Sonic 3 & Knuckles (MD): COMPLETED!

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 the Hedgehog

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)

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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)

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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

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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

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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[ref]Actually, a handheld MD clone thing, but whatever.[/ref])

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[ref]As above.[/ref])

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[ref]Ditto.[/ref])

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

Games I’ve Been Playing Recently

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Yes! It’s another lazy game-play-roundup-post! You know you love them! Oh, and before I get into that, a little bit of housekeeping: I’ve added my Raptr feed to the sidebar. Exciting!

Skyrim (360)

Somehow I got sidetracked from what I presume is the last quest in the Thieves Guild plotline (it’s easy to do – I talk to everyone and most people give me quests, so I’ve over 60 open now)  and ended up finding some more dwarven ruins en-route to returning “the Lexicon”. Not finished it yet, but having ghostly people to follow is very Assassin’s Creed.

Sonic CD (360)

I’d wanted this as soon as it came out, but even though it was only 400 moon points I knew it’d drop lower eventually. And it did – to 200. Played it this week, and it’s still just as fantastic and glorious as ever. Well, nearly – it has the wrong music (the “right” music being Toot Toot Sonic Warrior, of course), but everything else is well and good and lovely. Can’t do the special stages though – they’re too hard.

Heroes of Ruin (Demo) (3DS)

I’ve never played Diablo, but apparently, this is a clone of it. A bit. It’s very good, and I really want the full game now! Completed the demo as the gunslinger, and really got into the OCD collect-y nature of it. Moar please.

Sonic Generations (360): COMPLETED!

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This is not the time or the place to bring up that I said I wasn’t going to buy it. Nor is it the time or the place to say I played and completed the 3DS version, which was pants, already. All it is sufficient to do is say this: Mistakes Were Made.

Let us begin with how rubbish the 360 version is. Let us say how many times I ran through walls or fell through the floor and died. This many times: 7. Let us now say how I died once for no discernible reason, by having lots of rings, running along a badnikless corridor, and suddenly the game loaded again and put me back at the most recent checkpoint. Let us also tell you how at one point I couldn’t progress on the Planet Wisp level because even though I had the Rocket Wisp power, pressing Y did nothing, and I had to quit and reload the stage. Let us tell you all these things.

Let us now complain about the Modern Sonic levels. Let us anguish over how, despite being far, far better than most Modern Sonic games previously, they still end up not actually being very good. Even the very best Modern Sonic level (Green Hill Zone) is worse than the very worst (Crisis City) Classic Sonic level.

Let us take a moment to recount the horror that is the requirement to replay bits of previous levels, as “challenges”, just to open up the Boss Gates. Let us try hard to forget the Vector the Crocodile level challenge, for it is the worst piece of videogaming created in the last 25 years. Let us never have to homing attack musical notes while the camera spins like a drunken mouse dancing on a Wonder Stuff LP as it plays, ever again.

Let us burn from our eyes, and especially our ears, the array of beastly chums Sonic has dragged along. Let us hope in the next game when they get sucked into a Time Vortex, that time they stay gone forever.

Let us briefly mention how poor the bosses are. Let us also mention how they get worse through the game, and how with all the amazing bosses Sega could have plucked from the Sonic series, they managed to pull exactly none of them into Sonic Generations. And the final boss is a shambling, random mess of polygons and purple with graphical glitching and seemingly irrelevant controls.

Let us list all of the good things about the game: The music. The nostalgia. Some of the Classic Sonic levels. The inclusion of the original Sonic game. This is all.

Somehow, this version was even worse than the 3DS game. It improved in some ways (Classic Sonic remains Classic Sonic, so the later levels still feel like two different Sonics – this was not the case on the 3DS), but broke it in others (mainly the Boss Gates and the challenge level completion requirements).

Let us say this, however: Sonic Generations is the best home console based Sonic game in years. Given the other games out in that time, though, that’s not really a complement.

Sonic Generations (3DS): COMPLETED!

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I was expecting to be disappointed. After all, how could I be anything but? Although if you’re set up to be disappointed and your low expectations are pretty much met, how could you actually be disappointed? Deep.

