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Chris Knopps

Concepts/Things In Mania You Dislike

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Now that Mania has been out for a while, I figured it's time to bring up what folks DIDN'T like that was in Sonic Mania, bring to light some of the things players have found questionable/bad in the title. While the game is overall spectacular, we shouldn't forget to take note of the problems we saw and things we'd rather avoid in whatever title might come next following Mania.

For me, what I really loathed in Mania was Oil Ocean Zone - Act 2

The stage and background are spectacular, and it WOULD have been my favorite stage in the game, but the way they threw in that smoke feature you have to keep clearing away really ruined the act for me since I couldn't enjoy its design and details because everything kept being blocked from my vision. In future games following Mania, it would be nice not to add in anymore features like that which obstruct your vision in stages especially since the point of the games, or one of them, is being able to really savor everything it has to offer.

And when all you see is smoke over and over again, you just can't do it.

I know it was done to add in a sense of urgency, but since the smoke mainly serves to block your vision, all it served to do for this player was annoy and frustrate me when all I wanted to do was enjoy the glorious design of the stage and take my time savoring the details, yet instead I was pushed to find the next lever so I could finally see for just a few more seconds.

This was a BAD idea in Mania to me... What did YOU have an issue with?

Lets get this thread spinning!

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& Knuckles.

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15 minutes ago, Chris Knopps said:

but since the smoke only serves to block your vision and doesn't harm you physically nor drop your ring count in a Super Sonic manner

I find it weird you mention this because... that's exactly what it does.  Only at full thickness, but yeah, you lose rings while it's active, even if you have a shield.  Super Sonic is invulnerable from it though.

 

 

Anyway for me it'd be the implimentation of Blue Sphere.  I was really disappointed that we didn't get fun 20-30 second S3&K-esque checkpoint minigames with rewards that transfer back into the stage.  Instead Blue Sphere is just kinda... there for the sake of it.  And Blue Sphere is way too long to be interrupting the game every single checkpoint, and the long time period between getting to attempt a hard stage again makes for a lot of frustration - you'll make the same stupid mistakes about 6 times before you'll start to memorise the level, due to all the other levels and time between each attempt at one you're struggling on.  It's literally the only part of Mania that I honestly think was a seriously terrible idea.  It's super frustrating and not fun at all.  I kinda wish they'd patch in an option to turn them off considering they don't affect the regular gameplay in any manner whatsoever.  It's annoying when I accidentally get knocked into one that I don't want to play.

 

The only other thing is I feel they took a step backwards by not allowing the mercy features of the Sonic 1/2/CD ports... namely, why does getting a Game Over send you back to Act 1 of a zone?  Why can't you save (or load) Act 2 of a zone from your save file?  Sonic 1 and 2 let you do this, clearly Taxman and co felt the old style was too dated for those games, why not Mania?  To be honest I feel generally they could have made the game a little more accessible for those who don't have the time/patience for the difficulty of old Sonic games, but instead they let the past dictate certain game design choices regardless of whether they're good ideas or not.

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Just now, JezMM said:

I find it weird you mention this because... that's exactly what it does.  Only at full thickness, but yeah, you lose rings while it's active, even if you have a shield.  Super Sonic is invulnerable from it though.

Oh, it does? I never noticed...

I was trying to clear it away so much so I could see what was happening in the background so much I never let it stay thick long enough to pay attention to the ring count...

I'll edit my OP then.

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Hmm...

Well obviously the fact that there are more returning zones than new ones, granted I do love what they did to the old ones mostly. The only exception would be Hydrocity Zone Act 2. Usually the Act 2 stages is where they really mix things up for classic zones, but Hydrocity Zone's really didn't feel all that new. Act 1 felt more new than Act 2 actually.

I also really wish the transitions between zones was more consistent. Sometimes they explain how Sonic got to each zone and sometimes they don't. It makes the story confusing. 

Spoiler

As for the final boss as Super Sonic, while I did enjoy it, I did think it was a little easy and not as epic of a final showdown as S3&K's was. I feel like Sonic Mania should be my favorite Sonic because I enjoyed the level design more than S3&K overall, but it's conclusion being a step back from what S3&K did is kinda holding it back. It's just an ending and the overall experience should probably matter more but...I dunno. 

 

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My main gripe which I mentioned 80 times beforehand, why the livid FUCK don't some stages have stage transitions. It ruins the plot cohesion to me. Why does something like Mirage Saloon -> Oil Ocean have a story transition that while it's really cool, doesn't add anything to the plot, but something like Stardust Speedway -> Hydrocity does not. How the fuck does Sonic get from Little Planet to Angel Island so fast? It's annoying. Not to mention, considering Mirage Saloon comes before Oil Ocean but after Hydrocity, that means that Mirage Saloon must be in Westside Island. Which means Sonic went from Little Planet, to Angel Island, to Westside Island, only to come back to Angel Island for Lava Reef AND return to Little Planet for Metallic Madness and Titanic Monarch.

