Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Metal VS Metal for Sonic Universe #50

So, remember a couple months ago at New York Comic-Con Archie made a few announcements? It would seem that Archie has flipped the script on us. Sonic Universe #50 was originally announced to be a one-shot story taking place in the Sonic Underground universe and would serve as an epilogue to the cartoon series. For whatever reason, this plan has been put on temporary hiatus and a brand new story, featuring Metal Sonic and Shard--the original Metal Sonic in the Archie comics. Shard first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog #25 (a loose adaptation of Sonic CD), then rebuilt in Knuckles' Chaotix #1, rebuilt again in Sonic the Hedgehog #86-87, before appearing as a member of the Secret Freedom Fighters in Sonic Universe #41-44.

Editor Paul Kaminski says:

Sonic Universe celebrates 50 issues - and Metal Sonic is crashing the party! On the eve of the epic Sonic/Mega Man crossover, 'Forged in Fire' will star a newly-rebuilt Metal Sonic as we've never seen him before - consumed by vengeance. It's metal-brother versus metal-brother as the heroic Shard throws down with this new hatred-fueled Metal Sonic! Metal has been a cold, calculated killer since he debuted in comic book form back in Sonic the Hedgehog #25 - and that original appearance will also be re-presented as a special bonus feature in SU#50! We've also got a stunning new cover by Sonic-art legend Patrick "SPAZ" Spaziante and colorist Matt Herms which will sport comic-shop-exclusive metallic effects! The 'Sonic Underground' story originally slated for this issue in on a temporary hiatus, but fear not! There will still be music to celebrate this historic issue, only this time it's HEAVY METAL!

There wasn't a particular reason given for the change in plans, it's possible the new story could more directly connect to the upcoming Sonic/Mega Man crossover, but this is just speculation.

"Forged in Fire" will run 48 pages, which, for me, is pretty exciting since it's been years since Archie has done any double-sized issues for their Sonic series. Since it's more content than the average Sonic book, Sonic Universe #50 will sell for $3.99 (which is a standard price for most current comic book series) instead of the usual $2.99. It's worth noting that Kaminski mentions that Metal Sonic's original appearance will be "re-presented as a special bonus feature..." so we can probably take that to mean that the main story will run the standard length and the story for Sonic the Hedgehog #25, "Go Ahead... Mecha My Day!" will run as a back-up story.

Here's a look at the cover, illustrated by Patrick Spaziante and colored by Matt Herms!

The cover will feature a special foil-enhanced finish (think the current Sonic Super Special magazine covers), but it seems this foil finish will be a comic shop exclusive. No other variant covers have been announced at this time.

"Forged in Fire" drops March 2013, just before the Sonic/Mega Man crossover gets underway! Get hyped. You can read the full solicitation over at Comic Vine.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Double Review: Sonic 242 and Sonic Universe 45

Filler, it happens from time to time in most forms of media. It’s just padding, a way to space things out between major points in a story. Sometimes it serves as a nice breather between major events, other times, it seems like it’s just interrupting the flow of things. Either way, it’s something that fans of any medium have to deal with. It’s not always bad, but more often than not, it’s just a pointless distraction.

This month, Archie dipped deep into the filler well to deliver two stories for their Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Universe series. For Sonic the Hedgehog, issue 242’s main story was about the Olympics. Issue 45 of Sonic Universe was dedicated to the upcoming Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.

First, let’s talk about Sonic Universe 45. The story, titled “Race for the Stars,” is said to take place “in another place and time,” and presumably is not actually canon to the Archie Sonic universe. Nope, this one is all SEGA.

The story begins with racers from across other worlds—Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog), Vyse (Skies of Arcadia), AiAi (Super Monkey Ball), Beat (Jet Set Radio) and Danica Patrick (NASCAR)—gathering at the starting line, waiting for a race to begin. Dr. Eggman shows up and says he will win the Gran Prix, and then proceed to conquer everyone’s worlds and ruin their lives. While most of the other racers object to his presence—and compare him to similar insufferable villains they’ve had to deal with—Tails says that Eggman had to be invited out of fairness as he was in last year’s race (alluding to the first Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing game). Sonic then makes a flashy entrance as the final competitor, tells Eggman he won’t win and the race begins!

