Advertise your site FREE on Zone: 0 from 27th August to 2nd September!
Wednesday, 8th August 2012, 9:04pm (UTC), 16 Comments
I mentioned last time that my final guide addition would be joined by something else that would hopefully appeal to other site owners, and generally anyone creative, looking to get their handiwork noticed in the Sonic community. I'd like to announce that during the week of the final update, the last week of August, Zone: 0 will be kicking off an advertising program, beginning with an offer of completely FREE advertising for your website or content page (which can include blog, Youtube channel, deviantArt profile, potentially anything like that) throughout the site, for that one week only!

For those of you not familiar with what I've been up to here, Zone: 0 is a Sonic the Hedgehog fan project that's been in the works for eight years and online for five. Its range of information may be specific within the huge Sonic universe, but it makes up for this in its extreme detail, covering complete guides for the original Mega Drive/Genesis games, including thorough written notes, tonnes of screen shots and most popular of all, the kind of maps you really don't get anywhere else. Popularity and visitor numbers have constantly increased, the site's won community awards for its design and content, and so far this year over 100,000 visitors have passed its gates! Not only that but its wealth of content has them flicking through multiple pages and getting lost for ages in its libraries, and always coming back for more too!

Sadly though, it's a big site and therefore comes with a bit of a hosting price tag, one that's getting harder to afford in my current situation, so it would be nice if the site could start paying for itself, at least in part, using banner ads. To start the ball rolling and gather interest, I thought I'd offer the first week completely free! There are honestly no strings attached to that, if you own a site, you can submit a banner and have me put it up just for that week and that week only - no money, no link back to me, that's fine! However, if I could tempt you to carry it on into the following month for a small cost, on which I'm open to negotiations and deals, then I think you'll consider it worthwhile!

What types of sites and pages are applicable?

What no one really wants though is for this site to be covered in intrusive banners for products that have little or no relevance to anyone and don't match with the type of users we have here (that means you, gambling and porn sites). I want banners on here to be reflective of sites and services that visitors would actually conceivably be interested in, so they're actually useful and not annoying. I found my hosting company through a random ad banner for example, so it doesn't even have to be directly related to Sonic or gaming specifically. I may have to turn you down if your site isn't appropriate, but other than that, my ideas for partners are pretty broad. I would say my visitors typically range from pre-teens to twenty or thirty somethings, often young free and single, yet I've also had lovely messages from Mums and Dads who enjoy the site with their young children too. As such, the types of sites best placed to appear in banners here would be:

- Other Sonic and SEGA fan sites (a no brainer really)

- Other game fan sites (either games in general or particularly Sonic-like games, be they popular kids or classic franchises)

- Other types of gaming sites; reviews, strategy guide sites, etc (and when I say gaming, I DON'T mean gambling)

- Sites that offer online gaming, be it free little flash games or larger ones

- Commercial sites for toys, technology, or anything "geek" related!

- Building a game or some other cool software as a mobile phone app? Advertise it here!

- Don't have a site, but got a Sonic blog, youtube channel, deviantArt account or a page on another type of creative online service? Got something special on there that you've been working hard on? Why not be a part of this as well!

I'm open to all suggestions, so just run your site/page/whatever past me and I'll let you know if I think it has potential to get a few clicks on here!

Where do the banners go?

Banners will go in places where they don't detract too much away from the content, so users can enjoy the site as easily as they always have, but noticeable enough that they're not simply ignored. I have three places in mind, each a different size.

1. Top header banner, 468 x 60 pixels, sitting strikingly at the top of the home page and also any of the individual blog pages. Most visitors will arrive on the main page first, and the blog section remains popular. Your site here will be extremely noticeable! Click here to view.

2. Side square banner, 250 x 250 pixels, sitting to the side of the home page, just beneath the top two stories, and on the side of all blog pages, where it can afford to be the biggest of the three! Click here to view

3. Side square banner, 125 x 125 pixels, positioned alongside all game guide content pages - though this is the smallest banner, it'll catch the eye of the user most frequently as they peruse the many pages of the game guides! Click here to view

During the free week, I can only accept a banner for one of the above spots per site, but if you're desperate, you could buy one or both of the other spots as well for $3 each, for that week. Banners on all three spots will appear on rotation, so a new one will pop in on each load. Therefore, going for less used spots may prove prudent as you might just get more views! Note that if I receive lots of banner requests, the two types of side banner spots may extend to hold more than one banner at a time.

What do I have to do?

- Prepare a banner of exactly the dimensions listed above for your chosen banner spot. It can be an image (jpeg, animated gif or png format), or a flash banner of .swf format.

- If you're going for a flash banner, make sure you make the whole thing clickable, and it links to your site. I can apply the link to an image file, but not a flash file. You'd need to do that yourself. Also, no sounds in there please, they'd probably be quite annoying!

- Please aim for a file size no larger than 100kb for any one banner. A few k over might be ok, but anything significantly bigger might be rejected and in which case you'll be asked to make it smaller!

- Email me your banner and site link, please don't just leave it in a comment on this post or any other method of contact you may have for me, as I may miss it. Send your emails to

- If you're interested in purchasing space for more than one banner spot, for $3 each, let me know. I can only accept payment through Paypal though!

- The free banner week runs from Monday 27th August to Sunday 2nd September. You can submit your banner at any time between now and the end of that Sunday, but all free banners will be taken down after that time, regardless of whether you were there for the whole week!

What happens after the free banner week?

I'll be accepting paid banners for durations, typically, of one month, in the same banner spots as listed above. Please contact me for pricing though, as there are plenty of deals to be made with multiple banners, and there may be discounts on offer if you're a non-profit site such as a fellow fan site! I'm open to negotiation so please get in touch! I'll be asking any of those who have submitted banners for the free week if they would be interested in extending their time into September for a very reasonable price, but you're under no obligation to do so. If you're interested already, you can contact me now for banner placements in September and beyond, on the email address above.

I think that's pretty much everything! Hopefully I've made it clear enough that it is not my aim to bombard this place with sleazy, annoying ads to make a tidy profit. Acquiring banners for sites and services that are actually potentially useful to my visitors is my main aim here, along with raising enough money to cover hosting bills, so we can all benefit from this! You can help by getting the word out as much as you possibly can, and letting any site-owning or particularly creative friends know about this opportunity to get more hits their way, particularly if they're in need of them! Though I've already said that there will be no new guides after Sonic & Knuckles completes on the 30th August, more ads mean that Zone: 0 is much more likely to continue to exist and branch out into whole new areas as yet unexplored! Stay tuned, and don't forget to give a click to any banners that appeal to you!

Hope to hear from you soon,
LiQuidShade, site owner.
Comments   16 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Thursday, 9th August 2012, 2:20am
As a regular visitor to soniczone:0, I'm very suprised & pleased of you continued commitment to the unofficial sonic site of the decade. Thumbs up, LQS!
#2. Comment posted by Peenut2k7 on Friday, 10th August 2012, 3:33am
Wait... advertising on MY Zone: 0? Now RetroGamer can get it's grubby little hands on the ultimate Sonic resource! D:
#3. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Friday, 17th August 2012, 1:08pm
LiquidShade, are you psychic? Me and a few friends started up a gaming-news website/blog not too long ago (reviews, news etc.), and I've been eyeing up temporary, free (or cheap) advertising. What do I have to do to be applicable? :)
#4. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Friday, 17th August 2012, 1:10pm
Edit - just saw the extra 'What do I have to do?' bit
#5. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Friday, 17th August 2012, 1:23pm
The main figurehead, Sam, is away for a bit I think, but I know he'd approve! :D
#6. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Friday, 17th August 2012, 6:37pm
Perfect! Just send a banner when you're ready :)
#7. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Monday, 20th August 2012, 11:48am
Ok, I've just sent you a banner. We'd like to take the 468 x 60 one, please.
#8. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Friday, 24th August 2012, 2:42am
It's my 20th birthday today, August 24
#9. Comment posted by Gemster312 on Monday, 27th August 2012, 4:46am
Not often do i comment here but ive been here at Zone 0 for quite the long long time. A few years. Huge fan though, secretly admiring ;)
Anywho i will be posting a submission soon of my little company i have started up, Crystal Arc Studios. My friend will probably post up the submission. Very happy to see you are doing some free advertisement :D
#10. Comment posted by Dan on Friday, 19th October 2012, 7:45pm
Congrats on finishing. Except that sounds like an understatement.
Your site is nothing short of legendary. Great work on sticking to it all these years, the final product is an incredible, huge, excellently presented package.
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#12. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 20th February 2013, 6:06am
Except that sounds like an understatement.
Your site is nothing short of legendary.
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#13. Comment posted by on Wednesday, 20th February 2013, 6:07am
Except that sounds like an understatement.
Your site is nothing short of legendary.
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Except that sounds like an understatement.
Your site is nothing short of legendary.
#15. Comment posted by how to improve credit score on Wednesday, 20th February 2013, 6:08am
Except that sounds like an understatement.
Your site is nothing short of legendary.
#16. Comment posted by thomas on Monday, 6th May 2013, 9:24am
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Zone: 0 guides to reach completion on 30th August
Monday, 30th July 2012, 6:25pm (UTC), 10 Comments
Mark it in your calendar! Exactly one month from today, the Zone: 0 guides will finally be complete.

