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If the Day/Night stages in Unleashed were just modern sonic, would the game be long enough?


KHCast
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I’ve always heard that Sega believed that had the game just have been the day stages, Unleashed would have been too short of a game, so they added the werehog to stretch(heh) and pad the game. And we all know how that turned out. But, I have to wonder, couldn’t they just have created the night stages with modern sonic? Would the game still have been too short even doing that? I mean, I loved the night stages, concept wise, and definitely would not want them to have not existed. They had great atmosphere and music that I feel could have still worked for normal sonic. The whole night/day theme in itself was interesting, and I feel could have worked well using just one style of gameplay. Albeit, perhaps throwing in some kind of gimmick, not extreme like the werehog, to differentiate the two. (I mean if you really needed the werehog, maybe there’s like a night meter, that when full, transforms sonic into the werehog, but he’s still fast and just more out of control and slightly more combat oriented? Just an idea of a gimmick that could be had) Hell, story wise for the most part I feel the werehog not being present wouldn’t drastically change much of the plot. Most times, the characters don’t bat an eye or give much of a shit about Sonic being a werehog outside the initial meeting of him in that form.

I don’t know, when I look at future games like Colors and Generations, I don’t exactly think the game would have been too short if they just focused on the modern aspect and retained the night/day themes without the need of the werehog.

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While Werehog levels are noticably longer than normal ones (and more prevalent too, if you're playing the Wii version), it's important to remember that the majority of the game's padding wasn't actually a direct result of them - rather, through the way level progress was gated off behind medals. This was done in such a way that not only would you need to go through both playstyles to stand the best chance of progressing through the game quickly, the actual medal requirements - especially in the late game - become so strict that you usually need to take regular detours through side stages to make up the difference.

With that design philosophy in place, not a whole lot actually changes. You might get a game that's slightly shorter overall, but with much more padding with side stages to make back up their overly blunt approach to extending the game's length - which would arguably make a worse experience overall.

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7 minutes ago, Blacklightning said:

While Werehog levels are noticably longer than normal ones (and more prevalent too, if you're playing the Wii version), it's important to remember that the majority of the game's padding wasn't actually a direct result of them - rather, through the way level progress was gated off behind medals. This was done in such a way that not only would you need to go through both playstyles to stand the best chance of progressing through the game quickly, the actual medal requirements - especially in the late game - become so strict that you usually need to take regular detours through side stages to make up the difference.

With that design philosophy in place, not a whole lot actually changes. You might get a game that's slightly shorter overall, but with much more padding with side stages to make back up their overly blunt approach to extending the game's length - which would arguably make a worse experience overall.

That end point probably depends on whether or not you enjoyed the day time stages though wouldn’t it? A long game with half of it being a style you don’t enjoy nearly as much as the other, or a long game with a consistent style that you like.

It also assumes the game wouldn’t be built around the day time sonic to better accommodate his style. I’d assume the level requirements wouldn’t be as annoying if the emphasis on exploration ala werehog was toned dramatically down in place of a more speed focus. 

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It wasn't just a matter of padding out length. The werehog stages covered far less ground and thus were easier to make. The day levels were way more taxing by comparison to develop. Cranking out twice as many would be a far bigger undertaking than just making a werehog section to go with every day stage.

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5 minutes ago, Wraith said:

It wasn't just a matter of padding out length. The werehog stages covered far less ground and thus were easier to make. The day levels were way more taxing by comparison to develop. Cranking out twice as many would be a far bigger undertaking than just making a werehog section to go with every day stage.

Would there have been a way you think to cut down the costs and retain a decently lengthed modern sonic only Unleashed? Like of course no werehog means none of his stages/bosses/ extra acts. But perhaps cutting down on the extra day sonic acts also to focus more of the main levels? 

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2 minutes ago, SenEDDtor Missile said:

A slower boost? More complex level design to make the levels meatier and better for replay value even if they're relatively short?

I dunno, it's trying to fight against one of the inherent traits of the Boost.

That’s essentially what they did in Generations. Was the costs developing those stages significantly  lesser than Unleashed?

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6 hours ago, KHCast said:

 

Would there have been a way you think to cut down the costs and retain a decently lengthed modern sonic only Unleashed? Like of course no werehog means none of his stages/bosses/ extra acts. But perhaps cutting down on the extra day sonic acts also to focus more of the main levels? 

