As we continue to show some of THE BEST Saturday morning cartoons….Today we feature the 80’s…How many do you remember????? Enjoy!!
A huge bombshell just got dropped for Sonic Mania! We got a brand new trailer showing off the brand new Special Stages, as well as the Special Stages from Sonic 3 & Knuckles making a comeback! Not only did we get this, we also got a glimpse of Studiopolis Zone Act 2 and a brand new mode being the Time Attack mode! All of this and more is discussed in this video today! Sonic Mania releases on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on August 15th!
Featured above, you can hit play to listen to the new track for Stardust Speedway Act 1, and in the worlds of the immortal Pablo Francisco, man is it sexy and smooth. It might even be mellow enough to make sweet, sweet love to.
Here’s a brief description of the track (as well as some hints for the level itself), via Sega:
Relax to the mellow funks of the past as Sonic and friends return to Little Planet’s firefly-lit marble cityscape. But things aren’t so simple as fauna has grown rather lush.
Sonic Mania is launching across for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch on August 15th.
The Sonic Mania Comic Con panel has come and gone, with it we got news regarding lots of things Sonic Mania related (which will be covered in tomorrow’s video) but we also got to see a Sonic Mania’s instruction manual in the form of a promotional item that was given away at the event. On this episode of the SEGA News Bits we look through some of the pages of the Sonic Mania instruction manual, talk about concept art for a never before seen Sonic Mania stage and cry that we didn’t get a manual for our personal collection. In the comments below let us know what you think of the Sonic Mania instruction manual and should there be a physical release for this game already? Feels like Sonic Mania has everything released physically besides the actual game, right?
First up we got some behind the scenes info. In early development the game was called Sonic Discovery, but it was only after the game was pitched to Sonic Team’s head Takashi Iizuka that the game was rechristened Sonic Mania. The early build the team pitched was also noteworthy for featuring a fully playable Studiopolis Zone.
We also get confirmation about the game’s story, which will be told through sprite-based cutscenes much like Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Early drafts featured Dr. Eggman retiring and his robots forming their own gang, the Hard Boiled Heavies. These villains got their own theme a few days ago, so while the story won’t be quite the same, they’ll still be a factor.
Attendees got a closer peek into the game’s narrative and characters thanks to a manual that was distributed to the audience. Give it a look
Mania will also be getting a fully animated intro courtesy of Tyson Hesse, who worked on the adorable animations seen in the pre-order trailer. This will be uploaded the day before release on August 14th if you can’t wait to see it in-game.
The most significant announcement, however, was of the game’s special stages, which look to take a page from Sonic CD’s, with Sonic chasing after a UFO.
The Tee Lopes-composed special stage music was also unveiled at the panel, and thankfully it was uploaded to YouTube earlier today. Check it out:
Sonic Mania launches August 15th for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC. We’ll be sure to bring more on the retro throwback as we approach release!
During E3 2017, Atari posted an interesting 21-second teaser called AtariBox. In short visual stabs, it shows what appears to be a redesigned Atari 2600 console. Atari CEO Fred Chesnais confirmed that the AtariBox was indeed real, and that the company was back in the hardware business.
Naturally, that generated a lot of buzz. But before you get too excited at Atari’s possible return to the console wars, you should consider where the company is now, where it plans to go, and what Fred Chesnais has publicly stated since he rescued the company from bankruptcy protection in 2013. What you’ll find is that a full-fledged console likely isn’t on the Atari menu.
Atari, the software company
Today, Atari makes its money as a game publisher. It serves up games for Android and iOS such as RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch, Atari Vault, Centipede: Origins, and many more. The company also provides an “online arcade” where fans can play Flash-based versions of Centipede, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Pong, Yars’ Revenge, and more, within a web browser.
Atari also serves up older console and PC games such as Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, Blood, and the RollerCoaster Tycoon series. Atari is even rebooting its popular franchises, publishing reimagined versions of Asteroids, Yars’ Revenge, and Haunted House.
Classic games optimized by Atari for a game-optimized smartwatch doesn’t seem far-fetched at all.
Atari does make money from games, and it even generates cash with lucrative licensing of its brand to Hollywood. Yet that doesn’t mean Atari is able to make the huge investment required to compete with Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Sony and Microsoft often lose money with each console sold, and make up for that loss through software sales. Based on Atari’s current software portfolio, it doesn’t appear to have the cash to do that.
