My Day at Summer of Sonic 2010!
Sunday, 8th August 2010, 5:15pm (UTC), 6 Comments
Yesterday, as I'm sure you were probably aware (especially if you happen to follow me on Twitter and endured my never ending stream of correspondence) was Summer of Sonic! The British Sonic convention that offered just about everything a Sonic fan could dream to see and do! I had an absolutely fantastic time, everyone involved in putting it together should be incredibly proud of their work! It was brilliant! There wasn't a lot more that it could have offered really, we got to play Sonic 4, both versions of Sonic Colours, and even got to see Crush 40 playing live! Unbelievable day.

Turning up at what I thought was an early time, the sight of a massive, disorganised crowd of eccentric people wearing Sonic clothes, Sonic bags, holding Sonic plushies and dressed in Sonic costumes or with Sonic hairstyles was a sight to behold. I've never really met many people who are as passionate about the blue one as I am, so it was particularly thrilling to me, not to mention eye opening to see how people with a little more self confidence than I possess visibly express their love of the series! I prefer the more subtle "spend years quietly building a massive shrine of a website" approach, so it was remarkable to me! An impromptu crowd sing-a-long of the City Escape theme was a particularly nice touch. Before long, we were asked to form a more orderly queue, in which we would remain for about another 45 minutes-1 hour, as the opening was slightly delayed. Slight rain, constant barrage of really tiny wasps attracted to bright colours, and passing "normo's" with very confused expressions on their faces at the sight of a massive queue of fans for something that probably hasn't even particularly entered their heads in years were all reasons for which I was eager to get in, not least of all though because Sonic 4 was waiting for me inside! Given the size of the queue, I was relatively close to the front of it, so I thought my chances of getting near the start of the Sonic 4 queue inside were reasonably good. They can't ALL be joining it right away, right..?

Upon entry, we were each given a lovely goodie bag of stuff, including an Archie comic, but more importantly, a frankly awesome brand new Metal Sonic mini figurine. Mine now sits atop my computer monitor, glaring directly at me as I type. Undoubtedly one of the coolest things EVER.

Walking in to the quite large room, there were tables with stands around me, and steps leading down to the XBox 360 games pods on the left. Down further still was the stage area. There was a circle of machines devoted to the ongoing Sonic and Sega All-stars Racing tournament (which I practiced for, but sadly didn't get a chance to enter - which is no great loss really, there's no way I would have come close to winning!), plus a few classic titles, Sonic Heroes, Sonic Unleashed, but far more important on this particular day were the two pods on the far left dedicated to the in-development Sonic the Hedgehog 4! My first mission was to join this queue immediately upon entry, which is exactly what I did.

Sonic 4 Playtest

The queue wasn't too bad when I joined - there were maybe 20-30 people in front of me, and I was there for about an hour all in all, which was more than worth it to me for Sonic 4. The people behind me however, went back for MILES! It wasn't moving particularly quickly either, because almost everyone wanted their share of all three acts of Splash Hill Zone, plus the boss. By the time it got to just a few people in front of me, the powers that be decided everyone was taking too long, so intervened to impose a limit of two acts each upon us. That was fair enough I guess. It left me with a small dilemma though - what acts to play? Even now that you can officially see all three acts being played on numerous gaming site videos, I've still only allowed myself to see Act 1 in full play. But since I know it pretty well, do I go for Acts 2 and 3? I decided no, it was only right to start my experience with Act 1, so it would be 1 and 2. For a reason that would become clear soon enough, I would regret this decision.

Finally the time came, and with somewhat shaking hands and a quickening heart beat, I held the much-fondled controller and selected Act 1, under the watchful gaze of a show assistant who appeared to have come straight from the set of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Not to worry Will Smith, I would gracefully accept my chosen two acts and play no more than that, you'll get no trouble from me. All I really wanted was an understanding of how the physics felt anyway. As it would turn out, not too shabby really! It's different, I'll give you that. It doesn't feel exactly like Mega Drive Sonic, but I'm not one of those people who necessarily thinks that's automatically a bad thing. If it's versatile enough to comfortably handle both slow platforming and high speed looping, how wrong can it be? The acceleration was the first thing that struck me. Sonic's comparatively slow to start moving, feeling a little heavy, but you don't have to hold the stick long for him to dramatically pick up pace. I daresay there's still some refinement to do here, in striking that balance and perhaps the transition between the two states, but I think it'll work, even though it takes some getting used to, though this is much the same for all the different types of 2D Sonic.

