Tuesday 10 August 2010

SAGE 2010: Part 2

SAGE Harder

Some games have shown up fashionably late at the SAGE 2010. Time to have a look at them (and some of the ones I didn't look at before).

Sonic 2 Dimps Edition

Another "slightly better" product Sonic Team are endorsing at the moment is the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog 4. In reality, Sonic 4 is being programmed by Japanese developer Dimps, who were responsible for the Sonic Advance/Rush games. Sonic 2 Dimps Edition is a ROM hack showing how Sonic the Hedgehog 2 might have looked like if Dimps were in charge. Lots of speed boosters, not-so-great music, no Tails and a reliance on the homing attack. I think screwing with the physics is in the pipeline for future releases too.

It doesn't make Sonic 2 "better" in any way, but it's certainly a laugh.

Sonic Zero: Remastered

Another one level demo, but a good one. Running on the Sonic Worlds engine this is essentially just another solid Sonic platformer, in which everything works as it should and everything looks great. It seems to have its own custom soundtrack and is only let down on the basis that it isn't done.

Lazy Sonic

When Sonic fangaming was in its infancy, you used to get a lot of games like this. They don't offer the 360 degree motion gameplay that you might expect from a Sonic game, but it still ends up being a workable platformer that can entertain you for a few minutes. Lazy Sonic isn't bad, though it's fair to say it's a little... ugly. The levels aren't exactly awe-inspiring but there's definitely some nostalgia factor in here, even if it was unintentional. It's also a lot longer than most of the stuff this year.

It's not something you should go out of your way to see, but it's still pretty nice.

Sonic Time Twisted

Another year passes and this game still isn't completed. The plus side is at least now that I've updated my kit I can run this at a decent speed. Unfortunately it's an underwater level on the table this time, so it's purposefully slow.

Though Time Twisted is again not a bad game, I still don't understand the reasoning for tagging on a time travel element and I still think a lot of the artwork needs to be redone. It does, however, have some great ideas and still helps to fill that gap between Sega releasing Sonic 3 and Sega releasing "something better than Sonic 3".

I do have to question what happened to last year's zone though.

Sonic Axiom

And now potentially saving the best for last, Sonic Axiom. I thought this would be some sort of cheapo fangame with limited build quality, and though granted, it does lack polish, and people may take the view that because it was built with the Sonic Worlds engine most of the hard work was already done, I reckon it's probably the best in show (assuming you don't class Retro Channel as a fangame).

You see, at SAGE, you get heaps of very impressive but very short demos. One stage, maybe even one act long. Axiom has five levels with three acts each, yet it still claims to be incomplete. Sure the graphics are a bit dodgy in places and the collision and physics don't always work, but to be quite frank, I don't care. I'm not bothered how accurate your engine is if you're not planning to make more than one level or release a finished product. I used to play and enjoy Sonic fangames built in TGF's default platform movement.

I personally have yet to play a finished fangame running off the Sonic Worlds engine, and it's not like that engine is like the Mario equivalent, the Hello Mario engine in which all the creator needs to do is build levels with bog-standard tilesets. Sonic Worlds requires thought, effort and determination in order to create a finished product. And hey, the big names such as Sonic Nexus all run on other peoples' engines too!

I don't like the choppy animations or the weird choice in palettes, I don't like the way the sounds vary in frequency and volume, I don't like the way it takes 37 seconds for the Quartz Quadrant Good Future remix to start actually sounding like something, but I do like the way the labyrinth wannabee zone took four minutes to complete without boring me, or how the third level remixes a track from Socket (and to think, nobody knew of that game a year ago!).

Sure it's no wonder a server's bandwidth runs out if the game is distributed as an uncompressed 70MB executable but it really doesn't matter because at the end of the day, it still manages to deliever a classic Sonic experience (and a classic fangaming one). A fine game, give it a go.

Oh and yes Axion is a stupid name. It comes from an hypothetical particle that supposedly explains why CP violation exists when you interchange a particle for its antiparticle, thus helping to explain why matter has a greater precedence in the universe over antimatter. Particle physics... you know, the science with running blue hedgehogs.

Will there be a SAGE 2010: Part 3? Depends if something spectacular comes along. There are lots of things I haven't covered like the 3D games or the non-platformers but that's mainly because I'm not all that interested in them. If you missed E02 last year you can get a copy that updates itself this year, but yeah, the bulk has been covered and if you want more, why not head over to SAGE yourself and try things out?

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