Metrosexual
Monday, 5th May 2008, 1:29pm (UTC), 2 Comments
Update: Metropolis Zone added to the Sonic 2 section
Now is that the best blog-post-title-that-refers-to-a-level I've done so far or what? I'd be lying if I said it only just came to me, mind you.

Again, my apologies for taking ages with it, especially since I've managed to do the whole thing in just the last two weeks really, but I've been snowed under with other work. I think you'll find it rather detailed though, as always, and the maps weren't as tough to make as I was expecting, although the looping does confuse things a bit. We're closing in on a complete Sonic 2 section now, and neither Sky Chase nor Wing Fortress should take me that long (I reckon if I set aside a whole day, I could get Sky Chase done in its entirity no problem). And then it's just all the other stuff about the game (including Death Egg, don't worry I haven't forgotten about it, I just don't class it as a level, it's a boss), all of which has already been written, but will probably need a few small additions. Although I will probably assemble a PHP system to help me build those non-level pages.

Once I've converted all current levels and pages to a fully dynamic state, it'll be much easier for me to make layout alterations and add new features, and I've got one or two ideas in my head that I hope will improve the experience. Also coming hopefully fairly soon is a full new look, particularly regarding the top banner/nav area (it really needs it in my opinion, and again I have a great idea for it), Sonic CD and a couple of other great, big features for the site. Can't guarantee I'll have loads of time to spend on it within the coming months, as I have a placement job to start in two weeks from today, as well as a new place to move into, but I shall do what I can. I'm planning on a big update week at some point, where a lot of these things will appear throughout it, or if they all take too long, I'll release them more gradually, we'll see how it goes.

So Sonic Unleashed is looking to be on tip-top form so far. If you're interested and haven't done so yet, you should really check out the scans from Play Magazine's interview with Yoshihisa Hashimoto, the lead director, which also includes new screens and loads of info. It would seem that the Wii/PS2 version is being developed with a certain degree of difference to the 360/PS3 version with regard to level design, and the former is being worked on by the Sonic Rush team. Given the game is very like Sonic Rush in pace, it's in good hands as far as I'm concerned. I know some people are a bit up in arms about this decision and worried that, because the Wii can't take advantage of some of the features of this "Hedgehog Engine", it'll lead to a significantly poorer version. I guess I can understand that if you only own a Wii or PS2, but being a Wii and a 360 owner, I'm excited by this decision. It could almost be two different games, if they really do vary significantly. A clever trick to make more money by Sega too, but what can I say? They're welcome to take mine.

This was a great interview too. Play asked all the right questions, and the director proved to me that they're all passionate about getting it right this time, and taking onboard the specific crticisms of past games. Of course, that's not to say they won't make whole new ones, but they're definitely more receptive than they used to be. I believe the reference to the game being half 2D, half full 3D refers to the fact that Were-Sonic will be controlled in full 3D, whereas regular Sonic will only be 2D to the side, and 2D on-rails from behind. Unfortunately it looks like Sega are still in control of things like deadlines and delays (or lack thereof), as opposed to the developers, and if that's still the case, are we likely to end up with another buggy product?

With the success of Sonic Rush Adventure and Sonic Rivals 2 on a more traditional, technical basis, and the very surprising success of Mario and Sonic Olympics and Sega Superstars Tennis on a more casual one, plus Sonic's attachment to Brawl and Bioware, we're building up to a major comeback here, culiminating in the success of Unleashed and Chronicles. I believe the new era of Sonic has already started, and I'm confident that these next two big games can carry the weight of this build-up.

Expect all of my (more well-written) thoughts on Sonic Unleashed soon, in a big article, as we start to learn more about it.
Comments   2 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by iNAUDiBLE on Friday, 16th May 2008, 11:04pm
The guides you've been posting so far have been pretty nice. I came in, expecting for you to have only updated once since I've last seen the place only for you to have updated twice! Stunning! *SHOT*

...I believed that by being "half 2D, half full 3D", that they were talking about the switching between the 2D and 3D perspectives, not necessarily the werehog. Ah well.

