The only reason the werehog wasn't popular, was because it was Sonic.
If it had been Knuckles or something, then people would have been all over it. That and it was SA2 and it has the nostalgia factor.
From a pure technical standpoint, the werehog is undoubtedly superior.
SA2's Treasure hunting levels, whist fun for being huge and good for exploration, most of them never really had any worthwhile level design. They were, just chunks of land that you could glide aroung over. As for the objective; Find 3 incredibly tiny fragments of Master Emerald in massive stages with an appauling radar system. You could only find the emeralds in a specific order. Why? To add fake challenge, they made the hints incredibly cryptic and unecessarily generic. In fact the way the hint system was designed, it was only really effective once you'd already played ths stages. Who on their first
time playing knew where "Pumpkin Triangle" was in Pumpkin Hill? Nobody. You'd have to fly around the whole stage looking for where it could be, once you found it, you'd have to search around in the area, whilst wrestling an appauling camera system. Controls at least were solid. Mad Space, Meteor Herd and Security Hall, were the worst stages. Sure they were the biggest ones, but when you have to find 3 small Emerald Shard, it go tedious. Mad Space's gravity was annoying, because it was before Mario Galaxy and thus didn't work properly. Overall, SA1 had far superior designed Treasure hunting levels. The Radar worked in any order. Tikal was much better at giving hints, as she actually pointed you in the direction you needed to go. The levels were large enough to explore, but no so obscenely huge, that finding the shards became a chore.
However, we aren't really judging SA1 are we.
The Mech shooting levels were the worst stages. Principly because they were dull. At least you could derive some amusement from gliding around vast stages and just dicking around. But the Mech shooting? No. They were linear. Too linear. You think that Unleashed Day stages are linear, then you haven't seen the SA2 Mech levels. Most stages were just you walking down a small corridor, using a boring, but functional lock-on mechanic. There was no exploration, save for the occasional extra powerup. You just started, and went to the end. Occasionally, you'd get extremely long but easy stages, that last 15 minutes, but don't actually have any engaging gameplay inbetween. These stages did their job, but were just boring and most of Tails' levels felt completely unecessary.
The Werehog is a different beast. I'll be referring to the PS360 version. The stages were at worst functional. The controls were responsive enough to work. The combat, whilst formulaic, was varied enough. There were plenty of moves and combos you could use. The camera was very good, it was usually a decent distance away from Sonic, rather than being annoyingly close-up. When you needed to move it, it worked fine and hardly caused too many problems.
Stages themselves, I thought were actually very well designed. They were large and gave you a good sense of scale. Puzzles were usually pathetic. Level design was good. Featured plenty of actual platforming. The only thing that caused a real problem was the combat. Rooms where you had to defeat all enemies to move on were rather cheap and annoying. Dark Titans and Dark Mothers can go fuck themselves. They were of impressive size, but they were too difficult early on in the game, due to poor stats, and just cheap in later stages(Eggmanland: 2 at once with a Wizard that healed them.....fantastic). Brawling only served to lengthen the gameplay time. Removing them would cut the stage length down by at least a half if not more.
consider the Werehog to be much better overall. It actually involved platforming. Sure Gliding around was cool and fun, but there was no platforming because you could pretty much fly over the levels. Mech shooting was just boring. Werehog, whilst arguably inappropriate, was at least engaging.
How much enjoyment you derived from the game is subjective, but from a design point of veiw, the Werehog is just better executed.
Also, the whole idea that "The werehog is worse because it was a stupid idea!" is bullshit. Sure it may have been a stupid idea, but it was still overall better executed than the Treasure/Mech levels.
Edited by Scar, 30 December 2010 - 05:00 PM.