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Replay Value (Multiplayer, Secrets and Unlockables)


Ryan Brown

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Replay value in video games has always been a mixed bag. Back in the day, the fun factor of any sort of game WAS its replay value. If the game was good, the of course one would keep playing it, even if it was frickin' hard. Nowadays, however, you have to add extra stuff to keep the player interested beyond a weekend rental.

For Sonic, the Chaos Emeralds served this purpose. You had to go back and get them all for the real ending (and to blow through the game again as Super Sonic or whoever). Multiplayer also helped. As of late, however, you've got the missions, emblems and ranking system, which grades you on your skills. The only game to award you for your hard work in spades was SA2, with its costumes and, of course, 3D Green Hill. Heck, Black Knight had value in its item system. No other Sonic game thus far has bothered to give you anything short of a thanks for playing for all your persistence and hard work (all Heroes did was give you an anal "Super Hard Mode", which was basically tweaked versions of what Team Dark went through).

So, what say you? What needs to be added to make a Sonic game continuously fun? In-level Super forms? Better rewards? Lenient ranking? Diverse multiplayer?

Or should the game being good by itself be enough?

Edited by Ryan Brown
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I'm gonna go through points of what I think makes good replay.

Chaos Emeralds. The special stages were always a cool bonus, but they've been removed for that purpose. Rather than a final story, which is the trend now, I'd like the good ending and bad ending to make a comeback. There's something compelling about seeing Sonic really save the day, and working towards that, instead of trying to unlock the final story, which can feel like a 100% completathon, like a chore. Most games I love have multiple endings.

The 100% completathon. Despite what I just said above, reaching 100% completion is a good kind of replay, but only the hardcore will try to achieve completion. In order to make the 100% appealing to the average player, the reward should be well worth it. Green Hill in SA2 is the perfect example of this. An extra level, with fan service. Maybe an extra play style like Luigi in Mario Galaxy, and the festival becoming unlockable even after that.

Extra characters. These guys don't have to come at the 100% mark, that was just an example. But Sonic's done that with Metal in SA. He wasn't enough. Metal was pretty much a skin, and skins are lame. Luigi was tweaked for Galaxy, so you played the game slightly differently with him. Maybe a character with extra moves, stats moved around, something to make the experience fresh. Give me Knuckles in Unleashed or something else ridiculous enough to be a worthy unlockable. Super Sonic would be nice also.

Rankings. Ryan, you said more lenient rankings. I agree and disagree. Rankings should be fair. A good ranking should let you know you're good at the game, not crazy perfect. If you have to be crazy perfect for an "S" it's too frustrating. Games I would say were fair with ranking were SA and Sonic Rush. Ranking is also tied to the difficulty and cheapness factors of the game, so you'd have to measure accordingly. Ranking rewards you for being a good player, which leads to medals, which leads to unlockables.

Collection sprees for extras. No not like the medals in Unleashed. Collecting for mere progress is also frustrating, if you aren't earning the items as a result of your playing. Mario games use stars to unlock new levels, but at the end of each level is a star. If what you need isn't connected to the focus of play, it feels cheap. What wouldn't feel cheap is if these collectibles got you extras, like the Fire Souls in SatSR, or tapes in Unleashed. SatSR was actually a good example of any of these, and for those of us who liked it, I'm sure we tried for the Wind Crest and all that fun stuff. Extras could be concept art, videos and interviews, costumes.

Multiplayer. Back to SatSR, that multiplayer sucked, but at least they tried. Getting together with friends and messing around is probably the biggest replay a game can have, because it's not just the game that makes it fun. Second player Tails even works for this, look at the old games. SA2 was loved for its multiplayer. Which begs the question, why in the hell doesn't Unleashed have online play for records and multiplayer races? When you make the fastest Sonic game yet, that almost seems like a requirement. Alternate multiplayer works also. My most played game on the N64 was Mario Kart, and not for the races. For the battles, with the balloons! Take the basic gameplay, add and subtract rules and make a new game. That's how proper multiplayer is done.

Lastly, Easter Eggs. Big the freaking Cat in SA2 and SatSR. Something small and funny you might not have noticed in the games before. During playthroughs of any MGS game, I'm always wondering how I got a certain codec call or hidden item. Those things are funny and keep you coming back, just to see them. It adds to the love for the game, and keeps you wondering if there's something you still don't know about and haven't seen.

