Some of the newer Sonic games are pretty good, but they still diverge significantly from the gameplay of the sidescrollers. What’s a fan to do? Make your own game, apparently.
Sonic Robo Blast 2 is a 3D Sonic fangame built on a modified port of the Doom engine, closely inspired by the original Sega Genesis/Megadrive games. You can play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, each with their own unique abilities and attributes – and alternate routes through levels.
Gameplay proceeds similarly to the classic Sonic games; you jump on or around enemies, collect rings, look for the Chaos Emeralds, and get to the Robotnik sign at the end of the level. Plenty of sidepaths for each character to take, as mentioned above, and playing through some levels, such as Egg Rock Zone 1, is completely different for Knuckles than Sonic or Tails.
The first few levels have three acts, though the third is just a boss. After Deep Sea Zone, the structure goes a bit odd; no more bosses until Egg Rock Zone 3, and Arid Canyon and Red Volcano are single levels. Single, incredibly long levels, in the case of Arid Canyon.
Something you may be noticing is that a lot of these levels sound similar to the ones from classic Sonic, and that’s pretty clearly the case. Greenflower is basically Green Hill Zone, Techno Hill 2 is Chemical Plant with more traps (Techno Hill 1 is a hybrid of that and Greenflower), Deep Sea is Aquatic Ruin, Red Volcano is probably inspired by Lava Reef (though it is different enough), and Egg Rock Zone is the obligatory Death Egg. Arid Canyon may be something completely new, or it may have been inspired by a cancelled level from Sonic 2
None of that is necessarily a bad thing, however; despite the obvious inspirations, these levels are still clearly their own design, with their own unique quirks and layout. This is partially by necessity; you may have noticed a lack of slopes in these screenshots, and that’s because SRB2 doesn’t… have… slopes. This seems a bit odd for a Sonic game, but it works out well enough. Plus, the SRB2 Community Build (which is what I’ve used to take these screenshots) does support them, so custom levels can be made for that.
So, basic outline aside, there’s a few oddities in the gameplay. The physics may be a little difficult to adjust to at first, as with the exception of Knuckles’s gliding they’re strongly influenced by momentum. Once you do get used to it, though, you’ll have no trouble at all going exactly where you want to.
The other minor issue is the enemies. Being sprite-based, it’ll take a little to get a feel for exactly where they are in relation to you, and you may run into a few Crawlas before you really catch on. Once you’ve adjusted to this for one enemy, though, you’ll be ready for all of them.
There’s also a slight difficulty curve issue regarding Egg Rock Zone; it’s a lot harder than the rest of the game. The team is planning more levels before ERZ; its difficulty is fine for a final level, there’s just not enough of a buildup to it.
Lastly, certain things don’t quite work the way you remembered them. The pink water in Techno Hill doesn’t drown you like in Chemical Plant – it damages you on contact. The spring physics feel a bit odd at times, mostly when you make the mistake of holding a direction when launching from a diagonal spring. So, don’t do that.
The sound effects are just like you remember, I’m pretty sure they were taken directly from the Genesis games. Not that it’s a bad thing; it just wouldn’t be right if they didn’t match. Music is a completely different matter: all of the music is new, and some of it’s really good – Egg Rock Zone 1, for example. None of it’s bad; at its worst, it’s simply forgettable.
SRB2 offers the typical single-player run-through-all-the-levels mode as well as single-level Time Attack. There are also several multiplayer modes, though I have not yet had the opportunity to try them.
In the one player game, there are several medals hidden throughout the levels; one for each character, and a bonus one for collecting every single ring without taking damage. These medals unlock secret levels. That said, in 2.1, the medal system is planned to change – yes, the April 1 update on the site actually was real; however, at this time the update is held up by nonfunctioning netcode.
Give it a shot. It’s good, it’s free, and it’s moddable.