The rest of the “plot” just shows Eggman using various dirty tricks to trip up the other racers, and Sonic leading everyone into ganging up on him and using their unique abilities to defeat him. Let’s hear it for the power of teamwork… even though it’s a race.

“Race for the Stars” is nothing more than a tie-in. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is due out next month for various platforms, so the timing is just right for SEGA and Archie to generate some buzz. After all, it’s really the only “Sonic” title coming out of SEGA this holiday season (Sonic 4: Episode II was released this Spring), so they may as well get the most out of it.

I will be honest right now; I’m not the biggest SEGA head. A lot of my fandom for the company starts and ends with Sonic (hence the blog). Not to say that I haven’t played and enjoyed other SEGA games, but Sonic is the franchise I’ve really put any kind of investment in, so my knowledge of their other properties is limited to knowing they exist. That said, Ian Flynn seems to know what he’s doing, flaunting his knowledge of the other SEGA properties in a way that doesn’t sound like the information for the characters is just being blurted out. Maybe someone that is more familiar with these properties can chime in and say whether or not he really captures the characters’ personalities, but given it’s a one-shot and it’s unlikely Flynn will have a chance to write more stories with them in the future, it might be hard to judge anyway.

I found it funny that Danica Patrick, one of the most hyped inclusions on the roster of Transformed (as well as this tie-in story), isn’t heavily featured in this issue. While she has a few lines in the early pages, we mostly just see her car (with really poorly stamped on GoDaddy and Hot Wheels logos on the hood) every few panels during the actual race; the spotlight is Sonic and the other SEGA characters. Her appearance actually doesn’t look too bad in this issue. An early teaser image (featured on the cover) looked like a terrible trace job from a promotional photo, but her appearance in the final product doesn’t totally clash with the more cartoony characters she is surrounded by (you can compare the promotional image to a panel in the finished comic below).

While the story itself is nothing special, Tracy Yardley’s dynamic, energetic pencils really make the whole thing worth picking up. His linework is very nicely complemented by Jim Amash’s bold inks and Steven Downer’s colors add a fun mood to the action. Nothing is really the straight local color, but seems to have an ever-so-slight reddish tint applied, reflecting the sunset background of the world everyone is racing in (the track appears to be the Dragon Canyon stage, but I’m not sure).

Since "Race for the Stars" is basically all racing action, we get to see Yardley draw all sorts of vehicles, something he clearly excels at. One thing that really stands out about his artwork is that he manages to make the vehicles really look like they are moving. We get to see each vehicle bounce and move along the different areas of the racetrack and as the transform between different stages panel to panel. It’s all in the staging, the perspective, and the angles, and Yardley nails all of these, keeping those pages moving at a brisk pace without disorienting the reader.

Next, we have issue 242 of the regular series. This issue contains two stories, one about the Olympics, and another taking place in Archie Sonic continuity.

The main story, “Olympic Trials,” opens “in another place and another time” which means it’s another non-canon story. Sonic and Tails conversing on the track and field event track, waiting for the events to start. Dr. Eggman and his hench-bots, Orbot and Cubot, are disguised as safety officials discussing the various traps they have laid for Sonic and his friends. One by one, unbeknownst to Sonic and Tails at the time, all the other competitors disappear. Eventually, all but Sonic are captured and Eggman reveals himself, prompting Sonic to challenge the Doctor to a one-on-one, all-or-nothing Olympic competition. Eggman agrees, but calls in Metal Sonic to compete with the real Sonic. Now Sonic and Metal go head-to-head with the freedom of Sonic’s friends at stake.

