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Sonic Unleashed vs. Sonic Colors Extra Round - Final Thoughts

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Level design is both games' biggest weakness. But in Unleashed it's easily it's greatest undoing and I abhor it. It's built on cheap thrills and twitch reactions that are insanely punishing. It's not a test of your skill as much as it just is a test of your reactions, and by the time you finish the game all you can literally do beyond that is speedrun the levels to a fault and "feel cool" without any sense of reward to it.

Snore. I'm sure the same reaction can be emitted if you make a Mario game where you run right non-stop and jump, only with paths behind you collapsing and every pitfall exploding once you jump across it. Colors and it's multifaceted nature being a bit bland does not excuse Unleashed's cheap roller coaster ride that provides nothing but complete lack of finesse and trial-and-error where you're mostly bound to go back a thousand times just to memorize button combinations.

And it's hilarious in retrospect how when Unleashed and Generations were coming out, people were complaining and whining about pre-release game play videos from con/press demos and were blaming it on "people being shit at the game".

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Colors' level design isn't that good. It's pretty bland and relies far too much on recycling shit from level to level; unless it decides to just be 2D for a while because fuck you. It also has a lot of that Heroes-esque "Ooh, look. A path 10 feet away from the other one. THAT COUNTS AS ALTERNATE ROUTES!" laziness in it.

 

 

 

But Unleashed can fuck right the fuck off with that cheap ass bullshit it calls a difficulty curve, so Colors wins another one basically by default.

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Neither game has particularly amazing level design. While Unleashed may look and feel cooler, you have to die so many fucking times before you can do all of that cool shit. There's no learning curve at all, you either have to know the level layout and have the reflexes of a god or constantly die as you struggle through the game. That. is. horseshit. If people like that type of thing, then that's cool but that shouldn't be what the bulk of the game enfolds from the very first level up until the last. It expects too much from the player and doesn't even bother to ease them into it.

 

Colors isn't exactly much better; its level design is bland, and too blocky and its hardly fun to playthrough, but it at least doesn't expect the player to be a fucking god by the second level and has no problem with the player leisurely going around.

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What always stuck out to me about Colours was that it's by-the-numbers platforming and extreme linearity in it's 3D sections epitomizes just how afraid the level designers were to push the boat out. Whatsmore, a lot of the platforming wasn't entirely contextual to the overall design of the stages and come off as unimaginative, which is such a contrast to the wonderful level of imagination and originality the art design has.

 

Planet Wisp's art design, an industrial place with scaffolding, actually suits it's take on platforming

 

245wl5s.jpg

 

Whilst unimaginative platform-fests in stages like Aquarium park with it's blocks hovering in the air for no apparent reason in multiple missions including one part where you have to use Laser Form in a very precise way to nab a red ring which turns out to be a huge game of trial and error as well as the water areas never coming close to living up to it's potential for design opportunities look contrived and vividly epitomize just how convoluted the game's fixation with 2D really is

 

Terminal Velocity's linearity was relevant to the design of the stage and what Sonic is doing (Getting back to the planet as the park implodes behind him) as was the 'Racing the Motobugs' parts of Starlight Carnival and the one race with them as a mission in Asteroid Coaster.

 

3D areas in other levels are even more linear than Unleashed

 

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"Look! Look! I've got 3D too! Even though it is ultimately no better than a 2D path placed in a 3D environment. 2.5D?"

 

 

It shows flashes of brilliance and the Wisp forms can be utilized in some very creative ways that feel satisfying but the level design is so incredibly constrained by the obvious lack of adventure on part of the level designers and the very limited use the forms generally have. When it comes to Unleashed and Colours, I'm more inclined to want to play Unleashed's stages because they have such variety especially with DLC, use Sonic's abilities better in relation to level design and they give me a real sense of an environment that is ever-changing as I run through it.

