This latest one, though, is a fan-made Sonic title that stands a better chance of avoiding lawsuits. And goodness, it had better! From a small team comprised of Murasaki, The Great Lange, Tpot and Pixy, Sonic Utopia is an open-world 3D Sonic title that takes what made the series great to begin with and puts it in 3D.
Having taken the demo for a spin, I have to say, this is one you're going to want to keep an eye on.
Running Around As Sonic Feels Exactly Like You'd Expect
This is one of my favorite parts of Sonic Utopia right now: Rolling around (at the speed of sound) on an open map that features twist, turns, and loops iconic to the Sonic franchise. Oh, and of course there are rings a-plenty to collect.
Other than that, it's hard to really put into words just how much the team behind Sonic Utopia has nailed the feel of running around as the speedy blue hedgehog. This is definitely aided by the openness of the demo.
You're given plenty of space to run around and get caught up in just how fast you're moving, but you're also given specific stretches of land clearly designed to be run on. Falling off of these only emphasizes how uncontrollable Sonic can be; staying on them from start to finish emphasizes how great it feels to nail that long-term run session without hitting any speed bumps.
It Feels Like It Could Be The 'Mario 64' Of Sonic Games
Admittedly, when I first saw that e was going to be a thing, I was curious how exactly you could translate a primarily 2-dimensional franchise into 3D. That's not to say Sonic games haven't tried (with varying success), but it's still a valid concern.
Then I remembered that Mario 64 accomplished that exact feat — with astounding success, I might add. Before even firing up the demo, this was the comparison I had in mind, and I was happy to see it was an apt one upon playing.
Granted, because it's a demo, it's somewhat bare bones. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have enough there to leave an impression. Where Mario 64 translated and expanded upon the jumping, stomping, and invincible-star-running of the previous titles, Sonic Utopia does the exact same thing with everything players love about the original Sonic titles.
Sonic Utopia feels exactly how you'd expect a Sonic game to feel in 3D. It doesn't try to add so many innovations that it becomes a different game with the Sonic name; it takes what made Sonic great and expands upon it beautifully.
The Art Style Is Perfect For Long-Time Sonic Fans
Speaking of expanding on what made the original titles wonderful, Sonic Utopia (as you may have noticed) utilizes an art style that is very much "the original games but in 3D." This might not work for everyone, but I absolutely love it.
Not only does it help give players a feeling for what those classic zones might have looked like in 3D, it also helps to emphasize what the game is all about: "[Expanding] on Sonic gameplay in an intuitive way in 3D, but also [aiming] to capture the best of Sonic's style and tie it together in a cohesive experience."
It's a really great design touch that I hope to see the creators continue utilizing in future levels. Plus, it's guaranteed to win over anyone who's in love with the classic Sonic titles.
Sadly, It's Far From Being Released
The above reveal trailer only went out yesterday, but it's noted in the description that the game is "still in a very raw state." With that in mind, there are a few things I think the final version of the game could use to make it everything we've all hoped for:
- Better camera controls. Right now, the camera adjusts itself, and that can happen far too slowly at times. Plus, it means you can never change the camera manually. Going back to the Mario 64 comparison, something like that game had would work just fine here.
- Specific goals for each level. Okay, this might be a no-brainer, but the Green Hill Zone demo doesn't really provide direction. It's fine that it lets you explore the zone in 3D (and it would be bad if it didn't), but I wouldn't mind set goals. Not to harp on the same thing, but a Mario 64-style set of goals for each level would go a long way.
- A release date. Haha but no, really, I want this game to be done right now.
Sonic Utopia is already a solid (and very fun) demo that somehow manages to nail the look and feel of a Sonic game while also being open-world. With a few tweaks and a full set of levels, the game will be a must-have for anyone even slightly interested in Sonic. If you want to give the demo a spin, you can download it from the links in the Sonic Utopia video's description on YouTube.
What kinds of things would you like to see in the final version of the game?