Sonic Forces spin dashes onto consoles with Bonus Edition in tow

What with nostalgic 2D platformer Sonic Mania’s sudden success in restoring the previously rock-bottom reputation of SEGA’s most prized mascot, earning itself a full 5/5 score from D-pad Joy and an 86% Metacritic average so far, one would’ve hardly blamed the publisher if they’d lounged out on a hedgehog-shaped reclining sofa for the remainder of 2017.

But even if Mania’s development team at PadogaWest Games intends to take a well-earned rest along those lines, that notion evidently hasn’t occurred to SEGA. Quite to the contrary, their game plan is seemingly to keep capitalising on the newfound success of gaming’s most iconic non-Italian protagonist, rolling out another AAA Sonic adventure before year’s end…

Takeaways:

  • Enter Sonic Forces, a current-gen hybrid platformer combining Mania’s side-scrolling escapades with the oft-explosive 3D hijinks for which the franchise has – for better or for worse – become known since its Adventures and Heroes iterations in the late nineties and early noughties.
  • This spiritual successor to 2015’s roundly applauded Sonic Generations will hit Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on November 7th worldwide, launching both in physical and digital form for a healthy reduced RRP of $40 / £30 rather than the usual $60 / £50 price tags most of the autumn’s big-hitters pack.
  • Anyone who pre-orders Forces in its boxed incarnation is in for a pleasant bonus surprise, though. On top of the main campaign, they’ll get Bonus Edition content such as a free themed controller skin and costumes for the title’s third playable hero – a customisable companion to Modern and Classic Sonic – based on classic SEGA characters like Super Monkey Ball’s AiAi and NiGHTS’ eponymous magician.

Make no mistake, launching in November presents SEGA with a huge uphill battle, even if they want to seize upon the substantial goodwill generated by their best Sonic entry in years. Between Call of Duty: WWII, Need for Speed Payback, LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon and The Sims 4’s PS4 and Xbox One ports, even the bravest studio might consider moving their release date elsewhere to save face.

There’s an admirable sense of carpe diem bravado about their move, though, and while we sincerely hope the franchise doesn’t once again fall flat on its face – critically or commercially – after finding such rare light at the end of the tunnel this summer, SEGA has just guaranteed that whatever happens, this’ll be an autumn for the industry to remember.

Take a gander at the full offerings of Sonic Forces’ Bonus Edition below. D-pad Joy will stay abreast of all the key news surrounding the project leading up to November 7th.

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Sonic Mania Review – A Familiar Rush of 16-Bit Nostalgia (PS4)

The Sonic franchise has grown tiresome and abundantly stale over nearly two decades now, but the series continues to churn its legs, desperate for a break. The latest release from the famed Blue Blur, Sonic Mania, gives longtime fans the title they’ve been waiting for since the 16-bit days. No more clunky and confusing 3D adventure games, and out with the sub-par graphically enhanced, mechanically flawed 2D attempts at revamping the classic feel. Sonic Mania is here, and it delivers.

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The Sonic community shouted valiantly for a rebirth of the tight and responsive 16-bit blue hedgehog, and – though it took awhile – the Sonic the Hedgehog developers finally responded. Using the ingredients that made Sonic the icon he was in the 90s, Sonic porting professional – Christian Whitehead – and developers Headcannon and PagodaWest Games delivered a 2D, side-scrolling title so spot on with the originals, one could easily mistake the new release for a 16-bit Genesis remake.

Speeding through new level designs, obstacles and a variety of branching pathways, Sonic Mania also delivers a few classic levels from the early years of Sonic the Hedgehog. With familiar platforming areas and enemies, these re-visited classics are now extended with tons of new areas to explore, where most new enhancements come when running through the second acts of levels. Completely revamped and re-imagined, new level designs introduce exciting platforming mechanics, surprising new areas, dangerous enemies and tough bosses – all with their own tactical advantages, and disadvantages.

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Special stages make a roaring comeback, starting with the return of the iconic 3D sphere trotting stages from Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, which reward you bronze, silver and gold tokens redeemable for secret unlockables. Introducing a new method of retrieving the precious Chaos Emeralds in the new “Big Ring” stages, players will have to put their skills and reflexes to the test in these new racing-style challenges.

Scattered in hidden areas across all levels, the coveted Big Ring teleports the player to new areas where they’ll be faced with chasing down an alien UFO that’s holding one of seven powerful Chaos Emeralds. Racing around what essentially resembles a small go-kart course, there are obstacles to dodge, rings to collect and more blue spheres to gather as you close in on the alien UFO. With a decreasing timer made up by your ring count, your speed set to a permanent Mach setting based upon your sphere total, and cliffsides, spike balls and shortcuts to keep the player acting quickly and precisely, these new additions keep the challenge of collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds exciting and new.

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Making your way through the nostalgic feel of the old Sonic games, you’ll be able to play as the 3 most recognizable characters – Sonic, Tails (or Sonic and Tails paired together) and Knuckles. Every level contains numerous pathways, loopy-loops, floating platforms, climbable walls, all of the familiar item boxes including the useful standard, fire and lightning shields and tons of hidden areas – in which some are only obtainable by certain characters. Using Knuckles‘ popular glide technique and rock climbing skill, Tails‘ flying technique and Sonic’s famous speed and essential skills, players are sure to find tons of secrets like special items, 1-ups and Big Ring stages.

Sonic Mania release date announced with new trailer

The return of a classic 2D Sonic the Hedgehog platformer will make its long-awaited debut later this summer and the new trailer from SEGA shows off what we’ve been waiting for. Returning to its roots in 16-bit form, Sonic Mania shows off nostalgic presence for many who (like myself) poured hours into the early Sonic games of the Genesis era.

High demand for the Sonic team to put together a game bringing gamers back to the classic era has been circulating for quite some time, even after the sub-par release of the Sonic the Hedgehog 4 episodes. With HD graphics complimenting the 2D side-scroller, the mechanics never quite met the expectations of the eager fan base.

SEGA listened and now we’re just a couple of months away from what could be the Sonic fans’ answer to the hopeful return to 16-bit form. Excelling through re-imagined familiar levels like Flying Battery Zone from Sonic & Knuckles, Emerald Hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the original classic Green Hill Zone from the first title in the series, there’s also new levels to experience as one of the three faces of the franchise – Sonic, Tails or Knuckles. Pushing 60 FPS, Sonic Mania comes with powerful bosses and surprises and an adventure to put a stop to Dr. Eggman’s evil robots.

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The new Sonic Mania pre-order trailer gives us a taste of brand new levels mixed with old classics from the games that started it all for the “blue blur”, along with its digital release coming this August 15th to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. Releasing later this year is a new 3D Sonic title, Sonic Forces, coming to the same consoles as well.