SAGE Advice, Part 4: Modern Styled Games

It seems like no more than a trice since I was last here, giving out “SAGE Advice” – reviewing the games on offer at the Sonic Amateur Games Expo – and now that Act 2 is underway, it’s time for another go. Two SAGEs in one year can be pretty hectic, but it’s double the fun! I’ll provide links to each game’s booth, as well as a download link in case you wind up reading this after SAGE closes.

Today I’m checking out the modern styled games. I’ll be honest, I don’t usually like them as much as the classic ones, but I’ll do my best to be objective.


Sonic Adventure Emerald

Download

Sonic Adventure Emerald has an explorable hub world in which four zones, one boss, and three hidden challenges can be found.

The Good:

  • There’s plenty of content here to keep you busy for a while.
  • Everything here is polished and works as intended. I didn’t encounter a single bug or glitch that prevented me from playing comfortably.

The Bad:

  • Just because Sonic Team did something doesn’t mean you have to do it… why have a footstep sound in a 2D Sonic game? Do players really need to hear what sounds like slapping meat the whole time they play? I guess it’s not really that bad, but once you notice it you can’t un-notice it.
  • Why, oh, why would you make the wall jump use left and right on the D-pad to jump instead of, you know, the jump button?
  • Jumping accelerates way too quickly, making it hard to do any precise platforming. If you want your character to accelerate this quickly, then you need to balance it with much higher deceleration. Sonic games should be about building momentum and maintaining it, not desperately trying to overcome it.
  • Because almost all of the graphics are recycled, there’s nothing new and surprising to see.
  • I’m not sure what’s up with the ranking system, but I played terribly and still got an S Rank on my first try on some stages.

Conclusion: Sonic Sonic Sonic

It’s a decent game, and I wouldn’t dissuade you from checking it out. Somehow, though, I get the feeling I won’t remember it in a year’s time, or be able to distinguish it from similar fangames.


Sonic vs Darkness

sonic_vs_darkness

Download

Sonic vs Darkness – True Nightmare Revived stars Sonic and Shadow in two stages, one of which is a tutorial stage. It’s made in Game Maker 8.0 with Sol Engine V2 by Nefault1st, who was also behind Salom Adventure, a standout that I liked at Act 1.

The Good:

  • It’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s oozing with sparkle and special effects. Sometimes it can actually be a little much, like in the psychedelic tutorial stage, but I really like the production values in this one.
  • A great soundtrack with new tracks as well as original remixes.
  • It’s fun and fluid to play, with flow to the level designs.
  • It’s bug free as far as I was able to tell, playing smoothly and flawlessly.

The Bad:

  • Some of the control choices are a little strange, like having to hold up on the D-pad and press Jump a second time to double jump, but only having to tap down on the D-pad to do the stomp move, which makes it easy to do by accident.
  • I know it’s a modern styled fangame, but I really miss the ability to roll.
  • They’re used really well, but most of the graphics are recycled – even their original palettes are intact.

Conclusion: Sonic Sonic Sonic Sonic

This is one of my favourite modern styled fangames ever, and certainly one of the most polished. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it feels better put together than an actual Sega game like Sonic Rush. I hope it can get some more original level art in the future and grow into something truly great. Definitely worth your time.


Sonic Game Land

Download

Sonic Game Land appears to be largely identical to its demo at Act 1. According to its booth:

Did you miss Sonic Game Land in SAGE 2014 Act 1? Here you go, Sonic Game Land is available for play in SAGE 2014 Act 2 too!

Therefore I’m going to refer you to my review from earlier this year.


Josef the Hedgehog – Remastered

Download (Removed at the request of the creator)

A.K.A. “The Wholly Unremarkable Adventures of Purple Sonic and Green Shadow”. You’ve probably already prejudged this one anyway, and I’m not going to try to change your mind. This thing is a mess from top to bottom, and you won’t miss anything by skipping it.

Unsurprisingly, selecting the “Sonic Skin” that allows you to play Sonic and Shadow with their original colours intact doesn’t make the game play any better.


Sonic Quick Step Challenge

Download

Sonic Quick Step Challenge is not exactly your standard modern styled fangame. Instead it has an overhead view, and the emphasis is on avoiding obstacles like in the “quick step” sequences in games such as Sonic Unleashed.

The Good:

  • I like the concept. It’s nice to have a fangame that stands out instead of the same old, same old.
  • You aren’t heavily penalised for messing up, which is good because you will mess up, and you can select any of the levels from the get go.
  • There’s quite a lot of levels here, so many that it’s more like a beta than a demo.

The Bad:

  • What could have been a pretty simple and fun concept is ruined with over-complicated controls. Almost all of the abilities from a modern 3D Sonic are represented here, requiring you to juggle quick stepping, boosting, homing, light dashing, sliding, cornering, and QTEs. With so little vertical real estate to see what’s coming up, it’s very hard to choose these abilities intuitively and you might be reduced to clumsily following the onscreen prompts. I’m sure with practice anything is possible, but it’s not fun to pick up and play.
  • The physics are a mess. You’re forced to run forward by holding down a key, and letting go for even a moment brings you to a dead stop, making it hard to move left and right comfortably without losing momentum. The collision is sticky, causing you to hang on walls and get stuck in obstacles (though I was always able to force my way out somehow instead of having to reset), and the jump sometimes just plain doesn’t happen.

Conclusion: Sonic Sonic

I wouldn’t have thought that something that seemed so simple from the title – Sonic just runs forward and quick steps left and right, right? – could have gone wrong, but the end product is clunky and frustrating. However, it’s so forgiving that if you wanted to memorise the levels and really give it a lot of focus, you could have fun running the courses. I hope to see it improve instead of being forgotten or abandoned.


Sonic vs Darkness easily takes the win for modern styled fangames this SAGE. If others are looking to prove their mettle, its level of polish is the bar they’ll have to meet.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for my last round of reviews, covering the miscellaneous and non-Sonic fangames.