I know it's still a bit of a wait, but I've planned out everything I want to do and given I mostly only have an hour or so each weekday evening to do it all at the moment, it's still a realistic time frame for me. However, 30th August also happens to be the very date, in 2004, when I first sat down to begin writing my earliest drafts of my guides, so to wrap it up neatly in exactly eight years would be awesome. I'll do my best.

Hate to do the whole "announcements of announcements" thing, but website owners will also want to listen up, including other Sonic site owners (particularly smaller ones in need of more exposure), fansites of other game series, similarly geeky sites or any site that my visitors might conceivably also have an interest in. I have an offer planned to coincide with the final update that I'm sure will interest! Come back very soon to find out all about it!
Comments   10 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Tuesday, 31st July 2012, 6:05am
I'm definately on the edge of my seat!
#2. Comment posted by LOFC_Ed on Tuesday, 31st July 2012, 8:39am
Since I found this guide, I have looked at it everyday at least 3 or 4 times. I would like to pass on my thanks to all of the hard work you have put in.
#3. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Wednesday, 1st August 2012, 11:38am
Since we have until august 30, we could talk about some different levels from several sega games.
#4. Comment posted by MoDaD on Wednesday, 1st August 2012, 4:31pm
"website owners will also want to listen up"

Did you have some kind of link exchange in mind?
#5. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Thursday, 2nd August 2012, 10:31am
One sega game that I played a long time ago, was The Revenge Of Shinobi.
The story of The Revenge Of Shinobi is when Neo Zeed captures Joe Musashi's partner, Naoko. For his revenge, Joe heads over to Neo Zeed's lair, with one of two endings after the final boss battle with Neo Zeed. The bad ending is where Joe defeats Neo Zeed, but loses Naoko in the process. The good ending is where Joe rescues Naoko after defeating Neo Zeed.
Hint: to defeat Neo Zeed and rescue Naoko, a POW powerup must be used very carefully, provided that Joe uses the ninjitsu of Ikazuchi (a lightning shield). In the game, there is 8 levels divided into 3 segments each.
Cheat: there is a secret cheat that you can do that allows your usage of shurikens to become infinite: in the options menu, set the number of shurikens to 00, wait a little while, and then the 00 will become infinite.
Top tip: when going up against a boss, use the 8-way shuriken move (that hits anything in the 0 to 90 degree area when Joe is facing the one direction). Works efficiently in boss battles.
Watch out for certain crates that contain explosives; if you're anywhere near an explosive when it detonates, it'll damage you, and sometimes that'll make you lose your POW powerup. Safety first!
#6. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Sunday, 5th August 2012, 10:35am
LQS, will there be a blog update in a few weeks?
#7. Comment posted by Sonic the Echidna Prower on Monday, 13th August 2012, 6:22am
Hey man,
first of all congratulations for the guides and everything that's on this website. The information is all clear, concise, worthwhile and with a lot of thought, research and love put to it. These guides are absolutely detailed but you never go out the boundaries or speak bullshit. In that sense I think the info is really well chosen and filtered. Even though I played the games a million times back in the day and know the games inside out I still get amazed with your site.
Second, congratulations for the design and the programming of the website. The use and blend of the Sonic graphics is really well done for the menus, titles, banners and such. I specially love the background. Then, the site never lags, even though it has a lot of nice dynamic details. I am using a netbook primarily to surf the web and a lot of top websites really lag on my machine. Also, I love how I don't get bombarded with bullshit in this site, loads quick, is responsive and has the info I want. I wish more websites performed like yours. Some professional blogs and such, they only have to present text, pictures and sometimes comments yet they lag. You nailed it. Also +1 for not having to log in anywhere to comment.
Again congratulations for the excellent job you did with this website.
Have a good day.
#8. Comment posted by FunkyFranky80 on Monday, 13th August 2012, 8:11am
Hi there,
your site is one of the best in the net related to the classic Sonic games,and i cant wait to see it complete.I know your site since 2 or 3 years now,and its really well done,the design,the infos,and the maps for the games.
Special props for the design:
It´s probably the most beautiful page ive seen so far for the classic games.
Big THANKS to you man!
Sorry for my bad english -.-
Have a nice day
#9. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 14th August 2012, 10:37pm
Thanks guys! Really appreciate your kind words. It's always really nice to hear :)
#10. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Wednesday, 15th August 2012, 6:31am
LQS, do you have anything else to do after the completion of soniczone:0?
The road to Death Egg starts here
Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 1:39pm (UTC), 39 Comments
Update: Miscellaneous Page added to the Sonic & Knuckles section
Just a quick update, which as I mentioned before, should really have come with the Other Modes section, but since I had a spare half a week with Internet, I thought I better put it up. It's not much, but the Miscellaneous Page covers off some cheats and a couple of other versions of the game worth mentioning.

Now we're heading towards our final destination, not just of this guide but this series of guides. The next update will be the last, in terms of new guide content, and will comprise of Death Egg Zone, The Doomsday Zone, game endings and the Downloads page. Expect this hopefully within the next couple of months, to wrap up the whole thing neatly into a project that has lasted a full, and quite astounding eight years.

Other than continuous small tweaks and amendments that are likely to still be ongoing, I'll let you know what, if anything, will be going on around here after, or shortly before the final update occurs. It won't be new guides, but it MIGHT be something else. I still haven't decided yet.

Start getting excited, we're almost there!
Comments   39 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by JamesTheEchidna on Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 3:51pm
Great Work, you have made one of the best Sonic guides ever to be made by human hands!
#2. Comment posted by Chaos Ace on Wednesday, 27th June 2012, 3:25am
You know, once everything is all said and done, you'll still visit your ol' friends here at Zone: 0, now, won't you, LiquiShade?
#3. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Wednesday, 27th June 2012, 7:34am
#4. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 27th June 2012, 8:14am
Oh yeah, of course! Regardless of what happens, I'll still need somewhere to blog about Sonic or any upcoming Sonic-based projects of mine!
#5. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Saturday, 30th June 2012, 9:15am
Hey LiquidShade, how are you? We've not spoken in a while...

#6. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 1st July 2012, 6:52am
I'm alright thanks - how are you?
#7. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Sunday, 1st July 2012, 6:12pm
I'm also fine. Are you going to Summer Of Sonic? I wish I could say I was...
#8. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 1st July 2012, 9:04pm
Unfortunately not this year, no, I'm busy :(
#9. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Monday, 2nd July 2012, 7:00am
The tickets sold out faster than even Sonic could have anticipated. And annoyingly, I have family in Brighton I frequently visit - going to SOS this year would have been ideal...

Oh yeah, if you need any more favours done, let me know :)
I'm busy now, but I'll get it done when I'm less busy
#10. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 4th July 2012, 11:05am
Dude please, i hope you upload Death Egg and Doomsday Zone maps soon? :( your site is awesome really, i love it!
#11. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 5th July 2012, 6:01am
"Dude please, i hope you upload Death Egg and Doomsday Zone maps soon? :( your site is awesome really, i love it!

For 101st time... aww, what's the use!
#12. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 7th July 2012, 7:07am
There will be Death Egg maps. There will be no Doomsday map. I'm made a start, you'll see it within the next couple of months.
#13. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Saturday, 7th July 2012, 9:55am
One particular puzzle in Death Egg Zone Act 1 is a large room with a gravity-defying twist.
At the center of the room is a moving obstacle with 6 switches in total. These switches must be pressed before the far right end of the room opens. Once it does open, just simply go right and continue onwards. That is a top tip by me.

