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Wraith

Modernizing Adventure Era Mechanics

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Like em, hate em, however you feel about the Adventure games we have to admit that there's a little clunk that comes from approaching them from today. It's fine. It happens to the best of games. Let's humor the idea that we get to make another game in this style or remake an old one from the ground up, though: How do you shed the fat? 

The thing about the Adventure games is that they were deadset on making the characters feel powerful, so instead of trying to pigeonhole their abilities into one type of level design and let either Knuckles walk all over Sonic's levels or nerf him into the ground, everyone gets goals and levels that suit their abilities.Tails's flight meant he could move through a 3D space faster than Sonic could ever really hope to so he gets a racing gimmick and more stuff to do in the air. Knuckles's kit is built for exploring more than a linear platforming challenge so he gets to hunt emeralds, Gamma is one of Robotnik's ultimate badniks so you play an extremely mobile, walking artillery etc. I'd want to keep that in mind going forward.

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Treasure Hunting is kind of the reason I made this topic. I think it would be best if instead of dropping into the level with 3 random emeralds hidden, all of them should be hidden in the level when you drop in. The player can find a certain and be allowed to move on when they do. They can return to find the rest at any time. I notice Knuckles's levels end up feeling like a lot of empty space because there's a bunch of hiding spots but only 3 of them ever get used. This, along with a radar change, should make the player feel more like they're always doing something that's pushing them toward the goal and the levels feel like they're worth exploring every nook and cranny of.

I think they should scrap the radar altogether and give Knuckles a "pulse" he can use with a button command that lets him know if any are nearby. Newcomers may spam it , but I imagine the less you use it the better your score would be by the end, just like the hints in SA2.

The levels should be about as big but have less empty space. You have to tread a fine line between it being fun to navigate without it being too much of a pain going back  and forth if you need to.

The Speed stages have by far the most discussion about them so I'm not sure how much I even need to add. I think combining elements from SA1 and 2 would be for the best. Sa1 has more open ended levels that let you manipulate the physics to go faster and do skips if you really want, but SA2 has more level gimmicks and interaction for you to work with. Ideally you'd mix between the two, leaning more toward SA1 a lot of the time, but with more story significant sections being remeniscint of SA2''s set-pieces, like the missiles.

The Mech Stages I'm kind of drawing a blank on why they should be included in a Sonic game in the first place. If you were to tweak them I'd make it so you're controlling a more flexible character so you're still doing "Sonicy" things. Not having an agile character to play with just feels wrong in this series.

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Hubworlds are interesting in that I think you could make a solid case that they aren't needed per say. Not in the sense that hubs are interfering with the precious classic progression system and we shouldn't have them, but I think the hubs and the levels could really be one and the same with few issues. Less intense areas in levels could have NPCs and players could ignore them if they want.  Think each level having a "town" in unleashed but without the arbitrary barrier between the towns and the levels.
 

These were just ideas I was kicking around. What do you all think? Do you have any ideas for tweaked gameplay styles? Stuff I didn't talk about like mini games or the chao system?

 

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Collecting ideas regarding this topic (the possible progression and improvement of the adventure mechanics) for at least 10 years now, yeah I have some ideas.

You mention a few things I also considered, I might make a longer post later.

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1) Let Sonic finish his final story without making us play other characters. This was a big complaint of the Adventure games and Heroes. But 2D games like S3&K and Mania avoid the criticism, having multiple characters but not keeping Sonic's final story from us.

2) I've seen hacks that let other characters play Sonic levels in the Adventure games. Make that an official option please - noncanon, for fun!

