Sonic Mania Shorts [Review]

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Sonic Mania, if you haven’t heard, is the hit Sonic the Hedgehog game that checks off all the right boxes for old-school Sonic fans. It’s nostalgic-inducing fast-paced side scrolling levels are exactly the kind of game that the fans, new and old alike, have wanted for Sonic for years. With the Sonic Mania Plus DLC, introducing fan favorite characters Mighty and Ray, the game has continued to deliver. Along with the game, a few short animation videos were created to help promote the game, and we finally sat down to watch them.

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The shorts are… well, short. And pretty sweet. We found a video that showed all the episodes in one and it was a little over 11 minutes long. So we, of course, watched it all in one sitting.

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Back when I was a kid, I used to have a VHS — remember those? — of a few episodes of The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, so seeing that there was a little cartoon to go along with Sonic Mania was a treat. We found ourselves laughing out loud at parts of the animation. There was no voice acting. Rather, the animations were perfectly timed with music and sound effects.

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I’ll admit, I missed hearing their voices a little bit but it was so well done that I don’t mind. The facial expressions through the characters along with the sound effects were spot on. It wasn’t something I was expecting, so it was a pleasant surprise because, yeah, we got some good laughs out of it.

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The animation was smooth and clean, with lots of throw backs to elements of the earlier Sonic games and cartoons. It made me miss the times when I would wake up early Saturday morning for my favorite cartoons. I wouldn’t mind a show starring this version of Sonic and friends, especially Knuckles and his protective nature over the Master Emerald!

Rachel Mii Double Jump
Exactly! I miss watching the old school cartoons and it was great to revisit this case of characters without having them be changed or butchered in any way. The whole animation was light-hearted and funny and I feel as though they captured the classic characters perfectly.

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Considering there is a Sonic the Hedgehog live-action hybrid movie in the works, and I really don’t know how to feel about that just yet, seeing these animations was just refreshing. The animations did their job wonderfully, bringing both excitement and feel-good nostalgia with them to help the hype of Sonic Mania.

Did you watch these shorts? Let us know in the comments below!

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Friday Favorites: Sonic the Hedgehog Songs

Double Jump Kris Mii Hello, hello! Thank God it’s Friday!

Rachel and I are going away next week with the family, which is great, but we’ll also be stuck in the car for the better part of the day. Normally I don’t mind being in the car for that long since I have my music, many of which are from video game soundtracks. While the games sometimes can be lacking, Sonic the Hedgehog titles can come out with some pretty good tunes, especially with Crush 40 at the helm!

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Never Turn Back

The closing song of Shadow the Hedgehog, “Never Turn Back” combines rock with beautiful piano keystrokes for a song about moving forward.

Supporting Me

I love the dark tone of this song, especially the version from Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. Being used during the Biolizard boss fight, it amped up the tension and focus for the battle.

Open Your Heart

Sonic Adventure DX was one of my younger game self’s first foray into Sonic the Hedgehog games — the only experience we had with the original Sonic games was from an old arcade cabinet our dentist office used to have. This song, both in the opening and as the final boss’s theme, is cemented in my head with happy nostalgia.

What I’m Made Of

Sonic Heroes was not a great game, but I love the soundtrack! What I’m Made Of was an amazing final boss song, one that made me want to take on a thousand bad guys barehanded.

What are some of your favorite songs from the Sonic the Hedgehog series? Either lyrical or instrumental?

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Sonic Forces [Game Review]

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Title: Sonic Forces
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Platform:
Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Category:
Platformer
Release Date:
November 7, 2017 Worldwide
How we got the game:
Received it for Christmas for the Nintendo Switch

krismii
My interest in Sonic the Hedgehog grew mainly from comics rather than the video games. Growing up, my main source of Sonic the Hedgehog video games was from an arcade cabinet in my childhood dentist’s office. I would be able to zoom through the first couple of levels of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 before I got called for my turn in the dentist’s chair. Sonic Adventure DX and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle for the GameCube were some of my favorites after that, even if they haven’t aged that well. Since then, Sonic games have been… meh. Sonic Forces, though, wasn’t that bad.

gameplay

Sonic Forces consists of levels that star Modern Sonic, Classic Sonic, or the Avatar. There are a few where the Avatar teams up with Modern Sonic as well, allowing you to use the skills of both characters. Levels with Modern Sonic consist of the 3D game play style while Classic Sonic is mainly side-scrollers that do well inducing nostalgia within the player. Most of the Avatar levels are similar to Modern Sonic’s.

It was pretty simple to get into the game control-wise, yet I will admit dying more often than not because I decided to hit the Stomp attack button rather than Jump/Homing while flying over an abyss. The levels in general were decent, but most were not very challenging. In true Sonic form, zipping through a level was usually enough to reach the goal, even if a few levels had a couple of hiccups when it came to moving on.

The Modern Sonic levels were probably my favorites just because they’re Sonic. He’s the guy the games are named after, the reason why we pick up the games in the first place, however misguided the past few Sonic the Hedgehog games have been. His levels emphasized speed and were awesome to just breeze right through! There were a couple of issues when he went too fast and ran right off a cliff once or twice but, overall, they weren’t bad.

