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If another classic style sonic game was made, what would it need to do to keep from getting stale?


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Make each story more different, maybe with different levels. Add more characters ala Advance, Chaotix, Rush, Rivals, and Boom, mainly to see the reactions on the critic's faces, but also to put such movesets in better level design than what that Sega internal development team, Dimps, Backbone, and Sanzaru had to offer. The critics didn't care the first times around, yet they forgot those games fairly quickly in about a year. But now? I wonder how toxic they will be...

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The addition of the Spindash in Sonic 2 is arguably a relatively small change when you think about it, but that simple mechanic blew the whole playstyle right the fuck open and left every Sonic game succeeding it all the better off for it. Sonic games in general could use more of this, but Mania especially - tweaks and additions that are simple, yet profound in how they incrementally build their given playstyle up into a shining standard.

In fact, you can already see the fruits of this with Mania itself. The Drop Dash is an amazing idea that does so much to bridge the gap between Sonic and the other characters that desperately needed to be filled with something besides a glorified melee button, and Forces slammed it right into Classic Sonic's moveset on the first opportunity that they were given. So yeah, more neat little things like that, please. Any opportunity for dumb gimmicks you can just incorporate into level themes instead so they don't overextend their welcome.

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Well, having played Mania, I believe they should add more playable characters than just the classic Team Sonic trio. I know it's based in the classic timeline (where there really weren't any other playable characters other than Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles), but maybe they could make Sonic and co. the main ones as in Mania, and add others as unlockable bonuses, with different movesets, abilites, stories, etcetera. In Mania, Amy (as a robot cameo in one battle), Bean, Bark, even Fang/Nack, they all make appearances yet we don't get to play as any of them.

I have no problems with returning levels, but I'm going to make a point here as well, and while I like Green Hill and Chemical Plant, if they are going to make more classic-style games, please don't add either again! They were pretty well-redesigned (pretty challenging though, at least for me), but these have made enough come backs already. In my opinion, it would have been 1000x times better and more interesting to start in Angel Island than in Green Hill, but that's just me. (And we're even seeing the two (Chemical Plant is probable) yet again in Forces, sigh) The new zones were awesome, and I think they should expand on that more.

Also I don't understand why on some levels there are S3K-like transitions, such as from Chemical Plant to Studiopolis, where Sonic and pals enter a tube and end up there, but from Flying Battery to Press Garden there is no explanation on how they magically teleport from a gigantic flying fortress in the skies to an ancient, snowy-newspaper factory. If they are going to work on another classic-style game, they should be consistent and add transitions in all the stages, not just some.

Overall, I love Mania, but it could have been an even better product! From my point of view, they should work on all this stuff if they ever develop a sequel...

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Take some ques from Rayman Origins. It may not be a Sonic game, but it's movement mechanics have just as much of an emphasis on letting the player be fast, and it's level design has such amazing flow that I could easily call it a spiritual successor to the classic Sonic formula without hyperbole. It honestly blends speed and platforming better then Sonic in most instances, even if the game doesn't have as much of an emphasis on momentum and physics. 

Seriously if you haven't played Origins (or Legends) already, many of the set pieces in that game would not look out of place in any Sonic game. And those music levels from Legends. I don't care if people call Sonic a ripoff, just rip those levels from Rayman wholesale.

As far as gameplay additions, give Sonic a wall jump. It's high time Sonic be given better movement options and it's a criminal the fact that this isn't already a staple of Sonic's moveset, and giving Sonic some form of vertical mobility can open up many possibilities for level designs. Again, you need look no further than Rayman Origins to see how much it adds to the character's movement options.

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1 More than 4 original stages

2 More playable characters (but though out carefully)

3 Connected to point 1, new cool places. Adding new heroes like Sonic 2 and 3 isn't an option anymore. Still, we can add another Angel Island or Little Planet; a new iconic location that is mysterious and adventurous.  Preferably no pretty-yet-boring cities Unleashed style or weirdly hexagon planet (my beloved Adventure games aren't innocent either, but at least there are Echidna ruins and ARK)

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1 hour ago, Rusty Spy said:

Take some ques from Rayman Origins. It may not be a Sonic game, but it's movement mechanics have just as much of an emphasis on letting the player be fast, and it's level design has such amazing flow that I could easily call it a spiritual successor to the classic Sonic formula without hyperbole. It honestly blends speed and platforming better then Sonic in most instances, even if the game doesn't have as much of an emphasis on momentum and physics. 