Any objections?
#14. Comment posted by Anonymous on Saturday, 7th July 2012, 3:43pm
How about doing the Sonic 4 series
#15. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Saturday, 7th July 2012, 5:47pm
Anonymous, this section has nothing to do with sonic 4.
This is a section related to the upcoming Death Egg and Doomsday Zones.
Only the founder of soniczone:0 will tell you about what's happening.
#16. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Sunday, 8th July 2012, 7:08am
In Death Egg Zone Act 2, there is a combination of right-side up and upside-down segments that happens only in this act. The same goes for the act 2 boss, controlled by eggman at the far right of the room, outside the battle area.
But that doesn't stop there. After defeating the act 2 boss, the wall to the right crumbles, opening the way to a more powerful, final boss. This happens for Tails only, even if he has all 14 emeralds activated as well as the master emerald. But eggman harnesses the power of the master emerald in the second phase of the final boss, using it as a weapon of mass-destruction.
A powerful beam of energy is fired at you after eggman has charged up it's emerald power. However, eggman can still be deated like that of phase 1, a total of 16 hits is all it takes to destroy eggman's super destructive robot and free the emerald (not if eggman can get away with it). The entire death egg starts to self destruct, leaving eggman to flee the area, chased down by sonic & tails; with an additional 8 hits to eggman, he drops the master emerald onto the ground, and if played by tails, marks the end of the story.
#17. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Sunday, 8th July 2012, 10:21am
Um, Brady, what exactly is your objective by writing all this?
#18. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Sunday, 8th July 2012, 5:13pm
I'm simply assisting the founder of soniczone:0 for the final updates to come.
#19. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 9th July 2012, 2:05pm
Thanks Brady, but all of the text for my guides was already written years ago. I update it a bit, but the maps, screens and building of the page is the main stuff that I do at the moment, so I'm fine, thank you.
#20. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Monday, 9th July 2012, 10:04pm
No pressure, LiQuidShade.
I do my best to give certain info on S&K's very difficult levels, whenever I have the time to do so. It's something that I sometimes do on this site.
Anyway, I think the difficulty rating for both Death Egg & Doomsday zones are at the highest levels, at 5 stars for D.E.Z.(Death Egg Zone in short), & 5 stars for Doomsday Zone.

Need I say anymore?
#21. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Wednesday, 11th July 2012, 3:48pm
Hey LS, what's happening with Ricky Earl? Does he still draw stuff? His art is really great!
#22. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Thursday, 12th July 2012, 5:38pm
You can keep up with him on his blog (should be on the links section of the homepage), but he's normally quite busy. Hopefully he'll have time for more Sonic work but we'll see :)
#23. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Monday, 16th July 2012, 12:22pm
I don't suppose that in the future, would there ever be a story on the hit Dreamcast title: Sonic Adventure? If there is, then I hope that the new writer(s) will get it sorted.

Personally, I prefer the new writer(s) to be just as successful as the head soniczone:0 writer, Ricky Earl.
#24. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 19th July 2012, 5:23am
"Personally, I prefer the new writer(s) to be just as successful as the head soniczone:0 writer, Ricky Earl"

You mean LiQuidshade?

LQS has been hunting for writers for years, and never found a serious one who actually wrote a guide. :(
#25. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Thursday, 19th July 2012, 5:52am
I prefer LQS as Ricky Earl.
#26. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 19th July 2012, 11:39am
They're differnt people.
#27. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Thursday, 19th July 2012, 1:15pm
Er, you got some spelling wrong, Hyper_Sonic
#28. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 21st July 2012, 10:49am
Whoops, sorry! My bad. So, what have you been up to lately, Brady?
#29. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Saturday, 21st July 2012, 1:03pm
Oh, I don't know... I've kept myself busy on one of my non-sega games, but it's also one of my favourites: Gran Turismo 5 by Polyphony Digital.

This makes me want to ask a dream question: "What if there was an ultimate dream showdown between Sonic The Hedgehog and the mighty Bugatti Veyron... who will be the winner?"

The same question will also count for Shadow The Hedgehog and Silver The Hedgehog as well.

Together, Sonic, Shadow and Silver will have what it takes to give the mighty Bugatti Veyron a run for it's money. I'm going to enjoy this! :)
#30. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Sunday, 22nd July 2012, 10:56am
"What if there was an ultimate dream showdown between Sonic The Hedgehog and the mighty Bugatti Veyron... who will be the winner?"

Bugatti Veyron >400 km/h
Sonic the Hedgehog >1100 km/h

I think the winner is clear.
#31. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Sunday, 22nd July 2012, 12:22pm
Slight problem... left Shadow & Silver out of it.

I'll say it again... Sonic, Shadow & Silver vs the Bugatti Veyron (top speed 407 km/h), by the original founder, Ettore Bugatti.

LQS can probably pardon me

<to a different subject>

If you play the non-sega game called GT5, you'll see that there is more than just the bugatti veyron; over 1,000 cars are also there. Pescarolo, Pagani, Mclaren UK, TVR, Dodge, Shelby, Audi, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Panoz, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Toyota, BMW, Mini, Volkswagen, RUF, Peugeot, Citroen, Lotus, Ginetta, Vauxhall, Opel, Lister...

...oh, was that too much? :)

(25 car makers shown)
#32. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 24th July 2012, 7:14am
I left shadow and silver out because I do not know the answer.

Also, well done, you know stuff about cars!
#33. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Tuesday, 24th July 2012, 7:56am
If you want to talk to me more privatly, Hyper_Sonic, email me.
#34. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Wednesday, 25th July 2012, 11:28am
What's your e-mail?
#35. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Thursday, 26th July 2012, 2:29am
#36. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Saturday, 28th July 2012, 12:29pm
LQS, how much longer is it until the final update for soniczone:0?
#37. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 29th July 2012, 9:52am
I'm about to announce that shortly, stay tuned!
#38. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Sunday, 29th July 2012, 1:41pm
So, the final countdown begins... Death Egg & the Doomsday will of course be on the road to victory; not to mention the downloads page. It's almost time...
#39. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Monday, 30th July 2012, 5:54am
Turning my attention to Sonic CD; the PS3/PSN version (which I play) has a more easier & more exciting journey. When you start the story with sonic, the animated opening movie is shown. After the opening movie, the game begins.

One very common interest in the PS3/PSN version is that you can play as tails, not normally used in the original Sonic CD; it's a first in a long time.

The music comes in 2 different versions: JP (Japanese version) & US (Original version). Instead of the music fading out, it just continues onwards.

And, as well as being given the task to get all 12 trophies on Sonic CD PS3/PSN, it's a barnburner for sure.

A few hidden objects to break open (only possible with debug mode) is the Clock TV and the S TV icons. The clock tv has little or no affect in the game, however the S tv speeds you up, and gives you temporary invincibility in turn. Much like power sneakers & invincibility in one simple tv. A very tall order, but there you go.
Sonic Generations Custom Levels
Saturday, 23rd June 2012, 12:58pm (UTC), 15 Comments
First of all, happy 21st Birthday to Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 1 is of course 21 years old today - ensure you devote a bit of time to it. I've already done my playthrough, realising that I'm actually incredibly rusty! I died several times in really stupid places. How embarrassing. You can also celebrate by pre-ordering the English version of the History of Sonic book that was recently released in French by Pix'n Love. You can find out more about it here.

Anyway, that's all by the by, I mainly just wanted to flag up something really interesting going on over there on Sonic Retro - Sonic Generations hacking. You may have seen this video already but in case you haven't, it demonstrates Sonic Unleashed levels being imported into the Sonic Generations engine and thus being playable on PC and perhaps even perfected a little bit:

It's now gone even further than that though, videos of the same treatment on even older levels have been popping up all over the place, albeit still in very much a work-in-progress form. Still, the possibilities are getting even more exciting. Check these out...

First of all, the prospect of updating and re-imagining old levels that, with enough talent behind enhancing textures and re-modelling, could look as good as the ones that were actually re-made for Sonic Generations, is tantalising enough. This is all clearly still in the earliest stages, and from what I've read they are understandably still working things out, and importing old levels is obviously a very good way of doing that. I'm amazed at how much they've already managed to achieve, there's some amazing talent around in the community.

