Sonic the Hedgehog

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Paramount;
Family;
Box Office $146.01 million;
$28.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language.
Stars James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, Jim Carrey.

The long-awaited movie version of the famed Sonic the Hedgehog SEGA video game offers a charming if formulaic adventure for everyone’s favorite furry blue speedster.

Ben Schwartz voices Sonic, who is essentially a cartoon character planted in the real world. When Sonic’s native dimension, which looks more like the fantasy worlds of loops and jumps from the video game, is overrun by bad guys looking to steal his power, Sonic is sent to hide on Earth, left with only a bag of magical rings that can be used to open gateways to other worlds.

Settling into a lair in the forests of Montana, Sonic spends his days reading comic books and spying on the local town to get a sense of the life he has to avoid by not making his existence known to humanity. A mishap at a baseball field, in which Sonic decides to use his speed to play all the positions at the same time, causes a massive electrical surge that draws the attention of the U.S. government. They send in Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to investigate.

As Sonic prepares to leave Earth by conjuring a portal to a another dimension, he inadvertently attracts the attention of the local sheriff, Tom (James Marsden), causing his bag of rings to get lost in San Francisco. So Sonic and Tom set off on a road trip to retrieve them, pursued by the technological minions of Robotnik, who seeks the secrets to Sonic’s speed powers for himself.

While the film transplants Sonic’s story to Earth, it peppers the screen with plenty of references to the game, from the names of locations to the use of Sonic’s theme in the musical score.

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Schwartz turns in a delightful vocal performance as the wisecracking hedgehog, while Carrey returns to his zany form as the over-the-top villain. The screen pops with colors and visual delights, paying off the studio’s decision to redesign Sonic into a more cutesy cartoon creature rather than the more photorealistic attempt that freaked out audiences in the original trailer.

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The Blu-ray includes a nice commentary track from Schwartz and director Jeff Fowler as they discuss the fun they had making the film while pointing out some of the references to the game. The disc also includes three behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about 12 minutes, plus a neat six-minute video about the history of Sonic from his video game origins.

Fans looking for more Sonic will find him in a two-minute “Around the World in 80 Seconds” short in which Sonic describes visiting different places to his journal. There are also five decent deleted sequences, running about 14 minutes and with unfinished visuals, with an introduction by Fowler.

Rounding out the bonus materials are a four-minute music video and a two-minute blooper reel.

‘Double Dragon’ and ‘The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog’ Racing to DVD From MVD

Two 1990s animated TV series based on Sega game franchises, “The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Double Dragon: The Animated Series,” are coming to DVD Aug. 13  from MVD Entertainment Group and Invincible Entertainment.

“The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog” is coming in a six-disc set featuring all 65 episodes. In the series, Sonic the Hedgehog is on the run with his faithful sidekick Tails to outpace the despicable Dr. Robotnik, foiling his plans to “robotize” and enslave the population of Planet Mobius. Jaleel White (“Family Matters”) is the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog. The release comes in time for the bow of a Sonic the Hedgehog theatrical live action movie starring Jim Carrey and James Mardsen.

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The entire series of “Double Dragon” is coming to home video for the first time on three DVDs. In the animated series, a martial-arts master and his twin brother fight. Billy and Jimmy Lee are twins separated at birth and raised by opposing factions. Following the Code of the Dragon, “never to harm others intentionally and not fight if one can help it,” Billy trains to become the Dragon Master by his 18th birthday. Billy Joins forces with policewoman Marian Martin and together they fight to protect The City from the Shadow Warriors, a criminal organization led by the mysterious Shadow Master, who secretly instructs Jimmy Lee in the dark ways of the Black Flame. Can long-lost brothers reunite to become the legendary Double Dragon?

 

Sega’s ‘Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder’ Available Digitally on Nintendo Switch

Sega’s Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder is available now digitally on the Nintendo Switch at $14.99.

Anyone who buys the game, featuring a combination of surrealistic art, historically inaccurate storytelling, and chaotic gameplay, within the first two weeks of launch will receive a free Binding of Isaac Pack DLC set. The set contains a special Isaac boulder, three in-game avatars (Isaac, Azazel, and Blue Baby), and three Isaac-themed banners to adorn the battlefield and units. The offer ends May 28.

