With the remake of Castle of Illusion gracing the PSN/XBLA this past summer, it seemed only fitting to revisit its sequel, World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, for Genesis Month. Though it featured far superior graphics and an expanded scope, along with the addition of Donald Duck and cooperative play, World of Illusion has, for whatever reason, struggled to retain the same classic status as its predecessor.
And that’s unfortunate, because World of Illusion is an incredibly capable sequel to Mickey Mouse’s first Genesis adventure; one that sends its title characters into an enchanting world and builds upon the magic of Castle of Illusion to deliver an entirely satisfying follow-up.
It’s the year 2049. Earth, as portrayed in BlueSky Software‘s Vectorman, has become completely uninhabitable by the human race. Having left their polluted planet behind, they’ve set off through the galaxy in hopes of finding a new home, while a crew of mechanical Orbots remains in their place to clean the Earth up.
Into this scenario (one which today seems oddly reminiscent of Pixar’s Wall-E) appears Vectorman; one such Orbot with an attitude and the courage to stop Warhead, an Orbot who went rogue and took control of the planet. The adventure that ensues is a fun one with great atmospherics, an addictive scoring system, and a bit of an edge. Vectorman was a great showcase of the Genesis’ capabilities back in its day, and even today remains a must play for those who want a stylish and futuristic sidescroller.
There’s little doubt that Sonic has, against all odds, cemented his place in the gaming landscape.
There was a time, and it was a time that I’m sure many reading this will remember, when Sonic existed exclusively on SEGA platforms. He was the face of the company: the representation of an edgier and more daring console competitor, and, in many ways, the total opposite of his rival, the mascot representing those other systems.
With SEGA’s exit from the hardware business, it was only a matter of time before this would all shift. Sonic Adventure 2, a game developed without any intention of ever being released on a Nintendo platform, was nevertheless met with incredibly warm reception among the Nintendo fanbase when it debuted on the Gamecube roughly eight months after its Dreamcast release. And rather then fading away like many mascots of old, Sonic was, in a sense, reborn to an entirely new audience.
It’s sometimes easy to worry about Sonic remaining true to himself, especially as he and his games have taken on several incredibly different forms over the years since. With the latest rumor that we’ll have a new Sonic game next year, I think it makes sense to look ahead at where we all think the hedgehog should be going. I’m definitely excited to see what plans SEGA has for the blue blur; it’s my hope that Sonic can continue to evolve and change while at the same time never leaving behind the essence of what defined him all those years ago.
In an act of sheer epic randomness, one of my buds recently reminded me of one of SEGA’s most unlikely of past sponsors. It was back during the Dreamcast era, as many of their publicity stunts were. SEGA was trying hard to get their online service, SegaNet, to gain traction. To do so, they enlisted the help of none other than a certain popular band… one who had just made it ridiculously big with a song called Nookie.
Yes, I’m talking about Limp Bizkit. Believe it or not, they’re actually still around today, but there was a time when they were at the top of the music industry, and that time coincided with the final months of the Dreamcast.
With their album, Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water, set to release in October of 2000, Limp Bizkit was preparing to embark on a major tour. SEGA, seeing their golden opportunity, chose to serve as one of the tour’s sponsors. It might seem ridiculous now, but at the time this was actually a huge snag for them, as Limp Bizkit and their form of rap metal was on the edge of releasing what would become the fastest-selling rock album on record; an honor that it, amazingly, still holds to this day.
For more, including a quote from SEGA from back then, read on.
It was a day of deathly quiet as Ryo hurried up the path to the Hazuki dojo, well aware that something was amiss. Minutes later, he would witness the murder of his father at the hands of Lan Di, an event that would forever alter the course of his existence.
Shenmue was a series that began dramatically, but quietly. Iwao’s death was one showcased with a degree of style, but the next few hours of the game saw the Hazuki dojo grieving, with Ryo searching through town for the most mundane of clues. It was a deliberately-paced start that may have mislead some into believing that they’d began a subtle and realistic experience; and to an extent, they wouldn’t be wrong. But Shenmue is, at heart, a Kung Fu epic. And like in almost any of those, it doesn’t take long at all for the adventure to fly off the rails. In a good way.
