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Mandatory Missions


JezMM
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So... missions. A few Sonic games have used these as a way to extend the experience, but only Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic Unleashed Wii/PS2, and Sonic and the Black Knight made them mandatory for regular game progress.

How do you feel about these? Now, we all know in a perfect world, and with a lot of effort, Sonic Team could squeeze a crapton of full-length 3D levels onto one disc, and have us just play through them all.

But this isn't a perfect world of course, so they must do what they can to get the most out of what they DO squeeze onto the disc.

Do you think mandatory missions would work as an alternative to the "gimmick of the week" for lengthening the game?

Personally, I think Black Knight did it best. The game did have mandatory missions other than just "get to the goal", but they were all relevant to the story. Secret Rings and Unleashed WiiS2 felt cheap because you're playing thinking "...Why does Sonic have to collect 100 rings to carry on? Is there a toll bridge or something? ...Why can't I break the jars!? Do they all contain world-ending demons!?"

I'm fine with these sorts of scrappy missions, as long as they make sense in the story, and edit the level enough so you're not just playing small sections over and over with a different requirement for the goal ring to accept you.

Ring collecting missions? Perhaps in the story Tails is going off on his own, and needs Sonic to quickly grab him some rings for protection. Make it interesting by setting up a few puzzles in the stage that lead to bountiful ring caches, giving the mission time-attack value.

Unscathed missions? Perhaps in the story Sonic has to make a valuable delivery, and if he gets knocked once, it'll break! Make it interesting by adding in a few new sneaky shortcuts that allow you to skip over some of the more prickly areas.

So... over to everyone else. Missions. Discuss.

Edited by JezMM
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Reusing stages only really works, in my opinion, if they're not very linear. Like in Mario 64 - the stages are more like big boxes than long corridors, promoting exploration, non-linearity, and allowing each mission (and they're all essentially A-to-B type things) to not be exact copies of what came before. Or Sonic Adventure. You technically do three "missions" in each stage - In Windy Valley there's a Sonic mission, a Tails mission and an e-102 mission, each reusing content, but utilising different areas in different ways to fit their abilites.

The plain old "collect 50 rings" and "complete in X minutes" missions don't grab, but reusing stages is a neccessary evil in 3D platformers so they need to find a way to do it right, fast (Sonic Adventure had the right idea, but Amy was too slow and Big was terrible).

The less linear the stages are, the more motivated you are to explore, and when you're motivated to explore, the missions don't really bug you. The day Sonic nails the highspeed-sandbox-explorative-platformer genre will be a happy one.

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I like them for the most part. They give me something to work for because if you don't complete them you can't continue the game and I'm one of those people who have to work and work and work until I pass a stage, no matter how long it takes.

On the downside, some can be frustrating and if I can't do them after a number of tries I usually give up and play something else. There have been times where I haven't played a game for months because I couldn't get past a certain trial, which I need to advance and so it takes some of the enjoyment away.

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I agree about the missions not being relevant to the plot. It's the same reason, as well as wanting to explore and experience the levels more, that I hate time limits in side-scrollers; if Mario was going through these areas in real life, he wouldn't just randomly drop dead after staying in one place for a few minutes, would he!? (Don't get me wrong, though, I love all the old Mario platformers.)

So I would say only include them when they're relevant to the plot. I don't think I would like a mandatory ring-collecting mission (I was amazed at their pointlessness in Unleashed WiiS2, too), but if I knew I was doing it for a reason, I would be much more willing and able to enjoy it.

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Secret Rings and Unleashed WiiS2 felt cheap because you're playing thinking "...Why does Sonic have to collect 100 rings to carry on? Is there a toll bridge or something? ...Why can't I break the jars!? Do they all contain world-ending demons!?"

Reusing stages only really works, in my opinion, if they're not very linear.

Exactly what you guys said.

Sonic can be about getting from A to B, but if he has to do it twice it really breaks up the flow of the game. I like having multiple missions, but if it's just recycling the same old level into new "stunt missions" or ring collection games, it's really just artificial replay. Open world platformers use each corner of the level for a different objective, to keep each level new for as long as possible. If Sonic is moving through an area, each section should be fresh as well. Order them like acts maybe, so we feel like we're running through a very long zone in parts, but make each area new.

That doesn't mean there can't be alternate objectives, I just don't see why alternate trial mode missions (and they really would be better suited to trial mode play) are being included in the main game. To inflate replay, is the only answer I can think of. There are two fixes to this. Make the game more open, so replaying a level doesn't feel like doing it twice, or just make more acts.

Anyways, I think Sega knows this and is just giving us what they can in the time they're given to make a product.

Edited by Badnikz
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Missions are fine as long as they are interesting, fun, and make sense. The kind found in SATSR, SU, and SBK are for the most part none of those things. Breaking pots, giving villagers rings through an awful mini-game, etc., are all lame tedious ways of artificially extending the games length instead of being clever, fun, well designed missions that make sense within the constraints of the game.

