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SAGE 2023 - Demo Sonic & Blaze SAGE 2023

General Information

Sonic & Blaze returns for SAGE 2023! Along with improved controls, better performance, and improved visuals, this demo also has a save system implemented as well as an overhauled hub world made to help players get accustomed to the speed of the game. There's also a very Super surprise for players with the Burning urge to collect all 50 red rings in the demo...

Characters
You can swap between Sonic and Blaze at any time in the hub world. They play mostly identical but there are some key differences:
  • Sonic in general moves faster. His acceleration is better, his top speed is higher, and he has the air dash to quickly launch himself forward at high speed. Combined with his longer range Homing Attack, he's much quicker at chaining actions together than Blaze.
  • Blaze, in tradeoff for being a bit slower, gets much stronger platforming abilities. Her jump is higher and she can hover indefinitely, so she's the best if you want more ease with platforming.


Zones

Blue Coast
Returning from SAGE 2022 is Blue Coast Zone, now with all 3 acts and various adjustments to level design and a lot of bug fixes. Hope you like water levels because you'll be spending a lot of time under the sea here.
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Metro Heights
Technically making a return from SAGE 2021 (where it was originally Magmopolis) is Metro Heights, a city level inspired by Skyscraper Scamper and Speed Highway. Just like with city levels in general, speedy setpieces are the focus here with platforming taking a back seat.
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NOTE: in Metro Heights Act 1, the stop signs will cut off your boost, you need to trigger the boost again to get more height from the dash ramps.

Controls
Gameplay
Left/Right Arrow keys - Move, Change direction
Space Bar - Action (Jump, Homing Attack, Air Dash, Spin Dash, Hover, Shield Action)
X key - Boost (Air dash/Hover when boost gauge is empty)
C key - Action 2 (Stomp, Roll/Spin Cancel, Get Off Orca)
Z key - Special (Lightspeed Dash, Trick Finish)
Up/Down Arrow keys - Quick Step Up/Down, Perform Tricks, Move (Wall running only), Control Orca
Down Arrow key - Roll/Spin
Enter key - Pause
Z key - Character swap (Hub World only)

Menu
Up/Down Arrow keys - Select option
Enter key - Confirm option
X key - Return to previous menu
F key - Toggle fullscreen

Controller Support not available, still WIP :-(

If you run into any bugs, crashes, and/or glitches, contact me through Discord, username arcanalune. If possible, send me a copy of the game_errors txt file if there is one.

Latest reviews

Really enjoyed it, here are some thoughts:
  • Controls and gamefeel have been greatly improved from last year and I think the physics are very accurate to Rush now. Feels right to me.
  • Grindrails, trick ramps, the boost's visual design (with the trail behind Sonic/Blaze) and the Unleashed speed meter on the right of the screen are all great ideas that hugely enhance the "cool factor" of the gameplay. Not to mention the trick combo meter which once again is a fantastic idea that adds to the chain style gameplay. I replayed levels multiple times trying to keep my combo chain going. I love games with features like these implemented. These were all genius additions.
  • Homing attack range and speed are both perfect and work perfectly too.
  • Sonic and Blaze's movesets have also been expanded from memory and I like how you've replicated their Rush movement styles.
  • The sound effects like the grind rail SFX, walking SFX, music changes when going underwater and Sonic/Blaze's voice clips all help to make the game feel like a real breathing world and I really appreciate what may seem like small details like that. They have a huge impact on creating a great experience.
  • I love the Rush inspired level intro title cards, very nice touch that adds a lot of personality
  • Menu theme song still goes insanely hard
  • That fish chase scene in level 2 makes you feel so cool. Same for Metro Heights levels 1, 2 and 3 (love the night theme!) and the world map where you run on the side of the skyscrapers.
  • The little Unleashed inspired boss sections are a clever addition to mix up the gameplay and keep you on your feet.
  • The moving background when underwater which indicates how deep Sonic/Blaze are is a really really nice touch.
  • In terms of what can be added, I think a good alteration to the moveset would be to make the stomp come to a complete stop upon holding down instead of sideways. Atm in gameplay I've found pressing down leads you into a dropdash. I like the dropdash but I thought maybe it makes more sense holding sideways. Another idea of mine was increasing the speed of the spindash as well by a little since atm it's a bit on the slower side. Maybe could be inspired by Advance and Rush's spindash speeds or the dropdash speed in this game. Continuing the level design that prioritises flow like you already have done is a great idea too. The option for control remapping would also be nice as well. I imagine you're already aware of all of these things that I've mentioned.
I really like this game and I can tell you've put a lot of passion into your work. I really enjoy how the levels play with the flow of gameplay, speed and momentum as well as that reaction based gameplay that makes boost style games so engaging. Keep the amazing work up, I really enjoyed it and you've got a very fun game on your hands. This game is one of my highlights of SAGE. Will continue to keep an eye on this game!
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I've been watching the development of this game for a while.
It has a familiar feel to it and I like that a lot. It personally reminds me a lot of elements from my own Sonic fan projects like Sonic Reloaded, and Sonic Rush Adventure X from years ago but fleshed out with your own flair. Now on to the review!

