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Should Sonic Be Given The Ability To Swim?

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If Sonic were given the ability to swim in a 3d platformer, how should it play out? What abilities should Sonic have while underwater?

I always thought it would be neat to get at least one Sonic game where Sonic finds an item that allows him to swim for certain levels. I’d think his swimming controls could be similar to the swimming controls in Rayman 2, except faster and more action packed.

Sonic should also be given the ability to kick off surfaces and enemies for a boost of speed. Pressing a command button could allow for Sonic to do a swift underwater barrel roll attack, good for picking up speed and destroying obstacles.

Reaching the bottom of the water can allow Sonic to walk, jump, and spin around the floor, until double pressing the jump button to reactivate swim controls.

After so many years, I’ve gotten tired of the traditional water levels and mechanics from Sonic games. Instead of seeing water used as a hazard, it would be great to see a fun action packed Sonic game that allows Sonic to finally be useful underwater.

Like I said, it could be a one time thing. I don’t expect Sega to get rid of one Sonic’s longest running weaknesses, but it wouldn’t hurt to break tradition for one game at least.

I always liked under water levels in 3d platformers, like Mario 64, Banjo-Tooie, and Rayman 2. I wasn’t a huge fan of Knuckles’s swimming segments in Sonic Adventure 2, however. I found those stages very boring and annoying. I want to see a Sonic game get more fast paced and exciting underwater gameplay.

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If they can manage something that blends well with the core gameplay mechanics, then I don't see why not. The logistics would vary depending on whether it's a sidescroller or a full 3D platformer, for instance. I always liked to imagine an updated take on the Classic Sonic formula (or even something like Sonic Rush) with underwater controls resembling NiGHTS' flight controls, being able to launch out of the water and dive back with varying heights based on your momentum in like in Ecco the Dolphin.

For 3D, assuming it's something close to Sonic Adventure, could work similarly to Zora Link from Majora's Mask with full 3D swimming controls. Both have you swimming freely underwater in such a way that can preserve momentum, dipping in and out of water in a flashy way, and you simply exchange your jump for a speed boost. I don't have anything creative to propose for the boost style, but Sonic Colors' infinite jumps underwater seems like a lazy adjustment to me.

But as for the others, I think they'd be loads more fun than trudging around underwater looking for air pockets, though certain levels like Sonic 3 and Mania's Hydrocity take great strides in making underwater sections feel like less of a chore and more of a thrill ride. My 2 cents.

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The series' underwater mechanics could use some work, but I don't think swimming is the right way to go. The way I see it, good Sonic mechanics are mostly about his interaction with the ground (+walls/ceilings); he doesn't really do a whole lot in the air aside from basic adjustments to his trajectory and some simple moves like the homing attack or instashield, but on the ground is where the slope physics and loops and wall running and ramping off hills come into play, and it's in manipulating those mechanics that the gameplay really shines. Giving him effective swimming abilities would greatly downplay the use of those mechanics underwater, and I can't think of any way that swimming mechanics could feel like a natural parallel to his above-water mechanics.

I'm not really sure what could be done to improve it, though. I like that water is at least something of an obstacle, and it lowering your speed and acceleration is a natural fit for Sonic's momentum-based gameplay, so I wouldn't want to get rid of that entirely...maybe tone it down a bit. Maybe the drop dash could work like an "air" dash underwater; you'd still need to touch ground to use it again so you wouldn't be able to outright swim with it, but it'd improve your mobility. I dunno.

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It would be interesting to explore more options for underwater mechanics. It's a small thing, but I like how the modern games make you jump noticeably higher underwater. Making it something that improves your ability to jump but you still have to worry about being slowed down and running out of air could be an interesting twist. I think you could get some interesting level design out of that.

Side note but...I'm not actually sure if there were tweaks or not, but I swear water doesn't slow you down quite as much in Mania. It might just be that the level design underwater was more conducive to going fast though.

