E3 06: Sonic Wild Fire Hands-On
We take a run with Sonic the Hedgehog on the Wii.
By Ricardo Torres, GameSpot
Posted May 11, 2006 8:36 pm PT
LOS ANGELES-- One of the sharper looking titles in Nintendo's E3 booth for the Wii is Sega's Sonic Wild Fire, a brand new title for Nintendo's upcoming console starring the Japanese developer's speedy mascot. The game is a change of pace from the standard Sonic games that Sega's been producing lately and actually marks a return to Sonic's solo roots. We managed to try out a work in progress version of the game at Nintendo's booth and enjoyed the Wii fueled retro-ness.
Sonic Wild Fire has a fairly surreal plot, even by Sonic standards, that sets up his new adventure. It seems a few pages from the Arabian Nights have gone missing and Sonic is going all "Good Samaritan" and tracking them down. This sets the stage for an Arabian themed adventure. The level we played found Sonic tearing through treacherous ruins, collecting rings and avoiding hazards. One notable element of the game is that it appears that Sonic Wild Fire is all Sonic all the time, making it the first solo outing for the hedgehog in an age.
The level on display was a quick run through a desert palace and the area surrounding it. Sonic's goal, as always, was to get to the end of the level with as many rings as possible. The hitch to such a goal was the fact that the blue blur must dodge all manner of perils such as collapsing bridges, spikes, projectiles, and pillars blocking his way. As always, you'll collect gold rings which will let you withstand attacks so long as you have at least one. A new addition to the collection mix are power orbs that will fill a gauge on the lower right portion of the screen that will let you perform crazy speed bursts when full.
Control in the game is, as its been in most Sonic games, very easy. You'll hold the Wii controller sideways with the D-pad resting by your left hand and the numbered buttons by your right. Given that Sonic's path through the level is basically on rails you'll just have to sweat moving him left to right to avoid obstacles, attacking enemies, and making jumps. You'll move Sonic left and right by "steering" with the Wii controller. You'll be able to get him to back track by tilting the controller up and back towards you. The 2 button will get him to jump. A light tap will give you a quick hop while holding it down will let you perform a higher leap. If you tap the button in mid-air you can lock on to an enemy and, if you move the controller up and down quickly, you'll perform a homing attack on your foe. Moving the controller up and down quickly will also let you trigger a mighty speed burst once you've collected enough orbs to fill the appropriate meter.
The visuals in Sonic Wild Fire are among some of the best we've seen in the initial batch of Wii games. Sonic's character model is more in line with his update from earlier in the decade for the Sonic Adventure games than the sleek track runner makeover he's getting in his PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. The environment in the demo featured a high level of detail and a lush color palette that gave the action a rich look. The special effects were still coming together but looked promising. Best of all was the game's sense of speed, an absolute must in a Sonic game, was already quite good and bodes well for the final game.
Based on what we played, Sonic Wild Fire is shaping up to be a shiny showcase for the Wii. The game's unique control mechanics are a good fit for the Wii and keep things simple. At the same time, the visuals offer a striking assortment of eye candy that places the game among the best looking games we've seen for the system. If Sega can clean up the rough edges and put enough variety in the game by the time it ships Sonic Wild Fire should wind up being a strong title for the Wii. Sonic Wild Fire is slated to ship ni 2007 for the Wii, look for more on the game in the coming months. .