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I was thinking about a game similar to Adventure games and Forces in this way:

1. Missions that are ok for each character gameplay style (Sonic is obvious, Tails should be playable in ways that he could profit from flying, whilst not being suited for Sonic, Knuckles being kind of similar to Tails, but with shorter portions of gliding...)  - it could well be similar to what Sonic 06 tried to do, except for characters not to be changed while playing a level, instead being conjoined to the story

2. The Sonic missions should tell us the most of the story, with Tails´, Knuckles´ and any other character´s missions being optional (they would tell remaining 10-15% of the story). That way you can satisfy those that are looking for Sonic-only game, as every modern game since Unleashed, but also those looking for other characters playable as in SA1, SA2, Heroes and 06.

3. The story could be set in any area we already know, I would even vote for Angel Island considering that Forces map resembles South Island from Sonic 1 a bit. In terms of the story itself, it should be lighthearted as e.g. Sonic Colors, Eggman being once again the only villain in the game.

(EDIT: I almost forgot. The new game should be at least 80% 3D, if not fully 3D.)

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21 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Big, well, I think we all agree that fishing isn't what anyone comes to this series for. If I was in charge of remaking SA I'd keep it as an optional minigame, but his main gameplay would have to be something wildly different. I'd probably do something with his size, strength, and clumsiness and treat him like a wrecking ball, barreling through stages smashing everything and everyone in his way.

Wonderful post. I agree with it on every level. 

To touch upon Big's role, there's another scenario I discussed years ago with @Sami (may his account here RIP in pieces). Big would not be a typically playable character like everyone else. Instead, lurking somewhere in every level, you could find Big fishing in a water source. Finding him would reward you with a minigame or mini level wherein you need to find Froggy. Successfully completing the it in any level would reward you with a cutscene about how they ended up in that particular level, shown from the perspective of Froggy himself. And Big's story could be explained through diary entries that could be found scattered across the levels ala Red Rings. 

The reasoning for all of this was to eliminate the least popular and least workable of the six gameplay styles. And as Big himself is a very polarising character, his story would be given second-billing to the rest of cast in one sense, but would focus on his companionship with Froggy. Entirely optional cutscenes and diary entries could be used to offer a much more emotive narrative. I think that this would probably give people more of a reason to like Big, and would prevent him from being intrusive in an already busy game. These ideas were rooted in Big's cameo roles in SA2 and SatSR.

The other thing we spoke about was... pretty much the wrecking-ball gameplay you mentioned. There's a lot of fun that could be had with an oversized spindash.

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I think everyone should have the same general playstyle, but different moves. Kind of like Sonic 3/Mania/the Advance trilogy but with a little more variety. They should also go through the same levels but in a different order like in SA1 and Rush.

I also think each playable character should receive equal focus. I know Sonic is the title character, but if you ask me he's been hoarding all the attention for too long. Ideally, everyone's story would be the same length, and finishing a character's story lets you play the final story as them.

I like your idea of combining hubs with standard levels. I'm not sure how well it would work in a traditional "reach the goal" styled game, but maybe that wasn't your intention.

As for the story, I don't really care what it's about so long as it's good and the tone doesn't go to the extremes of Shadow's game or Colors. I'd also like it to try something different. For example, instead of using the Egg Empire for the umpteenth time why not introduce a new group of enemies?

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The SA1/2 formula still isn’t ideal. What would be fused and how would you map out the levels? Most of the Sonic levels aren’t even fast paced as it’s more so you abusing spin dash and unintentional slopes to get around the levels. The SA1 beta showed how Yuji tried to translate the Classic gameplay to 3D and it failed. There needs to be a lot more tha “MIX the incomplete aspects of SA1 and SA2 to make it work.”

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Okay so this isn't strictly an "adventure" mechanic, but it's something that started in SA2 and still persists today even though it should have died years ago; the character roulette. 

In addition to keeping the gameplay of the different characters relatively similar and based around the same movesets, they can't keep forcing the player to jump around different characters whenever the game tells them to do so. I really wanted to play SA2 today, so I downloaded it on Steam and gave up after just a couple of levels. Now, I enjoy the shooting and hunting stages in that game, I really honestly do. But I didn't want to play them, and the game doesn't care about that. Instead of giving me the option to enjoy these other gameplay styles, it just holds the better parts of the game ransom until I play the worse parts. That's shitty design.

