Sonic Amateur Games Expo 2010: Game Reviews
Be The Bullet
Be The Bullet is a 2D side-scrolling shooter featuring Sonic the Hedgehog. Take that in for a second. Okay? You should be because it’s surprisingly well realised.
The aim of the game is to fly Sonic through various stages filled with enemies, collecting rings and doing as much damage as possible. You’re only offensive manoeuvre is a spin attack which can also be used to pass through danger zones. Killing an enemy once it has fired bullets also allows you to turn any of its’ bullets into rings for a bonus.
The gameplay is remarkably simple and the stage design and enemy placement really help you to learn how to play the game well. All of this is enhanced by a very retro presentation complete with an 8-bit styled soundtrack.
Once you get the hang of Be The Bullet you’ll soon be gripped by this clever yet minimalist little game. This is definately something you want to check out.
Lazy Sonic is a straight-forward platformer dressed as a 2D Sonic game. Sonic runs around, jumping on enemies, collecting rings and generally trying not to get hurt by enemies. Everything you’d expect from a Sonic game right? Not quite.
Unfortunately, hardly any of the stage gimmicks we’ve come to expect are included. They’re aren’t any loops, the stages don’t even come close to the graphical detail of Sonic’s early games and there isn’t much exploring to be done. Most of the stages feel very ‘boxed-in’ and have a very distinct path to the finish. I’m sure I’m not the only person that played this game and thought “so that’s why it’s called Lazy Sonic!”
Also, what’s up with the soundtrack? I can’t believe there are still developers who just grab random midis and use them as the soundtrack. What is this; 2001? Speaking of Sonic fan-gaming’s infancy, can we lose the enormous window size? The Sonic Pocket Adventure graphics worked so well because they suited the console’s aspect ratio. The massive screen only cheapens the look of this game.
But it’s not all bad. The platforming is pretty fun even if it is a bit simple and the game’s aesthetic is very cute and inoffensive. The main issue with this game is hardly any effort has gone into it. It’ll certainly kill 20 minutes but you won’t be coming back to it once that time is up.
Metal Gear Solid: Fight of the Metal Gears
I had to do a little research before I could figure out what the deal was with this fan-game. The whole thing is based on a ridiculous fan fiction by a chap called Squirrelking that follows Solid Snake’s son (the hilariously named Jake Snake) as he goes about avenging his father’s death by fighting Metal Gears.
The game is more of a parody than an actual, playable piece of entertainment. The presentation is more along the lines of a Megaman game with cut-scenes based on the art style of the recent Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker game that loosely follow the original fan fiction’s silly plot. This is where you’ll find most of the game’s entertainment.
Actually playing the thing is a bit of an up-hill struggle. Once you’re in the enemy’s sight you’re pretty much dead. Ammo is far too scarce which just adds further frustration as you attempt to save it for tougher enemies. But maybe that’s the idea… we don’t know.
Either way, this is a funny little distraction that only emphasises some of the Metal Gear Solid fan-base’s more peculiar characters (sounds like another fan-base I know!). It has a charming presentation with some great cut-scenes that are actually very well voiced even though the English is purposely terrible. Shame about that gameplay eh?
Rosario + Vampire: The Videogame
Can anyone tell us what’s going on here? A spooky bus driver just left us in a spooky land and when we move north we find ourselves in a spooky forest where unseen enemies attack us for no reason. They are bats. Then we have to take it in turns to hit them. We lose because they are ridiculously overpowered for bats. So we start again but go the other direction through the forest. When we get to the top of the forest we are told that this is the beta version and then we are returned to the main menu. Erm, what?
Yes, this game is clearly inspired by traditional JRPGs but there’s isn’t much we can actually do here. It certainly looks okay with it’s JRPG aesthetic and the only music that appears during fights and on the main menu is passable. It’s your typical Japanese bubblegum pop that certainly works well with the game’s cutesy look.
However, there just isn’t enough here for us to make a decent judgement on it. It’s also a whopping 100 megabytes and certainly isn’t worth the wait if you’re on a slower connection. My advice would be to avoid this massive chunk of boredom.
Rose of Longevity
Is this a serious entry to this year’s SAGE? The original Sonic Robo Blast plays better then this mess!
This game is an Amy-based platformer where you run and jump around some horribly pieced together stages, smacking robots with your Pico Pico Hammer, collecting stuff and trying to find the way out. Unfortunately, trying to do any of that is a bit of a challenge with this hideously broken engine.
Movement certainly works but jumping is completely botched. Pressing the jump button looks like you’ve teleported Amy into the air and she also loses any momentum she had on the ground. This makes clearing gaps frustratingly difficult.
This game also presents another case of randomly stealing midis to use for a game’s soundtrack. They don’t even appear to be Sonic related! The presentation in general is quite shocking. The stages are pieced together with graphics from the Sonic Advance series and Doom. That alone should help you understand how ugly this is.
Also, why the gigantic aspect ratio? Sonic Advance’s graphics are small because they are made for the small screen size. If you’re going to use them, decrease your aspect ratio! It would certainly help this game’s presentation (if only a little).
Either way, this is fairly irrelevant. Avoid this game at all costs.
Sonic and the World Rings
Now here’s an interesting concept! Sonic and the World Rings is essentially a fan sequel to the Sonic Rush games complete with dual screens! The aim of the game is to boost Sonic around speed-based stages whilst grinding rails, running around loops and smashing robots.
It all looks rather lovely and plays fairly well thanks to the Sonic Worlds engine (despite being heavily modified). I absolutely love the little angled move at the start of the stage. Most of the graphics are taken from the Rush games along with the music. It would have been nicer to see a more original experience but either way, the game works and is fun to play.
The biggest issue has to be the level design. You are constantly pushing right, doing barely any platforming and running into pitfalls far too often. This is a little bit too challenging for a first stage and requires you to play through many times to learn when these obstacles are coming. This could have been rectified with a wider screen resolution as it would give you more time to react.
Also, unskippable cut-scenes should be banished to hell. There’s far too much backstory here for a Sonic game. An option to be able to move directly to the main gameplay should be standard in any video game; fan or professionally developed.
Sonic and the World Rings is a good start but needs to serious re-thinking in the level design department. With that sorted, this could be a great Sonic Rush clone.