Let’s Review – The S Factor: Sonia and Silver

Let’s Review – The S Factor: Sonia and Silver

Do you know what? I really fancy playing a Sonic ROM hack today but I’m not quite sure what to go with. Any suggestions? Ooh, play ‘The S Factor!’ You must play ‘The S Factor!’ ‘The S Factor’ is a masterpiece! Well, okay, if you insist. [Takes deep breath] *It’s not that type of game, you know?* Oh, it’s not about singing? Oh, sweet Louis Walsh, that’s a relief! So, what is this monument you’re talking about then? ‘The S Factor’ is a Sonic 1 modification that
entered and won the Sonic Hacking Contest in the year 2013;
taking home 4 virtual trophies. It includes 2 brand new characters, Sonia
and Silver, each with their own unique abilities, a graphical overhaul, music alterations, brand
new bosses, the works. Wow, this sounds amazing! I’ve got my Mega Drive pad here, and I’ve got a notebook for jotting down all
the pros I’m about to experience! But does it really deserve a place on the
top shelf of recommendations? Let’s find out together with the review, of
The S Factor: Sonia and Silver! Now despite my introduction to this video, I’ve actually given ‘The S Factor’ a try before
on my channel. And if I have to be totally sincere; I was not enjoying my encounter with the hack,
but that was a few years ago. And with the community giving this project
a whole lot of praise, I decided to wipe the slate clean retry with
an open mind. To do that though, I had to find out what
this fantasy was going to entail. The novel hasn’t been incorporated into the
playthrough and instead, you have to go to a reliable source such as
Sonic Retro. The wiki has a huge paragraph explaining the
prologue but it could have been easily summarised. In short, Eggman is up to his usual tricks
and Team Sonic reconcile to go and stop him. However, Eggman Nega, a character that we
initially got acquainted with in Sonic Rush, has randomly travelled back in time to also
cause havoc. Team Sonic can’t be in two places at once
but luckily Sonia, who is Sonic’s sister in the cartoon animation
‘Sonic Underground’, has mysteriously appeared out of nowhere and
is on the case. And of course, she’s got a helping hand from
no other than Manic- I mean, Silver. Yes, Silver being the villain’s main foe has
jumped back into the current timeline and is here to aid Sonia who he has never
even met before! And not being able to have both characters
on the screen at the same time like you would with Sonic and Tails, he’s not exactly assisting her very well. I mean, why have Sonia and Silver team up
out of the blue? The plot seems a bit aimless and when you
come to play this quest, no more narration is told. From here, it’s all near-enough Sonic 1’s
blueprint. No in-game cut scenes, no story telling. Just bish, bash, bosh, boom! You’re done. You don’t even get to see Sonic and the gang
at all in this adventure. Well, there may not be any storyline within
the game but that didn’t stop these guys from producing a big bang from the start. You get the recent SEGA splash screen from
the modern SEGA games, at a questionable quality I might add. Sonia then puts on a gig with her electronic
keyboard for the Sonic Retro card, an ‘Aquaslash & Pals’ jingle appears and then for the cherry on top, the title
screen. It’s an elegant and well-handled commencement
to The S Factor. Diving into the options menu and you’re greeted
with a few choices. One that put a nice smile to my face was that
you could personalise how you wanted your game to look. You could keep the original ‘S Factor’
styled menus and music, or you can support your favourite character
by picking a range of colours fluctuating from Sonia, Silver, Sonic, all
the way up to Blaze! Although my joy was short lived as it so happens
to only change the melody and colours to the options and character selection menu,
and from there, everything is back to normal… or is it? Spike behaviour, Super Music and Sound Test
are pretty self-explanatory and then finally you have the password field. And this isn’t for a ‘save progress’ component,
oh no. There’s no such thing as a save system inside
of this game so just be cautious before hitting that power
button. You don’t unlock any passwords during your
playthrough either so I never got to use the password mechanic. But if you do a quick Google search like I
eventually did after my gameplay, you can find a few codes that unlock such
gimmicks like Debug Mode or Level Select. Or combine your password with the theme option
and you get to play this secret character… whoever on Earth he is! But we’re not here to concentrate on this
mysterious stranger. We want to focus on the main team which you
get to view from this swift-looking selection screen. The presentation is still in full swing here
and once you have chosen your saviour, the title card reveals itself with its fluid