The homing attack felt responsive and useful, and I think it'll be a worthwhile addition. You seemed to even be able to use it in states that you perhaps wouldn't have thought, like having come up through the air after a curved wall, and not in spinning mode, so it doesn't seem to have to follow a jump, necessarily. The spin dash and rolling spin seem powerful enough, and the jump didn't particularly feel wrong either, although like the general physics, it'll probably take some getting used to when playing, just because they're not necessarily exactly like the classics. Things that I thought might be annoying turned out not to be so when playing. That unnecessary dust trail barely even registered to me, and though before I thought Sonic's new spinning leg animation seemed a bit OTT in some ways, when it actually hits while you're running through loops (and it doesn't appear particularly early in Sonic's range of speed), it actually elicits a certain small, nostalgic fuzzy feeling - it just sort of feels right, and I'm glad it's been included. Everything else I could say about level design and flow, you can see for yourself in all the various videos and you've probably already formed your opinion, but personally, if Act 1 is anything to go by anyway, I think Splash Hill is a very carefully considered demonstration of the real "Hill Zone" type level design, in the way that it flows rather fluidly from platform to platform leading right, and with the perfect high, middle, low formula of multiple routes, all with gaps in between them in which you can chop and change as you go.

Following a successful introduction, I fired up Act 2 manually, as they didn't flow one after the other automatically in this demo. It was at this point that Will Smith interjected. Suddenly I was allowed only one act. What..? You said two! I tried bargaining him down to half an act, but he was having none of it. Not one to cause a fuss, I reluctantly agreed to relinquish the controller, the very first person in the whole day to have this limit imposed upon me, which presumably ran for the rest of the show (or at least I would hope it did). I didn't particularly mind having only one act to play, it was enough to get the taster of the game I'd wanted, as the acts are reasonably long, but had I been told beforehand, I would have chosen Act 2, and would have been able to get the full experience of not knowing what was coming. I wasn't fuming about it, but it was a bit annoying, as it meant I didn't get quite as accurate an impression of the game as I was hoping to, and to reveal to you in this preview too. Still, on the plus side, it means the virginity of Acts 2 and 3 remain intact to me, ready to be.. ahem.. deflowered upon release of the actual game, and that makes them all the more special I guess. They'll be more enjoyable with full audio and in the comfort of my own home.

Things to see and do

With tired legs, I retreated to the convenient sit-down area, to tweet a bit, and then decide what I wanted to do next. Sonic Colours was being held on the lowest level, by the stage. It had a shorter queue than Sonic 4, but still quite a long one, and I didn't have the energy to join it at that point, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to poke around a bit first and see what else the convention had to offer.

Here on the other side of the hall, along with an impressive cabinet of various Sonic merchandise, old and new, was the website wall, somewhat tucked away down a side corridor, though one in which queues were held for things like Sonic 4 and later, Crush 40 autograph signings. So I like to think Zone: 0's own appearance on this wall of A3 sized posters, each depicting and describing a different website was in a good spot to be seen. I personally didn't queue near it at any point though, so I was unable to listen out for anyone saying "hey, that's a cool site!".. hope they did though :)

The stage area would become a pretty entertaining place, hosting things like the "Wrecks Factor" which was actually painful, and quiz show "Nevermind the Buzz Bombers", in which contestants answered Sonic trvia, which was great fun. Dreadknux and AAUK lead most of the on-stage segments, and very entertaining they were too. I managed to introduce myself to both of them during the day, and briefly say hi, which was pretty cool. During the quiz show I started to realise I was standing around anyway, so I might as well make a start on that Sonic Colours queue, which was nearby, about 30-40 people strong. As it would turn out, this decision would occupy a very large chunk of the day. It soon became apparent that unlike Sonic 4, no one was imposing any kind of limit on how many acts each player was allowed, so everyone was taking about five minutes to play through both acts of either Tropical Resort or Sweet Mountain Zones, plus the Tropical Resort boss. The DS version was nearby, but there was only one Wii console, and of course most people wanted to play both, so this would be a long, long wait.

