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Scritch the Cat

Am I a failure if I don't finish the Genesis classics?

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I don't have any real problem with Sonic 1's levels, honestly, which is why I sometimes flip-flop between it and Sonic 3 (by itself) being my favorite classic title. Scrap Brain 3 does successfully put me on edge every time I play it, though.

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Oh man; it hurts. :o It hurts so hard, :( but I've just got to get this off my chest.  Swearing ahead. :angry:

But first, to provide some context, I want to amend something I said earlier: I said that my reward for beating a video game is getting to play another video game, so the sooner I get there, the better.  Well, I realized weeks ago that this could easily be construed  as me stating I would pay $50 for a game that is pitifully short.  Well, in some rare cases where that game is really, really really fun, I might, but again, those cases are rare.  So here's my actual opinion: What I find rewarding is getting to play new content.  And that new content will be contained within the same game, if it is a well-made game, most of the time.

Which means that no, I absolutely don't understand how the fuck there's any reward in finally beating a game that punishes me excessively for failing.  The only rewards I care about are tangible, so if I only earn them briefly before the game yanks them away again, then fuck that game, I say.  To be sure, games do need some challenge to make all their content fun (How much challenge they should have varies; more on that later), but that content should stay unlocked, permanently, once earned, because again, tangible reward.  A tangible reward doesn't become better because it can be yanked away; that only makes me mad at a game i might otherwise have loved.  Which brings us to the final, most damning thing about these old-school, excessively difficult, sometimes artificially difficult sorts of games: Their ending.  So here's the sitch; if you fail to beat the super hard final boss or whatever the fuck it is at the end, the punishment is the game's over and you go back to the start.  But wait; let's say you actually succeed!  What's your reward for this?  It's...the game's over and you go back the start.  You might see another cutscene and credits, but other than that, your reward for beating the final part of the game is the same as the punishment for losing any other part.

What the fuck?!  I mean, I know I'm splitting hairs about shit that's existed for decades now and it sounds unfair, but what the fuck is the point?!  What the fuck is this reward I keep hearing about?!  The person here who told me there's some internal reward or some placebo thing like that said the problem was I hadn't resolved to set aside six hours to beat Sonic The Hedgehog 2 .  I can't imagine saying such things with a straight face.  I sure feel sorry for whatever 1990s kids actually spent that long in one sitting learning and beating Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and somehow thought it was worth bragging about to kids who spent more of their time doing their homework or lifting their weights or working their jobs or some combination of those, or some other things that offered tangible rewards.

So as you've probably garnered from the precedeing rant, I several weeks ago said a big fat "Fuck you" to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, as well as the special stages of Sonic the Hedgehog 1; at least until I could buy versions that included save features, and I skipped on up to Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which has a save feature.  A save feature, which by the way, seems to glitch out and erase progress a bit in the Sonic Mega Collection version if you do things outside of the game, like reading the manual for Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, but not too bad, so I just went back and made the progress again.

So I said before, that contrary to what one person suggested, Classic Sonic actually is my cup of tea; the only thing I hate is lack of save feature and limited continues.  Well, having gotten the chance to play one of two Classic Sonic games that had a save feature in their original version, and spent I don't know how many times trying and failing to beat the final boss (which, by the way, seems to have a glitch where rings randomly fall through the floor), I unfortunately must recant on that: I really don't think Classic Sonic is my cup of tea afterall.  It's fun, sure; sometimes it's even really fun...it's just not nearly fun enough to justify the time I'm sinking into it.  To put it bluntly, the word that comes to mind for these games is monotonous.

I say this, because having busted my head on this shit while thinking about why I'm not having fun anymore, and which games I'd rather be playing, and why, I realized that this isn't just about how difficult a game is.  It's not just about how excessive the punishment is for failing.  Rather, it ties back into the tangible rewards of a new experience.  You know what game series is known for being quite difficult?  Mega Man.  The difference, though, is those games are rewarding--not just on some subjective psychological level; objectively in-game.  Beat a Mega Man boss, and you get a cool new weapon--well okay; some are lame, but a new weapon anyway.  From there, you actually have to use specific weapons for some things, but you can also switch weapons at will and fool around with them, adding much-needed variety. 