Seriously if you haven't played Origins (or Legends) already, many of the set pieces in that game would not look out of place in any Sonic game. And those music levels from Legends. I don't care if people call Sonic a ripoff, just rip those levels from Rayman wholesale.

As far as gameplay additions, give Sonic a wall jump. It's high time Sonic be given better movement options and it's a criminal the fact that this isn't already a staple of Sonic's moveset, and giving Sonic some form of vertical mobility can open up many possibilities for level designs. Again, you need look no further than Rayman Origins to see how much it adds to the character's movement options.

Rayman Origins really isn't a game that Sonic should look to.  Pretty much all of it's platforming is twitchy "do it in the exact way we intended or die" stuff... obviously on more lenient levels that becomes "to do it the exact way we intended or miss collectables" but yeah.  Rayman is a game built around having ONE route with optional flair, but Sonic games have huge, very tall levels that go in all sorts of directions.

I wouldn't want to see classic get a wall jump either.  It'd cheapen a lot of vertical areas where typically you'd use momentum or a gimmick to scale a wall.

To be honest though, the music levels are something I'd love to see as a special stage concept in Sonic if they ever wanted to do something that uses Sonic's normal moveset instead of a minigame with different controls.

 

Like, Rayman Origins proves that there's more than one way to do a platformer that "feels fast", but I don't think that automatically means everything it does will work for Sonic too.

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Mania 2 should add Modern Sonic as playable to repay Forces in turn. Base his moves off the later handhelds, to see what he does in truer classic level design. But not off Sonic 4, that game is a downgrade even from those. Maybe introduce time travel back. And this time a 50/50 split between original and old levels, so next time can be focused on new. 

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  • Show the same amount of imagination and talent as in Mania :)
  • All-new levels, of course.
  • 2 bonus stages similar to S3&K (short, and with power-ups and rings).
  • Blue spheres as a separate unlockable mode. 
  • Add a new item. Can't figure one now, but it would be cool expanding Sonic's items. Maybe a Giant Ring detector? How about a projectile shield (a shield with 4 rotating projectiles that you can launch to enemies, and maybe reload them with rings).
  • Inventory. Bonus stages could give you items that you can only pick before starting a zone. Generations had a nice system for this.
  • +1 to the wall jump. But to make it good, they have to be careful with level design.
  • Let players use Sonic's drop dash even with an elemental shield. Just map the elemental power to a separate button.
  • Let Knuckles and Tails use elemental shields power. Same way: map the elemental shield power to a separate button. This would rock.
  • Maybe try to change the aesthetics a bit. I mean: if they use exactly the same spritesheet, that would be critiziced as lazy. Rayman Legends was smart enough to change the art style a bit so it looked more like a sequel and less a Rayman Origins 1.5.
  • Online competition mode. That would have made Sonic Mania REALLY fun. Local is cool, but online is much more fun.
  • World map. Not a big deal, but still a cool thing.
  • Let players access the final boss from the world map (or saved games screen, but don't force players to go through the last level to reach the final boss).
  • About more characters... Maybe put Espio or Mighty as unlockable characters. Maybe even Shadow. I don't like Amy's hammer mechanic. It's so much different from Sonic, Tails and Knuckles gameplay. Shadow, Mighty or Espio as just Sonic "skins" would be fine for me.
  • Let players go from Super Sonic to normal.
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I have to take the same line as Diogenes here.  Sonic Mania was, for all its new elements, ultimately presented and recognised as a gigantic celebration of Sonic's classic history - and you can't do that twice in a row.  You can have that kind of celebration once, but if you try to build a franchise on that then the series just eats its own tail and becomes too rote, too iterative.  What they need to do for a new "classic-style" game is to very recognisably make a new game; a spiritual successor to Mania, but explicitly not a sequel.  Something which stands on its own rather than being instantly recognisable as a retro throwback.