The timing for “Olympic Trials” is indeed strange; it isn’t directly tied into anything. You could say it’s tied to the successful Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series—just minus Mario characters for licensing reasons—but if that were true, SEGA would probably have pushed harder to have this story out sooner to coincide with the release of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was also released a few months after the 2012 Olympics, so it would seem SEGA and Archie felt there was no rush to put this out just in time. Perhaps Archie wanted to let the “Secret Freedom” storyline, which spans #238-241 of the regular series and #41-44 of Sonic Universe (according to Archie themselves), to run uninterrupted? It’s also possible there may have been some scheduling or even licensing issues that delayed “Olympic Trials,” but with no official word, we'll likely never know. Whatever the reason, “Olympic Trials” definitely feels more like a “breather” between the end of “Secret Freedom” and before the upcoming “Endangered Species.”

I admit I don’t really watch much of any kind of sporting events, but I found “Olympic Trials”—as pointless a story it is—to be a pretty fun read. Unlike “Race for the Stars,” Flynn takes a more tongue-in-cheek approach to this story. On the first page, Sonic is almost in a trance as he reaches out to the Olympic flag, wanting to take one of the rings before Tails snaps him out of it. Flynn also takes a moment to poke fun at the fandom in his own way. I feel like giving the joke away would be a disservice to readers though; if you recall the fan outcry over the physics engine of Sonic 4: Episode I, you’ll likely have a laugh when you read it.

The second story, “Unfriendly Skies,” moves back into continuity, following up to the events of issue 241, and serving as a prologue to the upcoming “Endangered Species” storyline, set to begin with issue 243. Team Fighters—composed of Sonic, Tails and Amy Rose—continue chasing the Death Egg. Eggman’s robots ambush them, but Team Fighters makes short work of them before heading into Albion, the Echidna homeland, which was just hit by Eggman at the end of #241. Meanwhile, on Angel Island, Knuckles is communicating with NICOLE back in New Mobotropolis, trying to set up a monitoring system. With Vector, Espio and Charmy gone to look for Mighty and Ray (to be continued in Sonic Universe #46-49), he feels he has to embrace his ancestors’ old ways to at least keep his home safe. As they finish, NICOLE discovers a distress call from Albion and relays it to Knuckles, who, feeling obligated to help what’s left of his people, opens up his warp ring and heads out to Albion, crossing paths with Team Fighters.

“Unfriendly Skies,” is a more serious story (being back in continuity and all) and we get to see some more Team Fighters action as they battle more of Eggman’s Egg SWATs riding Dawsons* (you know, those big turtle robots from Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s Sky Chase Zone?). It’s a nice touch including familiar badniks and mixing them in with the newer, original robots created for the Archie series. In the past, we’d seen some early badniks like Caterkiller and Buzzbomber, only for them to be later replaced by SWAT Bots and Combots as the comic became more serious in tone.

*Well, they’re called Turtloids in the English manuals, but I thought I’d be fancy and go with the Japanese version. Sue me.

It’s nice to see Knuckles ready to jump back into action. The poor guy went through a lot the last few years and now it’s time for his big comeback. He still dwells on what he did during his brief stint as Enerjak, but even though he’s ashamed to face his people, he puts his feelings aside to do his job as Guardian; the Echidnas of Albion may not live on Angel Island, but he will not allow Eggman to harm them. It’s a nice continuation to his arc post “Enerjak Reborn” (#180-184) where he started by alienating his family and friends, isolating himself, and ultimately going back to relying on them when he needs them most in “The Return” (Sonic Universe #9-12). Now he has a shot at redeeming himself, by saving his people from Eggman. 2013 looks like it will bring some major change for the character, and I, for one, am looking forward to “Endangered Species.”

Jamal Peppers handles penciling duties for both stories. I especially love the two-page montage spread showing Sonic and Metal Sonic competing in all the Olympic events (except for swimming, where the two just stare at the pool—more Ian Flynn humor for you). The battle sequence during “Unfriendly Skies” is also very well staged and composed. Terry Austin’s inks, while not as bold as Jim Amash’s, help bring it all together. Matt Herms’s colors are more subtle than Downer’s colors in SU#45, but the lighting effects he uses in certain areas are a nice touch and add a little more dimension to the action.

