Game News, Miscellaneous

PAX Show Floor Hands-On Preview of Sonic CD on Xbox Live Arcade

Sega’s latest classic title up for download services proves to be an important stepping stone for the company. Not only is it a port of a rare Mega/Sega CD title, the collaboration behind the project showcases the 10+ year old game running with optimizations and slight changes that help solidify Sonic CD’s place among the previous games. Not since Street Fighter has a game seen this level of work, both for those who prefer games to stay as true to the original as possible as well as please those who are looking for optimizations to solidify the functionality between the Sonic games. What was shown off in the PAX demo was the entirety of Palmtree Panic, with two special stages that would be randomly chosen for each playthrough for the sake of the demonstration. Honorable mention goes to our good buddy Ken Balough who was also there at the Xbox Live Arcade booth to help fill in the gaps of what to expect.

No doubt the most promising feature is the ability to change between two different spindash types for the game. However, the demo available only allowed for players to utilize the Sonic 2 & 3 Spindash feature. While the sound effects were still similar to the original version of the game, the spindash execution itself was much more streamlined compared to the original Sonic CD. You still have to charge up Sonic before he goes blasting off, but it is much easier to access places that would normally be more difficult to reach because of this optimization. Because of the new spindash feature, the screen does not pan in front of the player as it did in the original. In the final game, the screen will pan if the legacy spindash feature is turned on.

The gameplay otherwise feels exactly as it did in the original game. Load times are quicker for sure, enemies move as you expect, the stage gimmicks, such as Sonic going through the giant 360 degree loop, are also in place. Some additions including the 16:9 widescreen presentation that properly fills the screen in both regular and special stages help with the viewing area even without the camera panning in front of Sonic. The only real oddity I came across was the stage boss in Act 3; during the part where Eggman falls from the sky, the player can still damage the boss before he begins his attack movement.

The special stages in this version take advantage of the modern hardware, well, as modern as a flat “Mode 7-like” plane with UFOs flying around can get. The 3D plane turns much more smoothly as the UFOs scale properly in the 3D space. Item UFOs are much easier to identify; Light blue represents ones with shoes, and the darker bluer ones represent rings. Of course, the time bonus UFOs are still the same light blue with red bars and will appear when 20 seconds are left on the clock. The smoothness of which Sonic runs around, (or if he gets bounced around,) makes it easier to tell Sonic’s trajectory as he travels. Despite the upgrade in presentation, control is still fully digital, (i.e. no analog,) when turning Sonic left and right.

Another feature unique to this version is a filter effect for the graphics that blur the pixels for a more smoothed, anti-aliased look. Similar to Super 2xSai or Super Eagle filters that work on all the objects on screen. The filter works by applying them per object, however the effect seemed a bit blurry, and the smaller details of some sprites became a bit tough to make out. Ken did state that the feature was still being worked out as it was thrown in shortly before the PAX showing. For purists, players can easily turn the filter off and enjoy the original look of the game. In the demo the filter feature’s switch was mapped to the Left and Right Bumper buttons of the Xbox controller, which are likely to change into a menu function in the final build.

Despite the low volume of the TV, one could determine that the music was without a doubt the Japanese soundtrack. Unfortunately, Ken confirmed that the US soundtrack would sadly not be available in the final version. (Sidebar from me: You can use the Xbox 360’s built in music player to blare your rare Sonic Boom! Music CDs.) What Ken stated on the matter is that they are still working to see what would need to happen on the legal side of things to get the US soundtrack in the final game. While DLC is a possibility, he’d much rather try to include the music for free, whether they can get it in the final or added in through a patch.

While the game was being shown on the 360, Ken did state that the game is coming out on a host of platforms including PS3, Android, iOS devices and on the PC through Steam. A WiiWare version is currently not planned. The game is on track for a release later this year, and already looks very promising. Alas, no disc based version of the game will go on sale.

Finally, on a side note. Those of you who are at PAX make sure to go check out the booth. Last few times I checked over at Microsofts booth, Sonic CD was literally untouched. Go be a bro, check it out and say ‘hi’ to Ken. I bet he’s quite lonely!

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23 Comments

  • Reply

    So, if a retro guy made this, does that mean Sega could potentially hire Tweaker and put out a legit, licensed version of Megamix?

    • Reply

      Theoretically, yes.

      However, much to the wet dreams of many, I highly doubt it will ever happen.