 

In addition, Unleashed had a noticeably more balanced feel between it's 2D sections and 3D ones and actually incorporated more alternate routes. Skyscraper Scamper Act 1 Day is a particularly fine example, providing very different routes to the goal ring in the rails area, one involving running on the side of a skyscraper, the other route involving deft jumping between rails. Whatsmore, the level design is often very contextual to the art design of the stages and doesn't stand out like Colours' does. A bunch of winding pathways around a enormous Baobab tree and zooming through the savvanah in Savvanah Citadel? Running atop the aqueduct in Rooftop Run and through the streets? Traversing the walkways around the stilt houses in Jungle Joyride as well as the ruins in Jungle Joyride? This kind of level design looked so in-harmony with the stages and therefore look natural.

 

Unleashed also had some very cool set pieces such as bobsled riding in Holoska, soaring on firework rockets in Chun-Nan, the rollercoaster part of Eggmanland....again, all of these awesome-looking gimmicks are contextual to the setting of the stage, the rollercoaster in Eggmanland even getting across just how lethal and crazy Eggman is! Didn't get this sense that much in Eggman's ENTIRE self-designed themepark of all things!

Edited by Vertekins

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If I had a capture card and all the time in the world I'd love to play through Unleashed, only boosting when the game seemingly encourages me to (via an X prompt or otherwise) and trying my best to count the times hazards literally come out of nowhere at you.  Because I really just can't remember any that you don't see in advance.  =C

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I vote unleashed, because even though it can have a couple of cheap deaths (looking at you sky scraper scamper act 2) I enjoyed going through them simply because I liked the fast paced challenge to it that it provided and how it gave you optional stuff to look around through like the secret area that branches from the cafe that the seagulls literally point you towards if you take the time to seek them out (ah the little details). Plus, I really liked the platforming on this one, sure it required you to have some good reflexes and stuff but which sonic game doesn't and don't say its done to the extreme here cause in all honesty it only really gets bad at adabat and eggmanland but those are the more harder levels anyway.

 

Now while I do like colors' design it feels as though the game doesn't really move fast enough for me and don't shoot me for this but it feels less explorable than unleashed to be honest namely because of how limited your paths are (also might have to do with the fact that almost none of its in 3d), sides all of the extra ways in colors were pretty easily discovered in colors but I still haven't found everything in unleashed yet and I've had it since launch (though im too busy enjoying the level's to look for them at the moment).

 

Also to the savannah citadel act 2 level, you can drift in most parts of it but you just can't go too fast.

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How could anyone defend the numerous unfair bottomless pits in Sonic Unleashed though? Eggmanland is fucking ridiculous, especially the Werehog part with the pipes (and NO shadow to see where you're jumping), and you can accidentally slide or boost into any old bottomless pit. That's not skill, that's just CHEAP. Like Tornado said, it's acting as if it has a difficulty curve, when really it doesn't at all. =/

Edited by Gabz Girl

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Is it worth talking about the Werehog here?  It's not really comparable to Colours at all.  I agree that Eggmanland section was shit, but that was just due to the unpredictable camera.

 

(Well... unpredictable on first play, it actually moves at exact points and now I know them off by heart and can do that bit flawlessly, sometimes even being cocky and jumping over parts lol).

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How could anyone defend the numerous unfair bottomless pits in Sonic Unleashed though? Eggmanland is fucking ridiculous, especially the Werehog part with the pipes (and NO shadow to see where you're jumping), and you can accidentally slide or boost into any old bottomless pit. That's not skill, that's just unfair. Like Tornado said, it's acting as if it has a difficulty curve, when really it doesn't at all. =/

surprisingly enough I almost never actually die on the pipes and I will admit eggmanland was pretty cheap but the one part that still gets me while playing it though is that one pole in the werehog section near the end that ruins my s-rank run everytime because the grab button never responds to it for some reason and I end up falling.

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It's a shame the first area of Eggmanland is so tragically short (especially when the right routes are taken) because it was basically a precursor to Generations Seaside Hill in terms of complexity and interestingness.  Leagues ahead of anything Colours did.

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Unleashed folks are "defending" the pits in the same way Colors fans "defend" the disgusting lack of initiative and creativity emanating from every single corner of Colors' design and how it is completely overshadowed by the baffling reception it got and still receives as the first amazing 3D Sonic game. It's not necessarily about explaining away the flaws and being blind to them so much as it is summing up the subjective experience you had with the games as a whole. I don't think anyone here is denying that Eggmanland has cheap parts. We're arguing against the notion that the existence of cheapness supersedes the fun we had with the game, as well as actually noting the game's strengths, and subsequently comparing that experience to the one we had in Colors. As I said before, if I had to choose between a game that was fun yet roughly designed, or a game that was boring yet consistently designed, I'd choose the fucking fun game every time.