Things started out surprisingly well. Classic Sonic’s first few levels were pretty good, actually, even if they did still feel like the physics were on the wonk. Even Modern Sonic’s levels were bearable for a while, but as the game progressed things just got worse and worse. I think the breaking point was when the game proudly punched me in the face with the line “Classic Sonic can now use Homing Attack!”. Sigh.

Things were at their worst for the re-rendition of Sonic Colours, particularly for Classic Sonic, with the level being full of bottomless death pits and required homing attack-to-grab sections where the moved failed to work properly half the time.

And the end boss? Not epic like in other Sonic games – just tedious. I did have all the Chaos Emeralds though (the special stages are not only endlessly repeatable whenever you want, but laughably simple) so had Super Sonic(s) for the fight. If that makes a difference.

Sure, there have been far worse Sonic games (pretty much all of them since Sonic Adventure 2, bar the GBA and DS titles), but that isn’t really a positive thing given how bad all the others were. Poor.

Sonic Generations (3DS)

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I don’t know what to say.

At some point in the game, it says “Classic Sonic can now use the Homing Attack!” and I died inside.

I don’t want to talk about it.

Sonic Generations Demo (360)

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There was a demo for this a few months ago. It wasn’t very good. It was “classic” Sonic in a re-imagined Green Hill Zone, ruined by awful physics, jerky scrolling and not being able to see anything as the graphics were too “busy”. Oh, and Sonic was about one tenth the size he should have been in relation to all the other objects and baddies.

This demo improves on the previous one greatly, by fixing much was wrong with the physics (although they’re still not correct), and then makes it over fourteen billion times worse by not fixing anything else, and adding speaking Chaos who you can’t kill, feed into a mincer, or set on fire, and being quite frankly, insulting.

Then it added a “modern” Sonic Green Hill Zone level, which, like most “modern” Sonic games was a test of how long you could hold the same direction for whilst sometimes pressing a button to jump, duck, or activate the real-life Childhood Memory Eraser. The latter of which sadly doesn’t exist. Instead, grinding rails, having no control over Sonic for large portions of the level, and being unable to see what is coming in those sections where you do have some control, all combine to form the greatest Sonic gaming experience since, oooh, Sonic The Hedgehog: Stabby Eyeball Adventure.

Still. There’s always the 3DS version, right?

Sonic Colours (Wii): COMPLETED!

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Look. I wasn’t going to buy this at all. I hate recent Sonic games. I don’t want to play them. Somehow, however, I end up doing so anyway. And here I am having completed another one.

Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised because I didn’t instantly hate it. I didn’t love it either, mind, but it wasn’t completely offensive to my senses. In fact, some bits were quite good. There were some great proper platforming sections, some nice 2D superfast Sonic running and looping bits, and, most impressively, some utterly gorgeous graphics. Really. One of the best looking Wii games, and, perhaps, one of the best looking games this generation.

Sadly, it’s not all lovely. There’s not enough good to offset the bad, however spiffing the graphics are. As with other Sonic titles, the game is ruined by overuse of Sonic’s homing attack. In the Sonic Adventure games, it was a means of making 3D work for Sonic. Now, it just turns large parts of levels into QTE button pressing – made worse by all the timing needed for on-rails jumping, skidding under things, and so on. It’s not platforming – it’s rhythm action with no rhythm.

And the bosses! Far too easy, and repeated across levels! Lazy. And the wisps? Annoying. And why does a Sonic game need 5 different buttons to press? One. That’s all. Two at a push. And the cut scenes with Sonic’s smack-talk and the awful conversations needed to go. Rubbish.

If the game was better to play, I’d be all over the red ring hunting in each level (there are five to collect in each, and, Lego game style, you can only reach some once you’ve progressed further into the game and returned to earlier levels) as it’s an OCD dream. But I wouldn’t find it fun – just annoying. Shame.

Maybe Sonic Generations will be better? Of course it won’t be.

Sonic the Hedgehog (DS): COMPLETED!

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With all the Chaos Emeralds, of course. Only lost a couple of lives (Scrap Brain Zone 2 *shakes fist*) but somehow didn’t collect many along the way. I suppose it’s just because I didn’t bother trying for them, and after getting the Chaos Emeralds, didn’t bother with collecting many rings either.

The end of game boss is laughably easy these days. I remember him being nails back in the day, but Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 both have much harder final bosses so I suppose it’s all relative.

For a change, I’ll do Sonic 2 next, but as Knuckles.