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Homing attack - wear it or spare it?

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Look at me! I'm flowing in the wind!

I wanted broach a little bit on the topic of the homing attack and if it should stay or not. As we all know, the homing attack has been around since Sonic Adventure and has been a staple in every modern Sonic game. Sonic hits one enemy after another in succession and in many times, there is a chain. I've been thinking about later Sonic games and how the homing attack as evolved from Sonic Adventure, and if it should be put on the back burner. 

In Sonic Adventure, the homing attack wasn't perfect as there were times where it took up some of your time, however it was rather OK. Sonic Heroes pretty much polished it, however it seemed slower and more stickier that time around. Sonic 06 pretty much ruined it by making you attack twice, Shadow's was even worse.  Sonic Unleashed made it better by not making it so sticky which was the best in my opinion. Sonic 4's version was pretty much very slow as you needed to wait 3 seconds to attack again, which is bad for speedruns.

Sonic Lost World however had their own spin on the homing attack. It looked more like a bounce attack to where you can attack many enemies at the same time. When I saw that, it seemed like a pretty neat idea and it kinds reminded me of the bouncing done in the Genesis games. I started to think that maybe they should bring this mechanic back again, but with some polishing of course. I will show you some ideas on what I am talking about when it comes to this move being polished:

Yes I know it's Mighty but still, do you see how he bounces on the ground, yet it's never a long break between attacks? Did you also see how he did it on the balloons as well? That's what I want Sonic to do when emulating the Genesis style gameplay. I think this idea is better than the homing attack because while you still get to attack enemies in succession, I do think that players won't have to worry about losing air time. The reason I think the HA doesn't work in 2D anymore is because it feels shallow as a mechanic and it way for you to loose speed. 

I also do believe that this idea can also work in 3D as well. To be honest, I don't find the HA to be a necessary evil. Yes it's a trademark move, however, I do think that it is time to let go of it for a while and try something new. Polish up the idea from Sonic Lost World and implement it into a 3D setting along with the Genesis gameplay. I believe it can work. So for that time, I see spare it when it comes to the homing attack. 

 

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So more like the bounce bracelet from SA2 then?

I preferred the Homing Attack in the boost games. I never felt like I was going any slower in that game when faced with a line of enemies to homing attack and while it was kind of annoying to lock on to the wrong thing sometimes it's miles better than the homing attack in Sonic 4.

I find Lost World plays far too slowly to do anything with its style of homing attack in a faster paced game. I mean oftentimes in that game I'm just hanging around in the air waiting for it to finish locking on to everything. The kick is a neat move to have with it, but I can easily see the player screwing themselves over by kick-comboing an enemy line they need to homing attack through unless they like, changed the angle or something.

But yeah, I don't mind the homing attack and it's easy to know why they implemented it if you've ever seen someone go through a 3D Stage with Classic Sonic in gens before. I can't think of a lot they could do to the thing considering it's mostly just operating on "Go to Enemy", but maybe they could with keeping more momentum with it and relying less on chains in the 2D games. More like a homing version of the Sonic 3 fire shield boost or something.

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I'm not sure I understand completely but I'm guessing it's like the bounce bracelet? Would you still be able to target a specific enemy with it? If so, then it's essentially the homing attack with more of a downward spin. The only time I recall the homing attack bothering me when it came to losing time was 06 where he would just float for a second or two before I could do it again and Colors where the game had these huge streams of Egg Pawns it wanted you to use the Laser Wisp to strike through but when there weren't any around you were forced to just bang through them all at tedium. 

I feel that's mostly just a screw up concerning level design though. Personally, I've only found myself frustrated whenever playing a game without it. When I got the homing attack at the end of Generations I immediately put that onto Classic Sonic. I rarely go back and play as Classic Sonic to begin with so having it on him allows me to have more fun then I would otherwise.

As someone who isn't a classic fan though, I probably have less of a say in a conversation like this but I tried.

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Yeah, I think Sonic should keep wearing it. There's nothing wrong with being able to zip towards an enemy and instantaneously make that sweet *pop* sound. Hell, I even believe it could work in 2D as well- maybe not how Sonic 4 handled it, but if you look up Sonic Megamix that would be a better example of how it could be done.

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For 3D Sonic, I think the homing attack is pretty much a necessity.  Since Sonic is (or at least should) be faster and more momentum-based than Mario and the like, not having it would make jumping on enemies a much more difficult task.  However, I don't think any of the 3D games do a great job of making it an interesting mechanic.  It solves the issue of precision platforming on enemies in 3D, but it doesn't make for an interesting mechanic in and of itself.

I think a good way to fix this would be to make it more flexible.  There aren't a whole lot of options once you've decided to home in on an enemy.  You lock on, you press A, and the game pretty much just enters automatic mode.  When there's a bunch of enemies in a chain that require several homing attacks, it basically just asks you to mash A a bunch.  There isn't really any skill-based gameplay there.

