Zone: 0 officially on hold for the moment
Monday, 29th October 2007, 10:15pm (UTC), 0 Comments
First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who voted for the place in the Sonic Site awards. It didn't win anything unfortunately, but the results were still fairly impressive I thought, for a site that's only just started and isn't yet that well known in the Sonic community. It came third out of five in both the Information Station and Impressive Layout awards, falling from first by a fair old margin, but I'm really pleased that it actually came second in the main, Sonic Site Award, with 29 votes, and losing by a mere 3. I'm quite chuffed with that, and it shows the appreciation you guys have for the hard work I've put in here, in the face of much more well established competitors. Thanks alot! Also thanks to Hogfather for his consistent support over on the Sonic Stadium board.

It's unfortunate that, as the title of this entry suggests, I just simply don't have any time at all to work on here right now, and probably won't be able to get much done until Christmas. I'm on my second year of university, and just have so many projects to juggle right now, I'm afraid I'm going to have to neglect adding anything to the site for the time being.

Will let you know when I've managed to do anything significant, but until then, I'm offially hitting the pause button.

No comments have been posted in response to this Blog post.
Brawl, and highly belated first impressions of Sonic Rivals
Saturday, 13th October 2007, 6:37pm (UTC), 0 Comments
So, Sonic's in Smash Bros Brawl, eh? I'm sure you'll all have seen it by now, but in case you've lacked an internet connection or something in the last few days, you can catch up here. I must admit, I hadn't particularly been following progress on the game beforehand, but I've certainly taken an interest now. I love the whole idea of rival developers collaborating to bring various icons together, in the true spirit of gaming. I also love what they seem to be doing with Sonic aswell. It would have been easy to just import him pretty much as he is now, but some real effort has gone in to try and capture some of the little aesthetic qualities of classic Sonic, like the sound effects, spin dash and even the spring. These guys certainly know what they're doing, and the inclusion of "Live and Learn" (which I suppose could also be considered a different type of "classic" now, being six years old) in the movie was goose-bump rendering. Things are starting to feel different, better, more quality-focused in the world of Sonic now.

In other news, I've finally gone and bought myself a PSP this week. Don't know if they're still doing it, but I took advantage of a fantastic bundle offer from HMV, which consisted of a PSP Slim and Lite, with Sonic Rivals, Sega Megadrive Collection and Virtua Tennis 3 for only 150. That's basically two full priced games for free, so if you've been meaning to get hold of a PSP, that's the offer to go for, I'd say. This of course also means that Sonic Rivals is finally mine, and therefore, my Sonic game collection is now once again fully complete. Phew. You know what, it's actually a better game than I was expecting it to be too. Not that I thought it was going to be rubbish, but I guess I was just a bit put off by its slightly ugly and simplistic graphics, and the fact that it's a relatively simple Sonic platformer too, certainly compared to the DS's recent Rush Adventure. Relative to the full 3D console games, screenshots and movies of Sonic Rivals have always made it seem to me almost like the 3D equivalent of the Game Gear/Mastersystem counterparts to the Megadrive games, i.e. much, much less pretty. When I saw it running on the PSP screen however, it suddenly all makes alot more sense.

It carries a racing theme, and I was surprised to learn that, like Secret Rings, it also abolishes lives, checkpoints and total ring loss in its levels, with re-spawn points occuring regularly to keep both competitors very much in the action. While Secret Rings levels were still a struggle even without that stuff though, the challenge in Rivals isn't about getting through the levels and bosses, it's about doing it before your opponent does, and you do get beaten quite a bit from start to finish in the story, although perhaps not so much in the middle, for some reason. It's a shame all the characters play exactly the same apart from their one special move, when an item is obtained, but handling isn't bad once you're used to it, and it certainly feels totally different from the Advance/Rush strand of the series.

The levels are better designed than I thought, with quite a range of obstacles and features, both common and level-specific, and some stages change their appearance by quite a surprising degree as you venture through each act. A few, like the rollercoaster-styled Sky Park Zone, my favourite, feature an altered appearance for each act - something from S3&K that I've since been absolutely dying to see again in a 2D platformer. I wonder if the fact that Act 2 looking quite a bit like Sonic CD's Stardust Speedway Zone 3, where you also raced against Metal Sonic, is intentional. On a final, soundtrack based note, the extremely mediocre, repetative and uninspiring level music seems to be alot more bearable when you're actually playing, I must admit, but I still say it's one of Sonic's worst soundtracks for a platformer. I mean, it's not awful, but Sonic music simply must be at a mich higher standard by default.

I suppose 3D graphics on a 2D control plane is the exact opposite to Sonic 3D, which was 2D sprites in 3D controls, making both of them difficult to categorise in either the "2D" or "3D" folders that most people like to use for the series. But as I predicted before even playing, 2D controls in 3D visuals is an idea that works really well for Sonic, I think. The great thing about Sonic in 3D is the more dynamic camera angles you get while whizzing through stuff, and this is certainly used to the full extent in Rivals, yet the simplistic 2D controls remain. I really think that Sonic Team's next big move should be to translate this in some way into their next primary, console-based Sonic platformer. It keeps it 3D and up to date, but retains the simplistic Sonic controls that we all know and love and if done with enough pure, brilliant content and interesting little ideas, I think it could prove a big hit. In the meantime however, I'll continue anticipating Sonic Rivals 2 - especially that lovely new Wild West style level. Why we've never really had one of those until now, I'll never know.

Sorry about the 10 month late review there, but once you get me talking, it's hard to shut me up. Unfortunately that hasn't yet happened for Mystic Cave Zone however, as I've not really had the time to do anything other than re-reading and editing what I had already written for it. I know, I'm sorry, but as I said last time, I'm pretty busy at the moment, with about seven different other projects floating around in my head, so you'll have to sit tight for the moment. I'm sure you can manage.

Oh, and the Sonic Site Awards are closing in a couple of days, so if you've not yet voted for Zone: 0, go and do it now! Go on, quick!

No comments have been posted in response to this Blog post.
Featured Posts
Sonic's latest Wii U outing turns away from the popular and well established speed dashes of recent games, in favour of a more traditional platformer approach. But does it work? Get ready for one of the most different Sonic games in every respect!
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.