animation. And it’s from here, the presentation kisses
you goodbye and jogs on. The results screen is nothing too special, there are no level transitions found anywhere, the ending is practically the same as the
original, we’ve already established that there are no
cut scenes in sight, it’s as if the team dropped the wonderful
display idea early on in the game. I mean, after getting all the emeralds and
completing the tale, it’s not even Eggman Nega that’s annoyed.
Did they just forget? Ah well, at least our heroes are here to put
on a show! Let’s start off with Sonic’s sister, Sonia. She looks pretty fantastic with plenty of
detail. She pops out from the level aesthetics but
she’s easy on the eye too so her palette choice is splendid. All of her sprite work has been accounted
for bar her continue screen pose which are just a garbled mess. She handles and controls exactly as Sonic
does in his debut and that even means the spin dash is absent. That’s not problematic for Sonia because she
has what she calls, the Super Twirl! Pressing A while on foot will send her into
a cyclone which escalates her speed when holding a directional button and decreases her vulnerability towards hazards. You won’t be able to jump while you’re rotating
like mad, but be that as it may, at least you’re clearing the path of any danger. Badniks, brittle walls, and even spikes are
easily demolished with her tornado power which is handy indeed. Horribly, her spinning attack is very inconsistent
as sometimes I wouldn’t be able to destroy certain badniks
or objects, or she would just fail to break anything that
was once fragile. It’s also apparent that her hitbox is stretched
while she’s whirling away. If that’s not enough proof, then maybe this
loop will demonstrate my point. If it’s any consolation, at least this ability
is free to use and it’s indefinite until you get hurt, die, or you need to jump. One final ability of Sonia’s is the Power
Axe. In short, it’s Sonic’s insta-shield… but it continues on until you touch the ground
again. It’s very useful to use and I’m delighted
that we get this rather than the common boring homing attack. Sonia doesn’t like to hang around. Silver on the other hand is such a slow coach
compared his partner and he has no real capability to boost his
performance. Nope, even Silver didn’t gain Sonic’s
spin dash. Which got highly irritating at times as the
level design didn’t really compensate this handicap of
his. But that doesn’t mean he’s the weaker
choice, not by a long shot. Owning his psychokinesis powers, he is able to levitate while airborne by holding
the C button in mid-air. Letting go of the C button then lowers him
but you’re able to float again by reapplying the command. It’s neat to skip certain parts of the level
this way but I wish his deacceleration was tighter. I know he’s meant to be an easy-going character but I couldn’t help but feel he needed to
react quicker in his turns because once I spotted a death-trap ahead,
it was pretty much too late to swerve it. Which meant I had to be naturally cautious
while navigating in the air. But enough of being aerial, what’s also
pretty cool is his aptitude to grab certain items. While grounded, hold the A button to initiate
your psychic talent and then anything that’s grabbable within
your vicinity will be under your control. At this point, you can safely let go of the
A button and the controlled substances will stay with
you until you release them or take a setback. It’s then that you can tap the A button
while inflight or on foot to fire your possessed matter, and any nearby targets will get snapped by
your attack… or just completely miss! It’s pretty neat but I did end up forgetting
to use it a lot. Mainly because except for the projectiles
coming out of the crab badnik, I didn’t really find anything that was governable
within the first stage and by the second zone, I just forgot it existed. His power was helpful in some boss battles
I’ll admit, but due to his sluggishness, I trust Sonia is the better choice to go with. Also, as you may have guessed, you can transform
both characters into their Super states after collecting all
the emeralds. Nothing really to discuss here, it’s just
Super Sonic but with their unique capacities on top. While the protagonist’s visuals are very
content with me, the stage art isn’t as high deserving. The very first zone has too much contrast
for my liking. The level of detail is there; I’ll give
them that. But the shading on the slopes are just blocks. Did we become a little lazy here? I would answer that question as a yes! Because in the following division it becomes
even more plain. With the background being dull and the foreground
exposing huge simple tile sets; some I’m not even able to identify if they’re
