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Awoo.

New Zone revealed in screenshot


Graystripe2000

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I looked at footage of the tag-team pyramid interior, and I'm not at all convinced that the screenshot is taken from there.  Quite aside from the fact that Sonic isn't present in the screenshot, the design of the floor and the barriers doesn't match up.  I think it's a new stage, but the design doesn't really have any features to distinguish it from most other high-tech bases, so it's difficult to say anything more about it.

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I alluded to this above, but I do wonder if there's a problem with Forces and visual distinction and level themes.

For instance, what exactly are the unique features of Sunset Heights Park Avenue Ghost Town place that make it distinct from previous city levels?  Well, it's on fire... but slightly less on fire than Crisis City.  Is that all?  I guess there's a Death Egg Robot in the background once or twice, and maybe once you zip-line through a hole in a building that looks like it was created by rocket fire.  That's not bad.  Like, this is supposed to be a city under siege, so maybe it would be effective if we saw more of the siege, more signs of the city as having been destroyed by an invading force rather than any generic non-specific disaster.  Just littering around regular badniks isn't enough because that just makes it a Sonic level.  I will allow the "only a demo" countercriticism here because they could perfectly well put something more suited into Classic and Tag Team versions of... whatever this zone's name is.

The factory in Green Hill Zone is similar.  What makes it instantly recognisable?  What makes this factory stand out from the myriad other factory levels we've played in past Sonic games, not to mention video games more generally?  Well, there's a new lighting engine, so it's very shiny.  It has multiple different types of floor panel which look like something you might see in a real factory.  At one point there are giant cogs and gears, because those are associated with machines, and therefore factories...?  I'm unclear on what the unique idea is here, and I'm sure it can't be that hard to come up with more flavour.  What does this factory actually make?  That's something you could use to add identity.  Maybe a cutscene will provide more detail, detail which couldn't be provided in the in-level graphics for some reason.  If not: Well, borrow a leaf from the zone above and Flying Battery, make it a Death Egg Robot factory.  Have bits of Death Egg Robots be transported around in the background, or, better yet, used as platforms or other parts of the scenery.  Instantly, the stakes are understood and our interaction with the level becomes more personal.

I'm not done with Green Hill Zone, though, because as I see it the Forces version of this zone is just a tangled heap of arbitrary ideas thrown together with no rhyme or reason.  Green Hill Zone.  Pyramid.  Factory.  Giant enemy crab.  Do these really flow together in any meaningful way...?  Let's break this down.  Start with Green Hill Zone.  Why is there sand here now?  Well, because Eggman's pollution has caused desertification, according to a YouTube video description.  Okay, but are we really shown that?  In some stages we're shown dried-out white grass, and mechanical fortifications, but it's not clear how this produces enormous sand waterfalls, so actually, it just looks more like a sea of sand has invaded Green Hill Zone.  Moving on.  Pyramid.  Why is there a pyramid in Green Hill Zone?  Well, it's a pyramid because there's sand.  But it can't be an ancient pyramid, because the sand is new.  Therefore, it's a pyramid Eggman built.  Okay, so why does it look so much like an ordinary ancient pyramid?  It's clearly built of stone.  Is this just one of Eggman's whims, because it's about the only whimsical thing he'll have done in this game so far.  Moving on.  Factory inside a pyramid.  Kind of a cool idea, actually.  If this had been a naturally-occurring ancient pyramid in a previously-established desert level, and Eggman had just hollowed it out and turned it into a factory, I'd be fine with that - but no, this is a factory he disguised, I guess, as an anomalous pyramid.  So what is the factory inside this pyramid like?  Does it have anything to do with its own pyramidal shape?  With sand?  With absorbing water?  With Green Hill or even just its aesthetics more generally?  No, it's just... a generic factory.  Could've been anywhere.  Can you even really call this stage Green Hill Zone when you're inside a generic factory inside a slightly robotic pyramid?  Giant enemy crab.  Okay, the legs have a level design function, nice, that's actually a good idea.  But do crabs or robot crabs have anything to do with Green Hill Zone?  No.  (Edit: Okay, yes; see below.)  With previous crab enemies in the series before?  No.  With pyramids?  No.  With the factory?  Well, if it did it would have been nice to see bits and pieces of it being manufactured, the whole thing being assembled in the background, something like that, but otherwise, no, it's just a generic mechanical enemy with no conceptual link to the stage whatsoever.  Some days I think I would be okay with that, but taken in conjunction with how everything else about the zone has no conceptual unity, it just feels like yet another symptom.  Basically, this whole zone is a jigsaw of pieces from entirely different puzzles.

Am I being unreasonable here?

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27 minutes ago, FFWF said:

Giant enemy crab.  Okay, the legs have a level design function, nice, that's actually a good idea.  But do crabs or robot crabs have anything to do with Green Hill Zone?  No.  With previous crab enemies in the series before?  No.  With pyramids?  No.  With the factory?  Well, if it did it would have been nice to see bits and pieces of it being manufactured, the whole thing being assembled in the background, something like that, but otherwise, no, it's just a generic mechanical enemy with no conceptual link to the stage whatsoever.  Some days I think I would be okay with that, but taken in conjunction with how everything else about the zone has no conceptual unity, it just feels like yet another symptom.  Basically, this whole zone is a jigsaw of pieces from entirely different puzzles.

I agree with a lot of what you said, especially where the visual design of the locations is concerned. The choice of a crab is fine, though, as it's not only consistent with other badniks in Green Hill Zone (Crabmeat), but because desert crabs are a thing too.

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2 hours ago, Pawn said:

I agree with a lot of what you said, especially where the visual design of the locations is concerned. The choice of a crab is fine, though, as it's not only consistent with other badniks in Green Hill Zone (Crabmeat), but because desert crabs are a thing too.

For some reason I flat-out forgot Crabmeat was in Green Hill Zone; I think I was thinking of Shellcracker.  The giant battlemech doesn't bear much of a resemblance to it, though (even within the more military and functional designs of Forces badniks), so if there's intended to be a link then they should really have drawn it, as that would be both a constructive and somewhat humourous nostalgic allusion.  I can't comment on desert crabs as I'm not having a great deal of success researching any, but if anyone digs up a terrestrial desert-dwelling crab with miniscule pincers far smaller than its legs then by all means do post it.

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46 minutes ago, FFWF said:

For some reason I flat-out forgot Crabmeat was in Green Hill Zone; I think I was thinking of Shellcracker.  The giant battlemech doesn't bear much of a resemblance to it, though (even within the more military and functional designs of Forces badniks), so if there's intended to be a link then they should really have drawn it, as that would be both a constructive and somewhat humourous nostalgic allusion.  I can't comment on desert crabs as I'm not having a great deal of success researching any, but if anyone digs up a terrestrial desert-dwelling crab with miniscule pincers far smaller than its legs then by all means do post it.

I'm not saying it looks exactly like a desert crab or Crabmeat, but I think it resembling a kind of crab is enough. Plenty of badniks throughout the series don't necessarily match their environment (Shellcracker being a good example) at all.

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If I had to compare the pyramid interior to any past location, it most reminds me of Meteortech Premises/Sparkworks from Riders ZG, but it's kind of a deep cut so I'm fairly okay with some repetition there.  I feel the new locales have enough of their own personality to float thus far, and comparisons to existing places are pretty surface-level.  City Heights is about as similar to Crisis City as Starlight is to Speed Highway is to Radical Highway is to Skyscraper Scamper, etc.

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