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Old 11-22-2011, 11:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Retronauts: When Sonic Met Tails

Sonic's been racing through the brightly colored world of Mobius with Tails nipping at his heels for nearly twenty years now. Through it all, one mystery has remained... just how did he meet that little orange fox, anyway? The weekday cartoon series took a stab at an explanation, but it's a story that's never been told in any of the games. The developers at Sonic Worlds intend to rectify this oversight with the unofficial PC release "Sonic: Before the Sequel."

Before the Sequel rewinds the clock to late 1991, shortly after the events of Sonic the Hedgehog. A bright flash sends Sonic to the doorstep of Doctor Robotnik's towering Death Egg fortress, which happens to be a stone's throw from where Tails lives. After Sonic rescues the tyke from a couple of Robotnik's guards, Tails becomes infatuated with the blue blur, and begins his own quest to find him. Control switches from one character to the next after each three-stage level, a smart way to advance the narrative while keeping the action fresh.

The cut scenes that tell the story are cleverly repurposed from other Sonic games, but the actual game... well, that still needs work. It runs sluggishly on older PCs, especially during special effects like the downpour of rain in the first stage, and the stages are littered with sadistic traps guaranteed to rob you of your rings. The boss fights are borderline unsalvageable, putting the player in impossible situations and being needlessly stretched out, but... well, that could probably be said about the battles with Robotnik in the official games.

Sonic: Before the Sequel could benefit from some tweaking, but it's still an admirable effort, and may be worth a look for players who've already burned through Sega's unexpectedly brilliant Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors. If nothing else, it fills the gaps in the Sonic continuity that Sega has left agonizingly open for the last two decades. A demo is currently available from the Sonic: Before the Sequel web site, with a full release planned for the end of the year.
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