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What's Wrong with Sonic and the Secret Rings?


ClassicKnuckles
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Bought it again, just to get the Target Exclusive Archie content, and I decided to replay it. Honestly, aside from a few minor issues I've had, so far, it's spectacular, and I love it as much as I love Sonic 06. (Which is a lot.) The story is quite possibly the most interesting Sonic story we've ever had, and the Arabian Nights theme is merged well with Sonic. The level themes are also cool, alongside their music. Especially Evil Foundry's and Sand Oasis' music tracks. The most creative level in the game is probably Dinosaur Jungle, but the music is the worst track in the game, and it's very bad, in my opinion. Overall, I haven't played it since 2007, and now that I'm replaying it, I think it's a good game.

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I remember getting this about a year after release, I remember people going on about how it was like the second coming of Christ... and I never understood why people liked it. To me it's a mess of a game. Aside from the fact you have utterly no control at all. It's just boring.

From what I remember I got upto the part where you have to save/collect/don't remember/something about Dinosaur Eggs and it was just so poor to control and so boring I stopped playing.

 

Never picked it up since.

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All I can say is... more power to you if you did like it.

There are things I liked about Secret Rings. The music is catchy as hell, the story and acting is decent, neat art direction, and even a party mode I found decent. (In fact, I find myself playing the party mode more than the actual game)

But the real meat of Secret Rings? The gameplay? Well, for me, it's one of the worst games I ever played.

The bulk of the gameplay is just not tailored to the control scheme in mind. When its just the standard "go through the level", it is decent to me. A nice, albiet linear speed trip. But this is because the level design accomodates the controls of tilting Sonic left and right as he runs in a straight line.

However, there's a ton, and I mean a ton of missions to do, some you don't know what to do in order to progress. And those do not fit the control scheme. It is not precise enough to handle some of the objectives given to you.

Not hit a single obstacle? Fuck that, I'll never get that down unless you undergo a large amount of trial and error. And if you have to do that for a big bulk of the missions, it becomes a massive chore and not at all fun. It just pisses you off.

So I'll commend you for enjoying Secret Rings. That means you have reflexes of a sports star or something.

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5 minutes ago, ClassicKnuckles said:

I love it as much as I love Sonic 06. (Which is a lot.)

The first thing to consider here is that even if you don't understand WHY, remember that the vast, vast majority consider Sonic 2006 to be an awful, terrible game.  If you're able to find enjoyment in 2006, you certainly shouldn't be surprised when the vast majority dislike other Sonic games that you like.  Clearly you have a very unique taste compared to the fanbase's common opinion, or you're very tolerating of flaws in games.  Anyway, that said, there are two major points of contention I've seen for Secret Rings over the years:

  • The motion controls: Many people dislike the principle of controlling Sonic through tilting and shaking the Wii Remote.  Either they would rather just use a traditional control scheme, they find the motion controls not responsive enough, leading to feeling like they died or got hurt because the game misunderstood their input (which never feels good).  Or, they suffer from both these issues - they hate the concept and they hate the execution.  The fact that the game is quite difficult and punishing - especially in the optional missions - does not gel well with controls that only work properly 90% of the time.
  • The gameplay: Many didn't care for the autorun concept and narrow level designs.  While Secret Rings was definitely a platformer through and through, it still feels very limited and automated compared to traditional 3D Sonic titles where you have full agency over what Sonic does, even when the stages are at their narrowest in games like Colours and Unleashed.  Some people also dislike the Mission structure, where only a handful of stages are traditional "get to the end" objectives with exciting setpieces and interesting challenges along the way.  The majority of content comes from re-using levels and giving oddball objectives to complete within them.

These are the two things you will OFTEN see cited as reasons why the game is bad.

There are also other minor things - since you mentioned these two in particular:

  • The setting/story: Some people didn't care for the game being a "side story" that has no real impact on the main series, with Sonic being the only character who experiences it.  When all the 3D games so far had large casts and events that lasted beyond the scope of the game, some didn't care for a game set in a one-off fantasy world with Sonic being the only character from the main series to experience it (all of the other characters just being from within the book, and just happening to look like Sonic's friends).
  • The music: Not everyone likes the more trendy/stylish musical direction of this game, with the large quantity of vocal songs during gameplay.  I LOVE this game's soundtrack, but it's a very love it or hate it thing.  If you like more traditional Sonic music, I can see why the soundtrack would be grating.

