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Ryan's Gaming Thoughts (Current Topic: Sonic Runners: The 2.0 Downgrade)

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I don't think Crash and Spyro would've come close to saving it. Even with them it wouldn't have had the star power that Smash Bros has. 

 

That's another thing. This game was born into a world where Smash already exists. Even if it were really good (from what I've played, it's not) it's still always going to have Super Smash Bros as a basis for comparison. The same way mini-game collections get compared to Mario Party, and kart racing games get compared to Mario Kart, there's already a big crossover party-fighting game that you could be playing that is just way better. From the moment it was announced, people were calling this Sony Smash Bros, and there's really no way it could've lived up to that, because it wasn't as big of an effort from Sony, it wasn't as well-designed, it didn't have a comparable cast, and it wasn't as fun. You can tell the devs put a lot of effort into it, but the game was sent to die. 

 

Before anyone says anything, I realize how unfair this is. I'm just calling it as I see it. 

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Crash and Spyro were never Sony's in the first place.

This, They were simply iconized on the platform, but the rights were never in Sony's hands, its not like Banjo Kazooie where to the best of my knowledge, Nintendo had the rights but gave them back to the creators when they were sold. Or heck in the case of sony with Rachet and Clank and Jak and Daxter 

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Crash and Spyro were never Sony's in the first place.

 

Yeah. ND/Insomniac were just responsible for making the original games, and Sony was just responsible for publishing them. The actual IP and characters were Universal Interactive from the start.

 

On the talk of PSASBR partially failing due to comparisons with Smash Bros., I'd say that really wouldn't be too much of an issue if the game was designed well on its own. People could slate it as a Smash Bros. ripoff until the cows come home but would that really matter if it was a great game in its own right? For comparison's sake, Rare's Diddy Kong Racing was criticized for being too similar to Mario Kart 64, and in spite of that it was still well-received and still went on to sell half as much as Mario Kart 64 did. PSASBR didn't really need to out-perform Smash Bros., merely competing with it as Sony's Alternate Company Equivalent would had been good enough.

 

And I don't think this game did, to be honest. Like others have said, Sony -in direct contrast to how Nintendo handles the series- really had minimal faith in this game in terms of giving the game the support it needed, whereas Superbot themselves -despite their talents- seemed to largely be unqualified for such a big title, especially since they hadn't worked on anything before (I don't think the changes they made to the concepts of Smash Bros. gameplay were for the better-I still think the use of Supers as a means to win kills / destroy opponents was really an unnecessary change for the sake of being different). Those to me are the biggest reasons the game failed.

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I forgot to mention one of the reasons Kill Confirms break this game. By the simple hit of one button. No combos, no skill, no nothing required, just the press of one button can be used to kill confirm as characters like Sackboy and Raiden. I don't care what idiotic excuses All-Stars fanboys try to claim about Kill Confirms, they are cheap piece of shit moves that broke this game entirely.

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Alright, time for a....very long due update.

Well, after playing Sonic Runners' Halloween update and feeling inspired by @Hogfather's articles on Runners, I'm gonna give it a go, and discuss my thoughts on Runners. So without further ado...

SONIC RUNNERS: A TALE OF A TRIPPED UP HEDGEHOG

In the last eight or so months since Runners first went onto the Android and App Store, it's been altered time and time again by Sega and Sonic Team. Was it for the best? Let's find out.

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During the launch of Runners, it had garnered a lot of positive feedback and criticism because it successfully brought the Sonic formula of high speed 2D gameplay into the touch device market, creating very simple, but still very fun gameplay, which was all about running as far as possible, and getting the highest score, much like Highlight's previous Sonic mobile game Sonic Jump Fever. With this being Sonic Team's first trip into the mobile market, you could say they managed to make a really good entry piece. It was well built without many major bugs, and performed well enough.

On top of that, it also didn't follow many of the various ways free to play games attempted to rip the player off. While a life system was in place, it was pitifully easy to restore your lives quickly enough that the life counter might as well not be there, and the premium currency was only used to unlock new buddies on the premium roulette, some of these buddies were better than others, but in general, it was all good. The game gave out a very helpful amount of Red Star Rings (10 per episode) and this allowed players to be able to play this game a lot more easily without having to pay for Red Star Rings. But then the first telltale sign of a downfall appeared.

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The first set of additional characters arrived in March, the Chaotix, a set of exclusive characters that you had to unlock by spinning the premium roulette and getting a special character egg. The problem? You have 6% chance of getting the character egg on the premium roulette, and if there's multiple characters, you have even less of a chance getting the character you want. For example, if you wanted Espio, you would have a 2% chance of getting him. This brought up one of the most scummy moves in the free to play market to date. Instead of the game giving the player the option to pay to get the character you want to unlock, you instead have to pay, to get an extremely small chance of unlocking that character. 

