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Favorite and Least Favorite Level Tropes


FireBird75
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One of the most enjoyable things I find about the Sonic series, beside the gameplay and music, is the many different kinds of environments that Sonic and friends travel and traverse through.  From luscious green hills, hot steaming deserts, colorful casinos and carnivals, to dark industrial areas, Sonic and co. have visited just about place and environment imaginable. 

 

So I gotta ask. What are some of your favorite tropes in the series? What are some that you dislike? 

 

I'll start with my favorite: Urban areas.

320px-Cityescape.png

Yeah we see this one a lot but I enjoy this trope nonetheless.  Having Sonic blaze through the streets and buildings of cities just reeks of awesome for me.  I think the surreal nature of a woodland creature like Sonic exploring a place normally occupied by human beings is what intrigues me.

 

My least favorite? Probably Ice-theme levels.

IMZ.PNG

Don't get me wrong as I like Ice Cap as much as the next guy but I've never been a fan of the slippin' n slidin' that often comes with these types of levels.

 

Those are my opinions. Tell me yours. This outta be fun!

Edited by FireBird75
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Semi-colon e

I like city levels (for the same reasons as you), water levels (especially when they keep the pace), and greenery levels. As a result, I really liked Generations tongue.png

 

But even before Generations some of my favourite levels included the original Speed Highway (I just love the remake more), Starlight, Stardust Speedway, Pirates Island, Hydrocity, Green Hill, Lost World, Aquarium Park, Planet Wisp (Colours mainly but I like the Generations iteration too) and Emerald Coast.

 

Least favourite would likely be desert levels. I find that, with the exception of Dusty Desert (even then, only as Sonic as it's unbearable as Shadow or Silver) and Pyramid Cave, that they are often the weakest levels in the game. Arid Sands (both night and day), Sandopolis, Dusty Desert when not as Sonic, Oil Desert and especially Mirage Road from Rush.

 

Other than that, it depends entirely on the game really. Like beach levels such as Emerald Coast and both versions of Seaside Hill are fun, but Wave Ocean is terrible, or while I like Crisis City Generations, Lava Reef and Red Mountain for fire levels, I dislike Underground, Marble, and Flame Core.

Edited by Semi-colon e
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I'm impartial to beach levels myself, as they make for a great way to introduce a game and are eye candy heaven. (Lookin' at  you, Seaside Hill HD)

 

My least favourite would have to be space levels. I just find them bland and uninteresting. Plus, I hate Crazy Gadget.

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My least favorite? Probably Ice-theme levels.

Don't get me wrong as I like Ice Cap as much as the next guy but I've never been a fan of the slippin' n slidin' that often comes with these types of levels.

Honestly I've felt there hasn't been enough slipping in Sonic ice levels. It seems like a natural extension of the series' focus on momentum, but most of the time Sonic's got perfect traction.
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Favorite: Airship/fleet level.

 

c9b65yH.png

 

The most exciting form of final dungeon. This type of level is exceptionally nice to play through as it passes off a feeling of action and magnificence, and as implementation is all about feeling it fits the situations presented in Sonic games very well, especially when it's set as Robotnik's grand fortress for its game. It's also good, from an aesthetic standpoint, that there's always a lot of things going on in the background which gives life to the environment, yet the sky setting makes it still appear clean and pleasant. In general, though, this level trope makes the gameplay experience more interesting for the player. Be it by hopping through ships in Egg Fleet, smashing mechanisms in Sky Deck or speeding through Wind Fortress, it helps set a mood and atmosphere better and more clearly.

 

No particular least favorite.

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I really like level themes that include a marble, sand or ancient ruin kind of texture, such as:

 

Rusty Ruin, Marble Zone, Marble Garden, Tidal Tempest, Hidden Palace, Lost World, Pyramid Cave, Sandopolis, Aquatic Ruin and Hydrocity City.

 

The little patterns/designs you get on the ancient ruin/marble like level textures are very pretty to look at.