These issues are just filler, but I personally had more fun reading them than I thought I would. I like these issues for different reasons, primarily the artwork in Sonic Universe #45 and the meta-humor in the main story of #242. If you were looking for more of the on-going story, these issues will likely disappoint. But if you’re willing to put up with one month of filler, you’ll find a couple stories that are least fun to read, even if they are just pointless distractions before we jump back into the real action. And, of course, if you’re a completest, I’m sure what I’ve written means very little to you.

Don’t worry folks, the filler is over for now. We’ll be back in continuity by the end of the month when “The Chaotix Quest” (Sonic Universe #46-49) and “Endangered Species” (Sonic the Hedgehog #243-246) begin! Don’t miss ‘em!

Coming up:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Straight Outta Comic-Con

... New York Comic Con, that is.

Off-screen photos by Tyler, posted by TSSZ. Cropped and downsized for this post.

So the Internet is abuzz with some recent news that Archie dropped during their appearance at this year's New York Comic Con. As usual, Archie has announced some new solicitations, roughly projecting the direction of the comic series for the next year. While several books, collections, etc. were announced at Archie's panel, this post will mostly just feature a rundown of some of the major announcements. You can see all the photos from the panel over at TSSZ.*

More after the jump.

*Yes, I know many are not fond of that site, but they are a decent source for most Sonic-related news at least, therefore I'll link to it since that's where I got most of the images from.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sonic and Mega Man to Team Up in 2013?

Calm down, y'all.

While it's not a video game crossover, it looks like Archie Comics, who owns the licenses to produce comics for both Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man (or Rockman, if you prefer), is planning a 12-issue storyline where two of gaming's biggest heroes will meet. The details are largely under wraps, but looks like things will be getting interesting for the Sonic and Mega Man comic lines (the latter began publication in 2011) in the next year or so. According to SEGA's official blog, the storyline will run through the three current on-going series: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe and Mega Man.

I'm personally looking forward to this, especially with writer Ian Flynn (who writes for both Sonic and Mega Man) at the reins, the crossover should be in good hands. No news on who is doing interior artwork yet, but Archie Sonic artist staple and the penciler for the first four issues of Archie's Mega Man series, Patrick Spaziante (a.k.a. Spaz) will be doing the cover art. We can probably expect the usual Archie talent: Tracey Yardley, Ben Bates, Chad Tomas on pencils (among so many others), Terry Austin, Jim Amash. Rick Bryant on inks, Matt Herms on colors, etc.. This, of course, is just speculation, but all these artists are currently involved with at least one of the above three series in those same roles, so it's not really a stretch to expect them to be part of this project. Time will tell though.

Editor Paul Kaminski had this to say about the upcoming crossover event:

“We’ve been gearing up for this for years,” said Kaminski. “From the moment we had Mega Man at Archie, we knew we wanted to bring Sonic and the Blue Bomber together. It’s a big budget movie featuring two of the most storied video game franchises. This has never happened before. We’re making history here, and it’s going to knock people for a loop. This is what comics are all about – drama, fun, action and tons of surprises. Fans will not be disappointed.”

SEGA has posted a teaser image on their blog, featuring Mega Man's helmet and Sonic's shoes.

Get hyped people.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I - Two Years Later

It's been almost two years since Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I was released. With the release of the second, and possibly final, episode in the Sonic 4 saga on the horizon, I thought now would be a good time to revisit Episode I. Developed by Dimps with supervision from Sonic Team, the game has divided just about everyone. It was generally well received by most critics, but it was the fans who cried foul for either ridiculous reasons (such as Sonic being in his "modern" appearance rather than his "classic" look) or even justifiable reasons (touchy physics engine). Needless to say, SEGA could not catch a break. Several early leaks, thanks to an issue with Microsoft's PartnerNet program, colored most fans' expectations dark. In their minds, even though it was an early build, SEGA had screwed up once again.

I know I even picked on this a little, calling out the fans and regularly criticizing the pessimistic, entitled attitude that seemed to sweep through the fandom every time a new game is announced. Now, I've said a lot of things in the past about the fans, and while I don't take any of it back, it's one of those things I've had to learn to accept. My complaining about the fans' complaining isn't doing anyone any favors so it's best to just roll my eyes and keep chugging along.