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Unleashed folks are "defending" the pits in the same way Colors fans "defend" the disgusting lack of initiative and creativity emanating from every single corner of Colors' design and how it is completely overshadowed by the baffling reception it got and still receives as the first amazing 3D Sonic game. It's not necessarily about explaining away the flaws and being blind to them so much as it is summing up the subjective experience you had with the games as a whole. I don't think anyone here is denying that Eggmanland has cheap parts. We're arguing against the notion that the existence of cheapness supersedes the fun we had with the game, as well as actually noting the game's strengths, and subsequently comparing that experience to the one we had in Colors. As I said before, if I had to choose between a game that was fun yet roughly designed, or a game that was boring yet consistently designed, I'd choose the fucking fun game every time.

 

...Holy bias, Batman. Let's see here:

1. Being uncreative is not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly there needs to be a level of creativity present in every work put out, but simply being more or less creative is not an indicator of a work's value. The Zelda CD-I games were creative. Twilight Princess was not.

 

2. This isn't a discussion on whether or not a less well-designed level is still fun, this is a discussion on which game had the more well-designed levels. Whether or not you had fun with it is again a piece of that pie, but it's not the whole deal. I can love a cake's frosting and have it still be a crappy cake on the whole.

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As I said before, if I had to choose between a game that was fun yet roughly designed, or a game that was boring yet consistently designed, I'd choose the fucking fun game every time.

Well that's the crux isn't it? I recall being frustrated far more with Unleashed's trial-and-error self-playing and automated design than actually having fun, especially when speedrunning. We'll just have to agree to disagree there.

I can see the appeal of cheap thrills but substance wise it's just lacking, something Colors is very much guilty of at the same time. But at the very least it doesn't sacrifice much of it for fake difficulty, which means the good bits I can fully appreciate without having to worry about dying a few corners off.

It's like the infamous Battletoads Turbo Tunnel.

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I honestly found Colour's blocky levels and slowing down the pace for some boring platforming with stupid wisp gimmicks a major turn off, whilst being able to flawlessly speed-run Unleashed Day stages just made the whole replay-ability sky rocket for me, the fact that Unleashed's level design is both consistent in speed and flow means you feel awesome when you breeze through a level like Sonic actually would do, hell you have to learn the hard way trap and enemy placements, also the exact moment to jump and air dash to get to the cooler, more rewarding short cuts but that's part of the fun in my case, Colours levels don't really make me recall anything specific since each zone was just more or less the same block platforming and leave me feeling somewhat empty at the forgettable nature of Colours zones, It also proves a point if I can literally memorize the entire paths in Unleashed and where to jump/slide/boost/grind etc. but in Colours, whenever I boot it up, it's like I'm playing it from the start blind all over again, I literally don't remember jack shit about Colours level gimmick placements, short cuts or pits of death.

 

So Unleashed for me.

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2. This isn't a discussion on whether or not a less well-designed level is still fun, this is a discussion on which game had the more well-designed levels. Whether or not you had fun with it is again a piece of that pie, but it's not the whole deal. I can love a cake's frosting and have it still be a crappy cake on the whole.

 

Actually, I'm going to interject here. Just like "was it fun" massively effect people's enjoyment of the gimmicks each game has a week or so ago completely irrelevant of everything else, there's no reason why it can't similarly overwhelmingly swing a person's opinion towards one game or another regardless of the objective measures at play.

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I thought Colors was fun.

 

Half of Unleashed was just as fun. 

 

The other half of Unleashed was shit though.

 

Colors wins.

 

I think both are fun, and Unleashed might actually have won if not for the everything else that made the game painfully mediocre.

 

I also do think Colors did have more depth to it thanks to the Red Rings and greater emphasis on exploration, which was something I appreciated. Roller coasters are still fun though.