Edited by -Bender-
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Animatedmusic

Well I don't think there is a level trope I don't like in the sonic series ( apart from the obvious water level ).

I think my least favourite is going to be the green opening level. We have seen this so many times where seeing something else like: City escape and underground zone feel really fresh. I just think it has worn out it's welcome

Edited by Animatedmusic
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Oooooh. This is a topic I could really go into detail on.

 

My favourite trope? ...damn you, there's so many I love!

 

Favourite? Probably casino. To be honest, we need another casino level in a 3D game. If they're just worried about the pinball physics, I'd just go carnival style, something like Circus Park, Music Plant, or Toy Kingdom. This trope also gives a lot of chances to implement gimmicks not seen in other stages, such as springs disguised in other objects, such as hitting bumpers to reach high areas, popping a balloon to get launched into the air, that kinda stuff. Really a fan of that trope in general, and I think it really fits the Sonic world.

 

Least favourite would have to be desert levels. Screw Sandopolis, screw Sand Ocean, screw Hidden Base, screw Dusty Desert, screw Arid Sands; I hate the lot. It's either quicksand or really dickish level design. With Sandopolis... Skorp. That's all I have to say. Sand Ocean and Hidden Base, you got that damn quicksand. Dusty Desert, you got bottomless pits with a ground texture over them that took me half an hour to work out on my own as "quicksand", and THAT. BALL. PUZZLE. Arid Sands, while it's probably the one I despise the least, I still feel there's a feel dickish design choices here and there. 

 

It was really hard to decide on the desert trope as well, to be honest. There's no Sonic level trope I legitimately dislike, but the desert one is probably the one I enjoy the least.

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Desert trope in any game tends to be my least favourite and Sonic games have a bad habit of making particularly bland Desert stages. Sand Oasis is really the only Desert stage I generally like, if more of them looked like this or took cues from Dry Lagoon/ Wild Canyon I probably wouldn't mind them so much but Sandopolis and most of the others are just too dull to look at and tend to drag on forever. Sometimes not even mixing the trope up can make it interesting, Oil Desert is just as guilty of being terrible for example.

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My least favorite is the ----- Hill Zone.  Talk about fucking boring and trite.  We've seen Fuck Hill Zone so many times in so many games that it's got its own page on TV Tropes.  The series really needs more opening stage variety.

 

My favorite is probably Eggman Base stages, but they're rarely done in a way to differentiate them from a standard "Robot Factory" level.  Eggmanland, or Crimson Carnival, was a fantastically atmospheric stage, true to ol' Robuttnik through and through.  I'd love if we'd see various takes on that in upcoming games.

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Any form of sky trope are my down right favorites. Weither it be floating islands, being on a plane, a giant airship or a whole fleet of them, they've always been extremely interesting and exciting to me. I know with this usually calls for a level full of bottomless pits, but as long as they're fair I usually don't mind in the first place anyways. As for any others I'm a pretty big fan of ice and forest themes, since there's a certain wonder about both of them. Ice areas are usually always extremely pretty and equipped with awesome music, while forests are basically the same just a different setting.

 

Least favorites though? You know I can't really spot one to be honest, I just find myself naming specific levels like Spring Yard Zone and stuff like that. Usually if the trope is a little flat in presentation then it doesn't grab me overall, and that can honestly go for my favorite trope types too of course.

 

Sonic specific though, I gotta put down Oil Ocean for one of the most interesting. When I was little it always blew my mind because there wasn't any level type quite like that anywhere. Hot blistery ass sun with a sludgy ocean of oil below that doesn't even kill you instantly was always pretty neat in my book. Add some arabian sounding music and the unique look of the buildings and whatnot as well and it's always stood the test of time for one my favorite original tropes ever.

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Dr. Crusher

Well this is a tough one, since I love plenty of zones throughout the series. But if we're going by level tropes as a whole rather than one or two specific examples...