When I first played Sonic 4: Episode I, I walked away mostly satisfied. A little bored, because I managed to clear it 100% in one playthrough (the episode is ridiculously short), but mostly satisfied. I know when I first loaded it up and heard Splash Hill Zone coming through my TV I smiled, and I kept on smiling the entire afternoon I spent with it. Coming back nearly two years later, I find my feelings are largely unchanged.

Episode I is a short, entertaining "mini-adventure" that can serve as a fun way to kill a few hours on a slow afternoon. The music is catchy with that distinct "Sonic-y" sound to it, and the game has a few creative ideas going for it in each of the different levels, though it's hard to ignore that a lot of the visuals, tropes and progression seem rehashed from the original Genesis games; Splash Hill is another Green Hill clone, Casino Street has assets that look like they were directly lifted from Sonic 2's Casino Night Zone, Lost Labyrinth feels like an updated Labyrinth Zone from Sonic 1 (it's actually more fun too!) and Mad Gear feels like a more tolerable version of Sonic 2's infamous Metropolis Zone. Each level also features updated versions of bosses from the zones the game pays tribute to.

"But Arun," you cry, "what about the physics? And the level design? And Sonic's GREEN EYES?!" Well, let's talk about those in reverse. First off, the "green eyes debacle": Nobody cares, get over it. As a friend once said to me when I told him about it: "[Sonic] looks the friggin' same."

Would you really think these were two different characters?

Moving on...

Expect to see these often...
The level design is something of a mixed bag. The overall map design plays similarly to older Sonic games, featuring split paths and level-specific gimmicks. Splash Hill Zone, for example, is broken into three acts (including a boss act): the first act is the typical "Green Hill" type opening level you've come to expect from the series. The second act focuses on navigating the level via a series of vines, and the third act is more platform heavy and finishes with a series of zip lines and Bubbles chains, traversed via homing attack, to the goal.

One of the common criticisms is that the level maps are all similar, following the same basic layouts across all four zones with the only real variation being with the level gimmicks. Indeed, the levels definitely all feel similar, and certainly lack the kind of diversity seen in Sonic 2 or 3 & Knuckles, but it's the gimmicks that make them stand out. There's an interesting one in Lost Labyrinth which requires the player to guide Sonic through the level using only a torch to navigate the dark areas and solve puzzles. It's the most unique of them all, and it happens to be my personal favorite. It's also hilarious to transform into Super Sonic (after collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds, of course) in this act and negate the purpose of the torch altogether. Super Sonic. Still broken. Gotta love it.

Lost Labyrinth Act II - running
The torch gimmick of Lost Labyrinth, Act 2 (console versions only)

Speaking of Super Sonic, the special zone featured in Episode I is an updated version of the one from the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Like in the original, you need a minimum of 50 rings when you pass the goal, and then you jump into the giant warp ring that appears at the end of each level. The big difference between these zones and the original version is how they are controlled. In the originals, players controlled Sonic, jumping off walls and rolling over elements to get to the Chaos Emerald. In Episode I, players control the zone itself, rotating it to guide Sonic to the goal. These stages are, in a lot of ways, actually easier than the original version, but there is still a chance Sonic could accidentally bump off of a wall or other level element straight into an exit. It takes some practice, and some stages are easier than others, but they are a fun diversion that help pad out the length of the game (and it's quite short). They are also completely optional if you want to just breeze through all four zones, but collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds offers a teaser for Episode II (as revealed, a silhouette of a character that will feature prominently... see the bottom of this post).

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I - iPhone
Episode I's Special Zone

About the most frustrating aspect of the level design are the moments when the levels seem to ramp up the difficulty midway through and unexpectedly start hitting players with the bottomless pits, sections that deal an instant death and sends Sonic back to the last checkpoint. This shows up a lot in Casino Street, where a lot of finessing is required (perhaps a little too much) to safely get through the card platforms. Most players on their first runs through probably won't see it coming, and this could lead to some frustration. Sonic has never been a stranger to bottomless pits, but here they occur with more frequency than is really wanted.

