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Movement and Combat


Sonic Fan J

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Recent conversations I've had around the fanbase has shown me a lot of preference for combat in the series, even more so than platforming. I thought it was fairly interesting since attacking enemies was originally designed in a way that minimized the time spent engaged with them so that platforming in a speedy way could instead be focused on. The disparity between platforming and moving quickly and combat was probably best explored in Unleashed where combat was given more than half the game time-wise. Sonic's trademark speedy gameplay was reduced to the point of their being barely any platforming and the combat-centric Werehog levels had significantly more plaforming and exploration. Combat made up the bulk of the game but between the lack of speed of the Werehog and the combat not being well received, plus the daytime levels being praised beyond lack of challenging platforming, SEGA outright left the idea behind and focused instead on different types of movement. Despite that combat has still been a big topic amongst the fanbase.

The question I have for all of this is which way does everyone here prefer? What type of balance do you like to see?

I like the shift to more movement based gameplay as that is more like what I expect from Sonic with the CD opening being the pinnacle of how I would like to see Sonic move under player control. Comically, in the ending they show just how well Sonic can move in a fight as well as even being demonstrated to be able to dismantle badniks with his bare hands. I enjoy that imagery to be honest but can never think of how it can be used without slowing the player down. Sahdow is a decent example in 06 but his levels are more combat focused then speed and platforming so that doesn't really work either. Between the two, right now I would choose movement to have the greater share of gameplay just because I feel it better plays to platforming.

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Oh I'd love to see a gameplay approximation of Sonic CD's ending cutscenes! Imagine jumping onto and riding badniks, or removing a buzzsaw from one and chucking it into another. Running circles around one until it self-destructs from sensory overload. It would be a tricky balancing act to design though. Just look at Lost World, they tried something like that with the option to kick badniks into each other verses just breaking them with the homing attack but, coupled with the option to parkour or not, I've heard Lost World criticized for not clearly indicating what obstacles can be taking down with which option. I hope they take another stab at it, I'm sure it can be done right.

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I think the issue is less about the amount of combat and more about what purpose combat serves in the series. In Sonic, I think combat should serve platforming, rather than combat being an end unto itself. Regardless of how good it may be in isolation, a combat system that prioritizes its own depth and in making engaging fights isn't serving the primary goal of the series, it's distracting from it. Instead, combat should be designed to produce interesting and engaging movement through the levels.

I'm not entirely sure what that would look like in practice, though. Traditionally Sonic's interactions with enemies are pretty simple; either you hit them or they hit you, and that's about as far as it goes. Occasionally you can get a good bounce off of one, but it's more situational compared to other platformers like Mario. The 3D games expanded this into homing attack chains, but that's a very shallow and unsatisfying interaction. I'd probably start by reworking the homing attack's mechanics to make it more dynamic and trying to come up with enemies that can affect you in ways other than damage.

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Fundamentally I'm not that interested in combat if it's a matter of locking Sonic down in one spot to defeat an enemy - which I would also extend to the various "kill room" scenarios seen most recently in Forces, where you have to trivially take down a number of enemies to progress.  However, I am open to ideas about additional ways of either defeating or avoiding enemies; combat which keeps you progressing through the level, in other words.  The Homing Attack is a pretty basic means of doing that, and the oft-proposed Homing Attack variation that preserves momentum takes it a step further.  Maybe some way of somersaulting off an enemy to gain additional height.  Badnik riding I think could go far, even if it was largely for spectacle.

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Well thanks to forces i rally want to see less of the boost formula and more puzzle/ combat centered gameplay.

I actually would welcome levels like Marble zone where you have to push levers and move blocks to progress.

I am not saying bog the game down with big enemy filled levels or puzzles that you have to beat to progress but taking time out from speeding around all the time will be a breath of fresh air, 3D sonic is too reliant on "hit button, run fast" game mechanics where there is no challenge and the game can be beaten in under 3 hours

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As I always say, a good Sonic moveset should always be movement first and combat second. That's not to say you can't do both - in fact that would be preferable. But if you strictly have to choose between one or the other, mobility should always win out by default.