 

Icecap.png

Ice/Snow

Ice levels might come off as bothersome due to the likes of ice physics and other such things, but in most games they end up being some of my favourites, and Sonic is no exception. For a start, almost always they are very pretty to look at. S3&K's Ice Cap alone is probably one of the most gorgeous zones in the series. But you also have the peaks of Ice Mountain, the aurora skies of Twinkle Snow, the slightly urban Ice Paradise, the endless sea of Cool Edge... there's so much to choose from. They also tend to have some of the most memorable enemies in their games, such as Penguinator and Snowy.

 

320px-Finalrush.png

Space

This is mainly because I've always enjoyed learning about the solar system since I was a kid. Again, usually pleasing on the eyes, with the stars complimenting the view of the big blue planet below. Whether it's in a space station (Final Rush) or otherwise (Night Palace), it tends to feel suitably vast, which is doubly exciting when it comes to a series involving your character rolling around like a pinball. And no matter how many times this trope may appear in this series, seeing the globe in the background will always make me giddy.

 

291535-scrap_brain_zone_large.png

Anything Robotnik related (...Or just mechanical fortresses)

Well aside from the obvious bias, it's because unlike the fortresses of Bowser other video game baddies, while they are always recognisably "Robotnik", they have a tendency of standing out from each other. You have the dark factories of Scrap Brain and Metallic Madness, but then there's the space stations of the Death Egg and Cosmic Angel. There is also the warm Lava Shelter and Eggmanland, but then there's the cooler Ocean Base and White Acropolis. You have the Flying Battery and Egg Fleet up in the sky, but then you have Gimmick Mt. and Final Egg on definite ground. You have the dazzling colours of Circus Park and Starlight Carnival, but then there's the thematic Pyramid Base sands and Bullet Station canyon. And all of that goes without mentioning the bizarre Crystal Egg. Hell, even one of his minions get to have a good'un in the Venice and not Soleanna nature of Pirates' Island... The list really does go on. It highlights the creative yet deadly mind of the doctor, which is something I of course appreciate very much. And because of their very nature of usually being a final zone, they ensure no finale will ever feel the same. Well, to me anyway.

 

Sadv2_musicplant.png

Bouncy/Fun levels that deviate from the casino trope

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Casino Night and Casinopolis as much as the next person. I just tend to enjoy these kind of stages even more whenever they try to mix it up a little bit. The main example being, as highlighted, Music Plant... okay, so it's just Planat Sonata from Ristar, but it's still a favourite of mine. Plus - as I keep mentioning - Music Plant has always had a spot in my heart due to Advance 2 being my first Sonic game. But it's not the only one by a long shot; there's also Toy Kingdom from Advance 3 as a (what else?) toy-themed world, Twinkle Park from Adventure 1 as a funfair, Starlight Carnival in spaaaace, Collision Chaos as... drugs, and even the original game's Spring Yard as merely the casual city life.

 

Sandopolis.png

Desert

WHAT? You're kidding, right? No, I genuinely do tend to enjoy most of the desert levels. Like the space choice, I've always been interested with the Ancient Egyptians since I was little (it's all Crash Bandicoot 3's fault), so while deserts in games tend to get a lot of flak, they can be some of the best for me... as long as it's not desaturated to the point in which everything is orange (ie: Dusty Desert interior). Not that I don't enjoy other types of deserts, such as the Arabian Sand Oasis or Western Dust Hill. And yes, I still say that Robotnik having a pyramid was one of the best parts of Adventure 2.

 

36500-sonic-3d-blast-genesis-screenshot-

Fire/Lava

Like ice/snow, the fire levels in Sonic games tend to vary. You have the ancient ruins of Marble, the high clouds of Hill Top, the construction site of Hot Crater, the dilapidated Crisis City, the crystal chambers of Lava Reef, the industrial carnival of Eggmanland, and the good old traditional likes of Red Mountain and Volcano Valley (speaking of which, as much as I love Lava Reef, Volcano Valley's music is my favourite of the Genesis lava themes). Like space, the nature of a series like Sonic makes these kind of levels all the more intense.

