Scrap Brain Zone by Ricky Earl
Monday, 26th July 2010, 6:55am (UTC), 8 Comments
One word.. whoa! My favourite so far I'd say, for that amazing Blade Runner-esque background.

Scrap Brain Zone by Ricky Earl

Comments   8 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Meph on Monday, 26th July 2010, 9:50am
WOW! Yes, that's certainly the best one so far.
#2. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Monday, 26th July 2010, 1:31pm
"Woah" is right! Is it just me, or do I spy the egg-dome-thing from SatAM in the background?
#3. Comment posted by Tricky E on Monday, 26th July 2010, 2:10pm
might be ;)
#4. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 27th July 2010, 10:49am
In a word, brilliant
#5. Comment posted by Indigo Rush on Thursday, 29th July 2010, 11:59am
This is incredibly detailed! 5 stars!
#6. Comment posted by Sonicfan32 on Saturday, 7th August 2010, 5:44pm
Cool! i've never pictured scrap brain zone quite like this!
#7. Comment posted by Anonymous on Monday, 4th October 2010, 2:16am
I always love seeing artistic renderings of the zones. Its pretty cool to actually imagine some 3- dimension depth to areas which I've only experienced as 2d for so many years.

This one is fantastic.
#8. Comment posted by Andrew on Wednesday, 22nd December 2010, 2:27am
That is true, best one so far!!!
It is truly 100% eggman tech!
What is with the fire stacks? Where is the sun? Co2 is on the go!
Summer of Sonic 2010
Wednesday, 21st July 2010, 10:18pm (UTC), 5 Comments
Just in case you've been living in a cave during the summers of the last couple of years (in which it'd be rather hot, I'd imagine), Summer of Sonic is the Sonic mecca when it comes to the real world. You know, the bright place with high res graphics that you see whenever you have to leave the house to buy food. Yeah, that one. Scary, innit? No? Ok just me then.

Anyway, SoS is a now annual Sonic fan convention held in the city of London, here in the UK, on 7th August. This is the third year it's been going, and for the first time, I can finally confirm my attendance! I've never really met anyone in person that's quite as passionate and knowledgeable about Sonic as I am - well not since about 1996 anyway, when those that were rather lost interest in the subject - so the prospect of meeting more of "my own kind" is exciting enough. But not only that, this also happens to be one hell of a show this year, perhaps improved only by the presence of Sonic himself for a quick Q&A or maybe a "take home your own chao in a goody bag" scenario (I'd quite like to experiment with exactly how far away from their heads you can pull that little bouncing bobble before they just magnetically fly back into place). Lets face it though, neither of those things are all that likely, so we'll have to make do with a live performance by Crush 40, playable Sonic Colours and, for goodness sakes, playable Sonic 4!!

That's ridiculously exciting, and the chance to play two new upcoming titles months before release could not have come at a better time for those of us lucky enough to be in the UK, or willing and able to cross the seas to our tiny island of Sonic delights. When I'm not shamelessly hogging playtime on these games, by all means pull me aside for a chat, I'd love to meet you! Look out for me, I look a little something like this, and my real name's Ollie, if for whatever reason you're uncomfortable with going up to a stranger and asking "are you LiQuidShade?".

I will be posting up a full report of the day, including my impressions of both games, which I am incredibly excited about! I don't think I'm allowed to post videos of them, but I might be able to collect some anyway, if a friend of mine is able to come along.

I'm aware that although this is a British site through and through, it attracts a lot of visitors from America and many other countries, and that this post might be rubbing it in a bit. My apologies! Still, if you can make it, I'd highly recommend coming along. Granted I haven't been to the previous two, but what could possibly go wrong? If you're even remotely a member of the Sonic community, you're bound to get something out of this!

Let me know if you plan to attend by leaving a comment!
Comments   5 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Tricky E on Wednesday, 21st July 2010, 10:35pm
I MIGHT go if i can afford a ticket! I'll be in London for that date anyway....
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 21st July 2010, 10:48pm
You're in luck, I THINK they're free! I've got mine anyway, and I'm yet to pay anything. If not, it won't be much more than a few quid, anyway.
#3. Comment posted by sonictails1189 on Thursday, 22nd July 2010, 5:57pm
This is a British site?! I had no idea. =)
Anyway, I won't be crossing the Atlantic to go to the convention, but I'm looking forward to your report. Have fun!
#4. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Thursday, 22nd July 2010, 7:25pm
I wish I could come, but I'm on the wrong side of the pond... :( O well... I've yet to meet anyone who likes Sonic as much as I do in person. I've found some who are very passionate, but none as knowledgeable. Maybe I'll get some tickets for entrance and a plane and come over one year... though I'm kinda afraid of what I'll find! Well, look forward to hearing your analysis of the two games! I've read your reviews in the past, and we have a very similar outlook. Have fun!
#5. Comment posted by Tricky E on Friday, 23rd July 2010, 12:37pm
Yeah, I'm going.
Carnie Folk
Wednesday, 7th July 2010, 9:32pm (UTC), 4 Comments
Update: Carnival Night Zone added to the Sonic 3 section
The eagerly anticipated (I'd hope) Carnival Night Zone is finally here! This guide will be essential for all of you who are STILL stuck sitting on that rotating barrel in the enclosed room in Act 2. As such, Point #8 may be the single most useful point in the whole site. If you're not familiar with it, the bobbing barrel is an infamous object in Sonic folklore, due to the difficulty involved in figuring out how it actually works, and of course you receive no words of advice in the game itself. As I mention in the guide somewhere, I personally never had a problem with it, I was lucky enough to have it explained to me from the get go, but I understand the pain of those who didn't have such a luxury.