Part of that is all-new zones, unquestionably; I think going forwards the series can probably get away with one or two returning classics now and again, but they can't become the main emphasis of the franchise without stagnating, no matter how much you remix them.  Graphics are clearly going to have to be revamped in some fashion, though admittedly I'm not entirely sure how; just in some way that reads like "we're making a new game" rather than "we're making a rom hack."  Polishing it up to HD, hand-drawn, maybe even 2.5D in the manner of New Super Mario Bros. might be worth thinking about (though I personally wouldn't favour it).  Alternatively, keep the presented resolution more or less the same but reimagine the art style to not look like the classics with a new layer of polish; something like the shift in design for Sonic when it came to Sonic 3.

Fundamentally, I think 2D Sonic can only be successful going forwards by presenting itself as new rather than selling itself as a nostalgic update, which I think would eventually be rejected by critics and the public.  It needs to be able to sell the narrative that "Sonic is good now," rather than "Sonic was good twenty years ago."  For that, there has to be a recognisable difference between new and old.

...For more iterative things: Adding Amy as a playable character would I think round out the cast nicely, and I think it's likely given the way they've been promoting her up the ranks in recent years.  I wouldn't add any more, however, as I don't think saturating the game with too many playable characters is a good idea, likely requiring either making them all too similar or designing the game to fit too many different playstyles; a closely-related core four would be enough as a status quo, though if successful you could vary it a little from game to game if the plot demanded it.  For similar reasons, I wouldn't make character movesets too sophisticated; I'm dubious about things like wall-jumping and edge-grabbing as additions as I think there's a purity and elegance of simplicity to the classic gameplay which would be too easy to lose (I enjoyed the Advance games, but I felt all the more technical expansions to character movesets were unnecessary).  Zone transitions and a world map for a level select would help to give the game a more modern sense of being set in a developed world rather than just being a more arbitrary and arcadey experience.  ...Approaching special stages as 3D prototypes might be a good way of testing out new ideas without them impacting the main game.  The current level of plot or a little more I think would be fine, but certainly no less (Mario more or less gets away with minimalism, but even it has new ideas from time to time which aren't purely to do with gameplay); there is a desire for story, motivation, and a dash of mystery, and that can be achieved through the classic style of narrative with its short and expressive cutscenes but no dialogue, which I think is appropriate as it allows a story to exist without breaking pace or interrupting the flow too far.

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38 minutes ago, FFWF said:

Fundamentally, I think 2D Sonic can only be successful going forwards by presenting itself as new rather than selling itself as a nostalgic update, which I think would eventually be rejected by critics and the public.  It needs to be able to sell the narrative that "Sonic is good now," rather than "Sonic was good twenty years ago."  For that, there has to be a recognisable difference between new and old.

Example of this: Megaman 9&10. It was nice to see new megaman titles, but it felt regressive as fuck to go back to retro style with all the problems in hand. That was a big common issue I saw people had. Relying on what people grew up on can only capture people for so long before people want to see noticeable change. Mario did it even in his 2D titles, Zelda did it, metroid did it, even Megaman did it with the X series, honestly Sonic it's been strange to see that he hasn't really had nearly as much notable change regarding his old school styled 2D games both visually and mechanically.

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I would look at Donkey Kong Country evolution. The 3 SNES games were a nice progression, but for DKC Returns they went with 2.5D HD graphics, changed a few mechanics to make it more "modern" but kept the essence. I think Sonic Mania is the perfect way to make people remember those were great games, but sticking to the formula addign few improvements is dangerous. I'd keep the physics, but I'd try new stuff. Not homing attack, of course XD

I actually think there's a lot of stuff that could be added to classic Sonic's recipe. Other Mega Drive classics had certain stages and mechanics that haven't been explored much in classic Sonic. For instance, autoscroll stages or at least sections (Dynamite Headdy was really good at that: there are many running stages, or vertical autoscroll ones, or shooting, or... oh my, what an AWESOME game Dynamite Headdy was! XD). There are a couple of "running" bosses in Mania which I totally loved, but there could be more sections like this during an act. Or maybe for bonus stages?

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Firstly is the release schedule. Mania was a bit of fresh air as it was the last Classic Sonic platformer since 3&K (technically since Sonic Blast but in terms of quality and in the public eye) but if you're getting Mania styled games every year or two, people outside of the die hard fans will get fed up of Classic Sonic. Some people back in the day were getting fed up of Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles because of the close release schedule and to the public not much change. Despite Sonic 3 changing quite a bit of the game as in extra characters, longer mazey level design, more moves/power ups, a save function and even a small change to the graphic style (slightly for the worst but most didn't notice especially if you used a composite or a RF connection where the graphic style goes in favor for those), people still found it same old, same old and sales weren't as strong as Sonic 1 or 2. S&K sold more because of the Lock on gimmick. So if there was another Classic Sonic platformer, it would be best to be in perhaps one or two at most console generations.