The above two are much more divisive, there's no common opinion one way or the other.  But there ARE people who hate these aesthetic factors, and when coupled with the common criticisms (controls/gameplay) it's easy to see how those people would find the game to be a total trainwreck and one of Sonic's worst.

 

Me?  I really liked the game at the time it came out and I put a lot of time into it.  Nowadays though, it's not one I go back to often, and when I do, I don't have an amazing time.  It's just okay.  It's a Sonic game where I often find that just listening to the soundtrack is enough of a nostalgia trip to satisfy me when I think I'm in the mood for it.

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I never beat the game when I had it, if only because I could never find the level I needed to play to progress the story. Iirc you need to play missions to unlock the real levels, or sometimes play the missions for story reasons? But they never told you about a story specific action from the title's descriptions, they threw you back and forth between worlds so you never had a clear linear progression, and completing optional missions unlocked more, different side missions in the rest of the worlds. So eventually I was stuck in a sea of missions with no clear goal, or story beats to follow, (I think I was playing the story out of order somehow, as well?) so... I kinda just gave up on the game there, lol

Traded it in for Black Knight a while later - an upgrade in every way, imo - and haven't looked back since.

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Secret Rings was seriously the first Sonic game that I had the ability to easily acquire and I didn't want to. I remember the lead up to that game and I recall for the first time ever in my "career" as an obsessed Sonic fan not being interested at all. I was way more interested in Sonic 06 despite tilting my head at all the weird shit I was seeing in the previews for that game too.

I never asked for Secret Rings and I was fine not having it.

One Christmas morning, YEARS after the game had been out, my dad got it for me. Randomly. Out of the blue. I have no idea how he knew I didn't have it because I know he doesn't keep up with how much Sonic tat I have so to this day it's still an insane mystery how the fuck he managed to get the one game I didn't have.

I played it. I was pleasantly surprised at first. The way you shoot the Wii Remote forward to do homing attack chains was actually kind of fun. That was it though. That was all the fun I had with it.

I did beat it. After I did I never picked it up ever again.

I liked the Story and it's structure. I liked the music. I liked the feeling of demolishing something with homing attacks. That's about it.

At the time of seeing the trailers, the thing at the front of my mind was "A game where you only get to play as Sonic... I don't want that."

Now that I'm older it's literally just because it's a game I don't really care much about.

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It controls terribly and to compensate for this they didn't give it any real level design. You're just running down hallways awkwardly steering and maneuvering Sonic. The game's really slow on top of all this until you get the appropriate upgrades. In terms of game feel it's probably the worst Sonic game to play with Black Knight not far behind it.

 

I enjoy the story, the soundtrack, the whole aesthetic of the game and think it's very unique though. I liked the original characters even if their designs aren't distinctly Sonic. Sonic characters taking the roles of fantasy characters was a cute idea but they don't have a big  impact on the game. Overall though I appreciate a lot of things about it and wish the actual game held up.

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I remember actually really enjoying the game. It was one the first I got for my Wii, and hey, it already had its price drop, so even grabbing a copy new was $20 back then.

That said, one annoyance I remember (though it might just be a me issue) was that I would often turn off the Wii by accident because my finger just happened to be on the power button.

Also said, however, is that it's a game I should revisit. I remember really enjoying it, and I even defended it on some cases, but as I get older, I start to wonder if maybe there's a reason I haven't revisited it in some time. Might be worth another look, at the very least.

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Wait, everybody so far has either said they really dislike it or have major problems with the gameplay aside from the OP.

 

So really, how come when it first came out loads of people constantly praised it?

 

Edit: One person has now said they really like it.

Wait, everybody so far has either said they really dislike it or have major problems with the gameplay aside from the OP.

 

So really, how come when it first came out loads of people constantly praised it?

 

Edit: One person has now said they really like it.

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4 minutes ago, Mayor D said:

Wait, everybody so far has either said they really dislike it or have major problems with the gameplay aside from the OP.

 

So really, how come when it first came out loads of people constantly praised it?

 

It...came out over 10 years ago. You've been in the fandom long enough to know that perception can change. The novelty of motion controls going away probably played a fsctor as well.

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Secret Rings was a game that I originally loved years ago. My friend originally got a Wii for Christmas and he'd loan it and a few games to me on occasion for a week. Secret Rings, of course was one of the games he lent me with the Wii, along with a few other launch titles. Then, I really enjoyed it. Music was catchy, the game looked cool etc. I don't know, it stuck with me then.

