Thursday, June 23, 2011

SEGA Says "Happy 20th Sonic" with All-Stars Racing iOS!

 First off: Happy 20th Birthday Sonic! I had to say it.

Secondly, SEGA said "happy birthday" in their own way by offering up a new iOS Sonic game. Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing has released for all iOS devices and is at a reduced birthday price of $1.99! After the festivities die down, the app will be $4.99. I downloaded the game this morning, and to my delight it plays on the first generation iPod Touch, meaning every iOS device will be able to play the game!

The game kicks off with the full CG intro as seen in the console version of the game. From there, you're presented with a slick menu featuring high quality menu music as heard in the console versions. So no downgraded Nintendo DS music to be found. Very nice. Menu options include: single player, multiplayer, shopping, achievements, leaderboards, OpenFeint (a mobile social gaming network that tracks scores, achievements and saves ones game to "the cloud"), licence and options. Single player features grand prix, single race, time trial and missions. So expect to see every single player mode from the console versions in this mobile version.
That isn't to say that the game is 1:1 with the console versions. Tracks and characters are derived from the Nintendo DS version of the game, however graphics have been improved and sounds match those from the home console versions. The character roster has been cut down to ten: Sonic, Tails, Eggman, Aiai, Billy, Amigo, Beat, the Chu Chus, B.D. Joe and Ryo. While I was sad to see certain characters not appearing in the game, it's still a rather solid cast and great for a $2 game. At least Ryo is still there!
 Tracks have also been trimmed, with only twelve appearing. Sonic's casino tracks are absent, as are a number of other tracks. However, considering many tracks in SASASR are in similar environments, there isn't much lost in that regard. You sill see the curian mansion, Amigo's crazy world, Billy's hot and cold environments, the GG's turf and Eggman's fleet. You just won't see any casino track.
 The game controls well for an iOS title. Players are given the choice of tilting the device like a wheel or controlling the left and right steering with a slider. I've yet to master the controls, but I have gone from placing last to placing third within 15 minutes so there is hope for me yet.
I'll hold off on saying more, as I'd like to officially review the title next week, but suffice to say things are looking very very good for the title and it is a must download for Sonic fans, racing fans and plain ol' SEGA fans. I mean, it's only $2!

Again, Happy Birthday Sonic!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Post-E3: SEGA's Handheld Releases

Another E3, another great assortment of portable SEGA games! On display, but not the most talked about game at SEGA's booth, was Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing for iOS devices. From live coverage, I gathered that the game will be available for all iOS devices (here's hoping it even plays on the first gen iPod Touch), it will release sometime in the summer and it will be a cool $4.99. The game looks to be an enhanced port of the Nintendo DS release, however the game will only contain 10 of the 20 racers found in the original release of the game. Still, for the price I can live with having only half the roster. At least Ryo made the cut

While I don't typically cover DS or 3DS games, I should mention Sonic Generations and Shinobi. Both games were available to demo at E3, and in my opinion both are looking great! Sonic Generations is getting some slack for not being as graphically amazing as it could be, however the game is still a ways off so things could improve. Also, one has to wonder if development shifted from the DS to the 3DS as the HD versions of Generations started development in 2008. Well before the 3DS existed. As long as the game is fun, I look forward to giving it a spin.

Shinobi 3DS is definitly a game to watch. Being the first new title in the series since 2002, Shinobi (the fourth game to share this title) brings back the 2D gameplay of the original Genesis games, infuses a bit of the PS2 visual style and has a look of its own. The game is a prequel to the first Shinobi, starring Joe's father Jiro Musashi. I'm loving this bit, as Jiro is both a new character but also has a firm connection to Joe himself. We've already played as Joe's son Hayate, so why not play as his dad? Early impressions have been positive, and the game is said to have a load of bonus content. Expect Shinobi to release Sepetember, 2011.

Finally we've got the big new handheld from Sony, and I have to admit, as much as I am not a fan of the PSP, I really do like the look of the Vita. Good control layout, cool functions, backwards compatibility and great price. I probably won't be getting one this year, but between this and the 3DS, I'm leaning towards the Vita. If only it had a better name...