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Should Future Sonic Games Get Rid Of Lives?


SpongicX

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I know there are arguments over how obsolete lives are in games. They were mostly for arcade games in the past, but have become a big bother in some modern games. Dying in video games can be challenging and frustrating enough, and game overs just add insult to injury. Imagine how pointless it would have been for a challenging game like CupHead to have lives.

Should Sonic get rid of lives? I’m aware Sonic Forces got rid of it, but Sonic Mania certainly didn’t. No one likes spending minutes getting so far into something, just to be forced to start all over. Many games already have challenge and time trial modes now in days, so what’s the point of lives? Luckily, I didn’t get a game over in Sonic Mania, but I got close in Oil Ocean Act 2’s boss, and it was nerve wrecking.

Nintendo got rid of lives in Super Mario Odyssey, and that’s one reason the game was more enjoyable. In recent games with the ability to replay levels, it makes earning lives too easy, to the point where good players will never see a Game Over Screen, while bad players will see it none stop, and be forced to keep booting past the start up screen again.  Nintendo decided to get rid of 1 ups, and made the coins actual currency for buying items, in order to give the coins  a more rewarding purpose. 

While Sonic Forces did get rid of lives, it doesn’t sound like they did anything with the rings to make up for scrapping a 1 up system. They instead made it where you can’t recollect any dropped rings. I suppose it just adds more challenge, at the expense of game overs.

Should Sega keep on making Sonic Games with no lives? While I would personally enjoy no lives or game overs, I would still like to see Sega give the rings a better purpose. Nintendo managed to make coins more fun to collect, despite getting rid of their original main purpose. Now Sega made rings more disposable than ever, while being nothing more than a score bonus and form of hp. 

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I wouldn't mind them getting rid of lives, but I didn't think they were that big of a deal in the first place to be honest. They set you back 10 minutes at the most if you lose them all in the newer games. I think they serve an active purpose in getting less experienced players to learn how the game works.

I think there would need to be some other kind of punishment to make up for it, and lives are so ingrained in the Classic systems that I don't think you could take that out without losing a nice collectable and altering the difficulty a bit unless you actually replace it with something. I'm not sure what that something would be. I'm not a fan of when series simply take lives out without putting something else on the line.



 

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21 minutes ago, Josh said:

I wouldn't mind them getting rid of lives, but I didn't think they were that big of a deal in the first place to be honest. They set you back 10 minutes at the most if you lose them all in the newer games. I think they serve an active purpose in getting less experienced players to learn how the game works.

I think there would need to be some other kind of punishment to make up for it, and lives are so ingrained in the Classic systems that I don't think you could take that out without losing a nice collectable and altering the difficulty a bit unless you actually replace it with something. I'm not sure what that something would be. I'm not a fan of when series simply take lives out without putting something else on the line.



 

But death, level selects, and checkpoints already give plenty of chances for players to learn how to play the game. It still requires skill and sometimes luck to beat real hard parts in games. You still lose some progress when dying and being sent back to a checkpoint. Redoing the whole level is just overdoing it.

Super Mario Odyssey did add a punishment  for dying. You’d lose 10 coins per death. Sonic Forces is just punishing players with the removal of lives, and giving the rings no additional perks to make up for it.

Lives were mostly used as a way to tempt people into putting more quarters in an arcade machine back then, but for consoles and games we already spent higher amounts of money on, it is very uncalled for.

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No lives in Forces is offputting for me. Personally, getting rid of lives while good for the casual player, it's like, I don't feel rewarded for beating the game, it's just a matter of "okay retry this part until your fingers break and your eyes pop out" and not of "git gud and do it". 

While it's good that games like Cuphead don't have lives (thank god), something like Sonic, eh.... My entire life I've spent with Sonic games with lives so seeing lives and game overs gone is awkward. 

 

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Conisdering how my first video game was Super Mario 64, I didn’t care that lives were missing from Super Mario Odyssey. I can even say Odyssey is the first Mario game to blow Mario 64 away for a number of reasons. Odyssey changed the nostalgia factor, yet ended up making the game better.

I love Sonic games, but the lives are very pointless to me. There still is a challenge to games without lives. I really don’t think a lack of lives would ruin a game for me. Sonic Mania could have ditched lives, yet I would have liked it the same, if not more.

I think one thing that holds Sonic back, is it’s reliance on nostalgia, and not pushing the games further. They rely too much on repeating tropes, and when they do manage to make something different, it still comes off as underwhelming, or unoriginal. I really hope Sonic can finally make a game that doesn’t require nostalgia only to fully enjoy. 

Also, beating a level still requires learning how to play, and requires skill, even without lives. It’s still time consuming regardless. It’s not like getting rid of lives will make players invincible.

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Yeah, ditch 'em.  As said, skilled players, usually the ones who say "git gud", are the ones that lives are meaningless to, because you'll never see a Game Over anyway.

