SAGE ’08: Fangame Review Slew #3

SAGE ’08: Fangame Review Slew #3

by August 24, 2008

Five more game demos reviewed for the last day of SAGE.

As the Sonic Amateur Games Expo 2008 winds down to a closure, I offer this piece of advice to you, my dear readers: Though I may have been tough on a lot of the games here at the show, I meant only to be constructive to those who have created the games. While many of the games I have reviewed over the course of the last five days have had their own fair share of problems and design issues, a majority of them are, infact, worth downloading. Afterall, we’re talking about free games here – problems or not, the only thing you have to lose when you play the games I have reviewed is maybe 15 minutes of your time. If you’ve been holding off on downloading games because of what I’ve said, use today to go nuts and download as much as you can – who knows, you may find something you like.

Sonic: Time Twisted
Not many fangames choose to replicate Sonic CD, and that sort of puzzles me. For all the talk about how Sonic CD is “the best of the 2D Sonic games”, most fangamers are content with creating their own sequel to the other games in the franchise. Perhaps it’s the work that puts them off – Sonic CD requires you to make four versions of each stage (Past, Present, Good Future and Bad Future). That didn’t stop Overbound, the game’s creator, though. Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems I have with Time Twisted is regarding its level design. Some of it just doesn’t feel as natural as it could, and though the game’s time travel mechanic is implemented the same as Sonic CD’s, it feels like it takes a lot longer to execute – you have to keep running at top speed way too long, and the physics engine doesn’t support the methods you could use in Sonic CD to cheat and time travel, but the game didn’t REALLY frustrate me until Majestic Mine Zone, where the level design whips out plenty of cheap hits – including enemies you don’t notice until they’ve already hit you. I took so many cheap hits, I never even got to finish the level at all.

Tales of the Past
Providing not one, but two demos (each one for a different character), Tales of the Past reads like some forgotten fangaming relic, what with the usage of “Dr. Ivo Robotnik”, a curious blend of classic Sonic mixed in with SatAM Sonic lore, and a silly fan character named “Risa Prower”, who is simply a recolored sprite edit of Tails wearing clothes. Continuing this trend, the demo comes in, of all things, a Multimedia Fusion installer (remember kids: having to install a five minute demo is not good!). Unsurprisingly, the game is made with Diablohead’s now antiquated Sonic engine for Multimedia Fusion 1.5, and the title for the game spells it as “Tails of the Past”. Honestly, it feels a bit like I’ve stepped back in time. Risa’s bomb laying gameplay is boring as it takes too long for bombs to detonate and the maze-like gameplay is just really dull. I expect this is probably somebody’s first fangame, but this could be a lot better.

Cosmic Rush
Hey! A flash game. You don’t get many of those at SAGE. Given the music used, I’m going to assume this is a Tails-themed take on Sonic & The Secret Rings, and, despite my intial skepticism about the concept, it… actually comes off fairly well. Sure, it’s about as simple as you can get, and maybe my view is being skewed thanks to the fact it’s done in flash and loads through, but there’s a fast sort of… old school arcade feeling to the game. The addition of “cutscene” animations while you play (showing Tails launch off of a spring, going around loops, jumping to the track below) are actually a fairly nice touch, too. I didn’t expect to enjoy a simple game like this as much as I did, but in the end, its simplicity and frenetic pace ends up working very well in the game’s favor. And while the game’s difficulty doesn’t pull any punches, it never really feels cheap, either. This gets a thumbs up from me.

Sonic Zenith
I’m struggling to find anything to say about this game, to be honest. The graphics are more or less sound, as are the controls (which is to be expected from a game made in Sonic Worlds), but the level is extremely short (the creator lists his fastest time as 12 seconds) and extremely featureless, with only one type of enemy. The only part of the level that is unique is the ball you must roll to destroy a certain type of wall. I don’t even like the music very much – while competantly composed, it sounds far too laid back for a Sonic level, and even crosses over in to elevator music territory. There’s nothing wrong with the game mechanically, I guess, or graphically, it’s just everything else that seems to be… sort of phoned in, I guess. When I’m struggling to say anything about your game, that’s… probably not a good sign.

Everlasting Song
The second game from BlueFrenzy, creator of Sonic Frenzy Adventure, is not a Sonic fangame – rather, it’s an original, side-scrolling action RPG. Visually, I’m not entirely sure what all in this game is ripped and what all is made up of original graphics (in fact, all of it may be original graphics), but the point is that it looks good. Very good, in fact. This shouldn’t be surprising, as every level in Sonic Frenzy Adventure did look pretty good – even if the level design wasn’t as polished as it could have been. In Everlasting Song, however, the level design proves to be much, much better. Combat is standard side-scrolling action RPG fare, and it works very well. The menu for selecting equips and things could be a little more intuitive, though, as I found myself fumbling with what button did what while selecting new spells and items. There are also a few enemies that seemed like maybe their movements were a little too erratic – but that’s a minor complaint at best in the face of a game that I actually ended up enjoying much more than I did Sonic Frenzy Adventure. Everlasting Song (which I keep writing as Everlasting Sonic) ends up being a much more polished, forgiving, and balanced game compared to SFA, and I look forward to the game’s final release.