While we missed out on SAGE last year, it’s now finally time to take it out of its somewhat dusty box. SAGE Act 1 has started with some fangames and engines you may want to check out like Sonic Time Twisted, SonicGDK and Da Rock. Besides fangames, there are also live streams, an IRC chat and an Arts & Entertainment section.. This SAGE takes place from February 23rd to March 1st 2014, with a second act happening sometime later this year.
Truly one of the best moments ever captured in a screenshot for a video game.
Anyway, this week includes: an announcement on something coming soon from Sonic Retro/SEGAbits, lots of Sakura Taisen stuff, Bayonetta 2 and even more Sonic Boom details.
A slew of updates rolled out for several Sonic titles across Android and iOS devices. Sonic 1 and 2 now both enjoy more stability and Android Kit Kat’s unobtrusive mode, while iOS7 support is included on the Apple side for Sonic 1, and the ability to use a controller instead of smudging screens with filthy fingers. Sonic 2‘s updates further refine multiplayer to be less of a hassle (though that still doesn’t seem to stop people from disconnecting… rude.)
If for some reason you still happen to be playing Hardlight Studios’ Sonic Dash, you’ll be delighted to find out that after putting up with Zazz beating you like a “DRUUUUUUM” for the past several months, a new boss has stormed out the gate to wreak havoc on the ever repetitive Seaside Hill Zone.
Every other run through the never-ending serpentine roads will result in Zazz and Eggman switching places to try and cut your run short. Unfortunately, while being two different characters, Hardlight decided to phone it in and just reuse the same boss A.I. So it’s less a new boss, more Zazz in an Eggman suit. At least the Egg Hornet theme from Sonic Adventure makes a return!
The update also contains new achievements for Silver and the announcement of the next global challenge to unlock series jewel thief Rouge the Bat. Neither are actually up and running as of publish time.
So those Sonic Boom announcements sure happened. It was probably the biggest Sonic-related announcement since they revealed Sonic Adventure. If you somehow missed it or want a brief summary of what was revealed, here’s the gist of it: SEGA of America has started a new branch to the Sonic franchise with the non-confusing name: Sonic Boom, which is basically a westernized version of Sonic with it’s own world and redesigned characters. Of this they’re making a TV show and two new games for Wii U and 3DS, all of which will be released later this year. In this universe Knuckles gets buffed up for real, Tails gets a toolbelt, Amy realizes that she’s been wearing the same clothes for years and Sonic wears a scarf for some reason. Also they all roll around in sports tape. Also it won’t replace the main series of games that Sonic Team is making.
Anyway, considering how many previews and interviews there are, Sonic Boom will get it’s own section this week. :
Sonic Boom Stuff
[The following review was provided by site member and main power source for the server GerbilSoft.]
Mario and Sonic are back at the Olympic Winter games, this time hosted in Sochi, Russia. Like the previous three installments, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is a mini-game collection based on Olympic events and various levels from the Mario and Sonic universes. How well does it compare to the previous outings?
Now that the fires caused by Sonic Boom‘s unveiling have begun to simmer, SEGA’s financial report reveals Sonic Lost World did okay. The combination of both the Wii U and 3DS versions shipped a total of 640,000 units by Dec. 31, 2013, marking it as the company’s second most successful boxed title behind Football Manager 14.
The company noted however that, in the nine-month span of packaged software shipments, the consumer business side still did not return expected total sales numbers due to “a harsh market environment,” yielding only 6.31 million total games moved. Favorable performance was indicated for Phantasy Star Online 2 and mobile games such as PUYOPUYO Quest and CHAIN CHRONICLE.
The bulk of SEGA’s gain came not only from its Pachinko machines, but from selling investment securities and non-current assets. This garnered them a whopping 44.3 billion yen, or about $434 million. As a reminder, this is after factoring their 14 billion yen expense to purchase Index back in November.
While this may not seem like the most exciting news, it is at least good to see SEGA floating on some decent cash. Given the Wii U’s humdrum state the last year, Lost World‘s low return isn’t surprising. Perhaps Boom will prove more successful? Let’s just hope it includes a cameo from our new favorite purple mascot, Zazz.
[Updated: Game details and Western exclusivity]
So today was a bit of a big deal in the Sonic franchise. After all the rumors, leaked photos and a leaked trailer, we finally have solid info on this Sonic Boom thing. First off: it’s not a reboot, but a spin-off franchise that will co-exist with the modern Sonic games, Boom providing a different take on familiar faces. A TV show, two new video games and toys are being developed and will be released later this year. So let’s dig into this thing! First up: the TV show. Originally announced last year, we now actually have details of how it will play out. The series is being produced by OuiDO! Productions and will air on Cartoon Network during the 2014/2015 season. The 52 episodes ordered will each be 11 minute self contained stories, with no over-arching plots. Among the situations the cast will get wrapped up in are “Knuckles becoming mayor” and “Dr. Eggman faking an injury so he can take Sonic to court.” The primary characters all play their own roles, such as Tails being the go-to Mr. Fix-It and Amy being an archaeologist, using her knowledge to help out the group as they explore new lands.
