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June 13, 2014 in Sonic Games
So, with all the hype/anti-hype/kinda-sorta-medium-hype generated by Sonic Boom, it got me thinking: how would I do things if I could build the Sonic series again? What elements would I use, what characters would I rework, what tone or story structure would I adopt, what gameplay would I showcase?
And because I was too lazy to work out a conclusion to those questions, I've come to you guys to ask you all the same. If you were given the reigns to design an alternate Sonic series in your own image, what would it look like? Consider your team, consider your direction, and pitch it to the best of your ability. Pictures and etc. aren't necessary, but that would be neat.
Happy... uh... Sonic...ing?
Getting a strong, consistent formula is a key virtue, right off the bat.
A hybrid of 2.5 D+3D segments that take the best aspects of Sonic 3 & K, Adventure, Advance,and Unleashed/Generations would be the absolute perfect Sonic game in my mind. Let's start now, shall we?
GAMEPLAY STYLE/FORMULA: Short and straight to the point, Sonic and company travel through hub worlds with their own quirky identity and set of characters that give it a strong sense of personality. You get all your move sets and can blaze past them to go straight to the stage if you wish, or walk around and explore at your leisure, talking to NPC's, taking in the visuals, enjoying extras, the works. Sounds kind of familiar, comprende?
A fusion of Adventure and Unleashed's hub worlds, you say? Precisely. I think Adventure had the right idea in adding them to the game, as it familiarized you with Sonic's world but didn't slow you down. I love Unleashed's, but forcing you to chat up with NPC's at points and gimping Sonic's move-set while travelling through them became a real pace breaker. Combine the sheer size and speed of travel with Adventure, and Unleashed's wonderful charm, then voila, you get the best of both... worlds. *huehuehue*
But I digress, back to what I believe the formula should be.
Start off at the main menu, and you get to chose which of the characters you wish to play as. Keeping it under 6 is a bare necessity, you can't have your game become over crowded with too many characters. Let's just assume in this case, it's Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy, (or if you like, swap them out with a different character when reading my pitch.)
So, each playable character gets their own representing stand alone story that can be easily enjoyed without some last story bullshit that undermines the freedom of playing as whoever you want and being totally happy and OK with that. Some characters will inevitably cross paths at some point, but everything counts, yet feels self contained at the same time. Want to go through Sonic the Hedgehog Ultra Mega Nega Whatchamafuckit as Amy? Go for it. The choice is your's, my friend.
Your goal is to travel through wide open stages with focus on alternate pathways, thus there's near limitless possibilities on how to end up reaching the goal ring. Every character is on foot and the game is primarily a speedy platformer. One gameplay style, none of that genre roulette crap. Everyone has their own unique abilities that make them fun in their own right, like Sonic's double jump/best use of elemental shields, Amy's acrobatic tricks that can be performed with her Piko Piko Hammer, Knuckles' gliding and wall climbing short cut tricks, and Tails' flight to be able to speed-run the level.
A mix of stage tropes old and new would be really cool. Something along the lines of Unleashed's outlandish takes on real world settings, and Lost World's bat shit insane re-imaginings of old tropes, along with some new stuff in their arsenal.
Come on, that's just fantastic and you know it.
Ya know, I had an idea for a level where you start of on a giant pier of sorts that connects with a beach/ocean. Later along the level, it gets slowly destroyed, and characters have to start travelling under and on (yes on) the water. When underwater, everyone can swim a la Sonic Colors and travel the sea floor, interacting with the wonderous Ocean life ,but hell, if you're good enough...
Being able to surf the waves, whether it be on a surfboard or defying the laws of physics and doing it with Sonic would be a magnificent and beautiful set piece that could truly push the visuals of a Sonic game to its limit.
But that's just one idea.
So anyway, that's how I would kinda like levels to be approached. Depending on how well you do, you get rewarded with different set pieces and power ups, which would lead to marvelous replay value.
And now we get to bosses.