The hub world seemed a little confusing at first, but it's not a huge deal as you can get to where you need to go fairly easily. There's a spot on one of the buildings that if you're sent backwards on to some dash pads you will get soft locked. (Nothing a restart won't fix.)

Blue Coast Zone does a nice job of showing you what to expect, I love the chase sequence with the giant chopper.
The under water section with the orca could use some work as the animation for the direction you're facing constantly resets making the movement feel a little awkward but eventually I was able to navigate with no problem. With how fast you're meant to go these three acts feel nice to traverse and don't overstay their welcome.

The level art in some places could use some work, when you're underwater I feel like having a background change would be nice because it's a little jarring to see the same above ground background while underwater.

Metro Heights Zone. Now the first act was FUN! (and I'm not saying that because I S ranked it on my first try.)
I loved the gimmicks used here, they all had a nice flow to it which made the level really fun to play.
The first jump was a little punishing if you don't homing attack the first badnik right away, but by the time you get here the controls should be familiar to me. I think moving it over just a little bit would make it feel a little bit more fair. But that's just my suggestion. The motobug bikers were pretty cool, it's definitely giving that motobug quickstep challenge from Sonic Colors!

My only issue with this zone is that sometimes there are spots where you have to be boosting when touching a jump ramp to reach a higher path but the boost always seems to cut out just before hitting the ramp causing me to backtrack to try it again.
Act 2 and 3 are pretty challenging, there were a couple of spots I didn't expect a bottomless pit to be but overall I felt it was rather decent.

Then again I only played this demo fully as Sonic. I did try Blaze for a bit. I feel like she could benefit from alternate level designs. Give her something that suits her style rather than just being the same as Sonic. Like how Sonic 3 does this with Knuckles or Tails. (Though this isn't a big deal because the option to play as Blaze is cool enough already!)

I wanna give this game a 3.5/5 but I'll give it a 4. Room for improvement but a pretty nice experience overall.


TLDR; Fun 2D Boost Formula gameplay with lots of gimmicks that don't take too much away from the gameplay experience.
Some sequences can break with one resulting in a soft lock (ESPECIALLY in the hubworld.). Artwork and level design could use some work. With some more polish and gameplay fixes I feel like this can be rock solid 2D Boost game! Lots of improvement to be made but what you've shown here is pretty rad!
arcanalune
arcanalune
Thank you so much and I'm glad you enjoyed the demo! It's funny that it reminds you of your own projects when they were my main source of inspiration for starting this fangame, so the fact that its you reviewing made me so happy.

The hub world softlock is one I'm aware of and the dashpad there was intended to act as a bandaid fix until I could figure out what was causing it, sucks that its still easy to trigger.

Glad to know Blue Coast came off how I wanted, I was iffy on how long each of the acts were but decided it was the best way to ease players into how the game would play. As for Act 3, I do need to add a real underwater bg, seeing the normal bg underwater bothers me too. And I'll work on the orca animation too, readability is important.
arcanalune
arcanalune
I was hoping Metro Heights Act 1 would be fun, I really enjoyed making it. The part with the ramps I've been getting some feedback on, the intention was that the stop signs there would cut off your boost and you'd have to quickly boost again to keep up the flow, but I didn't communicate that at all which is pretty bad. I'll probs remove it for this demo and add a hint system later. As for Act 2 and 3, I'll go over them, unexpected death pits are never fun.

As for Blaze, I actually do have some levels with Sonic and Blaze unique routes, but I didn't feature them in the demo since they still need a lot of polish. I was originally going to just give them identical layouts, but after making a level with fire hazards decided each would get unique routes in some stages. That's the only reason the zones in the demo are the same for both characters, they were made before I decided that and it'd be awkward trying to add in new routes now.
arcanalune
arcanalune
And as for the visuals, I already started changing some in the later zones, and I'll likely go back to work on Metro Heights' sprites as well as give Blue Coast more touch ups.

