Post by edmonddantes on Feb 15, 2019 12:47:54 GMT -5
I remember finding an interesting glitch in Sonic 2 8-Bit (which worked with both SMS and GG versions)
If you hit a monitor while moving fast enough and scrolled it off the screen before its destruction animation finished... the monitor would be intact next time you scrolled it back on. So doing this, for example, you could hit a 1-up monitor repeatedly for unlimited lives. That's how I beat the game--there's one monitor in one of the hang glider stages where its very easy to set up an infinite hits loop.
Thanks for the excellent reviews, which were pretty in-depth and a joy to read!
May I still nitpick, though?
One thing I was wondering about was you mentioning the first game having a "very smooth framerate". In my experience this is not always the case. The first "Bridge" stage is a good example: whenever there are too many sprites on screen (like when hornets shoot projectiles or bridges collapse) the game can slow down rather suddenly, throwing off my timing more than once. I guess if played in a certain manner these framerate drops might not be as apparent, but did you not encounter anything like that?
I'm also not quite sure what you mean by "minimalist backgrounds" - maybe we just have a different understanding of "minimalism"? Something like the first Alex Kidd would be closer to my definition of that term than Sonic 1.
Sure, some stages, like parts of "Scrap Brain", the "Bridge" and "Green Hill" zones I can see having some minimalist qualities and there is a certain clarity to most of the stages. But at the same time the game manages to look quite detailed, especially for the hardware (e.g. the "Jungle" zones, which might even be slightly too busy). Don't get me wrong, I think Sonic 1's visual design is excellent and arguably the best overall compared to the other 8 Bit Sonics.
However, Sonic 2's visual style does not seem too far removed from to the first game. For example: Sonic 1's "Green Hill" zones are quite comparable to Sonic 2's "Green Hills" zones detail-wise. My only complaint with Sonic 2 would be the "Sky High" stages occasionally lacking a clear distinction between fore- and background objects (like which walls and clouds are solid and which are not). But the rest of stages look fine to me - far from what I'd call "messy art direction".
Overall I like the first two 8 Bit Sonic games almost equally (that is: Sonic 1 GG and Sonic 2 MS), albeit for different reasons: The first one for its tight level design, methodical gameplay and richly composed music and the second for its fast, fluid gameplay and playful stages & bosses.
I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on the even more divisive entries Chaos and Blast.
I'm happy you enjoyed the reviews, and that's a fair point about me not mentioning the slowdown. The only explanation I can offer for that is I never really noticed it; as far as I can remember (and I could be wrong on this, so feel free to correct me), it only really happens in the collapsing bridge in Bridge Zone - and I've played the game so much over the last 14 years that I must've gotten used to it and didn't think to bring it up. It's that old thing where you play a certain game so much that you learn to overlook and work around its issue until you don't realize that's what you're doing (I remember that happening with Sonic 06 as well). As well as that, I can see what you mean about the minimalism thing; I didn't actually realize how busy Jungle Zone's backgrounds were until I saw the screenshots in my review.
I do appreciate you pointing out what you might call nit-picks, since that gives me a better chance to think about the small, seemingly insignificant stuff that's nevertheless important to bring up when writing a review for a comprehensive website like HG101. It's somebody's job to notice and think about those small things, and I should ideally be the person to do so since I'm the one writing the review. Thank you for pointing them out, and I'll do what I can to improve upon that in the future.
Post by Apollo Chungus on Feb 20, 2019 8:50:37 GMT -5
In the meantime, a couple more of my 8-bit Sonic reviews have since been uploaded, so I'll post about them here too! This time, it's the first two original 8-bit platformers Sonic Chaos and Sonic Triple Trouble. Despite being ostensibly part of the same sub-series (known as Sonic & Tails 1 and 2 in Japan), both games take of very different design philosophies while further attempting to emulate the Mega Drive installments, and are very interesting games in their own right.
Once again you did an excellent job with those reviews, which I found to be very fair and detailled. I've never even noticed that Sonic Chaos has some different music tracks in the GG version, for example. I also love that you mentioned the fan remakes, which both seem rather promising.
By the way, currently a romhack-based-on-a-romhack-of-a-bootleg-NES-Sonic-game (makes your head spin, doesn't it?) is being developed, which looks really good. Here's a previous version in action:
Your article also made me want to listen more closely to Triple Trouble's soundtrack, one I've so far considered to be rather mediocre and not very memorable. And indeed, I've changed my mind - kind of - listening more closely these tracks do sound a bit more layered than the ones from Chaos. But overall I still did not enjoy them as much as the ones from Sonic 1, which of course is in a league of its own, or even 2. The reason for that being the sound of the high-pitched lead-"instrument", which is far too dominant for my taste. It also makes the individual tracks sound way more same-y to me as the compositions actually are. Weird how different preception can be.
So next is Blast, I presume? (That one is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine...)
Last Edit: Feb 20, 2019 9:46:16 GMT -5 by windfisch
Post by 🧀Son of Suzy Creamcheese🧀 on Feb 20, 2019 11:45:25 GMT -5
I agree about Triple Trouble's assessment. It's a great game and it's the only of the 8-bit Sonics that manages to feel like a proper game like the 16-bit ones.
Sonic Chaos gets off too easy, IMO. There's pretty much no redeeming qualities to the game. Getting transported to the bonus stages when you hit 100 rings is one of the worst things in any Sonic game. Unless you actively avoid getting rings, you'll always get 100, so you'll end up missing half of the game (because the game doesn't put you back in the stage you got the rings on). Not that there's anything to miss (the level design is about as boring as it gets), but still, that's so, so stupid. So far, Chaos is easily the worst Sonic game I've ever played. Even Spinball had some things that made it interesting, as terrible as it is.
