Thursday Aug 19, 2010
Welcome to our very first Sonic 4 Update Blog: a chance for us to speak to our fans directly about the changes we’ve been making to Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I in detail, and to show you all what our teams have been working hard on these last few months. Today, we’ve got a nice list of things to kick off the series, and in the future we’ll have additional blogs with even more updates and changes.
To preface the series, I should say one thing: if you’re a hardcore fan, please try to look at these changes with an open mind and with a clear understanding that given the hundreds of requested updates in feedback, not every single request from the community can be made. I know this should sound obvious, but I think it’s an important step in perspective to understand.
Instead of thinking “I really hope they added ____“, (which will always disappoint someone, somewhere), look at the list for what it is: positive changes that we’ve made because we feel Sonic 4: Episode I is a title deserving of the love and attention its name holds. Even if your biggest request might not be part of the list, we hope everyone will still be happy to see the changes we are making, both big and small, for you guys.
So, let’s get right into it!
Update #1 – Lost Labyrinth Act II completely revamped & finalized
By far the biggest change in today’s list, Lost Labyrinth Act II has long been a huge subject of debate among fans, most notably for the Minecart mechanic which was present in one of the early designs of the level. As many of you saw in screenshots yesterday, we have some great news on this front:
We’re happy to confirm that the entire level has now been revamped and finalized for consoles, this time featuring a new torch mechanic that adds to the exploration and the platforming (Yes, Sonic is more than just speed!) of the act. Much of the act is pitch black save for the torchlight around you, and there are new parts of the environment that you can use the torch to interact with, blowing up parts of the level to make new paths, or even triggering hidden parts of the ancient ruins that can help you move forward.
So what about that minecart, then? The minecart itself is now included only at the very end of the level, and is not motion controlled. This entire act was one of the biggest and most important updates that our teams felt very strongly about, and we hope you’re all happy with our change to make the Act itself all about platforming and exploration!
Update #2 – Update to Sonic’s running poses
The second update we can confirm today is that we’ve slightly changed the way Sonic looks when he’s running, including when building up speed. You can see a little of this in some of the screenshots of Act II on the Sonic 4 website, and it’s most noticeable when you’re running at full speed. This change is a smaller one that probably only the biggest fans will take note of, but we’re happy with the new tweaks here, and we hope you guys will be too.
Update #3 – Faster transitioning to blurry feet
On the subject of running really fast, one of the other big things people noted was the speed at which Sonic would accelerate into his full run speed, trademarked by the blurry feet from the original Sonic games. In the E3 build and earlier versions of the game, triggering Sonic’s blurry feet took longer than it did in the original games, and in some cases you’d be running at near maximum speed but wouldn’t have the blur going on.
So we changed it.
Now, you’ll be able to trigger the blurry feet faster, and in a time frame more comparable to the classics. Another minor change overall, but we hope it will preserve a bit more of the traditional feel that many older fans are looking for. (The picture above isn’t the running blur, but we’ll show off what it looks like in action soon.)
Update # 4 – Balances to gameplay
We all have fond memories of the first time we died here.
Everyone loves a bit of challenge every now and then (or you should), but it’s important to make a fine distinction between challenging and frustrating. One particular part of Lost Labyrinth has been changed among our tweaks to difficulty, and the section, which was originally pretty difficult, (even I’ll admit) is now much easier. Additional changes were looked at throughout the game, but this one, for those who know what I’m talking about, is probably the best news from the bunch.
On the next update blog…
As the blog title hints, this is the only the first part in our series of blogs to detail the changes we’ve made to the game. Our next update blog will be arriving in early September, and with it we’ll have another set of updates to tell you guys about.
I’m a believer personally that sometimes even the smallest of changes can bring about great results. It’s my hope – and our hope as a team here at SEGA – that you guys are happy to hear about the updates we’re making, and also about our approach to telling you guys firsthand about what we’re doing. If so, please let us know!
If you’re happy, drop us a line in the comments below! Of course, we also really love Ice Cream too, so if you want to send that our way (or even just pictures of it), that would also make us really happy.
Either way, we’d love to hear what you guys think!
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