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I really think it'd be fun to have swimming be momentum based just like running, and even do stuff like let Sonic push off walls to gain speed or have a spindash/boost that lets him push through water in any direction. Anything to make underwater movement more interesting than it is. Seriously.

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ShayMay actually touched on this in his third video in his Sonic Spitball series. Basically, swimming would be a good way to diversify his moveset and give him more manoeuvrability through a level:

To sum it up his idea is to give Sonic the ability to drill through water without the wisp, and jumping out of the water to land on the ground with your speed and momentum still intact, being able to aquaplane then dipping below the water's surface to explore underwater caves which would giving the game variety in traversing a stage while also contributing to the flow of the gameplay. Basically what Indigo Rush was suggesting.

I think this is a good idea that allows you control over your speed and the stage rather than having you be at the mercy of the stage's underwater sections, and it gives you more options in tackling a stages obstacles.

 

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See I'm immediately thinking of my childhood days going swimming with my cousin. He's two years older than me so he was a fair bit bigger and stronger than me. Anytime he pushed off the sides of the pool he'd generate a slipstream behind him that would carry me for a distance before the water settled again. I think there could definitely be something done with how Sonic manipulates the water directly around him given his velocity potential going up against the force of the water. Perhaps rolling could create some sort of circular current around him as a temporary defensive-offensive technique.

Certainly I think Sonic needs more options for traversing water. On land you have the physics system which allows the levels to become playboxes as you roll, jump and badnik bounce to find various ways to get around the place. In water, you lose all that without anything really replacing it.

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The question you have to ask though is what type of game would benefit from letting Sonic swim? In the the classics the lowest path is typically the path of punishment for not managing to stay at least on the middle route, and as you near the end game having water as an obstacle to avoid as your skills become more refined makes sense. Conversely, in a game like CD where exploration requires you to go under water, not being able to swim is kind of an unjust punishment for doing what you're supposed to in the first place. Perhaps a different perspective is to look at swimming as an option for players to choose instead of running and rolling. The question them though, is since Sonic is known for his pinball physics, how does that translate into swimming gameplay? Perhaps the idea of bouncing off walls like has been suggested already is the best place to start. For example, if swimming was tied to wall jumping then I could see the challenge then being building and using momentum to bounce off the walls with as much travel distance as possible being dependent on how quickly you kick off of a wall.

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10 minutes ago, Sonic Fan J said:

The question you have to ask though is what type of game would benefit from letting Sonic swim? In the the classics the lowest path is typically the path of punishment for not managing to stay at least on the middle route, and as you near the end game having water as an obstacle to avoid as your skills become more refined makes sense. Conversely, in a game like CD where exploration requires you to go under water, not being able to swim is kind of an unjust punishment for doing what you're supposed to in the first place. Perhaps a different perspective is to look at swimming as an option for players to choose instead of running and rolling. The question them though, is since Sonic is known for his pinball physics, how does that translate into swimming gameplay? Perhaps the idea of bouncing off walls like has been suggested already is the best place to start. For example, if swimming was tied to wall jumping then I could see the challenge then being building and using momentum to bounce off the walls with as much travel distance as possible being dependent on how quickly you kick off of a wall.

Not every Sonic game has to repeat the same tropes. Variety and changing things up is what can help improve a game series. Sonic games have been relying too much on the past lately, and with very little changes.

Games like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend Of Zelda: Breathe Of The Wild relied on more than just traditional gameplay, and that greatly made the games feel fresh, fun, and exciting to keep playing.

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I’d say no. I like that water is Sonic’s biggest weakness. I feel that being in the water for Sonic should be a punishment, so making him slow and clunky and feel helpless underwater is appropriate. What I would do is design less levels that rely on underwater travel though and maybe go the Aquatic Ruin or Chemical Plant route where there’s a safe speedy upper route and if you mess up you end up underwater. I wouldn’t necessarily have huge underwater segments for Sonic. At least Sonic alone.

