Showing posts with label Sonic Team. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sonic Team. Show all posts

Sonic Adventureland: A Roller Coaster of Love

If you’ve visited a Disney theme park in the last half century, you may be familiar with Space Mountain (or “Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain” per its Disneyland Paris branding). Originally conceived as Walt Disney’s roller coaster homage to the boundlessness of human ambition, today the attraction wallows in retro-futuristic parody. Steeped in the influences of iconic ‘60s and ‘70s sci-fi films – however superficially – Space Mountain evokes the unsettling, sinister tone of a future we'd never want but may only be marginally worse than the one we got. As we wait in the queue, its dim spaceport catwalks usher us through a thematic mess of obtuse angles and space-age mainframe panels. We lift off in garish pod cars and uneasy anticipation mounts as we ascend its pulsing blue tunnel. And then, the pitch-black void of space.
Image credit: TheCoasterViews

Over the next couple minutes, Disney’s spacefaring voyage pulls us up to 3.7Gs through a flurry of drops, twists, and jolts. The darkness deprives us of just enough senses for a more potent and unpredictable thrill; one we feel more than see. In the void, we’re blind to its gaudiness. It becomes clear Space Mountain was born out of the calculated ingenuity of chain-smoking Imagineers at the peak of their craft. It's almost viscerally Kubrickian, however lacking in allegory or irony. Primitive and unpolished in its interstellar kitsch, Space Mountain’s artistry endures in another sense: it’s just a darn fun ride.

And so it goes for Sonic Adventure.
If you’ve played a Dreamcast in the last quarter century, you may be familiar with Sonic Team’s ambitious 3D platformer (also the console’s best-selling game). You’re also likely to have an opinion of it. I can relate, I’ve had many. My volatile views on Sonic Adventure have practically been a roller coaster of their own. It was the reason I bought a Dreamcast and I loved playing it back when it was the first and only game I owned at launch. I soured on it in the decades since, often echoing the criticisms people spout whenever the internet convenes to complain about the game. More recently, I replayed all its characters' campaigns and it is safe to say I’ve opened my heart to Sonic Adventure once again. These days, I revisit it more often than just about any video game, period.

I’m still recovering from the whiplash.
Sonic Adventureland: A theme park where the only lines are the load times!

For me, Sonic Adventure is best enjoyed as an amusement park, and it is in that spirit that I am always eager to jump back into its queue.

Sonic Adventure's Christmas DLC and How It Broke the Game

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Sonic has landed a movie role in which he plays an eldritch abomination.
Anyway. Let's ignore Sonic's mistreatment in the present and look back to Christmases of old, specifically the Christmas of 1999, when the millennium bug was striking fear into the hearts of common man and the Dreamcast was the coolest console money could buy (don't get it twisted: it still is). 
During the dates of the 17th of December and the 28th of December, Dreamcast gamers had the ability to install one of the first instances of downloadable content (DLC) ever (at least the kind we've all grown accustomed to in the last two generations) to their trusty VMU.
The "Christmas Party" download brings festivity to your game of Sonic by placing Christmas trees outside the station and in the town center. When players make Sonic jump at them, festive messages will come up on screen, wishing them a Merry Christmas. The music will also change to the Acapella version of "Dreams, Dreams" from Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams. Hopefully no one back in '99 thought this was a sign that a NiGHTS sequel might be coming to the Dreamcast.



A Brief History Of ChuChu Rocket! In Your Pocket

ChuChu Rocket! is a puzzle game that is undoubtedly a product of a struggling Sega. Imaginative, innovative, insane - one of the many one-of-a-kind experiments that was thrown at a wall in the Sega headquarters in the hopes that something would eventually stick and save the Dreamcast once and for all. Maybe this attempt to stand out was what led Sonic Team to create not just one of the most memorable puzzle games on the Sega Dreamcast, but one of the best and most memorable puzzle games ever made.
For the uninitiated, the premise of ChuChu Rocket! is simple. You place directional arrows on a checker board to guide mice (the titular ChuChus) to rocket ships, all whilst making sure they don't get eaten by giant orange cats that look like they are perpetually tripping on acid.
The guiding brainless animals to safety thing had been done eight years prior by DMA Design's Lemmings, but Sonic Team managed to take the concept and push it to the brink of madness whilst also throwing in a bonkers multiplayer mode and online play (that's still available today thanks to DreamPi). It serves as a high quality break for any Dreamcast fan who has sunk hours into deeper experiences like Shenmue or Phantasy Star Online who just wants to play something simple whilst also having an absolutely cracking time.

These days, with smart phones being in everyone's pockets, puzzle games that are easy to pick up and play function as perfect time wasters on a morning commute or even when we just can't be bothered to do anything else. Sadly, as I'm sure many of us can all agree, the vast majority of smartphone puzzlers are trite, micro-transaction ridden nonsense. But what if we could take a stellar puzzler like ChuChu Rocket! and play that in the palm of our hand instead? That would make perfect sense, right? Well it turns out that Sega did see ChuChu's portable potential...



Sonic Adventure Soundtracks Getting The Vinyl Treatment

I don't own any vinyl. Come to think of it, I only own a few CDs (the last one I bought was Liam Gallagher's new album, you should check it out). Instead, like most digital whores I buy most of my music on the iTunes; but if I was a trendier type I'd probably buy my music on vinyl. Simply because it makes you look cool when you go to an actual record shop and buy an actual record. Anyway, as with a lot of trends these days that look to the past, the release of game soundtracks on vinyl has become very popular and now the Sonic Adventure soundtracks are getting the same treatment.

Coming from Brave Wave, these two LPs take the original Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 track listings and package them up in lovely looking sleeves full of officially licensed artwork. There'll also be booklets with interviews and such like:

The first pressing will contain special vinyl colors that represent the essence of both games: blue and white 180-gram vinyl for SONIC ADVENTURE and blue and red 180-gram vinyl for SONIC ADVENTURE 2. All pressings after the first will contain standard black 180-gram vinyl. All versions of both albums will include a comprehensive booklet featuring a reflective interview with Jun Senoue and head of Sonic Team Takashi Iizuka, as well as Liner Notes by John Linneman of Digital Foundry, song lyrics and character art.
- Brave Wave website

The recent glut of retro video game soundtracks being released on vinyl shows just how popular these collections are getting, with Shenmue, Streets of Rage and other classic titles all having their audio tracks released on the format to critical and commercial acclaim. Will you be picking either of these up? Let us know in the comments, in our Facebook group or on Twitter.

Find out more information on these two releases by visiting the Brave Wave website here.

Source: SEGAbits

Sonic Mania Is Here...Anyone For Sonic Adventure?

Sonic Mania has finally landed on consoles and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive - hurrah! We think now is a great time to celebrate this with the first YouTube upload from our new video maestro James Jarvis, and what better game than Sonic Adventure? James is a bit of a veteran when it comes to creating videos focusing on the Dreamcast, having been producing similar content for his own channel ItsMuchMore since 2013; and now we're thrilled that he's come on board at the Junkyard to continue the great work that Aaron 'The Gagaman' Foster started all those years ago! We'll be sharing all of the latest videos from our YouTube channel here anyway, but be sure to head over there to subscribe, like, share, comment and all that other stuff the cool kids are doing these days! Please enjoy this cool lets play along with James' commentary...