The Completion of Taxman And Stealth’s Sonic [Updated]

Correction: I’ve only just now become aware of the involvement of the entire other half of the team behind the classic Sonic remasters — Simon “Stealth” Thornley. This blog post has been updated to include Stealth’s role in the projects. My sincerest apologies.

I’ve been aware of Christian “Taxman” Whitehead’s efforts to remaster Sonic The Hedgehog 3 for a while, but never really paid them a whole lot of attention. It’s only now after someone asked me to bring some attention to the petition for its release that I’ve investigated the project and become a lot more interested in maybe one day playing it. My only reservations are regarding platforms and support.

If you don’t know, Taxman and Stealth are the guys behind the recent remastered editions of Sonic CD, the first Sonic game, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. They want to do the third game now to cap off the 16-bit Sonic games (y’know, the ones people actually like) but needs SEGA to actually give the go-ahead. They’re asking fans to keep begging SEGA to do it. Some might say this is kind of auspicious given the company’s recent retreat from all things not either mobile or PC, and SEGA I hear has already indicated it’s listening.

Until now I never heavily investigated the Sonic and Sonic 2 remasters. I bought the one for Sonic CD because I’d never gotten to play it before. I remember it feeling like a very healthy port feature-wise, having been converted fully to 16:9 with an extra unlockable character and, most impressively, both the Japanese and American soundtracks. I didn’t realize these guys went even further with the subsequent projects, overlooking them because I still like my original Genesis cartridges and the Genesis collection on Steam.

All the ports have been converted to widescreen with slightly enhanced graphics to start. The special stages in Sonic 2 are rendered in full 3D now for example. Both games feature a playable Tails in singleplayer and the second one includes the Knuckles mode from the Sonic & Knuckles lock-on cartridge. Most surprisingly, Sonic 2 also includes a new level that was originally cut from the game. These are basically like the Criterion Collection versions of the classic Sonic games. Taxman and Steath intend to go further with Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

The page on the petition site detailing the new features lists the enhancements you’d expect from the previous ports, plus a fairly substantial amount of new gameplay for a port of a 16-bit game by two people. It’s supposed to have new story cut scenes, a boss attack mode, new special stages, a new level, and online multiplayer.

I feel I pretty much have to bring a spotlight on this for one reason: Sonic 3 is my number one video game ever. I’m serious. I don’t think it’s objectively the best game I’ve ever played, but it’s the one video game that means the most to me personally. It’s probably the one thing that most of all kept me playing game consoles as a kid. A remaster with this much work put into it could definitely become a favorite of mine… if it actually released where I wanted it to.

The biggest reason I initially ignored the Sonic and Sonic 2 ports is they’re only on mobile systems, and I still don’t understand why.

Did the non-mobile versions of Sonic CD sell that badly? I don’t mind these games being on mobile — that’s how my nephew started playing Sonic recently, but I prefer Sonic CD on Steam, and I would prefer the others on Steam as well. I also don’t see why they shouldn’t be on PlayStation and Xbox. Is it because SEGA already has versions of those games on those other platforms? They could just label the new ones  “Sonic 2 Remastered” or something and charge slightly more for them. I’d be fine with that given the enhanced content.

I’ve heard the touch screen controls for these remasters are excellent but in my opinion they’re still touch screen controls. The thought of doing Sonic 3’s special stages with touch controls is honestly horrifying. The games are compatible with iOS controllers sure but the platform choice is still restrictive.

My last concern is how much SEGA or the developers actually intend to support these games going forward. Apparently all the iOS versions are currently in need of updates. Sonic CD is basically unplayable on the iPhone 6 Plus because it hasn’t been updated for the new screen size.

SEGA, let Taxman and Stealth complete their saga of polishing your flagship classics, and please let them release their work on something that comes with freaking buttons.


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