The Classic Sonic games, while they can be made more tolerable and more doable at one's own pace when they're given a save feature that removes excessive punishment for failure, hardly do jack shit to reward success compared to the way Mega Man games do.  You get to play new levels , sure but you're doing so with the same few one-button moves over and over again--and in line with my earlier stated, and very-much intact opinion about how far too much of this series' level design consists of throwing shit at players they can't see coming, they're just not fun enough to compensate for the players' inadequacies.  Mega Man in a single game has more abilities than Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles combined; making it even worse, in the Classic Sonic games you're stuck using just one of those characters per-file; a whole playthrough stuck as one character when you have three.

Also, I really must restress the issue with that music.  It's good!  It's catchy, it's danceable, it's worthy of its classic status, and it often fits the levels...but it simply isn't good enough to remain enjoyable, in that limited form, for the amount of time I'll be hearing it ad-nauseum.

So where's that leave me?  I don't really know.  But to say the least, my intentions to purchase Sonic Mania have dissipated as of now; at least until its price is cut...and once again, that's sad, because in so many idealistic ways it seems like such a perfect way to send a message of what I want from the Sonic series and how I think more companies should treat fangame developers, but I simply don't have the time or the money to spend on stuff I don't think I'll enjoy enough.  I don't want to get my self into a situation wherein I come to hate the Studiopolis music, and holy shit; is that possibility looming if I have to play it as fucking much as I have to play these other Classic Levels!  (Something to note while I'm there: Having been introduced to Tee Lopes via Sonic Mania, I'm of the opinion that the game's soundtrack isn't the height of his musical achievements.  Sure; the instrumentation is great, and more advanced than the Genesis could do, and composition is as catchy as ever, but it's still just about as damn short to loop as the Genesis soundtrack.  It pales compared to Tee's extended reimaginings of Classic Sonic songs...which naturally also make the original versions actually in the games sound even worse by comparison.)

So now having come to such realizations, I wholeheartedly understand where Dr. Detective Mike is coming from when he says he enjoyed Sonic Adventure 2 so much more than any of the classics...so did I, I think; save for sins against gamers like Security Hall.  It's a flawed game, but it's got variety to it.  The characters all have more moves, you're alternating between them, you're getting story between them, and to sweeten the deal, all of them even have their own musical style.  It really is an awful shame, I think, that so many gamers and game critics and even Sonic Team themselves have turned against this sort of variety in their games; certainly, there was room for improvement in all of those styles, and sometimes they dipped into outright shit.  But while I certainly don't want my enjoyment of a good gameplay style disrupted to dip me into shit like Fishing or Security Hall; nor do I want to be so over-exposed to something fairly fun that it ends up feeling like shit, too.

Moreover, looking back on it now, I think I can put my finger on why I loved Sonic so much in those days, compared to how it felt during SEGA's "glory days".  When the Sonic series centered mostly around Sonic himself and his paint-by-numbers early-1990s cool-dude persona, coupled with SEGA's mendacious, Nintendo-bashing ad strategies, it felt like a daunting "cool kids' club" I knew dorks like me would never quite fit in...that, and I'd committed SEGA's original sin by daring to conclude that, yes; I liked Nintendo better.  All that changed, though, when SEGA exited the console race, started making games for lots of consoles--including plenty on Nintendo's then-current Gamecube and Game Boy Advance--and it was around the time when Sonic Heroes and Sonic Battle were the new games that it really hit home how much things had changed: Having taken on such a large cast of playable characters with diverse peronalities, the Sonic series now felt like it was for everyone, because it had a character for everyone.  So some old Cranky Kongs felt like they were a deadweight, and I get that, but I personally loved that big cast.  Sonic's and SEGA's image in the 1990s felt very "macho" and pretentious, but in that moment of the early 2000s, quite a lot of the Sonic fans I met and spoke to were female--and a lot of the male fans were the sorts of males who weren't ashamed to use avatars of anime girls or Pokemon or cats or other cutesy stuff.  Yeah; the games themselves had problems; some even had a lot of problems, and critics were turning against them, but Sonic fandom felt very warm back then.