Fortunately, in addition to chats with fellow "queue victims", entertainment was on hand on the stage, in the form of the cosplay contest, which was won by Dr. Eggman, despite threatening the entire audience, I believe. This highlighted some of the more.. "zany" fans that attended the show. Some fans, cosplaying or not, I'd give the term "zany" to, and a few I might even suggest "ever so slightly unbalanced" be more appropriate. Still, it was all in good fun!.. as long as you kept your distance from them.

Luckily, Jun Senoue was also around. Before his big Crush 40 gig at the end of the show, he treated us to some instrumentals of a range of Sonic music that he had created, including Splash Hill, Station Square, Seaside Hill, Emerald Coast, and was even joined by singers to belt out another rendition of Escape from the City (slightly more professional than the one I'd heard earlier)! This was all brilliant to hear, and such a rarity. Everyone goes crazy for the vocal songs, but I love to hear these tunes done live. Absolutely brilliant!

Sonic Colours DS Playtest

After what seemed like years, I was finally nearing the front of the Sonic Colours queue, which sort of formed into a tightly knit gathering of fans huddled closely around the console, after having seen both levels played out in full dozens of times already. Slightly hidden behind them were two DS's, oddly only one of which contained Sonic Colours, but the queuing system for this was rather less organised and there seemed to be an agreement that anyone in the "Wii huddle" could just take time out from queuing to have a quick spin on the DS. So this is what I did.

Like most people, I think I'm a lot less excited about the DS version than I would be, say, Sonic Rush 3, purely because the Wii completely eclipses it. But at the same time it's different enough to feel like a whole other game, following a similar trend to the two versions of Sonic Unleashed. In this demo you could play one act from either of the two levels and a boss. I gave Tropical Resort a go, and was confronted by a slightly long winded list of instructions that I attempted to apply to my existing knowledge of how Sonic Rush games work, but quickly gave up and just went on in to attempt to figure it out as I went. This was an easy enough task.

The game looks and feels exactly like the Sonic Rush games, there's no detectable change to the way the physics or level design principals work. The most significant changes are in the moves department. Gone is the trick system, despite my habitual presses of the shoulder button, and homing attack has been moved to one of the main buttons. You can boost, which I think is a different button to the more general wisp button, and the main wisp on offer was the fire wisp, which transforms the whole of Sonic's body into a flame version of himself. During this time, you can press the wisp button (which is either X or Y, I forget which) and press on the D-pad to burst in a particular direction after jumping. It seemed a bit fiddly though, as you can't tap continuously, there's a short period of time in which you have to wait after performing the move before you can do it again. It's not ages, but it's long enough to make you realise it exists. Like in the Rushes, there's a nice enough 3D segment at the end of the level that sees Sonic clinging to a hang glider, dodging spikeballs. I only saw Sweet Mountain in action and didn't play it, but it seemed like quite a long level, with several unique objects like wobbling jellies for springs and jelly bean rockets. The length of these levels and the fact that there was only one act each of them makes me wonder if, unlike the Rushes and just about any 2D Sonic I can think of, do these DS levels come in only singular chunks? Could be. I also caught just a bit of the music, and it sounded like the same basic tune to the Wii's Tropical Resort.

Sonic Colours Wii Playtest

Finally, the time had come! By this point I'd been involved in this queue for probably close to three hours! As I mentioned above, it's not as if there was nothing to see and do in the meantime, so as far as three hour queue's go, it was one of the best. But still, my legs were absolutely aching, and I was very tired. Despite the fact that, visually, I prefer the idea of Tropical Resort Zone over Sweet Mountain, I've seen less of the latter, so I went for this slightly controversial food-based level. It would also be slightly more challenging, so would allow me to get a feel of how the engine works with these challenges.

What's worth mentioning at this point is that due to syncing problems, a Wii remote was not available for use with the console, so instead we relied on a trusty (and very sweaty and slippery by the time it found its way into my mitts) Gamecube controller. Unfortunately this build of the game hasn't yet been tailored to provide on-screen button hints that relate to this controller, only the Wii remote, so players were somewhat on their own when it came to figuring out what does what. For the most part, it's fairly straightforward though. A is jump, B is boost (when you have the appropriate wisp), and Y is slide/duck. The slightly hidden Z button on the shoulder is used to perform the relevant wisp action, which in these levels was limited to the drilling wisp and the slightly odd laser wisp. How to pull off the drift move around corners is something that no one could really quite suss out on the GC controller. I'm pretty sure the homing attack was relocated back to the A button, having done a lot of flirting with X or B buttons in recent games.

