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Genre Experimentation


Ryan Brown

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Every successful franchise flirts with other gameplay genres. That's an inevitability. Some are great and supplement the franchise well, others bog it down with needless crap.

Sonic's been hit and miss with his. There's been the nifty (Fighters, Battle, Riders [to an extent]) and the shoddy (Drift, Shuffle, Riders [again, to an extent]). I believe that Sonic shouldn't be a one trick pony and limit himself to one genre. Nearly any genre can be implemented well if done right.

So, I'd like to have this topic explore that.

Party: Party games are abhorred by the hardcore scene (as well as the vast majority of the gaming press) but still sell well. Sonic's only had one party game and it didn't suit him very well. Shuffle's card system was flawed as hell and th minigames needed tweaking. If this can be fixed, I imagine Sonic could have another little party. Just don't shoehorn it with a storyline.

Role Playing: Chronicles was a fine RPG for Sonic, but the DS held it back badly. For Sonic to be fully realized in an RPG setting, the areas have to be a tad more wide and the fights must have more flow to them. Also, more interaction with your comrades outside of the main base would be nice.

Fighting: Now we're talking. Practically every member of the cast would be choice for a fighting game. Combos, special attacks, super moves, perhaps an item or two, and you've got a sweet brawler on your hands. Just make sure it's on a plane everyone can work with.

Racing: Here's the one genre that suits Sonic perfectly in theory, but has yet to be used to its full potential. One would think that the first problem to solve would be how Sonic should race. So far, he's been in cars and boards, neither of which seem to suit him outside of a main series mini game or something. And when he did race on foot, that was panned, as well.

If he's going to race, how should it be done?

That's all I can think of at the moment. I didn't bring up first person shooters because that doesn't suit this series at all.

What do you guys think?

Edited by Ryan Brown
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While it'd be more of a spinoff, an Eggman game could do well with the real time strategy genre. Order your army against GUN, Eggman Nega, and... Does anyone else in the series have an army? Black Doom's dead, so... Eh, there's two at least.

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While it'd be more of a spinoff, an Eggman game could do well with the real time strategy genre. Order your army against GUN, Eggman Nega, and... Does anyone else in the series have an army? Black Doom's dead, so... Eh, there's two at least.

I don't think so. Sonic spin-offs break far away from the norm as it is, but still keep a quick flow. Something like that would seem rather boring to most.

For strategy, I think something along the lines of Fire Emblem (minus the grid movement) might work. It'd take some doing to keep it interesting, though.

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These are all but extinct, but I want to see Sonic go into the "Arcade/Get High Score" genre like Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Balloon Fight, or Burger Time...

Hmm...methinks he'd have to return to the arcades for that, but sure. :)

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And when he did race on foot, that was panned, as well.
I still like Sonic R, flawed as it is...

For racing, on-foot is the best way to go. I mean, our main character can outrun nearly any vehicle and most of the rest of the cast are pretty damn quick as well, making vehicles kind of unnecessary for a fast-paced race (though I wouldn't mind the slowest characters using some sort of vehicle to keep up...I'd rather they do that than not appear at all). I think they could stand to "Sonic" up the gameplay a bit as well, though I dunno how to shake it up...

I wouldn't mind seeing another Sonic fighting game, but I'd prefer if it wasn't a traditional one like Fighters. Mostly because...well, I just don't like traditional fighters. Battle was wonky, but I still had more fun with it than with Fighters, simply because it's more approachable...no bizarre strings of input to do anything more than a basic punch or kick. I don't think a traditional fighter makes good use of the character's abilities, either; the arena's too small and cramped and movement is too limited. Something more of a fighter-platformer, like Smash Bros and the Jump games would be better, I think.

RPGs...it's a very bizarre choice for a character that's about speed and action, and personally I think Bioware's attempt was crap, but I do believe it's possible to make a good Sonic RPG. The problem is I don't really trust anyone to do it. I think the two key points in RPGs are the writing (both the story as a whole and the characters, specifically) and the battle system (the meat of the gameplay). I wouldn't trust Sonic Team with either of these, and as far as the writing I trust anyone else even less (as far as getting the characters and setting right, that is; there are definitely better writers out there). The "best" option would probably be a fangame, but fanwork is always a crapshoot, so. Still, there's a part of me that wants to see one (a good one, this time), and I've already thought up a battle system that I like...