And woe be to the player stuck in a 4:3 display, as the screen is zoomed in making it difficult to spot upcoming obstacles. This was probably the one sour note of the entire game for me. To best describe it, let's think about the old Game Gear ports of the Master System Sonic titles. A common complaint with these versions was because the games were downsized, and the screen was re-centered, it made it difficult to see things coming because of the smaller aspect ratio. From my experience, it seems clear that Sonic 4 was created and meant to be viewed in 16:9. The pan and scan mode is a nice option for those of us (like myself) who still have standard TV's (4:3) complete with the CRT tubes and all, but it's impractical, and even distracting when  play. It also seems even more pointless when you consider that most first party Nintendo games released around the same time, such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii or Donkey Kong Country Returns, are exclusively 16:9 and appear in letterboxed format for standard TV's. I'd rather deal with black bars on the top and bottom of my screen than not see enough of the picture and mistime a jump. Let's just say there's a reason pan and scan went out of style years ago. It's the same problem with cropping a 4:3 picture into 16:9; you're just removing screen content so it can fit a particular screen type and it screws up the basic composition (looking at the "remastered" release of Dragon Ball Z with disdain). I take my aspect ratios seriously, dammit.

This brings me to the main complaint most fans have leveled against the game: the physics (and by extension, the controls). This ranges from Sonic not building momentum like he could in the original Genesis games to "floaty" controls, as they are often described.

On the issue of Sonic's momentum, it is regularly said that the way it's actually built up is not the same as the original games. In the original games Sonic's speed and momentum was dependent on the level design and the main challenge was maintaining it as you progressed through a level; go too fast, you may not see those spike pits or enemies coming fast enough to react. In Episode I, it appears that Sonic's speed and momentum is actually independent of the level design. Move forward for a few seconds, even on a flat plane Sonic hits top speed quickly. And the "feel" of this speed is the same whether you are running downhill or uphill. Sonic also tends to be able to "stop on a dime" by just releasing the D-pad. In the originals, Sonic gradually slowed down when the D-pad was released. If you wanted to stop immediately, you just pressed back on the D-pad (i.e. pressing left instead of right).

The biggest problem I found with the momentum is the underpowered spin dash (made more obvious by the overpowered version in the "classic" levels of Sonic Generations). In the original games, the spin dash granted Sonic a burst of speed AND a form of defense. Here, the spin dash grants some defense but doesn't grant any more speed than Sonic already had if it wasn't used. In fact, don't expect to use the spin dash to get up any steep hills; it's better if you just run up the hill rather than hope the momentum of the dash will carry you through (it won't).

One final note on the physics of the game is actually the controls. They feel a little more loose, and when you come into the game playing the originals first, it really begins to show. You jump in the air, Sonic does not maneuver as easily, though this is somewhat fixed by Sonic having his air dash/homing attack. This mostly becomes a problem in the sections of the game that require more precise platforming as there's always a risk of missing your mark and falling. In the worst cases, this lands you into a bottomless pit and you have to start over at the last checkpoint. Other times, it's just a lower part of the level. There are no warnings though (as seen in Sonic Generations and the upcoming Sonic 4: Episode II).

When I had originally seen gameplay videos for Sonic 4: Episode I, I thought the difference in the physics was negligible and that fans, as they tended to do, were just being hysterical over nothing. But watching and playing are two different things. The bottom line is: Sonic 4 does feel different. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on the player. SEGA had advertised and hyped this game specifically as a "classic game" and as a "classic game" Sonic 4 did not measure up to most fans' expectations. Coming in from playing the original games, it's hard not to notice something is "off," but saying it completely ruins the experience is ridiculous.

So what does this all mean, anyway? I tried to write this post from a fresh, mostly unbiased perspective having not played the game very much since it was first released. Think of this more as a collection of observations, both from the perspectives of other fans, and personal experience. I honestly wish I could have found the space within this writing to compliment Sonic 4: Episode I just as much as I criticized it. It seems almost unfair that the game gets damned on the basis that "it's not the classics," going back to that whole "feel" thing I described before.