Again, thanks so much for leaving a review and really happy you enjoyed it!

(Apparently there is a 1000 character limit???? So I had to break it up)

Comments

Game freezes on the "SEGA" screen. Not sure what I'm doing wrong no other game does this here at sage. Re-installs, run as admin, etc. (usual fixes) don't help it always freezes on the same screen.
 
Game freezes on the "SEGA" screen. Not sure what I'm doing wrong no other game does this here at sage. Re-installs, run as admin, etc. (usual fixes) don't help it always freezes on the same screen.
Hit Enter to progress, gonna update the file to fix that goof
 
Sorry if I'm just missing it, but where's the download? It's not in the sidebar like with most of the other projects, and I scoured the overview but couldn't find a link or instructions.
 
Sorry if I'm just missing it, but where's the download? It's not in the sidebar like with most of the other projects, and I scoured the overview but couldn't find a link or instructions.
I have no idea, I'll need to get in contact with someone about that. It should be on the side bar like every other booth page so I dunno what's going on.
 
Hey arcanalune I can't see the download either?
EDIT: nvm I saw your response to the other person, will check back later. Excited to try your game after playing it last year!
 
Hey arcanalune I can't see the download either?
EDIT: nvm I saw your response to the other person, will check back later. Excited to try your game after playing it last year!
I have an extremely old version up at the moment but if you want to wait about 3 more hours I can have the newest version uploaded.
 
Sorry if I'm just missing it, but where's the download? It's not in the sidebar like with most of the other projects, and I scoured the overview but couldn't find a link or instructions.
Ok so I have an extremely old version up at the moment but if you want to wait about 3 more hours I can have the newest version uploaded by then
 
Honestly, really fun. Still needs some tweaking on the physics as I think Sonic & Blaze can feel slippery when trying to stop & DEFINITELY needs better warnings for pits/tells when to jump for secrets as I often only saw them when I boosted past them.

The level design itself was pretty good, Sonic & Blaze were a blast to control. Overall, just very good & I'm excited to see more.

Also, for anyone wanting to use a Controller: Add the game to Steam & then edit your Layout to look like this. Worked great for me!
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Honestly, really fun. Still needs some tweaking on the physics as I think Sonic & Blaze can feel slippery when trying to stop & DEFINITELY needs better warnings for pits/tells when to jump for secrets as I often only saw them when I boosted past them.

The level design itself was pretty good, Sonic & Blaze were a blast to control. Overall, just very good & I'm excited to see more.

Also, for anyone wanting to use a Controller: Add the game to Steam & then edit your Layout to look like this. Worked great for me!View attachment 26391
Thanks for playing and glad you had fun. Better warnings for death pits is part of my current to-do list actually, especially since I've got controller support working now (funny I only figured it out after SAGE started) so I can add in button prompts too. I'll definitely do some level design tweaking so players don't have to blindly jump as much to find secret stuff.

The physics are my archnemesis at this point, I've been constantly tweaking them for 2 years now and can never find that perfect balance. I'll keep trying though, I'll get it one day...
 
Thanks for playing and glad you had fun. Better warnings for death pits is part of my current to-do list actually, especially since I've got controller support working now (funny I only figured it out after SAGE started) so I can add in button prompts too. I'll definitely do some level design tweaking so players don't have to blindly jump as much to find secret stuff.

The physics are my archnemesis at this point, I've been constantly tweaking them for 2 years now and can never find that perfect balance. I'll keep trying though, I'll get it one day...
It should be worth noting that your physics aren't terrible, its just that when it comes to Sonic Games if it doesn't feel /PERFECT/ (atleast in terms of the type of game it is) then it feels off in my experience playing the games. It feels like its really just needs that extreme fine-tuning that can be meticulous, which is alot better than some fangames even released!

The work that's been put in definitely shows, though. I wish you the best of luck with the rest of development!
 
Alrighty, the download is here now, so I played it a bit. The game generally feels good to play, the level design is nice, and I like the differences between Sonic and Blaze. I loved how the end of one level transitioned into the next. The hub world is pretty cool, and I like how you translated a lot of 3D level mechanics into 2D.