You can see elements of this in the most basic of Sonic moves. Not only does rolling turn you into a nigh-invincible ball of death, it allows you to gain extra momentum on slopes and keep it for a pretty significant time as long as nothing stops you in your tracks. That's a textbook example of a technique having both mobility and fighting functions, and every character from the same era benefits from it. Even Tails, who seems otherwise harmless while he's flying, still has a hitbox around his propeller that can destroy enemies (and even deflect projectiles if I remember right? Correct me if I'm wrong). Conversely, a big reason why a lot of people hate Silver's gameplay, for example, is that it's focused only on fighting, and I don't mean that just because his run speed is so slow - even if it weren't, only like two of his moves have actual movement properties, and the ones you'll generally use the most grind you to a complete halt every time you attempt them. That's actually kind of a common theme in modern movesets besides Boost Sonic's now that I think of it.

2 hours ago, Diogenes said:

I'd probably start by reworking the homing attack's mechanics to make it more dynamic and trying to come up with enemies that can affect you in ways other than damage.

If I had to spitball a few possible ideas:

- Let Sonic conserve the lateral momentum the HA generates after he hits an enemy so he can continue flying forwards after the fact. In fact, fuck it, make that the default interaction between Sonic and enemy.

- Take a page from Tenkaichi 3's book and allow Sonic to influence his angle of approach midflight. Not only could this be used defensively (like hypothetically, weaving around a Shellcracker about to punch you), you could also combine it with the above to influence your exit momentum, like weaving left to make a hairpin turn to the right or approaching from above to bounce upwards for the vertical mobility the move currently has.

- Give enemies the ability to block instead of flat out countering your Homing Attack, and that block has a "clash" effect similar to what the two hedgies in SA2 cause when they collide in their respective bossfights. I wouldn't go as far as to suggest a variation of the HA ala Lost World to counter that, but maybe instead the ability to rev up the Homing Attack the same way you can with a spindash, so the player can choose between a quick, potentially blockable attack or a more potent one that can potentially waste time or even cause you to miss your attack window if you wait too long. If you had to justify the heavier version further, maybe add an extra benefit or two, like carrying the enemy with you after the fact or simply causing them to fly away with enough force to be essentially a projectile like the current Boost does to enemies.

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3 hours ago, Diogenes said:

In Sonic, I think combat should serve platforming, rather than combat being an end unto itself.

This.

Who where doesn't like the way you could use enemies in the Classic games to exploit the pinball mechanics and bounce off them, gaining enough height to reach places that at first sight appear unreachable, displaying of well the developers mixed level design with enemy placement?

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1 hour ago, Skull Leader said:

This.

Who where doesn't like the way you could use enemies in the Classic games to exploit the pinball mechanics and bounce off them, gaining enough height to reach places that at first sight appear unreachable, displaying of well the developers mixed level design with enemy placement?

You mean the first 3 sonic titles? I don’t remember much of 3K’s level design accommodating for this due to the fundamentals being shifted a bit. But Sonic 1 and 2 especially do this remarkably well. Just replayed them back to back today..

Oh I know I tend to bring up Unleashed as my obsession with it grows and grows but Sonic’s Physics in that game allows for him to do things similarly like the classics(vertical momentum doesn’t work as well but horizontal does a good job at least) The developers seemed to be aware but they sadly didn’t push it far enough. Apotos Act 4 has a few moments where you can bounce on an enemy to gain further distance compared to HA.

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On 5/29/2018 at 12:35 PM, FFWF said:

Fundamentally I'm not that interested in combat if it's a matter of locking Sonic down in one spot to defeat an enemy - which I would also extend to the various "kill room" scenarios seen most recently in Forces, where you have to trivially take down a number of enemies to progress.  However, I am open to ideas about additional ways of either defeating or avoiding enemies; combat which keeps you progressing through the level, in other words.  The Homing Attack is a pretty basic means of doing that, and the oft-proposed Homing Attack variation that preserves momentum takes it a step further.  Maybe some way of somersaulting off an enemy to gain additional height.  Badnik riding I think could go far, even if it was largely for spectacle.

Badnik riding is something I've actually suggested as an alternative move for Amy since in her debut she demonstrated enough strength to even hold Sonic in place. If I was to apply it to Sonic though it would be his homing attack. Using a two button setup I would have his instant shield and shield abilities on jump and on the action button would be his homing attack, but instead of destroying an enemy he would grab onto them instead. You can now ride them around like a moving platform and either jump off or dismantle them with the action button and fall back to the ground. You could even make more complex bosses for Sonic in that way which require grabbing on to different parts of the boss to move towards the weak point so you can attack. It's a simple mixture of combat and platforming that still focuses on movement and can even turn bosses into platforming experiences.

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