It feels very very similar to Sonic Unleashed Daytime on the 360, which in my book is not even remotely a bad thing. With Sonic 4 providing classic level designs, this game should have no fear in going fully "new-school" on us. A mix of 2D and 3D segments, only there seems to be a bit more of a slant towards the 2D, and these sections tend to last longer too. Challenges are reasonably satisfying, and there are always new twists and turns along the way, as you'll know if you've seen the videos. I was probably most eager to try out the new Wisp moves however. The drill is about as fun as it looks and has Sonic burrowing through the ground at speed, with mechanical moles in hot pursuit. You can burst out of the ground on any side, but there's a certain knack to hitting tube entrances leading out of the sides, and not bouncing off of the edges, which change your direction and force you to loop back through and try again, ever mindful of your meter running out, although this seemed to be quite generous. It's in these kinds of features that the multiple routes and secret areas are apparent. I'm not entirely convinced that the routes available in the game will be too far removed from those of Sonic Unleashed (i.e. quite short and sweet diversions or shortcuts rather than whole other ways through the level), but I think there might just be more of them. At one point, an incorrect route brought me back to an earlier point, similar to the kind of thing seen in Savannah Citadel.

The laser move was a bit more complicated, but rather interesting all the same. A press of the Z button seems to freeze time and has Sonic spinning stationary in the air, during which time you can use the stick to select a direction to point towards, which seemed like a little bit of a slow process to control actually. I thought it would be more intuitive to hold the Z button while you do this but you actually have to press to initiate the move, and then press again to fire Sonic in that direction, as a laser. I guess that's because it's normally triggered by shaking the Wii remote. You can use this to aim at diamond objects that send the laser beam along a particular course, or just point pretty much anywhere, and it'll bounce off of any wall of object until, I presume, the meter runs out. Clever idea that seemed to work quite well and many players used it to get through barrages of enemies as well as reach high points they can't get to by jumping, although I wonder how easy it might be to fall to your death using it over precarious platforms.

There were some slight glitches present in this build. On more than one occasion when players were hopping across grind rails in Tropical Resort, they would accidentally leap from the center rail, over the side one they were aiming for, and straight off to their deaths. Also I noticed in one person's game a hidden spring off to the side of the start of Sweet Mountain that I tried homing in on myself, but a glitch made me fall for some reason, and I should have been able to get to it. The odd slip up now and then is to be expected, but it'd be massively unfortunate if this sort of thing plagued an otherwise very well built, well designed, and creative game. Hopefully this version isn't quite final.

I wish I could say I really enjoyed Sonic Colours more, and I don't think it's the game's fault that I didn't, I think it's more of a mix of having to wait such a long time for it, tiredness, and the fact that these one level playtests don't really give you a full idea of how you really feel about the game. It's only a taster, and as a taster, it turns out the game feels pretty much like I expected it to anyway. I might have enjoyed Tropical Resort more, but something crucial was missing on all of the games I played today - sound. Music and sound effects are so vital to the full Sonic experience. They help colour the level and bring it to life. I know the place was noisy anyway, but just having the volume up a little more would have made quite a difference I think. Still, don't get me wrong, it's a good game and I look forward to it greatly, as should you! Nothing I played today was bad, I just wanted to play more of it!!

Crush 40 Live!

Feeling like I was about to fall over when I started a full walking pace away from the Wii, I sought a place to rest before the day began to wrap up with a live performance by Crush 40! I must say, they were very entertaining, particularly Johnny Gioeli, who was really up for a laugh with the audience, cracking jokes whenever he was on stage throughout the day. He'll take any excuse to spontaneously burst into song. They played most of what you'd expect them to - Open Your Heart, What I'm Made Of, Sonic Heroes and of course Live and Learn, as well as some of their non-Sonic stuff, and the crowd was loving it. Everyone was singing (or, really, shouting) along with every word, with their hands in the air, and it was a pretty special experience for any Sonic fan I think. I took videos but the sound wasn't recorded particularly well, so hopefully good quality vids will emerge on Youtube soon, if they're not there already.