Chesnais said, in 2015, that the company has no plans to build a new console. Instead, Chesnais indicated his interest in producing an Atari-branded smartwatch capable of playing games. That’s totally feasible, as smartwatches on the market today can play clones of Asteroids, Galaxia, Brick Breaker, and Pong. Classic games optimized by Atari for a game-optimized smartwatch doesn’t seem far-fetched at all.
What would a new Atari look like?
What, then, is the AtariBox? In 2014, Chesnais said that Atari was contemplating a replica of the Atari 2600. The comment seemingly points to a device like what Nintendo produced during the 2016 holiday season — the NES Classic Edition console. It’s a miniature version of Nintendo’s very first home console packed with 30 games, HDMI connectivity, and the ability to save progress.
The NES Classic Edition had classic games you can’t purchase to play on other hardware, however. That’s not the case for Atari, which has frequently made its classics available on various platforms, so if the company is indeed taking that route, it will need something to get gamers excited. One possibility is an AtariBox that plays not just Atari 2600 games, but also made for the 5200, 7800, and Jaguar consoles — and maybe even the Atari Lynx handheld system, too.
Chesnais’ said in an interview that AtariBox will rely on PC technology, which is what started the excitement. That’s a very vague description, and could be a play on words to generate buzz. Both Microsoft and Sony ditched proprietary processors in their latest consoles, and went with AMD-based processor and graphics technology used in PCs for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.
To some degree, Nintendo’s Switch console is based on PC technology, too. Unlike the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the Switch is based on a variant of a mobile all-in-one “Tegra” chip designed by PC graphics card provider Nvidia. It contains processor cores based on the ARM mobile CPU architecture, which mainly powers smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. But Nvidia’s chip also includes graphics cores based on Nvidia’s “Maxwell” design for PC-based graphics cards. In a sense, then, it could be called “PC technology.”
If Atari chose to rely on Nvidia’s Tegra mobile chip, then the AtariBox could be a themed, Atari-branded variant of the Shield TV set-top-box. But right now, Atari’s Android-based portfolio on Google Play is limited to six games including Atari Greatest Hits, Centipede Origins, and RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic. A lot of work might be involved on porting the games to Android-compatible versions. And an Android TV-based console feels unlikely given how the highly-anticipated Ouya’s success panned out.
Another unlikely route for Atari is a branded PC. The video teased by Atari hints at 2600-like surfaces that could be applied to a console-shaped PC like Dell’s Alienware Alpha, which has a starting price of $550. The AtariBox could even be a themed, branded miniature PC from Zotac or Gigabyte. After all, the company does license out its brand. We don’t think that’d be a great idea, however. Even Valve Software’s own highly-popular Steam brand had difficulty selling PC gaming machines under the company’s Steam Machine initiative. Atari wouldn’t stand a chance.
If the AtariBox isn’t an Xbox One competitor, an Android-based set-top-box, or a branded desktop PC, what is it? Our best guess is a device capable of PC-based software emulation.
PC technology, retro fun
Right now, all signs seemingly point to an Atari 2600 revamp with digital output, internal storage, and pre-installed Atari 2600 games. But if the AtariBox isn’t a straight-up copycat of Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition and SNES Classic Edition consoles, we could be looking at a device capable of playing the company’s PC games along with its limited Android library through emulation. The software would presumably be sold and maintained through a built-in Atari Play marketplace.
Right now, all signs seemingly point to an Atari 2600 revamp with digital output.
But that PC-based design would also mean the device would need to rely on a version of the free, open-source Linux operating system to keep the overall console cost down. However, based on what’s available through Steam right now, only a dozen Atari-published titles are compatible with the Linux platform.
What about input? If the AtariBox is indeed a remake of the 2600 model, expect identical joysticks connecting through a USB port instead of the previous 9-pin input. Of course, Atari could opt to throw in standard gamepads instead, but that would break the retro feel. Having full USB ports would mean gamers could purchase third-party controllers that can be used both on the AtariBox and PCs.
Despite all the recent buzz, Chesnais said Atari was still working on the design, so we may not see what Atari is up to for quite a while… if at all. Until then, we can only speculate that the AtariBox is a small Atari 2600 clone with updated components. Frankly, the fact so many of potential AtariBox ideas lead to a dead end, makes us think the concept isn’t as promising as it seems – until we learn more details, at least.