Unleashed suffers from it even worse than SA2, because between the levels you also have to slog through the towns and then spend at least twice as long playing as the Werehog. Forces, amongst the rest of its issues, repeats this mistake by jolting you around three or four different play styles at its whim. Generations does it too, albeit to a lesser extent because you're given a bit of choice in which order you tackle the Modern and Classic acts. It still has the issue of a 2D/3D shift even when you pick Modern Sonic stage though...

This mechanic just needs to be gotten rid of.

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1 hour ago, Blue Blood said:

Okay so this isn't strictly an "adventure" mechanic, but it's something that started in SA2 and still persists today even though it should have died years ago; the character roulette. 

In addition to keeping the gameplay of the different characters relatively similar and based around the same movesets, they can't keep forcing the player to jump around different characters whenever the game tells them to do so. I really wanted to play SA2 today, so I downloaded it on Steam and gave up after just a couple of levels. Now, I enjoy the shooting and hunting stages in that game, I really honestly do. But I didn't want to play them, and the game doesn't care about that. Instead of giving me the option to enjoy these other gameplay styles, it just holds the better parts of the game ransom until I play the worse parts. That's shitty design.

Unleashed suffers from it even worse than SA2, because between the levels you also have to slog through the towns and then spend at least twice as long playing as the Werehog. Forces, amongst the rest of its issues, repeats this mistake by jolting you around three or four different play styles at its whim. Generations does it too, albeit to a lesser extent because you're given a bit of choice in which order you tackle the Modern and Classic acts. It still has the issue of a 2D/3D shift even when you pick Modern Sonic stage though...

This mechanic just needs to be gotten rid of.

This phrase says exactly the thing, that I made up solution for in my post. If they want other characters to be playable again, they shouldn´t contribute to the story more than 20% and be entirely optional. That way you can focus on Sonic if you want, but also play other characters if that is your desire.

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Is it impossible for a 3D game to have the 2D method? One story and one set of levels, with multiple playable characters even if they aren't canon?

Example: If Sonic Generations had let you use Classic Tails for Classic Sonic, and Shadow for Modern Sonic. Remove cutscenes if needed.

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5 minutes ago, superman43 said:

This phrase says exactly the thing, that I made up solution for in my post. If they want other characters to be playable again, they shouldn´t contribute to the story more than 20% and be entirely optional. That way you can focus on Sonic if you want, but also play other characters if that is your desire.

I just can't get behind this. Making other characters optional is one thing, but limiting their contribution to the story is basically saying "These guys don't matter, Sonic is the only one who deserves any focus." Which is really offensive to fans of those characters if you ask me.

15 minutes ago, BaronGrackle said:

Is it impossible for a 3D game to have the 2D method? One story and one set of levels, with multiple playable characters even if they aren't canon?

Example: If Sonic Generations had let you use Classic Tails for Classic Sonic, and Shadow for Modern Sonic. Remove cutscenes if needed.

This is kind of what I was suggesting, but with a different level order for each character. That would allow them to have their own story like Blaze did in Sonic Rush.

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Ooh, an ideas topic on how to tighten up what works. Alright. 

I'm going to work in the same conceit as Diogenes did, however, there's ideas that I just don't agree with period.

Yeah, Tails' flight is overpowered, it should be on par with the Genesis flight instead of him being off the ground to 10 miles in the air, but I would not nerf his flight to where you have to wait for a stamina gauge to say it's okay to fly. That sounds restrictive given that Tails' thing is altitude and being able to reach heights Sonic can't and this is where this isn't a problem with his gameplay, but rather with the level design and I can never stress this enough when I talk about Sonic and level design and this is going to encompass all of the Sonic characters. 