Then SEGA made Shadow the Hedgehog , for whatever reason; maybe to try to regain the edgy image their series once allegedly had, and history wasn't kind to it.  I don't hate the game, personally, and in fact, having had those recent fits of rage with the Classic, "good" Sonic games from the Genesis era, I often wish Sonic himself could momentarily be a little more like that and follow up his climatic battles with Eggman by saying "You're going straight to Hell!" and punching the fat fuck right the fuck out...but yeah; Shadow was a shameless pose that deserved to be called out as such.  SEGA didn't go those places again, but looking back, that was the beginning of the end of the period when Sonic felt like a series with something for everyone...and it still isn't.  It's not restrictively edgy, and Sonic himself is far more likable these days than I found him in the 1990s, but the two gameplay styles they seem to like focusing on, Boost Sonic and Classic Sonic, are not my favorite Sonic.  My favorite types of Sonic games really were the ones that, as Dr. Mike put it, they seem to think "everyone hates".  That, and the expanded cast I grew to love still isn't back...well okay; I guess they are in Runners, but to be frank, I have little use for endless scrolling games.

 

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So, this morning I went back to Sonic the Hedgehog 3, maybe because I'm a masochist.  I finally ended up beating that fucking asshole with two seconds left on the clock.  The ending was terribly underwhelming.  After letting the game restart to verify I did, in fact, get the "Cleared" status I earned, and could then choose a level, I exited.  Later, I came back, and found that again, for whatever reason my progress had been erased.  I was in no immediate mood to go torture myself getting those emeralds, so I wasn't as enraged as I might have been, but still, that's pretty damned shoddy.

So on to Sonic & Knuckles.  Once again, there's no save; how the fuck did this series regress from that key breakthrough?!  The Mushroom Hill Zone music doesn't just get old with repetition, it's about the most blah song I've heard in Classic Sonic to begin with.  Finally, that Act 2 boss feels utterly impossible with Knuckles; I burnt through a continue before I just gave up.  I'm sure it's doable, but it feels like it's only through pure luck or being able to get a shield to that location.  It feels designed for Sonic, and I've beaten it easily with him, but Knuckles is slower so it's like he can only get in a hit and evade getting hit through luck.  Then again, maybe I'm just bad at it, but then again, why should I get good when the game just isn't very fun?

Because it's not.  Maybe I'm just not in the right mindset, but I have no idea how to get into it.  I have no idea what the right mindset even is for these games.  It's especially unpleasant for me to play these games because every time I find myself annoyed, I can't help but remembering how SEGA promoted them as the better alternative to Super Mario World, which feels increasingly cocky and delusional--and I'm not even that big a fan of Super Mario World!

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I love the Classic Sonic games, but the only one I've actually technically beaten was Sonic 1—and never with all 7 Chaos Emeralds. I was never motivated enough for that.

On Sonic 2, I've never managed to defeat the Death Egg Robot after the Silver Sonic battle. I've beaten Sonic 3 but I've never made it to the end of Act 2 of the Death Egg in Sonic 3. I'm also terrible at Blue Sphere so there's that too.

The thing about the classics is that they're not really easy games. For a franchise that has been characterized as "hold right to win" some of its early games are actually quite punishing. Labyrinth, Metropolis, Death Egg and other stages are actually pretty difficult.

At the end of that day, I think it's why you play not how you play that counts.

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On 5/30/2017 at 1:38 AM, Sixth-Rate Soma said:

it's sort of a double-edged sword. on the one hand, no, you're not a failure for not beating fairly difficult games. but at the same time, these are the games that defined sonic not just for a generation, but forever afterwards. if you're interested in getting to know the roots of the character, or are just sort of loosely interested in what makes a video game mascot a success, the genesis games are excellent case studies. i'd give 'em a shot again some day, once you've put some distance between yourself and the games. but don't worry if you never get around to it, yeah?

