Looking Back: Sonic Unleashed Review (PS3/X360)

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Release Date: November 2008 (XBOX 360), December 2008 (PS3)

Happy 25th Birthday to my all-time favorite video game character, Sonic the Hedgehog.

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Coming to PS4, XB1, and PC in Spring 2017

I cannot believe that franchise has finally hit the big 25 mark, and also has a brand new console game coming called Sonic Mania, and another game that is being produced at Sonic Team right now that isn’t a mobile game.  It will be good to have Sonic coming onto the 8th generation consoles and PC, at least in my opinion.

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Before I start this review, I just would like to say all of you Sonic Haters please refrain from cringing at the sight of this game.  This game was actually the start of Sega’s big re-evolution of the Sonic brand and I have to say it isn’t that bad as people tried to bog it down as and I’m looking at IGN’s direction on that one, a 4.5 out of 10 ? whatever.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way let’s get started on the review.

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We begin our story with Sonic chasing Dr. Eggman once again through his fortress to stop the insane doctor from completing his next evil scheme to take over the world .   Eggman was putting up a valid effort in trying to stop Sonic from trying to stop him leading to Sonic having to transform into Super Sonic in order to lay the smack down on Eggman only to be tricked into the Doctor’s latest plot and the plot of the game.   He used the powers of the Chaos Emeralds to split the planet into 7 different pieces so that he could release Dark Gaia from the core of the earth and build Eggmanland.

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Sonic however manages to recover from this failure with a new ability and that is to change into a werehog at night, don’t worry though he remains his cool blue self throughout the game and he’s his normal self in the daytime.

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Sonic later meets up with an “interesting” sidekick named Chip, who is suffering from temporary amnesia after Sonic fell onto of him in the beginning of the game.  Despite how annoying Chip is in the cutscenes, he is essential in unlocking different levels in the game due to collecting Hidden Sun & Moon Medals.

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Sun and Moon Medals

The medals you collect unlock levels leading to sacred temples Sonic must use to revive the power in the chaos emeralds, cure himself of the werehog, uncover Chip’s true identity, and stomp Dr. Eggman.

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Gameplay is different this time around you will have control of Sonic as himself in the day and as the Werehog at night.  Like it or not you will have to play both sides because that’s how the game was made, after you unlock certain levels you’ll be able to alternate night and day to switch game modes.

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The werehog mode while lacking Sonic’s trademark speed makes up for it in packing a punch in ways that would make Knuckles the Echidna proud. The Werehog uses a lot of fighting tactics that you can upgrade as you play the game making him stronger each time to the point where you could finish a level without pressing so many button combinations. His arms even stretch so you can pummel robots, and Dark Gaia foes at a distance.  You will be platforming more as the werehog than you will as normal Sonic but that’s ok because platforming is the other essential part of a Sonic game anyways.

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Daytime levels are the clear winner of this game. Sonic is fast again and you can use his trademark speed via a boost courtesy of the hedgehog engine.  Unlike previous Sonic games, there’s no robots stopping your speed now because this boost creates a shield around Sonic that smashes through robots and snag nearby rings to keep Sonic’s boost power strong.  As a gift to all of us that loved the 2D style gameplay, the game alternates between 3D and 2D modes when playing as Sonic in the daytime.  I thought this was a nice touch by Sonic Team, and luckily it continued into modern releases like Sonic Colors and Generations.

Just like upgrading the werehog abilities, you can upgrade Sonic’s speed as well which helps because once you’ll max it out you’ll be racking up trophies and achievements in no time.

You’ll later unlock moves such as the Sonic Air Boost, Light-Speed Dash, and the Sonic Stomp to activate switches.

Sega also kept some replay value in the game by creating DLCs for each stage which I would advise you to buy if and only if you’re a true sonic fan or like challenges because the levels you download have spikes and speed hazards in the most ridiculous areas ever, it seems the developers love Kaizo style gameplay as much as game modders.
The game does suffer from a few problems particular in the button combinations.  Sega has often mapped a lot of Sonic’s moves to one button but this was to the point where the wrong input can lead you to death. Sometimes you can have a hard time controlling Sonic too without the boost or a steady hand and the drifting in the game can be a bit awkward until you get used to it.  The PlayStation 3 Version suffers from moments of frame rate issues which is usually far and in-between however still plays identical to the 360 version.

In a minor offense, Chip as a character in this game is a game killer for some people (Particularly Segageek) but luckily you don’t have to play as him.