So I think that's about it, or I'm out of ideas. I'm sure a lot of other people have similar ideas, because this is pretty basic stuff. Time constraints probably keep this stuff out of the games now, but with DLC I think there are chances for it to exist in the future.

Edited by Badnikz
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Well, I believe the best replay value is and always will be the game itself being fun. When I can come back to a game even years later and still enjoy it, it's not because of the extras tacked onto it, but because I enjoy playing it. Any game that wants to have real replay value needs this first, before they worry about adding separate bits and pieces to do it.

That said, I do like the emblems/rankings/missions they've been doing. Ideally though, they should always be extras...I'm not a fan of the trend to pad out Sonic's gameplay by forcing the player to do the sort of missions that were completely optional in the Adventures and Heroes. The worst it should get is like in SRA, where your ranking determines how much material you get; at worst, you just have to play the levels once or twice more, which if the levels are good you should want to do anyway. The best is when they don't impede your progress at all; you can still see the whole story, play all the levels (excepting SA2's GHZ) and basically have a complete game without even worrying about what rankings you have or what emblems you've collected. But, for the people who are interested, there's a good number of preset goals for them to work towards and push themselves to be even better at the game, and even if the reward is just a checkmark in a box, it gives the player something to strive for.

Tho', there really should be more than just a checkmark...that's one of the things that disappoints me about recent Sonic. They keep the challenges but you don't really get much for completing them. No Super Sonic, no costumes, no extra levels, and hell we don't even get so much as a Super Hard Mode anymore. I still do the challenges they lay out, hell I've 100%ed nearly every Sonic game that I own and I plan to continue, but it's still disappointing to get that final emblem/ranking/medal/whatever and end up with nothing more for it than any other. The rewards don't even have to be huge to be worth it, just something more tangible than a "congratulations" screen.

But Sonic's done that with Metal in SA. He wasn't enough. Metal was pretty much a skin, and skins are lame.
I disagree, I think skins are a great reward. A few tweaks to the gameplay are alright, but they certainly aren't necessary; if the difference is just a few tweaks (like Galaxy's Luigi), the bulk of the interest is the character's face anyway, not the tweaks. Personally I'd love to see a game that hands out alternate skins for single player the way SatSR did for multiplayer.
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Well, I believe the best replay value is and always will be the game itself being fun. When I can come back to a game even years later and still enjoy it, it's not because of the extras tacked onto it, but because I enjoy playing it.

I overlooked that. Definitely. A crappy game with extras is still crappy. No one wants to play it let alone unlock something. A good game with extras however, is better.

I disagree, I think skins are a great reward. A few tweaks to the gameplay are alright, but they certainly aren't necessary; if the difference is just a few tweaks (like Galaxy's Luigi), the bulk of the interest is the character's face anyway, not the tweaks.

Well after taking the time to get all the stars for Luigi, I certainly noticed the differences. He jumped higher, but was slippery on floors, making the game harder in many areas, but easier in others. That felt more like a new game plus than a skin, which is why I liked it so much. The new game plus is also great, that feeling should be the aim of any game's major unlockables, IMO.

Edited by Badnikz
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I don't 100% a game unless I really LOVED the game or if the reward is really cool. Sonic games as of late fall into neither of those categories.

P.S. Super Sonic WOULD be enough for me providing the level design was as interesting as the classic games.

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In my opinion, replay value doesn't mean looking around for hidden objects/items.

It basically means fun levels which are still fun after I go back and play then quite a few times. I never bother with 100%ing the game in terms of finding items because I hate collecting. For me, 100% means having all the levels of completed.

So if they made a game like Unleashed with only the daytime levels, and if medals aren't required to go on to the next level, then I'd like that.

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All I do in old Sonic games nowadays is replay the base levels. I usually avoid transforming. If they made a Sonic game correctly, extras such a those you listed would be the cherry on the icing on the cake.

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I'd love for the return of boss rush modes, and stage rush modes for games with hubs too.

More interesting achievements would be nice too. Unleashed is a good start, but I want more silly ones, like for smashing 1000 pieces of scenery, or reaching 300 mph or something.

I still hold my view that Sonic games should have a difficulty setting, so veteran players can be really challenged to get 100% if they want to, whereas casual ones can 100% clear the game too and get the same rewards more cheaply if they so wish.