Secondly are the stages themselves and perhaps why Mania is a let down to some because of the reusing stages from the past even though they are different in level design. You could get away of having Green Hill then all new stages afterwards however the Classics often did is a spin or an update to Green Hill such as Emerald Hill where it is similar but set on the edge of the island or Angel Island where the second part of the level goes on fire changing the landscape, even the first part was more jungle like than by a lake (Sonic 1), near a mountain (Sonic CD) or by the sea (Sonic 2). If Classic Sonic has to be beyond celebrating its past then it has to have new stuff even if it references the older stages but not the older stages themselves. Sonic CD is a good example since the levels were influenced by Sonic 1 however each one is different than its Sonic 1 counterpart.

As for moves well it's a bit harder to say but if the later Classic Sonic games had the Drop Dash and designed levels to use the move. Like Sonic 2 introduces the Spin Dash but Sonic 3&K have more use for the move. New moves would have to incorporate into the level design but make them not look like a gimmick. Powerups is also a tricky one since Mania did this well and an evolution to the Sonic 3&K ones using elements of the stages. There have been power ups in Classic Sonic that were dropped and reintroducing them can be seen as new such as bringing back the Spring from Sonic Chaos/Sonic Triple Trouble.

Special stages again have to push even more than the stages and the game itself which Mania hasn't really done. The original Classic Sonic special stages were made to prove a point like Sonic 1 having a rotating special stage because the Mega Drive can't do rotation (well it can in software mode as proven also by Mega Turrican and Gunstar Heroes), Sonic 2 having the half pipe and polygons/raycasting but running at a decent frame rate (only Kawasaki Superbikes is more impressive, most polygonal/raycasting stuff had a very low framerate on systems pre-PS1/Model 1) and what seems technically impossible made possible. Have a talented programmer working on these alone and come up with something technically impressive but also fun to play.

I would even go as far as changing the art style. Don't mind me wrong, Mania is a great looking game and the best looking Classic Sonic game even though the Classic Sonic games are some of the best looking 16-bit games because of the art style but if Classic Sonic has to keep evolving then so would the art eventually. Up the resolution from 320x240 to HD (or 4K), switch from sprites to hand drawn (but make sure it isn't tweened) but keep the saturated poppy look of Classic Sonic and the detail of the stages/enemies/bosses. Even having something like Donkey Kong Country Returns or Rayman Origins/Legends but keeping the physics as close as it can would be enough for a pleaser of a game. It's a big change and not easy to do it right like Sonic 4 looking like a cheaply made game (even though it had the right idea) but a well drawn Classic Sonic game with a lot of effort is enough to please outside of the fanbase.

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I must say I never understood why Sonic 3 sold less than Sonic 2. Well, that's not totally true. I understand that Sonic was a really big thing in 1992, and SNES wasn't as big as it was in 1994. But speaking of the game only, I always found Sonic 3 superior to Sonic 2 in everything but the number of stages (I mean, act 1 bosses, elemental shields, bonus stages, insta-shield and Tails being able to fly...). It was a bad move splitting the game in two (although the lock-on technology allowed us to play as Knuckles in Sonic 2, which was great, but I would have preferred the full Sonic 3 experience). Well, maybe Sonic 3 & Knuckles as a single game would have sold better, because it definitely added a big amount of new stuff (Knuckles, super emeralds, etc). Sega failed here, and they took it as "Sonic is not that popular anymore". No, they had the chance to deliver a much better product (S3&K as a single game) and they did the wrong thing.

Also, new consoles were arriving a the end of 1994, so many people were saving their money for really new and fresh experiences. Sonic 3 was appealing to Sonic fans, but it wasn't as mainstream as Sonic 2. Ristar had a similar fate: the game was great, but due to the competitors, it was taken as a failed experiment. Big mistake.

On the other hand, I'd definitely go for HD graphics for a new classic Sonic game, and I also prefer them hand-drawn over 3D models. Not sure how difficult it would be to adapt the Retro Engine to higher resolutions, but this should be first in the list for future classic games. It would be a big selling point compared to the classics and Mania. 