Level Design shouldn't be this hard to get right in Sonic, but it is ever since it went to 3D because there was a lot of tricks you could utilize in the physics engine. If you jumped coming off of a low slope or loop de loop and got it to aim in line with the flat ground ahead you would get a massive momentum boost. If you jumped off of a ramp in a 45 degree angle you would jump the ramp and get a nice amount of altitude leading to some great height techniques that would lead to you being able to speedrun through levels pretty quick and some of this translated to Sonic in Adventure pretty well if you watch speedruns of stages like Sky Deck where they utilize Naka's physics with the slopes at the right time as the ship changes gravity. Level flow has been incredible hard to get right in 3D Sonic due to the fact that 2D Sonic had some surprisingly advanced techniques to utilize and why I haven't yet quite mastered but have had a great amount of fun running to the goal in Sonic Utopia (and yeah, you can pull the whole jumping off a ramp at a 30 degree angle to flat ground and gain speed from that and it's amazing that they got even that in, this engine is incredible and Murasaki should be proud of herself). This fangame also has level flow yet has another problem. Focus. Which is admittedly something that would be hard to get right with an open world Sonic game. 

There's core components to good Sonic levels. Level flow, focus, player flexibility, opportunity to play explorer, a good sense of being fun to play as it is to watch, etc etc. In order to strike a good Sonic level you have to balance these out and not let any of them over shine each other unless it's the focus of one of the other characters but you still want to strike a good balance. Some elements should be subtle, others overt. And for what it's worth, your characters should be able to play the same characters but we'll get to that in focus. I'll break it down simply. 

  • Level flow: This one should be simple, right? You want to pace out your level with obstacles and slopes and level terrain to work with the player characters' abilities. The core conceit of Sonic is to utilize your momentum to gain speed as you continue to ride the wave and accomplish getting to a goal. We could play with that and make the goal not a point a to point b but things like pieces of treasure to hunt down or destroy enemies that are attacking Station Square, Mazuri, Knothole, (insert other locations here). But you always want to make it to where the player will be able to flow through the level briskly even if they aren't going the fastest. Make it like a playable rollercoaster, but don't make it like watching a rollercoaster. The latter has been overdone in this series what with an overabundance of springs and boosters. If you need those to make your levels easier you're not doing a great job of designing levels. Levels should be a fair balance between easy to get into and challenging. The challenge should come in by how you approach the level and making your own strategy or borrowing from other players and speedrunners. But generally, use hazards in moderation or set the precedent for the level being challenging early and ramp it up appropriately over time. 
  • Focus: So now that flow has been talked about, let's talk about focusing that flow. It's really easy to get carried away with designing a Sonic level. You want to give your players a lot to do and go off on a grand scale. Well, here's the thing, give them too big of a scale and it might scare them off if there's too much to do and if it feels pointless. So you want to focus in on what will matter to the player with the character they're playing as. Sonic is the simplest one to do right because he's the core of the gameplay, but Sonic 3 & Knuckles introduced more refined path routes for other non Sonic characters. Knuckles got more wall climbing, they put more high up locations for Tails to fly up to. It was great. Everyone played the same levels but each one had a path accommodating your character and it was great. So, here we go. For how many characters you have playable, try to design the levels for all of them to play in. Give Tails and Knuckles the option of higher routes that Sonic can't access usually but keep them to a slight limit, like 1-2. Give Knuckles hidden routes that only he as a strong guy can access like an underground path or cavern in a level. But have them all loop into the objective at hand.Got a character like Amy or Big? Make the levels more platforming heavy in a route or have the level at the time create rubble from chase from Zero. Zero could shoot at rocks at make accidental platforms for Amy to jump over. Big? Diogenes has a good idea there even if Big felt more like a moderate side mini game that was pushed to main game focus for baffling reasons. Focus is important, keep the objectives in flow and hyperfocus into what is important. Keep the level design simple but open. Don't over complicate it or make it too long for the sake of length. But don't be afraid to hide in little secrets for players like Giant Rings are to S3K and Mania. But in 3D. Keep it simple in how each character would approach the level and play to that. 
  • Player Flexibility: Do not limit your player, but open them up to how to use the characters' abilities to approach the level. But don't make it too exploitable by making a character OP like with Tails and his high flight. But avoid making a slow trod and introduce elements that don't fit the gameplay like with Amy's levels. 
  • Exploration: It's a secret to no one. People like to find things in the levels and play leisurely. Hide little secret nooks maybe even a place that could give you a nice upgrade or a place to get concept art for collecting a number of rings. Hide neat city and level details that you wouldn't see running by but for playing leisurely you get to really take it all in. Let the player enjoy their playground. Make it engaging and explorable. That's a nice thing. 
  • Playing V.S. Watching: So, the roller coaster thing. Don't design it with rails. Actually think of it this way. Think of it like a theme park where the pathways are rollercoasters without rails. Or if it helps, compare it to a skate park. 