And by about seven, the show was over. I wanted to see if I could sneak another go on Sonic 4, but alas the consoles were turned off before the Crush 40 gig, so no such luck there. I wanted to introduce myself to Kevin Eva/AAUK before I left so he could finally put a face to the name. Understandably he was about as exhausted a man as I'd ever seen in my life, but still very nice, and with that I was pretty much on my way!

I've never really been around other Sonic fans before, not proper ones anyway, so it was wonderful to be around so many others who share a passion that I've struggled to find in other people for so long now. People all around me were discussing the kind of very specific Sonic things I've only seen in text form on forums, just like "normal" people talking about their favourite movies or something, and to me, that was quite a novelty! A truly remarkable day, executed wonderfully by the whole SoS team. Very entertaining indeed. Not flawless - the games would have benefited from more queue control, and I think everyone agreed we needed some air conditioning in there! Still, with only three years in and the most tempting convention activities so far, they can be forgiven for not getting everything just right - that comes with experience. They also confirmed a date for next year's Summer of Sonic - the Saturday after his 20th anniversary! That is going to be huge, and I will no doubt see you there. EVERYONE should come, this time, no matter where you are! ;)
Comments   6 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by sonictails1189 on Monday, 9th August 2010, 12:28am
Well the whole thing sounds like it was a lot of fun. I'm glad to hear about your experiences with Sonic Colors. Being someone who truly enjoyed Sonic Unleashed, I'm really looking forward to this game. It's too bad about Sonic 4, though. Not really fair to impose the limit on those already playing, but what can you do?

I'm seriously going to consider flying out and attending next year. Hopefully there'll be as much entertainment as was at this one.

A great report, overall. Perhaps you'll find some new visitors to the site now, hopefully making the forums more active (something I haven't exactly been helping to do either, admittedly).

P.S. I'm quite jealous of that Metal Sonic figurine. ;-)
#2. Comment posted by Rubenix on Monday, 9th August 2010, 2:05pm
I too was there and it was really an amazing experience, considering I'm the only one in my circle of friends which likes Sonic the way everyone in this convention did. I enjoyed it a lot! Playing Sonic 4 was amazing! Didn't get a change to play Colours for the Wii (although i did for DS). The only downside about this (and I'm not blaming them) was the merchandise, I was hoping to see a bit more things other than the comics and few figures.

Crush 40 were also awesome to hear. It's always great to hear bands like these live, you're guaranteed a laugh with these people.

All in all, a great experience to have and any Sonic fan should attend this, regardless of how much they like Sonic.
#3. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Monday, 9th August 2010, 2:31pm
Wish I could've come! And sorry Will Smith cut your playing time short! Colors looks quite fun! As for 4, I'm glad to hear it handles somewhat close to the originals. I'd appreciate the sentiment, though, if SEGA continued to tweak it. Glad to hear the level design is solid, however!
#4. Comment posted by atunderdogk on Wednesday, 11th August 2010, 8:45pm
I enjoyed reading about your first time going to SoS. Although I've always loved Sonic, I've had a real "re-awakening" of my love for the Blue Blur just recently and after going to a few anime conventions here in the U.S. and really enjoying them, I wondered what it would be like to go to Summer of Sonic. I, too, have not really met other fans who have shared my love for Sonic so I can imagine it must have been extremely gratifying to share the experience with so many others. I would really like to go next year but my friends and I are already traveling cross country to one convention next year, about a week after SoS. haha But maybe sooner than later. Make sure you do this again next year. It's a fun read :)
#5. Comment posted by Tristan Seifert on Friday, 3rd September 2010, 4:43am
Wow, that sounds as if it must have been loads of fun! Unfortunately for me, I was unable to get to the UK from this here US, so I was stuck seeing pictures and reading posts like this one. Sonic 4 and Colors seemed like quite some fun, and I kinda decided to change my idea about it. Anyways, do you know of these that happen in the US that I could possibly attend?
#6. Comment posted by BlitzChris on Tuesday, 23rd November 2010, 4:06pm
Wish I could have met you at SoS dude, you have an awesome website! Keep it coming, and maybe I might be able to catchya next year!
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!
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