Then I got a Wii as a Birthday gift with a few games about a year later, I specifically asked for Secret Rings, and I still enjoyed it. So much so that I was really excited for Black Knight and have strong memories of saving up to get Black Knight a few months after release after again, playing it at a friend's house.

Then a few years back, when I was actually active on SSMB, I decided I would finally try to finish Black Knight and Secret Rings, beginning with Secret Rings. And I can say this with absolute certainty now. The game started out somewhat fun...

and then nose-dives directly into the territory of absolutely atrocious and awful. Like seriously, it has to be one of the most uncomfortable times I've ever had playing a Sonic game, and keep in mind, I've 100%'d the likes of Unleashed and Forces that's filled with mind-numbing and frustrating grinding. I've played 06 up to the final story. I even somehow tolerated Secret Rings enough to finish it and get the true ending. But it was not fun whatsoever.

After Dinosaur Jungle at best, the game begins the godawful trend of having missions that are not only immensely boring, but have some of the most downright awful controls that have been present in the series to date. The story quickly fumbles into a garbled mess. We have the weirdest deal between Erazor and Sharha where they hate each other but seemingly love each other and despite Sharha literally bringing in Sonic to stop Erazor, she backstabs him for no real reason in the end but then she's seemingly tragic so we have to feel bad for her. Random characters are just boring story-themed characters taking the shape of the characters we actually know.

Tails and Knuckles have nothing of their standard characters outside of Knuckles being slightly confrontational and Tails helping Sonic. They try something interesting with Eggman being a bit egotistical but not really a bad guy, but that isn't kept for long and even then, after those three and around the time of Pirate Storm, the game quickly gives up on having that much of a narrative. The controls get more and more annoying and awful when they start trying to introduce tight platforming into the mix, and the sheer fact they had to shoehorn in a XP system for basic comforts like better handling of Sonic's controls is a complete and total joke.

The only thing I can think of that immediately screams of truly great in this game is the aesthetic and soundtrack. I love the look of stages like Pirate Storm and Unawakening Float, and it's pretty varied all around. The OST is one of my absolute favourites in the series and one I still listen to til this day.

 

 

 

7 minutes ago, Josh said:

It...came out over 10 years ago. You've been in the fandom long enough to know that perception can change. The novelty of motion controls going away probably played a fsctor as well.

It was also the game right after 06. In comparison, Secret Rings was like S3&K. That would soften the blow to Sonic fans who at the very least wanted something tolerable after 06 being a mess.

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I quite liked it for what it was. The controls can be atrocious at times but the music is awesome and that Final boss is a real challenge. Will never be my favourite Sonic game but certainly not my worst.

Black Knight on the other hand ..........now theres a God awful mess of a game.

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It was a side title to play around with Sonic so I expected a bit worse but as it is, it’s good. Fast paced, fun characters and I love the gameplay.

Although it’s wonky at the start(lol Wii controls) you get used to it.

I don’t see why it’s considered so bad especially since it’s just a side title. They aren’t meant to be taken so seriously imo.

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9 minutes ago, Jar Jar Analysis 1138 said:

I don’t see why it’s considered so bad especially since it’s just a side title. They aren’t meant to be taken so seriously imo.

A bad game is a bad game regardless of it's categorization. It was a premier AAA title from a popular franchise on a hot selling console that everyone from age 6 to 60 would be able to play. It's valid for scrutiny as much as any other game. As for reasons why it's considered bad, please consult JezMM's post; it's all covered there. 

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13 minutes ago, SaberX said:

Fancy you said that. At that time, people used to praise Sonic games like a god. I don't remember much from the time of 06 release, but I'm gonna risk a guess and said that at the launch the game was pretty much glorified by cultists.

Or maybe the last game people got was 06, Secret Rings was a damn fine improvement over the disaster that was 06 and catered to the wants of the fanbase back then (As @JezMM said, people wanted Sonic alone, a consistent gameplay mode, and focus on speed). Those are the exact issues of 06 (Story is mostly dragged up by the majority of Sonic's friends, the gameplay keeps shifting constantly, Silver has a lack of speed entirely etc). 