IGN's article on it says that SEGA, at this point in time, is keeping the game at 30fps instead of 60. I'm not really sure what to think about that right now, but it does look to be pretty fast at the frame rate it is now...and if it's at full 60fps, you'd run the risk of running so fast, you'd be continually running into walls, and while we want Sonic at lightspeed, we do NOT want him at ludicrous speed! D:
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 17th May 2008, 12:50pm
Thanks! Wing Fortress isn't too far off either :)

Indeed, 60 would be great, and if there's one type of game where the difference would be noticeable, because of its pace, it would be Sonic. But then again, Secret Rings runs at 30 and that didn't really bother me for the most part, and if it means that the game runs more consistently in general, with less slow down as a result, then I think 30 is the right choice.
Sonic Unleashed is unleashed?
Saturday, 22nd March 2008, 3:13pm (UTC), 3 Comments
First screenshots of Sonic Unleashed?

If you've not been keeping up, Sega made a new trademark a couple of weeks back for the name "Sonic Unleashed", and when this normally happens, we can expect to see a new game of that name be announced shortly thereafter. What's more, we are due for the announcement of the next primary platformer at any time this year, so is this it? Certainly looks that way!

Just check out the graphics on those environments! "Sonic in Pingu land" springs to mind, as they look like they're made out of plasticine, and I would have been sceptical if someone had just told me about that beforehand, but I think they look really nice! There's something, not quite old skool about them, but not the kind of realistic stuff we've come accustomed to either. It's a unique style all of its own, but thank God, it's bright and cheerful! Apparently they're based on cities in Greece, and the desert-like one looks a tad bland in places, but overall, they've really pulled a surprise out of the bag on this one. The cut scene seems to give mixed signals of both comedy and darkness, so I don't know what quite to make of that, but I really hope they go down the lighter road with this one. We don't need any more serious storylines for the time being.

My biggest question at this stage is a matter of dimensions. 3D graphics, great, but what about the controls? I've been saying for a long time, we need a primary Sonic game that is controlled in the traditional 2D axis form, and mostly side-on. This game could still be that. If you look at the last screen, of Sonic darting out from a behind a box, it suggests to me that he's running a preditermined path down that road and you can move him left and right. Not side-on no, but I really think they'd be safer with 2 dimensional controls at this point.

To me, these look like 360/PS3 screens too. If for Wii, my fear is that it'll follow the same wii remote controls as Secret Rings, which on the whole, didn't work for me.

From what I read, there's more out there right now too. There's word of a 600MB movie, a magazine scan and perhaps more shots, but I'm struggling to gain any clues as to where they might be. Will update.

EDIT:

Ludicrous amounts of screens and Were-hog?

Suddenly the name "Sonic Unleashed" makes perfect sense now. Shared with many I'm sure, my initial reaction to that transformation was a big 'ol "WTF?", but personally I'm not too bothered by it. It seems a little gimmicky and maybe even a bit of a rip-off of Twilight Princess' idea, if this is indeed a gameplay element, and I've no doubt it is..

..But then you browse through all these screens and just think "Wow!". If the game looks this good, they can turn Sonic into a shepherd's pie for all I care. There seems to be a lot of suggestion that it takes place on the 2D axis, either sideways on or from behind like Secret Rings, and that's pretty much exactly what I had hoped for. From the screens I can see two different levels, with the African/desert one being particularly varied, and it looks like the day-to-night feature that should have been in Sonic '06 is back, and you've got to believe, here to stay. That makes me incredibly happy, as I've wanted to be able to play levels set at different times of the day for so long now. And with the werewolf gimmick it makes perfect sense, since presumably Sonic can only transform at night. The contrast between this happy, plasticene world and the darker side is very apparent, and it suggests that alongside it will exist a much darker world, or variation of these levels.

