Sonic Unleashed trailer dissection
Wednesday, 16th July 2008, 1:31pm (UTC), 3 Comments
Following my impressions of the trailer from yesterday, I thought I'd draw attention to a few little bits and pieces you may have missed. Because over-analysing things to suckle out every piece of information we can is what being an obsessive Sonic fan is all about! Firstly, bosses...

Here we have the bosses for the Europe, African jungle and China stages fought as regular Sonic on the run, ala Mushroom Hill, Sonic Advance 2, Sonic Heroes, etc. It does really make me begin to wonder if Sonic simply runs automatically, regardless of the orientation throughout the whole game as we have yet to see him stop at all, and bosses are normally one of the places to do that. Still, I like the designs I see here, particularly the first one in Europe, which reminds me a great deal of the afforementioned Mushroom Hill Zone boss from Sonic & Knuckles - the laser beams acting as the rows of spikeballs. Also note that you can see Eggman inside a cockpit in each of the first two - just how it should be!

This is quite cool - I thought it was a spring at first but on closer inspection, Sonic latches onto a giant firework that blasts him forward. He drops off at the beginning of the next path as the firework continues forward and explodes - looks a very satisfying level object. Would be great if there would be several, and Sonic hops between them in mid-air before each explodes. Also, what in the hell are those icons in the top left corner? One looks like a tiny Sonic head icon, and the other either a rocket facing down, or a hand pointer icon facing up. If they're for the in-game HUD, why isn't the ring meter and life counter there? Is it part of the development software? Mysterious. Check it out for yourself at 2:09.

Platforming! Yay! Sonic must traverse these rotating circular platforms and avoid the spiked things. Note that this takes place on the rear view, so if that gaming aspect is on-rails and Sonic runs automatically, you'll have to do it while being forced along. On the other hand, I can see how controls for moving forward and back, and dodging left and right might work quite well, while being taken on a certain path around the obstacles. While blazing along the speedy paths at that view however, I think I'd prefer not to have to hold the forward direction all the time. I'll be very interested to see how this section actually works, however, any errors obviously result in death by falling, which I don't mind at all in small bits, but lets hope the team stick to their promise of having fewer death drops than we've been accustomed to lately.

These rings are clearly following Sonic as if he carried the lightning/ring magnet shield, however if you examine the video sequence of the first shot, Sonic is clearly without any shield, and doesn't appear to acquire one as he hops between grinding rails. Do rings suddenly become attracted to you when you obtain a certain amount of speed or ring energy? The first sequence is around the 1 minute mark, the second at 1:56.

Some sort of precision involved here as Wolfy carefully walks across this thin beam, very slowly. Wii motion controls would be quite good here, as you attempt to keep the remote balanced in some way.

Lets have a look at some enemies now, seemingly monsters that emerge from the center of the Earth once it's been torn apart and who, hopefully, only pop out at night. I don't mind that too much actually, and they look reasonably interesting. Kind of remind me of the twilight monsters from Zelda: Twilight Princess a bit, but suitably Sonic styled. The dog one in the middle is from the recently released batch of screenshots and there's even some wizard style ones in cloaks. Also note that the ring meter is replaced by shield and vitality meters, indicating a whole different health system to regular Sonic, which makes sense, as it looks like Were-Sonic is going to be taking a bit of battering at times from all these bad guys.

Ending on a bit of a geek-note, we can see in the first screenshot that the checkpoints are a modified version of the Adventure style ones, now with glowing lights across them. In the second shot, you can see what appears to be the same lights, and part of one of the posts to the side, with Were-Sonic possibly in the way of the rest of it. If this is a checkpoint, it extends much further across the path than normal, so perhaps they stretch according to the size of the paths to make sure you don't miss them? Particularly useful with regular Sonic I'd imagine.

I'd love to do a great big article on Sonic Unleashed soon, the first of hopefully many articles that I'll write for this site, going over every thing I've been throwing around in my head and see if I can come to any conclusions and predictions of how it might all work regarding gameplay mechanics, level designs and overall game structure. Whether I will or not is another matter, as I'm also eager to continue redesigning the site (which I've been doing a lot of behind closed doors, and it's looking, frankly, brilliant!) but I do have a few weeks off now, so we'll see how it goes.
Comments   3 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by mercury on Thursday, 17th July 2008, 4:51am
Okay, now this is just weird.

It was many, many years ago that I had a dream, which I can still vividly recall.

I was standing in the store, looking at the back of the packaging of a newly released Sonic game. I remember being surprised - and a little appalled - at what I saw.

Sonic had stretchy, cartoony, rubbery arms. They could extend to great lengths so that he could grab objects, swing on poles, and combat enemies.

After waking up, I realised how ridiculous of a concept it was. This was long before I played or even heard of Ristar.

And now, bizarrely, the very same mechanic has made its way into a real Sonic game. I guess it wasn't so ridiculous as I thought.

The world is a funny place.

Incidentally, my current project has gone through each of the following working titles: Sonic Collection, Sonic Gems, Sonic Chronicles, and Sonic Genesis. Each of these titles has been summarily absorbed by Sega, of course. To combat this I decided to name my game something I thought they'd never do, and make it a bit like a Harry Potter book - Sonic the Hedgehog and the Such-and-such of So-and-so. Mere days later, I kid you not, Sonic and the Secret Rings was announced. Honestly, sometimes I wonder if Sega has me bugged... So you can see why I'm so uptight about revealing even the name of what I'm working on...

Anyway, in a bit of free time I began to work on the Sonic 3 & Knuckles Zone format, from savestates. I've got them mapping accurately already (minus objects, of course), but they're so bloody big! Ice Cap Act 1 is over a hundred million pixels large, and takes over 400 megabytes to process! I'm at a loss as to what to do, unless users would accept multiple maps per act. Sort of like a part 1, part 2 kind of thing.
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Thursday, 17th July 2008, 9:19am
Haha, yeah, sometimes I get the feeling Sega are reading my thoughts as well, as I'm often preconceiving ideas for new level environments that soon pop up in some form.

Great to hear you're working on the S3&K maps. I for one wouldn't mind at all having the maps separated into bits and then stitching them up together in Photoshop or something, if that's a viable solution.

Their massive size is going to be a problem for me as well regarding the size of the final png's and my bandwidth, but if you can work out a way of doing it it would really be so awesome, as I think because of their complexity, those maps are probably the most useful to have as there's so much you can miss by just playing.
#3. Comment posted by mercury on Sunday, 20th July 2008, 9:40pm
You're right. I hadn't thought of it that way. Aside from perhaps Sonic Advance 2 (because it requires you to take very specific routes through its Zones to gather the 7 Special Rings necessary to enter the special stage), Sonic 3 & Knuckles would benefit the most from maps, due to the sheer size of them. I think next to Oil Ocean, Carnival Night was the Zone I spent the most time lost in in my youth.

I'll just have to make sure that the maps are cut into sensible chunks - it wouldn't do to have the split run right through an object graphic, for instance, especially for users who may not Photoshop or computers with enough memory to stitch them together.

Interestingly, the reason for the Zones in Sonic 3 & Knuckles being much larger than Sonic 1, 2, and CD is because of a programming trick. They store the layout data in a different format that takes up much less information, so they can fit twice the vertical resolution. That Yuji Naka really knew how to squeeze every last bit out of the Mega Drive, didn't he?
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