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Score system pointless?


Shajam
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Pun not intended.

I've been asking left and right on whether people are into playing Sonic games for score and so far the reactions ranged from "is this edible?" to "no silly, competitive is all about time".

And yet I see Sega once again include a score system in Sonic Mania. I hope it's strictly for nostalgia reasons or that they have at least something in store (a ranking system similar to Sonic Generations?) because otherwise I'm afraid they're out of touch with what the community enjoys playing the games for.

What do you think?

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Score in Sonic is usually pretty pointless, but there's also no harm in having it. Bopping a few robots and getting points for it is like a minor version of why it's fun to grab rings, even when you don't need to.

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Aside from bragging rights, the most important role of the point system in Sonic games is in assigning the player a rank at the end of the level. As a result, the importance of scoring is entirely dependent on two factors. The first is the amount of influence the player's score has their rank. In Generations the player's rank is determined almost entirely by the amount of time it took for them to complete the level (and whether or not they died in the process), so score is basically meaningless. In Adventure 2 time is still the most important factor in the ranking but it's not the end-all-be-all it is in Generations. Nine times out of ten a good speed run in SA2 will be enough to net you a solid B-rank, but it's the player's score and ring count that will ultimately push them into A-rank territory. Thus, score is relevant to ranking in SA2

The second factor in the importance of score is the relevance of the ranking system itself. In a lot of Sonic games ranking is good for little more than bragging rights. However, many games do, in fact, provide incentives for attaining good ranks. In Adventure 2 A-ranks unlock multiplayer costumes and emblems, which let you buy rare chao items and unlock the Green Hill bonus stage. In Heroes getting all A-ranks unlocks Hard Mode and, again, they also earn the player emblems, which unlock new multiplayer modes. Shadow, like Heroes, has an Expert Mode which is unlocked by earning all A-ranks. '06 rewards the player with a sum of rings, which can be used to purchase upgrades, depending on their ranking in a level. Black Knight eschews the letter grades in favor of a 1-5 star rating, with the number of stars going towards leveling up the player's current swordplay style. Colors gives the player extra lives for achieving a high rank.

In conclusion, scoring does have a point in Sonic, assuming that the ranking system is well balanced and offers something more than bragging rights for a good performance.

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I like seeing numbers go up.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Like Dio said, it's the same reason someone will go out of their way to collect a bunch of Rings even though you only really need at least one, or why I feel good about getting 1ups even in Mario games even in the games where it's entirely possible and likely to have hundreds by the end of the game. Now, in the latter case I'd agree with replacing 1ups with something more useful in modern games, but as far as ancient game mechanics go I think points are unique in that they usually aren't particularly useful but...they don't have to be, either?

Plus I can empathize with people who like doing score attacks, even if I prefer other kinds of self-challenges or whatever.

Edit: And of course if there's something like a ranking system, then yeah, points will be a factor. But even in something like Mania which (probably) won't have something like that, I don't see anything wrong with just having a score.

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10 minutes ago, Blacklightning said:

Why exactly did they stop doing this?

This. Sonic, to me, has just as much potential being a score-runner as much as a speed-runner. While I don't necessarily like being ranked at the end of every level, and I'd really dislike rankings appearing in Sonic Mania, I think that's one of the best ways to make players care about the score. Sonic Lost World did something nice by separating the ranked mode from the main game, so players who don't want to feel pressured to perform a certain way won't be bothered, and score and speed-runners alike can go to town in the dedicated mode. Otherwise, score's really just good for getting the odd extra life, which is becoming increasingly irrelevant anyway. You could use score as currency to buy stuff ala Sonic Generations, but rings are kind of the go-to collectible to fill that cubby.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really hurt being there. But at the same time, it isn't doing much besides adding a bar for performance, and that much isn't for everyone.

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12 hours ago, Blacklightning said:

It's not like points are there just for the sake of it - they're factored into nearly every Sonic game with a ranking system. The only thing is, the post-level bonuses (time, rings et al) will inevitably make up the overwhelming bulk of your score, even compared to objects that exist exclusively to build it up (like enemy chains). It has this weird side effect of making it seem like nothing you do really contributes to your end ranking, and the fact that the overwhelming majority of feats aren't even acknowledged by the game itself doesn't help.

To be honest I feel like SA2 still handled this the best - the obligatory ring and time bonuses are there, but there's also extra bonuses ingame for chaining enemies, timing specific jumps, taking shortcuts and sometimes even just showing off for the sheer fucking sake of it. And depending on the level in question, it can even make up a sizeable bulk of the score needed for high ranks. Why exactly did they stop doing this?

