If Sega won’t give you Sonic Adventure 3, make your own
Sonic Adventure 3 – This game makes a strong first impression, but the longer I played it, the more it seemed to fall apart. Green Hill Zone Act 1 consists largely of boxy caves that you slowly work your way through. You finish by facing Metal Sonic as a mini-boss, but the game bugged out. On my first attempt, Metal Sonic froze in his second phase and I couldn’t damage him, and on my second attempt, Metal Sonic completely failed to spawn at all. Act 2 lets you cut loose with a Sonic-Generations-style boost, but touchy controls and finicky camera-work made it difficult for me to last more than a full minute without accidentally killing myself. There’s potential here, but it’s currently lacking a lot of polish.
Emerald Ties – It’s good to see Emerald Ties back at SAGE again after an extended hiatus, especially in such fine form. This is only the second game I’ve played, and I’m willing to bet this is one of the highest quality, most polished demos at the event. You’re offered up three levels, and they’re all fantastic, full of tons of original artwork and original music. Having a unique aesthetic is something a lot of fan games struggle with, as most would rather just ape the official Sega games outright. Emerald Ties still feels like a Sonic game, but it has its own feel that looks and sounds great. Don’t miss out.
Sonic vs. Darkness – You don’t have to twist my arm to give this fan game praise. It’s rare to see a Sonic Rush-styled fan game that does such a good job at nailing the spirit of that game. As I’ve said in past SAGEs, it’s a little on the easy side, but as more levels get added to the mix, difficulty and complexity seems to be increasing. This has been in my top five fan games to watch for a while now, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to be changing any time soon. The only blemish is that this demo claims to enable online multiplayer, but any attempt to connect makes me download the same patch over and over again. The single player content is still incredible, even if it’s stuff we’ve already seen before.
Terabout – Claiming to be a “tech demo slapped together for SAGE,” Terabout is… a tech demo slapped together for SAGE. Hm. Very simplistic graphics, and vaguely Sonic-ish controls. I ran around punching trucks until I somehow accidentally broke the game’s physics and couldn’t jump more than a couple inches off the ground. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad up until that part. Even if it isn’t the most beautiful game at SAGE, the level design is just varied enough that it kind of works. Kind of. I didn’t hate it, at any rate.
Shadow Rising: Reinedgening – This is really just a Contra fan game in disguise. Now, Contra’s a fine game and all, but this feels a little too slow for Sonic. Really, by any game’s standards, this feels really, really slow. Was Contra itself even this slow? Maybe it was and I just don’t remember. It doesn’t help that it’s trapped in an incredibly tiny window (don’t let my screenshot deceive you), making it slow AND hard to see. Controls feel solid and like Contra, but death comes quickly and cheaply. In under ten minutes, I managed three game overs. Since it’s the first level, maybe reign in the difficulty just a little bit? I always was more of a Contra 3 guy than Contra 4.
Sonic DL Adventure – Twitchy controls and jittery movement do not make for a fun time in Sonic DL Adventure. Characters accelerate too quickly, move too quickly, and are difficult to keep track of. Level design tosses you right in to small armies of enemies without warning and you’re just expected to deal with it or die. There are a lot of playable characters here, but with only a single simplistic level to play through, there’s not much meat on these bones. Why would I bother with somebody like Knuckles when the level offers me almost nothing to use him with? There needs to be a lot more of everything.
Neo Sonic Fighters – I’ve put my fair share of time in to the M.U.G.E.N fighting engine over the years and Neo Sonic Fighters feels like an all-too-familiar template: here’s a collection of a bunch of CPU fighters that read your inputs and block 90% of your attacks, only to counter you perfectly and toss out 5, 10, 15+ hit combos and flawless supers. I couldn’t get past round 1 of any fight, no matter who I was pitted against. Fighting itself is kind of slow; moves take forever to come out thanks to slow animations. Sonic Battle sprites feel extra tiny in an engine designed for Street Fighter characters. And on top of all of that, there’s no move list included with the game, so you’re on your own when it comes to figuring out how to do anything. In a word: Yikes.
Update: It has come to my attention that Neo Sonic Fighters does indeed contain movelists; they’re just tucked away in the folders containing each character’s sprites and movement data. A little hard to find, but that’s on me for skimming the readme.
We’ll see you tomorrow for the third Review Slew!