But what if it was more of a way to build up speed?  Perhaps Sonic could gain MORE momentum from a homing attack rather than lose it and hop upward after the attack.  I've said this many times, but I'd like the homing attack to behave on all enemies like it does on balloons in Colors and Generations, allowing Sonic to maintain his speed and keep going.  And if the levels were more open-ended, this could make for some really fun situations - it could be a decision of what angle to approach the enemy from, and whether or not doing a homing attack from that angle would give you an advantage in progressing through the stage faster.  I think Sega just needs to ask more questions about what the homing attack really adds to the core gameplay, and how they can make it something players really WANT to use rather than just have to.

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Yeah, go ahead and throw me into the "wear it" crowd. While I do like your bounce attack idea, the homing attack is just so useful in a 3D environment, and I can't say I would want to see it go. However, perhaps instead of having Sonic stop in the air after hitting an enemy, SEGA could modify the homing attack so that, after hitting the first enemy, Sonic would keep his momentum and just sort of bounce to the next target, a bit like how Sonic's homing attack works when used on balloons in the boost games. I think that might work pretty well.

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The homing attack would be better served as its own dedicated action, much like the spindash. Its primary issue is that you have to jump prior to doing that (which significantly kills your momentum due to obnoxious speed caps in the air), and that you come to a complete halt when you strike the enemy, also killing your momentum. If it were its own function, at least in my mind, you could be careening through the level happen upon an enemy, hit the button, bop him, and keep going. There would be no loss of speed, it would allow for some interesting platforming opportunities that can't be realized with the current version of the homing attack, and it gets rid of those dumb enemy chains.

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I've always really liked the homing attack. It makes perfect sense and fits into Sonic's moveset beautifully. It could be used much better though. The homing attack probably worked best in Sonic Adventure. The way he bounces up after attacking an enemy really gives a similar feeling to bouncing on enemies in the classics, though it's more psychological than mechanical in that aspect. Still if you do a homing attack or a jump dash I guess on an incline as you're descending you'll carry that momentum into the ground as you're running, and it's a nice feeling, and I would really like to see the homing attack used like that, or at least for it to be able to be used that way again.

Homing attacks have been used for lots of attack chains to get across gaps or whatever so I can see people's distaste for it since it's so easy for developers to use it this way to add 'challenge' of some sort. I think a way to avoid this is if there's a large gap in the world that you need to cross instead of having a chain of enemies to home in on, you could just charge a spindash and jump to cross the gap. That makes way more sense to me, and I'd find myself doing that a ton in SA1 and 2. It's just so fun to do. If they add a ramp or a rock or a slope that's going upwards etc. to give you some height that's even better. Seriously spindash jumping was so great. But for that the spindash needs to be a mainstay. Please let it stay. Like, it's almost ridiculous to me that Sonic's most iconic move was taken away from him for a time. Hopefully it never leaves him again.

Homing attack chains aren't really necessary. I do really like the homing attack as an offensive move and I never want to see it go. It's almost hard to go back and play older games for me that don't include it. It makes Sonic feel powerful, in control and I think the move suits his character to a tee. 

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I'm fine with the homing attack as-is, I just wish it worked like it did in Adventure 2. I never felt like any game since has made the homing attack feel as good.

The only problem I have with the homing attack has less to do with the homing attack itself, but rather how it's utilized. I'd rather that level design didn't build itself around it, with homing attack bridges and what-not. The reason being, is that I feel like the level design becomes to rigidly designed around Sonic's abilities, and that limits how well you can implement other characters. I feel like the boost games are probably the poster-children of why I feel like this: just by equipping different skills in Generations can completely break the level design, because it obviously wasn't design around that skill.

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On one hand, I can agree with the idea that the homing attack needs to have more of a forward movement to help give that sense of flow that the "bounce straight up" part kills off somewhat.

But at the same time, I can see why it shoots straight up. Giving that brief stop in the air allows the player to think for a split second about what they should do next, while propelling forward from the hit makes it where the player has to premeditate what's gonna happen first. Granted, there's nothing wrong with that design and I kind of prefer it that way, but I can definitely find good reasoning as to why it shoots upward instead.

That said, I've posted this video a few times before but I'll post it again:

 This is a mod of SA1 done by my friend SonicFreak94 (aka Morph on Sonic Retro). In this mod, Sonic's homing attack (as well as his regular jump bounce off of enemies/objects and his trajectory on an unscripted spring) retains speed and height from what it was last at. This allows Sonic to shoot high into the air if hitting an enemy during a large descent and carrying forward momentum if contacting something at decent speed.

In other words, the 'bounce' present in the classic games.