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Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder features up to four-person multiplayer gameplay; “Utter Chaos,” which expands on the first game with a more diverse selection of units and a larger focus on rock-smashing strategy; improved physics and destructible environments; “ACE Team’s Trademark Quirkiness”; and “Historically Inaccurate Bosses,”allowing players to take on works of art come to life in boss battles featuring the likes of The Thinker and the Great Sphinx, leading up to the all-powerful final boss.

Sega Installs Execs at Atlus

Sega of America and Atlus U.S.A. Inc. on Oct. 1 announced Ian Curran, Sega of America president and COO, will become president and COO of Atlus U.S.A. and work alongside Sega West CEO Tatsuyuki Miyazaki to further the financial goals of both companies.

Miyazaki will assume the role of Atlus U.S.A. CEO as Naoto Hiraoka “steps into a role to focus as Atlus brand owner,” according to a Sega news release. Hiraoka will lead many of the company’s important creative projects.

“I look forward to creating more exciting projects with the creative team at Atlus in Japan, and wish my colleagues the best of luck growing the business in the Americas and EMEA,” Hiraoka said.

Hiraoka will remain on the board of Atlus U.S.A. and Sega of America.

“We wish Mr. Hiraoka the very best of luck in his role and are thankful that he’ll still be a valuable asset to the Atlus team,” said Miyazaki.

Atlus U.S.A.  is a leading Western publisher of Japanese video games, known for high-quality localization across a multitude of genres and platforms. The company is behind such popular games as  Persona 5, the cult classic “JRPG Shin Megami Tensei” series, and the action-adventure/puzzle game Catherine.

Sega Out with ‘Valkyria Chronicles 4’

Sega on Sept. 25 announced the release of Valkyria Chronicles 4, 10 years after the launch of the original Valkyria Chronicles, the innovative turn-based strategy role-playing game (RPG).

The game lets players experience the other side of the Second European War and its most brutal campaign, Operation Northern Cross. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 takes place in the same timeframe as the original Valkyria Chronicles, but focuses on a whole new cast of main characters: the eager young Commander Claude Wallace, engineer/heavy weapons extraordinaire Riley Miller, hotheaded Darcsen Raz, ace sniper Kai Schulen, and others.

The next-generation “BLiTZ” battle system boasts several new features, including an explosive new class called the Grenadier, numerous offensive/defensive battleship support options, chances for a unit to have a “Last Stand” action before death, and more..

CANVAS Aesthetics, the franchise’s signature hand-drawn visual style, has been overhauled for the newest generation. “Inspired by watercolor compositions, the CANVAS Graphics Engine blends visual elements of reality and imagination to create an expressive world filled with colorful emotions,” Sega says.

Also back is composer Hitoshi Sakimoto, with a new orchestral score for Valkyria Chronicles 4.

More Retro Sega Video Games in the Pipeline

Sega of America on Sept. 20 announced that the first two titles in its “Sega Ages” line, Sonic the Hedgehog and Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar, are now available digitally on Nintendo Switch on the Nintendo eShop for $7.99 each.

Sega Ages is a series of classic Sega games developed by M2, the Japanese developer known for high-quality ports of vintage games such as the popular “Sega 3D Classics” series on the Nintendo 3DS.  The line is part of Sega’s broader support for retro games, including upcoming releases such as Sega Genesis Classics for Nintendo Switch.

Sonic the Hedgehog is the Blue Blur’s debut title. This is where the chase for those Chaos Emeralds started. This new version of the classic video game also adds new features like Drop Dash, as well as the console premiere of the Mega Play arcade version.

Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar, considered one of the best shooters of its era, features frenetic action and vertical and horizontal scrolling. The new version of the game mixes in a new Styx mode that lets players pilot the ship from its predecessor, plus a Kids mode for newcomers and rankings for the “shmup” elite.

In the coming months, fans of vintage video games will be able to enjoy other classics such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Out RunSpace HarrierColumns II, Thunder Force AC, and Phantasy Star.

Phantasy Star is a groundbreaking sci-fi RPG that follows Alis in her planet-spanning quest to avenge the death of her brother and topple a tyrannical regime. Besides faithfully recreating the original experience, this version adds a new map display to help novice adventurers and a compendium where longtime fans can view their favorite monsters.