It’s my birthday today, so I’m going to pause my studying and treat myself to something silly. For April Fools SEGA has released.. A Sonic visual novel.
It looks incredible. I must play it, I decided.
I was debating playing this on a livestream, but… I don’t feel like reading out loud today, hahaa. So you’re getting this as a text playthrough.
Well, here we go…
There’s our player character! I like them. They’re cute.
It’s their (our?) first day on their new job in a train dining car, so naturally they’re quite nervous.
Next up we get to meet the conductor.
He reminds me of a certain someone in the sonic franchise.
And here the context of the titular murder is revealed, it’s Amy’s birthday and she has organised a murder mystery party. Seems like Sonic isn’t getting killed for realsies, but this still will be a fun ride.
And here come the guests!
Sonic the freaking hedgehog… Our player character is nervous about being around such a renowned guest.
Time to say hi to everyone, with ticket checking as our excuse.
(sparkle gelatin seems to be a reference to Unleashed, I looked it up. Doesn’t bring much context to this exchange anyway.)
Espio can read minds. Which is quite flustering for our protagonist.
The conductor asks him if he can cling to walls, and our character finds this suspicious.. Hmmm 🤨
Vector put his ticket in the napkin holder.
Next up is Shadow.
Amy gets a key that can open any door in the train. Worth keeping in mind…
Rouge being Rouge. you go girl
C’mon, let the poor guy have a cupcake…
Are they… y’know…
And heeeere we have everyone’s characters explained: Sonic’s a ship captain, Tails’s the detective, Knuckles’s a sheriff, Rouge and Blaze are business tycoons, Vector’s a butcher, Espio’s a poet, Shadow’s a locksmith, and finally, Amy’s a journalist reporter.
I don’t know why, but I particularly like Shadow’s little icon here.
It’s time to begin the party!
The protagonist, Tails and Amy stay in the dining car, while the murder mystery unfolds in the other cars. Why are they not going around the train talking to everyone? They say it’s so there’s a neutral party or something.
The train starts going super fast all of a sudden. This knocks everyone to the back of our train and gets our team get trapped in a closet.
Amy seems embarassed about something. We oughta interrogate her about it, of course.
Ohhhh we’ve got danganronpa-style minigames here. To think of an argument we need to pass a minigame.
Her hammer broke when she tried to get everyone out, that’s what she was embarassed about. Little odd to make an investigation out of it, but hey, this is very clearly an introduction to how the rest of the game will work.
Tails repairs it and she gets the shelf out of our way.
For now it seems like Sonic did die for realsies. What is going on
After this reveal… We move on to the saloon car.
Knuckles’s acting suspicious… It’s time for another investigation.
We run into one of the robot arms and- O-oh. Okay.
Ooh. We find some cups with lipstick marks on one of them. Rouge’s been here.
The doors are locked… Did Amy lock them?
NOOOO. this is tragic.
Knuckles broke it in his gamer rage. Now we’ll never get to be monkey balling… tut tut.
It’s interrogation time.
Tails repairs the machine and takes a look at the scores…
Oho! Vector also was in the saloon car.
He beat Knuckles at video games, and, well. Super Monkey Ball didn’t survive that.
According to Knuckles, Rouge was searching around for something… Hmm…
AH! SHADOW WAS HERE! I didn’t notice this the first time!
This invalidates my theory about Amy locking it. Interesting, interesting.
She did, however, use it to pass through after Knuckles locked it.
We take a look at the wanted poster.
And now… We’re off to the library car.
Amy’s here! Seems she has been interrogating Vector and Espio.
We ask her to share any leads she might have…
She rushes on to the next car, though.
Vector and Espio fill us in instead.
Right after everything started… Rouge, Blaze, Shadow and Sonic passed through the library car. Lines up with where they were meant to be stationed.
Then Vector left to play video games with Knuckles.
And Rouge came to the library car, searching for something here too before the saloon car.
Espio says she yelled “NO WAY” and then promptly returned to her car, the casino car.
Shadow came to the library car and locked the door behind him… Then to the saloon car. After owning Vector and Knuckles at monkey ball, he returned to the lounge car.
After Vector returned to the library, Knuckles locked the door, and that’s when the sudden speed up happened. The one that caused our protagonist, Tails and Amy to get trapped in the closet.
Oho, we have a brochure stand with a map of the library car. Might come in handy.
It seems one of the books is not organized in alphabetic order. That book is the Mirage Express user guide. Hmmmm
From the interrogation we find out that Espio’s alibi, reading the whole time, is legit. Also, Shadow didn’t see him when he passed through.
The casino car calls!
Rouge tells us the reason for her searching - supposedly there’s a treasure hidden somewhere on the train. It’s some sort of special Chao egg?
Blaze stayed in the casino car while Rouge looked for it.
And Rouge’s search wasn’t for naught - she found the train’s blueprints, with the treasure safe’s code on it.
We get roped into a plan to steal the Faberge Chao egg.
Rouge says “We’re all charming enough to pull off a distraction”
The plan is a success! We get the egg. Rouge tries to open it and… It starts ticking.
Is it a bomb?!?!?
Well, it can’t be, according to what Espio told us earlier…
When the timer ends, everyone’s safe, and Rouge finds inside the egg what she wanted all along - sparkly treasure.
Seems like Shadow gave Blaze and Rouge keys to lock their car as well, like with Knuckles.