Also note the complexity of that Blue Coast style level, in the aerial shots. It looks like an incredibly non-linear affair if those paths aren't just decorational, with your route weaving around and hopefully expanding into many options. I am absolutely loving what I see, and will constantly be wanting more.

EDIT AGAIN:



Sonic Team... I could kiss you.
Absolutely perfect - EXACTLY what I had in mind. A true "2.5D" adventure for our next primary platformer. The sense of speed suggests that its inspiration mainly comes from Sonic Rush, and going by the success of that format, it definitely seems like the right move for them to have made. My only gripe? Sonic's running animation could be better. I was hoping for something similar to SSBB and indeed, Sonic Rush. Still, who the hell cares, this is pure Sonic GOLD!

Oh, and apparently, the screens posted are from the XBox 360 version, and there is said to be a preview coming up in the Official Nintendo magazine, which suggests a multi-format release. Good move.
Comments   3 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Rachel[i luv sonic] on Friday, 25th April 2008, 9:50pm
Can you add more levels to sonic2?
And you should add more games,too.
#2. Comment posted by Lauren on Tuesday, 13th May 2008, 1:18pm
This website is amazing!
The amount of detail you have gone into is incredible. You've gone to heaps of effort with the aesthetics... just awesome.
I'm doing a Game Design course, and have a theory assignment on genres. I've chosen to write about one of the best games in history - Sonic the Hedgehog.
Very glad to stumble across your page.
Keep up the bewdiful work :)
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 13th May 2008, 4:46pm
Thanks a lot Lauren, I really appreciate the comment!
Wow, lucky you, I'd love to be able to write a piece of coursework on Sonic! Hope my site can act as a useful reference for you.
Best of luck with it!
Oily Mitts
Sunday, 9th March 2008, 8:00pm (UTC), 0 Comments
Update: Oil Ocean Zone added to the Sonic 2 section
Hey guys. Exactly two months wait for Oil Ocean Zone. Well, it's an improvement on last time anyway. I'm off to Turin this week, so I thought I'd better make the effort to get it out there before I leave. Metropolis, the biggy, is next, and I won't have much time to work on it until May, so don't expect that in a hurry either, I'm afraid. Still, it's pretty easy sailing for Sonic 2 after that though isn't it? I reckon I could do Sky Chase in a single day if I could get one free.

Once the whole game is out the way, I plan to adapt all the existing pages to their new dynamic forms, spruce up the whole site to a new look, start on the "theory" section (in which I'll be posting various articles about things such as game and level classifications), and start on the next game, which will be Sonic CD. I chose to do that before Sonic 3, because Sonic 3 has collossal maps, and for Sonic CD, I don't plan on doing the same level of depth in mapping as I have done. Mainly because there are seventy different maps in that game, and frankly, life is too short. I wanted something that I would be able to update more regularly than I have been doing so recently. Plus, Sonic CD really needs a good guide written for it, because it's a game you need to explore, and there are only about 2 FAQs for it.

Despite still being hidden away as far as ties to other Sonic sites are concerned, Zone: 0 seems to be doing better and better with hits and new visitors, largely from google I think. If you search for guides or maps to any particular zone that I've covered, this place usually ranks top of the list, which is fantastic! Been getting more feedback from you guys lately too, so thanks a lot for that. It's just a shame I don't have the time to update as often as I'd like.

So, I've been playing NiGHTS Journey of Dreams lately. It's a bit rough around the edges, and with rather boring cutscenes that are forced upon you and rich in poor quality voice acting, but overall, it's a fun game. It's a bit like a flying Sonic, if you haven't played it, and remains true to the original in this way. Levels are massively imaginative, colourful and clever at times. A particular favourite was in Memory Forest, where you must hit musical notes in time to play a tune. The fact that it all takes place in dream worlds mean that Sonic Team could have fun mixing up Sonic style level types into the same, imaginative stages. It's essentially a 2D game most of the time, in 3D graphics, and the fact that it plays so well like this hopefully nudges Sega to the (I would hope) inevitable decision that Sonic's next big adventure should be in "2.5D". I also hope it nudges them to the decision that these games either need better voice acting or perhaps preferably, none at all would be just fine for me thanks.