But the Sky Troops one interests me in particular because it looks a lot more customised and demonstrates the exciting possibility of being able to create your own entirely new stages. At this point in time it all seems way beyond me to get my hands dirty with it, and I'd need a decent PC for a start. But I'm a budding level designer, with a particular passion for coming up with fresh ideas in every aspect, and hope, over the next few years, to start realising some of these ideas I've had knocking around in my head for ages now. I've always imagined them as 2D, but I adore the modern Sonic Generations levels so much that I can't help but get extremely excited about the possibility of my levels taking that form as well. Problem is of course that while I reckon I can work my way pretty far through the creation of a 2D game with a bit (ok, a lot) of dedication, 3D is a completely new domain for me, I know next to nothing about it and frankly would struggle to make a model of a perfect cube.

However, for anyone with similarly colossal aspirations, I recommend keeping an eye on this scene as from what I've seen of 3D Sonic fan-made engines over the years, this looks like one of your best bets. Sonic fan game or hacking projects are notorious for getting scrapped along the way, and this is complex stuff that really requires collaboration, something that's very difficult to hold together within an amateur context. Plus I do have some concerns about SEGA's view on all this. Editing 20 year old games to put new characters in and change the colours a bit is one thing, but this is messing around with a very current engine that could be used to create very similar, rival content to new official Sonic games.

Still, that all being well, I'm hoping that these clever guys can come up with some nifty tools to make the whole process a lot more user-friendly and easier for less-technically minded, but more creative people to bring their imaginative ideas to life. Even then, creating a massive 3D Sonic level of the quality of those in Generations - or indeed any for that matter - has to be a huge undertaking if you want to do it properly, and I'm sure it will always require a lot of dedication and a willingness to understand new concepts. My mind is twirling with the possibilities of my imaginary level, but I'm trying to remind myself it's going to take a hell of a lot of work and perhaps collaboration with others. To that end I'd be particularly interested to hear from any of you for whom this has also got your brain ticking about what you could do with this engine given the best tools and capabilities at your disposal. Perhaps we could discuss further and share some ideas - believe me, I have a lot of them!

The best place I've seen so far to follow these developments is on this lengthy Sonic Retro topic. Spend a bit of time going back through the last pages and look at the kind of stuff they're working on. I think their goals seem to align with what I've mentioned above, and it all sounds really promising.
Comments   15 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Saturday, 23rd June 2012, 3:40pm
Even after 21 years of extreme platforming and high-end determination for world safety, sonic the hedgehog is still the world's most highly praised superhero character with a full 5 stars next to his name. LONG LIVE SONIC THE HEDGEHOG!
#2. Comment posted by afolita on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 10:56am
I don't think all this modding should bother SEGA so much: if they release some DLC, people will definitely buy them, not to mention a whole new game they surely have currently in development. Moreover, they can have a look at these fan-made stages to take a few notes about the most preferred level design and such things. Have you seen CorvidDude's Emerald Coast yet? It's the best of all by far!

I'd also love to design my own Sonic levels, both 2D and 3D, and I have a bunch of nice ideas, but my limited knowledge and a bit of laziness stop me from actually getting to make them. Tell us about what you have in mind a bit, LiquidShade!
#3. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 10:59am
Did you see the most recent link I set you? (he most interesting one in my opinion)
#4. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 11:03am

Did you see the Emerald Cost video by Corvid Dude that was uploaded... Today!!!! 100x better than the last preview. (That was the link I sent LQS btw).

p.s I didn't see your comment when I was writing mine, because I was writing it at the same time.

HAHA I am a peot, and I didn't even know it!
#5. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 2:59pm
Yeah, I saw the Emerald Coast one, it looks awesome. Very exciting.

I've had several level ideas over the years - enough for a full game, and each one either in a completely unique locale or with a certain gimmick to it that hasn't really been done before. I'd be most interested in doing my idea for the first level however, a grand country garden, with neat flower patches, woodlands, fountains and pools, hedge mazes and old country mansions. If you happen to be British, you'll know of our National Trust gardens and old houses across the countryside - it's basically that sort of thing but on a grand and slightly more ridiculous scale (I imagine the hedge mazes - which you can go inside and get lost in - towering up into huge multi-sided cubes for example). Broadly, it's probably closest to Marble Garden Zone, except it's not a ruins level, the buildings are slightly old but well maintained, and with pristine gardens.

And most importantly, no seaside, beach or tropical palm tree in sight! If I were to do a more traditional seaside zone, I'd turn it into a challenging water level, for the middle of a game, crossing with a haunted theme as Sonic would delve into sunken shipwrecks amongst coral reefs. I've had ideas similar to Rooftop Run and White Park as well, but pre-dating both of them, though I still might like to do them anyway, and I'm a big believer that the rarely seen Wild West style level has thus far been criminally overlooked, for the most part.

I'm desperate to get cracking on these, or at least just the garden level, after my plans for Zone: 0 are complete (although note, at this stage, I may not just be referring to the S&K guide there...). If any good 3D modellers are reading and happen to be looking for a level to contribute to.. let's talk!
#6. Comment posted by afolita on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 8:05pm
LiquidShade, you seem to have read my mind with that seaside zone paragraph, seriously! My wish would be to create an ocean level with beaches, coral reefs, sunken pirate ships, submarine caves... all with colourful fish swimming around and other misc seafloor decoration. My main idea is to show players that water levels can be fun and enjoyable and not a nightmare (they don't have to be more challenging than others) when done well. Aquarium Park is my favourite area in Sonic Colours for a reason.
#7. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 11:01pm
afolita, I don't think it's easy to get Sonic Colours for the ps3, because I think it's rare to find one.
#8. Comment posted by netch on Monday, 25th June 2012, 9:17am
Sonic Colors was never out on PS3.

I am particularly most excited for the Emerald Coast custom level. Beats the 3DS version already (and "...the level isn't even halfway done!")!

If you're not good with 3d modeling, then you might just "plan" the classic level design in SonEd2.

P.s. You might not be able to run SonEd :(
#9. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Monday, 25th June 2012, 5:11pm
I thought I'd get here & find a better answer to my question.
#10. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 7:51am
What better answer is there to a question other than the right one?
#11. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 7:54am
Oh, and LQS, PLZ Check ur e-mail, 3 new (and exciting) vids.

Windy Valley Custom Level (Ok-ish)
Emerald Coast Preview#2 (Great!)
Sonic Unleashed Porting, HUB test (Dragon Valley looks awesome, and it looks like the HUB CAN be in 3D!)
#12. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 9:08am
I'm no expert on remodelling or restoration for many levels of the sonic the hedgehog series, but I still give him a full 5-star rating for world-class safety.
And as an added bonus, the upcoming new sonic game (Sonic & All-Stars Racing TRANSFORMED) has more in it than it's predecessor, sonic & sega all-stars racing.
When you think about it, it's like having something to share with other sonic fans around the globe.
One last thing, when will the ''death egg'' & "the doomsday'' zones plus the miscellaneous section be added to the sonic & knuckles game section?
#13. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 11:09am
I shall speak on behalf of LQS for the last bit, because it has just been asked too many times...

Death egg is Coming, and Doomsday will be added to misc. Probably without a map.

"... I still give him a full 5-star rating for world-class safety."

Isn't that what you said in the 1st post? And I kinda have no idea what you mean (the safety bit). Can you Please elaborate?

@afolita Hydrocity was fun too! Oh, and Aquarium Park Act 5 I think it was, WAS a nightmare (you know, the bit where Sonic gets chased by that THING, the one that gets re-incarnated in Terminal Velocity Act 1)
#14. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Wednesday, 27th June 2012, 6:08am
It means that we're safe from evil moustach monkey Dr. Eggman.
#15. Comment posted by Kabam! on Sunday, 1st July 2012, 2:18pm
This is amazing! Just imagine Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) remade into what it was supposed to be. If the speed section of wave ocean was that good then the possibilities are endless! And I agree SEGA should take a deeper look into this stuff and learn from it.
An update at last!.. S&K Other Modes
Saturday, 9th June 2012, 9:06am (UTC), 12 Comments
Update: Other Modes page added to the Sonic & Knuckles section
Ok, sorry sorry sorry... sorry. It's taken me far too long to get around to this. I can't believe my last update was in February, that's got to be a personal record. As I've mentioned before I've been doing other stuff, but it's here now and proof, if you needed it, that I will finish this whole bloody thing, even if it takes me ages to knock together the last few pages.