What the FUCK.

 

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I think the only major issue I have with Mania is the hefty number of bugs that've been found. It happens with gamedev, but it's still a bit demoralising when you're having a blast and then bam, softlock. It's mitigated somewhat by having a restart option, and it's not like the Classics didn't have a sizeable amount of bugs either, but ah well.

The lack of certain zone transitions is also a bit of a shame, but if that time saved from nixing them went into refining the gameplay then consider me a touch less miffed, I suppose. 

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I know this'll be petty but no cameo for Mighty and Ray? Really, Team Mania, really? You'll have cute little throwbacks to every other classic sonic thing and you give The Boys a huge nod and yet no cameo of strong dillo and bouncing baby boy?

Son I'm a disappoint.

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The story isn't fleshed out enough. Why is Angel Island in the ocean again? Why is Little Planet chained to it? And where are half of the zone transitions? They were one of my favorite parts of S3K.

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Hydrocity Act 1's bubbles are seriously a poor fit for what was supposed to be the fast water level of the Sonic series, and that's without the annoyingly tight maneuvers you have to make to dodge spikes.

Flying Battery Act 2 has WAY to many things going on that it feels bloated. You have the junk piles, the magnetic ceilings, the fans, the cylindrical tumblers, the electric coils from Wacky Workbench, strong winds, pole swinging, and probably more that I forgot. There's so many different gimmicks it feels like they crammed in ideas for 2 or 3 entire Zones in this one Act and it ends up becoming a clusterfuck.

The minibosses feel too complicated and take too long to beat. This is mostly personal preference, but minibosses work best when they are short and simple, and easy, otherwise it kinda undermines the spectacle of the Act 2 boss.

Also, the inconsistency with the Hard Boiled Heavy fights. Heavy Gunner is only a miniboss in Studiopolis, but the others are major Bosses, but Heavy Magician is part of both the miniboss AND the major boss, but not any of the others. Also, each one is the boss of one of the new stages... except for Heavy Rider, who's the boss of Lava Reef. It would've been much better to have 5 new zones for the five Heavies. Considering how prominently they are advertised, they leave very little impact (granted I have gotten all the Emeralds and I know there's a Super Sonic final boss), but regardless, they should've had a bigger presence overall.

Blue Sphere for bonus stages is a bit much, especially since there are more than TWICE the number that S3&K had. I liked the short intermissions the bonus and special stages gave in Sonic 3, but with how big the levels in Mania are, and how long the bonus stages are, and how many checkpoints there are, it's overwhelming.

Story is half baked. I was genuinely surprised to see Little Planet in the normal ending, cause there was literally no transition to it. You kinda see SOMETHING in the background at the end of Lava Reef Act 2, but whoops, no level transitions to tell the story.

Not exactly something I DISLIKE, but why was 80% of Hydrocity Act 2, completely rehashed? I mean, Hydrocity is one of my favorites, but it felt really odd that the first half of the game did a great job at remixing the old levels, only for the second half to feel more like fan-edits to the original levels rather than completely new designs.

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Two things, one of which is more critical than the other:

1. Lack of transitions. Mania has been lauded as a game with stellar visual presentation. Christian Whitehead and entire time put so much effort into Mania to ensure that it not only felt, but looked good playing. We received a fully animatic trailer for Sonic Mania, heightened animations for Sonic/Tails/Knuckle's movement, seamless transitions between Acts 1 and 2, and even a beautiful and vivid cut scenes within the very beginning of the game to set the story in motion yet there were some noticeable and jarring gaps in between stages that left me very confused i.e Chemical Plant --> Studiopolis, Stardust Speedway --> Hydrocity. This was contradictory to what I expected from Mania and was left a little disappointed when there wasn't enough story to facilitate the gameplay.

2. No online play. Self-explanatory, I want to be able to play with just about everyone in the entire world even if they're capable of cheesing entire stages (Flying Battery Zone in 40 seconds, wtf?). I don't want to have to get a specific version just for access to online-play and that seems entirely unfair that only the PS4 gets online play.

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Gonna echo the lack of proper stage transitions and certain level designs. I will spoil for the sake of convenience: 

Spoiler

Stardust Speedway into Hydrocity? ...What? How did that happen? Why is Angel Island not in the air at the beginning of the game? I think thus far that is the biggest gripe I got with its story. 

Also, Hydrocity Act 2 and the Oil Ocean boss can both die in a fire. 