I haven't picked up Sonic Riders Zero Gravity yet, but will do next week. Like the original, I'm a bit "meh" towards it before playing, but will probably like it once I'm on it. It's just all the sunglasses and big shoes seem too gimmicky for me, and I'm getting less and less interested in non-platformers in the series.

I'm sure you've heard that a whole batch of Megadrive pre-releases have been released upon the interweb recently, including loads of Sonic 2, 3 and Sonic & Knuckles and even later, non-Megadrive games too. Personally, I'm a bit "meh" about that as well really. Great if you discover whole new levels out of it, but I've never been that into the whole "this version of Sonic 2 has that object missing in this particular place!" thing. I know that sounds a bit hypocritical coming from someone who writes excruciatingly detailed guides to the levels of these very games, but I just prefer to stick to what we actually ended up with, really. I haven't done a lot of research about what's been discovered, but what I have read hasn't particularly interested me. A complete Sonic 3? So.. Sonic 3 & Knuckles then. Right.

Sorry, I'm being awfully negative today. Don't mean to offend those into the whole hacking/pre-release/whatever scene, but it's not particularly for me.

Anyway, that'll be it from me I think. Enjoy Oil Ocean.
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Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood
Wednesday, 16th January 2008, 1:42pm (UTC), 3 Comments
Well I'm sure most of you have heard the news that's recently set the Sonic community buzzing; the first details and screenshots of Bioware's DS Sonic RPG have been unveiled in American magazine, Nintendo Power. Check Sonic News for the initial details, and full scans can be found within their forum topic (my connection at the moment is too bad to find the page). As I have a blog for sharing Sonic-based thoughts, I thought I'd take advantage of it..

Certainly, there are loads of good things to look forward to. It's a traditional top-down RPG with turn-based battles, incredibly cool looking, hand drawn environment graphics, stylus controlled movement, character switching for hopefully clever puzzles, and promises of a massive storyline with refreshingly deep characters and hopefully an especially well written script for once. With Sega, now more than ever, it's often fair to treat particularly exciting little features with suspicion, because the little things often don't quite turn out as expected in the end. Especially when it comes to connecting with the past games (remember when they told us STH '06 would be full of little warm, fuzzy throwbacks? There were like three or four, and all from Sonic Adventure 1 and 2). I must confess to not ever having played a Bioware RPG, but supposedly they're pretty good at them, and I've no particular reason to mistrust promises of the reappearance of classic tunes and environments. They already boast Green Hill, Mystic Ruin and Emerald Town (an odd choice that last one, but I'll go with it), although I'm yet to be convinced that they will be the very same areas, or just ones that look like them. The hints of a story twist involving Eggman that "goes back to the franchise's early days that Sonic fans will not expect" is highly intruiging. As is their desire to tie up certain loose ends that our Sonic Team writers, God bless em, have managed to accumulate over the years. It sounds like they know their stuff, or at least have done their research.

In terms of story and characters, there isn't much better that a Sonic fan can look forward to than this kind of depth and these kind of promises from good writers. I know that's what most of the Sonic community seems to crave above all else, and it's all well and good, but my anticipations can go higher than this, because my most craved aspect is good old Sonic platform gameplay and level design, and I don't really need any plot at all. Of course, this is an RPG - a spinoff, and I guess I was hoping for more of a clever mix of RPG puzzle-solving and Sonic platforming, as traditional Sonic platformers are what I care about above all else. I've always been a bit put off by those turn-based battles in RPG's, which seem a bit complicated and lacking in intensity. That said, I guess I did enjoy Pokemon though.