Meanwhile... my wife didn't see Sonic Mania past Press Garden Zone.  She got bored of having to play zones over and over just to get a bit further each time, she hasn't got time for that kind of punishment like we did as a kid.  Flying Battery in particular fatigued her, so while Press Garden and Stardust Speedway were more reasonable, that first Game Over on those zones was all it took to wear her down to "yeah I'm not going through this every single zone for the rest of the game" and threw in the towel.  Never saw any of the cool stuff in the second half of the game.  Meanwhile she's blazing through Odyssey and having a blast because it's not arbitrarily making her repeat stuff she's already proven she can do more than once.

At the very least, lives should be ditched from whatever accessibility modes are in future games, which seems to be a trend Sonic is taking influence from Mario on via Lost World's various helping functions and Forces' Easy mode.

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If lives are going then I really hope they have something there that actually rewards the player for getting through the levels with minimal/little deaths, things just seem like they'd be pretty empty without lives (I mean heck, whats the point of keeping rings if you never truly get anything with them). Personally speaking i'd love if we got some legitimately challenging levels that are built around not having any lives (probably not all of them for accessibility reasons and whatnot) that only those who truly know the games mechanics inside and out can get through, wouldn't be as bad since there aren't any lives and so long as its not borderline cheap and serves as a satisfying challenge I don't see why it wouldn't work.

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Sonic Forces is a such experimental game... Well, I don't mind if they remove life system on future Sonic's games, but they should, at least, make a way to punish the player if he die. At least, something other than "you died in this stage and now you get an A rank, if you want a S, go back and don't die".

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I'm fine with putting the life system on the chopping block. Their current inclusion in most modern platformers comes across as pointless, as there's typically no real punishment for game overs anyway (besides having to jump through a couple menus). On top of this, games like the Mario Galaxy or Donkey Kong Country Returns duologies are so generous with handing out lives to the player that the system might as well not be included in the first place.

And I get that some people find that act of collecting lives "satisfying", but I can't really agree when games like Sonic Generations or the ones I just previously mentioned reward me with another life to add to the twenty-something I already have. At that point there's no sense in cherishing them, as it doesn't feel any different than when I collect rings or bananas.

For Sonic games in particular, I've always thought it would be best if they just scrapped the life system and placed more focus on the ranking system instead. You would still be ranked by the score you achieved in the level itself (regarding your time, badniks destroyed, rings collected, etc.), but your final score would feature a set deduction based on the number of "retries" that were needed to pass the level, therefore influencing your final rank. This way more casual players can play through the game with no annoying punishments setting them back (e.g. Mania), and more skilled players or completionists can freely challenge themselves to achieve higher ranks so that their experience doesn't feel like a total cake walk. You could also tie extras like concept art or something to achieving S or A ranks to give people more of an incentive to challenge themselves so the act of chasing higher ranks doesn't feel so meaningless outside of bragging rights.

I think Forces does something similar to this regarding the "retry" system, but I haven't really looked into how ranking works in that game. Either way, lives are an archaic mechanic that doesn't serve much purpose in modern games, and I'm not going to miss them.

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In relation to those ideas, Mighty Gunvolt Burst doesn't have lives but does visually indicate how many "Retries" you've needed per level, and feeds that into your score and rank.  That seems like a system which would suit Sonic pretty well.  Instead of having limited "tries," which doesn't really make sense, the game counts how many tries you've had, and gauges your skill based on that.  You can feedback on that with ranks, points, bonus items, money, achievements, any number of things.  The punishment for death is already having to redo stuff until you succeed; why should certain deaths cause you to have to redo more?  Really, all the destruction of death means is requiring designers to pace their checkpointing carefully; neither too frequent, nor too rare.  Though ideally you're checkpointing for death chokepoints where players are more likely to die anyway.

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No.

Lives add meaning to enemies, bottomless pits, and various other hazards. Lives have been a standard in video games for decades for a reason. It actually makes you care about your performance. I cannot stand this trend of games playing themselves, skipping stages, and now lives being removed. All lives being removed does is make you care less. Why learn to play the game when you can stumble your way through it instead with no punishment?

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1 minute ago, Stritix said:

Why learn to play the game when you can stumble your way through it instead with no punishment?

I dunno, maybe because you enjoy playing it?

I was never even close to game overing my first time through Mania but that doesn't mean I didn't take the game seriously.

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Just now, Diogenes said:

I dunno, maybe because you enjoy playing it?

I was never even close to game overing my first time through Mania but that doesn't mean I didn't take the game seriously.

Enjoying playing the game doesn't mean you're going to care about your performance and lives give you a reason to care.

Lives have been poorly implemented in Sonic games for a while but lives are not at fault. Sonic Team's implementation of them is.

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Nope, they should definitely get rid of lives BUT they will need some other kind of punishment for dying to replace it with. Super Mario Odyssey does this really well by taking away 10 coins every time you die, so something similar to that would be great in a Sonic game. 