Look at Colours. People disliked Unleashed at the time due to the Werehog but at least acknowledged it was a step in the right direction compared to 06. Then Colours comes and does the same thing as Secret Rings. It focuses down on Sonic and Tails, it focuses on a consistent gameplay style with the only gimmick being a powerup set, and has a lot of the boost sections people did like in Unleashed. Now it isn't as highly regarded, but back then, I distinctively remember Colours getting a fair bit of praise. 

People's opinions and perspectives change with time when our viewpoints aren't as biased. At the time, many fans were stuck with 06, Genesis GBA and Rivals as their Sonic fixes. One is a mediocre racing game, one is a butchering of a beloved title, and the other is a complete technical disaster. To them, cutting out the fat and focusing down on fixing what many perceived as the issues of 06 was enough of an improvement. Now, it isn't because we have hindsight and we aren't as biased as we were back then. Someone's opinion changing with hindsight and time isn't a conspiracy. It's not really difficult to figure out why people enjoyed the game at the time and don't now. 

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Just now, Indigo Rush said:

A bad game is a bad game regardless of it's categorization. It had a budget, it was a premier AAA title from a popular franchise on a hot selling console that everyone from age 6 to 60 were going to play. As for reasons why it's considered bad, please consult JezMM's post; it's all covered there. 

Well yeah...Most games have budgets to adhere to don’t you think?

I don’t need to consult Jez’s post but what I should have done was to give it more detail in my own to not sound so naive. I’m in phone so I’d rather be more lazy than usual I I blame that on mysle . I’ve seen most of the arguements on the game years before and they are pretty much the same as today but surprisingly I’ve seen new ones just in this post alone.

I can observe what people say about it and determine it’s bad but I don’t get exactly what makes it a “bad game”. Those kinds of words get thrown around too much for me to understand what genuinely makes a bad game.

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21 minutes ago, Jar Jar Analysis 1138 said:

I can observe what people say about it and determine it’s bad but I don’t get exactly what makes it a “bad game”. Those kinds of words get thrown around too much for me to understand what genuinely makes a bad game.

...what makes it a "bad game" are the reasons that were already explained before. It has fundamental flaws in controls and structure. It's not just a bad game by Sonic standards, it's a bad game by any standard.

I don't know how else to emphasize this, the controls do not always register. The level design doesn't always account for this. The game is structured in such a way that forces you to replay the same content over and over to progress through the story. Those aren't good things. Those are bad things. If a game is mostly bad things, especially in it's gameplay, it's a bad game.

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2 hours ago, Mayor D said:

Wait, everybody so far has either said they really dislike it or have major problems with the gameplay aside from the OP.

So really, how come when it first came out loads of people constantly praised it?

I remember the time when it first came out and despite having not played either it or Sonic 06 before it at the time, I was skeptical about all the praise. It would have been one thing if people were saying it was a good game but people were throwing phrases around like "It's the best 3D Sonic game ever", "It's better than Sonic Adventure", "It's the greatest Sonic game since the Genesis days".

Those were lines I actually heard people say. I hadn't played Sonic 06 but the reception to that game was so monumentally disastrous that I feel like the goodwill they had towards Secret Rings was most likely heightened due to the game before it being the literal worst thing ever when it came to the series.

Either that or people really did love it and their opinions changed. That happens as well.

I also remember someone saying they really hoped Secret Rings did well when it came out because they were freaking out and saying "Oh no! This is Sonic's LAST chance! I'm so nervous!"

Like it was his factual last chance.

It wasn't a very good time to be a Sonic fan.

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5 minutes ago, Indigo Rush said:

...what makes it a "bad game" are the reasons that were already explained before. It has fundamental flaws in controls and structure. It's not just a bad game by Sonic standards, it's a bad game by any standard.

I don't know how else to emphasize this, the controls do not always register. The level design doesn't always account for this. The game is structured in such a way that forces you to replay the same content over and over to progress through the story. Those aren't good things. Those are bad things. If a game is mostly bad things, especially in it's gameplay, it's a bad game.

The flaws of this game is something I agree with almost word for word but it seems that I can’t find myself agreeing with this. “Bad Game” it is from the sound of what your description is giving me yet most of these challenges many faced I never quite experienced. How can i consider it bad? How is narrow level design *bad* level design? How is more of an automated ride a bad inclusion? Regardless, it’s also included as a side title so how should judgement go about it? 

This is why I sorta get irked when I keep hearing “x is a bad game” when I can’t find complete objectivity to it without our subjective personality within humanity to go with it.

A game is either good” or “bad” so says the consensus. Seems a little shallow.

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