Preview Log: Shadow Shaping Up

Preview Log: Shadow Shaping Up

The announcement of Shadow the Hedgehog to the world was certainly a shock to the system. For those Shadow fans it was finally a chance to see his past, what really happened, fill in those plotholes. For those who didn’t like Shadow, they took to it with disgust (and even some fans spat at it for the implementation of guns) and refuse to look at it. Those who just aren’t bothered, weren’t bothered though. So at least that’s progress.

Since the trailer, TSS voiced its opinions on the game, wondering how well the gun system would be implemented. The graphics really did look sore and dated, and really didn’t look like things had progressed from Sonic Adventure 1 on the Dreamcast at all.

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Recently however, SEGA were kind enough to send us five high resolution screenshots for the game, that look, we must say, absolutely gorgeous. There is no way these graphics were produced on a PlayStation2, so there is hope for a release on other platforms too (although it has NOT been confirmed, rumour has it that Shadow will be PS2 only).

Even more news on the game that we can tell you, that Shadow fans will 50 missions to blast through. We will be seeing Shadow caught in a huge battle involving aliens, good old favourites GUN and, excellently enough, Dr. Eggman will be pitching in an appearance too. Players will be able to grab more weapons than previously imagined, with a huge list of guns apparently noted for disposal, as well as objects and vehicles. Yes you read, vehicles.

We were under the impression that Sonic Team USA was developing this title. And of course, TSS was correct with its prediction – although the studio now seems to be under the rather coi name of SEGA Studio USA, most likely a result of the SEGA merge-in over in Japan, there. Takashi Iizuka, Game Director of the studio, will be heading the project up; his noted work includes Sonic Adventure 2 itself and Sonic Adventure DX. Here’s what he had to say on the Sonic spinoff:

“Since we first introduced him in Sonic Adventure 2, we have wanted to feature Shadow in his own game… we maintained Shadow as a mysterious character and now fans can control his destiny by engaging in a unique gameplay experience that offers a multitude of possibilities!”

Hoo-hah, here comes the bomb. Those waiting to hear about how Shadow ‘survived’ and what the real deal is with the plotholes may come away disappointed, as it appears that Shadow the Hedgehog will feature multiple endings! Although an excellent gameplay mechanic, this can only come as very confusing to Shadow fans and anti-fans alike. Surely fans won’t be thrown into the frustrating situation as to be confronted with five different explanations for the events that passed since Sonic Adventure 2? But maybe it’s a feature SEGA Studio USA may produce tactfully. We can only hope.

So, is Shadow a robot? Is he suffering from anmesia? Lord knows the real reason now, it appears SEGA don’t really want to say anything official on it, but what matters is that YOU control the ending, via many different routes at many different points in the game. We’re assuming how you play the game – how much you use your guns over your agility, for example – will help decide in how “good or evil” Shadow really is.

To top this all off, we have a treat for you. A brand new Shadow the Hedgehog trailer, woo. You can download it for free in the Movies section, but it appears a little strange.

Alongside showing different camera angles of exactly the same gameplay, we noted that the graphics are nothing like what we’ve seen in the high resolution shots, displayed above. We’re hoping that the high-res aren’t just PC engine test snapshots – it’s looking very much that possibility, which is a shame because the graphics now look drab again. And we get the impression that the guns, Chaos Control charge-up moves and other specials that Shadow may have at his repertoire could get boring very quickly – they seem to “do a Sonic Heroes”, in which using such moves slows down gameplay. If you hated Sonic Heroes because the team system and moves were “stop-start”, you won’t be impressed by Shadow’s new trailer, unfortunately.

If you like DragonBall Z though, you’re in for a treat with the hugh explosions that look like they take ten seconds to charge up. Kudos for SEGA for the sword for Shadow though – despite what we’ve said about the guns, we rather like the big fat meaty sword in the middle of the trailer. Other highlights of the new trailer include a big fat mutant boss that seems to spit fireballs (looking like it escaped from Doom or something) and a few rather cool homages – Shadow does his own take of Sonic Adventure’s “Sky Chase” Bonus Stage by chasing what seems to be an Egg Carrier look-a-like, on top of some kind of dragon thing. Hey, when you don’t have a fox with a plane to do it…

Overall, we’re getting slightly interested in this one. It looks rather appealing to some degree. You can never really go nuts for a game that’s in essence, a spinoff. Because spinoffs are always to be taken with a pinch of salt. Sometime they turn out great (Sonic Battle) other times they turn out a chunk of turd (Sonic Labyrinth). Shadow has enough going for it, but our main concern is the treatment of the gameplay – a return to “stop-start” gameplay from Sonic Heroes plus some charge-up moves that seem to take a rather pointless length of time look like potential turn-offs. We’ll keep you posted.

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Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.