The latest issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) features a first look at the next Sonic game - a new Sonic the Hedgehog party title by the name of Sonic Shuffle, formerly called Sonic Square. The game is being prepared for a fall release and supports network play.

Sonic Shuffle will allow players to control Sonic and crew as well as some new characters in a Mario Party-style game. A new villian character will also be introduced in the game tentatively named "Void". Void, Sonic Shuffle's main villain, has harnessed the power of special crystals called Precioustones. It's then up to you and three other players to compete in several Mario Party-style minigames to get the Precioustones back.

Players are required to navigate several themed board-game-style maps by choosing cards. These boards are littered with color-coded and iconic spaces that will thrust Sonic and crew into different minigames. According to the game's producer, there will be approximately 50 minigames in all.

Sonic Shuffle features a story mode for one player, a battle mode for two to four players on the same Dreamcast unit, and a network mode for two to four players across the Internet. And the best part about the Internet mode is that there will be no lag. According to Sega, players should not be able to see a difference between the offline and online games.

As for the game's graphics, Sonic Shuffle will utilize the same "celshading" routine that is currently used in Jet Set Radio. Early screens show some of the game's great-looking 3D environments as well as the characters' very cartoony looks.

Sonic Shuffle will be on display at Sega's E3 booth. Unfortunately my scanner is on the fritz so I can't scan any pictures - BUT check out the latest issue of EGM (Sonic himself on the cover as well as a Dreamcast swirl), which is currently arriving in the mailboxes of subscribers and should be at retailers next week.

So what about the heavily awaited Sonic Adventure 2 screenshots that were hyped about? According to videogamers.com (who is in league with EGM):

Last month's issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly - the June issue, with Tony Hawk on the cover - promised readers that the next issue would feature the first screens and info on Sonic Adventure 2. Unfortunately, Sega of America decided after the June issue went to press that the timing wasn't right to unveil Sonic Adventure 2 just yet. "It's a bad-news/good-news kinda thing," said Crispin Boyer, EGM's features editor. "We lost out on Sonic Adventure 2 for our July issue, and I apologize on behalf of the magazine for not delivering the screens and info. Sega is promising us that we'll be the first magazine to show Sonic Adventure 2, but when we get those screens is a bit up in the air right now.

Thats actually understandable, but so far, rumors are floating around that Sonic Adventure 2 (while the first few levels are playable) may not show up at all in E3. Yes its speculation and rumor, but it is something to note as we won't fully know until E3 comes or if Sega announces. Personally I think it highly unlikely that it wont show up, but who knows? :P

Unfortunately - since I CAN'T do any scanning yet (my personal scanner has seemingly gone cuckoo ^___^), I have provided some screenshots of what Jet Set Radio looks like so you can get a gist of how it looks. VERY nice and detailed backgrounds, but that celshading almost gives it a 2D on 3D look. The finished product will be interesting to see nonetheless. The 2 screenshots of JSR are below for you to peruse...