Ordinarily the Miscellaneous page comes along with the Other Modes page, as it's typically quite a short one. However I'm moving to a new flat this weekend and will be without Internet for two or three weeks. You've waited long enough so I thought I'd finish up Other Modes for now, and then add the little Miscellaneous page when I can.

Other Modes of course comprises of a number of additional important areas of the game that don't fit into anywhere else, including the Special Stage, Bonus Stages, details about Super and Hyper forms, and a bit about the three lock-on games, and it's the biggest of the non-level pages, so go and have a look!

As a kid I was rubbish at the Blue Sphere Special Stage for ages, then one day I finally did about five in a row and my friends and I became obsessed with collecting and sharing passwords and trying to work out how many levels there were. I don't know at what point we gave up but I'm pretty sure it wasn't anywhere near the ridiculous 134 million that there actually are. I hope you weren't expecting me to go into detail on every last one of them though because, well, I haven't. A while ago I did wonder if I could cover some of the recurring layouts that appear repeatedly across the game, which would make for a nice little guide that I don't think anyone has done before, but then, where do you draw the line? There must be loads of them. Perhaps I'll return to it eventually, on a rainy day, or if someone else wants to write about them, they're more than welcome.

On the subject, Hyper_Sonic alerted me to this exciting looking thing in the comments of the last post: Blue Spheres Forever, a fan version of the game that features a level editor! Oh how excited the younger version of me would be to see this, with all his own designs for the Special Stages drawn out on grid paper. I can't get it to work on my computer yet, but it's still being refined and looks amazing. I think there's a new version just released that I'll have a go at when I get a chance.

Sit tight, I'll be back before you know it!
Comments   12 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 9th June 2012, 9:31am
Yay! P.S Plz Check ur e-mail
#2. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 10th June 2012, 10:21am
Here is a level and code generator for the Blue Spheres game:
#3. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Sunday, 10th June 2012, 11:09am
Hmm, that's very interesting. Very very interesting!
#4. Comment posted by Kabam! on Monday, 11th June 2012, 2:39am
I have always been a fan of blue sphere! What an awesome post!
P.S.- Dr. Eggman makes a cameo appearance in this new Disney movie "Wreck it Ralph". You should check out the trailer.
#5. Comment posted by Anonymous on Saturday, 16th June 2012, 5:48am
Dude, add the last maps on the Sonic&Knuckles section please, im waiting for months ago (Death Egg and Doomsday Zone)
#6. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 16th June 2012, 11:48am
LiQuidshade says Doomsday map MIGHT not come :( Besides, if you want the maps that badly, just go to the Sonic center or Sonic retro.
#7. Comment posted by SonicFan on Monday, 18th June 2012, 6:14pm
Sorry, will you do Death Egg Zone act 1, 2 and Doomsday Zone? Answer at
#8. Comment posted by Gemster312 on Tuesday, 19th June 2012, 6:53am
The Blue Spheres forever will be implemented into Sonic 3 HD if any of you are still interested in that :)
#9. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Thursday, 21st June 2012, 6:34pm
Death Egg acts 1 and 2 yes, definitely. Doomsday maybe, but probably not. No software I have seems to be able to map it, and it's likely to be too difficult to do by hand. You'll get them when you get them and not before.
#10. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Friday, 22nd June 2012, 11:41am
PLZ Check ur e-mail LQS

p.s. I see you have your internet back ;)
#11. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Friday, 22nd June 2012, 6:18pm
Only temporarily, I'm away from home at the moment and Internet won't be set up there til early July. Just sorting out a few things first but I've read your email and will respond shortly!
#12. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 23rd June 2012, 9:43am
I sent another 1 (well, more like1-hundred), (sending error) hope the next one helps you understand more. (yanno, with a link that actually works)
Sonic 4 Episode 2: Review
Monday, 21st May 2012, 7:30pm (UTC), 31 Comments
So, here we are again for round 2, as the second instalment of Sonic 4 aims to refine the attempts of the first, and win back those that it lost while proving itself as a bona fide, classic 2D Sonic experience. It's a tricky one to review, because it doesn't succeed entirely. I think it's definitely better than the first in most of the biggest areas of concern, but I do think fans will still have a bit to complain about in all of those areas, each of which I will go into. As I've been trying to analyse it, I'm finding more and more things that it could or should do better, yet for all its flaws, I still quite like it, and I enjoyed my time with it. Lets take a look...

Momentum On Our Side

One of the least favourite aspects of episode 1 was its poor grasp of Sonic physics. It worked, sure, and on its own terms it was a perfectly competent platformer, but a good Sonic experience has a beautiful flow and sense of momentum to it. Episode 1's physics had much more of a literal way about them - Sonic pretty much only moved when you moved him deliberately with the thumbstick - release it and he tends to stop dead, so jumping felt weird and you can completely forget about rolling Sonic gracefully down a slope and watching him pick up speed all by himself.

For episode 2, the PR people made sure to highlight that such concerns were being addressed and that we would see some significant improvements. Tweaks are definitely noticeable but as I suspected, it's not exactly a complete recovery. You don't have to play too far into it before you realise Sonic moves around in a much more familiar way now. Spin dash, release and then jump without holding forward and you'll find Sonic whips through the air and lands on the ground in the kind of neat arc you would like to see - rather than witnessing the untimely and immediate death of your speed as soon as you've pressed jump. Sonic even spins faster depending on his speed, just like in the originals. It's not pixel for pixel with the classics, but it feels like a happy medium between them and episode 1 that I think most people will find satisfactory. You'll also, quite rightly, have much more trouble walking up curved vertical walls this time too.

Jumping around is fine, but rolling still feels a bit off. It's hard to say, as I'm no expert on the exact maths behind what Sonic should be doing in any given situation, but I can't help but feel he should be rolling down slopes at a choppier pace than what he's doing at the moment. I think it probably has been improved from episode 1, and there is speed gained by rolling down a slope, but not much of it and it has to be quite steep. Most of the levels are designed in such a way that this isn't always particularly an issue, but in speedy sections of Sylvania Castle and particularly in the rollercoasters of White Park Act 2, you'll feel like you should be going faster. Frustratingly, the spin dash appears to be exactly as weak and disappointing as in episode 1, the developers having apparently not played Sonic Generations, which boasts a classic spin dash that is so quick and convenient that it will take your thumb off if you're not careful. I must admit, I kind of miss being able to just hold and release X for a quick boost. Sorry purists - it's wrong, yet it feels so right.

The New and Improved Powers of Team Work!

Lets not forget one of episode 2's USPs - Tails! Firmly happy being back in Sonic's shadow, he tags along, picking up the extra ring as ever he could. He can also now open items, pass checkpoints and acquire shields and power-ups along with you. The X button (on the 360) can now be used to summon him instantly and perform one of two team work attacks depending on whether or not you happen to be in mid-air at the time. Jump and press X to have him carry you while flying. It's a similar control set up to Sonic 3, just press A to gain a boost up, however this boost is a bit more powerful so it requires careful practise, and as well as being limited by time as you always have been, it now appears that Tails can only go to a certain height too. You have to press X to release yourself, and will often have to use this move in order to reach a boss, so then quickly pressing A to home in on them is tricky.

Press X while on the ground to initiate the controversial double spin move where Sonic and Tails join in a manner that cannot be comfortable, in order to batter their way through walls and obstacles at a generally quicker pace. This tends to go on and on in one direction until you press X to break out of it. I ponder that they may have dumbed down the spin dash and the roll on purpose in order to make way for this move, though it's an awkward substitute. Still, these moves go some way, I suppose, to add a bit of variety without straying too far away from the tried and tested classic formula - plus there's an occasional power-up that allows you to perform an action not unlike Sonic Heroes' Team Blast. It was a while before I managed to stop forgetting that they were there at all though, much to my peril in Oil Desert Act 3's scary sand crushing segments, as the handy panels that help spell out which one you need to use start to disappear further into the game. A bigger gripe though is that I was constantly calling up the wrong one by just getting my timing wrong as to whether or not I was pressing X while on the ground. I think perhaps they should have had separate buttons.

Sonic 4 Episode 2: Attack of the Clones?