collision-able or not. And then in the third level… do I even need to talk about this? What caught me off guard is that in the very
next scene, the gorgeous artwork and presentation makes
a come-back! The colours are beautiful and dynamic, the
waterfalls are blissful, and we have a third scrolling parallax in
the background! Now this is what I like to see! Nonetheless, in reality, the graphics are
very bipolar. You have your mediocre stages, your “stunning and breath-taking” stages and then your “can’t be bothered” stages. And then you’ve got the level design and I
was very pleasantly surprised… to see how atrocious they are! Gordon Bennett O’Riley, after completing the
game with Sonia, I was reluctant to pass through the game again
as Silver. Spectra Valley wasn’t too bad of a layout
composition if it wasn’t for these engineered Newtron badniks that were already
messing with my sanity; they just kept coming and attacking out of
nowhere without giving you a chance to react! And you’re brought into to slowdown so prematurely
which it can get particularly bad within the special stages. Seriously, what is it with these Sonic 1 hacks
that cannot be optimised? But it’s from Arid Temple onwards where the
real hogwash comes into fruition. There are so many terrible enemy and obstacle
placements all in gangways that knock you out of your path into more
hazards. These are known as “dick moves” but this game
is just full to the brim with them. Death after death after death, I’m going to have to rent a full graveyard
for myself at this rate. Why put spikes there? Why put the electricity orb by the spring
here? Why cramp the place with perils in such tight
spaces? I’m aware that the characters have their
unique powers to help them pass through the zones but the stage architectures does not atone
for the whole party. Case in point; what’s with this gold shield, that leads you to your imminent death straight
afterwards? It’s pathetic! I later learned during my experience is that
only Silver can get this and then he glides himself back to safety. Well then there should be something blocking
the path so Sonia can’t make that mistake! I don’t know, a brick or something that can
be moved with Silver’s mind ability? “Awh, maybe you’re just not very good at the
game, redhotsonic!” I’m not done bashing on the zone constructions
yet! How about these very mysteriously hidden spikes? I mean, how was I supposed to see that singular
spike camouflaged behind the reefs? Is that my fault? IS IT? And then there’s this! Start from the very beginning because of a
hiccup that was out of my control?! How about you kiss my a-! Sorry about that but all these spike traps
are substantially huge! Even when I try to avoid them, the game finds
a way to push me into them and put me into tribulation. “Uh, RHS, just turn the spike behaviour off
then”. Oh yes, that’s a good idea… If it would BLOODY WORK! On or off, the spike bug still occurs and
there’s no way to avoid it. And don’t you dare call this bug a feature! While we’re at it, the Super Music selection
doesn’t work either. It never changes the track. Is it something
I’m doing wrong at the option’s menu?! Look, I am really sorry for bad-mouthing the
level geography and if it’s solace you’re after, at least there aren’t too many death pits. They exist but they’re rare to come by. There are plenty of opportunities to go at
a fast pace if it wasn’t for these rebels blocking the
way every twos seconds. The amount of unfair punishments is through
the roof, and I can say without a doubt, the level and object modelling are by far
the biggest let down of The S Factor. Honestly, I could talk about this all day,
but this review is already getting long enough. Something I don’t have to go into detail with
would be the special stages. It casts itself as a level and each 7 times
you enter, it never changes. Same layout, same badniks, same water, same
music. But at least the palette rotates each go. So, what’s the challenge? Well that alternates on each access too. The mission can range from collecting 50 rings, to eliminating 5 badniks, to finding ‘The 4th MacGuffin’. I didn’t know what in the love of mercy that
was but it’s turns out it was just an emerald monitor. And let me tell you now, that was the hardest objection to do due to
the water draining your rings stupidly quick and I am certain it’s impossible to finish
without the use of speed-running tools or save-states. But the other tests are pretty reasonable. Still, the variety here is very limited and
I wish we had more to do. Positively, something I am chuffed about is
how the music here was handled. The tune sounds, alright, but it was the way
the song exited out of its loop and calmly ended when you get to the results screen. Admittedly
that only fabricates itself when you fail. Just minor changes like this goes a long way
