaw plays a lot like a cross between No More Heroes and Onechanbara, both on the Wii. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean it’s a little rough (invisible walls and stuff), very strange, and has a difficulty curve that’s akin to the movement of the Thames Barrier in a storm. It plays similar too, being a combo-based brawler.

It’s actually great too, with a totally nuts story and mental characters. In fact, the only issue I have with it so far is that the levels are just too long to play in one sitting. I’ve spent almost three hours on it, and I’ve only completed the second one (that is, Level 1 – there’s a prologue).

Skylanders (360)

We got some more Skylanders. Now we have at least one of each type. So we replayed most of the early levels opening up new paths and stuff. I also played alone to progress the story, and I’m up to Chapter 18 (of, I think, 22), so not far from the end now.

Sonic Adventure 2 (360)

YES! It was on offer on XBLA, so I bought it! And I’m hooked on the Chao Garden all over again. So much so, in fact, that the progress through story mode (just done the Pyramid levels on the Hero side) act merely as places to get more animals and chao drives for my chaos.

Games I’ve Been Playing Recently

Yes! Another lazy round-up post 🙂

Skylanders (360)

With my daughter. We’re up to world/level/mission/event/chapter 9-ish now. Whichever is the one just after the cyclopseseses. It’s a fun game, but play is disrupted when your co-pilot wants to change characters every 45 seconds.

Art of Balance: Touch! (3DS)

This was never really on my radar, but a demo was released last week which I really enjoyed. Then it was deal of the week on the eShop so I couldn’t resist. It’s a fun shape stacking game, with some twists (some of the blocks vanish, flip gravity, and so on). I’m on the final world already, but have only completed about half of the puzzles. Excellent fun, and well worth the £4.49 it is until Thursday!

Sonic the Hedgehog (Wii)

The original and still almost the best.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II demo (iPad)

Dear God no. Viewport too small. Still has rubbish physics. Background too cluttered. The demo level is just Marble Garden crossed with Aquatic Ruin, rather than something new. Touch controls don’t. Awful terrible horrible rubbish pile of crap.

Super Crate Box (iPad)

This was free recently, so downloaded it for that reason only. It’s sort of fun, but the controls make me cry and I’m not really sure of the point. You get crates which give you different weapons, but you’re usually better off not getting crates, as often the weapons are worse than what you have, and it doesn’t matter because killing the baddies achieves nothing. What.

Ristar (Megadrive 1)

Was this ever good? I don’t recall ever liking it. The controls are too fiddly, and the almost but not quite 2.5D is jarring. It’s HAPPY FUN BLUE SKIES, but sadly that’s not enough.

Rolo to the Rescue (Megadrive 2)

So hard. So very hard. And this game doesn’t even have save states or passwords or anything, and the map is massive. I predict only three people have ever completed it. The bunnies are awesome though.

Sonic and Knuckles (Megadrive 3)

Lovely lovely lovely. Felt odd playing it naked (as in, without Sonic 3, you perverts), but it’s still a great game.

Notes:

  1. Actually, a handheld MD clone thing, but whatever.
  2. As above.
  3. Ditto.