To be honest, when it comes to bosses, they definitely aren't one of the shining examples of depth in the Sonic series. And to be truthful with you, I don't mind at all. Just keep in nice and simple, with the concept of attacking the enemy's weak point. Putting it in a slightly more open area would be appreciated, so there's more of a balance on dodging the Boss and planning out your method of defeating it.
Sonic Generations' Perfect Chaos boss with less of a linear path would be just about perfect to me, since it's got that giant sense of scale.
That just about makes up the gist of the core gameplay. Enter a hub, reach a stage, beat that stage to get to the Hub World's boss battle.
There's tons of alternatives on how to handle my pitch's art style. I've been sorta picturing a Unleashed sort of photo surrealism, with making our world fit with Sonic's instead of the other way around. Exaggerated characters and locations, all that jazz. Lost World's works just as fine in this regard too.
Who makes it? Simple, whoever gives enough of a shit to make this ginormous premise work. A new development team consisting of all the people who worked on the games I got inspiration from on this pitch? That's about as close to perfect as perfect can be.
I won't lie, this comes off as completely bloated and there's no way something close to this will ever happen. Am I being unrealistic? Maybe, but at the end of the day, it's MY pitch first and foremost. I want respect to other characters in the series who aren't relegated to a completely different genre. I don't want unnecessary gameplay gimmicks that come and go. I just want care and attention to designing good stages, where I can choose how to playing them however and whoever I wish to play with.
Call me spoiled, watevs.... but this is pitch perfect in my mind.
In terms of story, I've been working on something like that for a while now
As for gameplay, I'd probably have each level have different stages, so it takes on adventure like gameplay for normal levels and has a Boost to win stage as the final phase of the level.
I'd also consider having a "bad" ending if certain objectives are not completed, not too dark and over the top but still something that makes you feel bad and makes you want to try again
CSS's imprefect Game Document.
Primary influences of my alternate Sonic series would be a mix of S3&K, the Adventures, and Unleashed/Colors/Generations, with elements of Heroes and Boom. And just so we don't leave people out, Lost World can join as well.
Additional visual elements would be that from the Megaman series, Azure Striker Gunvolt, and Mighty No. 9, because sci-fi makes my dick rock ha-, er, anyway.
The predominant visual look is the one brought to us by the Unleashed/Colors/Generations as it's visuals are so flexible, they can incorporate everything in the series, all the way back to Sonic 1. We all know what it looks like, so I don't think I need to waste time explaining it. Now, due to the Hedgehog engine being a graphics one, if we can substitute it with a better working engine that gives us the same flair in the visuals, then that would be the first overhaul.
Gameplay is a mix of Sonic-solo and character select a la S3&K, Adventures, and the Advance series. The Sonic Solo part basically means that Sonic alone is required for the primary unlockables, where as everyone else is completely optional. So for those of you who do not want to play as anyone but Sonic, this method will suit you perfectly. It's basically like the Advance series in that Sonic is the main one needed in order to reach the final stage (but more on this part later).
This method is also designed not to intrude on or leave out those who would enjoy playing as the other characters. This is where the Adventure style comes in, as while Sonic is the primary character to play through the story, everyone else still has a playable part in narrative. So you can still see what the other characters were doing on their side of the story. Wanna see what Tails or Shadow was doing on their end? Well if you unlocked them as Sonic, your more than welcome to try them out on your own time and see what they were up to. Don't care about anyone but Sonic? Well, play as Sonic - the game will in no way force you to play as anyone else in order to reach the last story.
All in all, Sonic is the only character needed for the last part of the game. But that doesn't prevent other characters from being involved and helping out. If you have Super Sonic, Super Shadow, Burning Blaze, and Super Silver in the same level at the same time fighting the same boss, but you chose Sonic in the character select, then you stay as Sonic for the whole time - there is no switching mid-level. However, that being said, it doesn't in anyway deny the other characters from being playable in it. In fact, it works both ways: if you chose Shadow or Blaze, and they went super in that same level, you stay as Shadow or Blaze the whole time. No switching to the other characters.
