Jump to content
Awoo.

Sonic Team's fear of Sonic Gameplay


Diamond Sonic
 Share

Recommended Posts

After thinking about the series over the years I've come to a conclusion: that Sonic Team has an irrational fear of letting the player play the core Sonic experience and using high-speed to complete levels. This is a painful tradition that started in Sonic Adventure and never seems like it will end.

 

In Sonic Adventure we had all kinds of alternate playstyles but the one that really sums this new tradition better than any other is Big the Cat.

 

Big_3.png

I feel sorry for Big, because I think he's quite a cute looking character, but he symbolises a dreadful tradition that Sonic Team have gotten tangled up in: that somehow the player needs more than just the Sonic gameplay for the game to be enjoyable. That somehow players will be bored with just running around fast-paced levels. Big was intentionally created with the purpose of being the antithesis of Sonic. He's slow, his levels are based around standing still and fishing and he's supposed to slow the pace of the game down. Why? We don't need the pace to be slowed down, the Sonic stages where by far the best stages in Sonic Adventure, we don't need the game to slow down to a halt and go against the best parts because the game designers were so paranoid that the game would be too fast. 

 

It was somewhat excusable in Sonic Adventure, being Sonic Team's first foray into the big scary world of 3D, but this tradition has continued and has never gone away.

 

Sonic Adventure 2 intentionally slowed down the Mech and Treasure Hunting Stages compared to the original Adventure. Sonic Heroes threw in pointless detective missions for the Chaotix. Shadow the Hedgehog tasks the player with slowing down to find all the exact number enemies to kill or keys to find. Sonic 2006 introduced Silver and his plodding puzzle-esque missions. Sonic Unleashed had the Werehog with it's focus on quasi-God of War brawling and Hub World meandering. Sonic Generations, whilst suffering far less than the others and being the closest Sonic Team has gotten to getting away from this horrible tradition, still forced players to complete the notably slower-paced missions to unlock the bosses. Sonic: Lost World intentionally made the majority of the levels more varied and to not play off the more pure Sonic gameplay that was featured in the first level of each world, instead playing off gimmicky and far less fast gameplay.

 

If you've noticed I've left out Sonic Colours that's because that game had the Wisps.

 

all_sonic_wisp_colors_fan_button_by_requ

 

If anything, the Wisps are the best example of this problem after Big the Cat. People actually liked the Wisps in Colours and Sonic Team were so shocked and proud that the Wisps have now become some kind of mainstray for the series. They have featured in every main title Sonic game since Colours and I am certainly think they will continue this trend. The hilarity is that the Wisps were only really effectively executed in Colours yet they still persist, throwing the Wisps anywhere and everywhere because they just cannot cope with having a Sonic game without some gameplay that will slow the game down or make it more varied. It's tiring to say the least. 

 

The irony is that the core Sonic-gameplay has always been the best part of the Sonic games (shocking I know). We don't need the slow sections of the games or more variety. Sonic Team need to stop their irrational fear of Sonic gameplay because most the time their core Sonic gameplay is, at the least, enjoyable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alright. First things first, Sega are not mind readers and they sure as hell can't predict the future. How did they know that the speed stages were going to be loved so much? For all they knew, they felt it would have been important to have a story that gives the player a quick break. Was the execution good? No. It wasn't but for fuck sake, it was 3 or 4 levels and that was it. It wasn't because of some kind of stupid fear of speed, it was putting more variety into the game. The same way Amy's gameplay was more puzzle/stealth and Gamma's was speed/shooting. 

 

Adventure 2's stages are generally considered meh and some still enjoy all 3 gameplay styles. Heroes doesn't force the player to play the Chaotix missions if they don't want to and it's once again just to throw variety in considering the other three teams were just doing the same stages only representing difficulty levels (Team Rose=Easy, Team Sonic=Medium, and Team Shadow=Hard).

 

Shadow also doesn't force you to do those key/enemies missions. There are three missions and one of those said missions is getting to the goal ring. You want to blast through the levels, fine, go ahead and blast through them and get the neutral ending.

 

Silver was once again a change for variety after the fast paced Sonic/Shadow missions, even if the puzzle elements didn't work out.

 

Now this is the one I'm so fucking sick and tired of hearing. To unlock those bosses. You had to do three different missions. Which could have been races. YOU KNOW, THOSE THINGS WHICH IS BASICALLY RUNNING THROUGH THE LEVEL AS FAST AS YOU CAN? Why the fuck is the point brought up when A. The missions are optional, and B. For the missions you are forced to do, you can easily just choose the mirror race and blast through the level as per normal.

 

I don't understand just what point you are trying to make with the wisps? You claim they are the series' next Big the Cat...despite the fact they are simply power ups and the majority of them being speed based such as boost, laser, drill etc. One or two of them are slow like the blimp but the majority don't really break the speed too much.