I didn’t mind the Avatar levels. There were a handful of weapons that you can unlock for the Avatar to use in the levels, such as a flamethrower and one that throws around lightning, and each were fun to use,  that allowed you to create plenty of strategies in how to best the level, but there could have been more variety. The Avatar had a grappling hook-like tool that allowed them to mimic Modern Sonic’s Homing attack, which was useful. They were, however, extremely similar to Modern Sonic’s levels.

Classic Sonic was… eh. It was fun seeing him appear and completing his levels, but he was definitely slower than Modern Sonic and had no Homing Attack. On that hand, his levels were more challenging than Modern Sonic’s and the Avatar’s, but being a Sonic game, I wanted to go fast. Aside from that, I don’t think Classic Sonic really brought anything to the game. He had a bit of a narrative part to Tails’ part of the story, but another established character could have played that role (or, hell, let Tails stand on his own for once with the ability to carry out what Sonic would have done).

graphics-music

The graphics in this game, especially on the Nintendo Switch, were amazing. Honestly, the Switch has yet to let me down when it comes to the graphics and designs of the games on the platform, and Sonic Forces is no exception. The character designs, while familiar, looked great on the Switch (even if the Avatar’s facial expressions sometimes looked dorky enough to be funny).

The music, though? The music was so much fun to listen to during the levels. Both vocal and instrumental tracks were awesome, reminding me that the music tended to be my favorite part of the games. The songs got you pumped up for the level, especially the boss themes, but didn’t distract you enough from the level to mess you up. The game was fully voice acted as well, which was a delight to me. The voice acting and writing were well done, even if there were corny lines about friendship and love being the ultimate reason as to why the heroes prevailed.
storyThe story starts out a little darker than most Sonic the Hedgehog games. We begin with Dr. Eggman and some of his “allies” — antagonists from previous games — taking over the world. Eggman’s newest partner Infinite is a creature able to create illusions via virtual reality, having power enough to enable the virtual reality to harm the protagonists. Infinite takes out Sonic, leaving the world defenseless enough for Eggman’s robots to swarm.

With Sonic feared dead, a resistance is created by Knuckles, one that includes Amy Rose, Silver the Hedgehog, and the Chaotix. Rouge the Bat plays the role of spy for them, while Tails is too busy mourning the loss of Sonic to be of much use to the resistance right away. The Avatar — nicknamed Rookie — joins the resistance as well and plays a crucial role in freeing Sonic and, ultimately, the world from Dr. Eggman and Infinite.

It’s a standard story to go along with the game. Sonic is freed fairly early in the game and joins the resistance, as does Tails and Classic Sonic when the pair figure out the weakness in Dr. Eggman’s plan for total world domination. While playing the three main characters, you’re immersed in the story as important pieces to freeing the world.

However, the only character in my opinion that is truly “needed” in the story is Modern Sonic. Classic Sonic appears very conveniently to rescue Tails and appeared to just be a catalyst in bringing Tails back into the story line, considering he ran off in his grief about Modern Sonic. If they needed another character as a partner for Tails, the developers could have easily used E-123 Omega, the robot character that Tails was fixing when Classic Sonic appears.

As for the Avatar… it was fun, I’ll give it that. Fifteen to twenty years ago, I would have been wicked excited about creating my own character to join the heroes on their adventure to save the world, and it was great to do so this time around. However, the Sonic universe has plenty of unique characters that could have been in that third “main character” slot if it needed to be filled. Being able to pick your character before each level, a character from the resistance force, would have been an interesting twist to the story.

Let’s infiltrate the Death Egg as Rouge. Let’s destroy the power core as Amy Rose with her hammer. Let’s rescue civilians in Park Avenue as members of the Chaotix. The story could have been more intriguing with different takes on the levels with all the characters the Sonic universe already has.

replay-value

Sonic Forces has some replay value if you enjoyed it enough to turn it on a second or third time. There are daily missions and plenty of challenges for you to continue playing, as well as the ability to create more avatars to explore the levels with. There is also the free Episode Shadow DLC that launched with the game that acts as a bit of a prequel to the main game, and gives a bit more insight to the new antagonist’s, Infinite, origins. And, honestly, the music in this game is enough to make me want to turn it on again.

Sonic Forces was pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. It was fun to see these characters again in a game that I enjoyed, for the most part, playing.

Sonic Forces gets…
Video game review: 3 Lives
3 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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Currently Playing: Sonic Mania & Fire Emblem Warriors

Double Jump Kris MiiTwo “Currently Playing” posts in a row? How about that?

I splurged a little in getting a couple of new games for the rest of this month. A little Sonic the Hedgehog and Fire Emblem seemed to be just what was needed!

I’ll admit, I nearly forgot about Sonic Mania! The game came out last August, and I had been planning on buying it then. However, other games wiggled their way in and considering that Sonic the Hedgehog is a franchise that I haven’t dabbled in as often as I used to. The original Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Sonic and Knuckles games were not part of my collection while growing up. Rather, the 3D games that generally didn’t get great reviews (but had amazing music) were the Sonic games I played and, honestly, enjoyed.