High on the list of big let downs in episode 1, and a personal favourite complaint of mine, was that it simply wasn't original enough, relying instead on what I like to call "level clones"; levels that are obviously based very heavily on one particular other level from a previous game, in terms of appearance, structure and objects (the patented Zone: 0 "three magic factors"). It's done in the hope that people will say "Yay! Green Hill Zone! Casino Night Zone! Just like I remember them", but really most of us say "Oh for God's sake, if I see another Green Hill style level I'm going to ram a palm tree into Ken Balough's moustachioed cake hole". I can speak for myself only but I think a lot of people share my opinion, that I don't need to be reminded of classic levels, I play them all the time. I need to be entertained by new ones, with their own original concepts and features. They don't necessarily have to be entirely new types of places or an entirely new trope, just a set of ideas, maybe some new, some old but from a variety of sources, that identify them uniquely from any other level.

That's what I had my hopes held high for with this game, especially when we were told that only one stage took its cues from a previous one. The fact that this is, as it turns out, a blatant lie is infuriating, but it does at least offer me the justification to use the highly appropriate Star Wars pun that heads up this section.

Naturally, this one level could only be the first level, Sylvania Castle, an Aquatic Ruins inspired clone that, satisfyingly enough doesn't actually feel that much like the Sonic 2 source material, even though it borrows almost everything from it. Perhaps I'm a more simple creature than I would have liked to think that I am, because it could be that all it takes is just a simple shift from daytime to (beautifully done) morning and night time, and a slight tweak from ancient ruins to more castle-based ruins to get me to be more accepting of this particular clone. It dips in and out of numerous but fairly shallow water pools by way of loops and curved roads with a mixture of new badniks and old, and features borrowed from Aquatic Ruin, as well as Marble Garden, and some simple new rotating and moving platforms in Act 3. The floating spring that needs to be flipped with a homing attack is a nice new touch though. In terms of the difficulty of this level, I was curious as to whether they'd treat it as a first level to a new game, or a fifth level to an existing game, as it's technically both. It has a similar problem that Mushroom Hill Zone had - to be straightforward enough for new users to complete, but challenging enough to conceivably be placed in the middle of a larger game, and it actually tackles the problem very similarly. It is straightforward to complete, but has a larger range of unique objects and structural features than you would normally expect to find in a first level, much like Mushroom Hill.

The next two levels were most exciting of all - finally levels that actually have some individuality to them, and not obviously based on one particular predecessor. Probably my favourite is the second level, White Park, as unimaginatively named as it is (come on people, Christmas Carnival Zone surely!). It's a beautiful cross-breed of two Sonic staples, the snow level and the carnival level, and alternates its emphasis on each from act to act. Act 1 is a catchy, festive frolic with all the trimmings, whereas Act 2 sees Sonic and Tails take to the rollercoasters and avoid being crushed by lots of huge moving pieces of track. Act 3 is mostly submerged in the chilly waters where you'll probably find your first real challenges of the game, particularly towards the end, where seal badniks that freeze the water into impenetrable spheres create a very tricky trap. Although annoying, it's a nicely done idea that sees enemies interacting in their environment very well. A great zone.

Oil Desert is the type of locale that I've actually seen more than once or twice in fan games, but it's never quite been done in an official game. It takes place on Eggman's oil mining operation (presumably one of the sources of his apparently unlimited funds) in the middle of the harsh, windy desert. Sand storms blow you across the gantries and rigs and new badniks such as the dung beetle and flame throwers that set oil slicks alight prove annoying, though nonetheless kind of welcome for the sake of originality. In terms of other objects, you'll find many nods to Oil Ocean and Sandopolis in particular, including oil slides and quicksand in Act 2. If you thought the rising sand segments of Sandopolis were tough though, wait until you see what Act 3 has to offer you. It took me ages before I remembered that I had my new team moves to help me through it, but it was at this point in particular that switching between them became a noticeably fiddly and frustrating process.

As is now customary for any new Sonic platformer, there comes a point during the time between announcement and release that I lay low for a while, by turning off Twitter and avoiding Sonic news sites in the hope of keeping my eyes and ears away from the spoilers of every single level that will inevitably emerge, either from hackers or SEGA themselves. As such, I managed to keep away from anything to do with the final level until I reached it myself in the game. Imagine.. a completely brand new level, with brand new ideas that I was about to experience all at once. A lovely and rare Sonic moment if ever there was one. I was excited. What could it be?.. Well, I'll tell you what it is..

Wing F*cking Fortress.

I can't tell you how annoyed I was. The fourth level is not one but two clones in one neat little disappointing package. The first act of Sky Fortress (well, at least its highly original name is masking its true origins) is a more frustrating version of Sky Chase Zone, and the other two acts are Wing Fortress with a pinch of Death Egg and little else. They're all well and good as levels, and Act 3 at sunset feels very climactic and everything, not to mention beautiful, but it's just such a wasted opportunity. Make a flying fortresss level by all means - in fairness we haven't actually had one for ages - but at least try to do something different with it. Even a different colour scheme for the ship would be something.

Fortunately we're not quite done yet, as there is an additional semi-level as part of the final bosses, which sees Sonic and Tails take another trip up into space to discover exactly what Eggman has been up to with Little Planet. It actually unites the stories of all of the classic games quite nicely, albeit with little complexity. This is nothing very groundbreaking, but at least it doesn't look exactly like anything else. I can't help but think a really cool level could have been made by blending the wacky world of Little Planet with its new mechanical outer shell though, and it's disappointing that although quite epic and exciting, Sonic essentially retraces incredibly familiar steps in the last quarter or so of the game.

The Difficult Second Game

One thing you can say about this game is that it is definitely a challenge. More so than the first episode and in fact, more so than most Sonic games of recent years. And in general, it's the right kind of challenge too, which is a very good thing. There are death drops sure, there always are, but the level design mostly doesn't rely on precarious platforms balanced above them, awaiting any small mistake at any point in the level. It feels cheap if this keeps happening, but like the classic games, episode 2 restricts its biggest platforming challenges to very specific points in the levels, creating potentially terrifying areas that you may lose strings of lives on and may get frustrated with, but there is a kind of mutual understanding there. You get the rules, you understand why you're messing up as you gradually figure out what you have to do and how to do it. This is how it should be, and in fact makes these levels perfect candidates for Zone: 0 guides (though don't get too excited, I probably won't be writing them).

It also makes the game feel longer than it would be otherwise, and therefore gives it a bit more value for money. That said, most of the acts have a very healthy length to them anyway, taking anything from 2 to 5 minutes after a couple of goes, potentially much longer on your first try. It's hard to say having only played each act no more than a handful of times, but the downside of these impressive lengths appears to be that the all-important factor of multiple routes may have been sacrificed, as I haven't spotted too many other entrances and exits to alternate paths in most of the acts. One addition to longevity is the inclusion of our new friends, the red star rings, and there's one tucked away somewhere in each act. Although I haven't picked up a lot of these yet, I have at least seen quite a few of them, and I figure that if there were lots of other routes to take, the level designers would hide them on those that are less well-trodden. It's not a big deal right now but multiple routes are the real key to 2D longevity, and I fear their absence will have a big impact on this aspect of the game.

Bosses are invariably the most frustrating bits in the main game though, and this instalment is no exception, with some real tough cookies. You will face Eggman and Metal Sonic alternately at the back end of each zone, and gone are the little Egg-mobile attachments, to be replaced by larger machines that require lots of hits and lots of time. A shame really, I do think the smaller scale boss is something that 2D games should hang on to. Thankfully though, they are at least entirely free of cloning and pretty much completely original, illustrated not too subtly by having the stack of spitting statues from the Aquatic Ruin boss rise up from the ground in the first battle, only to be knocked away by mechanical vines almost immediately. The final boss is particularly unique, yet also, particularly frustrating.

Lastly, we can't forget the Special Stage, which takes its cues, as most others always have done in some way, from the Sonic 2 half pipe. Another feeling of deja vu. It does at least offer a chance to make some much needed refinements to that classic formula however, namely to do with Tails. You remember, he used to walk straight into bombs and lose your rings, making the whole thing, well, pretty pointless, and actually probably one of my least favourite Special Stages. He's much better behaved this time, moving more in time with Sonic, and even when he gets hit I don't think he loses rings, though I may be wrong. I'm only about half way through my emerald collecting challenge at the moment - a bit stuck on the fourth emerald - but early indications show that this hunt for the shiny jewels is as tough as it ever was. I can only hope that one day we'll see the "collect blue spheres" Special Stage make a much needed return, if any more cloning must be done.

