SAGE 2021: Hands-On With Sonic Red Ridge

Fan games have been at the forefront of Sonic game design experimentation for a long time, and among the most interesting concepts fan have been pursuing is the idea of combining large, open levels with lots of paths with a momentum-based movement system. Games like Sonic Utopia and Sonic GT have made stellar use of the concept, and Tigersonalex’s Sonic Red Ridge has now joined their ranks as another excellent example of the idea, albeit with its own twists that make it feel quite different.

Sonic Red Ridge’s level design, while open, is a little more rigid and linear then the aforementioned titles. Red Ridge is significantly more focused on actual platforming, with lots of areas requiring players to combine their skill with the game’s physics with platform-to-platform traversal. While in GT I was able to effortlessly improvise a path through a level, Red Ridge feels closer to an actual classic Sonic level. You have higher, more difficult paths that require more skill to reach, and then lower paths that are easier to utilize but not nearly as thrilling. Red Ridge’s demo has been a joy to play through repeatedly thanks to this design, because I feel driven to master the level, figure out how to access all the areas, and find all the level’s hidden red rings in the process. 

Red Ridge also sports an excellent movement system. Naturally, Sonic is sporting both his homing attack and double jump, which both work great. Sonic’s roll and drop dash are great for building momentum, and the bounce attack works great as both a means of getting some additional air and performing some precise platforming without losing momentum. The bounce attack can also be immediately followed up with a double jump, which lets Sonic get some additional air and traverse some of Red Ridge’s platforming challenges more quickly. One move I really appreciate is mid-air boost, which lets Sonic blast forward after a jump without homing in on anything. Definitely a welcome addition to Sonic’s moves!

Red Ridge’s visuals are pretty top-notch too. Sonic’s model looks great, and I love the look of the game’s titular “red ridges.” You’ll definitely need at least a mid-to-high range PC to run it at top settings. I played this game on both a GPD Win 3, which required me to reduce all of the settings to high and run  it windowed to avoid a weird resolution glitch, as well as on a desktop PC with two 1080tis and 16GB of RAM. The latter ran the demo flawlessly.

Sonic Red Ridge is a SAGE 2021 title well worth checking out. It’s definitely far from complete: it’s not totally polished, and I encountered some bouncy clouds that don’t appear to work yet. But on the whole, I have very few real issue. At a minimum, this demo will take up only 10 minutes of your time, so please give a go! As this is meant to be a single level experiment, there’s no guarantee this project will grow beyond this level, but either way, I look forward to whatever future Sonic projects Tigersonalex has in store!

This hands-on was based on both the Day 1 and Day 2 demos of Sonic Red Ridge. You can download the game from Sonic Fan Game HQ’s website here.

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Nuckles87 has been an editor at Sonic Stadium since 2007, and has been covering events like E3, PAX, and SDCC since 2010. An avid retro gamer, he runs a monthly stream on Twitch where he explores obscure Sonic oddities, and how aspects of the franchise have evolved over the decades.