  • Reply

    “he’d much rather try to include the music for free, whether they can get it in the final or added in through a patch.”

    Just what I wanted to hear. I don’t care for the US soundtrack, but a free option to play through the port with it would be great either way.

  • Reply

    Awesome!!! 😀 I love the S2-S3K or CD physics feature is still there!!! Everything sounds awesome, I´m glad we´ll finally get a great port of a classic Sonic game 🙂 I don´t know if we´ll get the US soundtrack, but I wouldn´t mind paying for it if the port is as awesome as it seems to be.

  • Reply

    While I have no love for the game itself, I think it’s amazing Sega are putting such effort into this port.

    ….if only they had done the same thing for 1-K and SA1…..oh well, hopefully if this sells well they can re-release them all but better.

    • Reply

      Hey if they’re using Taxman’s engine for this, maybe having Blobvandam doing a High Def Sonic 3&K is a distant possibility

  • Reply

    Come on no Sonic Boom!, well if its legal problems I can understand

    • Reply

      You dissin’ “Toot toot Sonic warrior?”

      • Reply

        Toot toot take a shitty sonic warrior, is retarded as hell.

  • Reply

    The widescreen looks amazing. No black bars! Beautiful. If they re-released Sonic 1 (SPINDASH INCLUDED like in Sonic Jam), 2, and 3K in 16:9 I would rebuy them all. I am so excited for this.

    I actually always loved how the Sonic CD spindash looked, but including Sonic 2’s spindash just adds to replay value. Brilliant.

  • Reply

    Now seeing as this port of the game takes place in between sonic 4 ep 1 and ep2 i wonder if they will thrown in an option to turn HA on or off and that it will get turned off in the legacy mode. That would certainly be interesting.

    • Reply

      You may want to check the updates about the placement on Sonic CD in the timeline. XD
      HA is quite controversial in 2D, where isn’t any 3D cammera problems, i doubt it will be available in such game.

  • Reply

    You guys are all such crybabies. I highly doubt you guys don’t have flash drives or MP3 players…besides, I thought all of you always said the international soundtrack was SUPERIOR to the US one…

    • Reply

      Ok, I really gotta know: why? Why is the ‘international’ soundtrack so technically superior? I must be the only one on the planet who thinks that Nilsen’s tracks were better, except for the ‘past’ versions of the zones which were just the international tracks with (thankfully) none of those ear-bleedingly awful vocals. YES YES WE CAN, DA DA DA DAT DAAA.

      • Reply

        I dunno, don’t ask me. I personally just like the international one more (more upbeat, catchier, feels more like Sonic; US one feels more ambient) but for me, that’s just a matter of opinion. You should take this to the forums, actually.

  • Reply

    Judging by those screenshots, wow. A 2D Sonic re-release has never looked better.

  • Reply

    Okay;
    This is Semi Win for Sonic Team.

    However, I feel that Sonic Generations will do what Sonic CD: The Revival (AKA this 2011 version) is doing with the HD View effect;
    We will possibly get what was shown with the other titles as well.

    What I would like though is for the HUD Display (Score, Time, Rings, and Chances counter) to be about an inch or 02 away from the side of the screen, like how the Special Zones do with this. 🙂

  • Reply

    “The only real oddity I came across was the stage boss in Act 3; during the part where Eggman falls from the sky, the player can still damage the boss before he begins his attack movement.”

    I found another one for you:
    https://twitter.com/#!/sonictempest/status/107657294052986881/photo/1

    Don’t want to make too big a deal out of it, but it does seem a little silly, lol.

    • Reply

      Thanks for bringing this up. As with most works in progress shown off there may a be things that haven’t been fixed at the time of that build.

      • Reply

        No problem – completely understood. I appreciate your hard work on this 🙂

  • Reply

    SEGA should just edit the currently released Sonic games aka 1-3&K and give it to us who already have the games. I don’t want to buy Sonic 1&2 on my PS3 again just because of little things when CD’s gonna get em for the same price. Dats NO GOOD!

  • Reply

    We may get some rare art along with this, and maybe Crush 40’s remix of Sonic Boom XD I really hope it does come for Wiiware or at least a Wii physical disk, I’d buy it!

  • Reply

    Thank god we FINALLY get the International soundtrack. The US one sucks. OH BUT IT MAKES THE GAME SO MUCH DARKER AND SERIOUS no, it makes the game seem boring. Every fucking track is a random assortment of generic techno beats and bongo drums.

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