Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sega and Nintendo Are Getting Cozy

If you've been paying attention to Wii U news at all in the last day or so, then you've seen the above screenshot.  You know what it is.  You know -why- it is.  So you know why I'm using it - not only because it's like the only damn screenshot flying around (I believe), but because it's already created a little bit of a buzz on its own merits.  For those in the dark, the above is a screenshot or concept shot of Sonic:  Lost World, the newly announced Sonic game that will launch exclusively for the Wii U and 3DS at some point in the near-to-far future.  However, what it represents is something far bigger than just one game, no matter how good or not the game itself will be.  Personally, based on Generations, I'm hedging towards "really good", but we'll just have to see on that one.

Sonic:  Lost World is the first of a three-game exclusivity deal titled as a "Worldwide Partnership" that Sega and Nintendo have decided on with regards to the Sonic franchise.  This was announced during the Nintendo Direct from the other day and, as mentioned, made something of a splash considering Lost World -seems- like it's going to be a big-deal Sonic game.  Of course, Sonic games coming out exclusively on Nintendo consoles isn't anything new - look at Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic and the Black Knight and Sonic Colors, all exclusive to the Wii, with at least Colors being fairly well-regarded.  So to find out that they're running with that (ha!) still isn't much of a surprise, even after Generations skipped the Wii (and I believe the 3DS version wasn't quite full-featured).

The second game of the three-game deal, you might be wondering?  Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games for the Wii U.  It's the fourth installment of that particular franchise that I really don't see how it has seen four iterations.  It's...probably going to release sometime around Winter.  Moving on...

Switching gears for -just- a moment, and offering a nice little segue in the process, another part of the Nintendo Direct was the announcement that the 3DS' Virtual Console is getting more classic Game Gear games.  And classic in this case actually means classic, and not 'classic'.  With just about every Sonic game that came out for the device announced - Sonic Blast, Sonic Drift 2, Sonic Labyrinth, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the tangentially related Tails Adventure - and a few other things to write home about surely - Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, Shining Force II:  The Sword of Hajya and Vampire:  Master of Darkness - it's more than a little bit of a welcome development.  Announced all at the same time, it sort of elevates it by that much more, and makes me wonder how Sega can manage to get that many games up at once (or at least lined up at once), given how....difficult it seems to be to actually populate the Virtual Console.

Getting back to that third game that was mentioned as part of the deal, you're probably wondering what it is.  Truth is, we -all- are, since it's yet-to-be-announced and is likely going to be an E3 hold-over (even though Nintendo still isn't going to have an official E3 presser, just an obvious presence).  But simple knowing that it's going to be -something-, and that it's going to involve Sonic in some fashion leaves the door wide open to a whole network of possibilities.

From my little bit of investigating and a little bit of my own thought, one prominent theory seems to be a Mario Kart/Sonic All-Stars Racing Cross-over.  Which, I personally think is rather brilliant.  For some reason, to me it's felt like the Mario Kart series has been going a little downhill, though I'm not quite sure if I base that on my own personal opinion or opinions I've gleaned from portions of the internet.  Still, regardless of quality or lack thereof, the Wii U has not yet seen a Mario Kart game and with Nintendo's pro-crossover stance (as evidenced by Pokemon X Nobunaga's Ambition, Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei, etc.) combining what are, in fact, two actual popular franchises into one with the added effect of that extra impact seems like a no-brainer.  Who -wouldn't- want to hop into a vehicle as Knuckles and Dash past Bowser, for instance?  Or, maybe even drive Luigi right past Sonic to pick up a last-moment first place?  It's definitely the thing I would expect from the last game of the deal, but we won't hear anything about it til about E3.

Now, my own personal hope would be for something a little more....inspired.  Which is a funny thing to say since my idea is basically Sonic Generations, but with Sonic -and- Mario, but, hey, Generations was pretty damn inspired, really.  Both franchises have seen shining installments in side-scrolling and fully 3D games and doing a mash-up of their various levels and styles would be something to see, especially since you have to find a happy middle ground for their clashing design philosophies.  Since Sonic is 'Gotta Go Fast', meaning he's got to have a longer track to go on than most of the classic Mario levels could offer, perhaps they could do a sort of system where all levels of a zone are connected end-to-end (as they are in the game, really) so Sonic speeds through an entire zone in a go rather than just 1-1 or 3-2.  Alternatively, having Mario bounced around by bumpers in a 3D, brightly-lit Casino-themed level from one of the Sonic installments with badass music in the background just brings some sort of sensation of joy to my brain and I'm not sure why.

If nothing else, that just goes to show just how open speculation can be on this sort of thing since details are very very sparse and we're just given a few things that are, likely just meant to inspire certain avenues of thought.  I know people are already thinking Lost World might be in the vein of a Mario Galaxy-type game because of the look of that single screenshot and Nintendo's involvement, and hell, that might actually be a good idea.  And even if the third game is 'just' a Mario Kart/Sonic All-Stars Racing Cross-Over, well, that's not a bad deal at all.  Of course, the game doesn't -have- to involve Mario at all, but it would seem a bit silly to announce two Sonic games...roughly at the same time, which is what they'd do, so unless he's partnering up with a different character (which isn't a bad thought), then look for -some- sort of Mario involvement.  Just one more reason to eagerly await E3, I suppose.

Sega also announced Yakuza 1&2 HD for the Wii U in Japan only and I couldn't think of a way to integrate that since it means nothing for North America, goddamnit Sega

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