Now let's focus on those character quirks. 

Tails needs a path or two separate to Sonic that only he should be able to take full advantage of. Sonic is full of floating levels, Windy Valley being a huge example. Maybe Tails gets to high locations faster but Sonic gets to locations on surface level with tons of slopes faster. Maybe Tails can platform in trees while Sonic runs on the surface level of the forest and plays in his organic skate park. You want to keep Tails flying but not overpowered but able to utilize his flight to do fun things that only he can brag about to Sonic. 

Knuckles is a neat one to play with too. So I love the idea of treasure hunting. It had a good start in the first Adventure shortly before Adventure 2 made it a chore. So this is where my level focus note comes in. All of the characters play in the same levels but in different areas only they can get to or are limited to other characters unless the player finds neat secrets and tricks to do those things as another character. Make Knuckles' routes more visually unique and landmarked. Actually, scratch that. Make all of the levels like that, but then hide his emeralds in the level to find. He gets a nice level to play in with routes and caverns to open up and find emeralds and gets to see visually unique landmarks that guide the player subtly through art direction to let them know if they've been in that area and decide where to go next. This way we also don't have to worry about adding a map system to a Sonic game of all things. And to expound on Diogenes' point of the wall climbing, let's make him like a strong Spider-Man but he can't sling webs and he does the Sonic core gameplay. He can just climb walls and tunnel and break through tough environments. Let him climb faster than he did in any previous Sonic game by tricks like the wall running like chaining a glide into a wall run into using his knuckles to finish the climb up the wall/mountain. It's still a trek up high environments and Sonic goes by fast on surfaces, I mean, he can run on water. 

Actually on that note, can we get Sonic running on water in all of the 3D Sonic games like he could with enough speed in the 2D games? That'd be nice, thanks. 

And, actually? I'm just going to quote Diogenes there. 

12 hours ago, Diogenes said:

I still firmly believe the best way to handle multiple characters is to base them all on the same core mechanics, then use their unique abilities to augment and compliment those mechanics rather than override them. So, given that:

For Amy, I like that she was the "normie" of the cast in SA, having no "superpower" beyond a big squeaky hammer that could only slow but never stop the robot chasing her. That exact scenario isn't something you could get away with in every game, but in a remake of SA that's something I would definitely want to see them build on. Trim down the puzzle elements and make her a bit faster and more agile, but make Zero a much bigger presence in her levels. Maybe even give her some stealth elements; not in the form of waiting around for an opening, but more like, if you trigger those laser sensors and set off the alarm, escaping will get a lot more complicated.

