Friday, January 29, 2010

Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games Released for the iPod!

As announced at the official Sega of America blog, Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games has released for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the new iPad! What makes this release exciting is that it's the first new Sonic game to be released on the iPod platform. The game is also the first mobile release for Sonic of the decade. Sonic's previous handheld release was Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games for the DS in 2009. Sega of America's blog posting had this to say:

Sega is excited to announce the official release of Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games for iPhone and iPod Touch. Featuring Sonic and friends (including Tails, Vector, Metal Sonic, Eggman, Knuckles and Shadow) this addictive game takes players on a journey to the slopes as they compete in some of the most challenging winter sports including curling, figure skating, snowboard cross, and skeleton.

There are 10 characters that are available: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, Eggman, Vector, Blaze, Metal Sonic and Silver. There are 4 events in the game: snowboard cross, curling, skeleton and figure skating.

The single player allows you to compete for Olympic gold in a single event or across all events in circuit mode. In addition to fun single-player mode, the game also has 3 multiplayer modes — Pass & Play, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi.

Once you’ve earned some rings by playing events, you can use them at the Village Store to unlock additional content to customize your experience.

Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games is available NOW for iPhone and iPod Touch, and is on sale in the iTunes store for $4.99.

Expect a review next week and have a great weekend!

The Nomad Junkyard is on YouTube!

Check it out!

While I've had the account for a while, I never called attention to it here outside of linking videos that I've uploaded. So far, the upload library is slim, but I have plans for video reviews as well as content created for Sega Memories and the Saturn Junkyard. Dreamcast Junkyard videos, once I get around to them, will be featured on The Dreamcast Junkyard's own YouTube Channel. So subscribe now and keep your eyes peeled for future content!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sonic's Handheld Adventures - Part 1

It's safe to assume that any Sega fan and just about any gamer knows of Sonic's 16-bit adventures. Sonic 1, Sonic CD, Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles followed Sonic from his early South Island scuffles with Eggman through to his final assault on the Death Egg. All in all it was a solid series featuring speedy gameplay, memorable side characters and a surprisingly deep overarching plot (well, deep compared to Mario's exploits).

As famous as the Genesis/Mega Drive series was, not too many fans know of Sonic's 8-bit adventures. One would assume that they were adaptations of the 16-bit series, especially when one considers that the first two Game Gear Sonic titles were Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Well that "one" couldn't be more wrong! Despite sharing titles, the Game Gear Sonic series was as far from the Genesis series as they could get. Join me, Barry the Nomad, as we walk down a less trodden path of memory lane and take a look back on Sonic's Handheld Adventures!

Sonic the Hedgehog was Sonic's first Game Gear appearance. Developed by Ancient, who also created the Mega Drive classic Beyond Oasis, the 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog was a faithful albeit downgraded adaptation of the original 16-bit classic. I say adaptation rather than port as while many zones from the original are absent, there also exist zones unique to the Game Gear. After running through the requisite Green Hill Zone, Sonic continues through Bridge Zone (???) , makes a diversion through Jungle Zone (?!?) revisits Labyrinth Zone, blasts directly to Scrap Brain Zone and then completes his adventure at Sky Base Zone (what is this? Sonic 2?). If you can't tell, those levels completely disregard the 16-bit order. Despite the differences, 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog is a very enjoyable handheld game with peppy music and great visuals for a Game Gear. Were I to rate it, I'd give it a 4/5 on the Game Gear scale.

Remember Sonic the Hedgehog 2? The game in which Tails is kidnapped by Eggman and Sonic must pay a ransom in Emeralds? Oh, thats not the game you remember? You must be thinking about the GOOD Sonic 2 , y'know, the 16-but one. The 8-bit Sonic 2 is a completely different beast. Might as well called it Tails is Missing. Developed by Japansese developer Aspect (not to be confused with Sonic 1's Ancient), 8-bit Sonic 2 does everything wrong that 16-bit Sonic 2 did right. Despite appearing on the cover and in the zone title screens, Tails is MIA as Sonic goes solo to rescue his pal.

Do not believe the act intro screens, Tails is MIA.

The game commits a cardinal sin in starting with an eerie mine level. What happened to the requisite first lush green zone? Oh, that happens in the second zone, Sky High Zone. Then, after a water level, Sonic revisits the first Sonic 1 level in a retooled Green Hills Zone. I guess they added more hills. All in all, Sonic 2 is alright for what it is but fails at what it promises to be. Outside of the title, it is not the well known Sonic 2 and the fact that Tails is not playable gives this game a 1/5. Okay, I'll give it a 2/5 for the music:

Things turned around for Sonic on the Game Gear with Sonic & Tails aka Sonic the Hedgehog Chaos outside of Japan. While Aspect is still the developer, they seem to have learned some lessons since their last game. Like the Japanese title states, both Sonic and Tails are playable. The plot, while weak, is the classic Eggman attacks South Island, the emeralds scatter and Sonic and Tails must find them before Eggman does. The game is filled with new moves, including a standing peelout known as Sonic's strike dash and Tail's inherent ability to fly. Items, such as a pogo spring (as seen on the game's cover) and rocket shoes give Sonic the temporary ability to bounce and fly about. The items are quite fun to utilize and it's surprising that they didn't see further use outside of the Game Gear series. Levels are nicely designed and take full use of the Game Gear color palette. Overall, Sonic Chaos is a great game that proves "more is better" in the Game Gear world. 4/5