It’s incredibly rare for a failed system to carry with it such a long-lasting legacy. With the closing of one console generation comes the opening of another, and with time, the systems of old one fade into the realm of memories.
The Dreamcast didn’t get to see the end of the sixth generation of video game systems; at least, not in a traditional sense. But its thriving indie scene was then created, living on for years after the system’s discontinuation, with small independent games released, even today, for SEGA’s white box. Digital remasters of Dreamcast games on HD consoles continue to be greeted with interest and enthusiasm, this anticipation reaching even beyond the SEGA community.
For those of us who owned a Dreamcast from 1999 through 2001, we know that the system was truly something special. It was the only video game console to see its launch at the tail-end of the 90s, carrying with it not only the cultural magic that was the year 1999, but also carrying on its shoulders the last remnants of a dying arcade industry, without a doubt making the most of both. But the Dreamcast also had an eye to the future. As the first sixth gen video game system, it lead the way for many of the games we would go on to experience in a generation that saw storytelling and presentation make a significant jump. The Dreamcast’s games were not (for the most part) the types of linear “movie-games” we see today, but they were certainly cinematic; far more than what came before. They were innovative, they were different, they were funky, and they had soul.
They were art.
My very first experience with the Dreamcast took place at a crowded Toys R Us demo kiosk, the system launch being mere weeks away and with a poster for Sonic Adventure having caught my eye.
I picked up the controller to find myself in some sort of futuristic bumper car hall. Momentarily confused as to what to do, I did what all little kids do when they’re stuck in a video game; I had Sonic jump around aimlessly until he hijacked one of the bumper cars and drove it out onto an outer space race track.
Simply put, my mind was blown, and the Twinkle Park stage became one of my favorites in the series, a place that it still holds to this day.
I was in for another surprise in the final product, when I got to play the Twinkle Park stage on my own TV with the sound up. The music, an epic remix of Panic Puppet Zone Act 1 from Sonic 3D Blast, was incredible. Crazily enough though, despite being a remix, the Sonic Adventure version unquestionably takes on a life of its own and fits the game just as well as an original track would have, if not better.
Sonic Adventure made several major changes to the series, there’s no doubt about it. But the game also had many nods to the character’s past, all integrated seamlessly into Sonic Adventure’s next generation shell.
To hear the original Sonic 3D Blast version of the song, hit the jump.
Sonic comic book fans will have the chance to learn more about new villains The Deadly Six in what’s being deemed “The Official Prequel” to Sonic Lost World.
The comic book will see release, (interestingly, after the game itself) on October 26th-27th during Halloween ComicFest, and will be disappearing from retailers after that. Needless to say, those interested should head down to their local comic book shops that weekend to snag a copy.
For Archie’s official description of the Sonic Lost World-themed issue, hit the jump.
SEGA of Japan has released a new action-packed trailer for Toshihiro Nagoshi’s upcoming 3DS RPG, Hero Bank. The footage provides us with a good look at the cinematic battles, which appear to feature a mix of menu-driven and action-driven gameplay: though the trailer’s editing makes it tough to tell exactly what the balance will be. While the battle scenes are voice acted, it looks like much of the rest of the game’s dialogue will be handled through text boxes.
The trailer also shows that Hero Bank will include some exploration elements, with the main character shown wandering through locations including a city street and classroom. The anime-driven visual style reminds me (during the non-combat sections) somewhat of the look of Shun Nakamura’s Ryhthm Thief and the Emperor’s Treasure from last year, though thankfully Hero Bank will have explorable environments instead of a point and click system. The look and feel of the battles is reminiscent of Saturday Morning anime cartoons.
Specifics, especially with regard to Hero Bank’s combat system, are tough for me to judge at this point, as battles look to be text-heavy and as of now no Western release has been announced. The game is said to be targeting a younger audience, comes from Yakuza and Super Monkey Ball mastermind Toshihiro Nagoshi, and will be releasing on December 19th in Japan for the 3DS.
It’s not much of a stretch to say that the announcement of Hero Bank, a 3DS exclusive RPG said to deal with real world currencies, hasn’t set the world on fire. Though I’m personally still trying to wrap my head around its general concept, details are beginning to trickle in for SEGA’s newest IP; one bit of info that may be of most interest to SEGA fans is that it comes from none other than Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi. For more, including quotes from the man himself, hit the jump.