The article takes the form of a short interview with Pelikan and me. It's the first time I've ever really been interviewed (let alone in print, though that means increasingly little in today's digital age), so I'm understandably chuffed; but I'm also excited that SFR is getting the added publicity... just in case there's any stragglers in the Sonic community who haven't heard of it yet.
The interview was conducted by email, so I gave my answers as thoughtfully as I could and sent them along, hoping that the editors at GI could whip them into something manageable for their article. Of course, they did a great job. Understandably a few tweaks were made, and some content was cut that would have been repetitious or wouldn't have flowed with the rest of the article.
However, for anyone who's interested in the dirty underbelly, here's what was cut:
(isn't having a personal blog great?)
"One of the most striking elements of Sonic Fan Remix is the fact that it’s visually superior to the Sega-made Sonic 4. How was a team of two able to make a better looking game than a major game studio?"
First, I don't think it's fair to say it's visually superior. While I certainly prefer the look of SFR, I know quite a few folks who don't. Artistic beauty is very subjective. Second, it's not even two people, it's one - I had nothing to do with the visuals. And I'm as mystified as anyone else how Pelikan is able to make such gorgeous graphics. It's like some kind of crazy superpower!
Understandably, the part about how it's not really that fair to compare the graphical styles was dropped, because Pelikan already put it better. But I'm sort of sad that the bit showing my admiration for Pelikan's skills was omitted - I'm honestly in awe of his abilities. I know he works freelance in the game industry, which means he's a professional, but his work would be impressive even for a team of artists. It is like a superpower.
To actually answer the question, though - speaking for myself - I think that SFR succeeds where Sonic 4 fails because it's more surprising. There are so many details that you're just not expecting to see, and that's what makes it so exciting.
You'll notice here that the first part was removed. The loss of those three crucial words "speaking for myself" changes the tone of the whole quote. I'm actually trying to describe why SFR delights me more than Sonic 4 did, but the final GI article makes it look like I'm expansively claiming Sonic 4 to be objectively worse. (They embiggened my nuts. =P) But one can't really blame them for trying to stir up controversy, because controversy is interesting. Also, I am responsible for phrasing it in such a provoking way.
I stand by what I said about being surprising, though. Just like the single word of advice "consent" has extraordinary mileage when it comes to questions of sex, when it comes to game design, "surprise" is the word.
Take Sonic 3, for example. Sonic gets punched in the face, the island gets set on fire, and then you get carpet bombed. And that's just the first zone.
Well, here's looking forward to a cover feature when SFR is a complete, surprising whole. =)