Friday, 31 August 2012

Sonic the Hedgehog - Progress Report II

Spring Yard Zone

(all images taken from unless otherwise stated. Good rule, look at the lives. More than three? It's one of my own images)
The third level of Sonic the Hedgehog is Spring Yard Zone. The main gimmick is springs, as you can see in the image. Springs are a common feature in Sonic games, they give you an extra boost to your jumps. Another gimmick of the level are these...

Those star things act like bumpers, like you'd get in a pinball machine. They knock you about a little and you get ten points every time you hit one. They're honestly more annoying half the time. However, I do like this level, although there is one aspect of the level that I dislike...

These 'elevator' sections are a little too common throughout the three acts. I don't mind the fact that there is platforms in my platformer game, but they come up quite often and it does disrupt the flow a little. It doesn't add any real challenge either, but if you aren't careful you can get squashed between two platforms and that is instant death, even if you have rings.

Now the boss...

Robotnik will occasionally descend and with his spike take away one of those square platforms. Take too long to beat him and you will eventually have nowhere to stand. It is possible to cheese this fight though. When you jump onto him, you'll sort of bounce off him, but you'll stay in the rolling state. If you have the skill, you can keep attacking into him and perhaps even beat him in one shot. He's not that hard, as long as you beat him quick.

The Power-Ups

I mentioned power-ups last time. Throughout the levels you'll see little TV screens. Destroy them and you will get goodies. In the first game there are five different power-ups...

Sonic 3 Ring.png

This one will give you ten rings.

Sonic 3 Stars.png

You will be invincible for a short period of time. You can literally run into enemies and they will die. It will not save you from any 'auto-deaths' though.


A barrier that will let you absorb an extra hit. If you can carry one of these into a boss fight then you're in good shape.

Speed Shoes.png

Speed shoes. Makes you go faster and jump higher. I've never much cared for this power-up in the 2D Sonic's. Too much chance of accidentally falling into pits or enemies.

Extra Life.png

Extra life. You want these. You want these so bad. You crave these extra lives and you will do anything to get your hands on one. Some might say you're addicted and you should go to rehab, but don't listen to them. They don't know what's good for you, I know what's good for you. Get extra lives, trust me!

And that's it. More power-ups will be introduced in later Sonic's and will be talked about when we get there.

Labyrinth Zone

I don't really like the Labyrinth Zone. I know I've seemed quite negative to the other levels, but I still enjoy them. The gimmick to this level is water. Water is the most frightening thing in Sonic. You move slower, there are traps and the occasional annoying enemies. But...if you stay in the water for just a little too long without collecting one of these air bubbles...

You will hear the most terrifying piece of music in the history of video games...

Other than water the level has switches a-plenty and some maze elements, but it's overall not that difficult. The boss however...

Son1 16.gif

You have to chase Robotnik. It's not that hard by itself, but along the way you have to dodge those spears (they retract and shoot back out) and fire-breathing lion statues. Also, the water eventually rises and if you mess up a jump you risk drowning. Also, if you die you have to start with no rings (they at least give you a shield). I have troubles with this boss, and I had my first death here (which is a new record for me, so let's break out the champagne!).

Seven more lives, and I have two continues. Surely, after all these years, I will finish Sonic the Hedgehog! Only three more levels to go...


Spring Yard Zone
Labyrinth Zone

Next: Star Light Zone, Scrap Brain Zone and I experience an acid trip. Or, as it's also known as, the Sonic 1 special stages.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Sonic the Hedgehog - Progress Report I - Green Hill Zone & Marble Zone

So, now that I'm settled into college for the time being, let's play some Sonic. I was going to provide videos, but there's plenty of videos of people playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the internet.

Progress Report I

Green Hill Zone

(all level images taken from

If you've only played one Sonic level in your life, it was probably Green Hill Zone. Heck, even if you've never played a Sonic level ever, surely you've heard the level theme (link at the end of the post)? If it's still no then I'm sorry, but you've taken a wrong turn and ended up on the wrong blog! This is the most iconic Sonic level, most likely because it's the first but it is a perfect introduction to what a 2D Sonic level should be, fast, furious and over in less than a minute. Each level in the first Sonic is made up of three acts, with the third ending in a boss. You shouldn't have much problems with Green Hill Zone, don't do anything too silly and you'll survive. 

So, for the first time, let's meet Dr. Eggman Robotnik.

Being the first boss in an introductory level, the 'wrecking ball' is an easy enough boss. Just jump into him, timing it enough to dodge the ball. Unfortunately I usually get hit and lose my rings, though on this occasion I managed to beat him with all my 96 rings in tact. 

I'll do some mechanic explaining while I'm here: for every 100 rings you get, you get an extra life. However, even if you just have one ring you can survive an extra hit. When you do get hit, all your rings scatter out and you have a chance to reclaim some of them (I think up to 20).

Points are there mainly for bragging rights, though I always have it in my head that '100,000' gives you a continue. I could be completely lying about that though. You get 100 bonus points for each ring you finish with, plus a bonus if you finish quickly enough.

There are power-ups scattered throughout each level, but I'll come to them in the next update.

Marble Zone

After the fast paced Green Hill Zone, Marble Zone in comparison feels quite slow. While I was able to finish some Acts in the first Zone in around a minute (and 2:47 for Act 3), in Marble Zone three minutes was the minimum. It's a lot more of a standard platforming level, you have to wait for platforms to come to you in certain bits and at times the objective is to stand still on a moving object, occasionally jumping over an obstacle. It's not one of my favourite levels, let's just put it that way. Though it does introduce an enemy with one of my favourite names ever...the Caterkiller.

