I kind of grew up with Sonic fangames, if I may be frank. The Sonic fangaming “scene” first started to crop up around 1997 or so, and seemed to largely fill the gap left by Sega - there were an abundance of Sonic fans but no Sonic videogames coming out, so people started making their own. It’s sort of weird, in retrospect, how do-it-yourself the Sonic fandom is, what with rom hacking and whatnot. I feel like Sonic fans were the first to get that insanely dedicated to that kind of stuff.
I came in to the Sonic fangaming “scene” around 1998 or so. I had just entered high school. I made a lot of friends during that time, some of which now work on actual real videogames in the videogame industry, or do other awesome things. I have yet to grow up, myself. How depressing.
Fangames have always had a negative stigma. Sometimes, it’s deserved. For most, making a fangame is a fun phase they have for a year or two and then grow out of before putting in the necessary amount of work to finish anything that is any good. Others don’t want to touch the subject with a ten foot pole, because they believe it’s illegal. It technically is, but so is fanart and fanfiction. There’s a lot of people out there who have a lot more intelligent things to say about the subject of remix culture than I do, but in the grand scheme of things, fangames aren’t really so bad.
I wanted to reverse that stigma, so I created SAGE, hoping to get more attention and soften the public’s perception of the hobby. Pitched as “E3, but for fangames”, it was meant to be a showcase of the best of what the community could do. That was in 2000. SAGE is now in its 12th year. I haven’t been involved in organizing it in at least 9 or 10 of those years.
But now I write for TSSZnews.com. I went from a lowly reviewer to Review Lead to Managing Editor, and I feel like I have SAGE to thank for that, because it means every year I have to write about five games every day for a week. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s kind of like writing bootcamp, in a way. You hunker down and just write. It’s ended up really helping me get better at quickly getting my opinion in to words - at least, as far as videogames are concerned.
I’m writing more reviews this year, so if you don’t feel like sifting through the 20 or so games yourself, let me do it for you so you can just pick out the stuff you think sounds cool:
REVIEW SLEW #1: Game Land, Emeralds’ Awakening, GDK, Project Shadow, Sonic Run 3
REVIEW SLEW #2: GHZ 2.5D, Project AXSX, Before the Sequel, Freedom Planet, Sonic Fusion
REVIEW SLEW #3: Epsilon, Light & Darkness, Skywind 1 & 2, Emerald Ties
REVIEW SLEW #4: Freerunner, Medley, Sonic PC, Zero: Remastered
REVIEW SLEW #5: Small World, Panic, High-Flying Adventure, and After the Sequel
Expect this post to be updated as I write and post more, so check back periodically. If you’re some kind of weirdo who wants to read previous year’s…
Not quite sure how to access 2009 and 2008’s archives.