I'm sorry Sonic 3 has been taking me so long to get through, but now that I've finished Uni and settled into a full time job, although my schedule is still busy, it is at least much more compartmentalised. The thing about juggling personal hobbies when you're a student is that your coursework and your free time gel as one, but now my weekends and evenings are completely free, for the most part. This kind of schedule has worked much better for Zone: 0 in the past, so I'm hoping to make Icecap available to you much sooner. It helps that it's probably one of my favourite levels too.

Alongside the completion of Sonic 3, I'll also be beginning preparation for the next big Zone: 0 update soon, penciled for launch late this year. I'm thinking about a new banner, as popular as the current one is. However, it'll be very similar in concept - same colour scheme and idea of level art silhouettes, but better. Other than that, most of the changes won't relate to the visual design, but there'll be a number of improvements to make the site easier to use, plus new features, and I want to explore JQuery to see what kind of fancy transitions and effects I can work out. I've never been that competent in Javascript, but I want to change all that. There will also be a games homepage that lists every game in the series, whether it has a guide or not, and it'll be integrated with the writers wanted mission, as I've stated previously. A search function might be nice, and as a last appetite wetter I've got some really good ideas to enhance the viewing and browsing of level maps - it's going to be awesome!

I'll be back soon with another blog post about next month's Summer of Sonic event in London, which, at last, I plan to attend! Can't wait to finally meet fellow Sonic fans. But for now, a final treat. Ricky Earl's latest, mood-capturing Zone: 0 art, Star Light Zone:

Star Light Zone by Ricky Earl
Comments   4 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Enedin on Wednesday, 7th July 2010, 11:28pm
In the Carnival Night section, in the 'Top Tips' section, the 2nd paragraph and the 3rd one are identical. Other than that, great stuff, as usual :D
#2. Comment posted by Mercury on Thursday, 8th July 2010, 5:45am
Oh, that art is nice! I think it's my favourite one yet. :) I've always loved Starlight Zone.

And consider my appetite whetted for those updates!
#3. Comment posted by MoDaD on Wednesday, 14th July 2010, 2:22pm
Another awesome update. I hate to admit it, but that stupid barrel stopped me at one point until I found out from someone what to do. Seeing as you're going to be playing around with some jquery, have you considered adding smooth scrolling, as you make use of a lot of anchors? I've found it helps out with usability, especially when there's large jumps across a long page. Here's an example in case you're interested:

Can't wait to see Ice Cap Zone :)
#4. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Thursday, 15th July 2010, 6:23pm
Funnily enough I had the exact same thought about scroll-to anchors, and as pages seem to be getting longer and longer around here, they'll definitely be added to a new page scrolling system I'm working on that will hopefully make the site easier to browse than ever before.

And wyldcat, if you're wondering where your comment about Carnival Night in STC went, I've moved it to the Misc notes section of the Carnival Night page, where I thought it'd be more appropriate. Ta :)
Happy Sonic Day!
Wednesday, 23rd June 2010, 7:45pm (UTC), 1 Comment
Happy Sonic 19th Anniversary everybody! Nearly the big 2-0. Hopefully there'll be massive things in the works for both Sega and the community on that one, but for now, I hope you've enjoyed your Sonic birthday celebrations. Even if it's as simple as mentioning to someone "hey, Steve, did you know it's the nineteenth anniversary of the very first Sonic game today?" Hopefully Steve replied with a sort of intrigued "hm..!" sound and not "who are you?", "why are you in my house?", or "I'm not Steve, I'm your Grandmother".

If you're looking to round the day off nicely with some Sonic 1 related goodness, I actually have two things of note for you:

Firstly, the Labyrinth Zone artwork by resident artist Ricky Earl has been online for the last couple of days, which you might like to enjoy. Judging by Sonic's particular predicament in it though, he probably doesn't. Ah, air bubbles, you elusive bastards, you.

Labyrinth Zone by Ricky Earl

Secondly, if you feel like playing Sonic 1 on this holiest of days, but want a bit of a twist to it, I highly recommend Mercury's (creator of the awesome map extractor utilities that have made mapping Sonic CD and Sonic 3 a relative breeze for me) newest work: Sonic: the One Ring. It's a Sonic 1 hack in which there is only one ring in each act, and it must be collected and carried to the end in order to complete it. I've only just had a chance to load it up, I'll be honest, but if even the very first act is anything to go by, it's quite a challenging twist on something so familiar. Top marks! Here's a video if you don't believe me:

While I'm plugging his game, I may as well also use it to plug my selection of Sonic 1 maps, which I'm about to use myself to figure out where the hell this blasted first ring might be!
Comments   1 Comment has been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Mercury on Thursday, 24th June 2010, 5:46am
I love how Ricky Earl's art pieces capture actual moments and feeling from their respective levels, rather than just depicting what the Zone looks like.