For Gamma, the two main problems I have are that he controls kind of clunkily, and his shooting mechanics encourage stop-and-go gameplay. The clunkiness feels aesthetically appropriate for a robot character, but it doesn't make for the most "Sonicy" experience, so I'd try to smooth it over a bit. In addition to general polishing of his controls, maybe they could turn his high-speed mode into his rolling equivalent; make it something you can manually shift into and out of as the situation dictates, with walking mode being slower but offering more precise control than other Sonic characters and "rolling" mode having a looser feel designed for faster sections. For shooting, I like the idea of comboing enemies, but making it about tagging a group of enemies and shooting them down in one go encourages the player to stop at every group to maximize their combos. I'd make combos timer-based, instead; after shooting an enemy, you'll have X seconds to shoot another or you'd lose your combo. This encourages players to keep moving, rushing from enemy to enemy to maintain and build their combo. This also applies to SA2's mechs, or any other shooting-based gameplay they might include.

Big, well, I think we all agree that fishing isn't what anyone comes to this series for. If I was in charge of remaking SA I'd keep it as an optional minigame, but his main gameplay would have to be something wildly different. I'd probably do something with his size, strength, and clumsiness and treat him like a wrecking ball, barreling through stages smashing everything and everyone in his way.

I agree a ton with these points even if that "Sonic-y" word will always bug me to no end as the most gate keeping word this fan base has to its name. And Big should still be treated as just a fun distraction mini game kind of experience of the Sonic gameplay, but this idea has still been the best thing that I've heard from so many people in the last several years, having first heard of it from Azoo. It sounds like a ton of fun and I'd like to see about even making that a fan game. 

That's what I'd do with modernizing Sonic Adventure/making a basis for a working 3D Sonic/setting up a formula for Sega to focus on before they get bored/make not enough money and decide not to do that. 

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8 hours ago, Splash the Otter said:

I just can't get behind this. Making other characters optional is one thing, but limiting their contribution to the story is basically saying "These guys don't matter, Sonic is the only one who deserves any focus." Which is really offensive to fans of those characters if you ask me.

Sorry for offending anyone. What I meant by saying that 80% story would be said and 20% by the others... You can get the story quite well playing with Sonic only, but other characters would add important details that won´t be displayed (or at least not accurately) in Sonic´s story.

By the way, how much did Tails, Knuckles and other characters added to the story of SA1/SA2 ?

And I am for option of the additional characters playing in Sonic stages as a "fun" thing.

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I think Sonic Adventure got it right in the sense that you played as the same game play style until you chose to switch. I start as Sonic, and go in what ever order I feel like, and once I'm done with a play style, I'm done with it.

The most annoying thing to be in SA2 is that you keep switching around, it really doesn't feel like it flows well.

Even Sonic 06 was better in that regard. Except for a few random places where you switch for literally a few seconds to another character, you stayed mostly in the game play style you started with.

 

Once Sonic Team introduced us to a couple million different characters, there was really no going back because a lot of people still like certain characters that aren't Sonic. It's going to be impossible going forward to make everyone happy because I personally don't enjoy a game nearly as much where I can only play as Sonic, rather than one where I play as many. Many others will feel the exact opposite.

I don't feel like there is good solution either, maybe something like S3&K where you didn't have to play as the others to complete the game, but those that want to have that option, but that's not going to be very easy to do on a 3D game.

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1 hour ago, DarkChaosGaming said:

Once Sonic Team introduced us to a couple million different characters, there was really no going back because a lot of people still like certain characters that aren't Sonic. It's going to be impossible going forward to make everyone happy because I personally don't enjoy a game nearly as much where I can only play as Sonic, rather than one where I play as many.

Right, the franchise got us addicted to multiple characters in Sonic 2!

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How about an update to grind rails? I feel like they were being phased out, with Lost World’s being the most non-interactive the series has ever had, while in Forces they were kept from Generations. I suggest grinding largely return to SA2 style grinding, with added techniques from games like Heroes, Rush, and Rivals, such as the 360-degree spin, grind tricks, and freely hopping off. Maybe translate running momentum into grinding momentum and/or vice-versa? Or allow players to swing on grind rails? Above all, grinding should feel dynamic.