 

Also, half of the problems you stated don't even remove the speed from the game. Take Sonic Heroes for example, you may have to do mission based objectives as The Chaotix but the team structure is still the same, you still have the option of speed, only instead of blasting through to find a goal ring, you use the speed to complete a mission objective. 

 

Frankly, I don't see what point you are trying to make. Sega and Sonic Team do not have some kind of irrational fear of speed. Most of these problems come down to either A. having an alternative option, B. Attempts at variety that had the wrong execution, and C. Just flat out unexplained such as the wisps. 

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not so much Sonic Team has a fear against allowing players to enjoy the core Sonic experience than it is a downright bizarre lack of faith in said core experience. The heads of Sonic Team and Sega (because by this point I doubt it's only one of them in particular who keep pushing this idea) are always convinced that in order for Sonic to stay fresh or relevant (enough to sell), they need to re-invent the wheel and reinvent Sonic, with game after game after game. Things that are not broken they always change them or throw them out entirely for something new; while things that while good on paper but were half-baked in execution are left unchecked if not left at the wayside completely.

 

Because I really wanted to take this opportunity to make an analogy, Sonic Team keep using the same flawed tactics when playing golf, but every time they lose their reaction is to throw out their golf clubs and buy a new one thinking that will reverse their fortunes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heroes doesn't force the player to play the Chaotix missions if they don't want to...

 

Shadow also doesn't force you to do those key/enemies missions...

 

Silver was once again a change for variety after the fast paced Sonic/Shadow missions, even if the puzzle elements didn't work out.

 

 

All requirements to fight the final boss, see the final ending and beat the game ie mandatory.

 

 

Also, half of the problems you stated don't even remove the speed from the game. Take Sonic Heroes for example, you may have to do mission based objectives as The Chaotix but the team structure is still the same, you still have the option of speed, only instead of blasting through to find a goal ring, you use the speed to complete a mission objective. 

 

Slowing down to treasure hunt isn't slowing the game down?

 

 

I don't understand just what point you are trying to make with the wisps? You claim they are the series' next Big the Cat...despite the fact they are simply power ups and the majority of them being speed based such as boost, laser, drill etc. One or two of them are slow like the blimp but the majority don't really break the speed too much.

 

They are like Big the Cat (obviously very different in themselves) in that they show Sonic Team is desperate to introduce elements to the games that will draw attention away from the core experience, especially since they keep putting the Wisps in all the games because they think they are more accepted.

 

 

It's not so much Sonic Team has a fear against allowing players to enjoy the core Sonic experience than it is a downright bizarre lack of faith in said core experience. 

 

Yeah, I tried to get this sentiment across too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Wisps work because they spiced up the gameplay (And because in Colors they were actually implemented coherently with the game's level design). Lost World had no reason to had them other than Gamepad Gimmicks that they painfully shoehorned in. People like the wisps because they weren't shoehorned in Colors. They were what made Colors different. They are merely just power-ups and the worst thing they've done is broken momentum that you could had easily regained with a press of a button.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sonic Generations, whilst suffering far less than the others and being the closest Sonic Team has gotten to getting away from this horrible tradition, still forced players to complete the notably slower-paced missions to unlock the bosses.

  • Thumbs Up 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fair point, but there is a very good chance that players won't know about those missions if they don't play them.

 

Besides, I already said Generations was by far the least bad offender.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It isn't as clear as it could be though. Whilst it could be chalked down to ignorance, it's the devs job to make the game as clear as possible.

 

That said, I've already said that Generations is the closest game that got it right. I actually really like Generations. Just trying to be fair and give it a critical look.

You're giving criticism to a point that hardly calls for it. The game signposts it well enough, if you don't pay attention then, that's an issue on your part.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sonic Team isn't afraid of the gameplay. As I said before Sonic is Sega's cash cow so they're constantly throwing ideas at the wall, seeing what sticks and makes them the most money. Because of this they constantly change ideas when an idea fails and stick to a gameplay mechanic when it shows success. That's their problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part of the reason why Sonic games have a lot of alternate gameplay styles and recycled content is because they're often very expensive to make and too short. A majority of the development of Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Generations was the daytime stages. Sonic Unleashed looks phenomenal but you can pretty much beat all the stages in half an hour. Now think about that, 3+ years of development and only 30 minutes of gameplay! I know people argue about length vs value, but as seen with "The Order 1866" it's still important.