 

digital_circuit_shot1.jpg

Cyberspace

Okay, so there's only been three examples of it thus far, but I really like all three of them. First there was Techno Base, which was like a spiritual successor of Electric Egg in terms of being dark yet full of colour simultaneously, giving it a somewhat creepy feel (maybe it's the music). Then there was Cyber Track, which might look a little strange to some, but I personally enjoyed the "broken computer" appearance. Finally, my personal favourite in terms of visuals: the technicolor Tron-lines of Digital Circuit and Mad Matrix. I really hope that a future Sonic game uses this sort of visual for a final zone, because I think it could be executed really well for a unique endgame atmosphere.

 

Those are the main examples, but like other games, I'll like any level as long as it's good enough. Enchanted forest? Cloudy ruins? Submerged city? I'll take anything.

 

Least favourite? In terms of overall Sonic cliches, I can't think of any to be honest. I don't mind most of the water levels (in fact, Aquarium Park might very well be my favourite of the Colours zones), I was completely fine with the frequent cities in Generations (I thought they managed to make them stand out from each other enough to not feel the same), even the tropical green levels don't tire me. So... hurray!

Edited by Dr. Crusher
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I'm going with city levels for favorite (as it's all that comes to mind right now) for the same reason as the OP said. I just really like the idea of Sonic blazing and busting through city streets and grinding on rails on the sidewalk, grinding on electrical wires, hopping from rooftop to rooftop, causing general property damage. I just love it.

 

As for least favorite, I can't think of any right now.

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Desert stages tend to be a lowpoint for me as well, but more than anything I'd say:

 

 

Green/Tropical levels OR city levels as openers - these are just so overdone, I always groan when a new game is announced and the first footage (obviously from the first level) is a tropical zone.  Games that have happily averted this include Sonic 3 (thanks to setting the place on fire), Sonic & Knuckles (thanks to the Autumn theme on Act 2), Sonic 2 8-bit (my first Sonic game and prolly gave me a lasting impression with this subject), Sonic Unleashed (thanks to its unique Greece themed visuals), and Sonic Colours (thanks to obviously the theme parkness).  City levels are less popular but still tend to be the second most popular choice.

 

And:

 

Space/Mechanical/Ruins levels as final stages - every Sonic game tends to have a final stage with one of these tropes.  I'd like the story to lead us somewhere surprising more often.  Good ones for this were Sonic 2 8-bit (oh hi again lol), Shadow the Hedgehog (though admittedly was weakened here by using the black arms comet theme for the third time in the game), Sonic 2006 and Sonic Unleashed (this gets a free pass because it was THE Eggman base to end all Eggman bases, and was a huge contrast to the rest of the game).

 

 

 

Now don't get me wrong, most of the non-exceptions to the above openers/closers are all utterly fantastic, I just hope that going forward they don't keep doing these tropes over and over again.

 

 

 

 

As for my favourite, I have a strong spot for mix-and-match tropes, or tropes where they put a unique mood/spin on an existing one.

 

Sonic 3 was great at this.  A tropical zone but on fire.  A carnival zone but in a partial blackout.  A final mechanical zone but outside on a relaxed summer's day.  Brilliant.

 

I really hope for more zones with unique times of day and weathers too.  The missions in Generations gave a teasing idea of possibilities with this, and Sonic 4's smattering of Act 3 sunsets and night-times were much appreciated, but I want more.

Edited by JezMM
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Your Vest Friend

Favourite by far is the carnival/circus type level. They're always bright and cheery even if they are deadly, and if they're done right I can just wander through them for hours to explore them.

 

Least favourite is the ice type level. To me, these levels always seem to be frustrating in their execution. Plus, I think ice places look really dull, so there's nothing that draws me to them aesthetically either. 