 

EDIT: Grinding also needs a reliable method of attack other than jumping (or does jumping work fine?), for more dynamic combat sequences. Either a battle on the rail against an enemy, or attacking from the rail, or bouncing between the rail and the ground in the heat of battle. More rails should be added in areas that have other paths, to let people learn the grinding system.

EDIT: I can imagine a part where you’re encouraged to jump off a loop to take a shortcut, or to hit another rail going through the loop. Doing interesting things with grinding. 

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I think a Sonic Adventure 1 remake could work if it were to be built around existing assets such as the modern gameplay (Colors, Generations) with some tweaks, like better handling when it comes to moving between walking/sprinting and running full speed.

I agree that all characters being streamlined into playing similar to Sonic but with their own abilities is the more practical approach and would save lots of time/work.

Another issue to be addressed is how to handle their levels: do they play on all the same levels as Sonic similar to Sonic 2, 3&K and the Advances, or does each character have their own unique stages? Perhaps a middle ground to save resources given how much work goes into building just one single stage for Sonic ever since Unleashed's day time stages, is to make variations of the existing ones (similar to the Unleashed DLC stages) so that the other characters can either reach other paths, or have something that puts their abilities to good use... Though I imagine it would be neat to have a "Genesis" mode where you pick any character and have to clear all of Sonic's original version of the stages, just like in the classics.

Speaking of abilities, while in 2-D they are not that big of an issue, Tails flight and Knuckles' glide/climbing skills could really need a bit of a nerf in order to keep them from breaking the level design or forcing developers to use things such as invisible walls to keep them from going to places they were not intended to go. Meanwhile ground characters like Amy, Gamma and Big would need to be faster, especially Amy and Big.

As for objectives, Sonic already has the tried and true formula of going from the starting point to the goal. Tails, Amy and Gamma also follow a similar model, but with a bit of extra challenge (Tails needs to reach the goal before Sonic, Amy has to evade Zero and Gamma has to destroy dolls to gain time). The only two oddballs here are Knuckles and Big. Maybe with Knuckles the goal could be to reach the goal while carrying the required number of emerald shards, with his abilities allowing to backtrack within the stage. Big though is a bit harder to figure out, since fishing was more of a mini-game thing than an actual action stage.

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Honestly keep Sonic the way he is. That's fine just bring in the lock on for the homing attack. I prefer it when it actually homes in on targets.

Knuckles/Rouge stages just make them smaller. It's not fun going through a massive empty map and not finding anything you're looking for and then seeing that you've been on this Godforsaken level for a half hour. 

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On 3/1/2018 at 4:13 AM, Josh said:

Treasure Hunting is kind of the reason I made this topic. I think it would be best if instead of dropping into the level with 3 random emeralds hidden, all of them should be hidden in the level when you drop in. The player can find a certain and be allowed to move on when they do. They can return to find the rest at any time. I notice Knuckles's levels end up feeling like a lot of empty space because there's a bunch of hiding spots but only 3 of them ever get used. This, along with a radar change, should make the player feel more like they're always doing something that's pushing them toward the goal and the levels feel like they're worth exploring every nook and cranny of.

I think they should scrap the radar altogether and give Knuckles a "pulse" he can use with a button command that lets him know if any are nearby. Newcomers may spam it , but I imagine the less you use it the better your score would be by the end, just like the hints in SA2.

The levels should be about as big but have less empty space. You have to tread a fine line between it being fun to navigate without it being too much of a pain going back  and forth if you need to.

I actually like this idea a lot. While I will not say the treasure hunting levels of his and Rouge's are horrible. I do feel something other than a radar for Knuckles would definitely work better, such as what you mentioned about a pulse. He does say he can sense the emerald shards, so that could work in favor of his senses. And having them be in one place to find at spawn is about the best damn idea you can do for something as tedious as the treasure hunting levels.

I have mentioned before how nightmarishly tedious Rouge's levels get late game in a status post once. Mad Space being the worse offender of this tedium.

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