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My top wish for a Mania 2 is playable Amy and Metal Sonic. Amy gets top pick in this case for me because she deserves her spot on the main team... and honestly hardly nothing grosses me out more then a huge character cast full of nothing but guys...

Next up is zones. I actually don't mind returning zones sometimes as it makes Sonic's world feel more like a actual world. I mean how many different zone themes can Sonic really have anyways? For example you can only do so many different kinds of casino themed zones before you are just remixing the same zone theme ideas anyways. Regardless it might be best they skip returning zones for awhile or at least use less of them. They should think up a story scenario that allows for all new zones, kinda like Little Planet from Sonic CD did... except don't use that exact idea of another small world popping out of nowhere again like CD, Colors & Lost World did.

Art style, I say keep it 32-bit. Part of the classic series appeal is it's pixel art IMO. But if they MUST do something else, then HD 2D art is the next best bet.

I hate to say this... But maybe don't use Eggman for 1 game? Normally I'm against that idea... But we really haven't had a mainline classic style game where Eggman wasn't among the villain focus. So I say just for 1 game have there be a different villain and for Eggman not be in the game at all... at least not as a boss fight.

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I wouldn't remove emeralds. They involve special stages, which are usually awesome, and a reason to replay until you unlock the final zone and the good ending. They make sense.

About Robotnik being removed... That wouldn't be too bad, but Bowser has always been Mario's villain, and it has always worked perfectly. Adding more secondary enemies like the heavies is a better choice, in my opinion.

And Metal Sonic playable... I don't see it except as some unlockable bonus skin for Sonic, but not part of the story.

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9 hours ago, Rusty Spy said:

Take some ques from Rayman Origins. It may not be a Sonic game, but it's movement mechanics have just as much of an emphasis on letting the player be fast, and it's level design has such amazing flow that I could easily call it a spiritual successor to the classic Sonic formula without hyperbole. It honestly blends speed and platforming better then Sonic in most instances, even if the game doesn't have as much of an emphasis on momentum and physics. 

Seriously if you haven't played Origins (or Legends) already, many of the set pieces in that game would not look out of place in any Sonic game. And those music levels from Legends. I don't care if people call Sonic a ripoff, just rip those levels from Rayman wholesale.

As far as gameplay additions, give Sonic a wall jump. It's high time Sonic be given better movement options and it's a criminal the fact that this isn't already a staple of Sonic's moveset, and giving Sonic some form of vertical mobility can open up many possibilities for level designs. Again, you need look no further than Rayman Origins to see how much it adds to the character's movement options.

Sonic, with some momentum and a decent ramp, has more mobility than most platforming characters. He doesn't need more movement options. The Drop Dash smooths out his mobility nicely already and adding much more would both ruin his simplicity and require the level design to be more complicated. 

To actually answer the question: Big new things I would go after are all new zones and a new playable style in the form of Amy, Metal Sonic or both, but I wouldn't push much further than that. Even the modern spritework, which is an advancement of the originals on it's own and something most of the other established platfoermers would do is something that should be kept IMO. Let them reuse assets so we can more easily get a bigger, better game.  

 

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Sonic mania was made with the question in mind, "What if there was a classic style sonic game made for the saturn?"

So the next question would be "What if there was a classic style sonic game made for the dreamcast?" 

Personally, to start out with, I'd love to see a 2d artstyle like this:Gv9bU.thumb.png.e2d3ca5ecbbecd2447c9c78febb8dd18.png

Imagine cutscenes given a sort of comic book style with no dialogue or very little.

Of course use new stages, maybe give them a 3d paralax scrolling look, more background and foreground progression, going inside ala

Spoiler

Metallic madness/oil ocean zone

Instead of just celebrating the classics, what about celebrating all of Sonic's 2d outings but not make the game feel too bloated. 

Echoing a lot of these posts here, I wouldn't change the moves too much that it moves too far away from the classic formula because I'd want 4 playable characters like the big trio & Amy. Add extras like they has in mania and more as well. 3d special stages are ok as well and would also harken back to the adventure days. I'd like a world map too.

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1 hour ago, molul said:

And Metal Sonic playable... I don't see it except as some unlockable bonus skin for Sonic, but not part of the story.

