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Nepenthe

Platforming

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I think it's fair to say that the consensus on Sonic Colors' platforming was that it was "too blocky." You jumped around on some quads and that was it. It was basic, simple, and not engaging at all.

But a thing I find interesting is that with Generations generally being considered an improvement on what Colors had to offer (and with the classic games themselves), there doesn't seem to be much praise or even general conversation about the actual platforming of the Sonic games. We talk about things like "momentum" and "flow" and "speed" and "roll vs. boost" all day, but I consider these things tenets of the movement and pacing of Sonic games, not the platforming, so I feel completely in the dark as to what other people actually consider platforming, and how they believe it was better served in games past and could be better served going forward.

I only mention this ignorance because- going back to Colors for a moment- I've thought about how blocky its actual platforming was. I mean, hell yeah it was blocky. It was blockier than a Tetris game. I certainly agreed with that distinction. But I can't put my finger on any extensive periods of platforming in other Sonic games where this isn't actually the case for the majority of the designated platforming segments. When you are forced to slow down, Sonic is almost always merely hopping up and over some pretty blocky stuff. The only reliable exception are the pinball stages where a lot of the platforms you interact with are then circular/spherical and possess bouncy or vacuous elements to them that pull you in.

I think there are certainly differences in how it's been done between Colors and other games' past, but the biggest one I can think of myself is that this blockiness was relatively disguised within the landscape. The platforms themselves are just as simple as the ones in Colors, but they're not advertised as such. Gaps in the ground, rough landscapes, buildings, etc. naturally make platforms themselves, so when you reach them, they don't register so blatantly as "block you must jump on." That building is a building, that cliff face is a cliff face, that ice floe an ice floe. I think that's kind of interesting in hindsight.

However, this is the only distinction I can think of right now, and I don't think it sufficiently answers my question. So SSMB, let's talk about platforming.

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Just want to say that I actually liked the platforming in Colors, im not gonna say it was incredibly designed or anything, but I found it fun and it was used interestingly in a decent number of areas (especially whenever the Spike Wisp was involved).

But I agree regardless, platforming that actually looks and feels like a part of the surroundings make it all feel more organic, and I would like to see more of that.

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I'd want some enviromnet interactions as well. As well as the mentioned organic platforming being more than just jumping would be a great improvement. Flying Battery's spinning engine things come to mind imagine them in 3D , depending on how you time your trip through it it could send you into 3+ different exits which take you to 3+ different paths and maybe one leading to a death pit as long as it doesn't feel cheap. More things like Sky Sanctuary's cloud platforms that make the stage feel unique and having unique functions serving a purpose more than just a visually different "something to jump on"

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For me Sonic games were always speed, platforming and pinch of explorations. I love Generations because it combined all the elements that I like in Sonic games. I think platforming shouldn't be jump from random levitating block A to random levitating block B, it should be more like jumping form building to building or from tree to tree. In Generations they have sort of done that by using rooftops in Rooftop Run or green towers in Sky Sactuary e.t.c. but I still think that Sonic Team can improve in terms of platforming especially because we've got some new gamplay style on the way.

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I long for the day when we'll get parkour esc platforming, platforming that doesn't break the flow of the game, you keep as your speed as you're moving forward. I'll probably go more into detail about it later, and I thank Black Spy for coming up with the idea.

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Hmm. Lemme try to explain myself better. My big question is "in what other ways can they improve the actual platforming?" Yeah, I think we're all aware now of the big distinction between blocks and environmental elements making the platforming itself far less jarring on first glance when you run into it at a thousand miles per hour, but what else goes into Sonic platforming beyond that?

Is the only difference between other games and Colors is that Colors would've substituted a bouncy cloud for a block? If so, that seems like a pretty easy fix from here on out, don't you think? But a nagging thing in me won't make me buy that, because it makes it seem as if the actual platforming is truly a relative afterthought compared to what the fanbase always says is the ultimate Sonic experience! "Sonic is a mix of speed and platforming!"

Well, if that's truly the case, then what about the platforming specifically makes it so? What elements of it beyond it being more environmental make it so unique and so critical to the experience? What else can be improved? There has to be more than just "make the platform some tree leaves and be done with it," ne? But I can't think of the answer.

I hope I'm not just rambling or being a stickler because I think it's actually a very pertinent question, one whose answer should've been apparent long before now.

Edited by Nepenthe

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I think one of the things that makes Sonic games unique compared to other platformers are the curved hills and how they're used in the levels.

For example, this little hill in Ice Cap Zone Act 2:

sonic_icecapslope.jpg

Depending on how fast you're going up that, you could either keep going straight along the path ahead or roll up to the upper path above.

I think the reason that Colors' platforming gets criticism is because it doesn't really have anything like that (that I can remember anyway), or really anything that makes it "Sonic-y" (for the record I still love Colors). As far as level design goes, it often feels like playing a Mega Man game, which for a Sonic game does kind of make it seem "too blocky."

Also, yeah, the environmental features also help give it that "Sonic" flavor. I mean come on, who doesn't love bouncing on those giant mushrooms in Mushroom Hill Zone?

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Sonic jumps perpendicular to the surface he's standing on, and this is important.

7Vd2A.png

This particular trick doesn't really work in 3D (technically there's nothing that prevents it, but the difference in perspective makes it difficult), but considering that even the "3D" games are mostly 2D gameplay, there's no excuse for not seeing things like this. And there are ways to use this that are unique to 3D,

Paths shouldn't be designed as singular uniform tracks; there needs to be variation in the terrain, curves and angles that influence how Sonic jumps.

I'm also of the opinion that platforming isn't just about jumping, but the fight against gravity in general. And gravity is more influential in Sonic gameplay than it is in most platformers; it's not something that only comes into effect when you're in the air, and you don't get into the air only by jumping or falling. Launching up a quarter pipe can be platforming. Wallrunning can be platforming. Climbing a steep hill...is not something we would normally consider to be platforming, but there are shared mechanics, and I think it could still contribute something similar to platforming if not necessarily actual platforming.

...as long as it requires some effort, that is, it isn't automated nor are you just boosting up it.

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Like people have said, the thing that makes Sonic platforming unique is the slopes, curving terrain and ramps. Later games, especially the 3d ones have lost this (Granted I still love them, well, you know, the good ones), and I'd like to see it back, and in 3d. I don't feel it would be too hard, granted you can't do some of the stuff you could do in 2d in 3d like Dio's example for example (inb4 exampleception), but I feel it granted an extra enjoyment to the speed, as in you really felt like you earned it.

So yeah, tl:dr, slope platforming is awesome and should be tried in 3d.

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Personally I feel that 3D platforming and 2D Platforming are two demographics that are different in the way they are executed....

2D is more vertical while 3D is more horizontal. I think a lot of the people who like classic gaming have a hard time understanding this and despite the many horizontal paths....because they are not exactly scaling up...people tend not to give credit where its due.

Its all a perspective thing.

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