I’ve enjoyed playing this game because Sonic was getting closer to leaving his rut in 2006 and staying strong as one of the finest icons in gaming history. If you are interested in this game I would say go for it, its not so bad and is worthy of carrying the Sonic name.

I give Sonic Unleashed an 8 out of 10.

(Sonic Unleashed, Sonic the Hedgehog is copyrighted by Sega)

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Looking Back: Marvel vs. Capcom 3

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While taking a break from Fridays @ J360 and testing for the new Powerplays, I took a look back at a special game from the PS3/XBox360 Era.  This was a game that people for a long time didn’t know was coming out due to a license expiration, the Marvel/EA Partnership (Rise of the Imperfects) and The Capcom/SNK Crossovers.

Neither of these things worked out in the long run, well except the SNK games (they were magnificent) but time went by with no progress on the insane crossovers of Marvel vs.Capcom.

For 10 years or so since the last Marvel vs. game, Comic and Gaming fans alike wondered when the next crossover clash of legends would come back and finally on the day after Valentine’s Day 2011 it became true. The slugfest of Wolverine and Ryu, Iron Man and Captain America, and so on.  This game was worth the 60 dollar price tag with the combat right where it should be explosive, over the top, and the characters talking smack to each other before a 3 on 3 beat down.

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The Graphics are top-notch looking almost similar to Super Street Fighter IV with the controls having two punch buttons, one kick button and one special move button.   For those new to the game it takes a bit of getting used to and for this Capcom introduced a mode called simple play where the person can use at least one of the super moves with the push of one button.   The Fighting Veterans however will be pleased with special moves such as tag aerial combos, the return of the aerial block, and of course projectile explosions occurring everywhere.

The online play of the game can be smooth like Super Street Fighter IV although there is could be a lag issue here and there.  Once you start playing you’d notice the game has a limited amount of characters ranging from 30 with 4 that need to be unlocked in contrast to where Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had 56 characters and a character unlock function that kept you replaying the game so that you could gain all of them (PS3/XBOX 360 release doesn’t have this).  I originally thought this was because there’s going to be some DLC coming our way sometime after we’re all tired of playing with the same old characters again.  I was only half right because much later we got a whole re-release with a discount price of $40.

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The biggest surprise for me was the final boss which is a nod to earlier installments when you had to fight classic Marvel threats like Apocalypse and Onslaught. You get to fight against one of the biggest threats in the Marvel Universe this time, Galactus !!!

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You’ll love fighting him as much as I did. It’s all about how you and your team can beat him to save the earth and he isn’t so easy as it sounds considering you have two heralds of his to fight before taking him on with a rigid time limit. While fighting his heralds can be a bother, in battle the world destroyer delivers a mix of cheap hits and devastating damage but when aren’t Capcom bosses capable of this?  This is where your strategy comes into play.

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In Ultimate Marvel vs.Capcom 3 you actually get to play as Galactus and must fend off against different waves of 3-man super teams before you can devour the Earth.   To be honest you’ll enjoy fighting with or as Galactus so much, you’ll forget about what Fox did to him in that horrid Fantastic 4/Silver Surfer movie.

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Cool effect, but it’s not Galactus

If there are cons to this game it would be a minor ones like sometimes certain commands don’t go as planned such as calling the wrong character into battle, or accidentally having two characters caught in the crossfire from your opponent. The controls do feel a bit simplistic than the scheme from the previous games but they can be second nature after some practice. The lag in online play with a diminished roster compared to Marvel vs. Capcom 2.  The very idea of why you would buy the re-released Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 to play as Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange, and Galactus instead of it being DLC.

Although some sources said the natural disasters that plagued Japan in 2011 had something to do with throwing off the development cycle for MVC3’s DLC.  Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t matter because you’ll be so caught up in battles you might not even care about which version you’d play.

The results were so good for MVC3 and Capcom’s fighters in general that eventually Marvel vs. Capcom 1 and Marvel Super Heroes were re-released as a port perfect HD remake on PSN and XBL as Marvel Vs. Capcom: Origins.

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Unfortunately due to another license expiration, all Marvel vs Capcom games are delisted, and physical copies are out of print so you won’t be able to download it from PSN or XBL but if you manage to find a copy of it at local GameStops, small game stores, or flea markets give it a shot, you may just love it.

While the entire series is a 10 for me, I’d rate Marvel vs Capcom 3, a 7 out of 10.

(all Marvel characters are copyrighted by Marvel, and all Capcom characters are copyrighted by Capcom)