Well, I'm not sure why exactly one needs to finish a game to "get to know the roots of the character".  Unless suddenly, a bit more changes than just how difficult the obstacle courses are, I'd argue I've gotten a pretty good impression. 

As for what made a video game mascot a success...I'm leaning toward the cynical position that it was mostly an aggressive, pretentious and often mean-natured marketing campaign in this case.  Sonic was conceived to be his generation's version of cool, and conceived to be different from Mario--really, different from any other platformer mascot.  They succeeded at those things, but I think it made game development problematic from the start for them.  I don't think it was a good idea to design games with the intention of being playable with just one button and the few moves it accommodates--that gets dull fast for me.  Also, speaking of fast, Sonic's trademark speed places level creators in the dire straits of either having to build oversized levels or build more compact levels with myriad contrivances to slow things down--including cheaply-placed enemies.  The former, like Green Hill Zone, play well to the empowering feeling they marketed Sonic around; the latter, like Marble Zone and Big the Cat, are there because they or something like them arguably have to be there to pad things out.  This wouldn't have been such a big problem, though, had they only conceived Sonic to be about a few more traits than running fast and being a hedgehog.  Slow-paced levels might not be so bad if the character's powers weren't all conceptually tied to going fast, and excessive difficulty wouldn't have been so bad--it could even have been good--had the gameplay variety been enough to make staying the course and getting good an appealing proposition.  Alas, they designed Sonic to do a few things well; not enough things for a game done well in my opinion.

So TLDR; I have, in fact, examined in depth what many consider the gold standard of Sonic to which Sega should aspire, and find that they barely even fill the boots they ran in wearing. 

I leave open in my mind the possibility that the main reason I'm not enjoying these games is that I'm not good enough; my reflexes have gotten rusty due to time away from reflex-based games.  The solution I'm looking at, though, is re-training them by going and playing some other games with reflex-based challenges; like maybe the Mega Man series.  After rising to that challenge, I'll try Sonic again.  Who knows if getting good at Mega Man games will have made me good at Sonic games, and even if it does, who knows if being good at them will make me enjoy them more, but at least in the meantime I'll have spent time playing games I actually enjoy.

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I never finished Sonic 1....well outside of maybe the Sonic Classic Heroes hack...not sure I finished that either. Got stuck a long time ago at Labyrinth zone and gave up at the end. Could probably beat it now if I wanted to, but I just do not care for Sonic 1. I am in the minority that thinks Sonic 1 kinda sucks while Sonic 2 is great and 3K is amazing. Though Mania is my fave now.

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The experience is what truly counts, really. If you had fun, great. If not, then maybe it's time to move on to something else.

There are many people that are not good at playing games, or that don't like losing. That's how the market of more cinematic games, or "feel-good" games came to be.

If it makes you feel better, stats have revealed that most people don't finish their games.

Plus, there are people that do not play any Sonic games because they are hard, etc. but are still considered fans of Sonic.

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I never beaten Sonic 1 though came close but not worth it to me in trying again. Sonic 2 I can beat easily beat but I never got all the emeralds. Sonic 3K I beat for the first time ever 2 years ago with all emeralds. Sonic Mania I can easily beat with all emeralds though the special stages were very hard at first.

On 12/11/2017 at 6:02 PM, dbzfan7 said:

I am in the minority that thinks Sonic 1 kinda sucks while Sonic 2 is great and 3K is amazing. Though Mania is my fave now.

Maybe you do not like Sonic 1 because Tails is not in it? Okay yes there are obvious reasons besides that. Sonic Mania did crack the top 5 for me but was not able to beat my favorite of Sonic 3K. It would be at third place for me after Sonic 3K and SA1.

Quote

There are many people that are not good at playing games, or that don't like losing.

This describes me nicely. If I keep losing I get angry and give up.