Still, I was playing Zelda, Phantom Hourglass recently, at a point where you can control a Goron, who rolls around with speed and is able to jump and roll into enemies that are tapped with the stylus, very much like Sonic. It was controlled in such a precise way that I thought it'd make a far easier and more fun way to deal with minor enemies in Sonic Chronicles, and allow for more of a focus on Zelda-esque puzzle solving than leveling up and turn-based skills and things. That, I'd be more interested in. And as for leveling up and altering different attributes, well, they tried it in Secret Rings, and personally, I just couldn't be bothered faffing about with them. Maybe in the context of an RPG, it'll make more sense.

Still, there's much to be excited about, even for those sceptical about Sonic in an RPG. At the very least, we seem to be much more assured of quality, and effort in getting things just right for this one, so, using Bioware's popularity, it could well prove to be the big critical success we need. And if the next primary Sonic platformer (which I estimate to be unveiled at some point this year) is successful, Sonic could still be able to improve his reputation in the gaming world yet.
Comments   3 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Marx Chaotix on Thursday, 7th February 2008, 11:09pm
This is a pretty cool website. Keep up the good work!
#2. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 17th February 2008, 7:34pm
Ell man pokki ykkner deenen Sonic 2 jiuh zonen , allat'i qew man Oil O cean Zone,Metropolis Zone t'uu bgg zonen.Jukki okjii allat'onm Sonic 3 &
Knuckles.Nass yuu o be deena poil?
#3. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 17th February 2008, 7:38pm
My favorite Sonic's game is "Sonic 3 & Knuckles!Sonic is the most perfect in the Universe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE MAGNIFIC!
Stalagmites and Stalactites.. which one is which again?
Wednesday, 9th January 2008, 11:36pm (UTC), 0 Comments
Update: Mystic Cave Zone added to the Sonic 2 section
Stalactites are the hanging ones because they have to hang on "tight". That's what I was always taught... Yes! Finally, after nearly 3 and a half months, Mystic Cave is finally here! Go nuts with it. And of course, as discussed in my last entry, it's a special level to Zone: 0 because it's the first to be created dynamically from database entries and a general PHP script, as opposed to a straightforward HTML page. The difference is hardly noticeable to a visitor, but it makes things so much easier, behind the scenes.

Oil Ocean might well be an equal distance away though, as I have yet more work coming this term at uni, but we'll see how it goes. There's loads of stuff I need to do here really, including redesigning the site and adding a proper menu system. This home page has always been temporary, but I just haven't had the time to fix it up.

So a couple of Sonic news items of late to discuss. It would seem that, as reported on Sonic News, a potential name for a new Sonic game, "Sonic Chronicles" has been discovered in a trademarks database. As I recall the same thing happened for Sonic Gems Collection and I think, Sonic Rush Adventure, so it's perfectly possible, and I would say very likely that this is indeed a forthcoming title. Chronicles means the documentation of historic events, so that could suggest this title contains some sort of reference to the older days of Sonic history. Surely not another compilation title though? It's been too soon since Mega and Gems Collections, and there are only three or four games left that aren't readily available on modern consoles, so I would be disappointed if it were any kind of collection disc. Although the game has been in development for a long time, I think it's most likely to be the upcoming DS RPG that Bioware are making for us. They may only have decided on a title quite recently (afterall, new titles for Sonic games are getting hard to think up these days), and I suppose it would still fall to Sega to trademark it. The possible significant references to Sonic history however is certainly interesting, or perhaps it is intended as a prologue to everything? Even more interesting!