He can be annoying to kill though, jump on his spikes and he will hurt you. If you want to kill him, hit him on his head. But Caterkiller is a chill dude, he's not really out to kill you, so why should you. Leave him alone you bully! (though it is oddly satisfying to destroy him, especially if you used to get caught by him a lot).

The Marble Zone boss is...

This is easier than the Green Hill Zone boss as long as you are slightly patient. He will go from one side to another, dropping a fireball that will spread to the whole platform. The strategy is to jump at him while he is flying towards you and by them the flames will start to disappear giving you a chance to jump to the other platform. Do this about six times and win. 

Oh yeah, and for the first time in my life I have managed to get three Chaos Emeralds. What are Chaos Emeralds? I'll explain that in a couple of updates.

Next time: Spring Yard Zone, Labyrinth Zone and Power-Ups!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Sonic The Hedgehog - Introduction

Year: 1991
Platform: SEGA Genesis (Mega Drive)
Genre: 2D Platformer

Everybody knows this fella. Sonic the Hedgehog is to SEGA what Mario is to Nintendo. He the video game character with a 'tude. Do you see how he's wagging his finger on the cover there? Yeah, he's bad-ass! It was first released 21 years ago and since then Sonic has gone through some changes, not to mention some absolutely terrible games. However back in the good old days it was just a simple case of get from A to B, collecting rings and jumping on robots. So what's my experience with Sonic?

Well, I've played just about most classic Sonic games, I own them on a number of different systems, but sadly I've never finished one. In fact the only Sonic game I've finished would be Sonic Adventure 2: Battle for the Gamecube. So, over the next couple of weeks I will attempt to complete Sonic 1. Then 2. And 3...and Knuckles. Each update will contain a brief summary of the level, my performance and my thoughts. So eat up those chilli dogs, 'cause we're going on an adventure. But not Sonic Adventure, that's later.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Digital vs Physical

Ever since this generation of consoles introduced the ability to download games straight onto your hard drive, there have been rumblings that the days of buying games in a physical format could be on it's way out. The average console has big enough hard drive's to hold a whole library of games, ranging from the most innovative of indie games to the biggest blockbuster releases of the year. So, it's easy to know why some people think this.

There are many good things about purchasing games to download. Probably the biggest one for me is the fact that they can't accidentally get broken. I'm sure at least once in your life you've gone to put a disc into your console or computer and alas it no longer works. The only alternative is to buy a new copy...except by this point the game probably isn't sold in shops anymore and you have to go online to buy it. Or maybe you find a pre-owned copy at your local game shop. You pop it in and oh no, it doesn't work so you buy it again AND THEN ANOTHER TIME AND IT STILL DOESN'T BLOODY WORK AND YES THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME GOD DAMMIT. And breathe. The point is, digital games (in theory) last forever. So, in conclusion, I much prefer buying them physically.

I still love ya, buddy!
Sure, a lot of my old games are scratched to hell and probably don't work anymore (I was a very careless kid), but the fact is that clicking "download" is not nearly as satisfying as buying a game and then putting it into the console for the very first time. Before I talk about that, however, there is a couple more advantages to buying a physical copy.

One, is the price. You'd think downloads would be cheaper since they don't have to be packaged and shipped. But in my experience, especially on the consoles, they seem to go for full price for a lot longer than their physical cousins. Of course, you can also get pre-owned games even cheaper which is a bonus. I know that pre-owned games take money away from the developers, but I never buy a game pre-owned unless I can't find a new copy or I'm not sure if I'm going to like it. I bought Final Fantasy XIII-2 for £15 today, pre-owned, when a few months ago I was refusing to buy it at all. To put it back on to the debate however, let's talk about FIFA 12. Over the summer the price of it fell a little (because it's now outdated due to the new season), but the last time I checked (which was a while ago, admittedly) on the PSN it was £49.99. I bought it on day of release for £39.99. Obviously that's the RRP of the game, but by that point it was no longer worth the £50, plus an extra £10+ for the Euro 2012 pack. 

The other is the ability to trade. If I don't like the game I've bought then I can trade it in and get some of my money back towards another game, or I can give it to a friend in exchange for actual money or another game. If I do like a game, but I have a friend who won't buy it, I can give the game to the friend to borrow for a little while and then they can "forget" to give it back. Then I have to buy another copy which means more money for the developer/game shop. Everyone wins. You can't do that with downloaded games. If you buy something for yourself and oh dear it sucks, then sorry bud but you just wasted your money. 

Now this is purely for big name games, I don't expect small indie developers to shell out for packaging, marketing and etc. They get a free pass when it comes to this. Of course, in the digital world games can get ridiculously cheap in sales. That's great too. However, there is one thing about buying a physical copy of that I love more than anything: the journey.

It's the day of release of a game I've been wanting for months, perhaps even years. You've pre-ordered it and all that's left to do is collect it. For me, that involves getting on a bus for forty minutes early in the morning. The anticipation has reached new heights and I simply cannot wait to get home and play it. I arrive at the shop a little past nine o'clock and I purchase the game. It's not until it's in my hands that it truly hits me that I can actually play this game. However, there's still the journey home. Another forty minute bus ride which just ramps up the anticipation factor more and more until I'm basically desperate to play it. Finally I get home, turn on my console of choice, open the case, get disappointed at the lacklustre manual that is too common these days and finally put the disc in the console. The feeling as you start a new game is immense, and even more so if the game turns out to be excellent. You just don't get that feeling waiting for a download to finish.

So yes, downloads are fine, but I'd rather take a physical copy any day. I enjoy the two hour journey it takes to get a game on launch day, but maybe I'm strange who knows? The only thing I do know is that I wouldn't trade the journey in for anything, it just makes launch day that much sweeter.