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I liked Sonic Unleashed's replay value, not only are the levels still fun to play but I'm still looking for every medal, tape, CD, and trying to S-rank some stages. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, I still can't S-rank that damn desert level. :( It'd be absolutely perfect if in addition to that, there was a mission and rewards system akin to Sonic Adventure 2, giving you an emblem for every mission you complete. I liked the emblem system, what ever happened to that?

Edited by Solid SOAP
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I think Unleashed Wii/PS2 has good replay value, yes it's not as good as the xbox360/ps3 versions but still. You're encouraged to S rank everything to get enough medals to get into the side doors of the Gaia Gates, to solve the puzzles within, to unlock new missions, to get more medals, to open more doors pf the Gaia Gates ect., all while unlocking cool art, music, movies and lame secret documents along the way.

More stuff like that would be fun for me.

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Ah, good old replay value. Sonic and the Black Knight pretty much ran on that.

First, I'll start off with Supersonic. Yes, I do need to have Supersonic back. That was the best unlockable in the older games, going by the fact you were invincible, could go faster, AND jump higher. I don't which way they should take to unlocking him in the first place, the classic "collect all emeralds" route, or 100% the game.

For level rankings, I think they should just keep it to how fast you make it through the level, maybe adding a little need to have extra points (Sonic Unleashed for the Wii was a bit too easy). I know, destroying enemies on the run is fun, but getting some of the A ranks in SA2 is a pain in the butt, going by the fact I can't really find places where I can rack up points. I think SRA did the best job of rankings, since how fast you went was 8/10 part of the score. (Plus its the only game I've gotten all S rank on.)

Finally, I would like it if they had other unlockable characters throughout the game. Knuckles would have worked perfectly for Unleashed, with only a few minor tweaks. Just not let him have the stretchy arms, let him have the ability to glide, more powerful attacks, and there you go. I could also see this work for Shadow on day stages. Maybe slow him down slightly, but give the options of Chaos powers, such as Chaos Spear. (Don't know how that would be incorporated, but still.)

Also, it is nice to have collectables to go back and find. I say finding a certain amount would unlock previously mentioned things that I said above.

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I agree with Sheffman's SU idea. That would most definatly make me wanna buy a next-gen system. x3

Bah. Maybe they can offer it as Downloadable Content. :P

And YES! Super Sonic/Whoever in the main levles! We must have that!

I liked how in SADX when you had enough emblems you unlocked the older games. x3

Such fun. x3

TEAM SUPER SONIC IN HEROES PLZ.

Hm... playing as Sonic in ShTH... yeah... that'd be sweet. x3 (though, I hear the Expert mode in ShTH is... Run through ALL LEVLES. Without dieing. O_O)

Chao Gardens.

That was a motivation for me playing action stages over and over.

YES! What ever happened to the Chao Gardens?

maybe to unlock them you have to find Cheese and bring him to Cream or something... then you can talk to her and you'll get transported to the Chao Garden. x3

.......

well I thought it was a cool idea. *shot'd*

__

Semi Off-Topic: Guys, GHZ IS still unlockable in SA2B, right?

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TEAM SUPER SONIC IN HEROES PLZ.

Or just more secret characters. There were soo many rumors of "Team Tikal" "Team Eggman" "Team Arcade" and "Spunky Bunky and Ted" flying around for Sonic heroes, and I was dissapointed that there none of them were true.

YES! What ever happened to the Chao Gardens?

maybe to unlock them you have to find Cheese and bring him to Cream or something... then you can talk to her and you'll get transported to the Chao Garden. x3

I don't think you should have to unlock the Chao Garden. But maybe you could unlock EXTRA gardens, like the hero and dark gardens in SA2.

__

Semi Off-Topic: Guys, GHZ IS still unlockable in SA2B, right?

Yes it is. And it is awesome.

That'd be another great thing for replay value. More unlockable retro stages. Chemical Plant plz. And maybe a classic Egg-o-matic hovercraft attatchment thrown into it too? I was hoping for a boss encounter in the new Green Hill...oh well.

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Surely just making the levels multi-tiered in design would be enough. If there were more ways than one to finish a level and it were actually clear, I'd surely devote a bit of extra time to playing the whole game in a slightly different manner. Unleashed got off to a decent start as far as this goes, but they really need to expand on it - most alternate paths so far are merely offramps that go straight back to the same main path, making the whole experience feel linear overall.