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My favorite are probably Fire levels;

Lavareef.png

 

 

I always was captivated by running over lava pits as a kid as I thought it was raddest thing ever, and fire was obviously the best element. Even levels like 06 Crisis City ended being favorites of mine. One of my dreams is to have Sonic run over lava akin to how he does Water; I know it isn't scientifically plausible, but it'd be the most surreal thing ever in the series.

 

Least Favorite?:

 

Underwater levels by far. Not even counting Labyrinth zone, they're just unfun and the Anti-thesis to everything Sonic is; slow, monotonous, and not very fun to play or watch. I think its fitting that Sonic's greatest fear turns out to be my worst nightmare.

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Im not sure how I feel about Water Levels in Sonic, but Hydocity, Aquarium Park, Ocean Palace, and Gens' Seaside Hill are some of my favorite levels in Sonic so take that for what you will.

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Green levels while nice to look at tend to become expected. Which become boring. Sand levels are the most boring IMO. They are just really slow. Eggman base/theme park or tropical forest tropes tend to be my favorite types. I also got to say digital levels are pretty unique.

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My favourite trope is definitely water levels. I don't know why, guess it's because most of my favourite stages include Hydrocity and Aquarium Park. =P I guess I just like that tense moment when you find yourself underwater and need air quickly. Dat drowning music...! Oh, and carnival/casino stages are fun too. The colours, the slot machines, the music~

 

As for my least favourites? Well most of the desert and ice stages, because of them just being bland and not always very memorable (except Ice Cap) and the city stages. I'm sick and tired of those. More interesting natural environments pls!

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I LOOOOVE the forest theme that Green Hill and Seaside Hill are famous for. (Seaside Hill's more of a beach, but there are some forest elements.) Maybe it's because I'm a fan of green, but it's so pleasing to my eyes. It's one of the reasons I always replay Green Hill Zone, Green Forest, the outdoor acts of Planet Wisp, etc. I also like the stages that go by what I call the "LSD theme", the colorful, usually lit up stages, like Carnival Night Zone, Collision Chaos, Casino Park, Bingo Highway and the recently praised Starlight Carnival. These stages are good prime example of "eye candy".

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Splash the Otter

My favorite levels would have to be the ones with a tropical theme. Sure, they're overused (particularly as an introduction stage), but the way they encapsulate the sheer beauty of nature always takes my breath away.

Tied for second are the "urban" and "casino" stages. While not usually as diverse in their beauty as the tropical stages, they still manage to show the appeal of cosmopolitan life. I'm sure most of us wished they lived in Spagonia after playing through Rooftop Run.

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Desert stages tend to be a lowpoint for me as well, but more than anything I'd say:

 

 

Green/Tropical levels OR city levels as openers - these are just so overdone, I always groan when a new game is announced and the first footage (obviously from the first level) is a tropical zone.  Games that have happily averted this include Sonic 3 (thanks to setting the place on fire), Sonic & Knuckles (thanks to the Autumn theme on Act 2), Sonic 2 8-bit (my first Sonic game and prolly gave me a lasting impression with this subject), Sonic Unleashed (thanks to its unique Greece themed visuals), and Sonic Colours (thanks to obviously the theme parkness).  City levels are less popular but still tend to be the second most popular choice.

 

And:

 

Space/Mechanical/Ruins levels as final stages - every Sonic game tends to have a final stage with one of these tropes.  I'd like the story to lead us somewhere surprising more often.  Good ones for this were Sonic 2 8-bit (oh hi again lol), Shadow the Hedgehog (though admittedly was weakened here by using the black arms comet theme for the third time in the game), Sonic 2006 and Sonic Unleashed (this gets a free pass because it was THE Eggman base to end all Eggman bases, and was a huge contrast to the rest of the game).

 

 

Now don't get me wrong, most of the non-exceptions to the above openers/closers are all utterly fantastic, I just hope that going forward they don't keep doing these tropes over and over again.

 

 

As for my favourite, I have a strong spot for mix-and-match tropes, or tropes where they put a unique mood/spin on an existing one.

