Five of the Best Sonic Video Games
Friday, 17th August 2018, 11:54am (UTC), 0 Comments
Few video game characters are as recognizable as Sonic the Hedgehog. With a giant mane of blue spikes and with lightning fast speed, the anthropomorphic character is one of the best-known video game icons, right up there with Nintendo's cheerful plumber Mario, the spheric yellow Pac-Man and even Donkey Kong.

Sonic has become a household name over the years thanks to the many games to his name. More than 10 developers have had a crack at the series over the last three decades or so and sometimes Sonic's antics and adventures have varied wildly. So with that in mind, let's take a look at five of the best Sonic games ever.

Sonic the Hedgehog

We had to start this list off with the game that started it all: Sonic the Hedgehog. Released all the way back in the summer of 1991, the game was specifically designed after publisher Sega tasked original developer Sonic Team with producing a mascot character for its new console, the Sega Genesis, which had been released a couple of years before. The game featured the titular character running around a series of intricately designed platforming levels, in an effort to beat Doctor Robotnik, the fiendish antagonist who has stolen the Chaos Emeralds and has imprisoned animals in robots. Throughout the game, Sonic whizzes around curved areas, collecting gold rings, avoiding hazards (such as spikes), and destroying robots to free animals. It's a simple concept but this is why Sonic the Hedgehog is now known as one of the greatest games of all time.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was released on the Sega Genesis in 1994, three years after the series had begun and it represents that evolution - and the newly designed innovations - that developer Sonic Team was able to come up with. With platforming gameplay at its core, players could control Sonic or his pal Tails to once again take on Doctor Robotnik after he crash-landed on Angel Island. The game was also the second in the series to feature a slot machine, which players unlock once they have collected 20 gold rings and have passed a Bonus Post. Players can connect icons of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, bar, the "jackpot" symbol and more in order to get additional rings. With the game being so iconic it's little wonder why we've seen its influence in the themed slot machines available in 2018. Gamers today are still looking for that classic slot experience, with three reels, for the nostalgic sense of gameplay. Much of that wave of nostalgia is down to Sonic 3.

Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed

With Sonic being renowned for his sense of speed, it made perfect sense when Sega released Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. The racing game features Sonic alongside all of his iconic friends and foes (Tails, Knuckles, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Doctor Robotnik) and famous Sega characters such as the Bonanza Bros. and Jacky and Akira. The gameplay is similar to Mario Kart but allows players to "transform" their vehicles into powered-up versions such as a rocket that zooms down the track.

The game was relatively successful and was well-received by critics and fans alike. It was one of the best-selling Sega games of the year and it had sold just over one million copies by the end of the year. It was successful enough to spawn a sequel, with upcoming game Team Sonic Racing, set to release later this year.

Sonic Mania

Released in 2017, Sonic Mania was released following a poor run of form for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. After questionable design decisions and some shoddy spin-offs had diluted the brand, many fans had been left disappointed with how the series had shifted to the modern era. Sonic Mania hoped to change all that, however, by doubling down on the classic, Sega Genesis gameplay that fans had fallen in love with the franchise for. Even the ads for the game were a throwback to the 16-bit console era.

The game featured Sonic, Tails, Knuckles as they take on Doctor Robotnik and his robot army, with the game's 12 levels including eight redesigned stages from previous games in the series. Speeding, gliding, wall-climbing, swimming and flying gameplay are all featured.

Sonic the Hedgehog CD

We completed this list with Sonic the Hedgehog CD which sees Sonic try to save an entire planet from Doctor Robotnik. This game is also a side-scrolling platform but it stands out due to gameplay features like time travel feature which takes players back or forward time to different versions of that same level.

Players would be shown a "bad future" for a particular level that shows how Doctor Robotnik's efforts were destroying the stage or a "good future" with minimal obstacles and no enemies. While the series had only been around for two years at this point. Sonic CD showed how Sega and Sonic Team were able to shake things up.