A few extra characters would be nice as well, as long as they cut down on the amount of blatant clones out there.

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More than Replay value, I think Sonic games should start to: A) get a higher difficulty level or B) get more hours of gameplay. I guess the option B is better since it would not bother the newcomers to the franchise, but the games has been started to be too short and even if a game ends up a masterpiece, the critics and then the people will really critiziece it amount of hours (I will give as an example the new Klonoa game for the wii: A real good plataformer but extremly short)

Still, i think extras should be something every sonic game should have. Something I liked about Black Knight and Secret Rings was that it had lots of thing. The bad thing is that they should just make a FEW extras only unlockable with high ranks...specially if the sonic games continues having such oppressive rankings where you can't really determine if you did it good or not (I'm looking at you Black Knight). From extra stages to alternative costumes, everything would work. Also they shoudl think in a multyplayer that could be fun or not put it at all. SATSR and SATBK's multiplayer are really bland and not so fun to play.

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Or just more secret characters. There were soo many rumors of "Team Tikal" "Team Eggman" "Team Arcade" and "Spunky Bunky and Ted" flying around for Sonic heroes, and I was dissapointed that there none of them were true.

Perhaps a bonus story focusing on Metal Sonic and why he did what he did? (I'm sure it'd be fine having just one char to control for just one or two levles.)

Yes it is. And it is awesome.

That'd be another great thing for replay value. More unlockable retro stages. Chemical Plant plz. And maybe a classic Egg-o-matic hovercraft attatchment thrown into it too? I was hoping for a boss encounter in the new Green Hill...oh well.

I remember unlocking GHZ on Sonic Battle. Gawd, that was awesome. Shame, I don't have the game anymore.

Although, I really loved how they had GHZ as the starting place in Chronicles. x3

And I wish they could've done more for replay in Chronicles rather then saying "here, play the game again but with a Super l33t Sonic"

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Yeah, a game has to be good before extras can be bothered with.

Regarding multiplayer, what kinds of modes would be most suitable? Racing as always or should there be a bit more variety? I guess online capability would have to be a factor, as well.

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Racing's probably the best way to go, as it fits the gameplay best. Basic Sonic gameplay really isn't built for other sorts of competition...if they have multiple gameplay styles they can fit in more, but I'd rather they stuck to one style, so.

Might be worth bringing back Sonic 2's style, where the game compared how many rings and item boxes you got in addition to who finished first to decide who wins. Like rankings (sometimes), it gets the players to play better rather than just faster.

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Racing's probably the best way to go, as it fits the gameplay best. Basic Sonic gameplay really isn't built for other sorts of competition...if they have multiple gameplay styles they can fit in more, but I'd rather they stuck to one style, so.

Might be worth bringing back Sonic 2's style, where the game compared how many rings and item boxes you got in addition to who finished first to decide who wins. Like rankings (sometimes), it gets the players to play better rather than just faster.

Agreed. Just getting to the end shouldn't assure victory. You have to give newbies a chance against veterans.

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Amy kind of strange in SA2's multiplayer, she could use was able to get her competitor to stop for a pretty long time by telling them to. Amy was basically using The Voice, making me think that she's a Bene Gesserit.

But seriously, SA2's multiplayer was set up well but it's levels were based too much on already knowing them to be at all pick up and play. There's also the issue of the crazy powers, they screw up the balance. Because Amy's control lock last so long, it's very effective, and tend to kill the opponent more often. It's also her only power, so she gets it every time, so Amy is almost unbeatable.

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I think for multiplayer, you should have both "battle" and "race" modes.

Battle would basically be an anything goes race to the finish on the normal levels, like Sonic Adventure 2, or Sonic Rush. Experience would be required to win.

Race however would have looping stages with controls and design policies similar to Sonic Unleashed on the Wii/PS2. A looping stage means new players can learn the track much faster, and have a chance of winning on their first time. I.e. they'll be unfamiliar with the course for the first lap, but still have the second, third (and any subsequent laps on short courses) to claim a victory.

Wii Unleashed's racing mechanics would be perfect for introducing those to the game who don't normally play platformers. Anyone can play a racing game, and the added loops and satisfying homing attack chains and spring bouncing etc will make for a unique experience for first timers.

And just to top it all off, Smash Bros. style short tutorial videos could be avaliable at about 30-60 seconds long to quickly introduce newcomers to the ropes.

Edited by JezMM
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