If you've been keeping up with your Smash Bros Brawl updates over at the dojo, you'll know of the emergence of a classic Sonic tune to the game's soundtrack. An interesting choice, Angel Island Zone from Sonic 3, updated by Jun Senoue into quite a fun, guitar-ish version that would be suitable background music for a battle. The page presents a short 50 second preview of it that consists mostly of the Act 1 theme, followed by the start of Act 2. Compared to Sonic 1 and 2, it's less common for Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles tracks to get remade, and as that's my favourite soundtrack of the lot, it's always a special treat for me when one of its tracks pops up again. This could imply that Angel Island Zone will be a stage in the game, but as I understand it, the music can be collected and played on a random basis anyway, so it may just be a disembodied track floating around in the game. There definitely needs to be at least one classic Sonic stage in there somewhere though, for maximum goosebumps. Angel Island is a bit of a weird choice for it though, I would say. Perhaps it hints that Knuckles is a playable character too, and that would be his stage? Who knows.
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An update!.. of sorts
Sunday, 23rd December 2007, 10:15pm (UTC), 3 Comments
Well, the good news is that I've been able to do ALOT of work towards this site over the last week. The bad news is that it'll have little or no impact on anyone but me, because it's all entirely behind-the-scenes stuff. It's a whole new system for storing the data for the level pages in the guides, which I hope will offer massive benefits for efficiency and consistency.

My pages have always been straightforward HTML files. If I have to make a new one, I load up my template HTML page, and slot my text and image links in, messing around with their heights and widths and if I later realise I need to add a new point, changing all the subsequent point numbers and tags by hand is a real pain. However, I have now built a system that can successfully match this whole process using PHP scripts, form fields and MySQL databases, which looks a bit like this and this.

Look! It's all stored dynamically now! Every paragraph, every stat, every margin value for div tags. I can enter everything into these form fields, and the page simply builds itself! The coolest feature is that I can add, remove and change the order of the points incredibly easily, and the whole lot simply reorganise themselves accordingly. All of the sections are colour coded correctly, and when I add an image, it works out the right file name and size all by itself. God, I love PHP. Since learning it, the world of web design has really opened up for me.

So, other than making the whole process much quicker and easier for me, it means everything is loaded from the same, single page, so if I feel like changing the way things are presented, these changes will affect every level. Because everything is dynamic I can use particular bits of content elsewhere on the site, maybe share it with other sites and even build a little search engine for it. I know I may eventually need to either acquire staff members, or hand the torch on to others, due to lack of time, so this system allows them to build upon it, and still keep everything consistent and easy to manage.

I've been using my writing for Mystic Cave as the tester, and no other existing levels have been converted yet, but they will be, and the system should be easily adaptable to any new features that the next few games on the list should require. One thing it can't do at the moment is anything to do with the non-level pages, like background info and Special Stages, etc. These will either be too specialised and may as well just exist in HTML form for the time being, or I may just do some more coding to include them soon-ish. *Hopefully* you will be able to see the completed Mystic Cave Zone page soon, but I'm unsure about the maps at the moment, as my eyes are playing up once again. And also, because I've gotten so carried away with my PHP-spree, I've forgotten to do my coursework. Oh well.

Check back soon!
Comments   3 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by 1963886 on Tuesday, 25th December 2007, 1:19am
I've got Wi-Fi Connection Now... If you want to, I can give you my Friend Code and we can play Rush Adventure. I doubt I can keep up with you though. I may like Sonic, but I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. Do you like the Sonic RUSH or Sonic RUSH Adventure soundtrack better. I still like the first one's best. But Adventure's is awesome, too.
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 25th December 2007, 11:51am
Sure, go for it! You can find my code in an earlier blog entry.

Rush's soundtrack is cool, but a bit unusual. I prefer Rush Adventure's more traditional approach. Haunted Ship is definitely my favourite track - a very traditional Sonic tune.
#3. Comment posted by Ajavalo on Tuesday, 26th February 2008, 2:07pm
Can you add to this site bugs and glitches of Sonic the Hedgehog?
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We've finally done it! The Zone: 0 guides have reached their last big update. Owner LiQuidShade has new projects on the horizon, but this site will always remain in his heart.