Two Sonic games are coming out this year. Sonic Forces is a modern game, with a large cast of woodland creatures that look like no living thing and many 3D sections. Sonic Mania, though, is an homage to the early ‘90s 2D platformers that made the blue hedgehog a legend, and if it’s received well, it might have a bigger impact than you’d think.
column spoke with the boss of Sonic Team, Takashi Iizuka, about the two different approaches on each game. It’s been a while since an exclusively 2D Sonic was made – and he’s uncertain about the reception. Yet, if things go well, it seems Mania could affect the entire course of the franchise:
“For Mania it’s kind of like a new approach – to target specifically 2D fans,” he says. “So we don’t know whether it’ll be accepted positively in the market. We’ll find out after the game’s released, and we can figure out the direction of future titles after seeing the reaction.”
That’s slightly surprising, as Mania is made by an indie team plucked from the Sonic fan community. You’d be called cynical, but probably forgiven, if you assumed that the Sonic Team view it as a sop to the old-school fans while they get on with another flashy 3D title. Not so, apparently, and that’s encouraging.
You can read Metro’s preview in full here – it’s a fun read with lots of other details, and well worth a look.
Yesterday, Nintendo surprised fans with the SNES Classic, a mini console that bundles together 21 of the best classic games from the company’s 16-bit console in one tiny package. But perhaps no one was more surprised than veteran game creator Dylan Cuthbert, who learned the gadget would include one additional surprise: his long-canceled game, Star Fox 2. Yesterday evening, Cuthbert and several members of the original Star Fox 2 team went out to have a much-belated launch party for a game they’d made two decades earlier.
Star Fox 2 was a sequel the 1993 original, which saw Nintendo branch out in a new direction with a sci-fi-themed rail shooter on the SNES. In the game, Fox McCloud and a team of anthropomorphic animals / pilots defend their home planet from powerful alien invaders. The game let players pilot an angular craft called the Arwing, as they battled robots, alien creatures, and spaceships through expansive levels.
Star Fox was also one of the most technically impressive SNES games. By utilizing a new graphics processor called the Super FX, the team behind the original Star Fox were able to squeeze 3D graphics onto a console built for 2D games. Star Fox was the first Nintendo game to use polygonal graphics, setting in motion the company’s trend from 2D to 3D gaming. A big reason for that accomplishment was the technical wizardry of Cuthbert and his team at British developer Argonaut Software, who worked with Nintendo on the game.
Star Fox 2
When it came time to create a sequel, the team similarly wanted to make something that would wow players on a technical level. They set to work on not only designing a new game, but also developing a new version of the Super FX chip that would offer twice the memory and significantly faster processing. They experimented with all kinds of ideas, including the ability to pilot your ship using a full 360-degree range of motion. Cuthbert says that he rebuilt the original Star Fox engine “considerably” to fit all of these new ideas and gameplay features.
The game wasn’t merely a prototype; it was completed. The press was even shown demos at CES in 1995. But Star Fox 2 took a long time to develop — so long that the final product showed its age as new, more powerful platforms like the original Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn were released.
“The release [of Star Fox 2] got set back about a year or so, and half a year later, the Nintendo 64 system was due to come out, so we thought, ‘Is it too late to ask people to shell out for this?’” Nintendo design luminary Shigeru Miyamoto explained in an interview with the late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. “And other companies’ game consoles were using polygons all over the place, so we didn’t think we could catch up even if we stuck this expensive chip in the cartridge, so we rethought it.”
The decision was made to cancel Star Fox 2, though many of its ideas — like 360-degree flying and the introduction of a tank vehicle — made their way into Star Fox 64, which was released in 1997. “We wanted to use that structure from Star Fox 2 to make scenes with a stronger sci-fi bent, and we wanted to make the Arwing feel more comfortable to fly,” Miyamoto explained. When former Nintendo programmer Kazuaki Morita started experimenting with the N64, Miyamoto realized it was the right platform for these ideas. “When I saw those, I thought, ‘Ah, now we can make it like a science fiction film!’” he explained.
Cuthbert, meanwhile, went on to found Kyoto-based studio Q-Games, best known for the “Pixeljunk” series of experimental games. Years later, Cuthbert would return to Star Fox when Q partnered with Nintendo to create a remake of Star Fox 64 on the Nintendo 3DS. “The idea was to faithfully recreate the contents of Star Fox 64,” Cuthbert, who served as director on the project, explained during the same interview with Iwata. He described the 3DS version as “a rebirth.”
Having moved on to new companies and projects, Cuthbert and the original Star Fox 2 development team aren’t directly involved with the release on the SNES Classic — which explains his surprise at yesterday’s announcement. “I wonder if this is a first?” Cuthbert wrote on Twitter. “We mastered Star Fox 2  years ago and it’s finally getting a release. Guinness World record?”