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Sonic Amateur Games Expo 2011: Game Reviews Part 2

Charmy Maze

Charmy Maze is a game where you play as Charmy and you navigate him through a maze.

Yeah.

There is a little more to it that that. You can’t touch the walls.

Yeah.

When you complete the stage you have to hit Vector 20 times while he runs backwards and forwards.

This game sucks.

In its’ defence, Charmy Maze is decently presented with some nice graphics and decent tunes (even though they are completely unoriginal). It just doesn’t do a lot and is pretty boring in the process.

2/10

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Cheddly and Cloud’s Crazy Adventure

Cheddly and Cloud’s Crazy Adventure is not crazy in the slightest. This is a dodgy Mario clone with block people instead of Mario and Luigi. You walk slowly through different stages built with Super Mario Bros 3 graphics, jumping across gaps and landing on enemy’s heads to defeat them. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

The static engine it uses is bog-standard and lacks any originality. The cut-scenes are unskippable and the characters talk random, misspelt rubbish to give the game some sort of back-story that you don’t care about.

There’s a 2 player racing mode where you and friend share a keyboard and see who can get to the end the fastest. However, this is completely irrelevant because the stages aren’t designed in any way that gives your opponent any sort of challenge that would knock them behind.

This game is hideously dull and all its’ graphics are music and ripped straight from Super Mario Bros 3. All this makes you want to do is go and play Super Mario Bros 3 instead of this uninspired boredom machine that could have been developed in a few hours.

1/10

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Project Spikepig

Another Sonic Worlds powered game and another SAGE highlight. While the mechanics are all typically Sonic the Hedgehog, the presenatation and original gimmicks really set this 1 stage demo apart from the rest.

The graphics are completely hand-sprited and are wonderful to look at. The use of pastel colours gives the game more of a Kirby vibe than a Sonic one. We cannot stress how gorgeous this game looks. The sound is also of a high standard and the song chosen for the stage is well composed and very upbeat. Perfect for a Sonic game!

Like I mentioned earlier, what sets Project Spikepig apart from the pack is its’ use of gimmicks. There are 2 in this demo that really stand out. The first are it’s vertical corkscrew which you must spin-attack into so it will launch you into the air like a spring. The 2nd gimmick are the platforms that stick out of walls. They usually come in pairs which means that hitting the end of one will draw one platform out while the other descends into the wall. This particular gimmick is also cleverly used in the demo’s boss battle.

Our only issue with the demo is that this gimmick isn’t explained in any way. I first thought there was no way to complete the first act as there’s a platform hidden in an obscure place that I only found by accident. If this issue is later attended to (something simple like an indicator that shows you what you should be doing), exploring this stage would be a lot more enjoyable.

Otherwise a great showing that has peaked our interest in this title. Looking forward to more!

8/10

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Madcap Grotto Zone

This one stage demo was going to be a part of the Sonic Worlds Level Collab but has made it to SAGE as it’s own stand-alone release.

This demo is one of the most interesting things I’ve played all show. The stage itself has some of the most interesting gimmicks and enemies ever coded into a fan-game.

Once again, the whole thing is powered by Sonic Worlds (which is fast becoming the Sonic fan-game developers tool of choice) and plays brilliantly. The responsiveness and nuances you’d expect from a Sonic game are all here and make playing this feel remarkably familiar, which is a good thing.

What sets this game apart from the rest is its’ inventive stage design. Some of the gimmicks you’ll encounter are fire-jets that are triggered when you step on them, some of the most inventive use of springs you’ve ever seen in a fan-game, badniks with flamethrowers that can only be defeated by sneaking up behind them, swings that can be grabbed to get across high gaps, a badnik that runs off to connect with a machine that allows it to fire and pulleys that are triggered when you grab them.

Presentation is generally spectacular. There’s also some fantastic spot effects like Sonic doing front flips off diagonal springs and an awesome rotating boss. The stage has a fantastic tilset that’s gorgeous to look at and the theme song is a brilliant piece of work.

The only fault we found is that sometimes you find yourself in tight corridors with rocky roofs that tend to have a habit of sending you back in the other direction if you jump onto them. It’s only a small error but can become frustrating when you’re sent back into a fire-jet.

Regardless, this is one of the most interesting and genuinely fun games at this year’s SAGE. What it lacks in content is made up for in pure quality. Don’t miss this one!

9/10

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Sonic & Friends 2

With a name like Sonic & Friends 2 we really weren’t expecting anything special from this game, but what we played was quite surprising.

Sonic & Friends 2 doesn’t use Sonic Worlds to power its’ gameplay but a completely different engine that’s doing the job just as well. The acceleration can be a bit dodgy but this remains a solid, well playing Sonic fan-game with wonderful physics and brilliant response.

Presentation is pretty good as well. The graphics are very nice and use a custom backdrop. The Angel Island tiles do their job well but we personally feel that a little more effort could’ve been put into these to make them more unique. We also like the option of playing in a standard graphics mode and a high-definition, smoothed mode which looks really good on higher resolution monitors.

While the gameplay is certainly solid, the levels aren’t designed with as much attention to detail. The stages are overly long and get a bit repetitive after a couple of minutes. There seems to be a particularly obvious design choice in regard to speed and platforming in that there’s usually a ‘hold right’ section followed by some platforming and then repeat. A little more variety would make this game really shine.

Also, all the music used for the game is in MIDI format which makes the whole thing sound a little tinny and weak. It doesn’t ruin the game in any way, but it could’ve been better.

Sonic & Friends 2 is a promising start to what could be a fantastic game. Level design is the game’s biggest weakness, but it’s still one of the better games on show this year. Definitely worth checking out.

6/10

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