I’d love to have nice big underwater areas where other characters who can make better use of their sea legs to explore and feel powerful. Characters like Knuckles and Vector could thrive in an underwater area. Vector I'd probably have control similarly to DK in Tropical Freeze under the water. Give him very quick swimming crocodile style, and I’d give him a powerful spin move similar to DK’s, or a strong bite under the water to break objects and tear through enemies.

Knuckles could spin like the drill wisp on command to travel quickly under the water like he would under the ground. 

I also love the way Tails could swim in Sonic 4 ep 2. I’d make that just standard for him honestly. If he’d stop being a pansy and help Sonic on adventures every once in a while I’d like it if Sonic could use Tails to basically make underwater levels more enjoyable for him. Think a scenario similar to Sonic 3, Sonic falls into a trap landing him into a water level, act 1 would be similar to say aquatic ruin with slow clunky underwater segments if you fall into the lower path, but a safe upper path where you can stay clear of the water as long as you play well. Then comes act 2 and it’s almost entirely underwater, Sonic’s in trouble but then Tails shows up and they go through the level together making things easier for Sonic. 

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2 hours ago, Strong Guy said:

I’d say no. I like that water is Sonic’s biggest weakness. I feel that being in the water for Sonic should be a punishment, so making him slow and clunky and feel helpless underwater is appropriate. What I would do is design less levels that rely on underwater travel though and maybe go the Aquatic Ruin or Chemical Plant route where there’s a safe speedy upper route and if you mess up you end up underwater. I wouldn’t necessarily have huge underwater segments for Sonic. At least Sonic alone.

I’d love to have nice big underwater areas where other characters who can make better use of their sea legs to explore and feel powerful. Characters like Knuckles and Vector could thrive in an underwater area. Vector id probably have control similarly to DK in Tropical Freeze under the water. Give him very quick swimming crocodile style, and I’d give him a powerful spin move similar to DK’s, or a strong bite under the water to break objects and tear through enemies.

Knuckles could spin like the drill wisp on command to travel quickly under the water like would would under the ground. 

I also love the way Tails could swim in Sonic 4 ep 2. I’d make that just standard for him honestly. If he’d stop being a pansy and help Sonic on adventures every once in a while I’d like it if Sonic could use Tails to basically make underwater levels more enjoyable for him. Think a scenario similar to Sonic 3, Sonic falls into a trap landing him into a water level, act 1 would be similar to say aquatic ruin with slow clunky underwater segments if you fall into the lower path, but a safe upper path where you can stay clear of the water as long as you play well. Then comes act 2 and it’s almost entirely underwater, Sonic’s in trouble but then Tails shows up and they go through the level together making things easier for Sonic. 

I agree.

As every good character, Sonic needs his strenghts, but also weaknesses to balance it out, otherwise he's just a boring character who has a solution for every situation. He's already WAY too overpowered with the boost and now the wisps which are here to stay (ugh..). No need to make him even more of a swiss army knife of a character than he already is.

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While I like the idea of giving sonic some added maneuverability underwater I also have to say neigh to this. Not that there wouldn't be any fun challenges to be had with it (that one 3D drill wisp segment in Lost World 3DS was a nice change of pace) I like the fact that the water is pretty much there to let you mess up or introduce new and interesting mechanics ala aquatic ruin and hydropolis respectively. 

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I liked how they handled it in Sonic Colors and feel the concept could have been improved on over time instead of just dropping it as they did later. By making the swimming take a lot of effort in the form of infinite short jumping as a result it was a balanced trade off. You either could run along the ground under the water at a reasonable speed or could slowly swim jump across the place.

Anyways like others have said. Sonic not being great at swimming is fine as it gives him a weakness instead of trying to make him out to be a prefect game deity that can do anything rendering all his friends useless.... which is also the same kinda reason some people don't like the Wisps. Nothing wrong with using water as a punishment/challenge in gameplay.

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I'm gonna go with Strong Guy and say no.