I'm not big on party games, mostly because they tend to be more about milking the characters' identities rather than using the series to create something new and interesting, and an RTS is even further down the Bizarre scale than an RPG and personally it's something I've got no interest in.

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Party Games: This is one genre Sonic really hasn't dove into. I've never played Shuffle, and probably won't soon, but I think Sonic and co. could do well with the classic game board/minigame genre. Just add speed based platforming like minigames in there, and it would probably work fine. (Do you count Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games one of these?)

Role Playing: Chronicles to me was pretty okay. Sometimes its difficulty level went up or down suddenly, but otherwise, it worked. Also, due to the multiple hintings in the game, there might be a sequel coming along. Lets just hope they fix all the mistakes, such as not needing to rely on POW moves as much.

Fighting: This would work great with the Sonicverse. For one, you have a vast amount of characters, most of them unique in moves, plus many locales to choose from. They've already proved in Brawl Sonic is capable of fighting, (well, sort of.) so why not just do not make their own game? Better yet, just make it a SEGA version so there is more variety in characters.

Racing: This, next to a fighting game, would work best for Sonic in my opinion. I could easily see Unleashed day stage gameplay incorporated onto a race track. Also, I agree with Diogenes. They need to be on foot. If Sonic is going to race, he'd better be running.

Edited by Sheffman
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Party: I was never quite fond of the board games of most party games, and mostly like to play the mini games, so I'll just stick with that. Pretty much taking inspiration from previous genres and gameplay styles of past Sonic games and incorporating them into a short mini game. Like having a three player co op game ala Heroes where you have to work together to reach the goal the fastest or taking out enemies as fast as possible. Or maybe a House of the Dead like game featuring comical zombie robots and using, say, a paintball gun to shoot blasts of color at the enemies, in the end, making the whole field an explosion of colors.

Fighting: Possible the best way to embrace Sonic's large cast. Each character is different and provides their own fighting style. And a Smash Bros-esc style game would best fit the characters agile styles.

Racing: While I greatly accept Riders hoverboards, I'd much prefer them to stick to on-foot racing, just to be consistent, and it makes it unique in that it does what not many other racers can do: race without vehicles. And like Sheffman's idea, having Unleashed's style gameplay incorporated into a racing format. Drifting and Side Stepping with some QTEs to reach shortcuts could help compliment Unleshed's rather linear stages.

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Racing: In a series about speed, I don't see how racing is not an option. As Diogenes said, on foot is the way to go. Yes, I liked the Rides games (the second one FAR more than the first though) but Sonic is defined as a runner.

Fighting: Neither Sonic Battle nor Sonic the Fighters disappointed me so I'm all for another.

Party: I've never played Shuffle, but I think the party system was handled quite nicely in SatSR and I wouldn't mind another.

RTS: I have to go with Gordo on this one. Eggman, being in command of a robot army, is bound to make for a great RTS character. What's more, the minions being robots gives room for them to be customizable.

FPS: Oh yes, I went there. In all honesty though, I think E-102 Gamma would make a great FPS character. Gamma is one of my favorite video game characters because he's purehearted and simplistic and I think there could be a great story surrounding him.

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Shuffle was funny but it needs tweaking to appeal to everyone.

Sonic R was perfect. Get more laps and some more characters and it's due. Sonic runs on foot, Tails flies in the Tornado/flies with his tails for better options (SA), Knuckles uses his climbing abilities to find new routes, Amy drives Breezie like she did once. Other characters do as their abilities or variations of these.

Sonic Fighters was pretty cool, but STATS adapted to each character would be nice.

I still htink that either of these should be done with SEGA characters, not just Sonic, like Superstar Tennis.

Edited by redmenace
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Ok here's what I think:

RPG: A Sonic RPG should be alot like Sonic Battle was, just add a party system, and make it more of an exploration RPG and less of a fighter like Sonic Battle was. Let's face it, Sonic Chronicles sucked...turn based battles won't work with sonic.

Racing: Sonic Unleashed daytime stages would be the way to go. Adding more characters, alot more stages, and online play would make a Sonic racing game complete. Totally on foot.

Fighting: Sonic has been pretty good with fighting, both traditional and unique. I would prefer a SmashBros-type fighter though.

I dunno, thats what I think.