As far as the other characters in the same level with the character you selected, the AI is there to assist and support you through the level. This one needs to be worked out, because you don't want the AI being so hypercompetent in killing enemies that it makes you feel useless as a player (although that might work to the games advantage depending on how it's designed). This is where the Advance part comes in, specifically Advance 1 and 3, as you can either go solo or pick a teammate to go with you, and each character you choose to assist you has their own unique ways of supporting you.
Picked Sonic, and chose Shadow as your helper? You both can spindash with twice the force, have Shadow stop time to keep enemies still, have Shadow teleport you to places, or attack enemies at a distance. Hell, you can even blow stuff up with his Chaos Blast! Picked Shadow and chose Cream? Her chao Cheese can fuck shit up and keep any non-boss enemy from getting within 5 feet of you if you tell him to. Cream can also help fly you up places, or fly around and scout for enemies (a trait shared by other flight characters like Tails, Rouge, Charmy, with special exception of Espio due to his invisibility). Picked Knuckles and chose Rouge to assist you? Well now you two can really power through enemies in your way, with Rouge also providing intel and stealthing around places so you can better avoid areas that are too difficult for you, or better tackle the challenge. Picked Tails and chose Silver as your teammate? You overpowered jackass - Silver can just block projectiles and throw that shit back at the enemy, keep you elevated from falling if you tire from flying, and even chuck enemies and objects like a baseball.
That all was really off the top of my head, but you get the drift of where I'm going with this. But as I said before, and it's worth repeating, if you just want to play as Sonic, and only Sonic, no partners or anything like that, then you have that option. The game will be designed to accomodate this; however, it should be noted that for the sake of diversity and options, there are certain secrets that can only be accessed by a different character, whether you're playing as that other character or chose them as your partner. This is where it's akin to S3&K and Sonic Advance 1 (and possibly Adventures).
This one's a bit tricky to describe. I tend to prefer tackling 3D environments over 2D ones (not that 2D sucks, my favorite Sonic game is Sonic 3 & Knuckles for crying out loud), but I don't fully have any decent experience with level design when it comes to the addition of a Z-axis. The way you traverse the levels is essentially that of Parkour, but that's where my mind can hit a brickwall over how to implement this.
The best examples I can give for understanding would be Cloudbuilt:
I'd like to find away to incorporate physics in 3D so as to achieve the same experience as the Classics, but that might take more research to develop. One could also use skateboarding games to try, but that'll take some experimenting with.
This is perhaps my favorite part, because I would personally go back to SA1 and redo the story from there all the way to maybe Colors. The primary part I would redo is the script so that it doesn't sound too cheesy (if at all), but other than that I would also make the story look more intense and cinematic. For the most part, the events that occurred would essentially be the same...except for ShTH which would be completely overhauled without the Black Arms as aliens adding junk to Shadow's backstory, and if possible Sonic 06 (which would preferably be skipped, but we can probably give this an complete overhaul from scratch with its plot, right?).
I'd like to give the Rush titles a bigger screen and experience than they got from the handhelds as well. In addition to that, I would make the lore and continuity more connective, while giving each enough room to stand alone from the other titles. I'd also like to retool and overhaul Chronicles first chance I get.
Bring in elements such as the Time Stones from Little Planet. Hell, retool and make some of the spin-off titles part of the main continuity, such as Tails Adventure and bring back the Battlebird Armada. Even rework the Babylon Rogues more into the main continuity (tho I would probably keep them unplayable until I can figure out a way to make them as fun as the other characters, which would take some work). And due to Ian Flynn actually making Big the Cat an enjoyable character in the Archie Comics, I think I can put aside my dislike of the character in the games and make him as fun as everyone else. If not, well he can still play a sizable part in the story, not only as comic relief but as a good source of knowledge due to him not being so noticable as a threat (which can actually be used as a great surprise for the story when he manages to fuck shit up with the same chill attitude he has while he's fishing ).
Actually, there's really nothing more to do here that isn't already done. Time to move along.
That's as much as I can provide right now. The Boss fights are still in R&D for me, but I want to try something special for this .