I didn’t get a chance to actually try playing the original Sonic the Hedgehog games until we had gotten Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube. Even then, however, the GameCube was mostly used for Super Smash Bros. Melee and the Legend of Zelda games. Seeing the few original levels from those games being put into Sonic Mania, however, has given me a load of nostalgia. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how well the rest of the game plays out!

Considering Fire Emblem Warriors just arrived, I’m not sure how long it’ll be until I get back to Sonic Mania, though… Fire Emblem is a franchise near and dear to my heart, and it is so deliciously fun to mow down enemies in the Warriors installment of the series! I’m not very far into the game just yet, but I don’t think it’ll be a game that will take me long to get through.

Have you played Sonic Mania or Fire Emblem Warriors? What do you think of them?

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Friday Favorites: Sonic the Hedgehog Games

Double Jump Kris MiiSonic the Hedgehog games have had a history of being either really good or really bad. Rather, the earlier games were fantastic, then they fell into a slump with mediocre games. They seem to be trying to climb out of that hole, for Sonic Mania hasn’t done too badly. We shall see how Sonic Forces lives up to the hype when it comes out next month!

Personally, I didn’t really start playing the Sonic the Hedgehog games until the 3D era. With that said, here’s a list of some of the Sonic games that I find to be guilty pleasures of mine.

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Sonic Adventure: DX

Sonic Adventure: DX was released on the GameCube in 1998. Aside from a few forays into the 2D-platform games, Sonic Adventure: DX was one of my first Sonic the Hedgehog games. I was a Sonic fan due to the comics and some of the early cartoons, and I had fun playing as most of the different characters in this game. I remember that the graphics and controls were a little odd at times, but I got through it. It helped that I absolutely fell in love with the music!

Sonic Battle

Sonic Battle was always one of my favorite go-to Advance games. Being able to customize your robot fighter and just spend the story going into battles with various characters made it easy to pick up and play in spurts. That, and Emerl the robot was adorable and fun to play as!

Sonic Adventure 2: Battle

The two opposing sides of this game actually makes the story a bit tedious, to be honest, with not a lot of variety between the Hero and the Dark sides of the game. However, the two-player mode and the Chao Gardens made up for it, in my opinion. Rachel and I always had a blast playing two-player mode, and we each have our little Chao Gardens saved on separate memory cards on the GameCube!

What are your favorite Sonic the Hedgehog video games? Have you played Sonic Mania? Are you looking forward to Sonic Forces?

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Top Tuesday: Favorite Sidekick Characters

Happy Tuesday!

I have to admit, I still have Pokemon on the brain, so it took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to talk about for today’s list.

It’s a tad on the random side, but it’s video game related, so… there you go.

5. Tails

Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog series is a great character. He’s like a little brother to Sonic, but is a great friend who also knows what’s he’s doing. He’s smart, can think quickly, and can fly. He’s the kind of character that the hero would be lost without.

4. Diddy Kong

Diddy Kong is a character who isn’t mentioned that often. I think most people forget about him pretty easily because they’re more focused on Donkey Kong. Yes, he’s stronger, but Diddy was always faster and… I just always preferred him for some reason.

3. Luigi

Some people may not consider Luigi a sidekick, but that’s how he originally started. He was always there to help or cheer on his big brother Mario from the sidelines. He even has his own game where he saves Mario… you can’t get a better sidekick than that.

2. Navi

People rag on Navi from the Legend of Zelda series because she’s “annoying” or “bossy” or whatever. Still, I always enjoyed her and she stuck around poor little Link as an adult and a child, which is pretty special, especially since he wasn’t a typical Kokiri.

1. Fi

I didn’t plan on having two characters from the same series, but I had to put Navi on the list and Fi… well, Fi is pretty awesome too. She’s Link’s sidekick in Skyward Sword as she is his sword. She’s the Master Sword and the game Skyward Sword is considered the first in the Legend of Zelda timeline. Which means… well, the way I see it, Fi is in every single Zelda game aiding Link along the way. If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is.

Who are your favorite sidekicks? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

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Character Spotlight: Tails

Happy Tuesday!

Another month has come and gone. I’ve decided to talk about a character who I haven’t really thought about in a long time.

 

Character Spotlight: Tails

Tails is a character from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. His true name is Miles Prower, but his nickname comes from his two tails. He first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in 1992. Since then, he’s appeared in plethora Sonic games, usually being a playable character.

Tails can fly with his twin tails and he’s also the brains of the group. He’s also the youngest and, in my opinion, the cutest.

I love the big brother, little brother relationship Sonic and Tails has. They make a good team, especially with Knuckles around as well.

I know the Sonic games have gone downhill, but I do enjoy the characters from the games. I feel like the main trio are great protagonists. Tails adds a lot to the group, too.

Do you love Tails? Who’s your favorite Sonic character? Let me know in the comments below!

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