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Sonic R was perfect. Get more laps and some more characters and it's due. Sonic runs on foot, Tails flies in the Tornado/flies with his tails for better options (SA), Knuckles uses his climbing abilities to find new routes, Amy drives Breezie like she did once. Other characters do as their abilities or variations of these.
My main problem with R was that the roster was terrible. Amy and Robotnik really didn't have any worthwhile advantages to the others, the unlockables were just robot versions of the original characters and the opposition was fixed once you unlock the other characters.
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My main problem with R was that the roster was terrible. Amy and Robotnik really didn't have any worthwhile advantages to the others, the unlockables were just robot versions of the original characters and the opposition was fixed once you unlock the other characters.

Eggman could hover over water, so... That was kind of good in some levels, at least.

And, had his missiles been properly implemented to actually slow down the other drivers, it would've been a useful skill too. Sadly, they seemed to kind of... push them forward.

Eh, even so, I'd always play as him, and in so doing, I'd usually win.

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I think Riders is a fantastic concept for a racing game; everyone has a shot to outrace Sonic, making it balanced. A foot-racing Sonic game is so implausible it's not even funny; Sonic's top speed is 765 mph, Big the Cat's is... not. Every character should get a chance, and the board/skate/bike concept works fine. It just needs to be perfected and needs its own art style to make it special. (I think the sketchy-cel-shaded art style used in the first one is best)

I kind of want to see a game based around the shooting levels for Gamma's and Eggman's levels. It would be an Eggman game, but with a little more speed and flow, with the ability to make your own mechs with items and machine parts you find in levels. It would feature a backstory to Eggman, and the ending would have him become the hero unexpected, something along the lines of the Black Arms returning to destroy the earth after the defeat of their leader or something. I'll write a plot outline if necessary, but these are just small details.

A fighting game would be awesome, but I have yet to see a perfect formula. So far, Sonic Battle was the best one, but it needs major improvement, and less story.

Party game... I would kind of like a simple minigame collection, with an Eggmanland theme, but I don't think it would fly with everyone. No boardgame thingies... that's Mario Party. We want Sonic!!!!

Best game ever: Chao in Space. A first person shooter-platformer-stratgegy-flight simulator-rpg-racing-fighting game combo. Location: SPPAAAACCCEEEEEE!!! IT WILL SELL MILLIONS! You can also upload your Chao from the Tiny Chao Garden and play as it. With a gun. Yeeeaaaahhhh... I'm just joking with this, but if they can make an awesome Chao in Space game, I'd totally buy it.

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I think Riders is a fantastic concept for a racing game; everyone has a shot to outrace Sonic, making it balanced. A foot-racing Sonic game is so implausible it's not even funny; Sonic's top speed is 765 mph, Big the Cat's is... not. Every character should get a chance, and the board/skate/bike concept works fine. It just needs to be perfected and needs its own art style to make it special. (I think the sketchy-cel-shaded art style used in the first one is best)

The most they'd have to do is balance the characters out a little, making some characters a little faster (Amy, Knuckles) and slowing down a few characters (Sonic, Shadow), and restricting some form of vehicle to the impossibly slow or appropriate (Eggman, Big, Omega, Rouge(she's too fancy to run, lol)) I do agree that the hoverboards and what not are okay for their own style, but I'd like them to be more restricted to the Riders series since they fit in most there.

Overall, I'm leaning more towards the vehicles more than running since they're a lot more flexible in what can be done with them. Face it, the tricks system wouldn't nearly be as cool if they were doing them on foot.

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I'll never get the Sonic R love. :/ A paltry selection of tracks, questionable controls, and completely broken characters. If someone was playing as Super Sonic and you weren't, you lose.

If they must do another Sonic racer then just go with a "Sonic Kart". Why does it have to be all serious? I get it, Sonic's faster then a car, but why can't Sonic want to go-kart race just for fun? The hover board idea was fine too, but the riders games themselves weren't very good.

Edit: Also off topic. What's up with this gum ball ice cream Sonic phase everyone is going through?

Edited by speedfreak
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I'll never get the Sonic R love. :/ A paltry selection of tracks, questionable controls, and completely broken characters. If someone was playing as Super Sonic and you weren't, you lose.

Well, isn't that true for Sonic Riders also? I know you have to keep collecting rings, but still...

Anyway, on a side note, and to make this post longer, I actually enjoyed Sonic R. Its a nice game to play if you want a small racing experiance.

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Well, isn't that true for Sonic Riders also? I know you have to keep collecting rings, but still...

Not really, a skilled player could beat Super Sonic due to it's limitations*. In fact, a skilled player would find that there are a few other gears that are more useful than Super Sonic.