If I were to direct/produce a Sonic game, the team that I am responsible for would need to have a good work ethic. We would't just be creating a Sonic game just because we get paid for it, we would be putting our hearts and souls into it, treating it as though it's a project that we hold close to us. Ultimately, the key production values would be fun, creativity, and replayabilty. I wouldn't want my team to create a game that will get old quickly and lacks creativity, I'd want us to create something truly spectacular and most of all, fun.
Any individual working on my team would have to be a creative type. They can't just make levels that will get stale and boring quickly. That would go against the production values. They can think of any crazy thing they want to, as long as it's fun for the player.
But while we would be using creativity as a driving force behind the project, we would want to stay true to Sonic's roots. This means speed would be key, however we would design the level so that it rewards the player for slowing down, though you can definitely go fast if you want to.
Level design would be wide-linear, a mix between Adventure and Generations Modern. There would be plenty of alternating routes, and also some hidden areas that would require you to slow down to explore. Each level would have set pieces and gimmicks that fit into the respective level trope. For example, a coastal level might feature boosting in water, ridable jet skis, and a snow level might feature snowboarding away from an avalanche, like in Adventure.
Sonic's moveset would be a mix between Adventure and Generations. He would have both the spin dash and the boost, though the boost would be more limited and more of a special move fuelled by rings. He would obviously have the homing attack, but would also have the bounce (which also serves as a stomp).
There would also be a few more characters to play as, like Tails, Knuckles, and Amy. All three play similarly to Sonic but have their own moves and abilities which help with finding collectibles. Tails would be able to fly for a short period, allowing him to get to places that the others cant go. He also has his Tail Spin from Sonic Adventure. Knuckles can punch, glide, and climb on some walls. Amy is the second fastest character in the game, and has her Piko Piko Hammer that she can use to break objects that the others can't.
There would also be online co-op, allowing four player to go through the game's story together.
I'm honestly not sure what I'd do for a story, maybe just Sonic and the gang having an excursion around the world but discover an evil plot being formed by Dr Eggman. Something simple but well written with character interactions akin to Boom: Rise Of Lyric.
Visuals would be the art style of Unleashed, with 60 frames per second on PS4, PC, and Xbox One, and 30 frames per second on Wii U.
Overall, I would like to keep the game simple yet imaginative and fun, with a good narrative to accompany the gameplay.
When I saw the title of this I thought Build a Bear/Bear Factory were making a new Sonic line for kids to stuff and dress! Maybe putting little rings or Chaos Emeralds in them instead of hearts?
How disappointed I am!
Sidenote- the video CSS posted of Overgrowth, I'm pretty sure you could feasibly do all that already in Lost World, except there's no levels conducive to it and the controls are a bit more finicky.
Anyways, is the idea here "how would you do a game for a new Sonic side-series" or "how would you do a new Sonic game"? Because I've two different answers.
Anyways, is the idea here "how would you do a game for a new Sonic side-series" or "how would you do a new Sonic game"? Because I've two different answers.
Door #1, comrade. Story is up for debate as well.
This is gonna be a hard one. But I have some Ideas.
Well this one isn't really a top one for me, as I'm no story writer at all. But if anything I'd like to go a direction as Boom but also (this delves into the multiple characters bit) the advance series which has the non-cannon endings having the player you play as be the one who defeats big bad. I'd would like a mix between the story telling aspect of Adventure series and the character interaction and deeper story from Boom. I don't want a dark and edgy or anything but something that you can still get into without having the game dependent on it.
If you get what I'm saying.
This is the big one here. Note: This is mostly from an idea aspect, rather than this is what works best aspect. So while some things have been thought out that I've thought of for awhile, some isn't as thought out.
Near the "1" on the page you see Sonic running forth with clear obstacles ahead of him. This is more of me thinking an Adventure type gameplay. NOT Adventure gameplay but based off of such. Sonic would not have the Boost but other moves to compensate. Sonic would be fairly fast, somewhere inbetween Sonic Adventure 2 speed and Sonic Heroes speed (which was through the dang roof.)