Not unreasonable to play as Metal if the main enemy of the game is somebody Eggman wants defeated. And personally I think there's far more interesting gameplay ideas that can be done with Metal then just making him a lame Sonic reskin.

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5 hours ago, KHCast said:

Example of this: Megaman 9&10. It was nice to see new megaman titles, but it felt regressive as fuck to go back to retro style with all the problems in hand. That was a big common issue I saw people had. Relying on what people grew up on can only capture people for so long before people want to see noticeable change. Mario did it even in his 2D titles, Zelda did it, metroid did it, even Megaman did it with the X series, honestly Sonic it's been strange to see that he hasn't really had nearly as much notable change regarding his old school styled 2D games both visually and mechanically.

It is worth remembering that Sonic has had a number of post-classic 2D incarnations; Advance, Rivals, Rush, the handheld versions of main console titles, Shattered Crystal and Fire & Ice - and increasingly, there are 2D elements in the modern 3D games, too.  But I don't think any of them until Mania have really attempted to take the classic style and properly evolve it; they've been more or less separate products which have either had completely different aims or have tried to reinvent the wheel.  I think the one thing that was missing from my earlier argument, even if it's implicit in the "spiritual successor" idea, is that while post-Mania 2D should have a recognisably new aesthetic, it should also clearly be an evolution from the classics.

Thinking about previous attempts at post-Classic 2D, the franchise appears to have lost its most recent vehicles for this approach; Dimps and Sanzaru both appear to be out of the picture, and there's no sign of a 3DS equivalent for Forces.  I think maybe part of what Iizuka saw in Taxman's project was a possible replacement for previous attempts at a 2D arm to the franchise - for which there always has been and now very visibly is a demand.

4 hours ago, molul said:

I actually think there's a lot of stuff that could be added to classic Sonic's recipe. Other Mega Drive classics had certain stages and mechanics that haven't been explored much in classic Sonic. For instance, autoscroll stages or at least sections (Dynamite Headdy was really good at that: there are many running stages, or vertical autoscroll ones, or shooting, or... oh my, what an AWESOME game Dynamite Headdy was! XD). There are a couple of "running" bosses in Mania which I totally loved, but there could be more sections like this during an act. Or maybe for bonus stages?

I could see Sonic doing diegetic autoscrolling for non-bosses; a giant buzzsaw chasing from the left side of the screen, or indeed something like the original Stardust Speedway boss where there was a laser keeping up with you.  You couldn't just slot autoscroll into a standard Sonic level as those go left more than you'd expect, but designing the odd level around an autoscrolling mechanic might be interesting experiment.  Autoscroll or even autorun for bonus stages might work; I'm thinking of those cannon stages that appeared in New Super Mario Bros. 2, where Mario had to get through a stage while perpetually running to the right.  Shooter-based bonus stages as an evolution of the Sky Chase style are a thought.

3 hours ago, Sgt Jack V said:

I see the Chaos Emeralds as pointless macguffins whose only purpose is to get you a good ending. Ditch them.

Well, I suppose that's certainly true of the Time Stones, which don't even have a gameplay function...  It is difficult to get rid of a tradition unless you can present something to replace it, however.  I think there is a case for rethinking Chaos Emeralds and what Special Stages are for, though.  Regarded as "crazy levels which don't fit the usual rules," if you made their gameplay more along the lines of the main game then I think you could even fit them into a plot; conversely, what I think people like about them is their very visibly bonus nature, with Super Sonic as the ultimate bonus reward.  It's a difficult question.

Speaking of Super Sonic, this might be controversial but I was thinking earlier today about whether there might be ways to nerf him a bit.  For experienced players - well, my memory of S3&K once I got really good at it was that Super Sonic trivialised the game, and bosses especially, and while it takes time to get to that level of practice then perhaps it does make it that bit less fun.  I thought it might add just a touch more challenge, without diluting the nature of the reward, for bosses only to have one attack only which can knock Sonic out of Super Sonic form - just so you have to actually think about what you're doing still.

5 hours ago, Jack the Rookie said:

I would like to see Omelette officially added, she has a cute design and I've been waiting to see some of Eggman's family.

The tragedy of Omelette is that the only way I can see her fitting in is if she turns out to be a robot at the end.

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