*I'm mostly basing this off of the fact that most speedrunners don't use Super Sonic at all.

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I'll never get the Sonic R love. :/ A paltry selection of tracks, questionable controls, and completely broken characters. If someone was playing as Super Sonic and you weren't, you lose.
Oh I certainly won't deny that the game is flawed to hell and back.

But it's still fun.

If they must do another Sonic racer then just go with a "Sonic Kart".
If I want to play Mario Kart, I'll go play Mario Kart. If they're going to make a Sonic racing game then it should offer more than just someone else's game with new faces on it. And that a good portion of the cast can more than easily outrun a kart is probably the best starting point for making it more than just "Sonic Kart".
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My problem with an on foot Sonic racing game is that you might as well just make a regular Sonic game with a multiplayer racing mode that isn't just tacked on. My idea for a Sonic racing game would be to make it sort of a like a sport that makes sense for Sonic to participate in. Sort of Like Sonic Riders, but I think that game was still lacking. Partly dredged up from that ZG thread, but I made some changes since:

First off, the gravity mechanics seem to slow the game down more than I'd like them to, and I have some better ideas anyway.

I would get rid of the air tank, but keep the turbulence, only they would function more like the ruts from Sega Rally Revo, only with much larger AoE. The character's board will tend to follow streams of air, and speed up as well. This will keep the pack a bit tighter and allow for more interaction between racers without resorting to attacks and such. The track surface is going to be replaced by a giant cloud sort of thing. Different tracks would have different variations of this surface. This is mostly a cosmetic change, but it would be interesting if different clouds were effected by turbulence differently.

Handling needs to be changed big time, this need to be something that Sonic would do even though he can run faster. I'd keep the auto acceleration, and add usage of the right stick to control your character's weight. Drifting would be initiated not by a button, but by manipulating your character's weight. Sounds complicated, but it's more along the lines of "right stick back/forward (whichever works better), modulate to control angle".

Instead of filling some meter, tricks are used to change your board's orientation, such as landing with the board sideways causing it to shoot off in that direction, allowing you to make sharp turns. You press the stick forward for a high speed drift, back for a breaking drift (sharper turn, scrubs off speed), or the same direction for a carve. Carving has a sharper turn than the high speed drift, but creates better turbulence, so it's a bit of a fallback measure.

The idea here is to make it a bit more like snowboarding, something that's both fun in it's own right and something that Sonic's been known to do, even if it isn't the fastest way to travel.

The story mode from the previous two games can be beaten in a day, so instead I'd make a league. Sonic's motivation? He sees an ad for an air board ("Extreme Gear"? they might as well call them "trying too hard", but my name is subject to change) league, and voices thoughts about entering. Jet says "You won't!", so Sonic does. Probably throw in some random antics or something, Basically, think those extra videos in Unleashed, only not so unrelated.

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With regards to other characters in an on-foot racing game, I think they could take the Sonic R approach and give them all reasons to be able to keep up with Sonic.

Shadow and Blaze are already fast enough to keep up.

Tails, Amy, Knuckles, Rouge, Silver, Omega, Cream etc could use flight/powerful attacks to reach new shortcuts.

Dr. Eggman could have some cool new vehicle I think. It could even tie in with a possible storyline, with the Doctor just taking a break from world conquering (OR IS HE!?) and is out to formally embarrass the hedgehog with his new machine, almost like that one episode of Sonic X with Sonic Vs Sam.

Alternatively, if it was purely a racing game, you could have some labyrinth-esque plot twist that Eggman has somehow manipulated Sonic's shoes so he runs slower, thus why everyone else can keep up, followed by a final super-fast boss race.

I dunno, I'm just rambling off ideas here actually, lol.

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About half of my ideas for Sonic games are genre crossers.

One of my favorites is the Tails puzzle solving action-RPG, Zelda style, which is an idea I might have borrowed from another forum member here. I like the idea of customizing gadgets with Tails in a workshop, like a Lego kind of mini-game. You could follow the instructions or get creative and see how parts work together. It'd be hard to make work the way I see it, but it'd be fun.

And the main part of the game would be using those gadgets along with Tails' speed and flight to open new areas in the overworld, much like in a Zelda game or Metroid game. Maybe you'd have to recycle the "Tails is marooned on an island" plot, to explain things.

