Tag Archives: sonic the hedgehog

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood [Nintendo DS] – Review

Sonic Chronicles The Dark Brotherhood - Nintendo DS - North American Box Art

Released for the Nintendo DS in September 2008, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is one of the most unique games in the iconic series. Unlike almost every other entry in the franchise, it eschews fast-paced platforming in favor of turn-based battles. This is unsurprising considering BioWare, the Edmonton, Alberta-based developer responsible for it, is best known for their various role-playing games. It features a few trademarks associated with their gameography but plays more like their spin on the Japanese RPG. Continue reading Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood [Nintendo DS] – Review

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Fatal Labyrinth [Sega Genesis] – Review

Fatal Labyrinth - Sega Genesis - North American Box Art

One of more than 50 games included in the Sega Genesis Classics compilation, Fatal Labyrinth is unique among its brethren. It is the only roguelike dungeon crawler with role-playing mechanics, and clocking in at only a few hours, it was just what I needed to fill the gaps between other games. Its narrow focus left me wanting, however. Continue reading Fatal Labyrinth [Sega Genesis] – Review

Knuckles’ Chaotix [Sega 32X] – Review

Knuckles' Chaotix

Released for the Sega 32X in 1995, Knuckles’ Chaotix is the sole title in the Sonic the Hedgehog series to grace the ill-fated add-on. It’s apt that there was only a single title on the Sega 32X since, much like the series, it went fast. Still, this game contains some stellar audio/visual qualities that seem to utilize the benefits provided by the add-on. Despite not revolving around or even featuring Sonic (outside of a cameo in the credits), the gameplay is that of a Sonic game, with one major difference. A second character remains attached to the player’s character at all times via a magical elastic ring. This was quirky and introduced unique platforming mechanics, but I bypassed it entirely by playing as another character.

The game featured a comprehensive tutorial explaining the unique mechanics.
The game featured a comprehensive tutorial explaining the unique mechanics.

Set against the backdrop of an amusement park the day before its opening, Knuckles’ Chaotix documents the trials that the famous (infamous?) echidna and his roadies were put through in order to see its opening day go off without a hitch. Chaotix, as I’ll refer to the group, cleanse Carnival Island’s five areas of Dr. Robotnik and Metal Sonic’s evil influence and prevent the duo from obtaining some sort of all-important crystal. Like its contemporaries, this is a Sonic game that is light on narrative. Which, considering the low, weird places the series has gone since the late 1990s, that’s a good thing.

As I mentioned, the gameplay veers from the series’ familiar formula in one major way: the addition of Ring Power. That’s the system that chains two characters together. It adds an additional element to the fast-paced platforming and boss fighting that traditionally occurs. Ring Power paved the way for rubber banding the characters to gain momentum and using that same concept to slingshot upwards and scale platforms. Because of this newly implemented mechanic, or perhaps in order to make it seem more necessary, stage design seemed to rely upon verticality to a much greater extent than previous games. The stage structure seemed more mazelike as well. There were times when I got confused on which way I needed to be going after doubling back many times while ascending the stages.

Per usual, special stages were present and felt familiar to past games.
Per usual, special stages were present and felt familiar to past games.

I recently read that the stage design for the Sonic games of this era was built upon the concept that the pathways on higher ground would lead to faster stage completion. These pathways contained more divided platforms and as such, allowed a smaller window of time to react, especially when zooming about at “Blast Processor” speeds. In other words, they required more skill. I’ve never been particularly skillful when it comes to these games, which is great since Knuckles’ Chaotix abandoned this approach. Instead, the stages felt more like those maze puzzles that have an entrance and an exit and task you with drawing a line connecting the two. When completed slowly and methodically, mistakes can be avoided but when you try to speed up, errors are made and backtracking is required. Unfortunately, this is a Sonic game and the concepts of “gotta go fast” and maze navigation don’t mix too well.

There was another option however.

The game had a variety of characters to play as but most played identically to Sonic, except for one...
The game had a variety of characters to play as but most played identically to Sonic, except for one…

The characters that make up Chaotix are a diverse bunch: Knuckles the Echidna, Mighty the Armadillo, Espio the Chameleon, Charmy Bee, and Vector the Crocodile. I take that back. They’re all Sonic clones with a unique move or two and they go just as fast as the “Blue Blur.” Well, except for Charmy Bee. Charmy is a bee and accordingly can fly. There isn’t an energy bar or stamina that needs to be considered either, he can just, fly. This impacted my playthrough in the following way: once this fact dawned on me I always chose Charmy and I would just fly to the exit or fly to the objective and then to the exit. Now this wasn’t a linear path I was on, I still had to navigate the confounding stages and believe me, when you ignore the actual platforms, they’re even more confounding. But, this was also the path of least resistance and I’d have been a fool not to take it.