And then the worldwide launch happened, and in spectacular Sega and Sonic Team fashion, they managed to make the entire game go completely downhill in a matter of one update. 

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Somehow, Sega managed to make the game so completely and utterly broken that it would cause most devices to heat up alarmingly, freeze, the battery would end up draining extremely quickly, and it was more or less on the same par as 06 and Rise of Lyric, if not worse, because at least they didn't heat up their retrospective systems to an alarming rate. The game also became absolutely littered with pay to win bullshit. Ads and Video Revives? That's in there. Less RSRs that the player can earn: check. The amount of RSRs per episode was cut down to 5 per episode, and where you'd get 50 for completing the final episode, and an extra 40 on top of that due to completing the additional four sections of the final episode, that got cut down to 30 RSRs. 5 per section, 10 for the full episode. How many points are needed to complete that episode in total? 50 million.

But that isn't the best part. Sega screwed up further and somehow managed to include even more glitches that wasn't even present in the pre-worldwide launch release. The character freezing in place, jump arcs failing, leading to the character being killed off unfairly, the character being forced back in the middle of a game, power ups like the Indigo Asteroid sending the player into the sky, and then freezing, and many many more. They also manged to fuck up something as simple as proof reading. As the infamous Charmy The Echidna example shows. 

Even now, despite many more patches having been released since then, the game is still bug ridden, with even more bugs that have been introduced. Video Revives don't work half the time, there's still an unbelievably amount of typos, as shown with the currently trending Boob The Ghost typo from the Halloween event, and many many more. 

And then there's the always online bullshit that's present in Runners as well. You heard me right. A mobile 2D Time Waster game that would be perfectly for just pulling out and playing for about five or ten minutes, is only playable when you are connected to an internet connection. Even better? The game doesn't use ICloud or any of those methods to allow you to back up your save game. You have one account, and are able to transfer your account to other devices if you go into the app, and get your transfer details. But if your device breaks, or you are forced to reformat your device, you might as well kiss your Runners save data, along with everything you ever unlocked goodbye.

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Going back to the extra characters, Sega have managed to so poorly balance the entire thing that what results is people having so many unfair advantages, that it might as well be near impossible to even hit the top of the leaderboards. Characters such as Rouge, Tikal, and the recently released halloween characters are so powerful because of the massive bonuses they give the player, but because of course, the issues with the premium roulette, it means only a select few are going to get that character, which either means they're going to have a completely massive advantage over you because of the luck of the draw, or you have to keep wasting RSRs in hopes you'll get that character. Likewise, limited time buddies also have the same event, because they're only aquirable during a certain amount of time, the biggest example being the Phantasy Star Online 2 event that occurred before the worldwide launch.

It also doesn't help that Sega seem absolutely determined to ensure that there is always at least two different characters on the roulette at once, with last month having the smallest amount of chance to get the character you want because last month had Tikal, Metal Sonic, Charmy, Vector, and Espio all on the roulette. Tikal got removed, but Metal Sonic, Charmy, Vector, and Espio remained, meaning you had a 1.5% chance of getting the character you wanted. It's the same story this month, with a Halloween Omega, Shadow, and Rouge, with rumors of a gothic Halloween Amy incoming as well. 

And so far, in the 9-10 months the game has been released, we already have Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Silver, Cream, Big, Tikal, Metal Sonic, Espio, Vector, Charmy, Shadow, Omega, and Rouge, and then on top of that, we had character variants, which then gave us Amite Amy, Classic Sonic, Halloween Omega, Halloween Shadow, Halloween Rouge, and soon enough, Halloween Amy. That's 21 characters in the span of 9 or so months. In comparison, Sonic Jump, Sonic Dash, and Sonic Jump Fever doesn't come anywhere near that number, and they've been out for years. And each character is around 6% chance, if not less than that. You can begin to see the problem. 

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On top of the above character problems, Sega once again made favourite characters into more or less completely useless versions that's useless to everyone. Silver, Cream, and Big are part of Team Easy, and as you can see from the screenshot above a bit, they slow down your speed, in exchange for taking a massive portion of your score. What's the problems? You need score to actually progress in the game. To get through the episodes, you have to reach a certain score point, and if you have to keep playing until you reach that score point to complete the level. So while these characters decreases your normal speed a little bit, they're still taking away a massive portion of your progress, making them useless.

What's the point of progressing further into the level, and getting a massive amount of score, when that score will then be cut in half, resulting in you more or less having the same score you started with. A small 10% speed decrease is not a big enough positive for something as negative as cutting your score that much. If it was a 10% score decrease, it may have been better, because it isn't as much, but 50%? On top of that, if you use two Team Easy characters, the speed decreases by 19%, but the negative? IT TAKES AWAY 75% OF YOUR SCORE!

