Sonic Amateur Games Expo 2011: Game Reviews Part 1
Sonic Run 3
Is this actually real or a joke? Are there seriously 2 other complete Sonic Run games floating around the internet? Did I really just bother to complete this demo? Did this really need to be a demo? Did the developer actually spend more than 10 minutes creating this?
Don’t bother with Sonic Run 3. It’s simply a bit of show filler. In this 3 stage demo you will control and dodgy looking Sonic (that’s really small) and make him stroll across some blocky Green Hill Zone-esque levels where you collect no rings and attack no enemies. A remix of the Green Hill Zone theme plays which decides to rape your ears with a high-pitch lead synth. At the end of the stage you’ll hear a remix of the stage complete theme.
“PRESENTED BY SEGA”. Erm… yeah. Good luck with that.
I knew I was in for a hard time when Sonic RealmZ’s opening video still had a mouse icon encoded into it. Good job there guys. Then I got the chance to join a game. It asked me what nickname and password I wanted. I entered a nickname and then pressed enter as I hadn’t been asked to set a password. NO CHARACTER FOUND. Okay, so you’ve got to create a character first. Fantastic. Can’t I just be Sonic?
So I close the window and open the character creation tool. I make up some stupid furry (seriously, the list of options is pretty extensive. DeviantART would go nuts for this) and click create. YOU HAVEN’T SET A NAME. And that’s just it; I can’t set a name. This is because the resolution is too large so I can’t get to the section where I enter a name because the screen isn’t adjustable.
Well that was certainly a waste of my time.
This is a full game! And it’s pretty damn good! Sonic Axiom is an old-school, 2D Sonic platformer that takes heavy influence from Sonic CD (plus points from me). It’s got everything you’d expect to see in a Sonic game; loops, power-ups, badniks and boss battles with Robotnik.
Presentation is of an amazingly high standard. Every stage features custom work, whether it’s new sprites or alterations to existing Sonic graphics. Everything flows seamlessly together and is beautiful to look at. Some stages can be a little busy, but it’s never distracting. Music and sound is also worthy of note as it features a wide array of high quality arrangements (no MIDIs = yes!) and mad-cap sound effects.
Gameplay is particularly solid as well. The Sonic Worlds engine is doing wonders with modern Sonic fan games as it enables developers to do everything you’d want from a Sonic game. There’s also some fantastic original gimmicks like tubes plugged with screws that you have to spin-dash to release.
Our major gripes come with some of the design. The developer has seen fit to add some rather peculiar slope designs that are usually jagged and break the flow of the stages. It’s very difficult to compensate for them as they take you be surprise and usually result in you running into a enemy at full speed. We’re also a little let down that there’s quite a dodgy frame-rate in Axiom. When it’s running at 60 fps you get a brilliantly smooth and well controlling Sonic game. Once bosses get involved or there’s a lot of parallax on screen, things seem to dip a bit and make things a little unresponsive. It’s not game breaking but irritating none-the-less.
Also, that first boss is a nightmare. There’s no visual cue to Robotnik’s firing or sound effect. This makes judging the patterns very difficult and I ended up beating him through dumb luck and not skill. Games should never be like that.
Regardless, this is definitely a show highlight and a great achievement for Sonic fan-gaming.
Amy Dress Up
This isn’t really a game, is it? These dress up games are an absolute plague on deviantART so you can imagine my reaction when I saw this game was featured on deviantART. GROAN.
Never-the-less, for a game that literally boils down to putting clothes on Amy and then saving it as a bitmap file, this is actually really well presented. The model is brilliantly sprited as well as the clothes and accessories. The tune that plays is a nice little upbeat ditty that suits the situation well.
But it’s still completely pointless. Do I really need to put a fancy bikini on Amy? Why would I want to? Wait… this is aimed at furries, isn’t it? Urgh…
Sonic Worlds Level Collab
I’ve been personally looking forward to this release as I’ve had the pleasure of beta testing some of the stages. It doesn’t disappoint!
This demo features 2 main stages put together by 2 different developers with more involved for later releases. The demo kicks off with Wild Wood. This stage is heavily platform based and is a joy to explore. Exploration is rewarded with the addition of the red rings from Sonic Colours. These are hidden really well and are well worth going back to look for. What do they do? More on that later. Graphics are great featuring a great tileset that uses altered graphics from the Wood Zone stage that was pulled from Sonic 2. The tune is also a pleasant Mega Drive sounding remix that suits the stage well. Wild Wood is a brilliant stage that is only mired by its’ lack of boss.
The 2nd stage is called Amazing Ocean and is somewhat inspired by the Sonic Colours stage of the same name. This is the real highlight of the demo as it features a great speed-to-platforming ratio and is the most enjoyable to explore. The red rings are hidden really well but not as well as the Wild Wood ones which are far more challenging to find (especially in act 1). Graphics are easily the best in the entire demo. The tileset is a fantastic mix of custom work and altered tiles from past Sonic games and is glorious to look at. The boss is also a great inclusion and its’ attack pattern is brilliantly unique.
“So only 2 stages then?” I hear you cry. Not necessarily! Collecting the red rings unlocks some bonus challenge stages as well as other unlockables to add some replay value to the game. The challenge levels are quite short but are particularly gimmick-heavy which adds an interesting gameplay element to the proceedings. There’s also a rather cool little 16-bit remake of a modern Sonic stage that we don’t want to divulge as it will ruin the surprise.
The Sonic Worlds Level Collab is another SAGE 2011 highlight and well worth checking out. What it lacks in overall content is made up for with quality design and presentation.