Then there is what a lot of you might care more about: the new video games. The first game is for the Wii U, and is the final of the three exclusive Sonic titles for Nintendo systems. Unlike every major title over the past decade and a half, Sonic Boom is not being developed by Sonic Team, but by Big Red Button Entertainment. The studio consists of ex-Naughty Dog staff, including Christian Senn. Known around these parts as lead designer on the cancelled Sonic X-treme for the Saturn, Chris’s official title at the studio is Lead Level Implementer. Sure, it’s almost 20 years later, but Chris finally gets his crack at the Sonic franchise.
Led by Bob Rafei of Jak & Daxter and Uncharted fame, Sonic Boom is being described as a “wide linear” game, with interconnected levels branching out from central hub worlds. Focusing on more than just speed, Naughty Dog’s heritage will have some influence on how the title will play. Also, for the first time in a long while, the core four will be playable, with at least two on screen at all times, and all four being involved in boss battles, each character having their own unique attributes. Other known details: Funky Rustic is contributing sound to the game, it uses CryEngine 3, will feature four player co-op and the most important detail of all: the trailer uses Skrillex music.
The other announced game will land on the Nintendo 3DS and is being made by
Dimps Sanzaru Games, known for the latest Sly Cooper title. There aren’t really any details for this game yet, but apparently Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a pretty solid game, so it seems to be in good hands.
In the wake of these announcements, gameing site Polygon interviewed Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka, who revealed that the entire Sonic Boom line was designed with a Western audience in mind. While Sonic Team still has a supervisory role, Big Red Button has creative control, and as such there are currently no plans to bring either the show or the games to Japan. Could this change in the future? Maybe, but for now Japanese Sonic fans are going to have to deal with the import shops if they want to check out this new take on the hedgehog.
There’s also a toyline in the works, which is being made by Tomy. While no imagery of the toys were released in the media frenzy, you can see plenty of screenshots and concept art for the game and TV show after the jump.
[Source: SEGA Blog]
Oh dear, I got stuck with the Monday Links this week. You know that new Sonic game that everyone is talking about? Yes. No? Well, theres still not much to talk about, or Sonic Boom, or much of anything Sonic lately, and you probably don’t want to talk about sports either. In fact I’ve been busy messing around Phantasy Star Online despite being over 14 years too late, and I haven’t moved on to Phantasy Star Online 2. Why? It was something I had missed out on when it came out for the Drreamcast and Gamecube. Since I had broadband adapters for each, and my curiosity in private servers piqued, I wanted to take a look to see what I had missed.
The game’s aesthetics and gameplay structure were the main reason for me wanting to look back at this outdated RPG, because it used a theme thoat most RPGs have not tried to work with, and most would follow the large, open world that World of Warcraft popularized. In fact several of them had an identity crisis to the point that you’d think the developers just wanted to get away with making World of Warcraft. But not Phantasy Star Online, a game that took Sega’s established RPG series and not only gave it a multiplayer component but emphasized real-time action where you are actively engaged in battle, and avoiding damage and looking for enemy weakpoints requires creative strategy. This is probably the best non-Sonic game from Sonic Team, at least in my eyes. You’re still not going to be won over by the story, and it is absolutely difficult for newcomers to find others to play with online, but it certainly reached a technical marvel and helped kickstart a genre to what was popularized by its successors. Theres also fun to be had by playing the game Single Player, but the social element definitely makes up half the game through social interaction, item trading, and planning with your teammates on what to do.
My only handicap that I am personally following is to play this game as blind as possible. I’m not going to bother with item duping, I know Force classes are utterly broken, and I don’t want to consult a wiki to generate the best possible outcome for my character(s). I want to try to match my experience with the game similar to how others played the game back when it came out. Its incredible how the evolution of game design and social interaction has changed the way we play the game, and for a game like Phantasy Star Online, the experience does not match with a modern massive multiplayer environment. But to get the most out of the game, its best to look at why the game had it’s strengths in the first place. Its not entirely possible, and I do want to try and avoid the technical hurdles the game has, because there’s nothing quite like it out there. I want to see about doing an annual check in with the game as well as have more video podcasts with people who played the game before sharing their experiences. Because honestly? I truly regret letting it pass by me, even with the paid subscription fees involved.
Now, lets take a look at the headlines for Monday.