But how does it get worse? It's completely worthless to beginners as well. How do you acquire one Team Easy character? You need to spend 250 RSRs in order to buy one character. As a side note, the cost of 289 RSRs (The lowest amount you can buy in order to get 250 RSRs) is £18.99. They want £19 for a character who is more or less completely useless. By the time a beginner can acquire enough in game RSRs, they will have already been playing for a very long while, and will no longer even require a beginner mode, making these three characters completely and utterly worthless. A complete shame to fans of these characters, since I know how many Silver, Cream, and Big fans are on here. I would have loved to play as Silver and Cream personally, but thanks to Sega's idiotic practices, that isn't happening.

The only other character you can purchase is normal Amy, who costs even more RSRs! She costs a total of 300 RSRs, and what's the lowest amount you can pay to get 300 RSRs? £30. That's right. If you want to buy Amy, Sega expects you to pay £30 in order to get her. The only other method is using an extremely convoluted method of inviting Facebook friends, and then having them referral to you that you invited them in. You need 10 friends before you get Amy. 

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Final Thoughts:  

Sonic Runners is a very sad reminder of how the free to play business model has been abused by developers, and used to ruin a great game, in order to simply try make some quick money off of Mobile fans who just want to simply play as their favourite characters in a fun Sonic time waster. It's a perfect example of how a solidly built game can quickly be broken time and time again by glitches that never existed in previous versions of a game. It's a perfect example of a disastrous game that was ruined Sega. 

The best thing I can say about Sonic Runners is that the core gameplay of the game is still present, and is still so simple and fun, but it's unfortunately been buried under the rubble of a bad business model, and Sega somehow managing to break an already working game. It's an amazing example of how always online games can screw up the game in huge ways. It's such a core example of how many bad things and practices in our current gaming industry can hit a game with good core gameplay and just drag it down massively. If this game was a paid app, for around £2 or £3, and they got rid of all the free to play nonsense, and ads, and got rid of the always online aspect, this could have been a crowning moment in how to handle 2D Sonic games. As is? It's a fun, but broken, buggy, and all around amazing example of how the free to play practice is horribly effecting good games.

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Sega, you fucked it up.

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SONIC RUNNERS PART 2: THE 2.0 DOWNGRADE

So why have I felt the need to give Runners another look? Because quite honestly, the recent update has been enough to make me feel sick to my stomach with how much of a scummy tactic it is. You thought it was bad before? My friends, you haven't seen anything yet. Without further ado, let's dive into this downgraded crap.

Issue 1: The Upgrade System

The first big news flash of the update is the fact that buddies, and characters have all been given their own separate leveling up system if you happen to get them on the premium roulette. Basically, the buddy leveling up has been increased to level 10, while characters have also been given that as well. That's right, characters, which also play a big role in the update, and I will get back to that. But regardless, you might be thinking it doesn't sound too bad, you can now further level up your buddies to benefit you even further in the game, and while it may take longer, it can help in the long run.

You see, Sega have instead decided to give a nice big fuck you to long time players of the game. If you had a maxed out buddy at Level 5, then too bad, because that buddy has been nerfed to fuck. If you get Level 10 with the buddies, you simply get the rewards you had with the Level 5 buddies previously, meaning that you have to pay more for the same thing. 

But don't worry, the same thing occurred with the character upgrading as well.

Issue 2: Characters 

I swear that one of Sega's mottoes should be one step forward, two steps back. They finally improved the character roulette by having most characters on the roulette (The exception is the Halloween Characters, and Amitie Amy), and the percentage has been increased to 10%. On top of that, character prices on Team Easy has finally been decreased to a much more manageable 150 Red Star Rings.

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But they still managed to fuck it up with various details. First off all characters have been completely and utterly nerfed to fuck. For example, Amy used to have a animal bonus of 100%, while Blaze had an enemy bonus of 150%. Now, after the update. both characters have been nerfed to 50% bonus each. It's the same case across the board, with all characters receiving these downgrades. On top of that, all characters, including Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are on the roulette, and on top of that, they can all be leveled up to 10. Meaning that between Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Espio, Vector, Charmy, Rouge, Shadow, Blaze, Omega, Metal Sonic, Classic Sonic, Tikal, and ESP Silver, well...all I can say is good luck getting a specific character you want. So not only is it harder to get a specific character, all previous characters are downgraded, and it's harder than ever to get a specific character.

Oh, and how about Facebook bullshit again? Because now, there's Gothic Amy for inviting 10 Facebook friends.

Issue 3: Timed Mode

Now if none of the above convinced you to the level of scum that Sega has sunk to when it's come to Runners 2,0, this one surely will. 