Retro Sounds

Next stop on the up and down rollercoaster ride that is this review is the musical stylings of Jun Senoue. Now once again he appears to have been given the sole task of coming up with the entire soundtrack for this game, which actually is quite big, and I do think he could have used a hand with it as it might have ensured a more consistent and higher quality. The bottom line is that it's much the same story as in episode 1; lots of unique pieces of Mega Drive style music, some maybe a little bit catchy (albeit "growers"), others seem to lack any sort of memorable tune whatsoever. Sylvania Castle Act 1 is definitely a baffling example of the latter, which seems to get itself all keyed up but never goes anywhere interesting whatsoever, while White Park Act 1 by contrast has a much more defined, pleasant melody. Strangely Oil Desert and Sky Fortress abandon the Sonic 4 rule of having completely different tunes for each act and instead go the traditional route by handing out variations of the same tune for two or all of their acts - perhaps Jun ran out of either tunes, time, or both. I wouldn't really say any of them jumped out at me as immediate favourites, and I don't think I'll be distributing too many iTunes 5 star ratings, but it's perhaps not as much of a melodic disaster as the first few pieces of music in the game would make you think it would turn out to be.

What is a bit more of a train wreck though is the general quality of them. I really don't think he's got the hang of this retro sound that he's going for, because many pieces are difficult to like just because they sound instrumentally repetitive (yes, he loves that annoying Sonic 1 and 2 drum sound), awkward and just plain uncomfortable to listen to. Oil Desert Act 3 and even the slightly re-done Sonic 4 title theme, along with several others, are really not easy on the ears. I'm no musical expert, but I know what I like to hear, and there's just no sign of the kind of beautiful complexity heard in the likes of Sonic 3 and Knuckles, and you get the impression that he doesn't quite understand that just because it's retro, it doesn't give him an excuse to make music that sounds awful. I appreciate he was probably under a lot of pressure to get them all done, because good quality or not they still take time, but most of his recent work in general hasn't entirely impressed me to be honest, as I felt he had some of the weakest offerings on the Sonic Generations soundtrack too. I wouldn't be all too sad to see him step down from his current role as all-important Sonic music guy in favour of someone more capable, such as Tomoya Ohtani. Sorry Jun.

Full Metal Episode

Do you have Sonic 4: Episode 1? Do you have Sonic 4: Episode 2 on the same system? Wouldn't it be nice if you could connect them together, or "lock on", if you will, to create the complete Sonic 4 experience? It would wouldn't it? Oh well, moving on..

Well, I assumed that probably wouldn't be happening, given the changes to physics and graphical styles etc, but as it turns out, it probably would have been possible, because if you have both episodes, you can unlock a bonus level called "Episode Metal", in which you play as Metal Sonic in one act of each of the levels in episode 1. These acts are edited heavily to create more of a "hard mode" experience, and demonstrate how Metal Sonic got his groove back, discovered some sort of secret glowing purple power source in Lost Labyrinth, and stole Tails' little space rocket thing in order to catch up with the duo in time for episode 2. It ties up a few (albeit not really that crucial or interesting) loose ends and offers a nice new challenge on existing content.

However the key thing here is that Metal Sonic controls exactly like Sonic does in episode 2. i.e. we have episode 2 physics in episode 1 and you can really feel the difference. I can't imagine it's going to take a gargantuan amount of work to import the rest of the acts, albeit with any necessary object placement tweaks, so that we can have that full continuous experience and make episode 1's content that little bit more enjoyable. Future DLC? Maybe if we ask really really nicely but my personal suspicion is that now that it's done, sadly, SEGA will just draw a line under Sonic 4 and move on. A safer bet is that one day a clever hacker will come up with something and who knows, maybe more clever people will be able to soften all the hard edges and shape a complete Sonic 4 into a more refined and smooth, fan-assisted package.

Worst Episode Ever?.. Nah, not really..

I've been a bit hard on the game in some places, and even though it took me on a bit of an emotional journey, I did enjoy it, and would recommend it. It's well constructed, has genuine challenge, and the new graphics engine looks beautiful, particularly the lighting effects and the vivid, busy backgrounds. Control over Sonic, while not perfect, has improved subtly yet significantly, and moving him around feels as solid and smooth as I would want.

Aspects of the level design could be better; they still rely too much on existing ideas rather than new ones, and I genuinely don't know if that's down to the misguided view that we want loads of throwbacks, or just simply a lack of new ideas. The latter isn't entirely true because there are new little touches, in both episodes for that matter, but most of the new obstacles and features in this game are fairly simple platforming ideas. It's also a shame that there doesn't appear to be a great emphasis on exploring multiple routes - a key ingredient of classic Sonic that I'm still not confident that they entirely understand. I feel that they were barking up the wrong tree with the musical direction all along, and this is a shame, as it too impacts greatly on how much you want to go back and experience these levels.

That said, what I really took away from this is that, at least in part, this felt like a truly new 2D Sonic experience, the likes of which I haven't enjoyed in quite the same way in years and years. Say, Sonic Advance 3, or possibly even earlier, because everything since has either felt like it's been designed in an entirely new, faster style that, while entertaining in its own right, is not the same, or in the case of episode 1 or Generations, feels too close to existing material to really feel unique and unexplored. This episode, even if just relatively briefly, captures that feeling of exploring bright, imaginative and varied worlds that are new, exciting and distinct from each other in every way. You're not forced along them at breakneck speed, the pace is comfortable and individual, and each act has its own specific challenges to throw at you. Rather than innocently slipping through different parts of the floor every couple of minutes, the art of creating specific "tricky bits" to work out and try to understand has well and truly returned and though you'll lose lives on them, you'll at least be accepting of these points as genuine challenges, and that's what gaming is all about after all.

I think it's safe to say that there probably won't be a third episode, and I think that's for the best. So as a complete game, which I actually find harder to comprehend than I first thought I would, Sonic 4 is not a perfect attempt at continuing the original series, but no matter how good it could have been, I don't think anyone would really consider it as another proper instalment of those games. They were of a specific time and made for a particularly optimistic and youthful fan-base that has since come to worship them as the untouchable religious icons they are, and there's no real way of just capturing that all over again, because so much has happened since. I don't care what it's name is, this game isn't really Sonic 4 in the way that Sonic 4 always should have been - but that's ok, it doesn't have to be. What it is, is a neat little blast from the past that attempts, mostly successfully, to recapture the important aspects of classic Sonic level design as opposed to modern Sonic level design. It could have been better, but it could also have been much worse. Vaguely, they've got the right idea.

And besides, if, five years ago you'd have said that one day we'd be playing a new game where Sonic and Tails chase Eggman and Metal Sonic up to Little Planet, which was being transformed into a new Death Egg, you'd have been laughed out the building (assuming you happened to be in a building full of Sonic fans). This kind of old Sonic lore was almost entirely ignored by SEGA for years, but now it's back and that at least is something to be really happy about. And if you want to see more of it, and more refined classic 2D Sonic gameplay, buy this game, enjoy it, and let them know you're interested, because otherwise we're in danger of losing it all over again.
Comments   31 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by JamesTheEchidna on Tuesday, 22nd May 2012, 12:18am
I am not sure what I think about this game yet, I'm going to give this game a few more weeks.

Great Review, very well constructed.
#2. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 22nd May 2012, 8:52am
A few things. First, I wish I could just stomp, it would make things easier. In fact I sometimes instinctively stomp, to no evail. I've gatten used to modern sonic. When i was playing Sonic 3 earlier today I felt the same thing. Watch the release trailer, "to be concluded" it says. Also, the Sonic Generations DLC list has supposedly leaked. 4 levels, two classic, two modern. Remember, this is just a rumor, so you can still go back into the comunity, because I myself do not believe it (although it is an ok-ish list).

