LIVE FROM E3: Sonic Wild Fire

LIVE FROM E3: Sonic Wild Fire

From LAdude: Sonic Wild Fire to be the first game that features Sonic in a solo adventure in 15 years, since the original Sonic the Hedgehog.

From Psychobob: The latest intrigue comes in the form of Sonic Wild Fire, an Arabian Nights inspired adventure covered in this earlier report by Kieran R. Since then we have had new gameplay footage, reports from IGN, an interview curtsey of Gamespot, and SEGA’s Sonic Channel promoting the official Sonic Wild Fire site. And let us not forget SEGA of Americas Sonic the Hedgehog page.

Sonic Wild Fire

Sonic Wild Fire footage at Fastfeet Media
Sonic Wild Fire Official site– Contains new GCI commercial

IGN report:

All it takes is a few seconds of play time and the changes to Sonic’s core gameplay can easily be seen. For starters, the control has been completely stripped, replacing the original analog execution with tilt control. Players control Sonic by simply tilting the Wii-mote (held in the classic NES position) left or right. Rather than positioning the game as yet another free-roaming adventure, each level instead acts as a rollercoaster of sorts, sending Sonic on a pre-determined path, while giving the player full control over movement and speed. Since the path is already set, players use the tilt function to navigate the track, grabbing items and fighting enemies at their own pace. It may sound basic, but that’s what brings the series back to its original form, as it controls like the 2D version did, while still providing a 3D feel.

Aside form the main tilt control, SEGA kept it relatively simple. The 2 button is used for jumping, and can act in two different modes depending on the player. If the button is tapped, for instance, Sonic will perform a running leap, hitting the ground at the same speed when finished. If the 2 button his held, however, Sonic will skid to a stop and begin to charge a “super jump,” which can be used to reach higher areas at the sacrifice of speed. When in mid-air, Sonic will automatically lock on to the nearest target he is facing, and with a simple flick of the controller will bolt towards them in a mid-air dash attack.

Expanding on that idea, Sonic can then combo off attacked enemies in a row, using the foe as a double-jump, and allowing as many consecutive attacks as there are targets. The only other major gameplay element included was the use of boost, which can be executed when enough fire icons are collected throughout a track. When available, players can flick the controller forward and launch Sonic into insane speed bursts. The sense of movement is great even within the short demo, as Sonic’s speed rivals that of the Criterion’s own Burnout series. Team the simple control with what is a very pretty and fast moving Wii title, and you have Sonic Wild Fire.

In fact, the vastly improved gameplay isn’t the only addition to the Sonic world, as Wild Fire also takes a new approach to the presentation. Since the action is essentially tunnel-running, the camera work is able to do a ton of great cinematic shots while still giving the player needed control. In the initial run-through, the camera switched to tons of shots on the fly. It would film from just inches off the ground, pull back during faster moments, fly into the air and shoot down while Sonic navigated more precise areas, and even play catch-up when Sonic’s super speed was used. On the graphical side, Sonic goes toe-to-toe with Super Mario Galaxy, offering vast environments with tremendous draw distances, great animation and a seriously slick look. Fire and speed effects are used everywhere in the level we saw, and we never saw a drop in the frame rate. The entire demo had a very cinematic feel, and the strong camera work mixed with detailed environments makes Sonic Wild Fire the most “next-gen” looking game on the system to date.

Since the very nature of E3 demands quick play-through sessions, we can’t wait to get even more time with Sonic Wild Fire this week. We can say with confidence, however, that it is by far one of the most complete and well-rounded demos in Nintendo’s booth, and everyone within an eyeshot of the screens were staring at them while in line for their own demo. The action is fast and beautiful, and the gameplay is back to how it should be. More specific tweaking will need to be done to the control, but only on a very minimal level. In fact, the gameplay was solid enough that we actually forgot we were using a new controller. It feels natural and controls are astonishingly tight compared to some of the other demos around. Compared to other 3D Sonic titles in the past, this one is really no contest. Sonic Wild Fire has resurrected the franchise, and we can only hope the full version will be as fun as it was today on the showroom floor. Nicely done, Sega.

Gamespot interview:

LOS ANGELES–Announced earlier this morning, Sonic Wild Fire is a Wii-exclusive action game in which you’ll get to control Sega’s blue mascot simply by tilting Nintendo’s revolutionary new controller. Very few details on the game have been released at this time, which is why we took some time out during our hectic pre-E3 schedule to probe the game’s producer, Yojiro Ogawa, for more information.

GameSpot: When did development on the game start? How much did you know about the Wii hardware and controller at that time?
Yojiro Ogawa: Exact date of starting the project we can’t disclose, but not very long ago! That’s actually a difficult question to answer! We had similar information to what information had been released publicly.

GS: How are you taking advantage of the Wii hardware?

YO: The controller is very unique, but also very simple, so we wanted to develop in a manner that complemented this–unique but simple. We want the players to touch the controller as much as possible, but still wanted to focus on making the experience with the controller simple.

GS: Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

YO: We wanted to show the world inside books–filled with adventures, monsters, etc. So we focused on books that children read, but adults also are familiar with. We wanted to create something completely different for Sonic, an entirely new adventure to the Sonic world.

GS: How did you settle on the way players would use the controller?

YO: The Wii’s main concept is to be accessible for the whole family. With this controller, the team could have made things very complicated, but we wanted to stay on board with Nintendo’s original concept–making it easy to use for the entire family. So we settled on a simple but original use of the controller.

GS: Did you settle on the controls before or after you came up with a game premise?

YO: The game concept and story came first, then we worked on the use of the controller.

GS: Where did the inspiration for the setting and action in the Wii game come from?

YO: We had three inspirations: we wanted players to experience a new and different type of adventure; second, we wanted to revolutionize Sonic himself; and third, after playing many popular game titles, I wanted to figure what was truly fun about these games, and what about them makes them appealing. I used these ideas as the inspiration for this title.

GS: What other Sonic characters will we see in the game? Will any be playable?

YO: You’ll see some familiar characters, but in a different light. There will be new adventures of course, but Sonic will be the hero of the story.

GS: What kind of multiplayer options will the game offer?

YO: There will be multiplayer options so people can play with friends and family, but we are still investigating these options. We expect people to want to play quite a bit with their friends!

GS: What’s been the biggest challenge in developing the game?

YO: The biggest challenge is how to actually synchronize the Sonic speed with the new controller–to experience the fun and speed of Sonic utilizing an entirely new instrument, through the controller.

GS: What are your thoughts on the Wii hardware and controller now that you’ve worked on the platform?

YO: When the DS came out, players were really excited about the new style of gameplay; the Wii is the same, offering a totally new way to play games, and we are exited to use these new features in innovating Sonic. The new controller can do a lot of fun things, but for Sonic, we just want to focus on one–controlling Sonic’s speed up and down inclinations through new environments, in a manner that anyone can enjoy.

GS: Thanks for your time.

Sonic 2006

Sonic 2006 SOA page– New pictures and a suggestion of Eggmans’ demonic possession

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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.