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4 minutes ago, TailsTellsTales said:

Maybe you do not like Sonic 1 because Tails is not in it? Okay yes there are obvious reasons besides that. Sonic Mania did crack the top 5 for me but was not able to beat my favorite of Sonic 3K. It would be at third place for me after Sonic 3K and SA1.

Nah it's cause of no spin dash which is super handy, but even more importantly, I think the level design sucks the further the game goes along. It just becomes a slog.

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5 minutes ago, dbzfan7 said:

Nah it's cause of no spin dash which is super handy, but even more importantly, I think the level design sucks the further the game goes along. It just becomes a slog.

No spindash does make Sonic 1 bland and you are right about that level design. That is why I only have played the game once I think. At least you have Mania.

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Over a year later I'm reviving this topic: I got an iPad for Christmas and downloaded the port of Sonic 1.  I use the spin-dash a lot out of force of habit, but it's not always a good idea to do so in a game not designed around the move.  Particularly sucks in Marble Zone. Then again, most Sonic abilities do.

My opinions of the game is mostly unchanged.  I actually don't think the main game is all that hard, although touch screen controls annoy me so much I'll probably get a controller.  The special stages are, though; they're probably my single most-hated part of Sonic 1 for several reasons.  They play nothing like the rest of the game, a lot of their difficulty comes from not being able to see what's ahead of you. (Quick opinion: Mazes are only ever fun when you can see them from above), and increasing the artificial difficulty is that the core game is only long enough to give you two tries to get into each stage, and they cycle so you can't just replay one until you know it well.  I'm not sure whether I can just close the game before it saves and then reopen it, and I might as well try that, but even if I get good at them, I think these are by far the worst thing about this game and I'm not surprised that future games' special stages had entirely different play styles.

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On 5/29/2017 at 12:18 PM, VEDJ-F said:

Are you kidding me, I haven't even got past Labyrinth Zone in Sonic 1 yet.

Fuck that level. 

That garbage level almost killed my interest in game , the boss fight is even worse , I finished the level in over minutes I never want to come play this level again .

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I will. I will hold it against you. You're a failure just like your brother! Now you get back in there and finish those damn gam-

...

*cough* 

No I wont hold it against you. :)

But seriously, it's a little surprising to me that you havent finished S3 yet. Of the classics, which I have undoubtedly 100%ed thousands of times, S3 is definitely the easiest. I've always found S1 to be the hardest because of no super. S2 and S3 are very easy once you realize you can get the emeralds very early and then blast through the levels. But a lot of the original intent of these games is that you play them to get more skilled and then beat the levels easily and quickly. So if you cant beat them right away, I think that's the general idea.

The adventure games are different. I think they're very easy to beat your first time through, but collecting all the emblems is a tough task. So sort of the reverse.

It's very much worth doing though! Especially in S3K.

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I actually did beat Sonic the Hedgehog 3, though I'm not sure I'd call it the easiest.  Just the one that originally had a save to make it tolerable.  Sonic The Hedgehog 2, I have no intention of investing hours into just to be forced to fight two final bosses without rings and have the game negate all those hours since there is no save feature in the original.  It's not a particular diss on Sonic; absolutely no game in the world is worth that investment to me; I just would rather invest time and effort into something more important to real life, like getting in shape, learning to program or speak another language.

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20 minutes ago, Scritch the Cat said:

I actually did beat Sonic the Hedgehog 3, though I'm not sure I'd call it the easiest.  Just the one that originally had a save to make it tolerable.  Sonic The Hedgehog 2, I have no intention of investing hours into just to be forced to fight two final bosses without rings and have the game negate all those hours since there is no save feature in the original.  It's not a particular diss on Sonic; absolutely no game in the world is worth that investment to me; I just would rather invest time and effort into something more important to real life, like getting in shape, learning to program or speak another language.

Haha, that's a good way of looking at it.