So I'm all for good, interesting missions, but if they feel like they're there only to add artificial length to a short game then no thanks.

Edited by speedfreak
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I don't mind them in moderation, and again with some kind of plot relevance.

It's when it becomes a case of "Play loads of forced missions or we won't let you carry on with the main game" that it gets annoying, especially on repeat playthroughs.

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Depends on the context and the game itself. In a considerably more linear game like Unleashed, missions should not be mandatory. But in games like the storybook series, they're suited perfectly considering most of the game is composed of them. Whatever the case though, missions should always try to push the boundries of the game. In Unleashed, you're essentially playing a portion (or even the entirety) of a level you already played but with some little extra tidbit that makes little to no difference in the experience like a time limit or collecting a certain amount of rings. What they should be doing is stranger challenges that make it a different experience i.e. doing the level in reverse (given that the level is reworked to make it possible) or using a different character (or maybe a multitude of them in a relay race fashion). But those are just my ideas.

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or using a different character (or maybe a multitude of them in a relay race fashion). But those are just my ideas.

Just want to say that sounds like an awesome idea for a mission. Would be especially cool in a lap race level where you go over the same thing several times, but are forced to take on each bit in a different way thanks to character abilities.

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I've always wanted a game where you get to race Metal Sonic to the end of each level as a misson. Say like half way through the game you see a little cut scene of Eggman sending Metal Sonic out to stop Sonic, or at least slow Sonic's progress. Then after the scene you have the option of raceing Metal Sonic in levels you've completed. Kinda like the stupid light orb thing from SATSR except, you know, actually good.

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That sounds great too! I'd love for a "3D" version of Sonic Rivals almost (just minus the totally unbalanced power-ups in Rivals 2).

It'd be awesome if it was like on Rivals 1's Metal races too, where for no apparent reason the whole level takes on a much darker atmosphere when racing Metal. X3

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Depends on the context and the game itself. In a considerably more linear game like Unleashed, missions should not be mandatory. But in games like the storybook series, they're suited perfectly considering most of the game is composed of them. Whatever the case though, missions should always try to push the boundries of the game. In Unleashed, you're essentially playing a portion (or even the entirety) of a level you already played but with some little extra tidbit that makes little to no difference in the experience like a time limit or collecting a certain amount of rings. What they should be doing is stranger challenges that make it a different experience i.e. doing the level in reverse (given that the level is reworked to make it possible) or using a different character (or maybe a multitude of them in a relay race fashion). But those are just my ideas.

Those are actually really good and clever ideas. The relay race idea has kind-of been used in a way (amigo characters in Sonic '06, the final level where you use all the characters in SA2) but I think that would be an awesome idea, especially as a side mission.

I'm with the majority here. With the price of games today, "extra" missions and so forth are necessary (especially since the main Sonic game is usually short) to extend gameplay hours but the extra missions shouldn't feel "thrown" in. They should be, as superstingray said, weird and unique. Since SEGA loves trying out different gameplay mechanics with Sonic, the extra missions should be where they try this out.

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Just to clarify (I see a little evidence in a few posts here and there of a misunderstanding here), as the topic title suggests, these are mandatory missions we're talking about. Sonic games will always have missions as a replay thing, but I'm explicitly refering to when we're forced to play them to progress in the story, and whether those are acceptable or feel cheap, regardless of whether they're an ordinary ring challenge or a complex mission like Stingray's idea.

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While I agree with JeZMM and SuperStingray, in SSR's and SUWiiS2's defense some of the extra missions in the game helps you learn to control the character better. For example, the not breaking the jars deal with, learn to dodge at the right time whether it is enemies or jars. I don't really know what the other missions are all about tho.

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I think the key with the missions is to make them feel like anything but missions. Pardon me while I invoke the classics, but act 2 of any zone feels like the same level, just part 2 with new challenges. When I play a new level in SatSR for example, I feel like the first mission (run to the goal! or whatever they called the primary mission) was the actual level, and the rest was just revisiting the level in parts. Or what if Sega decided to hype up the latest release of S3&K by offering new levels, and they turned out to be "Rampage! Destroy all the Badniks in Angel Island Zone!" Angel Island is awesome and we know that. We shouldn't need to play it eight different ways to understand. Sega shouldn't be doing this with their games. It breaks the flow of a Sonic game, and exploits each level for replay.

Edited by Badnikz
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For example, the not breaking the jars deal with, learn to dodge at the right time whether it is enemies or jars. I don't really know what the other missions are all about tho.

While that's true, it's the tutorial's job to do that. Teaching us to master steering with a mission that can be failed and must be repeated until you get it right (and most of the jar dodging is memory more than anything else I found when I played it), is like teaching a child via beating them when they get a question wrong. D=

It teaches, but it's not that fun.

To be honest though, I probably wouldn't have minded the mission half as much if we had been given some context, even if it was, as you said, Shahra saying "Sonic... the dangers ahead are great, let's practice dodging by getting through the desert without breaking any jars!" Etc.

Edited by JezMM
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