with me, nice touch. They tried another gimmick with the music
in Ring Land Zone… and good gracious, it’s dreadful. I take my hat off to them for trying something
different but it screeches too much for my ears. All the other tunes in this game are tolerable
but none of them caught my interest apart from two songs possibly. And don’t get me wrong, they fit for their intended purpose and approximately
three tunes that I’m about to show off have some kicks
to them, but the majority just sounded a tad flat as
if they weren’t really trying to express themselves. Picking my favourite three was a little tough but the first one I’m about to show was
the only one that stuck out to me immediately. As for the sound effects, a lot of them remain
unchanged albeit two new announcements. Sonia’s twirling facility features a long
and satisfying grinding noise that keeps going until she stops spinning
or an interfering sound cuts it. And secondly, we have… the stupid Sonic CD jump noise!! Anyway, a lot of sound effects were duplicated
to be used elsewhere as you can imagine. For example, the spinning blade sound from
Scrap Brain Zone is used for the lasers in Chaotic Street’s boss. Speaking of bosses, the majority have been
reformed and for the most part, I quite enjoyed them. Although some acts are completely inattentive
of fights. But when the clashes did make an appearance,
they were relatively pleasant. You may lose a life with your first encounter but it doesn’t usually take too long to
pick up their patterns and act accordingly. They’re not so rough either and they use
a sensible amount of attacks rather than going beserk… except for this guy. Really, I have no clue what I am meant to
do here. I defeated him by fluke with Sonia, and then
with Silver, I got game over several times and even a time
over. Metal Sonic just opens his self-up for hits
when he fancies it, and vice versa. That’s not even counting the glitch where
he just shoved me through the floor! And the bugs didn’t stop there. There are just way too many to list in this
review. From lava not being a bother, to sprites completely malfunctioning. As I’ve earlier skimmed through some errors
in this analysis, I’m not going to really talk about them
here as it would take another five to ten minutes to discuss them all. But I promise you now, we will come across
a heck-load within the live stream. I don’t know, guys, this game just didn’t
turn out how I wanted it to. The stage and music art are just about average
with the level design being a complete joke. The bosses are pretty good, the special stages are passable, everything is just “okay”. There was nothing really that made me gasp
in excitement except for the splash art and title screens
when commencing the gameplay. The beginning presentation promises you quality
when in reality, the game doesn’t really deliver. I applaud the effort that went into our superstars
on how they look and handle, but even their physics could be tweaked a
little as it’s not perfect. Is this the final version? For the love of Jiminy Cricket I hope not! The Sonic Retro Wiki says it’s still in
progress but I wasn’t prepared to scan 47 pages on
the official project’s forums to find out. But I do know that this was the very version
that was studied for the Sonic Hacking Contest. I wasn’t expecting a “dish set for a king”
or anything but do I personally believe this deserves
first place? Well, without playing the other submissions,
it’s hard to say. And I can’t compare it to Sonic 2 Recreation
in case I get accused of being biased. But if I was a judge, I for myself wouldn’t
award it the Gold. Sorry, but that’s just how I feel and The
S Factor gets my official rating of 6 out of 10. If any of the people involved in the making
of The S Factor is watching, please do not take this to heart. I appreciate that a lot of time and effort
has been put into the game but it just didn’t tickle my senses. But that doesn’t affect my respect towards
any member of the team and I would most certainly love to try out
any future updates should they happen. Thanks to everyone for watching. Make sure to leave a like if you enjoyed the
video and share it with your friends! And I can’t forget my sponsors, I really
appreciate what they do for me as this retrospective wouldn’t have been
possible without them. If you would like to become a sponsor or check
my Discord Server or any of my socials for that matter, then
make sure to visit my website for more information! Don’t forget to watch the S Factor Live
Stream I will be putting on next week, on Saturday 7th July 8pm BST. The link for that is in the card or in the
description below. And what’s that? You want a clue on what’s
planned for my next main review? Well it’s going to be a Sonic fan game rather
than a hack! Although the timing will be a little twisted…