 

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I'll not mention the problems that others have, I'm sure everybody feels that way about those missing elements. But I will complain about some of the level design, particularly in Chemical Plant act 1. I swear there's a speed section where you don't need to press anything for 15 seconds. Not very engaging. And then there's the Sonic CD levels. I hated Stardust speedway and metallic madness in the original, and they're still a mess in Mania. Though I'll praise SS's boss throwback, I love that reference. And MM at least changes things up more in its level design. 

I'm guessing the levels that were chosen were based on reused assets from their CD/1/2 remakes, as well as their prototype for the pitched 3&K remaster, to save on development resources. It would explain why we got the blue spheres back (I have no problem with those however), and why some levels feel like rehashes with minimal changes to layout. Maybe I shouldn't have psyched myself up by playing 3&K the day before release, lol.

I'm confident though that the critical success (too early to call it a commercial one?) has Sega at a meeting with taxman and his team right now saying that they need to make a sequel :)

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The lack of some stage transitions is definitely weird.

I haven't played the game, I admit, but some bosses while cool as hell look a bit too obtuse or overcomplicated, like Metal Sonic.

Like, why does he have three phrases? It's the middle of the game and he seems more impressive than Oil Ocean's boss. I could see parts 1 and 3 in one zone and an expanded part 2 in another.

Also Titanic Monarch looks like a bitch. Nothing else really looked "fan-made" but that level. Okay, seriously, if you have to disable the timer for the boss because the level went too long, why not just not make the level too long?

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FUCKIN OIL OCEAN

 

And I wish there were more original zones...but considering that the 4 we got were all that were initially planned anyway, I consider the classic stuff a necessary addition.

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Spoiler

Not a huge issue, but I don't understand why you're only allowed to use Sonic's moves from 3&K or CD on a no-save file. Unless it's something Sega mandated, I honestly don't see the logic in relegating some of the extras to a single mode instead of freely allowing players to play around with fun, customizable settings for future playthroughs once they've beaten the game.

Another weird thing: why have we regressed back to having the super transformation activate on a single button? Even Sonic 4 fixed this issue. Sonic 4.

I also thought the final zone and Super Sonic boss were a bit of a step down compared to the rest of the game, but weak finales are starting to become a bit of a tradition for the series at this point so whatever. There's always next time, I guess.

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2 minutes ago, Clewis said:

Not a huge issue, but I don't understand why you're only allowed to use Sonic's moves from 3&K or CD on a no-save file.

Actually, now that you mention this, yes, that's another big issue of mine. it took me FOREVER to figure out how I even accessed these moves I was unlocking until I noticed the menu while browsing the file screen and it had me saying "the hell?" basically.

Quote

I also thought the final zone and Super Sonic boss were a bit of a step down compared to the rest of the game, but weak finales are starting to become a bit of a tradition for the series at this point so whatever. There's always next time, I guess.

The concept of fighting each other for the gem was awesome, I think it was the boring "arena" location.

Side scrolling Super Sonic bosses are the best to me which is why I doubt Doomsday Zone will ever be topped.

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Mania is overall a really solid game but my main problem with the main campaign is that it feels like it runs out of steam near the end. The theming seems to get a bit mixed up at that point. For example every hard boiled heavy appeared in the original zones EXCEPT up until Lava Reef, the last hard boiled heavy is the boss of that zone. The last few bosses also bummed me out, they seemed to just use the Sonic 1 final boss, the Death Egg miniboss for no apparent reason and the Gacha Machine boss didn't tie in to Metallic Madness in any way at all when the bosses of most of the other zones seemed appropriate. 

This game is making me hate blue spheres, its already bad enough they're the only type of bonus stage and there's 36 of them but you need to perfect all of them and there's no way to access them to try again. You always have to go in to the game and get a checkpoint to just get a random blue sphere. 

also act 1 of Mirage Saloon was a sky chase level. That zone was on track to being my favourite in the game but they just had to make the first act a drag.

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4 minutes ago, Chris Knopps said:

The concept of fighting each other for the gem was awesome, I think it was the boring "arena" location.

Yeah, I kinda agree. The concept behind the boss sounds neat on paper, but the way it was executed left me feeling like the developers just ran out of time.

There are a few other areas of the game that made me feel the same way, namely the bugs, the lack of transitions here and there, and the fact that the game's narrative ended up feeling a bit half-realized.

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11 minutes ago, Clewis said:

Yeah, I kinda agree. The concept behind the boss sounds neat on paper, but the way it was executed left me feeling like the developers just ran out of time.

There are a few other areas of the game that made me feel the same way, namely the bugs, the lack of transitions here and there, and the fact that the game's narrative ended up feeling a bit half-realized.

I'd like to imagine the Super Sonic boss happening the same way, only you're warping through space during the battle, like each hit takes you to another planet you circle around while fighting or something.

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