Sonic would steer as such of the adventure games allowing for more precise platforming and yet flowing, joyus movement, which could also allow for more broad wide level design.
Now next to the number 2 you see that the dash pad is cross out with a arrow type thing to the side of it. So I just thought of this today but instead of getting instant speed, it would drop your speed then blast you off, so in sacrifice of instant speed but launches you quickly. These could be avoided for more skillful players like maybe only if you press a button it'd boost you? See this is one of my unclear ideas. Onto a more clear idea.
By the "3" we see Sonic doing a trick. This would be kind of like Sonic Advance 2 but you could do it in from a jump, only once but it could lead into parkour like ChaosSupremeSonic was mentioning. There would be a left, right, and up trick. The up trick would be like a double jump without the spin jump properties (I know that's not the best because it leaves you open but-) So this particularly would a Sonic only move because it involves him going into parkour mode if performed heading towards a wall.
Tails and Knuckles:
Tails and Knuckles will be in the series throughout the series unless the story didn't call for it or the developers wanted to make a Sonic only, WHICH WOULD STILL KEEP THE SAME GAMEPLAY.
By 5 notice Sonic charging a spindash and the other just in a ball. This is because rolling (in characters that it made since) would be every bodies move to use. Only Sonic would be able to spindash while all the others could roll (which if you get a good slope in SA1 and roll with Tails or Knuckles you notice they actually pick up speed.)
6: Upon sketching my ideas I hit a stump- would Knuckles be able to climb? Because when thinking about it I found climbing to be the more difficult to level design around and the more gameplay breaking, in a 3D space. So unless anyone thinks of something Knuckles could use quick combat punches, dig, and glide. Digging would work like SA2/SonicBattle/Boom, with you being able to dig then move around for a certain amount of time and when you exit from burrowing you get awarded a prize like rings or an item. And the uppercut when you exit from burrowing is also effective for combat purposes.
7: Tails is also a special case, his fly in Sonic Adventure was broken (level design wise) so it was nerfed from there on, be it SA2 Tails hover fly, his fly in heroes, or even 06. But I think Tails fly would start out relatively short and then as you progress you could collect upgrades to lengthen it and make him tire slower. But nonetheless he'd have a slightly gimped fly due to how game breaking it could be. He would also have a Tail whip similar to SA1 but he'd roll into a ball and spin instead, pretty much just an animation change.
Gameplay Continued - Upgrades:
Upgrades would be featured just as SA1 and SA2 and other entries like Unleashed where in the hub or even main levels, exploring and using your player specific abilities could find you an upgrade that'd expand each characters overall moveset. I don't have many ideas besides lightdash and such, so for now I won't dig too deep into that but know they are there. Only a select few (1 or 3 max) would be needed to progress with story. Other upgrades could lead to bigger exploration of the map which would be resourceful in unlocking new goodies or characters. Replay-ability of sorts.
Level Design and Aesthetics:
So this is where I'm not clearest at but it would be like SA1, Generations, and the Classic if they were 3D. It'd take the classic's clever designs and use of characters abilities to make bigger more open levels. This doesn't mean every level would be some big huge thing but they would be able to be explored nonetheless. Some would be more track like while others would be way more wide and spacious. It would all depend on the environment or type of level. This is kind of dipping into "only in our dreams" territory but I'd really want a key factor to also be how you use your surroundings to traverse obstacles.
How the game would look would be something of the sorts of a mix between Unleashed HD graphics and setting itself and some inspiration taken from older games.
There would be hub worlds but small and concise allowing you to still use your in game moves in them and while being small, still big enough to freely traverse at a nice speed. Populated but not over-populated and alive felling.
Big image, Something like this.
And now my hands are tired of typing, maybe I'll post some more after I research a bit and have some more energy! This is a pretty solid experience it would seem.
EDIT: I lied... the picture isn't big
I'd just expand the main universe and stuff, cement games like Tails' Adventure and Knuckles' Chaotix into the continuity, and over-all tie all the elements of the franchise together. And maybe even meld the other continuities (cartoons and comics) into it as well.