#3. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 22nd May 2012, 8:55am
#4. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 22nd May 2012, 9:22am
LOL about 100 spelling mistakes in post #2. Oh, and I did post #3.
#5. Comment posted by Mike on Wednesday, 23rd May 2012, 5:40am
I think you are under the impression that this is "it". I doubt it. The last trailer had "To Be Concluded" towards the end. And they've indicated that if ep 2 does well, we'll have a ep 3 and maybe beyond
#6. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 23rd May 2012, 6:41am
Ah, but I interpreted the "To be Concluded" thing as referring to this episode itself. As kind of a strapline. Just a thought.
#7. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 24th May 2012, 8:58am
Did anyone else hear Twinkle Park in White Park Act 2, or was it jus me?
#8. Comment posted by hypermario13 on Thursday, 24th May 2012, 4:52pm
IMO the new running animation for Sonic is really cool! In fact, a lot of the Sonic's animations were changed to look really cool.
#9. Comment posted by jingoi on Friday, 25th May 2012, 9:39pm
Full Metal Sonic - The Sacred Pink orb that no one knew about except Sega.
#10. Comment posted by Bloody Body on Saturday, 26th May 2012, 6:49am
Hello, LiQuidShade. I sent message to few months ago. Have you seen it?
#11. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 26th May 2012, 9:01am
I'd assume so, because he reads the e-mails I send, even when he doesn't reply.
#12. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 26th May 2012, 9:17am
Yeah, the Oil Ocean map stuff? Yeah, I got it, thanks :)
#13. Comment posted by Bloody Body on Sunday, 27th May 2012, 7:49am
I sent not only that message. Look for 18th February 2012. This message contains 5 images and 1 video. Video is answer to your question how to get the boxes, which are located in a small room without entrance except the bottom hole in Carnival Night Zone.
#14. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 27th May 2012, 7:53am
Oh yeah, my mistake, I got that too, sorry. I'll be sure to consider these when I go back over all the content and update it later this year, thanks a lot.
#15. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Sunday, 27th May 2012, 8:00am
A good Idea would be to read all the "notes", they contain most of the stuff that you missed. eg. Chemical Plant Boss
#16. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 27th May 2012, 8:27am
Yeah, that's exactly what I'm planning on doing. I've got lots of emails such as those from Bloody Body too, highlighting more stuff, so I will be collating it all at some point - not to worry. I'm going to start with Sonic CD though, the 2011 version introduced a lot of things that need documenting.
#17. Comment posted by JamesTheEchidna on Sunday, 27th May 2012, 1:47pm
LiQiudShade, what do you think of the ending and the red rings?
#18. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 27th May 2012, 2:26pm
I haven't finished collecting all the emeralds yet, but I hear the ending is no different with them. So I thought it was fairly inconclusive, and doesn't really explain whether or not Little Planet actually recovers. If they knew there would be an episode 3 then I can understand that, but as far as I'm aware, they don't, and it all depends on how well this one goes.

Haven't done all the red rings yet either - if these extra challenges don't actually unlock anything new then I'm in no hurry to do them. Although before this game I had collected every other red star ring they've come up with, so I guess I should get round to these as well.
#19. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Monday, 28th May 2012, 1:06am
It's pretty hard to get all the red rings in colours, but not in Generations. I wish generations just scrapped most of the challenges, and had 4 or 6 acts in each zone instead. (probably 4). Because 2 Acts just isn't enough.
#20. Comment posted by Mike on Monday, 28th May 2012, 6:27am
Well plus, Eggman and Metal Sonic escaped at the end of episode 2. :) I just don't think we're done yet. As some on YT have pointed out, nothing has really been saved yet. We haven't gotten the "all is well" ending.
#21. Comment posted by JamesTheEchidna on Monday, 28th May 2012, 2:13pm
@Mike yeah we have no closure, but due to the reception of this game, I have a strong feeling we won't get episode 3.

You also have to realize, if the death egg explodes, wouldn't that mean little planet would destroyed with it? The death egg powers down and I think, since it powered down, it can't be powered back up in time before little planet returns to its original position.

Just a theory, take it with a grain of salt and a pinch of pepper.
#22. Comment posted by JamesTheEchidna on Monday, 28th May 2012, 2:41pm
Just heard something from a Sega Representative, but there was a good ending, but it was cut out due to the game being somewhat rushed for release dates. The good ending has the death egg mk II coming apart, piece by piece and exploding, leaving little planet unscathed and letting it teleport away from earth once again. This would've been nice to see, but you can still hear the audio file, just look up the "to be continued" video on youtube and the audio you hear is the death egg breaking apart and exploding, and little planet teleporting away. The "to be continued" screen was meant for the end of episode metal, not episode 2, which could mean this is the end of the Sonic 4 Saga, but at the same time, maybe sega didn't put in the good ending because they may want to continue the saga. I personally, think it should stop here because, to be honest, I am more of a fan of 3D Sonic, and the Sonic 4 Saga isn't really interesting for me, and I think Sega isn't really interested in it either. I think they just want to do something new, instead of continuing the Sonic 4 Saga, and that may be why they are cancelling episode 3 and leaving Sonic 4 where it is. Sorry for the long post, and I wouldn't really say that this is %100 true, but from what I heard from the Representative and a few people at SonicRetro and the SonicStadium and seems that it could be true. Thanks for reading my wall of text, now go outside and play!
#23. Comment posted by netch on Tuesday, 29th May 2012, 2:10am
I just want another sonic games like sonic 1, or sonic adventure 2 to just to give me that feeling of speed and maybe have boost.

And by the way Shadow the hedgehog was sonic adventure 3

#24. Comment posted by Cf on Tuesday, 29th May 2012, 6:38pm
If you think special stage 4 is difficult..... well, look forward to special stage 7 is all i'll say ;)
#25. Comment posted by Chaos Ace on Friday, 1st June 2012, 10:27pm
Wow, you really go all out for these reviews. Do you know when Sonic 4 episode 2 will be released in the U.S. and on what systems you can download it on?

And by the way, did you see my last comment on your previous update?
#26. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 2nd June 2012, 3:28am
How far away is other modes? Oh, and I'm hard at work, hhave I got something in store for you! P.S Have you seen the fan game blue spheres forever. It's epic. Hope you can run it.

Will eventually be intergrated into Sonic 3 HD, if THAT ever even gets off the ground!
#27. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 2nd June 2012, 8:47am
Other Modes is getting closer. I've been on it recently and will be on it this weekend. I'm moving next weekend and won't have internet for a little while so I'll try and get it done before then, but I can't promise anything.

No, I had no idea about that Blue Spheres Forever game, it looks awesome! Annoyingly I can't run it on this laptop, it just crashes before it even starts, but I'll try it on my windows emulation on my Mac in a few days. I've only got XP though so that might be the issue.

That's I funny, I was thinking recently someone should make an up to date blue spheres game. I envisioned a more original approach, introducing new elements, perhaps breaking out of it being tied solely to a big planet and having Sonic run around connected cylinders and cubes and more complicated shapes, plus coming up with new types of spheres or objects. Still, the fact that this allows you to create your own is awesome, and something I've wanted to do since I was a kid. I can probably dig out some designs I made on graph paper about fifteen years ago, if I looked hard enough.
#28. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 2nd June 2012, 8:51am
@Chaos Ace - Is it not out already in the US surely? Xbox Arcade, PSN, IOS, Android, etc etc?
#29. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 2nd June 2012, 12:43pm
He's also thinking of making new gimmicks, eg. more different corlous of spheres. Moving Bumpers, Missing Tiles, Teleportation. Mulitplayer. Knuckles gets red spheres, Sonic Gets blue spheres. Get Most blue Spheres. etc. He wants People's Ideas. The Creator is also on the Sonic 3 HD Team. ( Don't worry, I can't run it either, on my laptop or desktop. You need microsoft .net framework 4. It's still in beta you know. If you can't run it then he wants you to report it to him, with the error and your tech specs so he can fix it.
#30. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Monday, 4th June 2012, 2:45am
I contacted the creator of Blue Spheres Forever, and she said that you need open Gl 3.3 si or higher to run it. She gave me a link to a tool which tells you your open Gl Version and if you can run later versions.

Now I might be able to run it on my Desktop :)
#31. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Wednesday, 6th June 2012, 12:55pm
For me, tougher levels on sonic 4 episode II is just a piece of cake.
But that's a VERY different story when fighting the final boss of the game.
The moustach monkey (a.k.a. Dr. Eggman) is one madman that no-one should mess with, because he delivers the best of his attacks to try and stop sonic and tails, if we players get the timing wrong. Best advice: quick thinking is key to victory, even in a closely pitched battle.
And I prefer that no-one uses foul language to describe something that they may have seen before, especially, about wing fortress. It's just a different layout of the level.
Many of us prefer originallity to be something special in our lives, versus those who don't believe in originallity at all. I'm a bit of both, but I still live on with the finest moments in the history of Sonic The Hedgehog. He is my most adored superheroe character of all time. In other words, a full 5 star rating. It's really not that necessary to complain about the comments that I've made, today.
All in a day's work. Thankyou
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