 

This is important to bring up because it was part of the reason why Sonic Lost World was even a thing. The graphics got "downgraded", Sonic is a lot slower, there's more emphasis on wisps, and there's more gimmicks. Honestly, to me I love Sonic Lost World. While it's great that Sonic Unleashed looks stunning when you pause the game, it turns into a shit show framerate wise. Same deal with Generations on consoles, on PC it looks stunning but I can't say the same about the PS3 version. Clearly Sonic Team was pouring a lot of money and resources to make the boost gameplay stand out, but was it worth it? 2-3 years of development for something you pass by in 5 seconds and ends up getting blurred so you can't even see the detail?

 

Let's take a step back for a moment and go back to the alternate gameplay. In Sonic Heroes, the three other teams mostly recycled Sonic's gameplay. In Sonic Adventure, Tails recycled Sonic's gameplay while Amy played very slow. Sonic Generations had classic Sonic and Sonic Unleashed had Werehog. Colors and Lost World is where they started getting on the right track. There was a bigger focus on power-ups and Sonic than anything else. Sure Lost World had some gimmick levels but they did fit in.

 

Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World were definitely lower budget than Sonic Generations and Sonic Unleashed. The playtime of Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World also exceed Generations. If you notice, there's a lot more stages in Colors and Lost World. It's about cutting costs which saves Sonic Team money. I don't think the HD versions of Sonic games made Sonic Team that much money. I personally think the SD versions subsidized the cost as not only did they sell more, but they were pennies to make compared to the insane budget the HD versions had.

 

Sonic Team is not afraid of the core experience of Sonic. It all boils down to money.

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While it's great that Sonic Unleashed looks stunning when you pause the game, it turns into a shit show framerate wise.

 

I only remember frame rate issues in one particular section of Jungle Joyride (the one with all the waterfalls). Did I just get lucky on that? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was gonna come in here and say what pretty much Autosaver said. I always had a theory that Sonic was so expensive to make that they added ways to fluff it out: alternate gameplay like fishing to emerald hunting, replaying the same game several times (like Heroes and Shadow).

 

I mean, let's look at Mario since people want to compare the two all the time. In 3D, Mario and Sonic take very different styles. Typically, Sonic (when 'normal') gameplay is involved, follows the general get to the end of the stage. Mario isn't like that, his stage CAN be get the end, but a lot of times his stages are more like arenas.

 

Take the first stage of Super Mario 64 as an example. There's no true end. Sure, the top of the hill CAN be considered the end, you beat the Bomb boss there and race a koopa to it, but in the end, that's not exactly the true directive. You can free a chain-chomp to get a star, if you wanted. A lot of times, Mario stages reflect Knuckles' treasure hunting a bit more than Sonic.

 

This differs from Emerald Coast where it is get to the goal. Sure, you can take on a few other challenges but none are needed. Just the first mission of getting to the end.

 

So, Mario games are probably a loooot cheaper than Sonic's. Mario is constantly able to offer a true, good Mario expensive since one stage can be small and offer a lot of puzzles to solve and play around in. Sonic can't do that. It has to be big, it has to be fast. People would gripe if they had to spend 30 minutes in a single Sonic stage.

Mario is far more casual. Sonic is intense. They're really different, beyond being platformers.

 

This, incidentally, is also why I groan when people actually do try to compare Mario and Sonic when it comes to "Well it works for Mario!" arguments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If budget regarding the stages are the problem here, then Sonic Team should focus more on replayability. Things like red rings, emblems, rankings, things that make the player feel good for exploring or doing well in a level. On top of that, adding other characters that play similar, but with a few different skills (ala 3&K and the Advance games).

 

Of course, this could probably make them games more "game-ey" than most folk would like on here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I gotta sincerely ask, but how many people really feel bothered to go back and do collections? Because in almost every game, I have never, ever felt compelled and felt it all more of a chore. I collect a red ring if I happen to see it but that's about it (And sometimes I don't even if I DO see it.) When it comes to content, for me, I always preferred main content because that's what I found alluring. Collections and pathways aren't really things I find too interesting. Like... at all.

 

But I can easily be alone there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally I thought they got it right in Lost Worlds, but the stupid controls pissed me off. I didn't like the whole Mario Galaxy looking stages that much either, they just gotta perfect this style and stop making the controls freaking gimmicky in area's/

 

As for the 2d perspective, Sonic 4: Episode 2 wasn't bad, but still, they couldn't capture that perfect control the Genesis games had, and of course the stupid issue with forcing the Homing Attack on you in 2D Sonic kinda kills the mood for me. Dimps had it right in the Sonic Advance games, but they just kept getting more stale with their games.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was gonna come in here and say what pretty much Autosaver said. I always had a theory that Sonic was so expensive to make that they added ways to fluff it out: alternate gameplay like fishing to emerald hunting, replaying the same game several times (like Heroes and Shadow).

 

I mean, let's look at Mario since people want to compare the two all the time. In 3D, Mario and Sonic take very different styles. Typically, Sonic (when 'normal') gameplay is involved, follows the general get to the end of the stage. Mario isn't like that, his stage CAN be get the end, but a lot of times his stages are more like arenas.