You gotta stack those continues, man. That's how you really beat the game when you initially stink at it. These games, like many other games from that era, are heavily inspired by arcade gaming. You have to rely on stacking lives and  continues in order to really proceed. Use the early levels to get as many extra lives as possible and try to collect the emeralds as quickly as possible, continues, etc. That way you'll have a ton of lives to spend on death egg.

Sonic 3 is probably the easiest to me because I have played it far more than any other game ever (I also think in general the level design is far superior to the first two and there are fewer cheap deaths) I cant even count the number of times I've beaten it, and have the special stages memorized completely. I definitely remember my first playthrough of 3K, especially the K part being a real challenge. I was a kid and couldnt figure out how to beat the death egg boss or how to get all the emeralds, so it was hard until I did. But I played it so many times because it was fun finding all the secret paths, that I eventually got really good at it. And finally I got to the doomsday zone....the level that literally changed my life, no lie.

(I was only in 1st or 2nd grade and doomsday was the first exposure to space I'd ever had. Now I'm in cosmology....crazy how these things inspire you.)

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It's kind of ironic that given how frustrated I am by these games in general, I'm less appalled by Labyrinth Zone than many fans are. On the other hand, I have trouble with Sonic 3 special stages far beyond what most people have. (Possibly because I have such a strong muscle memory of 3D games that actually move a character left or right instead of just rotating them.)

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Confession time: I've always liked labyrinth zone.

In fact marble zone is the only zone from S1 that I actually somewhat dislike.

There are actually more levels from S2 that I dislike, like metropolis, hilltop, oil ocean.

Mania really nailed the improvements with oil ocean.....but then somehow made hydrocity worse.

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The only classic game I finished was CD, and even that I've never been motivated to make good futures or get the Time Stones. I've gotten pretty far in Sonic 2, but never finished it. I like playing Green Hill in Sonic 1, but don't really care for anything else. Sonic 3&K has always bored me other than making Knux and Tails playable. Mania also bores me, though I love how all five characters play. No one has to finish or even play a game in this franchise to be deemed a success or a failure. Play what you want, love what you want, and spend your time however you want.

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So another update: I spent about $100 to get a controller to play the Taxman port of Sonic 1.  It instantly felt much better than the touch controls (I hate touch screens in general), and I got better at the game in a hurry.  By my second time through I was able to breeze through Marble Zone without taking a hit.  By my third time through with a new file, I was able to get the Chaos Emeralds well in advance of the last level. (Not that they do much in that game.)  My opinion of Classic Sonic thus risen with modern conveniences that fit it into my lifestyle, I was thus eager to try the Taxman port of Sonic 2.

I still don't like it much.  Even with a save, even with limitless continues, even with my now well-established ability to get better at the game, almost the whole thing is just such a bad combination of terrain designed to encourage speed and a clusterfuck of hidden enemies and traps to cockslap said speed, that it makes Shadow the Hedgehog look pleasant in comparison.  Yes; I went there!  For all that the first Sonic game gets a bad rap these days about (allegedly) betraying the ideal it sets forth in Green Hill Zone almost immediately after, even the more blocky levels lend themselves well to speed-running once I got better at it.  However, getting good at Sonic 2 so frequently means knowing when to slow down and proceed with caution that it barely feels like a Sonic game anymore.  And trying for the Special Stages slows things down even further.

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Hmm, I'm curious about what your thoughts on levels like Sonic 1's Scrap Brain are then. I'd say whatever zone Sonic 2 throws at you, it never goes full savage mode like Scrap Brain does, although it does sometimes sprinkle in some of it's design nonsense particularly in Metropolis zone where it get at its worst, but even then I'd say that level lends the player more leg room to speed off unwittingly and speed run way more so than some of the Sonic 1 levels do, and way more than Scrap Brain zone ever does.

Like literally in the first few seconds of Scrap Brain Act 1, you could die falling through a trap floor if you don't react fast enough, and they expect the player to know this on their first go without any type of testing ground for people to learn there are trap floors to die from, and that sets the tone for the whole zone. But it seems like you overcame that through practice, so I'm kinda curious why that doesn't apply to Sonic 2 here and it's levels.

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