However, there were a few things I found iffy. Boosting is way too fast to react to anything, but the way the levels are designed and the copious amount of boost you earn make it feel like you're expected to boost all the time. Normal running speed also feels a bit slow, so you have this conundrum where not boosting doesn't feel fast enough but boosting feels too fast. It's also a bit jarring that letting go of the boost button immediately slows you down to normal running speed. I would expect to retain some amount of momentum when ending boost.

I also found there to be some weird control decisions. I always wanted to press the jump key to move on past the results screen, but only enter works for some reason. During the sky diving sections, jump is pretty much the exact opposite button I would expect to make me fall faster. The boost or stomp key would be a much more intuitive place for that. Then, when doing tricks, I found it much more effective to just spam a single direction than to vary the directions I pressed, which is opposite of what I would expect.

As far as level design, the hub, while neat, feels really empty. It's so big, yet there's barely anything in it, which makes the size feel a bit pointless. Also, I really don't understand the stop signs in Metro Heights. They don't really make sense (are Sonic and Blaze just voluntarily stopping their boost while passing it?), and their function seems to be purely to annoy the player. And placing them right before basically every ramp that wanted you to boost just feels mean-spirited. They aren't fun obstacles to surpass, they're just tedious annoyances. The fact you felt the need to put a note about specifically them in the overview should tell you they probably need either a rework or to be removed entirely.

You've got a pretty fun Rush successor here, but there are just a few kinks you need to work out.
 
Alrighty, the download is here now, so I played it a bit. The game generally feels good to play, the level design is nice, and I like the differences between Sonic and Blaze. I loved how the end of one level transitioned into the next. The hub world is pretty cool, and I like how you translated a lot of 3D level mechanics into 2D.

However, there were a few things I found iffy. Boosting is way too fast to react to anything, but the way the levels are designed and the copious amount of boost you earn make it feel like you're expected to boost all the time. Normal running speed also feels a bit slow, so you have this conundrum where not boosting doesn't feel fast enough but boosting feels too fast. It's also a bit jarring that letting go of the boost button immediately slows you down to normal running speed. I would expect to retain some amount of momentum when ending boost.

I also found there to be some weird control decisions. I always wanted to press the jump key to move on past the results screen, but only enter works for some reason. During the sky diving sections, jump is pretty much the exact opposite button I would expect to make me fall faster. The boost or stomp key would be a much more intuitive place for that. Then, when doing tricks, I found it much more effective to just spam a single direction than to vary the directions I pressed, which is opposite of what I would expect.

As far as level design, the hub, while neat, feels really empty. It's so big, yet there's barely anything in it, which makes the size feel a bit pointless. Also, I really don't understand the stop signs in Metro Heights. They don't really make sense (are Sonic and Blaze just voluntarily stopping their boost while passing it?), and their function seems to be purely to annoy the player. And placing them right before basically every ramp that wanted you to boost just feels mean-spirited. They aren't fun obstacles to surpass, they're just tedious annoyances. The fact you felt the need to put a note about specifically them in the overview should tell you they probably need either a rework or to be removed entirely.

You've got a pretty fun Rush successor here, but there are just a few kinks you need to work out.
Yeaaaaah I think I'll likely just end up ditching the stop signs all together, the fact I had to add that in the overview in the first place is a pretty big red flag lol.

The hub was super rushed and tbh I'm probably gonna scrap it and make another one or just not do a hub world at all. Main reason it exists is for people to get used to the controls but with all the changes and additions I have planned for the controls, I won't need that anymore

Speaking of controls, funny enough a lot of the stuff you brought up made using a controller really annoying when I finally figured out controller support, so that'll change for sure. As for the running/boost speeds, I doubt I'll slow the boost down since at this point I've designed too much of the game around the boost being that fast. I could probably reduce the acceleration and base speed of the boost maybe? I can def do something about the running speed though, I've been constantly changing it for the past year trying out different speeds, the SAGE demo just so happened to catch it in the period I was testing out slower values.

Anyways Thanks for playing and glad you liked it, really happy people are enjoying it
 
I really do not understand the intended gameplay. If you go slow, then ramps plain don't work. If you boost, you literally can't see any sings the stage presents unless it's big orange "sonic will die" one. Therefore both end up unpleasant. Doesn't help that jump and turning are very slow and floaty even compared to modern games, and especially compared to Rush. People love generations and Colors because, unlike Unleashed, the first experience of the stages is still fun and smooth. The fact that 2D sections in those games are A LOT slower probably helps.
Also being in post homing attack state doesn't hurt enemies? this is just a weird decision.
 

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