Granted, in SA1 it's a little unruly since most of the game's levels aren't built with the scale necessary to hold movements that dramatic, but it's a great proof of concept. Maybe if this could be implemented into a newer Sonic game in a way that's a little less overpowered, I can see it being a huge improvement to Sonic's aerial control.

 

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Definitely keep it in 3d, but with more momentum oriented physics like the others said. In 2D games, it depends on the type of gameplay. I can't see any reason to have HA in a slower gameplay like in Sonic 4, but if they do a Rush-styled game, HA fits with faster gameplay. However, I have a slightly different idea for keeping the momentum. While I like the idea of gaining speed by hitting an enemy at a right angle, I think Sonic should keep the momentum before the HA more than immediately getting or losing speed by a single attack. So basically, you'd get an upward shoot when attacking at low speed (ideal for slower, platforming sections), and act similar to balloons at high speed (good for speedrunning). That would also solve the problem of Sonic flying all over the place in smaller areas, like in that SADX mod.

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1 hour ago, Diogenes said:

So I think the real question isn't if Sonic needs the homing attack, but what kind of "homing attack" he should have. The attempts Sonic Team has made so far aren't terribly satisfying; they solve the problem of hitting enemies, but they bring you to a dead stop afterwards, which still breaks the flow, and makes chains of enemies into almost mindless button-mashing. I think the easiest solution to this is to have the player retain some of the momentum of the homing attack after hitting an enemy; instead of bouncing straight up, bounce forwards, like when hitting balloons in the boost games. This doesn't retain the same speed the player had beforehand, but it does keep them moving, and encourages them to think about the angle of their attack while still eliminating the excessive difficulty of attacking in 3D.

I agree with this, and I'll also like to add to it. Not only to have the homing attack keep some momentum, but also give the player more options on how to use it in general. The general implementation of it is pretty basic and binary-you press a button (typically the A button), Sonic hones in, and flies out upwards. It's simple and not too bad on its own. But how about going deeper than that in terms of player interaction?

An example could be to have the rebound height and distance be dependent on how long the player holds the button. You quickly tap A, you'll get a short hop; if you hold A, you can change that hop to a higher leap. Or alternatively, let the button change your control instead. Quick taps and presses of A could give the player a fixed rebound, holding A up until the enemy is attacked is released can give the player some horizontal control from the rebound (so they can steer left or right when Sonic catapults off of an enemy).

Or maybe you can hold A throughout the HA, and the result of doing that can cause Sonic to immediately drop to the ground after destroying a badnik and start rolling/boosting/running/whatever, with the momentum they've gained from the HA intact.

A third idea is to have it work depending on the height from which it's executed. The video of Morph's SADX bounce monitor hack Azoo posted is essentially what I'm talking about in this instance--player drops down from a platform high off the ground, performs a homing attack on an enemy below, the result is that they nearly rebound up to the same height they were before, operating on the same concept as to how bouncing works in the Genesis games.

Yet another idea is having Sonic's other abilities play a role on how the homing attack works. Like Lost World's homing attack, which allows you to lock on and destroy multiple badniks in one go. On its own, I don't particularly care for that implementation of the homing attack. But imagine discovering you could do happen after you pull off, say, a spindash? You see a group of enemies (presumably three or more), execute a spindash, jump, and perform the homing attack...only to find out that you can take out multiple enemies this way. It also creates (what I perceive to be) options that also have contrast / balance--the player can either choose to jump and taking out multiple enemies with a repeated use of the homing attack (faster method with smaller payoff), or instead stop, pull off a sequence of events, and take out multiple enemies in one go (slower method with bigger payoff). It also in another sense rewards the player for playing around and experimenting with their moveset.

That's literally four ways of playing with the homing attack I just wrote off-height, distance, control, and its execution in the context of other moves. With three of them purely based on when and how the player presses the button. With ideas like this among others, developers could make 3D Sonic gameplay significantly more engaging on its own terms. Not only does it add a metric ton of depth to its execution, but the potential ideas for level gimmick and level design just build themselves from there.

...and speaking of level design, can we kinda just obliterate HA chains en mass, if not completely scrap them outright? They're hardly creative in the slightest, from their design to their execution. Especially with Goomba-esque enemies acting in place, like Sonic 4's neutered Bubbles chains. It's the kind of stuff you'd probably not even see even in the most embarrassingly easy tutorial levels--they require the bare minimum of a lightbulb to figure out what to do or what to expect, like the floating signs for bottomless pits or instructions for which co-op moves to use we've seen in recent games. They're just really patronizing IMO. If you want to require the player to use the homing attack over a bottomless pit or hazard, surely you could come up with something a teensy more original than that... :/

One final thing-it would also be nice if we could seriously nerf its range a bit as well. Giving Sonic more aiming accuracy a high speeds doesn't exactly require Sonic to also fire away at an object 30 feet away from him in my book. It's kinda OP.

