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Sonic Amateur Games Expo 2011: Game Reviews Part 3

Project Float

Project Float is actually an original game and not a Sonic fan-game. You control a nameless character that you can customise with different shirts bought from a shop (or simply play in your pants for some reason). You can run, jump, double jump and wave your hand around in an offensive manner. We’re really not sure what this does.

There’s a hub world with NPCs that do nothing apart from the man that runs the shop. Running to the right reveals a door to what would appear to be the only stage. This stage is typical platform affair; run around and jump and enemies to defeat them. Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to actually beat the stage which is either a developer error or you’re not supposed to.

Controls and simple and responsive and do their job well. One issue we did have is that running had a habit of getting the character locked in position we couldn’t escape. This obviously needs to be sorted out as soon as possible because it’s infuriating to fight against. We also couldn’t collect the any of the items we discovered which was a bit odd.

Graphics have a simplistic SNES quality to them and are incredibly reminiscent of games like Super Mario World. The sprites are well animated and have a unique look to them that’s very appealing.

Sound and music is nothing to write home about. You get your basic, kid-friendly soundtrack which does it’s job well. Strangely, the music hasn’t been mastered very well as it’s incredibly quiet in the hub world and very loud in the stage. We also only experienced one sound effect. Yes, one. This is triggered when you’re injured.

There’s a lot of potential in this game, it’s just none of it has been utilised. Hopefully a later release will be kind to this title.



Sonic Before The Sequel

What I’m really enjoying about this year’s SAGE is that developers are really beginning to understand that pitfalls are a really stupid idea.

Case in point; Sonic Before The Sequel. The developer of this game never makes the player suffer a pitfall because its’ stages are so beautifully designed that they encourage exploration. SBTS’s levels are some of the most epic that we’ve ever had the privilege of playing. The scale of each stage is so large and interesting that you can’t help but want to see what secrets might hide in every nook and cranny.

It’s also a stunning looking game that has a really unique aesthetic. The game it probably resembles most is Sonic 3 & Knuckles but with its’ inventive use of shading and detail, it comes across as something that is entirely its’ own. We really cannot stress enough how pretty this game is.

Thankfully, it plays like a dream as well. Once again, this is a game powered by Sonic Worlds which guarantees you solid, 16 bit era Sonic platforming. What SBTS does differently is that it throws in some brilliantly fascinating gimmicks that are used in even more inventive ways that the Sonic games of yore.

While the soundtrack isn’t original, the songs chosen have been chosen very well and perfectly suit the vibe of each stage. This really is an astounding package that has to be experienced. You also get a fantastic amount of content for what is being labelled as a demo.

The real let-downs are all minor, but they certainly add up. Some of the graphics don’t seem to fit right with Sonic’s world. There’s a fair bit of flat coloured scenery and bosses that look a little bland. This only pops up occasionally, but it does spoil the game somewhat. The ‘stage complete’ HUDs are also a bit rushed and can spoil the presentation to a degree.

Some of the level design is a bit peculiar as well. While the stages definitely reward exploration, their flow is stunted when you fall down a particularly steep ramp and have to spend a lot of time getting out of it.

Regardless, SBTS is a game definitely worth playing. The scope of this game is vast and is shaping up to be one of the most interesting Sonic fan-games we’ve ever played. Roll on the next release!



Sonic Gear

Now this is cool; a 2.5D remake of Sonic Triple Trouble’s train boss!

Sonic Gear is a game that will eventually feature iconic levels and bosses from Sonic’s 8 bit adventures and remake them in a beautiful 2.5D graphical style.

While this demo is short, it is certainly challenging. The way to the front of the train is littered with badniks waiting to knock you onto the rails before you can actually deal the damage to front carriage and beat the boss. The game controls magnificently and never feels unfair even though the demo is particularly difficult. It’s certainly a step up from the Game Gear!

The 2D sprites work fantastically with the 3D backdrops and really compliment each other. There could’ve perhaps been more detail to the backdrops, but this is excusable in this stage as such a large amount of scenery flies by.

The soundtrack is a wonderful throwback to the original games with high-quality remixes of the original tunes to compliment the step up in graphical quality. Not enough can be said about this game’s stunning presentation.

The only real disappointment is the developers’ choice of stage. The difficulty will put a lot of casual gamers off and it doesn’t give the most accurate representation of the final product. However, if you like your games with a bit of challenge then don’t miss Sonic Gear.



Sonic GML

Sonic GML feels like it was rushed out. There’s certainly a lot to do here, but it lacks focus.

It’s your typical 2D Sonic platforming affair with all the additions of a modern Sonic game, such as homing attacks and chaos powers. The engine is solid and makes for a pleasant gaming experience. The big problem with it is that it feels very floaty. You spend a lot of time in Sonic GML in the air as the characters take an extended time to get back down to the ground. It kills the pace of the game and feels intrusive. If this can be remedied in later releases, the gameplay will be far more enticing.

Graphically, we’re looking at a mixed bag. There’s some cool spot effects like rippling water with reflections in it and high quality sparkles on the title screen, but the actual tiles from the stage are just pieced together from different existing Sonic games making the game feel cheap and tacky. It’s very obvious that this is a game that’s still in development. The sprites are equally bad as 2 of them are original (and not particularly well chosen) and 2 of them are straight 16 bit rips. Also, someone should probably tell the developer that he’s using a few assets from Sonic Fan Remix such as a screen-cap for its’ Time Attack section and the main theme from the game’s Emerald Hill Zone. I hope you have permission to use them mate!

There’s definitely potential in Sonic GML, but it hasn’t been realised in this demo. While the engine functions well enough, the presentation has been thrown together using existing assets and comes off as a completely rushed development. That, and the screen resolution is too big.



Sonic Mobius

It’s funny what a difference removing the frames of a game window can do for a game’s presentation. That was my initial reaction to Sonic Mobius which is a really well presented little demo with fantastic graphics.

The only stage present is called Hexagon Hill and it’s a wonderful stage that resembles honeycombs. It’s brilliantly original and pleasing to the eye and something we’d love to see more of in Sonic fan-games.

It’s a shame then that this demo is over in less than 30 seconds. There’s not a lot to do in Sonic Mobius. Even repeat playthroughs using Tails and Nack only give you a similar experience. Also, would it have hurt the developer to remove Knuckles’ special abilities from Nack?

Once again, this is another Sonic Worlds powered game and plays perfectly well. It’s just a shame that the stage available is so bland and lifeless. There is no flow to it at all. You spend a lot of time in the air bouncing off springs and drifting past whatever action is happening on the ground. Even on the ground you’ll find yourself pushing right without a care.

The music was chosen rather poorly as well. Hard house is not a great fit for Sonic the Hedgehog. Existing Sonic music would have been a better option for this title if the developer didn’t have a team member who could write anything better suited for the game.

We want Sonic Mobius to be a great game, but it really needs to offer more. A wasted opportunity.



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