Some of the better puzzles in the game would be like the Central City puzzle in Chronicles, on a large scale. Something like using materials Tails collects to assemble a large pinball course, putting pieces in the right places like that board game Mouse Trap, after which Tails runs through at high speed or dies a horrible death for figuring it out wrong.

Speed + puzzle solving = Win! I dunno, that's a basic concept of mine. Does any part of it sound fun at all? AT ALL.

Edited by Badnikz
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RPG: Well, I think a Paper M&S would be a good suitor for a crossover and RPG game since the battle system could easily work out. Though for fast-paced action, a battle system similar to Star Ocean, KH, or Tales of series would be the best fit for the Sonic franchise.

Fighting: Have a M&S only Brawl or a MvC like game with N and Sega chars than I'm all in for that.

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The other day, I was thinking about how Sonic could work as an adventure game similar to Okami.

Rather than placing a goal ring that must be reached to clear a stage, the setting would be essentially that of a mini-country of sorts. Anywhere and everywhere can be explored in this game with relatively no limits or restrictions that a platformer puts on the player. Sonic would freely be able to cover vast amounts of land full of objectives, side missions, enemies, and citizens. He could eradicate areas which are under Dr. Eggman's control by infiltrating various bases and enemy holds around the country, defeating each one of Eggman's sub-bosses until the country is free of his rule. Platforming may be involved in select areas, but exploration will always be key.

I would also place a great emphasis on atmosphere. Okami was based on rural Japan, and the entire game looked and felt like a living watercolor painting. It was accompanied by appropriate music, area designs, and aesthetic appeal. For this Sonic game, I would want anything and everything to be possible, closer to a Lewis Carroll story, in which weird happenings are abound while nobody really bats an eyelash at them. While environments can be varied to maintain interest throughout the game (and to keep Sonic's design appeal), it would be nice if they appropriately complemented one another, rather than some of the arbituary level decisions of the classic Sonic games. If there is a Green Hill-esque area, as Sonic runs across the land, let it gradually evolve into a more typical tropical area, followed by the countryside, followed by more urban locales.

Characterizations and NPCs are vital. The game will be filled to the brim with both enemies and citizens that Sonic can interact with, no matter where you go - and each will have their own personality and memorability, most of them playing a small role in Sonic's quest to restore the land. Sonic himself will be a silent protagonist - like any good adventure game, the player should feel like he/she is in Sonic's shoes, and is immersed in the game's world as naturally as possible. I feel that this can be aided by removing Sonic's dialogue altogether. However, Sonic will maintain his keepsake, happy-go-lucky nature, as expressed by body language, facial expressions, and movement, so he won't turn into a personality-less cypher by any means.

Other than NPCs, I would like to keep the amount of recurring characters relatively small. Dr. Eggman will be the enemy, but I would like much of the focus to remain on Sonic. The reason for this isn't because I'm one of those "I want a Sonic-only game with none of his shitty friends" advocators, but because I feel it would help maintain the feel of a more open, worldly environment around Sonic, of which he is a small part. I want the atmosphere of the game focusing on Sonic and his relationship with the land as a whole, rather than going into detail about other characters who are more associated with Sonic himself than they are with the world around them. If that makes any sense...

I'll go into more detail about this later. This is also something I'd like to discuss in detail with others, so if you like, you can ring me a PM or something.

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Rather than placing a goal ring that must be reached to clear a stage, the setting would be essentially that of a mini-country of sorts. Anywhere and everywhere can be explored in this game with relatively no limits or restrictions that a platformer puts on the player. Sonic would freely be able to cover vast amounts of land full of objectives, side missions, enemies, and citizens. He could eradicate areas which are under Dr. Eggman's control by infiltrating various bases and enemy holds around the country, defeating each one of Eggman's sub-bosses until the country is free of his rule. Platforming may be involved in select areas, but exploration will always be key.

It does sound like it could work. A big overworld with the main stages placed inside these sub bases around the country does make for a large scale adventure, but the biggest flaw that I see in it is that all of the fun stuff would be concentrated in certain areas rather than present throughout the whole game.

It'd be like a Zelda game, where the main "levels" are the dungeons, and the rest of the game is spent getting to them. For a Zelda game, it works, but one thing that many people complain about in Sonic games is not being able to just play "the 'game' part of the game". Not to mention that all the real levels of the game, being inside these small bases would drastically limit the variety in levels, unless the bases are seriously decorated differently in pretty colors for no apparent reason.

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