Hmmm… interesting… the poker chips have Eggman’s logo on them.
It’s time for the lounge! We’ll find Shadow here. He sure has been acting suspicious, judging by our findings so far.
Oh! The wardrobe here has a hidden passageway. Now that’s intruiging.
It leads to… The library car!
We can use the printer here to print some cool pictures of Sonic. awesome.
BIG THE CAT
Oh? Shadow says Espio was lying about reading the entire time…
He wanted to give him a key, but couldn’t find him. Hmm.
He’s been locking doors, because… he wanted to keep Amy away… because…
He was preparing a last-minute birthday gift (printing out concert tickets).
And with that out of the way, there’s one place left. The conductor’s car.
The conductor’s not here… Odd.
We find… a blowdart.
Hmm. Seems that’s what Sonic was hit with.
There’s a vent on the ceiling. Worth keeping note of, especially since Espio can cling to walls.
We find a broken robot arm, and Tails declares that enough evidence. Amy calls everyone over to the conductor’s car.
Sonic doesn’t show up… Is he truly dead?
Or… Is he asleep, hit with a sleeping dart?
Amy and the rest find out what our protagonist knew from the start - that Sonic isn’t looking too good.
Oh boy. A big choice.
I’ll go with Espio first. He’s my biggest suspect.
Aha! Caught red-handed.
First, he memorised the manual as fast as he could.
Then, he entered the lounge through the hidden passage, to get to the conductor’s car and murder Sonic.
The way he knew about it was that he had found the blueprints before Rouge did.
Well, for now we’re focusing on Espio. He used the vent on the ceiling in the conductor’s car to get him and Sonic to the dining room.
Hmm… Sonic fought the train’s robot arms?
Sonic says… The train’s a badnik. Huh?!
After Espio ‘killed’ Sonic, the robotic arms attacked him and the conductor…
One of the robotic arms gave this card, along with the blowdart, to Espio.
The train has been plotting something, clearly.
The train is taking all of them to Eggman’s base.
The train starts speeding up… and everyone gets knocked out.
The protagonist wakes up in the dining car, only Sonic with them.
Eggman shows up on the screens.
Yeah, he confirms the train is sentient.
Eggman offered a bounty to his badniks. Any reward they want for whichever one delivers Sonic and his friends to him first. That’s the train’s motivation for kidnapping everyone.
I have a feeling I know what this train would wish for… Maybe it’s possible to convince it to not obey Eggman.
Oooh! One last minigame, as Sonic and the protagonist make their way back to the front. This one’s probably going to be long and hard.
I’ll get back to you guys after I finish it.
Well, that was a bit tough. But it was a fun sequence!
Now we’re all back to the conductor’s car.
Another minigame! This time it seems to be a boss fight between Sonic and the train.
Just as I suspected, the train doesn’t want to let the conductor go… Its best friend… It feels betrayed.
After a long and hard boss battle…
THE TRAIN DIES :(
At least the flicky inside gets a happy end, coming along with the conductor and his wife for their retirement trip to Spagonia.
We get a sweet ending with everyone wishing Amy a happy birthday :)
And that’s the end of that.
I’ll try to form my thoughts on this, in a review of sorts…
The “Sonic is dead” aspect is obviously the main thing that’s supposed to reel you in (and it works). You go in, expecting a quick 20-minute-ish April Fools laugh, but… It turns out to be more than a simple joke. It’s a genuinely nice little story. It’s clear a lot of love was put into this visual novel. It’s chock-full of fun details and references to Sonic’s other adventures.
Of course, being a visual novel, the main focus is the story and characters.
We have some new characters exclusive to this story - the conductor, the protagonist, and… the train. I’ll only cover the protagonist here.
They’re your typical relatably socially awkward protagonist, but… The writers turn that up to an 11, to the point of absurdity. I personally really love that, but some may find that annoying. At many points the game got me thinking “me too, buddy” at their internal monologues and funny antics.
And as for the already-existing characters… I think their characterisation was really good! Honestly, I don’t have much to say here.
The plot was great, in my opinion! The mystery is not very complex or hard to figure out, but the game doesn’t treat you like you’re incapable of solving it yourself, which is something even big commercial games struggle with. Going along and solving the mystery is really fun!
Apart from the main, “intellectual” side, there’s also the sonic special stage-style “THINK!” minigames. They’re alright, they’re a fun distraction from the reading. And if you just do not care for them, or find them frustrating, you can tweak almost every difficulty aspect in the accessibility options, which is fantastic, in my opinion. I personally did play through each one of them, because they were a nice little challenge.
Oh and I should mention - the artwork is just gorgeous. The character sprites are so good, and the backgrounds are beautiful and so full of fun details.
It’s a quick play/read: I finished it in 4-5 hours, according to Steam; in one sitting. It is a fun one, though!
If you’re a Sonic fan, I think you’ll enjoy this, if you’re not, I think there’s some enjoyment to be had here too - the narrative is from the perspective of a character who has heard of Sonic and his friends in passing, they are pretty much celebrities to them.
This game’s a treat, and was obviously made with a lot of love for these characters and the franchise. It’s awesome that SEGA let the team make something like this, and release it for free.
Well, thanks for reading! I hope you found this entertaining, at least. I’m off to enjoy the rest of my birthday, and then… It’s back to studying for the matura exam for me, hah.
See ya next blog post!~