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Honestly, I like the Homing Attack as is, at least in terms of Adventure and Gens. I didn't like it in Lost World where it was unbelievably nerfed unless you charged it and even then they didn't bother to actually tell you how to charge it up. As for a bounce attack, I really don't know if that would be able to work in the context of the Sonic gameplay as is. One of the huge parts of the momentum in game is by using the homing attack to quickly bounce off enemies and keep your path going, and I liked the possibility of that for multiple paths as well, because due to different enemy types, it still required a bit of timing and skill from the player's point to actually keep the momentum flowing (Something I feel that Unleashed did very well). 

I really don't think a bounce attack could really work however, and I honestly don't think it could be used to keep the level's momentum going. Adventure attempted to have a bounce attack for Sonic, alongside the homing attack, and it only because useful in a few limited instances, and even then, it was incredibly slow, and required multiple bounces to get Sonic up to higher locations. Honestly, the only real time it was actually fun to even use the bounce attack was when you used it in conjunction with the wall glitch so you can bounce extremely high up, and glitch the game out. Other than that, a bounce attack really had no use, especially when the homing attack was there, and worked much better, and didn't actually break game momentum.

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Definitely preferred to keep the Homing Attack in 3D (just as long as it's not on the same button as boost, I'm perfectly fine.)

I hardly ever use the bounce bracelet, so I don't know how I'd feel towards it. To me, I love the Homing Attack.

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I really love the homing attack, I think it's one of Sonic's special and original moves, such as the Spin Dash. It doesn't just help you destroy enemies, but you can use it on springs as well. That helped me a lot of times when I almost fell down, but in the last minute I made a homing attack to a spring. And sometimes you don't have to use it on enemies or other objects, simply its dash can be helpful too. Bouncing is not a bad idea, but I think it shouldn't exchange with homing attack. In my opinion HA is more important in the Sonic gameplay. It's a key element, which makes the Sonic gameplay so original. :)

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I've been thinking, you know how in Sonic Adventure 2  there's a power-up called ancient light where you charge up to defeat enemies at the same time.... maybe in 3D replace the homing attack with that however make it like the ring dash instead of you powering up. 

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In a 3D scenario, I think the homing attack is utilized well. The main purpose of the homing attack in Sonic Adventure was to make destroying enemies more easier in a 3D environment and it achieves just that. The homing attack can also be used to pick up speed more quickly as I tend to spam it whenever Sonic comes to a stop and has to pick up speed again lmao

However, it could lead to faults in the level design like homing attack bridges. I find it quite lazy when levels in Unleashed, Colours and Generations sometimes have a series of spinners (or flying badniks) over a bottomless pit just to utilize the homing attack. If it was used in more interesting ways then yeah, the homing attack could be more beneficial to 3D Sonic.

In a 2D scenario, the homing attack should not exist. One of the major flaws of Sonic 4 was the homing attack and the introduction of homing attack bridges in 2D levels. As a continuation of the classic trilogy, the homing attack just doesn't fit well into 4 and 2D Sonic as a whole, when just jumping on enemies is a lot more easier and satisfying. 

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2 hours ago, Mikyeong said:

I've been thinking, you know how in Sonic Adventure 2  there's a power-up called ancient light where you charge up to defeat enemies at the same time.... maybe in 3D replace the homing attack with that however make it like the ring dash instead of you powering up. 

But what would be the point? Doing that would only end up making the game a lot more easier in general, and it more or less does the same function of the homing attack, the only difference is it's automatically done by the game, rather than the player actually having to input something in order to pull it off. I don't see the point of it, because I honestly don't think the homing attack has even screwed up for me since 06, and even that was due to how loose, and how stupid it's recharge time was. Unleashed, Colours, and Gens all managed to pull off the homing attack without it screwing up. Even then, Lost World's problem wasn't the homing attack, but rather how you actually charge it up to fight some enemies. 

Plus, if it was automatically done, it would make things just too easy for multiple paths. One of the things I liked about the Boost trilogy was the fact to follow the top path with more rewards, you had to have more skill to know where pits were, and where to use your homing attack against enemies in order to actually progress higher up into the stage. If that was automatic, I can't help but feel some of the skill factor might be taken away from the game.

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Like most people said: rather pointless in 2D.

In 3D... In theroy it's bad since it takes control away from the player, but in practice I can't imagine playing without it (at least wwhile keeping the flow and speed). So I say maybe. But if it's to stay then I wish level design will get more original then line of enemies over pit. Also making level design based on homing attack means that other characters can't go through them, so chance of playing as Knukles or Tails diminishes even more

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I tend to think that you don't actually need the homing attack.  It might seem as though speeding up a platforming character makes it harder to hit stuff, but in many situations it actually makes it easier.  Versus airborne targets, the displacement covered at a given altitude increases with speed, and against a cubic object on a surface, approaching at a shallower angle means more of the target is presented.  

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