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.
This time I’m looking at the classic styled games that are returning from Act 1, which was held earlier this year at the end of February. Let’s see how much they’ve changed (and hopefully improved) in the intervening five months.
Sonic: Edge of Darkness
I really liked Sonic: Edge of Darkness at Act 1, and I replayed that version as well as the new demo in order to compare them directly. Oddly I notice a lot of physics problems in the older demo when playing it now, but there’s no mention of them in my review. They weren’t awful by any stretch, though.
- The physics are improved, especially the wall jumping.
- There are now 3 zones with 2 acts and a boss, instead of only 2 zones with 1 act.
- I still like the transitions between the levels.
- If you’ve ever felt like it would be cool to fight the sand golem boss from Sandopolis Act 1 directly (rather than leading it into the quicksand), you’ll like one of the new bosses.
- The physics are still really… weird. Whereas before they felt too sluggish, now Sonic gains speed way too quickly when jumping. This isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself, but when you are playing a bunch of other games that have more accurate physics it’s hard to adapt.
- Springs feel really underpowered.
- The music is still all over the place, with some good choices and others feeling “fangamish”.
- Ring scatter is really abnormal, and they often all fall where you can’t get to them. During bosses, though, they stop at the sides of the screen, which I found pretty nice (though someone could probably bring up balance issues with this).
All in all, this is exactly what should happen with successive demos. More content, more polish, and more fun. With the progress it’s made since SAGE Act 1 as an example, I look forward to Edge of Darkness shaping up into a great finished fangame.
Sonic Black Ace
Sonic Black Ace is a little confusing. The booth contains no screenshots or videos, just a tiny logo. If I hadn’t played it at Act 1 I’d have no idea what it was about or feel any draw to play it.
According to the comments, the game had a showstopping bug that caused it to freeze and crash, and now that’s been fixed. Before the fix the booth was titled Sonic Black Ace & Knuckles, which can still be seen from the URL, but now it’s back to being called Sonic Black Ace Demo 7, which was its title at Act 1.
Playing the fixed demo, the only noticeable different from the Act 1 version was that the test zone had been removed, along with Modern Sonic’s ability to enter any of the acts from the “White World” hub. Now you have to beat the demo to unlock these things, which makes sense for a finished game – but for a demo showcasing content, it’s annoying.
The fact that there’s little new is borne out by the description in the booth:
New This Time Around:
-Save and Loading
-New Airship Armada Act 1
-First Zone was renamed Aphotic Forest
-Knuckles and Da Rock added
It’s also a shame that a lot of the problems from last time aren’t fixed yet (like the temporary freezing when music loads). I know life gets in the way, but I would have liked to see more progress here.
It’s still a fine game, but if you played it at Act 1 you’re probably safe in skipping it this time.
Sonic Time Twisted
Because I’m personally involved with the development of Sonic Time Twisted, I can’t give it an unbiased review. I’ll just point you to what I said about it at Act 1, and go over the most exciting new parts. Any complaints I have with it can go directly to the team.
- A new act of Attraction Attack Zone, with a neat slot machine gimmick that evolves beyond the Casino Night ones by giving you power-ups instead of merely rings.
- A cartoon cutscene that leads into the Metal Sonic fight in Attraction Attack Act 2. It’s no Sonic CD opening, but it’s awesome nonetheless, especially considering how rare this kind of thing is in fangames.
- A new act of a new zone, Tidal Tubes, with future and past time zones. The background art in these is excellent.
- Shameless plug: A key mapper program I made for the project that lets you customise your controls before you launch the game. You can control Sonic directly inside the program, previewing how the controls are going to feel before you start playing. I worked very hard to make this nice, because control setup is often the most painful part of playing fangames and I wish they all had something like this. Such functionality will come standard with the AeStHete engine when I finish it.
Overall, the content that was present at Act 1 hasn’t changed much, but there’s definitely some new stuff that’s well worth seeing. Project leader Overbound has announced that this is the final demo of Sonic Time Twisted before its full release, so I hope you enjoy it and anticipate the completed game.
Tomorrow I’ll be going through the modern styled fangames, and following that I’ll finish up with the non-Sonic and miscellaneous offerings. See you then!