12 August 2010

SAGE Advice: Part 3

Note: It's come to my attention that there's more to Sonic Fusion than I gave it credit for. For some reason when I ran it on my machine, the "Up" button was continually registering, and that's what was killing Sonic's ability to roll or spindash. It also prevented me from accessing the other levels and characters from the menu. If and when I can resolve this issue, I'll be giving the game a more accurate and balanced review.

Sonic 2: Dimps Edition

ROM Hack of Sonic 2 by SOTI

Visit the Sonic 2: Dimps Edition Booth

As implied by the title, this is a hack of Sonic 2 that attempts to mimic the style of Dimps (the developer responsible for the Sonic Advance and Sonic Rush series, as well as the upcoming Sonic 4). This means that the Zones are chock-full of Speed Boosters, the Homing Attack is present (use button C), the jump height is lower, plus a few other minor modifications, such as to the music and sound. The illusion isn't complete - for instance the Monitors and Springs are still solid, which isn't the case in the majority of the Dimps titles - but the game is still under construction, so that's understandable.

Because this is a parody hack, it can't be evaluated in the traditional way. The music is intentionally worse; the physics are intentionally bad; the alterations intentionally take away from the experience of Sonic 2. As such I have no complaints except for this: The main additions, the Speed Boosters and Homing Attack, aren't properly implemented.

The Homing Attack isn't supposed to work when the enemies are above Sonic's head. Though I'm not sure how it works in Sonic 4, this is the case in the Dimps titles I've played.

The Speed Boosters are poorly coded. When Sonic hits them, he's immediately bumped outside of their hitbox, which creates a jerky motion. Again, in the Dimps games I'm familiar with, this isn't so - hitting Speed Boosters is actually very smooth. This is even more inexplicable because Chemical Plant Zone already has Speed Boosters in it, so I don't know why the creators of the hack didn't just take a hint from those objects' code.

It's all very well and good to throw something together sloppily if it's only going to reflect badly on Dimps and not yourself, but in the interest of accuracy I think that these issues should be fixed.

My Advice: The joke's a good one, and Dimps needs to be shown up after their recent miserable failures, but the idea quickly turns stale by the second or third level. If you don't play the game, though, at least check out the "Ben Kalough" PR video - if you've been following the turbid Sonic 4 saga, you'll probably enjoy the humour.

Sonic Gijinka

Game Made by Gear the Hedgehog in Game Maker

Visit the Sonic Gijinka Booth

There are three things that strike me about Sonic Gijinka. 1: Sonic is given a humanoid makeover. Weird, but not in itself an unworkable idea. 2: They're including some elements from the Sonic 1 beta, such as the "Welcome" sign in Green Hill Zone. 3: It's the worst thing I've ever played.

Right off the bat you'll notice that the sprite is hideous - excuse-me-a-moment-while-I-bleach-my-eyes hideous - and isn't even the right size in relation to its other frames, let alone the other objects. This is odd because the Zone graphics aren't totally irredeemable.

The background paralax is calculated using both the player's X and Y position, so it moves left and right when the player jumps. I can't for the life of me figure out why this should be so - or how anyone thought it was acceptable to reveal a demo with a bug that basic.

If you can stomach the sprites long enough to actually play the one act you're offered, you'll be in for even more punishment. The game engine (called the "Sonic Revival Unleashed b4", it appears) is so jerky and sluggish that it'd be funny if it wasn't so painful. I'll be the first to admit that modern Sonic games are too speed-crazy, and that momentum plays an important role in Sonic gameplay, but there has to be some middle ground between i-can't-see-what's-whizzing-by and oh-god-why-am-I-suddenly-a-quadriplegic. When you spend most of your time during the level waiting for your damn jump to fall back down, something's wrong.

My Advice: Don't stick anything larger than your ear on your elbow. (What - you expect me to make sense after Sonic Gijinka melted my brain?)

Be the Bullet

Game made by Steven M in Multimedia Fusion

Visit the Be the Bullet Booth

Be the Bullet is a crazy original concept - a Sonic the Hedgehog sidescrolling shmup that harks back to the NES era. As the game opens, you're treated to a remix of the Capcom Ducktales Moon theme, so you know good things are in store.

But how does Sonic shoot if he doesn't have a gun? Well, he doesn't actually shoot bullets - he is one. Hence the title.

By pressing the attack button, Sonic shoots forward in his Spindash form, destroying any enemies in his path. When he reaches the right edge of the screen, he wraps back around to the left (how old-school can you get? =P) and returns to the marker position he was fired from (while he's Spindashing, you can move the marker, and this is actually used to cross obstacles such as waterfalls - it's all very clever and well thought out).

When Sonic destroys an enemy, any of its bullets that are still on screen turn into Rings, which draw towards him until he collects them. When Sonic is hit, he loses Rings, so there's no insta-death here like the unforgiving NES shooters you may be used to. I'm also happy to note that Sonic doesn't "crash" into the level boundaries, he just slides up against them. One of the things I hate the most about shmups is when the environment kills you as well as the enemies, and it's good that that's not the case here.

My Advice: I'm not terribly good at playing this type of game, but I can recognise its worth and I really like the old-school presentation. And for once I don't have to say, 'it's not original enough!'

Sonic Construct Worlds

Made by Candescence in Construct

Visit the Sonic Construct Worlds Booth

I'm afraid it's back to the bad news with Sonic Construct Worlds. It's an extrememly unpolished first attempt at recreating the Sonic Worlds engine in Construct. While this might spell future good fortune for Sonic fangame makers that favour Construct, at the moment the engine is absolutely unusable.

I'm not going to be judgemental about Sonic Construct Worlds, because all of us engine-makers have had builds as sorry as this one. In a year or two, this could well be the best Sonic fangame engine there is - but there's no way to tell from what's on offer here. Personally I can't imagine why someone would even bother showing this off. Understanding folks (like me) won't hold it against the creator when their next engine demo is on display, but the majority are going to write this off as hopeless when they see it.

My Advice: If you don't have something to show, don't show it.

...Oh, right, advice for SAGE goers - skip this one; and if you don't skip it, cut the creator some slack: the only mistake they've made is to be overeager to show their work.

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