Edited by Discoid

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Actually, I'm going to interject here. Just like "was it fun" massively effect people's enjoyment of the gimmicks each game has a week or so ago completely irrelevant of everything else, there's no reason why it can't similarly overwhelmingly swing a person's opinion towards one game or another regardless of the objective measures at play.

 

I also want to add that because of the very nature of the topic is comparing two different games, bias is going to show up because its mostly opinion based and opinions in themselves are biased. 

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I'm going with Colors on this one, and here's why:

 

While Colors' stages were mostly blocky platform-fests (which is somehow a bad thing because... because), they were enjoyable. I actually had fun playing these levels. People call them slow, but really, some of these levels are only as slow as you make them. I liked the alternate paths you could take, and even if you weren't "rewarded" for finding them, they were still satisfying to find. I think Sonic Team put a lot of though into expanding these levels. Sure, they weren't very challenging, but at least they weren't pretending they were. Whenever you're about to approach a bottomless pit, you get a helpful reminder warning you to be careful. "But thapoint, this makes the game too easy." Then turn it off. You can do that, you know. Anyway, whenever you think you're about to fall into a pit, you just fall to a lower route or in a hole with some way to get back up. Unlike...

 

Sonic Unleashed. Look no further than this game for dickish level design. The levels rely on players having lightning-fast reflexes or knowing the levels enough to dodge everything before they come or else they get hit or fall into a pit. Naturally, this ends up screwing first-time players over majorly, especially since the game wants you to boost whenever you can. It's not "challenge", it's cheap. It's bouncing-up-a-spring-tube-in-Metropolis-Zone-only-to-get-hit-by-a-Slicer-once-you-reach-the-top cheap.

 

Going back to what I said reflexes, sometimes I feel it's like a glorified FMV game; for much of the levels, you hold forward, boost when you have boost energy and jump/quickstep/rail-hop when necessary.

 

Then there's the Medal system. For some reason, they decided to require you to get Sun and Moon medals to unlock levels you need to play in order to progress through the game. I can see this working in Sonic CD, a game that was already exploration-based, but in a game like Sonic Unleashed where you're expected to boost like a madman, it doesn't work. Now, I think exploration and speed can mix well, and it has in other Sonic games, like Adventure or 3&K. This game doesn't do that. Instead, they take speed, make it the main focus, and then throw the exploration in and call it a day. It's like putting flour, eggs, and sugar into a bowl, putting it in an oven and hoping a cake'll come out. In Sonic Colors, the medals are replaced by Red Rings, which, while they do unlock something, aren't required to beat the game, which means that you can collect if you want to unlock what they unlock, but if you don't feel like it, you don't have to. This is how the Medals in Unleashed should've worked.

 

That being said, I do think that Colors' levels betray what the game is supposed to be (i.e. 3D). However, they're still above and beyond Unleashed in terms of level design (and Generations sorta fixed this problem anyway). If Unleashed was more fair and had more moments like the spinning wheel section in Chun-Nan Day, I'd probably go with it instead. Sadly, this is not the case, so my vote goes to Colors.

Edited by Big McLargehuge

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Will you look at that, Unleashed wins again for me. :y

 

But no really, I'm gonna have to agree with everyone who mentioned that Unleashed knew how to cater the level design it was trying to pull off, which was to go as flipping fast as possible. It didn't do it perfectly but it did it well enough and I liked that about it. There were tons of setpieces to the level design that stood out and made it feel special that you were going through them, and the overall pacing of the stages were fantastic.

 

Sure, the QTEs were full of crap and so were the bottomless pits but that's what I meant by it not being perfect.. besides that I could use more adventuring elements in my Sanc game levels.

 

Colors was boring as poop, though.

 

Most of the time in 3D you were limited to quick stepping segments, there was a bunch of alternate routes that led to things that aren't really that big of a deal, no real setpieces (and if there were they really weren't taken advantage of as well as they could've been), and the level design of the 2D sections just kind of left me in awe. No really, they did! Why would you construct a Sonic game to have its 2D level design be mostly flat surfaces? The whole thing just felt a bit jarring, limited and emptyish..

