SAGE 2012: Review Slew #2

SAGE 2012: Review Slew #2

by August 9, 2012

GHZ 2.5D, AXSX, Before the Sequel, Freedom Planet, Fusion

Day 2 of SAGE 2012 rolls on, and is it just me, or have I used the phrase “rolls on” in relation to SAGE quite a bit? It feels like it to me. But whatever! Fangames!

Green Hill Zone 2.5D

The sense of depth is weird and super awesome.

GHZ 2.5D
Another SonicGDK-powered entry, this one has to be seen to be believed: Imagine for a moment that Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog was rendered in 3D, but still maintained the appearance of the original Sega Genesis graphics. That’s what is going on in GHZ 2.5D and the effect is absolutely surreal in motion – it looks basically identical to the way the original Sega Genesis game looks, but with an added three-dimensional depth that gives the impression of there being infinite layers of parallax scrolling. Screenshots do not do the effect justice at all. This is Green Hill Zone like you’ve never seen it before. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect recreation – air control specifically seems to be a sticking point, with Sonic’s jumps feeling a little off. There also weren’t any enemies as far as I could tell, either, and it’s only one act. I want to play the whole game like this! If you can run SonicGDK, give this a look pronto.

Project AXSX

Unlike some other Sonic games, you’re SUPPOSED to stand on the walls and ceilings.

Project AXSX
There was a time where I ran what I considered to be the only Sonic X-Treme fansite on the internet. This had to be more than ten years ago, but I noticed a distinct lack of information about the game, and what was there, was all spread out across various different sites. So I wanted to collect it all in to a unified source and paint the clearest possible picture of Sonic X-Treme. I was also the guy who first got in contact with a member of the Sonic X-Treme staff, which eventually paved the way for the floodgates of information to open about the game. We now have a pretty intricate picture of what Sonic X-Treme was going to be, and after all of that, I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe it is for the best the game never got finished. Some of the gameplay videos provided by Chris Senn show a game that just doesn’t look very fun. But that hasn’t stopped some from trying to recreate Sonic X-Treme for themselves, and that’s where Project AXSX comes in. Project AXSX takes some liberties with what the final version of Sonic X-Treme was going to be to deliver something that is a bit more interesting than the square platformer we were originally destined to get in the mid 90’s. If you’ll note the screenshot, I am actually upside down, as the rotation mechanic from early gameplay videos is in full effect. Unfortunately, there’s not actually much to do in this level – it’s from the same guy who did GHZ 2.5D, and like GHZ 2.5D, features no enemies, just rings. Check it out.

Before the Sequel 2012

It’s rare to get games of this length and quality.

Sonic Before the Sequel 2012
Admission of guilt: until I had to write this review, I had not played the full version of Sonic Before the Sequel. On top of that, the review I wrote for the demo last year immediately gave away that I didn’t even finish all of the content there, either – I got stuck on a fiddly boss encounter. By the time I made up my mind to finally download and play BTS, LakeFepard had announced the 2012 re-release, so I decided that it would be best to hold off and play that version instead. And so here we are, almost two hours later, with what I’m assuming is the majority of BTS completed. The new soundtrack is fantastic – not just fantastic for a fangame, but fantastic for any game; a wonderful, nostalgic jumble of remixed and original tunes that are as catchy as they are energetic. LakeFepard himself has seemingly put most of SFGHQ and SAGE to shame with his work ethic – BTS is a long, creative game. But something about it feels… off. The ideas presented in BTS’s levels don’t always mesh very well with the Sonic the Hedgehog theme, and how the levels themselves are paced could be a lot better. I had absolutely zero sense I was getting close to the end of the game because there was no build up to it until a cutscene clued me in that I was nearing the final battle. In real Sonic games, the closer you get to the end, the darker, more claustrophobic the levels become. In BTS, it’s just a mish-mash of jungles and cities and towers in a seemingly random order. But make no mistake – BTS is still a very polished, very fun game. Lake should be proud of it. It’s just missing a little something, is all.

Freedom Planet

Do not miss this game.

Freedom Planet
The very first SAGE I wrote about for TSSZ, I wrote about a game called “Nothing“. It wasn’t really a Sonic fangame, but it was something that was tremendously special. I’m not quite sure what happened to that game, but it was kind of amazing to see something original and of high quality at SAGE. To a certain extent that’s happening again with Freedom Planet – a game that certainly has its roots in Sonic the Hedgehog, but manages to develop outward to be its own thing, mixing elements of games like Rocket Knight Adventures, among others. The result is something that is very fun and amazingly polished; you’d swear somebody had gone back in time and handed you a cartridge for a SNES or Genesis game from a high-profile developer. Characters animate well, levels are really designed to take advantage of your abilities, and the included boss encounter is simple but challenging. Freedom Planet is already shaping up to be something incredible, and if I remember correctly the developer has even mentioned the possibility of publishing the game on iOS (and now that Multimedia Fusion 2 can also export to XNA, hopefully we’ll get an Xbox Indies version, too). I can’t really say much more about this game except that I wish there was more of it to play. Download it today.

Sonic Fusion

Still the most feature-complete “demo” at SAGE.

Sonic Fusion
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve played Sonic Fusion at SAGE, now. And, like a game that’s been around the block several times, the Sonic Fusion “demo” is heavy with content – like I said last year, practically a full game’s worth. The fact that Sonic Fusion still isn’t done despite having 8 stages, 4 playable characters and online multiplayer continues to mystify me – but that just means that whatever is in store for the final version of Sonic Fusion, it will probably be pretty cool. Honestly, there’s so much content and I’ve played Sonic Fusion so many times that at this point it’s a little hard for me to tell what’s even different, though I’ve been told that the ability to play as Tails is new to this version of the game. Also new is a very welcome public lobby for multiplayer games, making it easier to find and join online races. Beyond that, I’m not entirely sure what I can say about Sonic Fusion that has not already been said in years previous. This is one of the most feature-rich fangames on the show floor year after year, and it’s only getting better as time goes on. You probably already know if you want to download this or not, but if you haven’t seen it before, make sure to check it out.

And that’s all we’ve got for today. Check in tomorrow for five more!