  1. I guess this review explains why the hack didn't click with me when I played it back in 2013 as seeing all that cheap level design in this video reminded me of "Mega Man and Bass" where the game had a habit of making the levels and bosses a chore to complete no matter who you were playing as.
    Makes me wonder if the general opinion on this hack has changed since those posts shown at the start of the video like what happened with Sonic 1 Megamix because seeing this being praised as one of the best Sonic rom hacks kind of perplexes me a little bit.

    Before anyone asks, I found this via a convenient past sign post.

  2. The creator Is reworking on this to finish it this was the pre finished version I have contacted the original creator

  3. This used to be a good romhack, but now I see it has some really really Sonic Rush inspired level design, but worse imo

    17:28 Silver SUCC

  4. The Character artwork is the best part of this hack really, even the secret character has some pretty impressive super form sprites!

  5. I remember playing this rom hack years ago. I didn't follow the hacking contest properly back in 2013. Only just saw what Sonic hacks I can play with via Sonic Retro.
    Onto the main review with feedback: I agree with your points. The story doesn't really structure well in a unique way, and it's mainly just modifying level layouts and boss patterns with different characters to play with, alone.
    I do like the splash screens, title screen, and options screen (hence, menu theme). I wasn't a fan of the modern SEGA logo style. Interesting easter egg with the password feature, even though Scourge was featured in the old version of this hack.
    Such a shame that the main gameplay style formulas are just like a traditional classic Sonic game.
    I enjoyed Sonia's super twirl, an effective spin dash alternative, for the most part until the downsides. Ah well, nothing is perfect. At least Sonia's version of an insta-shield is more useful.
    Silver's levitating in the air trick was my favourite as I can land on higher places instead of trying to jump my way up, etc. 7:34 was a nice callback to his ability from Sonic '06.
    In terms of level design, and object placements, I now understood so much more flaws which really frustrates the player for no reason (similar to after watching your Sonic Scorched Quest review). My only favourites are Placid Sapphire and Chaotic Street (artwork), and your top 3 soundtrack picks.
    The only thing I liked about the special stages is the mission objectives, except the 4th one. The rest wasn't as appealing.
    I like how all of the present bosses are technical in their own way, minus the boss patterns at White Blaster. 17:04 was very surprising. So many Game Over moments in these clips.
    For me, it looked like the new version made things worse when it came to making further changes.

  6. To make Metal Sonic open for attack you have to jump into him with enough speed when he's in a ball. If you had enough speed he'll fly to the side of the screen, bounce off of it, and become open for attack. I remember having a few problems with this. For one, the amount of time you have to hit Metal Sonic is very small. It makes it really difficult with Silver since he has no real way to gain speed. Super Silver is almost a must for that fight. And two, sometimes after bouncing into Metal Sonic you rebound back a bit giving the player even less time to score a hit. Also Metal is just a little too spastic at times. Then there's the time limit. 3 long bosses in one stage felt like a bit much. I'm surprised you didn't harp on it some more.

    Fun Fact: There's also a 4th character to play as. It's Blaze. I forget the method to play as her, but she's very incomplete. Her sprites change between herself, Sonic, and Shadow if I recall correctly and I don't think she had a unique moveset either.

  7. i'm sure the guys who suggested this crap were fanboys that only played the game once and never looked back again.

    Also, good luck on the next one (oh boy)

  8. It's a shame that the devs dropped the ball with the level design or I would absolutely give this a shot.

  9. "Common boring homing attack"?!

    That upsets me. the homing attack is, without a doubt, THE BEST MOVE IN SONIC EVER!!!!!!!