Sonic & Tails 2 aka Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble is a "more of the same" sequel to Sonic Chaos, but that's not a bad thing. The plot is similar to the previous game: an explosion sends the emeralds flying across the globe. This time, however, Eggman isn't the only one Sonic must compete with. Knuckles makes his Game Gear debut as an NPC and fan favorite Fang (aka Nack) the Weasel is also after the emeralds. Interestingly, according to the Japanese manual Knuckles is unknown to Sonic, insinuating that the game's events precede Sonic 3 or occur in an alternate handheld timeline. Skills such as Sonic's peelout and Tail's flight return, as do the fun items. New items include screw shoes (they sound dirty, I know) and Sonic's snowboard. Sonic Triple Trouble really does have it all; a slew of enemies, every sort of zone, a variety of power-ups, great music and even a decent comic book adaptation! 5/5

More like Sonic Quadruple Trouble

Despite having the option of ending on a high note or attempting to outdo Sonic Triple Trouble, Aspect chose to release the "big blue booger" ('s words, not mine) that is G Sonic aka Sonic Blast. The less said about Sonic Blast the better. Bearing no resemblance to the Genesis and Saturn's Sonic 3D Blast outside of pre-rendered "3D" sprites, the 8-bit Sonic Blast follows Sonic and Knuckles (in his first playable Game Gear appearance) going after Eggman after Eggman blasts an emerald into five smaller emeralds. It is unknown if these five shards are of the Master Emerald or if they are five pieces of one of the seven Chaos Emeralds. Whatever the answer is, it's stupid. Rather than write any more about Sonic Blast, let's put it where it belongs.
The Sonic Game Gear series was, for the most part, good fun. Sure they couldn't rival the 16-bit originals, but after the fun Sonic 1 and the abysmil Sonic 2, Sonic appeared in two excellent and unique handheld offerings. Other Game Gear adventures include the kart racing spin-offs Sonic Drift 1 & 2, the pinball spin-off Sonic Spinball and Tails' spin-offs Tails' Sky Patrol and Tails Adventure.

Join me for part 2 when we venture into Game Boy territory! Ooooh!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Official Genesis Emulator Coming to the iPhone!

On a day when I have nothing to write about, this exciting piece of news drops!
Gizmondo reports that Sega will be releasing a free app titled Sega Genesis Ultimate Collection in the beginning of February that will come with a free game, Space Harrier II. Via the free app, players can then purchase additional games to play within the Genesis app. This is exciting news as it (1) allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to have all their Genesis games under one umbrella, (2) provides Space Harrier II as a free game, (3) opens the door to more obscure console games and (4) is launching with Ecco the Dolphin and Shining Force for $2.99 each.

I'm happy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cheaper Chimp Balls 2!

Thanks to the Sega of America blog, it has been announced that Super Monkey Ball 2 for the iPhone and iPod Touch has dropped to $4.99! This is a real surprise, considering the game was just recently released. Regardless, it looks to be better than the original and at this price it is a very tempting impulse buy. I might just download it right now!

Sega will be offering download codes via their Facebook page and Twitter page. If you spot one, snap it up!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Game Gear "Game of the Month" - Sonic Drift 2

A new year and a new feature at the Nomad Junkyard!

With the release of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing fast approaching, I thought I'd highlight an early entry into the Sonic racing collection of games. Sonic Drift 2, obviously the sequel to Sonic Drift, released on the Game Gear in 1995. I'm sorry to say that both Sonic Drift titles came out a few years after Nintendo's Mario Kart series, so Sega fans cannot rub this in a plumber fan's face saying "Sonic did it first!". Despite this, Sega AM2 did in fact create a kart racer called Power Drift that predates Mario by five years. So if you want to win a Sega/Nintendo kart argument, just bring up Yu Suzuki. Ahem, moving on...

Despite being a "Mario did it, so why can't Sonic?" title, Sonic Drift is a great portable kart racer. Personally I prefer the sequel as it features a larger roster than the first game, adding fan favorites Fang and Metal Sonic as well as Knuckles. Sure the graphics were simplistic, but that's where much of the game's charm comes from. What really stood out was the music. Sonic Drift 2 featured both happy and haunting tunes. The music for Rainy Savannah has a fast tempo and sense of urgency that makes what would be a usual trip around the track much more of an intense experience:

I could go on and on but really, you should play it for yourself. You can find both games on the Game Gear (obviously) as well as in a variety of compilations. Sonic Drift can be found in Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the PS2 and XBOX. Sonic Drift 2 is included in Sonic Gems Collection for the Gamecube and both games are unlockable in the Gamecube's Sonic Adventure DX. Of course the best way to play is on a Game Gear in a dark room with headphones.

Played the game? Share your experience in the comments below! :)