I thought Sonic Frontiers was less Breath Of The Wild and more Super Mario Odyssey after I’d given it whirl in LA at Summer Geoff Fest. Despite its rough edges, Frontier’s open-ish world was a joy to blitz around as a hedgehog renowned for going particularly fast. But there was one thing I couldn’t talk about – Cyberspace stages: Bite-sized levels à la classic Sonic. And here’s why it might’ve been one of the best bits of the demo.
For those of you who aren’t too familiar with Sonic and the whole Cyberspace thing, think of them like classic 3D Sonic levels where you’re racing to the finish in as quick a time as possible. The environments are often all cyber-y, with neon lights and weird abstract shapes and circuits and things. Chuck your RGB keyboard at a screen and having your neighbour hedgehog run over it; basically the same thing.
If you’re a Sonic fan who keeps up with all things hog, you may have already seen some Cyberspace talk floating around. A Twitter user datamined Sonic Origins and supposedly found leftover Sonic Frontiers files labelled things like “CyberspaceNoise” and “CyberHologram”. And there’s a bunch of shonky camera footage from the show floor in LA which captures Sonic dashing about a Cyberspace level in spud quality.
As if you needed any more validation, those Cyberspace levels are real! And I played one of them during my brief stint with Frontiers. If I recall correctly, I collected a Portal Gear from a boss in the open world, then slotted it into a Portal thinking I’d be whisked off to a new zone or something. Instead, I entered the total antithesis of Frontiers: colourful, loud, and focused.
It was everything you’d expect from a 3D Sonic stage, but better? Not that it did anything tremendously new, but I think it was enhanced by being in total contrast to its open world’s melancholic atmosphere. Excellent drum and bass assaulted the eardrums, yellows and reds popped, and you’d string together combos off boost pads and onto rails, then dodge spikes with adrenaline oozing out of your eyeballs.
There are challenges within each Cyberspace level and you’ll need to complete these to receive Vault Keys to progress further in the game. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to sample these challenges as my demo came to an end soon after I finished up the stage. But let’s just say that Cyberspace ended up not only being a refreshing blast of classic Sonic, but arguably the highlight of the whole demo. Here’s hoping there’s ways to replay those levels in the game, or at least, loads of ’em.