Sunday 18 September 2011

SAGE 2011: Part 1

It's Sonic Amateur Games Expo time! This year it all seems to be about taking an open source engine and slapping levels onto it, though Sonic fangaming is always a nice topic to follow as often the results top the official works of Sega.

And so, here's a first batch of mini-reviews in Blog Squirrel's limited coverage of the event.

The SAGE website is lacking this year, meaning it's a bit difficult to tell which of the 33 games hosted thus far are worth playing. I've sifted through the crowd and spotted a few gems, though since I have no plans to do detailed coverage on everything I may have missed a few.

Sonic Zero

No longer "remastered", Sonic Zero comes speeding towards us offering... pretty much the same thing as last year. It's more polished, there's a second act and there's been a music swap, but overall it's not that much different from last year's offerings. It's a great looking game and certainly better than before, but don't go expecting anything groundbreaking.

Sonic Axiom

Squirrel's top fangame of SAGE 2010 returns this year completely finished! It's still lacking the polish you would expect from an official Sonic title, but guys, it's done - there's nine stages, and it works... mostly. Completed fangames are a great thing, and even though there's a lot of jerky animations many ugly bits, the fact you can play the game from beginning to end propels this game above the rest.

Project Spikepig

Pretty much every game worth talking about this year is using the Sonic Worlds engine, but Project Spikepig is definitely of the prettier options. It doesn't really do anything revolutionary but it's an entertaining little game nonetheless. Sadly it's one of those one level demos that always like to show up at SAGE, and since not a huge amount was changed from the default Sonic Worlds setup, purists may be scratching their head in regards to why this was released at such an early stage.

Sonic: Before the Sequel

A contender perhaps for best game of SAGE, Sonic: Before the Sequel bridges the gap between Sonics 1 and 2. And it has cutscenes. The interesting thing about this one is despite using a fairly precise Sonic engine, the levels are built like the fangames of yesteryear. From what I gather this is nearly complete, so it's a surprisingly rich experience and certainly one to recommend.

Stay tuned for part 2, which is likely to be less spectacular than part 1.

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