As a result of Charmy Bee becoming my default character, I barely experienced Ring Power. I wasn’t dismayed by this. I spent about a quarter of my playthrough abiding by the platforming limitations requiring its use, but honestly, nothing comes to mind, outside of switches. All I can remember are stages that went vertical and doubled back way more than they should have and the tutorial which demonstrated a few of the ways Ring Power would be necessary. I can’t think of any times it was mandatory though, besides switches. It’s a novel idea, but one whose applications inside a game such as this seem limited and the implementation here didn’t call for it, making it practically nonexistent in my experience.

One of my favorite power-ups seemed to have inspired New Super Mario Bros.
One of my favorite power-ups seemed to have inspired New Super Mario Bros.

I’m not an expert on the first handful of Sonic the Hedgehog games, or any really (maybe Sonic Adventure 2: Battle (Chao man, Chao!)), but the stage design on display here was confounding. The prospect of taking the series – known for its speed – and putting characters with similar abilities in positions where the focus on speed is removed in exchange for labyrinth navigation is frustrating. Not only that, but they introduced a new mechanic and in the same game introduced a character who completely nullified it, let alone require its use (disregarding switches). There are enjoyable moments in this game, and it’s a worthwhile addition to a Sega 32X collection because of the add-on’s small library, but Knuckles’ Chaotix isn’t worth seeking out otherwise.

And… all the way down here is the link to my collected let’s play where you can witness firsthand my opinion of this game form.

Knuckles’ Chaotix [Sega 32X] – Let’s Play

Knuckles' Chaotix - Japanese Box Art

Knuckles’ Chaotix is a game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. It’s the only game in said series to grace the Sega 32X. It’s an okay game, but not a great Sonic the Hedgehog game. More on that later this week. In the meantime, you can watch my collected let’s play in the YouTube playlist below. This will probably be the last full-game let’s play of a Sega 32X game I do for a while (following Tempo and Kolibri), although I still have a few more that I’d like to check out. Those will likely be one-off videos. Anyways, enjoy.

Random Game #26 – Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing [Android]

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

Now didn’t I just discuss a Sonic racing game? What’re the chances I’d get another one this quickly? Actually, it was a 2/1732 or 1/866 so it was quite rare. I acquired this through the Humble Sega Mobile Bundle and like the bulk of that lot, haven’t played this. I have played its sequel on the Wii U though, and it’s pretty good. I don’t find it as polished as a Mario Kart game, but it offers much more variety – specifically in the properties on display. Reading about this title, it appears to do the same, albeit, with a little less than its successor. I’m not too interested in giving this game a shot, especially on Android, but if I found a copy in the wild for a good price, I’d still snatch it up.

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing was originally developed by Sumo Digital and released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Nintendo DS on February 23, 2010, in North America. A PC port was released a couple of weeks later – March 3, 2010. There was also an arcade version (!?) and mobile ports for iOS (2011), Android (2013), and Blackberry (2013); these were ported by Gameloft. Lastly, a Mac OS X version is available courtesy of Feral Interactive (2013). One more interesting point – the Xbox 360 and Wii versions featured exclusive characters: the Xbox 360 had Banjo and Kazooie (in fact, that version goes under a slightly different name noting that) as well as the Avatar while the Wii version featured Miis.

Random Game #24 – Sonic Riders [GameCube]

Sonic Riders

When you have a video game collection like mine, it can be hard to play all of the games. This is especially true when additions are made on an almost weekly basis. Still, I appreciate nearly every game I’ve accumulated for this reason or that. In the hopes of improving my writing through continuous effort and promoting ongoing learning of these games, I’m going to compose brief, descriptive articles.

Before this came out, I thought it looked very interesting. I wasn’t super into Sonic at this point, but I had been previously, notably after the launch of Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. I wound up forgoing this game, but a friend purchased it and we played a fair amount of it. I remember the controls being super sensitive, although imprecise. This didn’t make for an enjoyable experience, especially with a shrunken screen during multiplayer. More realistically, I just wasn’t as good as he was because he had the opportunity to play it more. My poor performance colored my impressions of the game, although I’d like to return to it and examine the single player component. I still think the game has cool look to it; in my mind, it’s very evocative of the time period it was released.

Sonic Riders was developed by Sonic Team, with assistance from NOW Production. It was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube in North America on February 21, 2006 and published by Sega. A PC version was released later that year: November 17, 2006.

Sonic Boom 2013

Sonic Boom 2013It’d be easy to begin this article lamenting the fact that I’m a video game fan living in the Midwest. The truth is though, there are plenty of homespun conventions in the area, a lot of locally owned game stores, and many, many fans to socialize with. Still, whenever an event is announced near our area, my friend and I make a point to attend. When my friend learned that Sega’s annual Sonic the Hedgehog fan event, Sonic Boom, was to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, it was a no-brainer for us. From Tulsa, Oklahoma it’s a six-hour drive and we had traveled to St. Louis a few years earlier and always wanted an excuse to return.