 

Sonic 3 was great at this.  A tropical zone but on fire.  A carnival zone but in a partial blackout.  A final mechanical zone but outside on a relaxed summer's day.  Brilliant.

 

I really hope for more zones with unique times of day and weathers too.  The missions in Generations gave a teasing idea of possibilities with this, and Sonic 4's smattering of Act 3 sunsets and night-times were much appreciated, but I want more.

 

As long as they mix it up each time they use these classic tropes, I don't really have a problem with them using Green/Tropical and Space/Factory. I actually think that the main series has done quite well to vary the first and final stages. The only ones that really feel too familiar to me are Emerald Hill and Wave Ocean because, unlike Emerald Coast and Seaside Hill, they deliberately didn't bring much of anything new to the table. If you're including handheld levels in that, then maybe they aren't all that varied overall. I don't tend to remember much about those games though.

 

My favorites also tend to be mix-and-match tropes and I can love any mix if it's done well. I love Ice Cap because it takes the normally bouncy, happy winter wonderland and combines it with the Cave/Underground/Crystal trope, as opposed to more standard looking ice levels like SA's Ice Cap and Cool Edge Day (HD). Other examples include Sky Sanctuary (Ruins/Sky), SA2's pyramid base (Pyramid/Eggman Base/Haunted) and Starlight Carnival (Space/Carnival).

 

I'd like to see the return of the Pinball trope, provided that the physics were adjusted to work in that way. It would actually give the team good reason to implement some 2D sections. It's about time we had some more underwater levels as well, there being all kinds of potential for gimmicks and weird strucures using coral alone. A combination of the Ice and Ruins tropes that incorporated ghosts would be a dream. Anything that mixes Ice, Space or Dark/Cave/Ghost with something is likely to win me over. =p

Edited by Pawn
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Here's another one I've come to like:

Spooky/Supernatural Levels:

96px-SRA_Haunted_Ship.jpg 254px-Mystic_Haunt_Zone.png 206px-Mysticcave.png

 

Personally, supernatural stuff creeps me out but I can't help enjoying these types of levels.  I actually enjoy the things that these zones bring with Sonic and co. exploring the mystic unknown and usually these zones contain some fun and interesting gimmicks.

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Sadv2_musicplant.png

Bouncy/Fun levels that deviate from the casino trope

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Casino Night and Casinopolis as much as the next person. I just tend to enjoy these kind of stages even more whenever they try to mix it up a little bit. The main example being, as highlighted, Music Plant... okay, so it's just Planat Sonata from Ristar, but it's still a favourite of mine. Plus - as I keep mentioning - Music Plant has always had a spot in my heart due to Advance 2 being my first Sonic game. But it's not the only one by a long shot; there's also Toy Kingdom from Advance 3 as a (what else?) toy-themed world, Twinkle Park from Adventure 1 as a funfair, Starlight Carnival in spaaaace, Collision Chaos as... drugs, and even the original game's Spring Yard as merely the casual city life.

 

I too like these kinds of stages, they're vibrant and often have unique gimmicks. Amazing Arena in Chaotix was a notable level of this type. If you didn't 'bring color' back to the stage by pressing a switch and cleared it whilst it's uncolourful and cheerless, it wouldn't count as a clear. Literally making it vibrant is a prerequisite for a successful completion of the stage. Even the music sounds depressed whilst the stage is 'dead'

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=237cFT_9bf8

 

I can't say that I really like Desert theme for Sonic levels. They tend to have the most annoying aspects to their level design like quick sand and crumbling platforms everywhere. Sonic Riders' desert-themed courses were the most annoying because of the layout and effect of sand on the Extreme Gear. SatSR's Sand Oasis is an exception because it's pretty, shows a decent degree of variety and is very in-line with the game's premise.

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Dr. Crusher

Ah yes, how could I have forgotten Amazing Arena... Probably because the Botanic Base theme is still in my head.

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