The Sonic series has had plenty of iterations and spin-offs throughout the years, including an upcoming movie starring Ben Schwartz. We expect the franchise to continue too, but whether Sega and co. will be able to beat the quality of these five games is unclear.
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When SEGA have entered the poker market
Monday, 13th August 2018, 4:10pm (UTC), 0 Comments
Sonic has always had an edge to him, compared to the more family-friendly world of Super Mario, who, after all, made an honest living as a plumber (even if Nintendo have come out to say that it doesn't seem to be the case any longer.) This edgy feel to Sonic has always highlighted the fact that it is SEGA rather than Nintendo that, as a company, has traditionally been prepared to take more risks rather than placing a sustained focus on brand image. This has, amongst other profitable collaborations, allowed the company to step into the iGaming world from its very earliest days.

Involvement in the iGaming scene hasn't been limited to those fun and engaging casino zones in Sonic games that we all know and love (with the most famous of these probably the one in Sonic 2); SEGA have been able to create games that have allowed players to enjoy the chance to cross over into entirely different games.

Let's take a look at a few of the best.

Sonic Casino Poker

Many of a brand's best games are the early attempts in any given market, and this game from 2007 was published by SEGA with the intention of giving them an early slice of the mobile gaming market, which was just starting to turn from being speculatively interesting to crucial for brands to enter with intent.

The game itself was based on seven-card stud poker and it has a loose connection to the aforementioned casino levels in the Sonic games. It allowed players to try and prove they had the skill to bluff or fold their way to victory in games of poker. While this game was ahead of its time in terms of the idea, it also came along during the period of time shortly after SEGA had switched from producing hardware (something that was big news, as you can see here) to being a third-party game developer, which shows precisely how keen they were to get involved early on in mobile gaming.

Poker Face Paul

While Sonic is clearly the big name of SEGA, Poker Face Paul proves that even in the age of the Game Gear, the world of poker was still of interest to console gamers. Indeed, it is possible that retrospectively this was perhaps one of the most interesting series of games to be created for the Game Gear. The use of Poker Face Paul to create poker, blackjack and other casino games was arguably a first look at the modern world of online casino gaming, where poker games can be played so readily and easily online.

Sure, Poker Face Paul was a bit less sophisticated than modern games, but it was innovative. In one version of the game that you played against yourself, you won money based on the quality of your hand, which was educational for players entering this world at the time.

While the graphics were not wonderful, the imagination required to create a solo game has helped to encourage modern online poker game providers to come up with different versions like Snap and Blast games, which are variations on traditional poker and are becoming increasingly popular, although arguably they offer far better graphics than the 8-bit Game Gear and there is more emphasis on flops and full houses than on just winning against yourself!

Caesar's Palace

Nowadays, you can enjoy playing live casino at home easily. Indeed, you have the potential to opt for virtual reality games, live games with real dealers, or you could even choose to watch live casino games unfold on TV if you don't want to take part in them. In contrast to this, 1993 was a time when the idea of Caesar's Palace and Las Vegas was still a little bit mythical and romanticised, especially for those living nowhere near the USA without the disposable income to hop on a flight.

In this sense, while the Caesar's Palace game didn't always score highly on game reviews, it must be looked at in a context that shows that it was ahead of its time despite the clear limitations of the gameplay as well as the issues in the delivery of the game. Although manufactured by Virgin Games rather than SEGA themselves, it was available to play on one of the most iconic consoles of all time: the SEGA Megadrive.

Casino Games

If you grew up with the SEGA Megadrive as part of your life, it is still unlikely that you will have heard of the SEGA Master System, which preceded it. The system at the time was commercially beaten by Nintendo, but it did still create some incredible games, including Alex Kidd In Miracle World, and most importantly, it first brought Sonic to western markets and audiences.

One of the games that was created for the Megadrive was Casino Games, which enabled people in 1989 to enjoy playing - you've guessed it - casino games, randomly including pinball(!) as well as more traditional games like poker, blackjack, and baccarat. While the game hasn't gone down in the ages as a classic, it shows that even in its earliest days, SEGA didn't shy away from including games that weren't exclusively created for kids and were well suited to the tastes of different audiences, something that was also clear when it came to the background story in the Sonic games, including Sonic 2.

While SEGA is now long gone from the world of console making, it is clear that the hard work done by game developers in the past proved that poker, casinos, and chance games all had a serious future and an audience more than ready and willing to lap it up, with financial benefits for those involved. This has manifested in the modern day through the wide range of exciting and engaging games that feature poker and the chance to play for real money on mobile devices that are a far cry from the days of Game Gear.
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