Hands-On: Sonic Wild Fire
Sonic goes Wii and so do we after hands-on with Sonic Wild Fire. Exclusive screengrabs and videos inside.
Update August 1, 2006: New Screens Added
When Sega first unveiled next-generation Sonic for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, some were left wondering, what about Nintendo? Cause let's face it, Nintendo's userbase has probably been the most receptive to Sonic since Sega went thirdparty, with the GameCube versions of Sonic Team's offerings pulling in some impressive numbers compared to the competition. So with that, it was hard to imagine Sega overlooking what appeared to be their most profitable userbase where Sonic games are concerned.
Fortunately the Wii hasn't been forgotten and is actually getting its own exclusive next-gen Sonic game, Sonic Wild Fire. In Sonic Wild Fire, players will once again take control of Sega's speedy little hedgehog and, utilizing the unique features of the Nintendo Wii controller, help guide him towards a wild new adventure based on the classic Arabian Nights story. After pages from the classic storybook mysteriously vanish, Sonic sets out on an all-new adventure to reclaim the lost pages.
Sonic Wild Fire is an interesting departure from the deluge of Sonic titles that have been released during the course of the current generation. For one thing, Sonic Wild Fire will be all about Sonic, a scenario that hasn't really existed since the release of the original 16-bit classic 15 years ago. While Sonic Wild Fire is set to be Sonic's first true blue solo adventure since that time, and as a result won't have to share the spotlight with any other characters this time around, Sega has stated that a few familiar faces will make an appearance in one form or another.
But aside from Sonic's solo status in his Wii debut, the most unique aspect of Sonic Wild Fire will undoubtedly be how the game takes advantage of the unique motion sensor features of the Nintendo Wii controller, adding a new dimension to the high-speed gameplay that Sonic games are known for.
While Sonic Wild Fire was on display at this year's E3, its presence on the show floor (in playable form) was limited to the Nintendo booth, which we must say was a nightmare to infiltrate after the first day of the show when media had the advantage of early entry onto the show floor [we also had evening access until 9pm, where the hell were you Joe :P - Ad]. Unlike the endless playtime I got to play the PS3 version of Sonic the Hedgehog at the Sega booth, my one time with Wild Fire at Nintendo's booth was pretty much all I was hoping to sneak away with, which is a shame given how fun the game was.
The game, while still pretty early in development, had us speeding through a variety of Arabian-themed environments with Sonic doing his thing by grabbing power-ups and collecting as many golden rings as possible, while avoiding a variety of hazardous obstacles that appeared throughout the level. The action pretty much had us racing down some predefined paths at some blazingly fast speeds, which made for a pretty straightforward 'on rails', arcade-like experience of traveling at really fast speeds, constantly avoiding deadly obstacles while trying to maintain control of Sonic.
While previous Sonic games always featured simplistic control schemes, with the motion sensor functionality of the Wii controller, Sonic Wild Fire is blessed with both unique (to the series) and intuitive controls. By holding the Wii controller in the horizontal position, and tilting, turning, and shaking the controller while hitting the appropriate button, players can control the action in a variety of ways.
We steered Sonic down long winding pathways avoiding hazards and clearing jump zones by tilting the controller, and attacked enemies by locking onto them in mid-jump and nailing targets with Sonic's homing attack, with a simple thrusting of the controller. In addition to Sonic's standard moves, a new speed boost has been added to his arsenal, allowing players to use the momentum from his boost in speed to help clear some of the tougher areas of the game. As can be expected, the use of the speed boost is limited and is governed by a gauge that players need to fill up by collecting special orbs that appear throughout the levels.
Visually, Sonic Wild Fire looks pretty solid for a standard-def. While it lacked the impressive scope, physics, and high-resolution graphics of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Xbox 360 and PS3, the graphics of Wild Fire were more than adequate for a Sonic game. The environments were colorfully vibrant with great-looking textures, decent lighting with the typical Sonic lens flares, cool shifting camera angles, and a solid framerate for the most part. While there was some extremely minor pop-up in the distance it's nothing worth worrying about as the game looks great in motion with environments screaming by at blazing speeds.
While the E3 demo provided a tasty sampling of the main story adventure, Sega has stated that in addition to the single player adventure there will also be some multiplayer action to be had in Sonic Wild Fire with various mini-games that take advantage of the unique features of the Wii controller.
All in all, Sonic Wild Fire made a pretty good first impression with its great graphics, high-speed gameplay, and simple and intuitive control scheme, and is quickly shaping up to be one of the premier Wii titles to keep a close eye on. Sonic Wild Fire should be speeding its way to the Wii sometime in 2007.
Staff Writer, Kikizo.com
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Sonic Wild Fire
Showfloor gameplay 1 (Wii - Sega)
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Sonic Wild Fire
Showfloor gameplay 1 (Wii - Sega)
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Wii Line-Up Version 2
Montage including Sonic Wild Fire
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