 

So yeah, I know I've repeated what several people have already said, but woop Unleashed wins again.

 

 

EDIT : Just to note, I honestly don't think either of their level designs are the best things ever. I'm just choosing the better one. Generations trumps both and even then I think Gens could be muuuch better. Unleashed just gets extra brownie points also because of its atmosphere too, so there's that. :P

Edited by Azookara

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...Holy bias, Batman. Let's see here: 1. Being uncreative is not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly there needs to be a level of creativity present in every work put out, but simply being more or less creative is not an indicator of a work's value. The Zelda CD-I games were creative. Twilight Princess was not.
Being uncreative is fine if your execution of the basic elements and cliches knocks it out of the park so as to circumvent that feeling of "been there, done that." Colors does nothing well enough to circumvent this. Literally nothing, except have amazing voice direction compared to what we got before. It speaks volumes that Colors has been defended numerous times not because it has done things egregiously right, but nothing egregiously wrong. It signifies to me that more people believe the game is average and unspectacular than one would be willing to admit under the circumstances of comparing it to a more panned game.

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The Zelda CD-I games were creative. Twilight Princess was not.

 

Off-topic but are you bloody kidding me.  The CD-I games, from what I've watched, were generic, slow platformers where you just stabbed shit that slowly walked towards you.  Twilight Princess had the spinner, ball and chain, twilight realm, double clawshot, new underwater gameplay, expanded horseriding gameplay, and the whole wolf thing too with its own unique combat system.  Then there were the stealth/shootout sections, new swordplay styles, and the fact that, after three games in a row, it ditched the magic system and cliché fire/ice/light arrows puzzles.  So... no.

 

 

On-topic, but just in response to

 

While Colors' stages were mostly blocky platform-fests (which is somehow a bad thing because... because), they were enjoyable. I actually had fun playing these levels. People call them slow, but really, some of these levels are only as slow as you make them.

 

Sonic Unleashed. Look no further than this game for dickish level design. The levels rely on players having lightning-fast reflexes or knowing the levels enough to dodge everything before they come or else they get hit or fall into a pit. Naturally, this ends up screwing first-time players over majorly, especially since the game wants you to boost whenever you can. It's not "challenge", it's cheap. It's bouncing-up-a-spring-tube-in-Metropolis-Zone-only-to-get-hit-by-a-Slicer-once-you-reach-the-top cheap.

 

You say "Colours is only as slow as you make it" but Unleashed is only as fast as you make it.  I don't understand why everyone but me felt the need to weigh down the X button with a ten ton weight when they first played.  The X prompt only shows up on gaps that must be boosted across, water running, and set up skittle alleys of Egg Fighters.

 

The game does not encourage you to go as fast as possible the first time you play.  Unleashed dislikers say it does nothing but throw cheap shit at you when you go as fast as possible and then complain that it encourages you to go fast as possible.  The act of throwing shit at you is encouraging you to NOT go as fast as possible.  8I  Geeeeeeez on a stick.

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You say "Colours is only as slow as you make it" but Unleashed is only as fast as you make it.  I don't understand why everyone but me felt the need to weigh down the X button with a ten ton weight when they first played.  The X prompt only shows up on gaps that must be boosted across, water running, and set up skittle alleys of Egg Fighters.

 

The game does not encourage you to go as fast as possible the first time you play.  Unleashed dislikers say it does nothing but throw cheap shit at you when you go as fast as possible and then complain that it encourages you to go fast as possible.  The act of throwing shit at you is encouraging you to NOT go as fast as possible.  8I  Geeeeeeez on a stick.

 

Because for a time it does do that. Unleashed starts off by presenting the boost in a context that you are rewarded for using it with pretty much no downsides. The level design is extremely straightforward, rings are plentiful and none of the enemies present any real threat when using it (but they do when you don't). Then at a certain point it immediately turns around and starts kicking the absolute shit out of you when you do it when you're not supposed to. And there's not much in the way of build up to it. One level it's about as close to BOOST2WIN as the series ever legitimately got. The next level you practically need prescience to know when to do it because it severely punishes using it incorrectly.

 

 

Then it turns around and stops punishing it again.

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