    How DARE you offend the homing attack like that.

  10. Finally, someone who addresses the bad hazard placement! Still, I do respect the effort put into the game…but the only way I could beat it is with cheating as Scourge. God, it felt so good to have the Super Peel Out again!!

    Also, you give really good hints~

  11. I agree the game it’s not perfect it’s okay and I would have to rate it a 5.5/10. Anyways loved your review redhotsonic. 👍🙂

  12. I Quite Like Ring Land Zone Act 1’s Music
    Edit: Question: Would You Like Me To Make You A New Profile Picture? It's Ok If You Say No

  13. Im not gonig to be in the live stream because im going to be in mexico for a week or weekend. 😭😭😭😭😭😭😢😢😢😢😭

  14. Scourge is playable, all you need to do is go to settings, put the music on the double theme, go to the title screen, and use the sonic 1 level select code.

  15. Don't be sorry about badmouthing the levels. I might love the idea of this game and I'm totally ecstatic to see a fully playable Silver with his own abilities, but that still doesn't make up for how dickish some of these levels are.

  16. It's been a good 5 years since I worked on S Factor, and boy, does some of this review hit home. I agree with you on the level design; the parts that are mine aren't some of my best work, but I am still happy to have been a part of it. Personally, Chaotic Street Zone is my favourite in terms of art, level design and music.

  17. It must have been a lot of errors you came acrossed.

    And it really drove you nuts. 17:09

    I love to tell you write Red Sonic.

    i think scripting is way too hard.

    But if you doing logic.

    It is way Soo Easy then scripting.

    I hope in the future that people.

    Will get off of Scripting.

    And get into Logic Bricks.

    Plugins on Easy.

    I recommend them to every project game.

    When Sonic Retro get into making logic brick.

    For there users they will probably.

    Manage to make A 2D game Better.

    And it will continue to get more better as they continue using logic Bricks.

    It is not too late for Sonic Retro to create there own Logic Brick Plug-In. BYE Red Sonic.

    Good Job on your work 138 is me
    Whoeve made this game.

    It not the end of the world keep working on your game.

    The more you work on it.

    The better you become.

    Ast For a day i'm tweaking for tacos.


  18. The version of the ROM is the 2013 version (I think) there is a 2016 version on the 2016 sonic hacking contest website I couldn't get it the ROM to download but maybe it'll work for you.

  19. E-
    I know I'm a bit late, but maybe you should check out the pre-2013 release.
    A few of the things you disliked weren't present, but Sonia lacked the kick move (iirc).
    More so, I prefer its version of Ring Land. The music for said stage is just as questionable, but looks way better as a Ring-gold version of Spring Yard, rather than a now easy-to-be-overlooked PoC Sonic 2 tile port.

    EDIT: Forgot to include a link.

  20. While it isn't very well telegraphed, you can drain the water out of the special stages by pressing some switches. It took me a long while to discover but it made the "Find the 4th McGuffin" easier by a long shot.

  21. DID YOU KNOW THAT: while I was playing  the s factor on the 4th special stage I literally got into the water then I got out JUST TO GET CHEAP SHOTTED! I am Happy somebody knows about the design or I would of gone insane! you got a subriber

  22. What a fuck dislikes for Sonia manic sonic😡😠😠😠😠😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡🙅

  23. Why didn’t sonic 2 recreation win? The level design is way better in your hack! Maybe you should judge a future hacking contest

  24. 4:18 Ashuro Sonic? I haven't played the game yet but I remember the famous colour-pallette glitch in Sonic 2…

  25. Wow this hack is so bad in every possible way. Starting with weird nonsensical story/set up, going next with bad level design, bad graphics, bad optimization, inconsistent enemies and dickish hazard placement.
    Just how in the world did this win, in freaking 2013. Pretty sure we had Unleashed project at that time. And other actually good stuff.

  26. I think that the other super themes like those from sonic and shadow and blaze etc. ar unused since only sonia and silver ar playable

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