Also, thanks for the plug. I had Zone: 0 in mind a lot while making it - in fact, I had the idea for it because I was thinking about how the forum here is a little sleepy.

Sonic has been played out, and not many people need maps just to make it through to the end. I thought if I could make a hack based on exploration, that might change, if only just a little.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Sonic!

Introducing level artwork by Ricky Earl! Commissioned for Zone: 0.
Friday, 4th June 2010, 6:02pm (UTC), 6 Comments
Aside from my quest to gather more writers for new game guides, I've also received interest in many other cool new features for the site by some very nice, enthusiastic people. One of whom is a talented artist by the name of Ricky Earl. A long time ago, while mentally designing the page template for the basic level guide, I considered creating some unofficial artwork of the level graphics to help illustrate and personalise each page. That idea got lost along the way at some point, but it was revived when Ricky offered to contribute some specially made art for Zone: 0. Thinking back to my original idea, and how I like my pages to seem like more than just straightforward, uniform templates without personality, I thought it might be rather nice, so we agreed on a new series of commissions!

It's up to him exactly how many he does, but at the moment he's intent on providing an artwork for every level covered, which is a lot! As he's providing them in order, I'm happy to unveil his first three pieces; Green Hill Zone, Marble Zone and Spring Yard Zone, all of which you will now find decorating their respective pages in the Sonic 1 guide!

Green Hill Zone by Ricky Earl

Marble Zone by Ricky Earl

Spring Yard Zone by Ricky Earl

You'll find them tucked just under the general details for each of those levels, and act as a slight background for when you open up the general notes. I hope they make for a nice way of introducing each stage. I think they're fantastic, and can't wait to see more! Go to Ricky's blog for more artwork, updates, and to hire him out for parties and Bar Mitzvahs.

Not really. Although he might. You never know til you ask.
Comments   6 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by mercury on Saturday, 5th June 2010, 5:12am
Oh, man, this is a really cool idea!

One of the best things about the Nintendo Power Player's Guides I loved in my youth were the great pieces of original art.

I really like the actual art, too - a mix of 2D and 3D like the original game's style.

(And it's nice that Sonic doesn't have green eyes. =P )
#2. Comment posted by Zeupar on Saturday, 5th June 2010, 9:47am
I love them. This site keeps getting better and better. :D
#3. Comment posted by Tricky E on Saturday, 5th June 2010, 10:58am
he doesn't have green eyes...yet! If this sit ever gets as far as Sonic Adventure, then those level art pieces will feature green eyes...
#4. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 8th June 2010, 2:29am
That art is fuking dope, just saying
#5. Comment posted by Tailsspain on Saturday, 19th June 2010, 8:04pm
Lol Bar Mitzvahs!
#6. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Sunday, 27th June 2010, 3:11pm
Nice! I think the CGI is alittle too obvious in the Spring Yard one, but besides that, they look great!
Sonic Colours Announced!
Wednesday, 26th May 2010, 4:09pm (UTC), 1 Comment
Sega announce today, completely without warning (normally this sort of thing is preempted by a leak or a sneak around on the patents website to at least reveal the name - maybe everyone's been so involved with Sonic 4 they forget to check!) that they are looking to introduce a new, more secondary title! A completely new one at that, though to me has a slight whiff of the Sonic Rush about it, which is no bad thing! Scoop.

Obviously, there's not much to go on yet. It's a 3D/2D game for the Wii and DS only (Sonic Unleashed-ish for the Wii, I guess, but I'm suspecting it to be more Sonic Rush-like on the DS. It doesn't specify clearly though) that uses these "wisp" alien creatures (wasn't that a Sonic 2 badnik..?) for various unique effects and twists. They emphasise a lot of speed in this press release, and I'm suspecting this to be more boost-based speed rather than Sonic 4's momentum-based speed. I'm fine with that, I like the hectic pace of Rush and Unleashed, and I was hoping it would still continue to exist in some form. And even if you're against it, you can't complain too much, as you're still getting a much more traditional experience with Sonic 4. Keeping it to the Wii and DS suggests it'll take a lot of advantage of their various gesture-based controls and whatnot. Something I'm growing a bit tired of on the Wii if I'm honest, but given the vast difference in Wii and DS hardware, this should almost be like two new Sonic games in one go!

I do really like the visual style to the teaser trailer and the environment it presents, and the general story idea too. Placing it on a nearby small planet is very shades of Sonic CD (something deliberate, perhaps?) for starters, plus it opens the door for a lot of interesting new environments to play in, like this open, alien forest that I would assume to be the first level. All hinges on these new wisp-based twists though. I'm intrigued.

Sonic and Tails teaming up again is a nice choice though. Lets see some screens Sega!
Comments   1 Comment has been posted.
#1. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Thursday, 27th May 2010, 11:11pm
I was somewhat pleased until I heard about point-and-click elements and the possibility of educational content.
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