 

12 hours ago, Indigo Rush said:

This. Sonic, to me, has just as much potential being a score-runner as much as a speed-runner. While I don't necessarily like being ranked at the end of every level, and I'd really dislike rankings appearing in Sonic Mania, I think that's one of the best ways to make players care about the score. Sonic Lost World did something nice by separating the ranked mode from the main game, so players who don't want to feel pressured to perform a certain way won't be bothered, and score and speed-runners alike can go to town in the dedicated mode. Otherwise, score's really just good for getting the odd extra life, which is becoming increasingly irrelevant anyway. You could use score as currency to buy stuff ala Sonic Generations, but rings are kind of the go-to collectible to fill that cubby.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really hurt being there. But at the same time, it isn't doing much besides adding a bar for performance, and that much isn't for everyone.

Thank you guys for saving the the bother of writing any of this out for myself.

I loved racking up scores through combos, rings, stylish actions and being speedy in SA2. No other game has ever come close, except maybe the Rush series. In '06 it was all about getting the rainbow hoops and killing enemies however slowly you wanted to, the boost games lack enough depth to push you further, Colours just wanted you to spam the Wisps (literally grab a drill and spin in circle for 5 minutes to get an S rank) and Lost World actually did just relegate rankings to be entirely time-based.

Apparently, some people really hate completing a level in a Sonic game and being told they only deserve an E Rank. Now issues of being delicate little flowers who can't take being mocked by being told that they're not very good at something yet aside, from a design perspective it's actually pretty lame too. Say you're just looking for collectables, playing a level purely for the fun of it or doing anything other that angling for perfection, there's no need to rank the player. I'm all for taking Lost World's set up and removing scores from story mode. And then, should you want to test your skills, you can do just that in trial mode.

The ranking system gives a meaning to scoring points. Extra lives are nice too, but with other ways to get lives much more readily and the very presence of lives being another point of contention these days, they don't really matter very much. At the very least, even if the score isn't being used for anything, it's still nice to see. It's utterly harmless it being there. Except in Lost World which for some asinine reason decided to adopt the Mario-style points system (and timer) which totally trivialised the already mostly-trivial feature. 

EDIT: Oh yeah. Generations' perfect bonus is silly. You have to complete the level from start to finish without dying to get it. Like, fine, whatever. But what if you die before the first checkpoint? You still have to complete the level from the very start, but you won't be eligible for that perfect bonus unless you go into the menu and restart the stage that way. That doesn't make much sense. Granted, if you're dying before the first checkpoint then you probably aren't good enough to get that S rank in the first place and do deserve this, but you get my point I'm sure. 

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I think in terms of the ranking system, it's actually a driving influence in the whole debate about linear level design in the series.

The ranking only further emphasises there's a very specific way the game wants you to play. Once you've figured out an optimal route you're not very inclined to explore other avenues. This is especially an issue in Unleashed / Generations where you're encouraged to blast through to complete the stage as fast as possible, why go a different route from the optimal path? Now you can obviously just say to hell with the rank and do what you like but it's subtle thing that subconsciously influences a player's actions.

Generations technically isn't an issue actually, but for the wrong reason. They made top ranks pretty much guaranteed so long as you don't die and don't take a ludicrous amount of time to complete a stage. This certainly helps when the game made an effort to open up levels more and provide different paths and whatnot but the ranking system becomes near inconsequential in the game, very much a case of "gold star for turning up".

Lost World definitely does the best in pleasing both by not ranking the player ordinarily but doing so in the secondary time attack mode where it's very clearly laid out what's expected from the player. 

 

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The score system has always existed in one form or another in Sonic games since the first game - I have no problem with it

However I do not like having to use the score system to unlock things (I despised what I had to go through to get Green Hill in Adventure 2 getting all A's)

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18 hours ago, Indigo Rush said:

This. Sonic, to me, has just as much potential being a score-runner as much as a speed-runner. While I don't necessarily like being ranked at the end of every level, and I'd really dislike rankings appearing in Sonic Mania, I think that's one of the best ways to make players care about the score. Sonic Lost World did something nice by separating the ranked mode from the main game, so players who don't want to feel pressured to perform a certain way won't be bothered, and score and speed-runners alike can go to town in the dedicated mode. Otherwise, score's really just good for getting the odd extra life, which is becoming increasingly irrelevant anyway. You could use score as currency to buy stuff ala Sonic Generations, but rings are kind of the go-to collectible to fill that cubby.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really hurt being there. But at the same time, it isn't doing much besides adding a bar for performance, and that much isn't for everyone.

After seeing how a friend plays shmups for scoring, I wish the games had a separate score attack.

The thing is, I'm not sure how would the "1cc" rule be implemented. For those who don't know, scoring runs in shmups are always "1 credit runs", no continues. With how easy it is to gain extra lives in Sonic games (in general) they'd have to come up with some rules. And I don't see Sega doing that, I'm pessimistic.

It would be more probable if players interested in score runs did it on their own but then who validates what is legit and what isn't?

I'm also not sold on the "players are subconsciously influenced to play optimally". That will happen whether the goal is the rank, the fastest time or the highest score. Basically, anywhere where the player's performance is measured in relation to other players.

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