Ya' know? I'll take this into a new perspective. -not really but I do wanna take this chance to think how I would make a completely new Sonic Series, like how BRB are doing with Sonic Boom.
So First of all the main Characters would include Sonic, Tails, Shadow, Knuckles, Amy and Eggman.
As far as a general look into the lore: Shadow would be Eggman's right hand man, a friend of sorts. He would still be Gerald's creation but rather being the way he is because he lost Maria to the her disease. It wouldn't be an in-depth look at her dying or anything but like Gerald was doing things trying to get Maria better, He's make Shadow, They all bond, Maria asks that Shadow makes people happy, He vow's to keep his promise, she doesn't make it without big deep whatever but more or less a brief description I'm no writer so they would have to figure out how not to shove it in your face, but of course Gerald would just pass of old age then Shadow and Eggman meet, Eggman learns Shadow's origins, They become partners.
Now, that's outta the way. Sonic and Tails would still have this brotherly bond but it would be that they knew each other for awhile and stuff and they would go on to meet Amy and Knuckles. Amy in some way or fashion after meeting with Sonic would get split up and be stuck with Tails for their part of the adventure and that's how they would become friends and for Sonic she's still a little weird because he still hasn't come to know her as close as Tails does but she would still be affectionate towards Sonic.
They would meet Knuckles on the Angel Island (yes, Thee) after Shadow came to him asking that he protect the Emeralds from Sonic. Which would lead to Sonic learning about the chaos emeralds and the introduction into Super Sonic. How he would obtain them- again is up to the actual writers and Knuckles would get the same arc as S3&K from there onwards. Face Eggman at the end in a Doomsday type boss.
Then more adventures could come since the base is now setup.
ON TO- THE GAMEPLAY!
So all this is off the top of my head and I'm just thinking "If I had to make a whole new series- hmm" and it really got me interested in trying something different. I decided that I'd try and be different-ish. So:
It'd be kind of like "Sonic vs LF2" and "Sonic Battle" but with slopes and pathways such as normal Sonic and all.
Now it wouldn't have to be sprites but I would imagine graphics like Boom or Sonic 4: Episode II
Graphics like that. It would be 2.5 in a sense of Battle and LF2 but have graphics like S4:Episode2.
So multiple pathways that branch off like normal but 2.5D like Battle and 3D graphics. Now notice in the beginning of the post when I said gameplay like Battle. I meant it. Combat. Not because Boom, Not because to tick people off, but because I feel something can be accomplished with this. But it's how it's handled. Seeing as this a series a-new I have free will to do anything but I do indeed like "normal" Sonic gameplay, so I don't wanna completely soil that. I would like to actually make combat like SA2. Enemies are there but you don't have to kill enemies to progress through the main path! All games that combine Sonic (the platforming one mind you) and Battle (combat and such) we get sections like SA2 Mech Sections, half of Sonic06 sections, LF2 (but lf2 is focused on beat em up so that's a gimme), Werehog, and even Boom. Inherently there's nothing wrong with this but every game that does it makes it forced and in the main path in your way slowing down your flow. I feel unless it's for a path that's astray from the main one or the enemies are guarding a powerup or something. Every damn time it's kill all the enemies to open the random door, "YAY!" But that's what I want to avoid with this gameplay style. I want combat to be like Sonic Battle where everyone has reasonable combo's (but unlike battle they would be mapped to more than one button, hah) that aren't too pace breaking. Knuckles in Battle compared to Boom is really wide gap. Knuckles is so much more smooth even though slow, in Battle but in Boom he became the slow type hulking type guy. So yeah, flowing combo's that CAN vary in speed and will still keep a flow in terms of level design and overall combat.
That's all I can really think of now but that's an idea I found really cool and I wish I could show you guys a video demonstration or something. Tell me what ya' think.
EDIT: Oh yeah upgrades... like sa1 and 2 and unleashed. Hubs wouldn't be necessary in this type of game though unless it had substance.
Can you tell I have a thing with upgrades yet? xD
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