Speaking as Mr. Amateur Game Developer over here, games should have some kind of fail state because otherwise there's no tension at all. I mean, sure, you can still have drowning underwater. and granted my only reference to this sort of mechanic is Sonic Colors, but there Sonic can still move fast enough that it's not really ever a significant enough threat? That's not to say I want the '06/Unleashed solution where Sonic falling into a knee-deep body of water is insta-kill, but if you ask me, the best way to handle it was something like how Aquatic Ruin Zone in Sonic 2 handled it;

The water is there and there's plenty of level to be had in it, but as the tradition with upper/lower paths go in Sonic, the lower path is more of a punishment and more skilled players will never have to worry about it.  

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Not really here to offer any 'best' ideas, as I'd have to sit down and think about it for a lot longer, but maybe instead of sinking or swimming as the games already have done, floating like an actual Hedgehog does could be an option?

giphy.gif

It could pretty much eliminate a lot of players frustrations with the element, (albeit by ignoring the ways it could be improved, of course) while also changing Sonic's dynamic with it to the point of it almost being a movement gimmick; I.e. Falling into the water at a high speed, sinking as far underwater as momentum can allow, then shooting back out like a cup full of air.

The fail state could simply be floating in the water in the first place, not really allowing room for immediate speed, but still traveling at a pace more enjoyable than being fully submerged, and allowing Sonic to hop out at any given time.

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8 hours ago, The Deleter said:

Not really here to offer any 'best' ideas, as I'd have to sit down and think about it for a lot longer, but maybe instead of sinking or swimming as the games already have done, floating like an actual Hedgehog does could be an option?

giphy.gif

It could pretty much eliminate a lot of players frustrations with the element, (albeit by ignoring the ways it could be improved, of course) while also changing Sonic's dynamic with it to the point of it almost being a movement gimmick; I.e. Falling into the water at a high speed, sinking as far underwater as momentum can allow, then shooting back out like a cup full of air.

The fail state could simply be floating in the water in the first place, not really allowing room for immediate speed, but still traveling at a pace more enjoyable than being fully submerged, and allowing Sonic to hop out at any given time.

Cute idea, but wouldn’t that make water pointless in a Sonic game? 

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I actually like @The Deleter's idea. It could also work in a way of exploiting Sonic's momentum from diving in and out of water. Say there is a path under a ledge that is to high for Sonic to jump to but is inaccessible from above. If Sonic jumps into the water from high enough up to get deep enough for a strong rebound back out of the water he could reach the path that way. Conversely the player could hold jump while underwater to force Sonic down and then release to launch back out of the water. It would still allow for mostly normal play underwater but the added element of springing back to the surface would be a different challenge that would play on building momentum in a very different way that would really make the player actively choose if they want to interact with water instead of just trying to actively avoid it.

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I prefer for Sonic to not be able to swim. I really like how this is one of his major weaknesses and always find funny how it's shown in spinoff games like the Olympics where for Sonic to participate, he needs to wear an floater. Besides, Tails already swims, not to mention how S3&K had Sonic being able to run on the water's surface if he has enough speed.

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I certainly think it's more interesting for water to serve as more than a simple instakill hazard, merely a chasm with a surface, so in that sense I think underwater mechanics should continue to be explored and developed; the options above which stop short of full swimming but give Sonic more ways to move and be manipulated beneath the water strike me as a good compromise.  Floating, in particular, completely eliminates the hazard of bottomless pits at the bottom of the water, which in some past zones have been used to make areas of water little more than instakill hazards with better flavour.

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I love that Sonic can't swim and it's a nice weakness and character flaw, but it's never really hindered him in the games, he still drudges through labyrinth zone, aquatic ruins, etc. with strength and conviction. I think it only gets properly explored in the cartoons, comics and the like. It sounds blasphemous but, for that reason, I probably wouldn't mind if he learned to swim in the future.

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Variable swimming mechanics might be a good addition for a multi-character game.  I think it would say a lot, as well as factoring into character comparisons, if Sonic's swimming abilities were noticeably worse than those of other characters (arguably already true for him and Tails).

...Conversely, the fastest thing alive with his presumably tremendous leg strength and speed should actually be a pretty good swimmer; it's probably purely a psychological weakness.

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