Sonic Boom 2013 was held at The Pageant, located in a hip area of St. Louis full of boutique eateries and hookah bars. The doors opened at 5pm and the event began at 6pm. We arrived about 5:45 and grabbed our goodie bags promptly. We received a gray t-shirt with the St. Louis skyline behind the Sonic Boom 2013 logo, an event-specific Chao bobble head, and a lanyard plastered with Sonic Lost World imagery. Upon full entrance to the venue, we were bombarded with hundreds of fans decked out in Sonic-affiliated clothing and costumes. Demo kiosks for the Wii U and 3DS versions of Sonic Lost World lined the east and west walls alongside buffets containing various foods.

Before the event began in earnest (and during parts of it), my friend and I spent a considerable amount of time StreetPassing with dozens of other 3DS owners. We initially waited in a line for the Wii U version of Sonic Lost World but turned our attention to the stage when Jun Senoue began shredding on his custom Sonic-themed guitar. After fifteen minutes flying solo, Johnny Gioeli entered the act and completed the group known as Crush 40. Together they’ve composed many songs for the series, especially Sonic Adventure forwards. Jun’s work is reminiscent of American hard rock circa the 1980s while Johnny’s lyrics are happy-go-lucky and kind of don’t fit but totally do in a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers sort of way.

Most of the costume contest contestants.
Most of the costume contest contestants.

During the latter half of their hour-long performance, my friend and I tried out the Wii U version of Sonic Lost World. With no lines, it was no sweat getting a chance. The game was vibrant, colorful, and controlled well. Sonic zoomed around the stages as I propelled him forward, jumping about avoiding and defeating enemies and collecting rings. I was satisfied after playing the three of four stages included in the demo but wasn’t sold. It honestly had more to do with my lack of experience with the Wii U controller than the game itself, which seemed pretty good.

The 3DS version on the other hand, that was a solid game. Both my friend and I concluded that we’d probably get that when it releases in October. It’s being developed by Dimps rather than Sonic Team although the games both look and play identically. Again, I was impressed with the visual quality, especially since the action was shrunk down to a smaller screen. I had more fun with this version, but that’s probably due to my comfortableness with the system.

Both versions appeared to have 2D and 3D platforming sections.
Both versions appeared to have 2D and 3D platforming sections.

After Crush 40’s performance, there was an hour-long Q&A session with Takashi Iizuka and Kazuyuki Hoshino. The former is the current head of Sonic Team while the latter is a primary artist for the developer. Both have been with Sega and Sonic Team for twenty-plus years and spoke through a translator. This section was comical thanks to their funny insights on the minutiae of series. They did answer meaningful questions as well. Hoshino-san in particular received many questions regarding his two most popular characters: Metal Sonic and Amy Rose.

Moving ahead swiftly was a costume contest that saw about two-dozen fans’ participation. Each had time to show off their craft during a brief Q&A session with the host. There were a handful of individuals who put a lot of work into their costumes as can be seen in the attached pictures. Of the many highlights, my favorite was probably a kid who when asked how old he was responded s-s-s-s-s-s-eight. This garnered a chorus of laughs from the audience. Following this portion was a trivia contest that pitted two teams of three against each other. The questions ranged from novice trivia that most video game fans would know to obscure knowledge that only the hardest of the hardcore Sonic fans would know.

The winners of the costume contest. Doctor Eggman took 3rd, Sonic took 2nd, and Metal Sonic took 1st.
The winners of the costume contest. Doctor Eggman took 3rd, Sonic took 2nd, and Metal Sonic took 1st.

The event was concluded with a bit of news in the form of the English-language release of a cutscene from Sonic Lost World. My friend and I hung around a bit, thanking members of Sega for bringing the event to the Midwest. He lucked out and received Jun Senoue’s autograph while I shook Johnny Gioeli’s hand. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention meeting a swell guy named Heath Aldrich. We had a lengthy conversation about many things video games as well as podcasting and running blogs. You can find his (and his cohorts’) at firstworldpodcast.blogspot.com. They’re forty episodes deep into their podcast and I know I’ll begin listening soon.

Translating an answer, most likely about Amy Rose or Metal Sonic.
Translating an answer, most likely about Amy Rose or Metal Sonic.

Sonic Boom 2013 was a blast. Seeing so many euphoric fans enjoying themselves makes me want to revisit the series and fall in love the series. Kids, teenagers, and adults were all enjoying themselves and oftentimes, going nuts with joy. Personally, I’m going to go back and play hordes of Sonic games to reacquaint myself with the series. In fact, my friend and I completed Sonic R recently after many fan questions pertaining to the Tails doll’s debut in the Saturn racer/platformer. I hope they’ll return to a nearby area so we can attend again!