You see, there's a new game mode that's been introduced into the game, entitled Timed Mode, where the goal of the game is for you to get as high a score as possible in a short amount of time. Sounds easy enough right? Well, here's the thing, once you get your opponent in the game, after you play your run, a lot of the time, you may find that somehow, the opponent is still ahead by a bit. But Runners has the typical "Find a New Opponent" for 5 RSRs. But that isn't the scummy part. The scummy part is the second option, which is "Find A Beatable Opponent" for 10 RSRs. That's right, you can literally bribe the game to give you and opponent that has no hope of beating you, and on top of that, you could very well be selected as that easily beaten opponent. 

Oh right, and story mode is practically useless now, because while it's now faster, and easier to earn high scores in the game, the game now wants the player to attain 40 million points PER CHECKPOINT in Episode 50 of Runners now. Good luck grinding for Red Star Rings now.

Issue 4: Gameplay Downgrades

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To add onto the level of shit that Sega has decided to implement into Runners, there was a bunch of absolutely awful game additions designed for the sheer fact of making the game even harder for the player. Firstly, and do I even need to mention it? The death traps. Thankfully, they were patched away today, but that doesn't change the fact that Sega seriously thought they'd be able to get away with this move without backlash. Basically, the level layout was altered so after the second top speed section, an unavoidable death trap would appear, and kill the player unless they used an item to avoid it, and even if they avoided it, the death trap would reappear only a few seconds later. 

On top of that, a lot of other things were nerfed to make things harder. Item usage times were decreased heavily, meaning your items (with exception to perhaps the shield) are now much more useless than before. On top of that, Eggman's boss fights have been decreased heavily in time. Despite the fact that Timed Mode also claims that "Missiles wouldn't be present", they are still in Timed Mode, and can still very easily kill off the player.

5.Glitches

Do I even need to fucking say it? The game is even more buggier than every before. There was an emergency maintenance that lasted a good 30 hours at least because of a major glitch that causes the game to stay at a blank screen as soon as it was turned on. On top of that, there are a ton of other glitches, like characters getting stuck in platforms for a few seconds and then being launched to catch up with the screen again, and the free revive system is even more broken than ever, because the ads lock up the game, with only the music being heard, meaning the app has to be closed down, and an entire run is wasted because of it.

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Final Thoughts

What can I even say at this point? No, really. What can I really say here? I'm absolutely baffled and disgusted at both Sega and Sonic Team. I thought things were bad before, but now, I can officially call Runners one of the worst Sonic games out there. It has gotten to the point where the glitches have stopped the game from launching for 30 hours. It's gotten to the point where Sega have practically given all Runners players the middle finger with this update and YET PEOPLE STILL DEFEND THIS SHIT. How can anyone say that Sega is in the right here? How can anyone say that Sega should be doing this?

This update is an absolute fucking disgrace in every single possible sense of the word. It's absolutely amazing how much Sega and Sonic Team have fucked up with this game, to the point where this "update" has broken a perfectly functioning game at launch to the point where I'm ready to call Rise of Lyric less buggy. That's not even going into every single new gameplay change that exists only to give the player the middle finger. Want RSRs? Too bad, 40 million per episode checkpoint. Want Metal Sonic or Tikal? Too bad, you need to hope you can get them out of this massive list of characters, if you even get lucky enough to get the character egg. Want to have a fair game against someone in Timed Mode? Too bad, the game assigned you as a "beatable opponent", so I guess you'll have to either wait, or sack up and pay some RSRs. 

There's only one reaction for this, and I think you'll agree that this is it:

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Edited by Ryannumber1Santa

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Good read, Ryan.  It's a shame, it really is.  I've been with the game since the soft launch but had to give up around the end of this October because the game finally wore me out.  I became curious lately on the current state of Runners and it turns out I may have dodged a bullet when I bowed out at the time I did.  I really wanted to enjoy this game, and there were times it was really fun.  If the core game play wasn't what it is, I'd have given up much more sooner.  But as time went on, each consecutive update caused the fun-factor to drop.  Especially when Cream finally became a playable character and I learned that using her was akin to a limiter that suppressed my true power score.  I could still remain in 3-star S rank but I had to work twice as hard with Cream when before if I used Amite Amy, I would consistently find myself in the top 10.  I don't think there is much debate when people claim the soft launch version was possibly the best version of the game.  I was seriously considering rewarding Sega and Sonic Team for the implementation of a generous F2P model by buying a few RSR's when I could easily get them.  Though with each update, I found it harder to justify spending real world dollars and instead spent most of my Runners' career trying to grind things for free.  Sega of course felt the need to make grinding things for free a real pain and eventually I stopped caring about grinding and just focused on attaining a high score with Cream as sort of a contrarian way to make people's head spin when they saw in the S*** rankings this little rabbit with a -50% score multiplier in the top 15.  Of course the novelty wore off, I realized this was the only thing I'd be doing with Sonic Runners for a loooong time and just quit it.  My final thoughts on this game can be summed up in seven words, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Edited by Taokaka

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