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56 minutes ago, Gabz Girl said:

Nope, they should definitely get rid of lives BUT they will need some other kind of punishment for dying to replace it with. Super Mario Odyssey does this really well by taking away 10 coins every time you die, so something similar to that would be great in a Sonic game. 

I mean S-Ranks already kind of do that. You're enticed with an extra challenge of getting through without dying and you get more of a chance at hitting S-Rank. Maybe tie a reward to it or something.

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There’s so many ways Sega could reward players for collecting rings, without 1ups. Instead of a 1up, collecting 100 rings could get you a power up, like a sheild, or a huge score bonus. Maybe you could even get an emblem for every stage beaten while holding onto 100 rings, which can be used to unlock hidden rewards.

That’s one reason people liked the Chao Garden, it marked the first time rings collected were actually tallied up, and used for a reason to keep players wanting to replay levels and collect more rings.

Modern Sonic games got rid of the Chao Garden, and it doesn’t look like Sonic Forces has a shop for exchanging rings for Avatar costumes or bonus content, which is rather underwhelming. Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Generations did have currency, but the content was limited, and most of the content was real easy to purchase, which made buying out everything happen a lot quicker than it should have taken.

It would be nice to see a Sonic game that allows us to use rings to unlock post game content, like new levels, new playable characters, custom gear and outfits, etc. I didn’t really care for the souvenirs you could buy in Sonic Unleashed, most of the best unlockables came from collecting hidden objects, or exchanging exp for upgrades, while most of Generations best unlockables came from collecting red rings and beating mini games. It would be nice to see rings being used for more than just stat enhancements for Sonic. Let’s see more variety on how rings can be spent.

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2 hours ago, Stritix said:

Enjoying playing the game doesn't mean you're going to care about your performance and lives give you a reason to care.

Lives have been poorly implemented in Sonic games for a while but lives are not at fault. Sonic Team's implementation of them is.

Considering I very much disagree with your stance on lives, I am curious about in what way you feel the integration of lives in Sonic are poorly implemented?  Because overall they haven't particularly changed since the lives system in most typical old games, Sonic included.

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Just now, JezMM said:

Considering I very much disagree with your stance on lives, I am curious about in what way you feel the integration of lives in Sonic are poorly implemented?  Because overall they haven't particularly changed since the lives system in most typical old games, Sonic included.

Lives have been everywhere in recent Sonic titles. It made lives pointless as a whole in games such as Sonic Generations and Sonic Lost World. It's better to scrap lives than to use a pointless lives system.

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1 hour ago, FFWF said:

Getting good is a reward in itself.  I don't say that it should be the only reward; but there can be no denying that it is rewarding.  Why add sticks when you can have carrots?

While your not wrong about that, I myself like being rewarded in games for doing skillful things (bayonetta for example does this in spades) so at least having something at the end of the day would be nice even if it is relatively small (I know I felt disappointed getting all those gold medals in mania only just to get a trophy).

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4 minutes ago, StaticMania said:

How about keep lives and as a reward for getting through the game fast enough without dying, you get a no lives mode.

I'd appreciate that if a game does have lives, but that doesn't really address the main problems with them. If someone's going to struggle with a game it'll likely be their first time through.

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Just now, Diogenes said:

I'd appreciate that if a game does have lives, but that doesn't really address the main problems with them. If someone's going to struggle with a game it'll likely be their first time through.

Okay, then what if I get rid of the no dying stipulation...? I mean that would be nice for the newbie players and not as pointless now that I think about it.

Also players struggling during a first playthrough is a really unsettling thought, I'd prefer not to think about that.

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It annoys me a little when people claim that lives are a dated concept, because I don't believe that's ever really been the case - the current situation with finite lives strikes me less as dated and more that they're mixing it with concepts that it doesn't really gel with, in effect trying to cram a square peg into a round hole.

I think the root of this misuse lies in two main issues - the availability of extra lives is unbalanced (usually towards the "you never fucking run out of them" side, but Lost World was a pretty notable exception before the first patch), and the punishment for actually losing them all is so minute it might as well not even be there (at worst you lose your checkpoint in the given level and that's about it). Worse still, they're a global variable in a lot of these games, so even if they're balanced enough for a first playthrough your lives will continue to accumulate through subsequent playthroughs and only accentuate the issues further, making lives seem less and less like a resource with actual value the more you continue to play.

It depends largely on the exact kind of game you're trying to make. Obviously it's a perfect fit for a more arcade-style game where you're expected to finish ideally in a single sitting and it's more your stamina being challenged than anything else. But if it's the kind of game where you can just turn up to levels at your leisure, or there's a save system that isn't interrupted by game overs? In those circumstances, it makes little sense for the entire game to have a shared life pool. Make it per level, or just give players a static allowance of lives that refreshes whenever you complete one. Hell, add extra incentive to collect and hold them by converting them into point/rank bonuses at the end of the level or something.

 

On a personal note I do actually kinda wanna see a Sonic game that goes more or less rougelike with this sometime to add some weight and stakes, but obviously that's not everyone's cup of tea so I won't pretend that it's ideal. =V

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