 

Take the first stage of Super Mario 64 as an example. There's no true end. Sure, the top of the hill CAN be considered the end, you beat the Bomb boss there and race a koopa to it, but in the end, that's not exactly the true directive. You can free a chain-chomp to get a star, if you wanted. A lot of times, Mario stages reflect Knuckles' treasure hunting a bit more than Sonic.

 

This differs from Emerald Coast where it is get to the goal. Sure, you can take on a few other challenges but none are needed. Just the first mission of getting to the end.

 

So, Mario games are probably a loooot cheaper than Sonic's. Mario is constantly able to offer a true, good Mario expensive since one stage can be small and offer a lot of puzzles to solve and play around in. Sonic can't do that. It has to be big, it has to be fast. People would gripe if they had to spend 30 minutes in a single Sonic stage.

Mario is far more casual. Sonic is intense. They're really different, beyond being platformers.

 

This, incidentally, is also why I groan when people actually do try to compare Mario and Sonic when it comes to "Well it works for Mario!" arguments.

Actually, that sounds more like a case of Mario's flexibility versus Sonic's rigidity. 

 

Each stage in Mario 64 allows the player to tackle things the way they want, while the stages in Sonic Adventure and beyond have a more fixed goal no matter what. Sure you could take the first mission to fight the bomb boss in the Bomb-omb Battlefield in Mario 64, but you could also ignore it and just collect 100 coins or 8 red coins for the hell of it - and be surprised at getting a star that way - or dick around with the Chain Chomp if you have the balls and stomp it's wooden post and have it break the cage where the other star is held.

 

Where's that flexibility in Sonic Adventure? Here, each stage has a fixed objective, and you can't deviate from it at all.

 

If you ask me, Mario actually does have somethings Sonic can learn from to improve himself. The problem with comparing Mario and Sonic is more that it's done less for improvement and more as a backlash of things they just don't like that they want gone for their own sake, ironically ignoring the things that would make them unique on their own instead of just piggybacking the other's success, much less add to the experience. You know, scapegoating things like the story, the additional characters with their own mechanical quirks, and the like? It's less "learn from Mario" and more "do what Mario does" which are two different things in themselves.

 

Not to mention that Mario also does the exact opposite of what they want gone from Sonic in his other titles. :rolleyes:

 

Granted, Sonic would still work differently from Mario even if he were learn from him. But it is worth noting what he can learn from, mechanically speaking.

  • Thumbs Up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sonic Team is clearly not "afraid" of the speed that makes up Sonic's core gameplay - they are afraid that customers will complain that their brand new Sonic game is too short to justify a $60 price tag.

A single Sonic stage is several miles long so it takes a great deal of time and effort to plan, design, program, and quality check each one - only for a player to blast thru in only a few minutes, and be able to finish their game in one sitting. Adding variety is a quick fix that allows them to draw out the game's length - obviously not always with good results.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wouldn't the appropriate thing to do be slow Sonic down, then? I'd rather be given the illusion I'm going extremely fast rather than actually going that fast if it means I can get more depth in level design and replayability. Sonic Adventure 1 handled that fine for the first time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't mind them hiding extra things to find and discover in the stages to add replay value; I just don't like how they've done it with the collect-a-thon angle. Red Rings are arbitrary as all hell, can easily run counter to the style and fun of the main game, and collecting individual ones doesn't aid your gameplay experience beyond your ranking like normal rings do.

 

If anything, I would much rather large and unique play areas hidden behind shortcuts or small paths; areas that open up the world and allow new challenges to explore. Basically something like the sewer bit of Casinopolis. It's completely unnecessary to finishing the stage but it's there as an option, is genuinely fun to play and comedic in its own way, the player accesses it in a really unique way (achieving a lose state), and it makes sense within the context of the world to be there (a casino naturally needs a sewer system, and indeed you come out of it from the bathroom anyway, where you can take a shower).

 

Indeed, they should think of stages from now on as they thought about Casinopolis; not that every stage has to be a set of pinball tables with a real Sonic level underneath, but that it's fine to vary up the goal and the skills you need to focus on, and to hide huge areas and funny easter eggs away to fool around with. These things add replay value and time in very a natural way.

 

But if we absolutely need to revert to Banjo-Kazooie tactics- I don't think we do- I say save the collecting for Chaos Emeralds again and have that unlock Super Sonic or something (although frankly I'm tired of in-level Super Sonic being the final reward. Why the fuck do I still have to work for infinite boost mode when I can just pop in Unleashed? Some uncreative shit there. At least give him his own levels and bosses to take advantage of his gameplay.)

  • Thumbs Up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

You must read and accept our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy to continue using this website. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.