Now Playing: Back to Saturn X Episode 2 (PC) / Dragon Quest XI (NSW) / Bionic Commando (NES)
Post by ZenithianHero on Feb 27, 2019 17:04:03 GMT -5
Loved Tails Adventure and wish they kept it up with sequels. The Battle Kukku remain one of my favorites of obscure Sonic characters. It suffers the fate Link's Awakening had where you wish it had just one more button on the handheld.
Skypatrol was underrated, it comes with a learning curve and I learned over the years nobody has patience for learning how to play a Sonic game judging by reviews of Riders and Unleashed. Interesting to know it was originally a new IP doctored up because I just knew when I played the game for the first time I thought it was very foreign-looking for a Sonic spinoff. Didn't know there was going to be a spiritual successor. I wish it had came out now.
Post by Apollo Chungus on Feb 28, 2019 8:53:41 GMT -5
Considering that there's already a couple of posts made in response, I should promote the fact that my next three reviews are up. The first two are for the Tails duo, which were a pair of handheld spin-offs where you play as the fan-favourite Miles "Tails" Prower - Tails Skypatrol, a surprisingly decent side-scrolling shooter of sorts with a fascinating history behind it, and Tails Adventure, the only game in the entire series to take place in the Metroidvania sub-genre with solid results. The third review is for Sonic Blast, the last Sonic game for the Game Gear and a sadly mediocre platformer with nothing that hadn't been done much better elsewhere.
Post by 🧀Son of Suzy Creamcheese🧀 on Feb 28, 2019 12:31:36 GMT -5
Nice write-ups on the two Tails games. Your impressions are pretty similar to mine.
Tails' Skypatrol is very worth playing. I suspect it has a bad reputation simply because it's a Sonic spinoff and the tutorial does a poor job of teaching you anything. That's probably also why it has the reputation of being hard. But once you get past the tutorial, and once you understand that enemies can never kill you as long as you mash the button (which isn't explained in-game) it's very doable. And fun, too.
I suspect most people probably played the tutorial briefly on an emulator or Sonic Gems collection, got frustrated and quit, and that's why the reputation is what it is.
Tails Adventures is a pretty good Metroidvania.
Certainly neither are masterpieces, but they're really good for Sonic spin-off standards and Tails fares a lot better in his own games than Knuckles does with Chaotix.
Now Playing: Back to Saturn X Episode 2 (PC) / Dragon Quest XI (NSW) / Bionic Commando (NES)
Call me crazy, but I think Sonic Blast is a decent game - but only for the first half.
I actually like the slower pace and that it tries to put *some* emphasis on exploration. Even the controls feel pretty thight for the most part (Knuckle's air controls are not that great, though). But, yeah, it has some undeniable problems: Player sprites are disproportionally big, later stages, starting with the second volcano zone, suffer from cheap enemy placement and the water mazes are a frustrating mess.
However, the one thing this game does better than any of the previous 8 Bit Sonics is framerate: I've played Blast several times and not once did I encounter any noticeable slowdown, even though the article states otherwise. Sure, the under-water segments are painfully slow and the loop-physics are a bit off, but they are so in a consistent manner. I'm using emulation, so it might be different on real hardware. But the settings are as accurate as possible (no overclocking, frameskipping or disabled sprite limit). And titles like Sonic Chaos or Triple Trouble do slow down quite noticeably under the same configuration.
Of course I'm talking about the Game Gear version of Blast - the Master System game did indeed show some drops in framerate.
Last Edit: Mar 4, 2019 6:26:17 GMT -5 by windfisch
Post by Apollo Chungus on Mar 15, 2019 11:44:41 GMT -5
I'm a couple of days late, but the last three reviews I've done for the Sonic games on the Master and Game Gear have finally been uploaded!
The first review is for Sonic Labyrinth, an isometric action-puzzle game with arcadey sensibilities. While it's since become considered one of the worst games in the series, it's actually a fairly competent entry that accomplishes what it sets out to do, albeit unremarkably. The next two reviews for the Sonic Drift kart racing spin-offs. While likely made in response to Super Mario Kart, they actually play more like the handheld versions of Super Monaco GP than anything, with a focus on drifting around tracks full of curves and straight lines. The first one's quite decent though lacking in content and variety, and while the second game makes up for that, it also tries to be more like a typical kart racer with pretty iffy results.
And with that, every single 8-bit Sonic review I've written is now up on the website! I'm so happy to see that happen, and it was a blast to go back to many of these games and find things about them that I'd never have known otherwise! I hope you've enjoyed reading the reviews, too!
One thing I want to point out about the 8-bit Sonic games... None of them were made by Aspect alone, except possibly Sonic Blast (I'm not sure who the director worked for, but everyone else credited apart from the producer were Aspect employees). Aspect usually provided programming and sometimes soundwork on the games they're credited for, but the actual game design and some of the production was mostly handled in-house at Sega. As evidence, look at the game credits on mobygames, or at their GDRI entry. Triple Trouble, Tails Adventure and the Sonic Drift games were directed by Katsuhiro Hasegawa aka Hase, a game designer and producer who worked (and still works, I believe) for Sega; one of the two game designers credited on Sonic Chaos was a Sega employee who later worked on Virtua Fighter 2 and Gunvalkyrie (I'm not sure who the other worked for), etc. etc. Aspect was basically a subcontractor Sega hired to realize their designs because their programmers were stretched thin between the Genesis, the arcades, etc.
Sonic Labyrinth is credited to Minato Giken, but it was a collaboration between SIMS & Minato Giken, judging by the credits. It's worth pointing out that Minato Giken was set up by former Sega employees (as was Arc System Works, where those same people briefly worked), and SIMS was a Sega subsidiary. All this to say that Sega was much more involved in those games than most people assume.