Only if you gave up on the visual flair of the game. It's basically where most of the game's flaws come from, but it's also one of its biggest draws.

The day stage acts are essentially pieced together from reused level bits and are already short as hell so I doubt they harmed much. 

I don't really mind Sonic Unleashed the way it is though, medal collecting aside.

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Maybe if they added another mandatory full level or two on top of more town and short stage missions, sure. Maybe Mazuri and even Empire City could've been on the PS2/Wii versions in that case.

Or really, they could've just not had the Werehog levels drag on for as long as they do and found another minor workaround to expand storytime.

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If it was possible for Sonic Team to make a decent-length boost game without some level of padding, I'd imagine they would've done it by now.

But Unleashed had the werehog and medal collecting, Colors had shorter gimmick levels and a much weaker boost, Generations had Classic Sonic and extra missions, and Forces had Classic Sonic and the avatar character. Every boost game seems to have been a compromise on some level between the boost's super high speed action and some slower gameplay style and/or recycled level design. It's just too inefficient a style to make an entire game out of with the budget Sonic Team has been working with.

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The thing is, Unleashed's reliance on the Werehog for game length is far from the only case of the series doing this. It's been a thing since Adventure. It wasn't really until Colors that Sega learned that they could sell a game of decent quality even if it was a tad on the short side.

Though with that being said, I still argue that any decent Sonic level is going to take a lot of time and resources to make no matter what. If you shrink down the stages, make Sonic slower (but not too slow), and make them meatier that's still work you have to do applying the "meatier" part. To that end, I don't think the actual length of Unleashed's stages was/ is the problem. Sonic is just a fast character who's going to require larger levels than other series to support that (we've seen this across the entire series). The only thing I can reasonably see Unleashed adding to the equation is putting the art team on a bigger workload. Otherwise, I don't see how crafting, say, a decent adventure styled level is any different from crafting a boost one.

To go into the topic more directly, well... it's hard to say. There are very few cases of 3D Sonic games sticking with one overall gameplay formula and not relying on some other means to pad out its length. The ones that come to mind are Heroes which made you basically play through the game 4 times over and often repeated segments in levels. Shadow which, again, required you to replay the game a bunch to get to the ending (with certain goals tied to some of the levels beyond simply completing them). Colors (probably the best one to go off of) which relied on, again, copying and pasting levels with slight tweaks in order to make different acts. And LW which had a severe gimmick problem. At some point I have to fear what ST would've replaced the Werehog with to pad out the game's length.

At the end of the day, if the game is good, I think length becomes much less of an issue. If, in a perfect scenario,  ST were literally just taking out the Werehog and applying those exact resources to the daytime stages then the game would probably be around your average 2D Sonic game length. Would that be long enough for a full priced 3D game? Well again, it's hard to say and I'm sure that opinion would vary among different people like it already does with other games. For me personally though, probably.

I guess it's also worth mentioning that Sonic games have also always relied on their replayablity factor as well which, I think, is why the issue of length is never really brought up. You beat the game, you replay it and get better times and scores. That alone has already proven to be dozens (and sometimes even hundreds) of hours right there.

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Unleashed is not that long of a game to actually complete even with its current state. It's only about a 5-7 hour game if you just follow through with the main game and grab the medals. What makes Unleashed long is ultimately the difficulty of the game in conjunction with medal collecting and werehog levels. Mind you, the werehog levels aren't that long if you use the mechanics correctly(running, holding the jump button after a ledge grab, skipping battles etc). Simple things to do but Unleashed is just too hard of a game for first or even later entry players. You'll probably spend about 15-20 minutes on some of the harder stages(day) and perhaps almost an hour on the werehog ones. I genuinely can't condemn the players who have such a hard time because I admit, it's the hardest 3D sonic game to become accustomed to. 

If we are being honest, the game would still be longest 3D sonic game to date even without the werehog levels. You still have the DLC and I would assume Sonic Team would make more secondary levels(which were a lovely addition) to Modern Sonic. Personally, World Adventure isn't unique enough with just Sonic but I objecting to the idea of excluding the werehog is not what I would call a horrible decision. All that is necessary is compensation for taking out the werehog.

 

Boost-Games were a hard thing to do with Unleashed. Now? It shouldn't even be an issue. It is the most effective style for Sonic as of 2008. Blame Sega for fucking up the Sonic Team and company. If they could make a perfect game after 2 years of Sonic 06, why is it so taxing now? 

 

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