This all boils down to the simple question "Does it hold up?" The short answer is "yes," but just barely. Sonic 4: Episode I is a fun ride while it lasts, and it doesn't last very long. I'm able to get over the issues perhaps because I know it's not meant to be viewed as a complete game, but part of a bigger adventure. I think if a complete game was like this, the issues would count much harder against it. As it is right now, Sonic 4: Episode I is a remarkably average experience from beginning to end. It doesn't do much to make itself stand out from Dimps's previous efforts (the Sonic Advance and Sonic Rush games) and seems like a mostly hollow tribute to the original games in terms of recycled visuals, level tropes and badniks. To put it simply: "it's a thing." You can take it or leave it.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I developed by Dimps with supervision by Sonic Team and was released on October 7, 2010 for iOS, October 11, 2010 for WiiWare, October 12, 2010 for PSN and October 13 for Xbox Live Arcade. The game was later re-released for PC via Steam on January 19, 2012. This post is based on the WiiWare version. Screenshots in this post are for the Xbox Live Arcade version (as the two versions are identical) and are taken from SEGA's official Flickr.


On the Horizon

With all this behind us now, let's talk about the future. Based on what's been seen of Episode II so far, it seems SEGA really took a long hard look at the criticisms from fans, and will do what they can to address these concerns. Sure, Wii owners are getting the shaft (don't get me started––SEGA, you owe me $15), but if you've got a decent PC or are looking at buying another console anyway, you can always look forward to buying Sonic 4: Episode II to enjoy alongside your other games.

To round out this whole article, I'm including a few choice screenshots from SEGA's Flickr gallery for the upcoming Episode II, and a link to the latest trailer. Get hyped and enjoy.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode IISonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode IISonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode IISonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode IISonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode IISonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode IISonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode IISonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II

And finally... Metal Sonic returns!

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II

Here's the most recent trailer:

Or, watch externally @ Youtube

Until next time, later!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thoughts on SOPA/PIPA

UPDATE 01/19/2012 @ 2:30AM: And the blog has been restored. Hope this post was useful in some way.


The "blacked out" banner used on 01/18/2012

I'm not much of a protester, I suppose it's not in my nature. But I feel like in a gesture of solidarity, as well as the fact that SOPA is every a bit of a threat to me (and not just because I run a Sonic fan-blog), I should do my part no matter how small it may be. So today, I've "removed" Sonic from the header. I'm also going to temporarily remove all viewable posts for the day. I don't know what it can do, but I feel like I should at least do something.

The protest from major websites like Google, Wikipedia, deviantArt, Mozilla, Reddit, The Sonic Stadium, Sonic Retro, and so many others (the last two are major communities for both fans and SEGA) will hopefully send a very clear and powerful message that SOPA and PIPA should not go through. For more information on the bills, Google has a great petition page that one can sign and read up on SOPA/PIPA and why they are such threats to the Internet. Sign it, read it, spread it around.

There are many other pages that people can get information, such as information to contact their representatives. I'm not as articulate as I'd like to be, so I don't think they'll be getting any e-mails/phone calls from me, but I highly recommend looking into it if you feel like voicing your opinion to someone who can effect some change.

For more information on SOPA and PIPA, go here: http://sopastrike.com/. Thank you. The blog will be restored early tomorrow.


While I'm on the subject about this, I figured now would be as good a time as any to comment on something SOPA related that SEGA did last week. It concerns a fan who wrote to SEGA asking about their individual stance when the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) supports SOPA. Unfortunately, SEGA had given an automated response. SEGA soon caught their mistake and hilarity ensues.

I'm certainly glad SEGA caught their mistake, but this doesn't seem any more appropriate than the bot response. The video, while funny, was just a poor attempt at sweeping the real issue under the rug. I think it would be more professional and respectable of SEGA to just say that they can't publicly speak about it, rather than just let their community people dick around in front of a camera for a minute. That's just my two cents though. You can call it "crowd control," but it doesn't address the problem at all, and that's why it bugs me.