News Round-Up: Friday 13th Edition

Featured - Sonic

Another week, another batch of news to be duly absorbed. Since I’m still currently on holiday, I’ve had a chance to keep up with just about all that’s happened, even if you lot have been busy. My only goals for this past fortnight have been to play as many games as possible, move as little as is required and sleep for as long as I wanted. Alas, my pile of unplayed games remains as tall as before, despite my best intentions. But on the plus side, I’ve managed to double-invert my sleeping pattern; that is, I became nocturnal for a few days, but powered through it to such a degree that I now rise at 6am. I thought 6am had been banned.

As usual, here are a few of the key stories you might not have heard about in the last few days, all conveniently located in the same article for your reading pleasure.

1 - TSK

If you’re a Sonic the Hedgehog fan, you’ve played Sonic 2. These two things (in that order) are inseparable. If you’ve come at it from the other direction, chances are good that if any single game is going to turn you into a fan, it’s Sonic 2. Personally, I still subscribe to the belief that Sonic 3 & Knuckles is the best game of entire series (all generations and all platforms), but it’s Sonic 2 that we’re talking about today. This is because it’s just been released on Android and re-released on iOS.

Normally, this wouldn’t be newsworthy, because Sonic games can be played on basically anything nowadays. Sega is one of the most guilty parties in the mass crime of nostalgia abuse, making us buy games that we already own on different platforms. I’ve lost count of how many copies of Sonic 1 I own. But this time is different, because Sonic 2 has been given the full Christian Whitehead treatment.

For those of you who don’t know this man, he’s been working with Sega to essentially remaster the MegaDrive / Genesis Sonic games. His first widespread release as part of this was Sonic CD, quickly followed by Sonic 1. Both titles were remade to include better graphics and sound while paradoxically seemingly unchanged from the originals. No more badly done midi synthesised music or being stuck in a 4:3 resolution – these games were worth buying again, because in many ways, they had become THE definitive version to play.

The real treat with these games was that you could play as other characters. How many of us as kids were disappointed that you couldn’t play as Knuckles in Sonic 1? Christian Whitehead made it (officially) possible. Now he’s done something much better in Sonic 2. Oh sure, you can play as Tails and Knuckles… that stuff is a given. No, Mr. Whitehead decided to do one better and resurrect the fabled Hidden Palace Zone.

2 - HPZ

Most fans won’t even know that this is a thing, of course. To a lot of you, the Hidden Palace Zone was that one level in Sonic & Knuckles where you beat the crap out of the echidna, before he finally finds out what a dick Robotnik is. But the Hidden Palace Zone was actually meant to be a level in Sonic 2, before Sega cut it at the last moment. So last-second was this choice that some of the final code for the original game still has traces of the zone, completely inaccessible by normal means, but fawned over by modders for many years. Finally, it has been made canon by the efforts of this glorious man.

If you already bought Sonic 2 on iOS, you should have an update that makes it into this infinitely better version. Android users can head over to Google Play right now and buy it for £2.18 (or your regional equivalent).

3 - GOG

Getting a head start on Valve’s inevitable Christmas deals, GOG.com has begun its Winter Sale in style, offering three free games to anyone and everyone for the first 48 hours. The three original Fallout games (that’s 1, 2 and Tactics) are completely free to download. A nice move on GOG’s part, especially since all three games will likely be removed from their store front due to an upcoming rights-holder change. It’s not every company that will put their customers first in this way and makes for a refreshing change. They’ve basically put up a big sign saying “Lawyers are going to make us take these games down in a little while so we’re giving them away for free in a giant screw-you to DRM!”

This is on top of their other offerings for this winter season, which will be changing daily. New for this year are mystery “Special Offer” presents. These are secret discounts, with the game on offer only being revealed to you after you’ve “opened” it. Very Christmas-y. You have three options on the home page; choosing door number one, so to speak, means that doors two and three are off limits until the deal resets. There’s an option for a classic game, a modern game or a random pick. Potentially some great deals to be had here – check it out as soon as you possibly can.

4 - SQEX

Lastly, a tiny bit of Square-Enix news. No, it’s not Final Fantasy related. On a similar note to GOG, Square-Enix are offering a “Christmas Surprise” via their online store. For £4.99 (or your regional equivalent; love that term), you can buy a digital pack apparently worth “over £50”. No word on specifically what’s inside the box, except for a cryptic description below box’s pre-order page. Apparently the surprise will be in the form of four, giftable Steam keys.

The box is available to buy until December 20th, whereupon the contents will be revealed via email. Personally, I’m divided on this: there’s a chance that it’ll be some fluff like the abysmal Dungeon Siege III or Hitman Absolution. However, you could end up snagging a real gem like Deus Ex: Human Revolution or Tomb Raider. There’s also FFVII and FFVIII, of course and oh damn I said it wasn’t Final Fantasy related didn’t I.

 

That’s all from me for this week. Check out all of these things, because they’re excellent and someone on the internet told you to! Keep an eye out here at Zero1Gaming for more news, reviews and opinions.

About Chris Smith
A twenty-something gamer from the North-East of Scotland. By day, I’m a Computer Technician at a local IT recycling charity, where I fix and build PCs. Outside of that, most of my time is spent either sleeping or gaming, which I try accomplish in equal amounts.